…What the hell am I watching?
I admit to an affinity for bad and/or low budget films from the 80’s. A part of this is nostalgia. I remember when people looked like those in these films. The hair, the clothes, the product placement. It all takes me back. Another part is the aesthetic of the cheapie films. I watched A LOT of these as a kid, most forgotten, but still with me. I think every now and then, late on Saturday nights is best, I will see what is offered on Amazon Prime for this sort of thing. I start with this gem from 1981: Saturday the 14th!
A family inherits a spooky old house. The son opens “The book of Evil” and all sorts of monsters are unleashed. A Vampire, played by Jeffrey Tambor, wants the house so that he can get the book. Van Helsing, of course, shows up and they fight over it. A Comedy from Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, another hallmark of my childhood.
The great Richard Benjamin plays the dad, happily oblivious to the nonsense going on around him. He previously appeared in “Love at First Bite” a comedic Dracula film. I think he hoped for a repeat of that film’s sucess here, but it did not happen. He’s usually pretty good, but he is totally phoning it in here. I think he might have done it just to work with his wife. Or maybe Corman got a package deal. Who knows.
His wife, Paula Prentiss, plays his wife lol. She turns the ham up to the max, fully aware of the piece of crap she is starring in. She did make me laugh with the scream on the stairs when Val Helsing showed up.
Kari Michaelsen plays the daughter who of course has a bathtub scene. In said scene, the creature from the Black Lagoon attacks her and there follows the funniest part of the movie (see below). She might actually be the highlight of the film. These movies need a “Scream Queen” and her scream was excellent. One of the best I’ve heard from the era.
Kevin Brando opens the book. fucks around with monsters. lol.
Jeffrey Tambor and Nancy Lee Andrews play the Waldermars, a vampire couple. It is implied that he is actually Count Dracula, but I guess there were rights issues? Not entirely sure. She was okay, but he was not to bad in this. He’s always been good at silly, especially BITCHY silly, and this role plays to that.
Old School mainstay Severn Darden, seen here in Planet of the Apes 5, plays Van Helsing. He’s his normal self, the bad guy.
The look, music, setting, and feel of this film is excellent; Pure 80’s nostalgia. The acting, writing, cinematography, editing, is all pretty bad, but in a good way, a proper way. The creature work was on point though. They definitely put the movie’s budget into the monsters. The film’s biggest crime is that it is named Saturday the 14th and it did not spoof Friday the 13th. It spoofed classic monster/haunted house movies, and I use the term “spoof” very lightly here. Almost none of the jokes land. I found myself actually enjoying the badness of the film though. You sometimes reach a point where it crosses over into comedy, accidentally and the Cormans achieved it here. There was one honest to god funny moment though.
The daughter is taking a bath and just as she settles in for her bath, the creature from the black lagoon pops up and snarls/growls at her. These snarls are given subtitles and it is hilarious.
Seriously, how can you not laugh at that. It reminded me of the animal subtitles from Anchorman. If you are finding yourself with some free time, and a few beers or other mind/mood altering substances, check this one out… IF YOU DARE!!! MWA-HAHAHAHA!