Spookies (Movie Review)

Director: Thomas Doran | Release Date: 1986

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Long gone are the days when horror fans could peruse the aisles of the local video store and make a selection based solely on a sweet VHS cover. Sometimes a hidden gem was discovered, and, sometimes the old adage about not judging covers held true; the art on the box was often the best thing about the flicks that haunted the rental racks. Spookies has a nice poster/cover and has garnered somewhat of a cult following over the last thirty years, but is that following warranted?

Comprised of bits of two separate productions that were edited together, Spookies has three different storylines. The first involves a boy named Billy whose family and friends have forgotten his 13th birthday. For some reason, he wanders into the woods and stumbles upon an abandoned mansion with an inexplicable surprise party waiting inside. In the second narrative, a group of “kids” ranging in age from early 20s to late 30s travels through the cemetery to the same mansion to drink and hang out. Thirdly, a Dracula-looking guy (according to Wikipedia, he’s a “sorcerer”) who apparently owns the house is trying to raise his undead (?) bride. None of these characters and plots ever cross paths, a testament to the fractured nature of the production.

It’s difficult to rate a movie like this because there’s not a lot to it. The production values are very low; assuming that the people involved were doing the best with what they had, laying heavy criticism on the outcome of their work seems harsh. Some of the creature designs and effects are sort of cool and reasonably well executed for a micro budget. But the acting is horrible, and the story consists of nothing more than characters being killed by various creatures. The last few minutes is by far the best, with the bride escaping the decrepit mansion, chased around the property grounds by a horde of zombies. The synth score during this sequence is effective and the cinematography is better than any point in the other 80 minutes. Had the entire film consisted of scenes like this, Spookies would definitely earn it’s cult status. Overall, though, there’s not much in the way of fun, scares, or even basic entertainment to be had.

Spookies is sometimes compared to other low budget classics of the video era, such as The Evil Dead, but viewers looking for something of that quality will likely be disappointed. There just isn’t that level of filmmaking on display. For folks who love Z-grade horror and still want to check it out, it's available for free on YouTube.

Chris

A horror fan from the time he first saw Poltergeist on HBO as a child, Chris shares his West Virginia home with his fiancé, a pug, and two chihuahuas, none of whom share his love of all things horror.