Night of the Demon (1980)

One of the “video nasties” banned in the U.K, Night of the Demon‘s originality and surrealism makes up for the comical, deadpan acting and inconsistent behavior of the “demon.” Demon is actually a misleading word here though. By definition it is indeed “destructive,” though in the film it’s more of a “bigfoot.” Once the creature is fully shown, you really won’t know WHAT it is.

Searching for answers is a professor and students from an anthropology class. Apparently they have no fear of sleeping in the backwoods at night, minutes after the professor tells stories of how the creature uniquely and savagely attacked random victims in the vicinity. This includes the detachment of a penis and the slicing up a couple of girl scouts, shown in flashbacks that are themselves within a flashback.

Before the beast really goes to town on the inquisitive group, it for some reason only badly scratches a guy’s back while he’s trying to get with his girl. No, this creature wants to wait till later when it breaks through the door of a house in which the remaining victims hide.

The surrealism, caused by oozing/squirting blood, goofy music and eerie sound, lands somewhere between Don’t Go in the Woods from the same year and 1970s Italian horror from Dario Argento.

While there are all sorts of reasons to be amused by this strange trip, some of it is actually disturbing. After a girl is raped by the bigfoot, she gives birth to a mutant baby. The anthropologists speculate that the creature was trying to keep his population above a count of one, as opposed to just being horny. [rating: $10]

The Children (1980)

Despite it being a victim of the dark picture quality felled by many horror films at the time, the Children makes up for it with an original story, oddball dialogue and effective music. If you have seen the early Friday the 13ths enough, you may do a double take for the musical score. Turns out that it was by Harry Manfredini, fresh off the first Friday the 13th that same year. In fact it wouldn’t be a surprise if segments of his score were used for both films. The music works chillingly for this eerie film about robot-zombie-like kids with black finger nails frying the townsfolk and their own parents after their school bus passes through a cloud leaked from a nuclear plant. Awesome concept, though the Children falls just short of being a cornerstone of horror. Too many questions are left unanswered. Why do the children have a desire to kill? How are they able to sizzle people by hugging them? Why is there a nuclear plant nearby? Why aren’t the parents more concerned when their kids are missing? And many more. The conversations also have some explaining to do: “Is Janet home? / Aren’t you a little old for her sheriff? She’s only nine.” Ha! Why would a parent even be THINKING THAT, even if jokingly!? Best part is when they realize how to stop the kids, cause bullets sure as hell don’t work! [rating: $6] –Kenyon

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) If there has ever been a film that you can call “not for the squeamish,” it’s Cannibal Holocaust–hell, it was banned in like 50 countries. A groundbreaking, shocking cannibal film that, although isn’t perfect, set the bar for copycats (Welcome to the Jungle, anyone? Kenyon raises his hand). Shot on 16mm, it’s gruesome and explicit, even by today’s standards. It’s even controversial within the film itself, while the production and filming faced all sorts of problems. If you want to get deep, read up about the social-political messages it represents. Without spoiling anything (really, it’s just something you have to see), most of the first half of the film follows an anthropologist searching in the Amazon jungle for a lost group of people who were filming some sort of twisted documentary about native tribes, and apparently, cannibal tribes. Although the group is notorious for setting up graphic scenes, they are now dead, and likely eaten. The search party is able to obtain the film reels and bring them back to the U.S, where they discover that the footage is not at all appropriate for public exposure. As the film within a film progresses, the documentary crew pushes things WAY too far in their quest to fabricate their story. Inevitably, they end up as bones. Now, there are some scenes in Holocaust–some of it is REALLY effed up–that are REAL. That said, the uncut version deserves an NC-17 rating, as it is difficult to forget. [rating: $10] –Kenyon

Here’s a smart comment someone posted on this video: “Pathetic how people bitch about the killing of 7 animals that were killed 32 years ago, whilst in the meantime, hundreds of thousands of animals are being ‘processed’ in farms and the like. At this very moment, imagine how many animals- like Sheep, Cows, Goats, Chickens and the like -are savagely being slaughtered just so your fridge doesn’t have an empty meat section. There’s no such thing as ‘Civilization’. We’re just cocky because we’re clever. Humankind is and always will be, savage.”

Alien Contamination (1980)

Alien Contamination (aka Contamination, 1980) Hundreds of watermelon-size egg-like things have appeared in New York City. The authorities are on it, and they find out that they explode onto people and then two seconds later the victim’s guts explode out in a gory manner, which is fairly impressive for this type of early 80s, lower budget film. The eggs are very important to the people that have a plan for them. And they are so important, these eggs, that men will sacrifice themselves to keep it covered. In one scene some dudes get caught in a warehouse with the eggs, so they shoot the eggs in front of themselves (!) and die instantly. Later, in a flashback, it’s shown that the strange eggs originated from Mars and one of two astronauts took back a “seed” to grow a cyclops. Yes, a cyclops. This sorta comes out of nowhere near the end, but it’s very entertaining. It’s an alien creature, the size of a large tree–and kinda shaped that way–that is in the basement of the facility housing the eggs. It is controlling minds and making its servants harvest the eggs, which apparently have no other purpose than to explode and release toxic substances. Anyway, the other astronaut saves the day, although one of the other hero lead characters is unexpectedly eaten by the cyclops. Wooops! [rating: $3]Kenyon