A Return to Salem’s Lot (1987)

directed by larry cohen
larco Productions/420 demons

As this picture began to unspool, I didn’t know if I’d be able to stand it, because once we reach the town of Jerusalem’s Lot, the production quality (acting, costumes, props, makeup) takes a severe nosedive – and it was iffy from the get-go. I persevered, however, and was amply rewarded by general weirdness. (I also greatly enjoyed the credit “Based on characters created by Stephen King,” as the only way in which that is true is if one considers the town of “Salem’s Lot” itself to be a character.) Okay, look, in terms of actual credibility, this flick is nowheresville; it plays more like a made-for-TV movie than the 1978 Tobe Hooper-directed Salem’s Lot CBS “miniseries” and is chock-full of several stripes of bad acting that run the gamut from half-baked to hammy. Throw in a Nazi hunter to save the day, and you’ve got everything you always wanted in a fear, and less! This is where sequencing can be important: after watching Scarecrows, this flick wound up being highly enjoyable.

why did i watch this movie?

As acknowledged, I am a bit of an S. King obsessive, so I’ve wanted to investigate this one for quite a while, especially after having viewed Cohen’s Special Effects.

should you watch this movie?

It depends on how SERIOUSLY you take “Salem’s Lot” to be a “gripping masterwork of horror,” or whatever people consider King’s (or Hooper’s) Dracula redux to be, because this is a tongue-in-cheek treatment of the (purported) source material.

highlight and low point

The last time I watched a vampire flick I learned how to revive a bloodsucker; this time I found out a mortal can impregnate one and that its ashy remains may spontaneously combust. This is the terrifying leader of the hemovores:

rating from outer space: D

Blood Harvest aka Nightmare (1987)

directed by bill rebane
titan international

The type of independently made film of which one assesses the various costs the filmmakers must have incurred and wonders why they bothered, Nightmare (imaginative title, no?) boasts cultural oddity Tiny Tim as an apparently disturbed clown, and his irritating performance may well be the film’s highlight. With almost no cast – five or six characters – and a likewise limited storyline, it does not take long to figure out the SHOCKING identity of the Killer, and not even the Bloody Death scenes are any good, containing as they do no frights, no scares, and little gore. It is seriously hard to understand why this movie was made when they had so little with which to work. The lead Actress is naked for large stretches of the Action for no apparent reason.

why did i watch this movie?

In all honesty, I watched this movie because it sounded absolutely terrible. Success!

Should you watch this movie?

Should you need validation of your potential to make a film of your own, the realization that you could probably do better than this could do the trick, I suppose. Those that savor terrible music also might want to tune in to hear the opening theme.

highlight and low point

Tiny Tim’s acting is better than I expected it to be, I guess, in that he may do the best job amongst the small handful of hopeful thespians present. The production values are straight from the bottom of the barrel.

rating from outer space: D

Hide and Go Shriek (1987)

Directed by skip schoolnik
new star entertainment

Now, here we have a prime example of why we watch ’80s slasher films. Start with the excellent title, then examine the questionable setup, in which a group of friends decides to celebrate high school graduation by spending an overnight in a … furniture store? (It’s owned by one of their fathers, you see.) Along with some teen sex hijinks, toss in a red herring and some mannequins, and by the time the gratuitous nudity splashes across the screen, you will be eagerly anticipating the SHOCKING TWIST at the end. I hope I haven’t spoiled it for you.

why did i watch this movie?

It’s titled “Hide and Go Shriek,” for crying out loud! Plus, it’s from 1987, a golden year for the Slasher film.

should you watch this movie?

I wholeheartedly endorse this movie, and should you choose to view it as though it came out of a time capsule, its presentation of the styles and sounds of the late 1980s will be informative, to choose just one adjective.

Highlight and low point

Why don’t they leave the furniture store, you may be wondering. Well may you wonder; such caprice of fortune propels this admirable genre, does it not? And so as not to reveal too much about the denouement, I merely question whether it would fly in today’s hypersensitive environment.

rating from outer space: a-