Spookies (1986)

Spookies (1986)

The ultimate in fright and fun

A group of teenagers looking for a party get trapped inside an old mansion by an evil sorcerer who needs human sacrifices to give eternal life to his bride. Inside, they are threatened by all manner of monsters and demons.

 

With the advent of home video and the successive increase in audiences during the 80s, perhaps no other genre came off better than that of the horror genre. In a manner of speaking, almost anyone with a camera and a bit of money could go out and make and film and then release it straight-to-video. It’s something we take for granted now and something to which the big studios have taken over once they adjusted to it. But back in the day there was an explosion of B-movie genre flicks, most of which have been consigned to the scrapheap of history. For avid horror buffs, this isn’t so much a scrapheap but a minefield. For every couple of hits you take, there’s always a little gem around the corner. Spookies can’t be considered such a gem but it’s a film which does more to personify the 80s B-movie market than most other films.

One of the most bizarre, disjointed horror films I’ve ever seen, Spookies is actually quite a hoot if you just sit back and see how much the makers of the film crammed into the house as ‘surprises.’ This one will leave you scratching your head in confusion, shaking your head in disgust and then nodding your head in delight. Think of it as walking through a haunted house ride at a fairground, taking you on a journey through the weird, the wonderful, the eerie and the scary. I actually prefer to think of Spookies as eighty five minutes of pure FX wizardry as opposed to an actual film. It’s like a tour-de-force of various monsters, demons, ghosts and ghouls as the cast of characters split up to explore the mansion with little structure to their adventure.

The characters are one-dimensional cardboard cut-outs. You know the type by now: joker, jock, slut, nerd, shy girl, bitch, etc. Spookies spends little time in letting us get to know them and even less time giving them worthwhile reasons to go to the mansion. As soon as they get to the mansion and split up, that’s where the fun begins. Trying to explain any form of plot would be pointless as nothing much makes sense from the opening scene right down to the ending. As I’ve said, it’s best to just sit back and take everything as it comes because as crazy as this is, you just never know what is around the next corner!

We’ve got zombies lurking in the graveyard outside, muck men who live in the basement, a spider woman, a possessed ouija board witch, statues of the Grim Reaper which come to life, imps and even more bizarre things which kill the cast one-by-one. Treading a fine line between being serious and being silly, Spookies mixes it up at every opportunity. So after one comedy scene in which the monsters are played for laughs, the next one will be deadly serious. The make-up effects for the monsters are exceptionally done. The transformation of the spider-woman is great, the Grim Reaper looks a bit comical but you won’t forget him in a hurry and the muck men, although flatulent creatures, are disgusting creations, aptly named after their revolting appearance. It’s clear where the budget for this one went. Literally anything and everything in the mansion is liable to come to life and try and harm the characters. And let me state one more time that there’s no point in trying to understand what and why – just let it happen and you’ll be better off for it.

*After writing this review, I did a little bit of research on the film and it turns out that it has a problematic history which explains many things. Spookies started life out as Twisted Souls in 1984 but for some reason it was shelved for a few years until a new director was brought in, new scenes were filmed and added to the existing footage and the result is what you see on the screen. No wonder the film is so disjointed! It’s not bad editing or a bad script when you’ve got three directors, each coming at the film from a completely different standpoint, each with different scripts, budgets, actors, etc. This explains why the film is such a continual contrast to itself and why nothing really seems to click together.

 

Spookies doesn’t hold up well as a proper feature film for obvious reasons. It seems too much of a patched together creation solely based around what make-up effects the FX team could come up with. But what FX! A tour-de-force of 80s horror at its most grandiose and most sublime, Spookies is as entertaining as it is infuriating!

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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