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Category Archives: Movie Reviews 1980s

The Fog 01

From the DVD case: The sleepy seaside village of Antonio Bay is about to learn the true meaning of the word “vengeance.” For this seemingly perfect town masks a guilty secret – a past steeped in greed and murder. Exactly 100 years ago, a ship was horribly wrecked under mysterious circumstances in a thick, eerie fog. Now, shrouded in darkness, the long-dead mariners have returned from their watery grave to exact a bloody revenge. (1980, color)

Mark says: John Carpenter’s The Fog is actually a charming little tale about ghosts, betrayal, community, and revenge. Sure, there’s a lot of bloodshed, too, but what makes the movie work for me is the familiar Carpenter theme of a group of people coming together to combat a supernatural force. In this way, it reminds me of some popular films of the 1950s like The Monolith Monsters and The Thing from Another World (which Carpenter would successfully remake as The Thing in 1982).

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Eyes of a Stranger

From the DVD case: A lovely blind and deaf teen reaches for a plate she just set aside. It’s gone. She reaches again and it’s back in its original place. Someone is playing a cruel game with her. That someone is the serial killer terrorizing Miami in this shocker from the production company behind the original Friday the 13th. Making memorable movie debuts are Jennifer Jason Leigh (Single White Female) as the impaired but not helpless girl, and Lauren Tewes as her TV newscaster sister whose investigation inadvertently leads the killer to her home. (1981, color)

Mark says: The most frustrating element of Eyes of a Stranger is that it reminds me of at least a half dozen other movies that I like better. Most notably, it resembles the Hitchcock classic, Rear Window. I even think the killer, Stanley Herbert (played by John DiSanti) looks like Raymond Burr from the Hitchcock film.

Besides Rear Window, the film has elements of When A Stranger Calls, Black Christmas, Wait Until Dark, He Knows You’re Alone, and even bits of I Saw What You Did. There are a lot of clever ideas here, but most of them were done better in earlier movies.

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David Naughton is An American Werewolf in London, 1981.

From the video case: Starring David Naughton, Jenny Agutter and Griffin Dunne, this classic horror/comedy tells the beastly tale of two American youths whose European adventure turns to terror after they are attacked by a werewolf. One of the travelers is killed, but the other’s fate is worse than death as every full moon now seems to “bring out the beast in him.” (1981, color)

Mark says: 1981 was a great year for me. Not only did I graduate from high school, but two of my favorite werewolf flicks were released. One was The Howling, which I’ve already reviewed, and the other was An American Werewolf in London, which I have the pleasure of reviewing now.

An American Werewolf in London has a lot going for it: a simple but intriguing story, a strong script and good direction, characters we care about, and perhaps most of all, groundbreaking special effects engineered by Rick Baker. The film is both written and directed by John Landis (Twilight Zone: The Movie, Animal House).

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The Howling, 1981.

From the DVD case: Severely shaken after a near-fatal encounter with a serial killer, TV newscaster Karen White (Dee Wallace) takes some much-needed time off. Hoping to conquer her inner demons, she heads for “the Colony,” a secluded retreat where her new neighbors are just a tad too eager to make her feel at home. Also, there seems to be a bizarre link between her would-be attacker and this supposedly safe haven. And, when, after nights of being tormented by savage shrieks and unearthly cries, Karen ventures into the forest to find answers, she makes a terrifying discovery. Now she must fight not only for her life, but her very soul! (1981, color)

Mark says: 1981 was a stellar year for werewolf movies. Lycanthropes were featured in such ground-breaking films as Wolfen and An American Werewolf in London. But first out of the gate was The Howling, based on the novel by Gary Brandner and directed by Joe Dante.

The Howling is a living tribute to everything that came before it. Not only are roles given to classic horror/sci-fi stars like John Carradine (Invisible Invaders, House of Frankenstein), Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), Kenneth Tobey (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, The Thing from Another World), and Dick Miller (It Conquered the World, A Bucket of Blood), but there are enough cameos here to endlessly entertain film buffs. My favorite cameo is by famed horror producer/director Roger Corman, featured, in a reference to his miserly approach to film producing, checking a pay phone’s coin slot for spare change. Also look for Forrest J Ackerman (creator/editor of “Famous Monsters of Filmland”) as a bookstore customer.

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