Spookies (1986) Review

Twenty minutes into the spectacular Spookies I wondered to myself ‘how the hell have I never seen this horror movie?’ The answer is a combination of the fact that this cult chiller was a tad hard to get your hands on at its initial release added to the fact that its only just coming to Blu-ray now thanks to the wonderful 101 Films.

A pure cult classic its production was plagued with problems. Originally entitled Twisted Souls it was written, produced and directed by Frank Farel, Brendan Faulkner and Thomas Doran who shot it in 1984 but encountered a series of creative and legal issues during the editing between their team and the financial backers.

Post production ground to a halt and the trio where fired with Eugenie Joseph brought on board by VIPCO to direct news scenes and re-edit all the existing footage. Shooting more footage with an entirely different cast and blending the disparate elements together Spookies was born still containing a crate load of the original scenes from the aborted Twisted Souls project.

Considering the mixed up madness that made this horror movie you would expect a disjointed and confused end product however despite its barmy birth Spookies somehow works. It might be the fact that in horror insane storylines are the norm or that if you overload the audience with excitement and scares they will happily accept the lack of meaningful dialogue or character development and let’s face it all of these are true here.

Plot wise the most important element is the horrifying house that the tale takes place in. A huge abandoned colonial style mansion we witness its menace in the opening fright when a little boy is lured inside for a birthday surprise he will never forget seeing as he ends up relentlessly chased by a werecat and buried alive.

The next visitors to the sinister building are even less lucky, arriving in a couple of cars seeking some thrills after a night out they head into the house to drink and dance only to discover a Ouija board. Nervous at first they end up toying with the spiritual tool only to have one of their friends possessed by Kreon (Felix Ward) the warlock who resides in the doomed domicile.

Panicking, the unsuspecting home invaders scatter throughout the mansion unaware that the demonic sorcerer has summoned a bestiary of blood thirsty monsters to hunt the humans down. Toying with his victims the mage must harvest their energy to power his magiks in order to awaken the love of his life whom he has keep in suspended animation for 70 years. However when his bride finally rises from the dead we learn she is as much an unwilling captive as everyone else.

What elevates Spookies above so many other 80’s horror’s is the marvellous menagerie of monster all brought to life with some amazing effects and make up. Created by Gabe Bartalos, Arnold Gargulio, Jennifer Aspinall, John Dods, and others helping in various capacities we are treated to a host of horrors as random and eclectic as they are belivable and terrifying.

From the Deadite alike possessed party girl to the squelching farting mud covered muck men to the small but deadly lizard gremlins to the twisted tentacle wielding fish man the deranged designs are superbly realised with excellent effects.

Most stunning of all are the action packed encounter with a huge and hideous Grim Reaper and the slow and unsettling scene involving a deadly spider woman whose gradual seduction of her dim witted victim leads to a truly disgusting transformation that is deeply unsettling even if you don’t suffer from arachnophobia.

Packed with extras the Blu-ray release comes complete with audio commentary with FrightFest’s Paul McEvoy and filmmaker Sean Hogan, a feature-length making-of documentary, including a commentary track with documentary co-directors Michael Gingold and Glen Baisley and extensive deleted scenes as well as a brand new, extended version of the feature length documentary on much-loved UK film distributor VIPCO who put out the movie.

A must have for cult collectors, 80’s horror fans and monster movie lovers alike, Spookies features one of the most insane collections of creative creepy creatures in horror and although it may evoke Creepshow, Night of the Living Dead and The Evil Dead in some of its scenes and stylings its influence on modern movies such as Book of Monsters and more is obvious.

Movie Rating: ★

★ ★ ★ ☆ 

Trailer:

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Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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