Horror Movie Dictionary: Karma


A lesson from… Tourist Trap (1979)


Horror Movies that never happened, but could still happen (part I)


A lesson from… Castle Freak (1995)


A lesson from… From Beyond (1986)


How to survive… vampires (part VI)


Hellraiser: Extreme pleasure, extreme sorrow


The 1987 movie, Hellraiser, written and directed by Clive Barker, introduces us to a world where the reality of Hell is at the limit of unsatisfied desires that become perverted. When nothing is enough to make us happy, the doors of the unimaginable are opened, with consequences that are, at the very least, deadly.

Hellraiser shows us that we are the Monsters. When we don’t give ourselves boundaries, when we want to be more than what we are, our human features are deformed and we become an aberration.

Sex, our primordial instinct to preserve life, is the main drive that turns our characters, Julia and Frank, into Monsters. But, even in Hell, that dimension at the other side of our reality, such instinct can’t be appeased, as we can see with the Cenobites, the other Monsters in the film.

The body, as an extension of the consciousness, allows us to find meaning through corporal sensations. However, in Hell, an immortal body will allow such sensations to include torture and mutilation, which is a promise to anyone who dares to open the puzzle box.

Our heroine, Kirsty, as a counterpart to the many Monsters in the movie, achieves such status, not by being virginal and avoiding alcohol or drugs, which was the canon in the slashers of the era, but, as Odysseus did in The Odyssey, by being astute. She makes a deal with the Cenobites and delivers on their agreement, but that doesn’t mean she’s safe from their grasp, she also has to figure out how to close the puzzle box that she unknowingly opened in the first place.

It could be argued that her character is one of the reasons why Hellraiser stands out from other horror movies of the decade, but it was such a fresh take on horror mainly because of its serious tone, its cool or opaque colour palette (as this Hell isn’t bursting with flames), and its Monsters.

In the case of the Cenobites, the most iconic Monsters in the film, they don’t act like animals with a killer instinct, or like forces of nature, such as Jason Voorhees is, because their motivation is not to kill, their motivation is to explore the limits. They are the answers, in horror fantasy, to the questions of what would happen to our sexuality if our bodies could endure anything, what’s the nature of pleasure, would it still be pleasure, or would it be pain, after we’ve destroyed our bodies in the search for the ultimate orgasm, while our consciousness was still intact?

How to survive… Vampires (part V)


Lesser known 80s horror movies that are worth your time

I often find myself searching for more 80s horror movies to watch that I don’t know and will pleasantly surprise me, so after watching tons that didn’t do it for me, I thought I would write a small list of some of the ones that I’ve liked, in case you’ve been in the same situation and need some help.

This list has no order, watch whichever sparks your curiosity.

Visiting Hours (1982)

Visiting Hours

Written by  Brian Taggert

Directed by Jean-Claude Lord

In this movie, a psychopath is after the victim he sent to the hospital as a result of his first unsuccessful attack.

Said psychopath is played masterfully by Michael Ironside, so if you were expecting a masked killer, don’t be disappointed, his facial expressions are better.

I’d say he’s the best part of the movie, but I do enjoy everything else just as much. The female characters aren’t as well developed as he is, which could be a low point for some, but I find them engaging.

A heads up, don’t expect any humour in this movie, unless you find leather tank tops for men hilarious, which I do. Watch this movie when you’re in the mood for something more serious, while still very 80s, and you’ll have a good time.

Where to watch:

Buy: Amazon

Waxwork (1988)


Written by Anthony Hickox

Directed by Anthony Hickox

In this Waxwork museum, things aren’t as… stiff as they seem.

A group of college students go to this museum because, why not? And get more thrills than they were looking for, obviously, because that’s not the type of place you go to when you’re a young college student.

The entity responsible for the mayhem is Satan, of course, but he’s not in the movie, just other well-known “creatures”, including the Marquis de Sade, which I didn’t know was meant to be scary, but maybe it will scare you. Also, if you have a thing for sword fights, this movie will be specially fun for you.

There’s not much else to find in this movie, but I say what we get is enough. If you don’t agree after watching it, it’s okay, we can have a conversation about it.

Where to watch:

Stream: Roku

Rent or buy: Amazon Prime Google Play 

I, Madman (1989)

I Madman

Written by David Chaskin

Directed by Tibor Takács

I, Madman, oh, I, Madman. This movie is something special. It’s not a great movie, but it’s captivating, it includes literature as a theme and plot device, and has a noir feel in certain scenes.

Our main character works in a bookshop and starts reading I, Madman, a book about a man whose object of affection rejects him because he’s hideous, which is why he thinks it’s best to steal other people’s body parts to make himself pretty for her. A completely logical reaction to rejection, if you asked me.

We get scenes where she reads, or the Madman in the book narrates, and it opens up the real world to the world of literature, permeating reality with madness and severed body parts. It’s a gruesome movie in its ideas, but unrealistic in its execution, which gives it a dreamlike feel.

Also, it has probably one of the first guys with a perm who is rejected by a beautiful woman in the 80s. That’s history right there.

Where to watch:

Buy: Amazon 

The House on Sorority Row (1983)

The House On Sorority Row

Written by  Mark Rosman, Bobby Fine

Directed by  Mark Rosman

This is one of the 80s slashers that completely slipped under the radar for me, so maybe it did for you too. Destiny made this mistake and I’m ready to fix it, because this is one of the better forgotten slashers of the era. Sure, it’s not original. In fact, it has everything other better known slashers have: a past mystery, a prank gone wrong, the killing of the characters one by one, but it’s all well done. The death scenes and make up effects are inventive, the killer uses not one, but two outfits, and there’s actually a creepy scene at the end.

The plot kicks into gear due to the conflictive relationship between sorority girls and their house mother. And then, we’re into beloved slasher territory.

There’s very little humour in this slasher, but I think it uses its tone well, it’s serious when it needs to be and humorous when the scene calls for it, which probably helps make those last scenes quite tense, and they’re carried by a very capable and likeable final girl.

Or is she literally a final girl? Ah, we shall see, won’t we? After we watch the movie.

Come on, give it a try!

Where to watch:

Stream: Hoopla 

Rent or buy: Google Play  Amazon Prime

Killer Party (1986) 

Killer Party

Written by Barney Cohen

Directed by William Fruet

This is another movie that I discovered late and that makes me sad. In this film, three college girls pledge to a sorority and plan a party in a house where an “accident” took a guy’s life years before. So, naturally, horror has to happen there.

This slasher makes tongue in cheek humour and fake-outs its main strength. It came out a few months after the better known April Fool’s Day (1986), which I think probably hindered its chances of getting more recognition from fans. If it had come first, maybe history would have been kinder to it.

I don’t know, I’m not a historian.

This movie follows a lot of the beats of 80s slashers, including the semi-nudity, but I did find some of the characters endearing, something that a lot of slashers don’t care to do.

You’re welcome!

Where to watch:

Rent or buy: iTunes  Microsoft

Vamp (1986)


Written by Donald P. Borchers, Richard Wenk

Directed by Richard Wenk

A courageous movie that shows vampires are sexy… until they aren’t.

Two college buddies go to a strip club. But oh, no, the strippers are vampires. This isn’t going to go well for them.

This is a fun film that fits with other vampire movies of the decade, so I don’t understand why it’s usually ignored. It uses well humour, while still showing vampires as the disgusting and deadly creatures they are. Or would be, if they were real, because they totally aren’t real. Wink, wink.

There’s nothing groundbreaking in this movie, but it’s entertaining and it’s essentially 80s, from the music, to the lighting, to the characters. Even albino vampires make an appearance, who had been greatly ignored in the past. And in the future… of vampire movies, so enjoy them while you can.

Where to watch:

Rent or buy: Amazon  Microsoft  iTunes

Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988)

Sorority Babes

Written by  Sergei Hasenecz

Directed by David DeCoteau

If someone tells you, “Go ahead, be a party pooper. You’ll be sorry”, and that someone is a tiny demon, you would listen to them, wouldn’t you?

I’m not sure if that’s the moral of this story, but it pretty much lets you know what the tone of the movie is. We follow a group of youngsters who find a tiny demon that grants wishes. You’d think that’s a dreamy scenario, but not for these teenagers.

This movie is the one with the most nudity in this whole list, which I don’t know if it’s enough to make someone want to watch it, but it’s information I thought I had to share.

When things go wrong in the movie, it’s not as creative as it could have been with its evil creatures and kills, but it’s got charm, and a couple of really funny scenes that I won’t spoil.

Where to watch

Rent or buy: Amazon

Aenigma (1987)


Written by  Lucio Fulci, Giorgio Mariuzzo

Directed by Lucio Fulci

With these last two recommendations, we’ve entered the realm of Italian horror, which has its own characteristics that might turn off some viewers if they’re not expecting them.

Number one, they’re dubbed, and if there’s such a thing as good dubbing, these movies don’t have that.

Number two, form over substance. The plot is not as important as the images and what they make you feel, so let go of your logic and enjoy them.

In lesser words, it’s nightmare storytelling and it’s dubbed.

This first movie, Aenigma, is about a girl who suffers an accident as a consequence of a prank and finds a supernatural way of enacting revenge on those who wronged her.

This movie, as we see in a lot of Italian horror films, crafts an aesthetic of what’s horrifying. We have snails, paintings, statutes, and snakes as mediums of revenge, and it’s beautiful, yet revolting, to look at.

Where to watch:

Stream, rent, or buy: Amazon

The Church (1989)

The Church

Written by Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini, Michele Soavi

Directed by Michele Soavi

With our previous ideas in mind, I present to you The Church.

The plot is a little bit convoluted, a church is built upon a grave of slaughtered pagans in an attempt to contain the evil underneath.

If you ever dreamed of being an archaeologist or an architect, this movie is twice as recommended for you, because it’s a horror love letter to the architecture of the church and the secrets that structure carries.

The film is a little bit slow to set the plot in motion, but don’t get impatient, because if you stick with it, it will take you to satisfying, horrific places. As other characters enter the church and get stuck in there, macabre fantasy is the limit.

While its plot is richer than the previous movie, I still find it more enthralling for its camera movements and horror scenes than the reason behind what’s happening or the logic (or lack of one) that carries one scene to the next. This is a good, hypnotising time, as the best Italian horror cinema is.

Where to watch:

Stream: Amazon Prime  Epix

Rent or buy: Amazon

How to survive… Vampires (part IV)


How to survive… Vampires (part III)


How to survive… Vampires (part II)