Tourist Trap (1979)
Slasher films don’t always have supernatural elements, but when they do, they can add some unexpected originality. The film might not be original, but it is exciting and unpredictable. Mr. Slausen (Chuck Connors) keeps life-like dolls in a house in the backcountry where five young people find themselves. One by one, the tourists fall victim to him before they are transformed into mannequins as well.
The film doesn’t start off too engrossing, but once Mr. Slausen shows up, it becomes more and more compelling with a great conclusion in the end. The dolls are also pretty terrifying. Not as good as Vincent Price’s classic “House of Wax,” but still enjoyable. Some people may have a phobia of mannequins, but horror films used them often and effectively. Despite some cheesy elements, it is also surprisingly creepy. Donaggio, who specializes in scoring films of this sort, did an excellent job with the music here. A special shout-out goes out to Tanya Roberts, who we lost earlier this year.
Girl House (2014)
As a follow-up to “Tourist Trap” there might be one small homage to that film in here. “GirlHouse” is among the most entertaining modern slasher films, but it’s not a masterpiece. In addition to the stock characters, there are unrealistic moments, and the plots feel rushed. Nevertheless, the film is incredibly entertaining on many levels. This story has a charming lead, a creepy villain, and is not your usual one. It does raise questions about the internet age in which we live and uses the “someone dangerous might be watching you” trope to great effect.
There is some really nice humor here and there in this movie because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It sticks to the formula for the most part, but some clichés are also overcome. In such films, the guy who runs that GirlHouse is usually some weirdo or creepy; here he is presented as a normal guy. There is no desire to go camping. It tries to balance out things and it works. This film’s cinematography deserves praise as well because, unlike many slashers of the present day, it actually looks professional. The plot is a bit rushed at some points, and a few things could have been developed better, but it’s still a lot of fun.
Stage Fright (1987)
In spite of its underrated status, Michele Soavi’s “Cemetery Man” (1994) remains one of his most famous films. A couple of musical actors are the stars of “Stage Fright” or “Deliria.”. As a serial killer escapes from a nearby clinic, a horror musical is being rehearsed. As soon as the young actors realize that things will get scary, the obsessed theater director locks the doors and hides the key.
Although it’s a brutal film, the scares don’t necessarily come from the plot, but that one works well as well. Its camera use makes audiences uncomfortable and Soavi’s camera use is great. Scores are always important in horror films, no wonder they were so important to John Carpenter and other filmmakers.
This one adds to the creepiness of the atmosphere. Despite its low budget, Soavi manages to combine Hitchcockian thrills with Giallo cinema. The pace is excellent, and there are no dull moments. If the film had a “whodunit” plot, the movie might have been even more effective, and its ending might have been even better, but it’s good enough as it is and those who like giallos will enjoy this picture, especially for its visuals.
Cherry Falls (2000)
Hollywood works in a certain way. Occasionally, they take a risk, and when it pays off, they make a thousand films in the same vein. As soon as “Scream” became a success, Hollywood produced other teen-themed slasher films. Some did well at the box office, some did not. A lot of people probably expected a bigger tone from “Cherry Falls,” but it is actually one of the better films. Despite some funny moments here and there, its tone varies between smart and dumb, but one thing is for sure, the movie is always entertaining for some reason. A mysterious figure starts killing virgins in Cherry Falls, a small town where a mysterious figure suddenly appears.
Even though it is not as strong, “Cherry Falls” does justice to what “Scream” made popular in horror films; mixing satire and genre. It also has a subtle tone, doesn’t necessarily become cheesy, but is quite self-aware at the same time. There is a great twist at the end for those interested in mysteries in those films. The production went through some difficulties, so not every scene from the script was incorporated into the film, and some scenes were not re-shot in the way they wanted, and some scenes were cut to comply with MPAA guidelines. We probably won’t get the director’s cut due to the film’s lack of popularity (it wasn’t even released in the United States), which is too bad since it’s already a very good film, so we might even get a great one. Brittany Murphy was a talent we’ll miss, and the acting is mostly good.
Alone in the Dark (1982)
The movie centers on four criminals who take advantage of a blackout to escape the psychiatric hospital where they are forced to live. They establish weapons and then go to the home of their psychiatrist, Dr. Harry Merton, in search of revenge. We were drawn to this movie by the names Jack Palance, Martin Landau, and our “Halloween” favorite Donald Pleasence. Their parts have so much gravitas and almost depth.
In comparison to some other titles on the list, this one is a bit slower-paced. The narrative develops slowly, but there’s nothing to worry about. The story does not bore you or anything, it builds tension as it goes. There are times when the whole thing gets very darkly comic, or even silly, but you don’t mind it, but at the same time, perhaps this is why the film didn’t attract much attention. In this film, there is nothing too cheesy or overly gory, nor is it too atmospheric. While it struggled to get an audience, it’s actually one of the better-reviewed slashers of the 80s and worth watching. It concludes with a fantastic ending that you won’t see coming.