Summer of 84

Over at Film School Rejects they asked if we are “approaching 1980s nostalgia fatigue.” We not only approached it, we settled in and signed the lease. Summer of 84 is another exercise in warm blanket era-sentimentality, a la Stranger Things, The Goldbergs and even before, on a popular Friends episode.

When it comes to our domain, horror, the 80s were something of a Golden Age so it’s not surprising filmmakers are longing for its return (Or maybe it’s all relative. The 90s ushered in a Dark Age.)

Summer of 84’s cultural touchstones include the usual suspects — Ghostbusters, MTV, and Reagan (what’s odd is that people are always time capsule-constrained to their decades. In the 80s, this site’s authors ingested a diet rich in 70s music and film, but if our lives ended up on screen, somehow it’d all be headbands, key-tars and Goonies).

Summer of 84 features four teen friends, roughly, the fatty, the nerd, the vaguely cool one, and the delinquent, and good-natured ribbing since lost to the Age of PC.

When their suburban town is rocked by a report of missing boys, a la the John Wayne Gacy case, one member of the crew casts suspicion on the local cop. The group then does some Hardy Boys inductive reasoning to dredge up clues to get their man. Their team also includes an eye-candy babysitter (too post-pubescent to run with this baby-faced crew, but providing good female energy) and their investigative reporting features nascent camcorder technology, and the even more inevitable Spielberg name-check.

With zippy dialogue and easy camaraderie, Summer of 84 whips along solely on its considerable charms, before completely unraveling in an exasperating anti-climax and embarrassingly stupid voice-over.

Merely snipping 10 minutes from the finale would’ve done this film wonders. But Summer of 84 is the work of three directors, so they were probably drawn and quartered in narrative direction.

Write (or direct) what you know is true for any era. And you could call the spate of 80s-styled horror movies by Generation Xers wistful thinking.

*** (out of 5)

Human Cattle

“We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead people” is a phrase attributed to General George Patton, but what about cattle of the upright, bipedal variety?

Human Cattle is the brainchild/co-creation of Rabiddog Films and our pals, The Butcher Shop FX Studio (for an interesting listen, check out our interview with Carlos Henriques, The Butcher Shop’s practical effects creator).

According to Human Cattle’s synopsis, “The Amazon is a beautiful place to visit but you wouldn’t want to die there,” which assumes the conclusion that there’s a place that exists you’d actually want to die (maybe in bed…at 100?)

And further, “Three sexy teenagers take a fun-filled trip out to the Amazon for an exciting getaway filled with seductive pleasures and forbidden desires. Failing to hear the canoe tour guide’s warnings…”

Human Cattle stars Zane Watson, an IFBB bodybuilder whose motto is, “My body is not a work of art. My body reflects the art of work,” statements which are at least half-true were they applied to the authors of the Really Awful Movies site (we’ll let you guess which statement).

This one also co-stars Mitch Markowitz as well. Markowtiz is the brainchild of Hilarious House of Frightenstein, a plucky Canadian Vincent Price-starrer which became an unlikely, long-running smash Canadian TV show.

Human Cattle has got bazookas and a little person with a shotgun. If that’s not an appetizer enticement for the main, we don’t know what is.