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Featured Post - Mystery Movie Marathon

I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, September 30, 2019

Superstition (1982)

This is one of those odd movies that I really should have caught in the eighties but never did. Heck I never even heard of this one until recently when it was brought to my attention by some friends. It seems like it was a staple on the shelves of many Mom and Pop video stores, but I suppose none of the ones that I frequented must have had it. I was happy to get my grubby little hands on a copy to check out for review here at the Horror Dude Blog.

Things kick off with a couple of kids making out in a car parked next to a haunted house. See since everyone is afraid of the house the plan is that they can enjoy themselves without interruption, or at least that was their hope. Turns out there are a couple of pranksters that scare the hell out of them for a few laughs. The joke is on them though when the house really is possessed, and they end up dead! This is all a setup for the main story of the new reverend coming to town with his family. The church owns the supposedly haunted place and decides that it would be a perfect home to fix up for them to live in. That is a bad idea.

Here is the skinny on what is happening. It isn’t that the house is haunted so much as the ground is bad. We see thru a flashback that a witch was drowned in a nearby pond and since then the whole area has been cursed. When people start to disappear, and others are found dead the police want to blame the creepy groundskeeper’s son, but we know better. The property isn’t just haunted by your run of the mill spirit, but is home to the demonic ghost of the executed witch. She is still rather annoyed at being drowned in the pond and is ready to take it out on everyone!

This is a fun movie that I am very pleased to have finally seen. It still makes me smile to realize that as much time as I spent in the video section of my local video stores growing up there are still things that I missed. Most of the time they aren’t very good which is likely how they slipped past me, but here that isn’t the case. While it doesn’t break any new ground, Superstition does give us plenty of what we would expect from an eighty’s horror flick.

Its about to get creepy!
The story is quick and easy to follow. They get to the kills right away by tossing a couple in before the main story gets rolling. The characters are defined enough to easily identify the roles they are going to play, the annoying kid, the flawed father, the cute daughters, and the hero are right there. Don’t worry about being bored though because there are a couple things that Superstition does to let you know that no one is safe and that anyone might become a victim. They follow the formula with a twist, those are the best kinds of horror movies.

The highlight of Superstition for me are the kills. We get a head blow up in a microwave, a window chopping another dude in half, a drowning, death by a wine press, a wooden stake to the forehead, and my personal favorite a rogue saw blade to the chest. This is a bloody flick and I enjoyed every minute of it! When I think eighties horror, I immediately think gore and this one delivers the goods. We also get a respectable twelve kills… well I suppose thirteen. My only complaint is that the annoying kid dies offscreen. Not that I advocate killing your child actors off, but if you do at least show it!

Superstition isn’t a perfect movie, but it is a good time. If you dig the “B” movies that tended to hit the video store shelves back in the day you are going to love this one. It is my understanding that by the time you are reading this a new Blu-Ray of this movie will be out so availability shouldn’t be an issue. I’m recommending this one.

© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

Friday, September 27, 2019

Arachnia (2003)

A low budget monster movie with giant spider creatures is right in my wheelhouse. I love movies like this, so when it popped up on one of the streaming services I use it rose to the top of my list to watch. I’m also a fan of the director, Brett Piper. Time to check out Arachnia.

An archaeologist and some students are on their way to Arizona in a small plane to check out a new fossil when they encounter a meteor storm that forces the plane down. They all survive the crash only to be found by a shotgun toting farmer. Eventually he agrees to drive them to town the next morning. This delay becomes very important because the meteor has opened up a cave where a nest of giant spiders live. Now that they are free, they go looking for victims, which leads them to the characters. People meet grisly ends, the house is laid siege to, and the air force is called in. Typical monster movie stuff.

Piper doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel with this movie, hitting all the tropes along the way. The hero saves the day, the coward dies, the villainous scientist guy gets people killed, and the cute girl gets naked. That last one only applies to monster movies made in the seventies or later, but it still counts! The pacing is quick and goes from plane crash to giant spider attack fast enough to keep you distracted from the obvious plot holes. Though I have to point out it was genius when the hero wishes they had a way to reach the outside world only for every other character to hand him a cell phone. Why didn’t they use those earlier? The fact that the movie pointed it out on its own made me laugh and not overthink it.

The Spiders are fun
The actors are okay. I honestly don’t have very high standards when it comes to casting in these low budget monster movies. Again, the pacing is good, and it never feels boring or slow. They did a great job finding the locations of the old farm house, cabin, and cave where most of the movie takes place. Remember my one big rule for making an independent movie on a low budget, shoot what you can afford. The monster spiders are brought to life on screen thru a combination of puppetry and stop motion animation. This old school approach was a welcome change from the CGI crapfests that we normally see in newer monster movies. Sure, the stop motion looks cheesy, but I like it that way.

While it does a good job staying within the budget Arachnia does reach a bit too far with the inclusion of Helicopters and jet planes attacking the spiders in the big finale. The stock footage and really bad CGI of a helicopter sitting on the ground wasn’t how I hoped they would end it. There are a couple of shots where you can see the actors bleeding thru where the digitally inserted object is supposed to be. It gives Arachnia an unfinished feeling.

I can’t say that this is a good movie. It’s not very original and has some silly moments. Though I think this is what they were going for, so it was successful. Not everything has to be art and sometimes you can make a goofy movie for a particular audience. I love monster movies, and this is an entertaining one. I doubt I’ll ever watch it again, but it was fun.

© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer