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In the Video Shop...

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Posted 4th May 2009 at 11:18 AM by Sam@Cult Labs

Fright Night

After the early 80s slasher cycle in which mysogynistic murder scenes and extremes of gore were the name of the game, the latter part of the decade saw comedy-horror ruling the video store roost with even Freddy Kruger lapsing into corny one-liners. The fact that Kruger became almost cuddly as the numerous sequels took their toll on his sinister reputation always annoyed me. Did no one ever ask whether producing cuddly toy versions of a notorious child molester might have sent out a mixed message?

Fright Night is one of the better examples of these teen friendly, lightweight movies*, balancing the laughs and the scares very well. A teenage kid is convinced his neighbours are vampires but of course no one believes him, except the host of a cheesy late night horror show, played by Roddy Macdowall. Soon they're fighting the vampire menace together.

Inventive horror fun and very effective. A must for anyone who frequented a video shop in the late 80s.

People Under The Stairs

A young ghetto kid, already upset with his mother's ill health and their imminent eviction, joins his sister's boyfriend on a mission to grab some gold coins from the house of their miserly landlords, who hold the whole neighbourhood to ransom.

The kid's winds up trapped, being chased round a spooky house packed with traps and secret corridors by the insane brother & sister owners. There he meets the "people under the stairs" a mini-race of mutated survivors of the landlords weird attempts to breed a perfect is a bit of a bizarre movie.

Wes Craven, who directs, hit an imaginative vein with this movie, throwing many of disturbing images up on screen combined with extremes of claustrophobia when our hero and his mutant friends are hiding in the wall cavities and ceiling spaces of the scary house.

Fun packed horror with a social message.


The most famous and certainly the best killer car horror flick ever made, from the ghostly pen of Stephen King.

John Carpenter directs this grisly yarn about a bullied nerd who takes a wrong turn into darkness when he buys a beaten up old cherry red Plymouth Fury. The car has been cursed since it came off the motor city assembly line, having killed a factory worker and put pay to it's first owner and his family. Now the rusting junk pile has snared a new patsy and the car itself now has the love it needs to fix itself (in some spectacular SFX sequences).

For new owner Arnie, life isn't easy and the thugs from the school shop class won't leave him be. Christine doesn't like this and goes out on a lonely rampage to ice each and every one of them. Can his old jock pal Dennis and Arnie's new squeeze, Leigh, drag him back to reality or is the new, black clad Arnie here to stay?

Carpenter directs this movie with great energy and the central performance from Keith Gordon as the illfated geek is above and beyond the usual horror movie hackwork you get in a teen scare flick. Christine is one of the best horror movies of the 1980s.


David Cronenberg's masterpiece of body horror is a satirical stab at TV that becomes more relevant with every passing year. James Woods plays a TV Exec looking for the next lurid fix to give his viewers. He comes across an mysterious and illegal broadcast called "Videodrome", a collection of fuzzy snuff clips that seem fracture the mind of those who watch...

Now Woods is sinking further into Videodrome and we're going on a dark trip with him, full of breathing TVs and video tapes inserted into stomachs. Nightmarish special effects and surrealist horror combine in a grotesque send up of the media.

* Trick or Treat, the mid 80s heavy metal morality picture was always my favourite.
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