Crime Horror

Summer of 84

Summer of 84

My initial feelings about Summer of 84 was this is Stranger Things the movie. It wasn’t until the last 15 minutes that my opinion changed.

***This review will contain spoilers***

The film relies heavily on the nostalgia factor. The first shot is of 80s sneakers on the metal shin breaking pedals of a BMX bike. We get to reminisce about the fashions, the GI Joe walkie talkies, paper routes and simpler times. It’s almost a formulaic coming of age film that was heavily influenced by Stand by Me and The Losers Club (It). The characters are textbook, you have the geeky kid Curtis (Cory Guter-Andrew), the bad kid with a rough home life Tommy (Judah Lewis), the fat kid Woody (Caleb Emery), the smart kid Davey (Graham Verchere) and the girl next door Nikki (Tiera Skovbye from Riverdale). They each fit perfectly into a template.

The four outcast boys and the girl next door embark on a summer adventure together. A serial killer is on the loose in their town and they begin to put the clues together. Davey becomes convinced the killer is his neighbor a police officer named Wayne Mackey (Rich Sommer). They begin following Mackey around, break into his shed and dig up his garden. They discover a bloody shirt that they believe belonged to one of the missing kids. They go to Davey’s parents with the evidence and his parents are  outraged and make the boys apologize to Mackey. Davey still believes Mackey is the killer and convinces the others to help him break into a locked room in Makeys basement and record evidence. Here they discover the body of one of the missing kids and save a boy who was being held captive. As they’re leaving, they notice all the pictures on the wall are of his victims and there is a picture of Davey’s family implying he was going to be the next victim. They go to the police and a manhunt is issued to find Mackey. Woody spends the night at Davey’s and Mackey shows up in the middle of the night to kidnap them. A couple of major holes in the story at this point, I feel are why the hell no police detail was put outside Davey’s home and why the fuck no one noticed all the victim’s pictures hanging in his house. What kind of experienced serial killer especially a cop keeps his trophies in plain sight?!

From the time they break into the basement the movies tone completely changes, it goes from being a fluffy adventure to Gacy’s basement. The movie flips a switch and it gets fucking dark. Up until this point I didn’t realize how invested in the characters I was. When Mackey kidnaps the boys, he takes them to the woods and hunts them. They discover a huge pile of bodies in various stages of decay and Woody says how he can’t die he has to take care of his mom. Davey heroically tells him to run for the car while he distracts Mackey. Mackey catches poor Woody and slits his throat. It’s graphic and it sits with you like watching your childhood friend die. I wasn’t prepared for it because up until 4 minutes ago I was watching a completely different movie. While I was still wrapping my head around Woody’s death, Mackey captures Davey and rather than killing him he tells him he wants him to think about him. He’s going to kill him one day, but until that day comes, he’ll always have to be looking over his shoulder waiting. The ending is Davey riding his bike through town, where we see Nikki leaving forever and Tommy and Curtis no longer appear to be his friend possibly resenting him for the death of Woody. He says “every serial killer is someone’s neighbor” roll credits and we’re left to digest what the hell just happened.

Overall, I’d say it’s a good movie. It’s not original in its characters or plot, but the tone was something fresh. I was lulled into a false sense of security before being smashed in the emotions.

Posted by Candace Stone in Categories, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): God Told Me To (1976)

MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): God Told Me To (1976)

God Told Me To
By Woofer McWooferson

God Told Me To movie poster

God Told Me To

Writer and Director: Larry Cohen; Stars: Tony Lo Bianco, Deborah Raffin, Sandy Dennis; Rating: R; Run Time: 91 min; Genre: Crime, Horror, Sci-Fi; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1976

God Told Me To is one of those hidden gems that bring great joy to fans of the horror-science fiction crossover films. Writer/director Larry Cohen, best known for the It's Alive franchise, Q: The Winged Serpent, the Maniac Cop franchise, and The Stuff, creates a film that manages to move from crime drama to science fiction to horror and back again and makes it seem easy in spite of an erratic and changing theme. Detective Peter Nicholas is a deeply religious man who finds himself faced with a series of seemingly unrelated killings by multiple killers whose only connection is that all say they are acting on instruction from God, e.g. “God told me to.” His investigation leads him to a group of people who were brought together by a message from God. From there he goes on to meet this “God” and finds a young man who resembles Jesus bathed in golden light. It is here where the story gets truly weird.

Tony Lo Bianco in God Told Me To

Sammy Williams and Tony Lo Bianco in God Told Me To

While the production value is low, particularly by today's standards, it fits the feel of a gritty police procedural and adds a flavor of realism to the more fantastic science fiction and horror aspects of the story. Solid performances by Tony Lo Bianco (The Honeymoon Killers, Police Story), Sandy Dennis (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), and Deborah Raffin (The Sentinal) in the lead roles elevate the film from standard B fare into the realm of must-see cult classic. Lo Bianco really nails the complicated and conflicted detective in a nuanced performance that has never received the praise it should. Sandy Dennis as the detective's estranged wife is almost zen in her perfect peace and acceptance of her husband's desire to leave her for another woman. Deborah Raffin as the other woman manages to come off likeable in spite of – or perhaps because of – her curious mixture of innocence and experience. Horror genre regulars Richard Lynch (Werewolf) and Mike Kellin (Sleepaway Camp) appear in supporting roles - Lynch as the Jesus figure and Kellin as the Deputy Commissioner, and Mason Adams (F/X) has a cameo as an obstetrician. Thus, Cohen manages to create a movie with both depth and believability in the face of an incredible plot.

Richard Lynch in God Told Me To

Richard Lynch in God Told Me To

God Told Me To is definitely not for the casual fan and could even be considered blasphemous by the most rigid of Christians as it weaves in and out of the philosophy of religion. Thanks to a resurgence in popularity of older films, viewers no longer have to search for an old VHS as it is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Amazon video. Fans of the odd and obscure, however, will be glad they took the time to watch it.

Andy Kaufman in God Told Me To

Andy Kaufman in God Told Me To

8/10 claws - .5 just for Andy Kaufman in his first film role.

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments