Adventures in B-Movie Horror 2

I don’t know if there’s a better decade for pure schlock in film than the good ole 80s. Not only was it a good time for entertaining horror, it was also an era for people to produce lower budget flicks full of over the top moments.

These next three films fit that criteria.

Screamtime, 1983

This is an anthology feature with a wrap-around framing device of three people watching VHS tapes. Those in the wrap-around have major New York City accents, and it basically gives a person whiplash when the short stories start and they’re all British.

Regardless of the accents, though, this movie is consistently entertaining. The wrap-around is quite funny, and the horror shorts have some good moments.

ScreamKnifePicture
A conventional screencap in an unconventional film.

The main flaw of each horror short is they all have a really slow start. It’s noticeable with each movie that it simply takes a while for things to get rolling.

When the shorts do pick up steam, though, they’re pretty good. Each of the three films ends with wild finales.

ScreamtimePuppet2
Just like The Rock in “Walking Tall.”

When looking at them individually, the middle horror story is the best by far. It’s an intriguing situation where a woman and her husband move into a new home, and the wife sees several visions of murders.

It’s a compelling story, features some good scares, and the ending has a solid twist. All put together, it’s a strong film with a smart concept.

The other two aren’t quite as good, but entertaining at least. While each are rather hokey, the film does have fun with the finales. The kills could be a little better, but this one’s alright.

2.5 out of 3 killer puppets.

Chopping Mall, 1986

ChopMallFeature

Right off the bat, everyone should know that there is no chopping in this film. Rather than a slasher with a knife, “Chopping Mall” features three security robots going after a group of teens all night in a shopping center.

Chop1
I was expecting it to say “Happy Birthday Paulie.”

While the film goes through a lot of the motions of a slasher, with the characters picked off one by one by a roaming, silent threat, the film comes across almost more like a horror-action. The teens take action right away to find ways to fight back, and their quick work in doing so makes it easy to root for them.

These aren’t the most experienced actors, but for a low-budget horror, they are not too bad. In fact, it’s good that the characters work out so well because the robots aren’t exactly the scariest.

Chop2
Not quite the A-Team.

The robots looks like a giant toy, or like the bot in “Rocky IV.” Their weapons are also rather comical. The arsenal is a mix of projectile hooks on metal wires and cartoonish lasers.

With that said, the bots at least have a constant looming presence and that still works to the film’s advantage. Plus, the  schlocky entertainment  is featured from start to finish. It’s has a few good kills and will provide some laughs.

3 out of 3 laser blasts.

Pin, 1988

PinFeature

This is a low budget thriller involving a doll, and as one might expect, the title “Pin” is in reference to “Pinocchio.” Unlike most films with a doll, though, “Pin” has a life-size one, setting itself apart from some counterparts.

Pin111
The doll knows too much!

“Pin” really works more as a thriller than an outright horror. There’s a bit of a shadow over the answer to the question of if the doll is actually alive or if it’s in one of the characters’ heads, giving the feature some intrigue.

David Hewlett, who played the main character Leon, deserves credit for being fairly convincing in how he interacts with the doll Pin.  His conversations he has with the doll are fairly creepy, and add an interesting psychological element to the film.

Pin2
Most awkward dinner scene?

“Pin” does have a major detriment, though, which is it takes a while for things to happen. There are certainly lulls here between some of the film’s more exciting sequences.

Another issue are the death scenes. The kills here just aren’t memorable enough, unfortunately.

Despite not being entirely scary, though, “Pin” does deliver some suspense and thrills. As a low-budget flick, it’s alright.

2.5 out of 3 anatomy dolls.

Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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