Saturday, March 14, 2009

It's Saturday the 14th again

[Originally published in Temple of Schlock #17, May 1989]

A sequel to SATURDAY THE 14TH? Yeah, I'm afraid so. Remember, this is from Corman's Concorde Pictures, the sequel capital of the world. They have STRIPPED TO KILL II and WIZARDS OF THE LOST KINGDOM II in theaters now and EYE OF THE EAGLE II, HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD II, SILK II, FOOD OF THE GODS II, ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL FOREVER and DEATHSTALKER III coming soon. Those Concorde boys are a real imaginative lot, huh? Anyway, I believe that Corman movies are best viewed at drive-ins, so when SATURDAY THE 14TH STRIKES BACK rolled into a nearby outdoor theatre with the rancid NIGHTFALL, it was obviously time for a sleazy night under the stars.

It's been seven or eight years since I saw the first SATURDAY THE 14TH, so it's understandably hazy in my mind, but I do remember that it was pretty weak. Surprise surprise, the sequel isn't any great shakes either, but it has enough bizarre touches and goofy humor to rate as a cheap rental. The dumb storyline revolves around the Baxters, a not-so-average American family that has just inherited an old house from their late Uncle Ralph. The Baxters are strange. Mom keeps the family well-fed with a steady diet of junk food; Dad likes to give everyone stupid, useless health and fitness tips; the teen-aged daughter is obsessed with keeping people out of her room; the grandfather (Ray Walston) raves on endlessly about "the good old days;" and the obnoxious, conniving Aunt Alice and Uncle Bert show up, scheming to get the Baxters to give up the old house. The only normal member of the family is Eddie (Jason Presson), who immediately suspects that there's something fishy about the house when he finds a big crack in the basement. As expected, strange things begin to happen: hairy paws creep out from under the furniture, hooded monsters raid the fridge for food, family members sleepwalk with spoons in their hands, and Dad carves the Statue of Liberty and The Thinker out of chocolate pudding.

It turns out that on Saturday the 14th -- Eddie's birthday -- the powers of evil will emerge from the crack in the basement. Eddie is the heir to the throne of evil, but he doesn't want to join the bad guys. His grandfather turns out to be a centuries-old wizard dedicated to wiping out the basement nasties. Are you following all of this? Just checking. Throw in a few crazy creatures, a sexy vampire named Charlene, and a flimsy song-and-dance number called "A Vampire's Diet" and you have a film that reaches new heights in idiocy. Plus, the finale is one of the coolest I've seen in a while -- an action-packed montage of clips from at least a dozen earlier Corman films, including CRAZY MAMA, AVALANCHE, DEATHSPORT, GRAND THEFT AUTO and ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL. Geez, some things never change! Avery Schreiber is goofy as usual as Dad Baxter, Ray Walston is fine as the mystical grandfather, and "The Bad Seed" herself, Patty McCormack, turns in a good performance as well. It's no BEETLEJUICE, but it's certainly better than TRANSYLVANIA 6-5000 or any of the other more recent horror-comedies.

[Above photo from the Cinema Treasures site]

Chris says: I saw this at the Buffalo Drive-In, a 3-screener in Cheektowaga, a suburb of Buffalo, NY. The co-feature was actually BILL AND TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE and not NIGHTFALL, which was playing on one of the other screens. I thought we could pay one price and then roam from screen to screen, creating our own double or triple features -- y'know, kind of like making your own salad at Sizzler? -- but the theater had three different box-offices, ruining my plan for a Corman double-header.

Another thing that annoyed me about this theater: the manager tapped into the AM frequency before each feature so he could crack lame jokes and make fun of the movies we were about to watch.

Reading over this review again, I can't believe I forgot to point out that Gahan Wilson did the artwork for the 1-sheet.

The first SATURDAY THE 14TH was written by Howard R. Cohen and Jeff Begun, one half of the Conception Corporation comedy troupe (Ira Miller and Murphy Dunne comprised the other half), whose early '70s shot-on-video feature VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW should be added to our "Endangered List."

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