Spookies, 1986 – ★★½

If you ever meet someone who’s never seen an 80s horror movie of ANY descritpion, and they’re interested in getting into that decade of film making. This. is the film to break out.

Not because it’s in any way GOOD you understand. Oh no, quite the opposite. ‘Spookies’ is quite possibly the most generically 80’s horror movie i’ve ever seen. In a decade that saw dozens of ‘Supernatural Haunted house’ movies, ‘Spookies’ holds the rather fascinating honour of being the ‘true neutral’ of the genre. It’s nowhere near funny enough to rival the likes of ‘House’, it’s not cookie enough to take on something like ‘Ghoulies’ and it’s not graphic enough to thrash ‘Night of the Demons’.

What we have here is an ultra generic ‘People run around a haunted house being chased by weird spirits and periodically being picked off while some kind of ‘chessmaster’ has a bigger plan at play’ for 85 minutes. It doesnt have an original bone in it’s body, it has the occasional moment of puppet based suspense. But even thats fairly mediocre when analysed.

Technically its on the level, the direction is about standard for this period of low to mid budget monster movie making, the cine is just about ‘to standard’ they utilise some interesting colour work here and it’s nice to see puppets and prosthetics out in force throughout, but they’re just…WAY too generic in terms of design and execution. The zombies here look no different to ANY zombie design that came about after ‘Dawn of the dead’ and the puppets arnt even ‘Ghoulies’ standard (and I didnt even really care much for ‘Ghoulies’ so what kind of a damning inditement is that!?)

The script opens with moderate interest before settling into a pace about 10 minutes in, that it doesnt shake off until 5 minutes off the end. Seriously the whole thing is one note for the VAST majority of the runtime. it never really ramps up, or cools down in terms of what it wants our characters to do, and its BEYOND frustrating to know almost immediatley how the whole things going to go down, and then have it confirmed in real time.

The dialogues shocking as well, its just so middle of the road, theres no REAL swearing, no interesting conversations, no character development really, the motives of our main villain are laid out from minute one and after that they just repeat it over and over again until the end credits.

Our cast basically spend 20% of the movie saying some variation of ‘We’re lost’ or ‘How do we get home?’ and 80% of the movie being trapped in a house saying “We gotta get out of this KERRAZZZY HOUSE!” it gets old quick and non of the characters are even all that likeable or memorable. Even the ones who drive the main plot are just…SO vanilla…its obscene…it really is.

In fact, the only thing I kind of enjoyed in this movie, that DID surprise me was the scoring. Which was actually somewhere half decent. a bit above the standard low/mid fodder i’ve seen in my time. it actually had a bit of an identity about it. It’s just a shame it’s tied to a movie that, if it were a person would think that onion powder was ‘too spicy’

I would absolutely suggest showing this film to people who’re either completely new to 80s horror, or have maybe seen some of the mainstream hits (your ‘Freddys and ‘Jasons’) Because it doesnt set an unrealistic expectation for the genre. It’s good enough that they’ll get a feel for what 80s horror is all about, but it’s not SO good that everything that comes after it will pail in comparison. This is JUST, by a hairs BREADTH, acceptable to me as a movie. it’s something I could put on in the background and just actively not pay attention to it and feel okay about that.

If you’re a die hard 80s horror enthusiast you’ll probably really like this thing, if your more broadly into horror and keep seeing this film pop up in lists every so often of films to check out. You can honestly give this a swerve, it’s definitely ‘okay’ but ABSOLUTELY not ‘Essential’.

source https://letterboxd.com/tytdreviews/film/spookies/

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