“Corpses that have been dead for twenty-seven years do not get up and go for a walk by themselves!”
Origin/Director: USA/Fred Dekker
Viewings Tally: This was my first viewing! I remember seeing the spooky cover on the VHS box at an indie video store when I was a kid.
Synopsis: In 1959, an alien experiment crashes to earth and infects a fraternity member. They freeze the body, but in the modern day, two geeks pledging a fraternity accidentally thaw the corpse, which proceeds to infect the campus with parasites that transform their hosts into killer zombies. [Letterboxd]
Reely Bernie’s Take: Here’s a campy 80s horror movie that is so locked in the 80s, it can’t spoof its own self from being a campy 80s horror movie. Research indicates that Director Fred Dekker obviously possessed the passionate nerdom for sci-fi/horror greats like Ed Wood, George A. Romero, and John Carpenter, and he even named his characters after them. However, from the first minute, you get the awkward sense that he is actually trying to be scary. The plastic alien suits, sloppy makeup effects, and recycled horror clichés come off so innocent and sincere that spoof becomes pet project failure.
The horror satire really didn’t perfect itself until Wes Craven’s Scream (1996), which was self-conscious of being self-conscious – openly admitting it knew the generic horror flick rules, how to break them, and how to flip the script on the audience.
Poor Dekker actually wanted the alien suits to frighten.
(The test audience laughed.)
Dekker’s script feels like it was written in a week.
(Dekker’s script was written in a week.)
Granted, an older-than-millennial moviegoer may sense an endearing 80s charm that fringes on “cult movie” reevaluation. For me, the acting is just too annoying (who wanted to see Jason Lively again after European Vacation?), and the odd pacing is too slipshod for an annual revisit.
(Apparently, the studio was also unhappy with the pacing and edited some scenes without Dekker’s knowledge, and you wouldn’t know the difference.)
Kudos to teenage-Michael Keaton doppelgänger, Steve Marshall, for providing the sidekick humor.
I admire the loyalists who call this a cult classic, but I’m sticking with calling it a time capsule worthy of one visit.
The Shot that Won’t Let Go:
Final Score: 2 regurgitated slugs from outer space out of 5
Have you seen this one? If so, please share your thoughts!
Happy (Early) Reely Bernie Horror Fest,