There are so many great things about this time of year. One of the best is the ability and excuse to sit around and watch horror movies all month long. I wish tv channels had this kind of programming all year. I do have diverse tastes, but I also can’t think of a genre that I like better. Maybe sci-fi or fantasy comes close, but it’s always been horror that tops the list. Many of my favorites came from my formative years. I’m not going to try and say that they’re all good movies. Some of them are downright bad, but I’ve never been one to let popular opinion sway me. 1988 is an excellent example of the wonderful and the awful coming together to make a crazy year of horror movies. Join me for a look back at what I think are some of the most memorable (and terrible) scary movies to come out of 1988.
I did like Monkey Shines at the time it came out even though I didn’t know that it was directed by George Romero back then. I was big into Stephen King in my younger days, and saw many film adaptations. A lab monkey turned “helper monkey” starts killing people because she has a psychic connection with her paralyzed owner, and his pent up anger sends the monkey out to do his unconscious bidding. How is that not fun? Many movies based on King’s work were far worse, but I’ll be honest and admit that I haven’t seen it in years. It may not hold up, but I’m including it because of Romero and nostalgia.
Lair of the White Worm was a “classy” horror movie to my 14 year-old self. Or maybe it just seemed that way compared to Killer Klowns from Outer Space. I’d read the book it was based on, and ended up liking it better than any recent version of Bram Stoker’s other work. Has there been a good Dracula movie in the last 50 years? And I mean a really good one. Don’t come messaging me about something that was “okay” or “wasn’t awful”. Anyway if you want to see young Hugh Grant and Peter Capaldi fight a sexy vampire snake lady then go for this.
Night of the Demons is a bad movie. I’ve admitted it before, and I’m fine doing so again today. I don’t care. I still love it, and I still watch it. I initially found this one because I was looking for the movie Demons in the days before the internet made everything easy. They are two VERY different movies. Instead of a cool, campy Italian gore-fest I got a stupid, goofy American masterpiece of garbage. Sexy teens gather for a party at an abandoned funeral home, but decide to have a seance first. That’s what you do. They die in gross and idiotic ways, but “eat a bag of dick, I am here to party” quickly became a part of my lexicon of watching this. It spawned more sequels than I’ve seen so don’t hold me accountable for their quality if you decide to watch them.
Pumpkinhead is another one of those that I remember liking, but haven’t seen in a really long time. The time tested tale of murder, revenge, and witchcraft take an odd turn when the spirit summoned looks more like an alien than how I’d picture a demon. I don’t remember why he was named Pumpkinhead. I’m sure they explain it somewhere in there, and I just don’t remember it. Maybe it’s his big, round head. You’d think that people wouldn’t want to make fun of a revenge demon’s head shape, but that’s just me I guess. Anyway it has Lance Henriken, and was directed by makeup effects legend Stan Winston. I need to go back and watch it again now.
Dead Ringers is a different kind of horror movie, but it scared the shit out of me. Cronenberg and his body horror can usually find a way to make my skin crawl, but this was on a whole other level. I know I couldn’t have seen this when it came out because I’d have never gone to see the “lady doctor” when I came of age if I had. This is one of those movies that I thought was brilliant and terrifying, but never wanted to see again. I don’t want to freak the men out too much by going into detail, but then men probably aren’t the ones who’ll be freaked out by this movie.
I can’t think of many things scarier than the idea of being buried alive. That’s probably why The Serpent and the Rainbow messed me up for a long time. I’ve seen it several times over the years, and it’s effects have lessened, but I do remember a dream where I woke up in a coffin shortly after I first saw it. If you want a good old school voodoo zombie movie then this might be up your alley. Plus it’s from horror lord Wes Craven. Although just talking about it again has given me an overwhelming need to stretch out to make sure I can still move around. I’ll be right back.
Waxwork is yet another bad movie that I love. Not only have I seen it within the last few years, but I own the damn thing and watch it on the regular. Some stupid rich teens get invited to a mysterious waxwork museum. By themselves. At midnight. What could possibly go wrong? Since the exhibits all depict scenes of crime and horror (and the Marquis de Sade for some reason) a bunch of shit goes wrong quickly. The teens are sucked into the scenes which they then have to act out before dying and becoming a part of them. It’s not Night of the Demons dumb, but it’s pretty silly. I’d call it a guilty pleasure, but I feel no guilt at all about the things I love.
Lucio Fluci’s Zombi movies are pure genius. They really shouldn’t be classified as a series since they have little to nothing connecting them, but maybe it was easier that way. Zombi 3 is actually my favorite of the bunch. Yes, Zombi 2 has the underwater fight scene between a shark and a zombie. Zombi 5 has flocks of infected birds, but this one had the first zombie baby I’d ever seen. Take that Dawn of the Dead remake! The plot is surprisingly similar to Return of the Living Dead in that an infected man’s body is cremated and release the virus into the air. At least this happens on an island so that the zombies are contained. You know, because air is contained over one spot like that. But the Italian horror masters don’t have to make sense. If I see the names Fulci, Argento, or Bava attached to a movie I’m gonna at least try to watch it. You should too. This is definitely my favorite horror movie of 1988.
“But Beth, what about all of the other movies that came out in 1988. Aren’t you forgetting something?” Keep your pants on, I’m getting there (unless you’re waiting for me to talk about Child’s Play. Sorry guys, I have no feelings about it one way or the other. If you don’t make me care then you don’t get a paragraph). It also seems that 1988 was the year of the sequel since just about every major horror franchise had one that year. So many, in fact, that I couldn’t possibly talk about them all individually here. So below you’ll see the list of sequels, and to save time (and your vision) a yes or no for how I feel about them. Should Zombi 3 be listed with the sequels? Maybe, but this is my post and I’ll do what I want.
Fright Night 2 – no
Halloween 4 – yes
Hellraiser 2 – yes
Howling 4 – yes
Demons 3 – (sadly) no
Phantasm 2 – yes
Poltergeist 3 – no
Return of the Living Dead 2 – yes
Sleepaway Camp 2 – yes
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 – yes
Friday the 13th 7 – yes
I’ll be back next week with more Halloweenie spookiness. Just go watch some horror movies until then. My DVR has recorded two in the time it’s taken me to put this together. I’m so happy that AMC Fear Fest has started up, and I don’t have to watch the crap on SyFy anymore this month. Although I’m more likely to get Pumpkinhead from SyFy than I am from an upscale joint like AMC so I may have to amend that statement. Looks like I’ve got some listings to dig through.