Spookies (1986) — I think you lost your chance at horror with that title

“Somebody does live here, forever…”

Justin’s rating: It may be spooky and ookie, but it’s no Addams Family

Justin’s review: Spookies is a weird movie. It’s the kind of movie that’s made when a director can’t decide between all of his favorite horror monsters and goes, “Eh, just put them ALL in there!” Since this kind of worked for Cabin in the Woods, I wondered if Spookies back in 1986 was able to do the same.

It certainly takes a very convoluted setup to make this monster jamboree work, so hang in here with me. There’s this hidden mansion in the woods that’s home to a demented warlock who’s been trying to figure out a way to bring his dead — or comatose — bride back to life. Apparently the solution for this is “human sacrifices” and the method is “summon every critter in the Dungeons & Dragon monster manual.” Seems like a messy process to me, but then again, I don’t resurrect a lot of dead brides in my spare time.

Somehow, the warlock lures a whole bunch of wannabe partiers into his mansion. I have to mention that this group inexplicably includes both adults and teenagers who were cruising through the forest (?) looking for a party spot. From the warlock’s perspective, this has to be like hitting every jackpot all at once, so he doesn’t waste a minute. He summons up a whole host of “spookies” — which includes zombies, giant spider-people, grim reapers, farting muckmen , etc. — to forcibly obtain blood transfusions for his one-and-only. Who, I should mention, doesn’t really want to be brought back to life or have to hang out with this nutty Phantom of the Opera reject.

The concept here isn’t the worst I’ve ever heard, and again, it’s as good an excuse as any to throw a variety pack of monsters at the audience. I think the only way you can justify this is with a bit of tongue-in-cheek, which is certainly present in Spookies.

The problem — and it’s a doozie — is that Spookies is rife with bad production values and even worse acting. At times, it’s downright hard to see or hear what’s going on, and when you do, you sometimes wish you hadn’t. The actors can’t deliver a line on cue to save their lives, and they are hamstrung with unnatural writing such as “Do you know where you’re going?” “Yeah, I’m going nuts because I’m standing here listening to you!”

I’m also pretty sure that the warlock was recorded speaking through a cardboard tube, which kind of undercuts any and all menace he is trying to exude.

The main reason why Spookies is so haphazard and shoddy (in a lovable way) is that it’s actually two movies spliced together like some sort of unfortunate Frankenstein creation. As the legend goes, Spookies began its life as a movie called Twisted Souls that was shot by first-time directors in 1984. After a difficult production, the creators ended up being harrangued off of the project by their producer. Twisted Souls was then handed to another director, who shot more footage (which included new actors and scenes) and then edited it together into the final product.

So yes, it’s a mess, but it’s kind of mess that you can tell people genuinely loved and poured themselves into. The only thing that kept me going was to see what weird creature the movie would conjure up next. I think Spookies would be terrific fodder for an MST3K experience, especially if you didn’t want to wade through a bunch of boring movie scenes. There’s nothing boring here, I’ll say that much. Now if only I could hear it.

Didja notice?

  • The skull from the title that shifts to a grin is cute
  • If you’re in the woods late at night and a guy comes out of the shadows, it’s cool to give him a light
  • Kid walks into a strange mansion, sees a room with balloons and nobody in it, and naturally assumes it’s a surprise party for him. Doofus.
  • Head in a box!
  • Buried alive, happy birthday, kid
  • Everyone brought a whole lot of supplies for a party at a stranger’s house
  • The guy with the puppet. Man. He feeds the thing.
  • That’s a weird Ouija board
  • Are those muckmen farting?
  • The one girl holding the another back, even though the second girl isn’t moving or doing anything
  • This Grim Reaper does not mess around
  • The old “hold the spider to your face and pretend it’s attacking you” trick
  • The spider lady is pretty great practical effects
  • Did the Grim Reaper just explode like a car?

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