Finally, A Horror Movie Made For Eight Year Olds! SPOOKIES (1986) Review

Well, it's that time of year again. Halloween. I can't believe the holiday is a week away and I've barely posted anything about horror movies yet! Well, might as well start now. There are certain movies out there that are just perfect for Halloween. Halloween, Night of the Demons, Creepshow, all that good stuff. I don't know where Spookies ranks on that list, but rest assured, it's definitely got to be high up there!


SPOOKIES (1986) Review

Spookies has three sort of plot lines all going on a the same time: the first is an evil sorcerer (I guess), who lives in the basement of an old mansion and needs to drain the life force from several people to reanimate his long-dead but preserved wife. The second concerns a thirteen-year old boy who ran way from home because his parents forgot his birthday. He stumbles across the mansion, and is dispatched relatively quickly in an actually rather brutal way. The last one is about a group of partiers who arrive at the mansion and decide to head inside when it starts to rain. The evil sorcerer sends his monstrous minions to dispatch them one by one. Will any of the group survive? Or will they all die and the sorcerer's wife find new life? 

Like most cinematic messes, Spookies had a troubled production. Initially, the only plot there was was with the group of partiers getting trapped in the house. This is obvious, because if you just look at those scenes by themselves, they form a cohesive narrative. However, all that footage added up to a measly sixty-minutes, so they called in another director to add some pointless scenes with an evil sorcerer and some random kid, just to beef up the running time. While I quite enjoyed the scene with the kid, the other scenes were tedious to get through. This guy mainly just talks and talks and talks some more, and it goes nowhere.They also use this to (I guess) explain some of the occurrences that look like just something out of a haunted house movie. For example, they inter-cut a Ouija board scene with the pointer moving towards rather sinister answers with the old guy saying the answers and then the pointer movingtowards them. It's just too complicated for what could have been a really fun movie about possession in a haunted house (since one of the group gets possessed and I guess she calls upon the monsters, should you take out the added footage). However, we do get a great chase at the end with a large group of zombies, which is cool.

Spookies is one of the few films I did not see as a child, yet I still get a sense of nostalgia from it. This is because the film feels as if it was written by me when I was very, very young. It's basically just a barrage of assorted monsters all crammed into a certain time frame, and that's the only reason to watch it. There's grim reapers, spider women, slimy gremlin-things, farting mud monsters (I'm telling you, their creative-consultant was an eight-year old!), and more. It feels like a feature-length version of some E.C. comics story, sense the plot is very thin and all they're interested in is the creatures. I must also add that the creature effects here are fantastic! There's a great transformation where a woman changes into a spider-type thing and sucks all the blood out of one poor fellow, all done to great effect. But then again, what else would you expect from John Dods (The Deadly Spawn)? There's very rarely a break from the creature-action, so I wasn't bored for a second during these scenes.

Unfortunately, the added-in footage nearly bored me to tears. The old crank (his name is Kreon, by the way) does eventually get his wife resurrected, and they continue to talk about how she wanted to just rest in peace and how she doesn't love him and crap like that. I think the director watched the dailies and said, "Damn, this is pathetic! Add in some zombies!" Of course, they did add in an extended zombie chase. And it was awesome. The rest of the time, however, consists of this guy talking to himself and the girl talking to him, and it sucked. The additional footage with the little kid, however, was actually creepy and almost becomes scary because his scenes epitomize childhood fears as he is chased by a werecat minion of Kreon, and this kid doesn't get away either. Oh no, this movie grows some balls by having little Billy get slashed across the face and buried alive. His sequences are very pointless and obviously filler, but they're actually some of the strongest scenes in this movie. 

The acting wasn't too bad, but there's no way the performances here are going to win any sort of awards. The characters are all stereotypical, with nearly all essentials: the tough guy, the serious guy, the prankster, etc. all make appearances, and most of them get dispatched in nearly bloodless fashion. That's right; there's nearly no gore whatsoever, and this brings the movie down a notch from the level where it could have (and should have) been. And finally, maybe my biggest complaint, is that this movie literally has no ending. I don't know if the original footage had an ending, but if it did, it was tossed out the window in the editing process. I mean, this movie literally just ends, with the lives of several characters just hanging in the balance! It's terrible! It brings to mind the conclusion of Neon Maniacs, but at least that movie ended with them out of their perilous situation! This oner ends with characters getting assaulted by monsters! I mean, come on!

While it may sound as if I'm really bashing Spookies, trust me, I really do like this movie. Why? I cannot say. The movie just has an earnest, nostalgic charm that I loved. I remember reading a Tales from the Crypt comic where two thieves broke into the Cryptkeeper's house and planned to rob it, but what happened was that they got lost in the basement and behind every door and every corner was a different type of monster. This movie feels very much like that story in that there's precious little plot to be scraped off the cutting room floor and they just tried to cram in as many monsters as possible, and I love that! it's just a giddy, goofy joy ride from start to finish with little-to-no downtime. In terms of genuinely good aspects, the movie sports fantastic atmosphere and a great opening/closing theme. The old, spooky mansion setting has been done to death (pun not intended), but hey, the classics never get old, especially when they're done well. It's probably just me, but I actually find the theme to be rather unnerving in a "this-sounds-innocent-but-there's-something-off-about-it" kind of way.

Spookies may not be the greatest horror movie ever made (nowhere close, actually), but I'll be damned if it isn't a fun movie. Yes, it does drag in places, and the ending is really disappointing, but those are minor flaws in this equation. And no matter how you put it, the outcome is always going to be that this is classic B-movie fun. It features fantastic creature effects, great atmosphere, and...well, what else do you want? It's a veritable mishmash of awesomeness crammed into a short timeframe. It's very unpredictable, considering this is one movie where anything can happen at anytime, and the plot is really shaky from start to finnish, and it doesn't even both throwing in any twists. If you want to see a perfect representation of the movie, just watch the trailer. It's a classic example of what you see is what you get. It's as straight-forward as they come, and I would say it's a perfect movie to show to your children to "set them on the right path," if you will. A path to the world of B-movies. Start the next generation right. Show 'em Spookies

The Verdict: Spookies is dumb fun with all kinds of weird monsters, but it drags in some spots.

Score: 7/10

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