Graduation Day (1981)

Graduation Day (1981) movie poster

director  Herb Freed
viewed: 07/07/2018

Stylish editing and sound design highlight Graduation Day, an above-average classic era slasher. Yeah, and groovy disco intro.

As the title indicates, it’s the end of the school year for these Midvale High seniors. Seniors, who despite living out the  last couple days of high school,  are practicing off-season sports and getting killed accordingly by a mystery revenge-seeker in gray sweats and a fencing mask.

Richard Balin as Mr. Roberts the music teacher is fab, a little bit lounge singer, a little bit Paul Lynde. And Patch Mackenzie really reminded me of Jennifer Lynch.

Despite one of the worst fake-outs on who’s the killer, it’s an entertaining ride, if vaguely overlong.

The killer’s telltale bedroom is also kind of funny.  “Jeez, so-and-so, you really like weaponry, don’t you?”

Blood Harvest (1987)

Blood Harvest (1987) UK VHS cover

director  Bill Rebane
viewed: 07/03/2018

Tiny Tim Wayne Gacy.

A certain type of person, ie me, has a film like Blood Harvest on a bucket list.

A killer and sexual sadist using fast-acting chloroform is troubling a small Wisconsin town. A town, already troubled by the repossession of many family farms by a local capitalist. But more than anything he’s troubling Jill (Itonia Salchek) who has returned home to find her parents missing and an old flame brooding. (The old flame (Dean West) vaguely looks like Jeffrey Combs when he’s pouting.)

And middle-aged Tiny Tim, prancing about in clown make-up, apparently gone dotty over the slaughtering of family pets.  He’s genuinely disturbing, or maybe just annoying.

The film, though turns out to be essentially one about a demented stalker, an obsessed young man tormenting his fixation (Jill) and all of those around her. Their relationship is actually creepy in a real way.

As a slasher, it’s pure oddity, from the mind of Bill Rebane and the farmlands of the Badger State.

Cheerleader Camp (1988)

Cheerleader Camp (1988) movie poster

director  John Quinn
viewed: 07/02/2018

Welcome to Camp Hurrah. Firecracker! Firecracker! Sis Boom Bah!

1988’s Cheerleader Camp could well utilize an alternate definition of camp. It’s equal parts pervy camp comedy and slasher, the former annoying the latter genre fans.

“Lighten up! We’re looking at naked women here!”

So, yeah, nekkid ladies.

Vickie Benson as Miss Tipton is the tops, while the hijinks of Leif Garrett and his Rubenesque comic foil, most painfully in a rap sequence, leave much to be desired.

The movie’s qualities recede as fast as Leif Garrett’s hairline.

The band playing (Sounds of Suksexx) is so incongruous with the environment.

But yeah, that poster is something special.

The House on Sorority Row (1983)

The House on Sorority Row (1983) movie poster

director  Mark Rosman
viewed: 06/30/2018

The House on Sorority Row is a significantly superior slasher, featuring more realized characters and a set up and scenario that works well.

The primary characters are all female, more developed and not standard and stereotypical. While not exactly feminist nor fully fleshed-out, the characterization still starkly contrasts with much of the genre.

Graduating sorority girls run afoul of their house mother by overstaying their welcome and throwing a graduation party. Things go south when a mean prank goes wrong, and an algae soup swimming pool plays a key to the works.

The twist ending deflates it a bit.

Madhouse (1981)

Madhouse (1981) movie poster

director Ovidio G. Assonitis
viewed: 06/15/2018

I’m forever telling people that in any pair of twins, there is always one that is good and always another that is evil. That’s just science.

Madhouse is an Italian-American production directed by an Egyptian-born Greco-Italian and filmed in Savannah, GA. It’s another sort of slasher-giallo hybrid, with some nice cinematography and production values (except for the dog puppet, let’s say).

Savannah could be an interesting location but the film stays indoors a lot, shot at the historic Kehoe House, which seemed to be under some restoration at the time. The house is pretty cool and makes for some of the interesting shots and atmosphere.

But yeah, evil twins, a blood-thirsty Rottweiler, and a kooky priest who digs on children’s rhymes.

It’s not half bad. But then there’s the other half. Or slightly more than half.

Don’t Go in the Woods (1981)

Don't Go in the Woods (1981) movie poster

director James Bryan
viewed: 06/13/2018

I’m just going with my random notes for my Don’t Go in the Woods write-up.

Despite the cheapness, the folks seem like genuine annoying regular people stuck in each other’s miserable company.

Dick and Cherry and the love van.

The comedy is a sight scarier than the scares.

Even without the killings, could be a good “why to never go camping“ movie.

Quite misanthropic and critical societal constructs – terrible law enforcement.

The color pink.

The comedy at the expense of the wheelchair guy is really odd.

Surprisingly prototypical for backwoods horror redneck stuff.

Sorority House Massacre (1987)

Sorority House Massacre (1987) movie poster

director Carol Frank
viewed: 06/08/2018

As a lot of folks have noted, this late 80’s slasher breaks little ground, and what unbroken ground it treads, it does so somewhat shabbily.

A surreal atmosphere pervades Sorority House Massacre, full of dreamy flashbacks and hypnotic dreams. It’s also charmingly girly but very girly, which I suppose fits the milieu of a sorority house. And, Ouch the outfits!

More than anything, it has a real lack of tension and drama in the scenes it needs it most.

It explains my sense of déjà vu, that director Carol Frank worked on Slumber Party Massacre (1982) and that the scene in the upstairs room with the killer trying to enter the window was essentially copied from it.

I’m not going to beat up on it.

Night School (1981)

Night School (1981) movie poster

director  Ken Hughes
viewed: 06/06/2018

Night School is a  1981 slasher that plays more like an American giallo. Shot in Boston, the film makes great use of the city, a pretty, but gritty place that I wonder if it’s still recognizable today.

The script by Ruth Avergon highlights a classic trope of toxic masculinity, the lecherous professor who sleeps with all of his female students. Drew Snyder is quite the Frasier Crane type (they could be brothers), and he’s got girls from his school showing up around Boston with their heads all chopped off, and oddly enough left in water.

Leonard Mann is the cop on this case. With Joseph R. Sicari as his Armenian, wise-cracking underling. A very gorgeous Rachel Ward is the professor’s main squeeze.

The killer is a motorcycle-riding figure in all black, with some pretty creative means of decapitation with a fancy Nepalese knife.

There’s a lot to like here. At least for me.

Slaughterhouse (1987)

Slaughterhouse (1987) VHS cover

director Rick Roessler
viewed: 03/19/2018

Slaughterhouse opens with credits rolling drolly over scenes from an actual pig abattoir, set jauntily to music that casts an ironic pose to the scenes of real-life animal death. It’s a little flash of “mondo”, showing documentary death to pepper all the facsimile deaths to follow. The music suggests both irony and dark humor to come.

And Slaughterhouse delivers that. It’s a late era slasher that feels slightly outside of the genre. It’s a revenge film where we know who is doing what to whom throughout. The Bacon family slaughterhouse was run out of business by more mechanized killing factories and when the sheriff and attorney show up to foreclose, well, what’s a psychopath to do but start killing?

And kill whoever trespasses against you in any way shape or form.

Though it gets a little torture porn-y at the end, I thought Slaughterhouse was a interesting and worthwhile piece of horror. I guess when you’re in California, you don’t necessarily qualify as “regional horror” but it seems this little indie almost could qualify.

Nightmares (1980)

Nightmares (1980) print ad

director John D. Lamond
viewed: 02/08/2018

It can be hard to get your Nightmares straight. Such a generic title has fallen on many a movie. This Nightmares is from 1980 Australia, a slasher-cum-giallo featuring a killer with a penchant for shards of glass.

Like a more classic slasher, killer Cathy (Jenny Neumann), punishes fornicators. Her Freudian moment came early at life (and early in the film), catching her mum being sexually active and then causing the car crash that killed her.  Sex and death, sex and death, sex and death.

It’s decent stuff, if also rather unremarkable. This Nightmares may continue to get mixed up with other Nightmares…for me anyways.