Spookies - Spookies( Blu Ray) [101 Films - 2020]
Ahh, Spookies, the mother of all crazed 'n' campy 1980’s horror films. It’s a blend of folk-stuck-in-a-creepy-house caper, overpopulated creature feature and monster fed slasher- with loads of rubbery effects, red slashing gore, and a plot that barely makes sense or logic. Here from 101 Films is the UK Blu Ray release of the film- with the two-disc set taking in a bunch of extras including two feature-length docs- one about Spookies troubled production, and the other about cult British nasty video label Vipco.
Spookies appeared in 1986- and had not one, but three directors- Genie Joseph, Thomas Doran and Brendan Faulkner. This film started out as something called Twisted Souls- the production had wrapped up, and it was in the editing stage when creative and legal issues arose. The film backers then hired a new director/editor- who cut out some of the scenes already filmed and inserted newly shot footage several months after the original shoot-on the same location, but with different actors. So as a result, the film feels decidedly darting and schizophrenic, with at points seemingly two different plots awkwardly grinding past each other. Sure, it’s a bit of a mess, but a hell of a lot of fun.
The film finds a group of people turning up at a grand and seemingly abandoned mansion one evening to have a random party. Fairly soon they find out the house's rooms are filled with various monster and creatures, which are out to kill them- these take in: a demonic white glowing-eyed woman, farting dirt men, legless and long teethed reptile creatures, electrified and body melting merman with tentacles, an oriental spider woman, and a Grim Reaper with red glowing eyes. Outside the mansion are a bunch of the living dead, and the whole thing is been seemingly controlled by ( well most of the time) by a thin, clucking, and suited old man- who has a pale monk gowned son, and a young wife who has seemingly been sleeping since the Victorian period.
The friends that turn up at the mansion via tow cars are a decidedly quicky & unlikely selection of characters- we have a fast talk and shining shell suited 20 something man and his doe-eyed girlfriend, a moustached constantly quipping character who wears a T-shirt with a picture of himself and has a puppet, a bickering yuppie couple, and an older couple. These are all rather hamming it up, but their acting is largely passable. The whole film unfolds at a fairly crazed, at points confused pace- but it’s one hell of a ride of a film, and when you’re in the mood for an over-the-top stuck in a creepy house-meets-creature feature stalk and slash Spookies is really your only option.
Going onto talk about this new release- and the two-disc set comes with an inlay booklet which includes the following: A Twisted History: Vipco, VHS and Spookies by Scott Harrison and Your Future Belongs to Us: Reaganite Terrors in Spookies by Liam Hathaway.
On the first disc we get the film itself’s self-and I believe this is the same print that appeared on Vinegar Syndrome a year or two back, and it’s as expected rather crisp, clean and classy- looking the best it’s ever done. On the extras side, we get a good selection of stuff- first off new stuff wise we get a commentary track from FrightFest’s Paul McEvoy and filmmaker Sean Hogan- this is a rewarding chatty affair, finding the pair talking about the films production history, figuring out what parts of the film were done by each director, commenting on on-screen action and relating on set stories/ background information- all in all a really worthy track. Moving onto the archive side of things we get the following on the first disc 2015 Alamo Drafthouse screening introductions with Spookies director Thomas Doran and co-writer/producer Frank M. Farel, Archival locations featurette with actor Peter Iasillo, Outtakes and bloopers, Behind the scenes still gallery, and an original theatrical trailer
Moving onto the second discs, and we find two documentaries- both of these appeared on the Ltd Vinegar Syndrome release from a few years back- though the second doc has been extended. First up we have Twisted Tale - The Unmaking of Spookies- this runs at the hour and forty-minute mark, and features all those behind the troubled production and surviving cast/ crew- this is a great doc, really telling the whole wacky and twisting 'n' turning production of the film. The other doc is VIPCO: The Untold Story- this is from 2018 and focuses in on the infamous UK video nasty label, who first brought the likes of Zombie Flesh Eaters and Driller Killer into the UK in the 1980s. Behind the company was wheeler-dealer Michael Lee, who was also one of the producers on Spookies. This version of the doc runs for a whopping two hours and eighteen minutes, adding on around ten minutes of unseen footage. This doc is good too, though it does repeat some points/ interview answers- in it, we get interviews with the likes of the company’s founder Michael Lee, various horror film critics/ writer like Kim Newman & Jay Slatter, as well as those who worked with Lee. Also on this disc, we get a commentary track from documentary co-directors Michael Gingold & Glen Baisley and extensive deleted scenes from the Twisted Tale doc.
I had very fond memories of Spookies, as I saw it on VHS back in the 80’s- and now seeing it again it’s still a hell of a campy horror ride. The extras both new and archive are all great-making it another great reissues from the folks at 101 films, but be warned it is Ltd- so I’d act sooner than later.Roger Batty