October has struck again. Halloween decorations fill the neighborhood, as the Summer has turned to Fall and leaves litter the streets. Folks attend such events as scarehouses and the like in an effort to feel closer to that feeling of horror.
For many others though, those feelings of murder and mayhem are the norm; a past-time if you will. Not actual murder mind you, rather the joy of timeless cult classics. For many, the emotion of the season is a mandatory obligation throughout the year; indulging in the glow of cuddling with a loved one, kicking back with some friends, or just losing your gourd in the mindless nature of an old 70’s or 80’s b-movie horror flick. For those who may be uninitiated to these classic time capsules of American culture, prepare yourself, cautious as you may be, as we run through a list of a few of the greatest Cult Classics of the past.
Private Parts (1972)
Paul Bartel’s directorial debut sees a young girl named Cheryl leave Ohio behind and run away with a friend to the live on the beaches of Southern California. After an argument with her roommate, Cheryl cuts out, but with nowhere to stay she talks her way into room at a skid row motel run by her Aunt Martha. The patrons are creeps, including an appearance by Laurie Main of “Winnie the Pooh” fame, who plays a reverend with a lust for young muscular men. Cheryl ends up enamoured with a photographer named George, who sleeps with blow-up dolls and runs a darkroom in the basement. People turn up missing, bodies begin to pile up, yet the biggest secret of them all is unbeknownst to Cheryl, but for how long. Oscar winner Hugo Friedhofer puts the final touches on the masterpiece with a musical score that can legitimately be considered one of the greatest of all time. Must-see material.
Satan’s School For Girls (1973)
Originally intended as a one-and-done TV movie, this one ended up being one of Aaron Spelling’s more memorable efforts of the 70’s. We begin with what appears to your basic chase-and-murder, but by the time the cops get there it appears to be a blatant suicide. The sister of the victim doesn’t buy the cause of death, and takes on an alias to infiltrate the academy she was schooled in. Looking for clues she finds more than what she bargained for. The suicides begin to multiply, as our mystery unravels at a steady pace. A remake was made in 2000, starring Shannon Doherty, but the less said about that the better. This one however, should make for a permanent resident in any cult-classic-related rotation.
Sisters of Death (1977)
A sorority initiation goes wrong, resulting in the death of a young girl. Those with a hand in the death remain affected over the next few years, but are brought together to reunite under mysterious circumstances. Their host turns out to be an invested party with intentions of evil. One scene in particular is shot with the boom mic clearly in-screen, thus solidifying it’s utter b-movie nature. The majority of the film is shot in the middle of nowhere and once again, as is the theme with these movies, the music and sound bytes provide great entertainment. Much like “Private Parts”, another epic ending bookends this thriller.
Night of the Demons (1988)
It’s Halloween night, and the party of choice takes place at a forsaken building rumored to be possessed by, of course, demons. Some great scenes here, seasoned with pure straight-to-VHS overacting. That said, some of these scenes have a ton of character. Specifically anything involving the old man, played by Harold Ayer, as his portrayal of the crotchety old grump is a study in waspish orneriness. Also to be admired are the efforts of Billy Gallo as the local guido Sal, as is Donnie Jeffcoat’s portrayal of the young brother Billy. Impossible not to laugh at some of this stuff. Truly a late 80’s gem.