FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

May 4, 2009

meanwhile, 1989 kinda stunk

1989 certainly has it high points in horror cinema- Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer, Bad Taste, and Pet Sematary to name a few. However, the closing of the decade saw the genre lapse into a crap coma. Despite the endless hand holdings and the whisperings of "Are you in there? Can you hear me? What's a coma like? Does my new haircut make my face look too boxy?" by fans, horror would lay fairly lifeless until Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson kicked it awake a few years later with Scream.

I don't know whether or not Pet Sematary is actually any good, but I swear I've seen it a zillion times. Much like Jingle Jugs, my Zelda impersonation ("Rachel! You'll never walk again!") is the life of any party. Somehow, every time I see the film I remain thoroughly convinced that Zelda is played by Amanda Plummer, even though that's never, ever the case.

Anyway, 1989 was truly the year of underwater horror and lousy sequels.

Deep Star Six

Greg Evigan and Sean Cunningham, yeah? I keep meaning to watch this one, I swear.

Wow, that was truly fucking insightful.

Oh yeah, this also stars Nia Peeples. When I was young, I used to think it was funny to call her "Pia Nipples".

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes A Boat Ride Manhattan

I can't believe I can find fault with a movie where someone gets his head punched off, but F13: VIII stinks. It's one of those films I keep thinking will get better with age, that maybe I misjudged it, that maybe I'll find some new appreciation for it the more I see it, Still, someone gets his head punched off.

The Fly II

I've only seen this once and I remember thinking, "Well, that certainly wasn't The Fly!", which is perhaps some of the most pointed film criticism ever thought. I know I'll see it again someday because it stars Daphne Zuniga and eventually I'll get pulled into her Jo Reynolds-flavored clutches.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

I don't like thinking about Halloween 5 because thinking about Halloween 5 causes me to think about the "quirky" Tina and her zebra-striped pants and thinking about "quirky" Tina and her zebra-striped pants causes my heart to pound (in a bad way) and my blood to rage white-water-rafting-style. Therefore, I choose a life of willful ignorance where Halloween 5 doesn't exist. It's for the sake of my health!


I've had a VHS copy of this sitting on my shelf for a looooong time now, and I've never mustered the energy to watch it. I'm sure that says something or other about some kind of something.

Lords of the Deep

I wish Lords of the Deep was some sort of water-related dance extravaganza going on in Las Vegas starring Tony Danza and Debbie Reynolds. Alas, it's just Roger Corman's attempt at cashing in on '89's underwater horror craze.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

I don't think I've ever seen this; I gave up on Freddy after catching Part 4 in the theatre. Therefore, it could be amazing for all I know. My Spider Sense, however, indicates otherwise. Still, great poster.

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland

Now, y'all know I loves me some Angela, big time. This love doesn't blind me to the fact that Sleepaway Camp III is really, truly awful. Except the first 15 minutes or so, where that trashy girl is yelling at her mom, all whiny-like: "Today's the day I'm going ta caaaaaamp. Ya heah me? I'm goin' ta that camp today!" and then she goes outside where a bewigged, stolen garbage truck-driving Angela runs her over. Those fifteen minutes are cinematic gold, my friends.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!

I've only seen the first two films in the Silent Night, Deadly Night saga- yes, even though I know one of the later sequels stars Mickey Rooney as some evil toymaker or some shit. Someday when I hate life in general, I'll marathon the series.

So...1989. Whatchoo tink?


SeangSTM said...

I wholeheartedly agree with all of your assessments with the possible exception of Leviathan.

It boasts a stellar soundtrack by the late Jerry Goldsmith that gets me through the film every time. Also, Meg Foster gets socked in the mouth quite nicely... the end of the day, however, it's still just one in a slew of 1989 underwater movies, of which only The Abyss is worth anything.

Robson said...

Coupla things:

-I remember some friends getting all excited about LEVIATHAN, saying "This is gonna be DEEP STAR SIX...DONE RIGHT!" They went opening night, and then got to my place at about 11:15 looking truly battered and despondent. They'd gotten screwed again.

-SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 3 is awesome. I'd been curious to see some Monte Hellman (director of COCKFIGHTER and TWO-LANE BLACKTOP) and was startled to see he'd directed this. Noted that Bill Moseley was in it so I e-mailed my friend Katrina, who's a huge Moseley fan and asked her if she happened to have it. She wrote back why, yes, she had it on VHS, and damn, that's the last movie she would have expected me to ask her about. So very shortly I was over and watching the movie...

...and I was delighted by the oddness of it. It's a brilliant and often hilarious take on the slasher genre, and spawned a long LJ-post on my part, which I link to here.

I can't speak for the other films in the series, but if you do embark on an SN,DN marathon, 3 will not punish you.

Smogo said...

Oh man, how depressing was 1989? The best thing to come out of it was that F13:VIII poster.

I say that in the belief that you've got your dates wrong on Henry (completed 1986, released 1990, I thought) and Bad Taste (I could swear that was released in '87, though possibly not in the USA until '89).

Pet Sematary sucks. Elm Street 5 is the worst of the lot. Deep Star Six and Leviathan never appealed to me at all, even back then.

1989 was also responsible for Wes Craven's rubbish Shocker and Tobe Hooper's dire Spontaneous Combustion, not to mention the Aussie film Zombie Brigade, possibly the worst film I've ever seen.

But it was the year of Vampire's Kiss, which is awesome.

Stacie Ponder said...

Release dates are the bane of my existence. It's possible they're wrong, but according to John Kenneth Muir's Horror Films of the 1980s, 1989 is the American release year for all of these films.

Dark Side said...

I've got a soft spot for "The Fly II." It was a bleak, depressing and nasty movie, like Cronenberg... but also kinda not. Stoltz and Zuniga gave it an odd teenybopper flavor that makes me think they should change the title to "Some Kind of Wonderful Fly" or "The Sure THING!!!" Okay I'm fired.

Anonymous said...

I'll be honest: I loved me some Dream Child. I think it was 50% Alice-fucking-rocks and 50% the fact that while Freddy became completely unscary, his methods of killing off the kids became completely unapologetically baroque. You know how, in the midwest, they like to cover everything in cheese? Once, in Iowa, I had a cheeseburger...covered in cheese...which was completely unnecessary and also kind of stupid. But also I loved it. That's basically what Dream Child is like for me.

(It also had cheese curds on the side. With cheese sauce on them. I just can't beat it.)

Verdant Earl said...

Deep Star Six was effing awful. That one got my vote, although I'm sure Lords of the Deep (with it's haughty French words on the DVD cover) is pretty bad. Anything that says "Roger Corman presents" after a certain date on the old calendar is highly craptastic.

Anthony said...

Ouch. The release date problem. Or rather your saviour, as I was going to wade in all ugly like and point out that 1989 actually threw out a classic in
Society, but you lot didn't get it for 3 years. Possibly cause some rich society creditor didn't like the, ahem, implications...

Apart from that, couldn't agrre more. Lt's face it, horror was pants for abou a decade after '87, svae for the odd bit of cheese.

J. Astro said...

It's actually the other way around - Zelda plays Amanda Plummer in real life.

And it saddens and confuses me to see Friday The 13th VIII treated so shabbily here. *sniff*

Anonymous said...

Agree with Robson - Silent night, deadly night 3 really isn't all that bad or rather pretty bad, but bad in an interesting way.

The rest pretty muc sucks completely, although the Leviathan poster is awesome.

Edward Copeland said...

I really wanted Jason to take Manhattan. The only proper ending would have been him standing on the stage of the Majestic Theatre performing The Phantom of the Opera in half a hockey mask.

Drew Beard said...

On Pet Sematary: Amanda Plummer. Yes. Without any effects makeup. You've articulated what has lurked in the shadowy corridors of my mind for two decades.

On The Fly II: As I recall, because I haven't seen this since it was first released on home video, Daphne Zuniga more or less plays proto-Jo Reynolds here. Actually, everything that happens to her in this movie sort of seems like something she would have been forced to replay had she done another season of "Melrose." When you think about it, the whole "pregnant with Reed's baby" thing did have similar vibes to it.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap! I had no idea they made a Silent Night, Deadly Night 3. Does it have the incredible one liners of part II? Garbage day!

Dr. Hackenbush said...

I can't get behind any hate for Jason Takes Manhattan or Halloween 5 (Halloween 4-6 for that matter).

So I went with Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 which is the one with Clint Howard, right? Or was that 4? I can't remember.

Actually I might've voted for Sleepaway Camp II, I already forgot.

John K. said...

Jason Takes Manhattan for the win, because it had the most potential and squandered it all.

Really, I expected nothing from movies like Deep Star Six, outside of some neat fx shots in Fangoria, so whenever a movie from that time was mildy enjoyable, it was a positive.

Halloween 5 is pretty terrible also -the man with the shiny boots! Michael unmasks - but we don't see it!

Robert H. said...

LEVIATHAN - even with the cast, the Meg Foster getting punched at the end, Stan Winston doing effects and David Peoples scripting, it doesn't hide the fact that it's a really lame version of ALIEN done underwater.

Just like ALIEN is a really cool version of PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES and IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (or whatever its title is).

Not a bad way to kill 2 hours, but there's better things to watch.

DEEP STAR SIX - Miguel Ferrer blows up real good.

Apparently the only successful underwater movie to have been made is 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA - anything else just doesn't really cut it (yes, this includes THE ABYSS.)

Rhubarb said...

I feel like I have to step in and show a little bit of love for Leviathan. Sure it's not even the tiniest bit original but if I demanded complete originality I'd never watch slashers. The plot pretty much hangs together, the acting and direction are decent (Meg Foster, brrr) and it's got some of Stan Winston's gnarliest work ever. They never made a sequel to The Thing and in terms of effects work, this is as close as you can get. If you love old school creature features you should give it a go.

The Dream Child is the weird Elm St. Half of it plays like an art film about pregnancy fears and the other half is Freddy, wisecracks and the most surrealistic deaths in the series.

F13:VIII is just painful. I've been catching up on the Fridays but this is the only one that was a real slog to sit through. Definitely the worst film of the series and my vote for worst of '89.

Matt-suzaka said...

I didn't vote...all of these films are fantastic.

Chris Cooke said...

Out with the Old and In with the New for 1989.

Society - what a great, twisted, weird little world, this is a paranoid attack on the senses full of perversity and horror.

The Dario Argento produced and Michele Soavi directed THE CHURCH was pretty good stuff too - really stylised but very disturbing, like a cross between DEMONS and ROSEMARY's BABY...

what about...



Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator??

Reel Whore said...

I just re-watched Jason Takes a Boat Ride over Halloween. Boy, did it still suck! It's not as bad as Part IX: Why the Hell am I watching This? but VIII comes pretty close.

I could write a dissertation on all that's wrong with VIII.

Nathan said...

Nightmare 5 is a tough one to judge. By this point Freddy was just too campy and overexposed and the film is not very scary but it does have some interesting visuals, a more mature female protaganist, some interesting thematic content(teen pregnancy), and in retrospect it is interesting to look back at an early directorial effort by Stephen Hopkins and a script by John Skipp and Craig Spector.

It's certainly nowhere near as good as the high points of the series (Nightmares 1, 3, and 7) but it also not as bad as Freddy's Dead.

Ace said...

Funny, your one column at AMC sort of inspired me to blog about the "undersea horror" stretch of 1989 (OK, "The Abyss" isn't really horror...) and my quest to see "Deepstar Six" on video, which led to seeing "Leviathan" and so forth. So at the risk of quoting myself in an uncool fashion, I'll just say that both deserve a place in any cheesy-horror-flick lover's heart. They're both bad, but they both have something going for them: "Leviathan" that it's almost good, and "DSS" that it's so bad (think Greg Evigan and Miguel Ferrer chewing the scenery) that it's almost good.

I voted for "F13 Part VIII: Jason Takes Vancouver."

But I once remarked that "Halloween V" isn't even as good as the 17-minute documentary Anchor Bay put on the DVD, so I was tempted to vote for that one. (I stand by that statement despite my love for all things Danielle Harris.)

My 3.6 cents.

OCKerouac said...

In defense of F13 VIII, the studio told them to finally make a big budget Jason flick, so the movie WAS supposed to involve actually taking Manhattan, btu at the eleventh hour the funds were pulled and we got 'Jason Takes a Booze Cruise and Winds Up on a Backlot Designed to Look Vaguely Like New York'... Still... Head punching...