Welcome to Awfully Good, where we celebrate dumb and trashy movies! In keeping with this month’s Monster Mash Month theme here at Nightmare, and with today’s date, today’s feature presentation is 1981’s Saturday the 14th. It’s a goofy little horror comedy with a lot to howl about, but we’ll get to that in a second. First, some ground rules. 1) This is a positive place. We’re not just gonna dump on movies because you can see the zippers on the costume. When we say things like “dumb and trashy,” it’s not meant as a dig. I myself am dumb and trashy. 2) Never, under any circumstances, open a book. Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s dive into this month’s pick!
Saturday the 14th sounds like it should be a parody of a certain slasher franchise, but it’s definitely not. This is a full-on spoof of older horror fare, where the houses are haunted and the monsters are around every corner. Also, this movie came out in 1981, which is before Jason even got his signature hockey mask! Saturday the 14th, or S14 to the cool kids, is enjoyable on its own merits. Just don’t go into it hoping to see some hapless camp counselors get bodied by a strong and silent type.
The film starts with a cartoon wolf howling, then coughing up a lung. This is a solid bit, and it sets the tone early on. The humor in this movie is generally still pretty funny, but the jokes are dumb. Some of the gags are eye-rollers, but it stands the test of time better than a lot of its low-budget comedy peers. After the animated intro, the movie starts with Waldemar and Yolanda, two draculas, desperately trying to buy a mansion in Erie, PA. Unfortunately for them, the house they’re looking to buy was recently bequeathed to a family.
When the family moves in, they know that there’s a curse on the house. They don’t know the details of it, but strange things start happening soon after they arrive. The TV only plays The Twilight Zone, there’s skulls in the cupboard, and the family’s young son (Billy) finds a Book of Evil! Nothing good can come from cracking open a book, and this time the book summons a bunch of monsters! This is where Saturday the 14th earns its Awfully Good certification: the monster suits are cheap, but they go for it! There’s a mummy kinda guy, a couple of six-foot anthropomorphic bugs, a werewolf, and a cool dude with four arms and eyestalks. The family is more or less safe for the night, but not before we see an ominous message in the book: It gets bad on Friday the 13th. But it gets worse on Saturday the 14th.
The next day, a new monster comes up out of the bathtub. It’s a little bit Creature from the Black Lagoon, a little bit Horror of Party Beach. After some very loud screaming, the cop who lives next door comes over and shoots the monster in the head. The monster’s like, “whatever dude,” and then the two start choking each other out. The monster wins and drags the cop’s body out of the house. After that’s taken care of, the family decides to host a housewarming party on… Saturday the 14th. As is tradition, everyone drink when they say the name of the movie in the movie.
Now, this isn’t an important detail, but the house’s address is 329 Elm Street. This movie predates A Nightmare on Elm Street by a couple years, so that’s either a coincidence or weirdly prescient. Anyway, the family hires an extreminator named Van Helsing to take care of all the bats in the attic. If you’ve got a bat problem, you need a Van Helsing. Related to all these bats, the mom of the family has a couple of bite marks on her neck, and she’s acting more draculous with each passing hour. She thinks that means she might be pregnant. Pretty good bit!
The night before the party, the family’s daughter wanders into the kitchen late at night. She discovers the monster from before making a huge mess! She watches them trash the kitchen for a while, then heads back to bed. In the morning, the family plans their housewarming party. They’ve got potato chips, onion dip, and Barbra Streisand records. The guests arrive, including extended family members and some m-m-m-monsters!! How will it all play out? Will this end up being one of their better parties? Find out on Saturday the 14th!
If Saturday the 14th sounds like the kind of movie you’d enjoy, you’re in luck! As of today, it’s on Shudder! It’s also only like 75 minutes long, so it’s not a big time investment. Check it out and let us know what you think!
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