It’s that time of the year again, August. The month we all hated as it was the end of our summer vacation and the beginning of back to school. So a little treat is needed and what could be better then Olympic gymnast Kurt Thomas, who combines his gymnastic ability with martial arts to enter a deadly competition? I’m going to guess NOTHING!. Thomas has a few awards under his leotards. In 1985 he earned the big nomination for a Razzie Award as Worst New Star. Wow nothing but the best for you here at Simplistic Reviews.
“Watching Gymkata is a roundhouse kick of pure American action!” – Justin
So are you ready? Cue up your copy, sit back and be in awe over how a movie like this could even exist. Thank you movie gods!
Return of the Living Dead: Whimsical
Moving along to 1985 I’m picking one of my horror guilty pleasures. While I’m a little “zombified” by zombies and the undead in general, one film really holds a special place in my heart, and while I do love the Romero Trilogy of Night, Dawn, and Dead, there is nothing like the fun and all out insanity of “Return of the Living Dead.”
It’s weird to talk about “Return of the Living Dead” when I could have easily picked “Dawn of the Dead” for 1985, but who really wants to hear about the message George Romero was trying to make about the evil of capitalism, that’s all been done before. What I want to talk about are goofy government conspiracies, graveyard stripping, a mortician who might be a Nazi, and of course talking zombies.
“Return” is the tale of government foul-ups and cover-ups. When a toxin is release by two bumbling chemical warehouse workers it awakens the dead from a nearby cemetery which ruins the time of a group of punk rockers who are partying in said cemetery. That’s pretty much all you need to know about this film, that, and it’s tons of fun.
While “Night” and “Dawn” relied on practical horror and a message of social change, “Return” is the Id of those films. There is blood, boobs, and more blood. There is also the first concept and idea that zombies enjoy to not just munch on flesh, but also “brains.” This plot point is revealed by a talking zombie.
There should be so many things that bother me about this film. One, the zombies talk. Two, the characters are goofy and whiny. And three, my cardinal sin, the zombies RUN. This, to my knowledge, is the first example of running zombies, but I’ll give it a pass considering the goofy nature of this film.
Here are some other oldies but goodies from ’85:
|FLAT – but not flat chested|
The Stuff: Tasty
87mins – Comedy/Horror – 1985
Looking for a unique film for Halloween?
Here you go! Ladies and Gentlemen, The Stuff!
One of the best satires that’s really a horror film at heart. Michael Moriarty leads this delicious film of mysterious goo that is pouring out of the earth. For some odd reason an old man takes a taste right away to see what it is. This white thing pouring from the earth taste amazing. Corporate America takes a taste as well and what we get is this new craze sweeping the nation.
America buys it by the ton, replacing all other foods with this new food called… The Stuff!
“It’s smooth and creamy. It’s low calorie and delicious. And it kills. It’s The Stuff!”
Everyone becomes addicted to The Stuff that turns them all into zombie like creatures. Everyone must eat The Stuff! If you don’t soon they will make sure you do!
One night, a kid named Jason notices the new food, The Stuff moving in his fridge. He tells his parents and they don’t believe him. They have already been taken over by The Stuff. He runs to the grocery store to warn the people but no one believes him. This creates a story that runs in the paper, which an ex-FBI agent, David Rutherford notices. Rutherford is played by the amazing and extremely tall (6’4”) Michael Moriarty. Rutherford during this time is investigating The Stuff when the news about the boy comes his way. Along with Nicole (Mad Men like promoter), these three are the world’s last hope to pull them from this controlling goo.
Will they stop it or is the nation over as we know it?!
The story works and it works well. It feels like the body snatchers, the blob and a comedy about America’s consumerism all rolled up into one. It’s a very unique film that is just a flat out great film. Yes acting is rough and the effects are of their time. But there is so much more here then a horror film, but a satire about this country and its need to consume the latest greatest fad. It feels like it could happen and honestly isn’t that far fetched of an idea, even thou it might seem extremely absurd. I could see this working today maybe with food or medication. An evil corporation finds something that they want to make a ton of money on, so they bribe the FDA and get their product into everyone’s hands even if it has deadly side effects. As I watch this I see a commercial for a pill that can kill you. The side effects out weigh the job of the pill, so why is this available then?
Please watch this film. It’s an intriguing film that balances comedy in the right way. Yes its funny that a food could take people over but I find it even more funny that the need for consumerism is sadly the realest part of the film.
On Netflix as of now, no reason to not watch this!
Garrett Morris (SNL) pops up and he is fantastic onscreen. Originally Arsenio Hall was considered.
To create The Stuff, a lot of Häagen Däzs ice-cream and yogurt was used.
Re-Animator – Head
One of the oldest, and most cliched tropes in horror are zombies. Zombies, zombies, and zombies. You simply can’t get away from zombies. Well, to be fair, vampires took the lead a little bit, but with “The Walking Dead” and numerous video games, you can’t get away from zombies. But, there was a time when zombies were cool, not running jokes (double pun). This brings me to the 1985 cult classic from Stuart Gordon, “Re-Animator.” While it’s not a zombie movie per say, maybe more of a modern day take on Frankenstein, there is still plenty of zombie-like behavior throughout the film.
Our tale starts at the University of Zurich, where Dr. Herbert West is found with his “dead” professor, Hans Gruber, and after the incident, West flees the University to come to Miskatonic University in Massachusetts to continue his studies. He meets Dan Cain after answering an ad for a room to rent in Cain’s home. Dan is engaged to be married to the Dean of the University’s daughter, Megan, which is being kept a secret.
After an altercation with the University’s head brain researcher, Dr. Carl Hill, West continues his research and brings Dan’s dead cat, Rufus, back to life. While Dan is horrified, he is also intrigued by West’s research and helps him sneak into the University’s morgue to continue testing his “reagent” on fresh corpses. This is met with mixed results as the test corpse is re-animted, but uncontrollably, killing Megan’s father, Alan Halsey. West, after dispatching his creation, seizes the opportunity with an even fresher corpse, and injects Alan with his reagent. While not a wild as the previous experiment, Alan is merely a zombie of his former self.
After contacting the authorities, Dr. Hill remands Halsey in his private padded room and lobotomizes him with his latest creation, a laser knife, to make him more docile. Hill goes to visit West after the procedure and plans to blackmail him if West does not turn over his research for his serum. Distracting Hill, West is able to dispatch the doctor with a shovel, removing his head from his body. Sensing a breakthrough with an even fresher specimen, West injects Hill’s head and body with his serum, resurrecting both. However, while not paying attention, Hill’s body knocks out West, stealing his notes, research, and serum, and returns to the morgue at Miskatonic’s Hospital to begin his own research with the reagent.
Meanwhile, Dan and Megan find West in his research basement, discovering that all of his research has been stolen, but before they can react, Megan’s father, Alan, attacks, knocking out Dan and taking Megan back to Hill. Needless to say, Hill’s plan is to use his laser knife and West’s serum to resurrect the dead and lobotomize them to create an undead army under his command and it’s up to West and Cain to stop him and save Megan.
“Re-Animator” is a classic in the splatter/body horror genre, and I could only imagine what it would have looked like if it was directed by David Cronenberg, even though Stuart Gordon does an admirable job directing. The film takes classic tropes of zombies, Frankenstein, and other elements of the horror genre, and marries it in a perfectly cheesy 80s way. While the plot is ridiculous, and some of the gore effects over-the-top, that doesn’t take away from the truly sleazy masterpiece this film is.
Now let’s get down to it, “Re-Animator” is what it is today with the help of one key set-piece; it’s the ironically hilarious, albeit extremely exploitative, “head” scene. Upon seeing this scene again, and remember it from when I first saw this film, while the scene is graphic, there really isn’t much there. This scene has popped up on so many lists of the most memorable horror scene, or sickest scenes in cinema, but it’s more the insinuation than anything and the way the shot is composed is simply a sick pun (head giving head). I’m sure some people see this as misogynistic, sick, twisted, and plain gross, but you could get away with stuff like this in the 1980s.
There are also a few nice odes in the film as well, including the opening title score, performed by Richard Band, which is an obvious ode to Bernard Herrmann’s “Psycho” theme. And the Talking Heads poster that is above Daniel’s bed, which would allude to Dr. Hill’s “talking head” later in the film. While not the most subtle or ingenious ode, it’s still very fun to see.
All in all, “Re-Animator” is still a lot of a fun, and holds up very well nearly 30 years later. The gore effects and the animatronics rival anything practical being done today, if you can still find reasonable effective practical gore, and it’s just cheesy and exploitative enough to be a lot of fun. Also, unlike other Lovecraft fare, this story is actually reasonably easy to follow. Most of his Cthulhu Mythos can get a little confusing and in depth, but “Re-Animator” is an easy to follow story about a man trying to play God, and wrestle with naked corpses.
Fun Fact: “Herbert West-Reanimator” was first published in October 1921 in the magazine, Home Brew.