A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) review

A Nightmare On Elm Street 4 posterDirector: Renny Harlin

Starring: Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox, Tuesday Knight, Andras Jones, Danny Hassel, Ken Sagoes, Rodney Eastman

“You shouldn’t have buried me. I’m not dead.” (Freddy, A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master)

When A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 was released in 1987, the character of Freddy Krueger truly took off and started to become a household name.

This was partly thanks to his character’s evolution which saw him become more of an anti-hero than an outright villain.

Whereas in the first film he was a strictly sinister creation – a child murderer stalking the dreams of those whose parents killed him – by the third movie Freddy was busting out one-liners and making people scream with laughter rather than terror.

The inevitable fourth film, knocked together in less than a year, continued this trend by offering an even more wisecracking, fun-loving Freddy… with the fright factor taking another knock as a result.

However, as a shameless Nightmare On Elm Street devotee, I’m not fussed in the slightest. Hey, if you want objectivity, visit the BBC. Continue reading “A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) review”

The Phantom Of The Opera (1989) review

The Phantom Of The Opera 1989 posterDirector: Dwight H Little

Starring: Robert Englund, Jill Schoelen, Alex Hyde-White, Bill Nighy

“I don’t believe in phantoms or legends, Mr Dutton, but I do believe in facts. And the fact is, this man – this creature – is still alive. Still alive and living under your opera.” (Hawkins, The Phantom Of The Opera)

There have officially been ‘oodles’ of retellings of The Phantom Of The Opera over the years (I counted: that’s the exact figure). Is this 1989 offering the best?

Put it this way: is the square root of 12,433 the same as the number of men in a standard football team?

No, is what I’m saying.

This ‘modern’ version of Gaston Leroux’s novel switches Paris for London and tries to turn what’s supposed to be a dark romance into more of a slasher movie, with mixed results. Continue reading “The Phantom Of The Opera (1989) review”

Cavegirl (1985) review

Cavegirl posterDirector: David Oliver

Starring: Daniel Roebuck, Cynthia Thompson, Darren Young, Saba Moor-Doucette

“Look, you wouldn’t happen to know what century it is, would you? See, I’m lost, and you don’t speak any English, and how would you like to sit on my face?” (Rex, Cavegirl)

Ah, the ’80s. A more innocent time, a time when it was perfectly acceptable to make a movie in which a nerd went back in time and spent the entire length of the film trying to shag a cavegirl.

It’s probably safe to say this sort of shit wouldn’t fly these days, so let’s travel back to a time when neanderthal men thought with their knobs instead of their brains. Yes, I’m still talking about the ’80s. Continue reading “Cavegirl (1985) review”

Deadly Friend (1986) review

Deadly Friend posterDirector: Wes Craven

Starring: Matthew Laborteaux, Kristy Swanson, Michael Sharrett, Anne Ramsey, Anne Twomey

“Wait, she’s dead? Hey, what the hell are you doing? You didn’t say anything about a dead body, we were supposed to save her life.” (Tom, Deadly Friend)

I never get tired of saying this, but God bless the 1980s. No other decade could give you a film with a plot that begins with “a boy, his mum and his robot move into a new house” and not have that be the oddest thing about it by the time the credits roll.

Deadly Friend is the work of director Wes Craven, fresh from finding new success with A Nightmare On Elm Street. It’s one of the oddest horror films you’ll see, but that’s perhaps not Craven’s fault. You see, he didn’t want to make a horror film at all. Continue reading “Deadly Friend (1986) review”

Pet Sematary (1989) review

Pet Sematary posterDirector: Mary Lambert

Starring: Dale Midkiff, Fred Gwynne, Denise Crosby, Brad Greenquist, Miko Hughes

“I’m at Judd’s, daddy. Will you come over and play with me? First I played with Judd, then mommy came and I played with mommy. We played, daddy! We had an awful good time. Now I want to play with yoooooou.” (Gage, Pet Sematary)

Losing a loved one is always a harrowing process, one in which you’re often at your lowest possible ebb. But what if there was a way to undo the process?

Specifically, what if there was a way to bring back the recently deceased and have them back in your life again?

What if the consequence of said person becoming an ex-corpse is they don’t behave like they did before pegging it? Would you still want to see their body alive even if their mind and personality wasn’t the same?

These are the questions raised by Pet Sematary, the 1989 movie based on Stephen King’s book of the same name and, I should probably just come out and declare at this early stage in the review, one of my favourite horror films ever. Continue reading “Pet Sematary (1989) review”

The Basement (1989) review

The Basement posterDirector: Timothy O’Rawe

Starring: Dennis Driscoll, Kathleen Heidinger, David Webber, Scott Corizzi

“You have gone where it is forbidden and released the evil. You must confess.” (The Sentinel, The Basement)

Here’s an interesting little oddity: an ultra low-budget anthology film that was never finished, left for dead and finally released more than 20 years later.

The Basement was a cheapo Super 8 film shot over 22 days in 1989 and “abandoned almost as quickly,” its director of photography Michael Raso recalls.

Rather than putting together the finished film, writer/director Tim O’Rawe decided to move to LA instead, leaving all the shot footage with Raso with the simple message: “Good luck.”

The Basement sat (appropriately) in Ruso’s basement, garage and storage units until finally, in 2010, a small DVD publisher called Camp Motion Pictures decided to take the film, give it a new audio mix and re-edit and finally release it.

The result is a hilariously bad movie with easily some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen, and considering the utter shite I’ve watched over the years that’s saying something. Continue reading “The Basement (1989) review”

Evil Laugh (1986) review

Evil Laugh posterDirector: Dominick Brascia

Starring: Ashlyn Gere, Steven Baio, Jerold Pearson, Jody Gibson

“These things don’t happen in New York. I just hope a guy in a hockey mask named Jason doesn’t show up.” (Barney, Evil Laugh)

Sometimes when I’m in the mood to watch a completely random horror film, I tend to use two qualifying questions: 1) Is it from the ’80s? and 2) Does it have a weird name?

It was this vetting process that led to my discovery of Evil Laugh, a 1986 slasher that has somehow slipped between the horror cracks over the years. This surprised me because I found it pretty bloody entertaining.

In it, a group of medical students (all of whom look much older than they’re probably supposed to be) travel to a large secluded house to help their friend fix it up and turn it into a foster home.

Sadly, there’s a slight issue with the house: it used to be an orphanage. That’s not the problem, mind. The problem is that ten years ago, all the adults and children living in it were slaughtered by a madman who then set the house on fire, dying himself in the blaze. Continue reading “Evil Laugh (1986) review”

Critters (1986) review

critters_posterDirector: Stephen Herek

Starring: Dee Wallace Stone, M Emmet Walsh, Billy Green Bush, Scott Grimes, Billy Zane

CRITTER 1 – “They have weapons.”
CRITTER 2 – “So what?”
<Critter 2 is blown up>
CRITTER 2 – “Fuck!”

As I’ve explored in numerous reviews in the past, such as Bride Of Chucky and Puppet Master III, there comes a point in some horror films where it becomes clear that the killer isn’t very intimidating.

There are ways to deal with this. The Puppet Master solution was to turn its killers – the titular puppets – into the heroes and make the audience root for them.

The Bride Of Chucky solution, meanwhile, was to acknowledge that the concept of a killer doll was a daft one and therefore the best thing to do was not only make Chucky the hero but also play the film entirely for laughs.

Critters instead takes the Gremlins approach (the first one, not its sequel), which also aims for comedy but at the same time steadfastly refuses to accept that its killer creatures are anything other than nasty little bastards. And it works. Continue reading “Critters (1986) review”

Major League (1989) review

Major League posterDirector: David Ward

Starring: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, Wesley Snipes, Rene Russo, Dennis Haysbert, James Gammon

CERRANO – “Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curveball. Straight ball, I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats. I offer him cigar, rum. He will come.”

HARRIS – “You know, you might wanna think about taking Jesus Christ as your saviour instead of fooling around with all this stuff.”

CERRANO – “Ah, Jesus. I like him very much. But he no help with curveball.”

HARRIS – “Are you trying to say Jesus Christ can’t hit a curveball?”

Let me cut to the chase: if you’re from the UK, chances are you don’t care about baseball and haven’t heard of Major League. And yet – spoilers – I’ve given it five stars. Lol wut etc.

The truth is, I’m slightly biased here. I have family who lived in Cleveland, Ohio and as a result I grew up following the Cleveland-based sports teams, most notably the Cleveland Browns of the NFL and the Cleveland Indians of the MLB.

Major League, a comedy movie about the Indians, has therefore featured in my life for more than two decades. Over the years I’ve watched my worn-out VHS copy, DVD copy and Blu-ray copy so many times I could probably act the whole thing out from start to finish. Continue reading “Major League (1989) review”

The Godsend (1980) review

The Godsend posterDirector: Gabrielle Beaumont

Starring: Malcolm Stoddard, Cyd Hayman, Angela Pleasence, Wilhelmina Green

“Do you know what a cuckoo does? It lays its egg in another bird’s nest. And do you know what the fledgling does? It pushes the others out, one after the other, until it has the complete attention of the parents. That’s Bonnie. Bonnie must go.” (Alan, The Godsend)

You can tell a film is iconic when it spawns its own brood of knock-offs. Take Night Of The Living Dead and the way every zombie film that followed had shambling, moaning monsters just like Romero’s, for example.

Another shining example is The Omen, the success of which saw a subsequent sharp increase in the number of films about spooky religious kids: Bless The Child, Children Of The Corn, even its own sequel, Damien: Omen II.

The Godsend is one of these offshoots, going so far as to go right down the ‘British couple inherits child that isn’t theirs’ route. And you know, it isn’t absolutely terrible, even though it’s about as original as a Harlem Shake video. Continue reading “The Godsend (1980) review”