My favorite bad movies are always the ones that tend to combine a “WHAT IN GOD’S NAME IS HAPPENING???” factor with a certain level of competence. It can’t just be a confusing mess made by cynics or overconfident nincompoops because that’s not fun. No, the fun part for me is when the filmmakers love what they’re doing and know what they’re trying to do, but still find it difficult to relay that to the rest of us.
Quick Recap! When COVID shut down everything in early 2020, I started an online bad movie night get-together with some friends that we eventually dubbed “Bad Movie Monday”. The premise was simple: We’d torture each other every Monday with the worst trash we could find, tell a few jokes, cheer each other up, and in the process maybe discover some weird obscure cinema that we might never have seen any other way. This series of reviews will feature highlights of those night so you can all share in the fun and maybe get some ideas for your own movie night.
SPOOKIES is not quite on the level of Things or Night Train to Terror when it comes to utterly bewildering an audience, but it’s on the Demonoid Messenger of Death level. The movie throws a bunch of random things at you in the first five minutes. A vampire talking to his dead wife in a coffin, three horny couples driving to a spooky old house, and a little kid wandering the woods on his birthday. Oh, and there’s also a Were… wolf? Werehedgehog? Werecat? Wereracoon? Werepirate??? I really don’t know what I’m supposed to be looking at. It’s a furry guy with a hook for a hand.
Goofing aside, there is some small level of artistic ability at play here as well. Which is much appreciated. The special effects guys are pretty good, the cinematographer knows how to frame and shoot things, it’s edited at a nice brisk pace, and the writing and acting is not terrible. The people who made this aren’t untalented, they just didn’t have the time or the money to make something good, so they did the best they could with what they had. I always appreciate that and admire that, even if I do bust people’s balls about it.
If you’ll indulge me. I shall try, badly, to summarize this film: A vampire, or perhaps a magician, I’m really not sure what he’s supposed to be, is trying to resurrect his dead wife by stealing the life force of a bunch of teenagers who are out partying in his haunted house full of monsters. Oh, and there’s a kid and a werechinchilla running around as well, but they literally don’t matter because the kid is actually KILLED a few minutes into the movie and the weremarmot never interacts with the main cast since the character was added later as part of the film’s infamous reshoots. The teens soon begin to succumb one by one to the vampire’s traps as their souls are used to resurrect the dead wife.
By the way, I used “teens” sarcastically since most of the actors who portray them are in their late twenties/early thirties. Hell, one of them looks so damn old I legitimately thought he was the chaperone or someone’s dad. He looks MY age. From what I’ve read, this movie started out as a movie called “Twisted Souls” about six teenagers who go to an old mansion and find a haunted OUIJA board that unleashes demons to terrorize them. It’s kind of like “Evil Dead in Yonkers”. There was originally no vampire, no stealing souls, no dead wife, no kid on a doomed birthday quest, no wereweasel, nothing like that.
Alright, now that my totally inadequate synopsis is done with let’s get to my favorite part of the review where I list ten thoughts I had throughout the film:
#1 This opening scene with the kid is like the most messed up episode of Goosebumps I’ve ever seen in my goddamn life and I sort of love it.
#2 The makeup in the reshot footage is um… it’s um… how shall I put this nicely? It’s low budget. I don’t hate it and think it has a charm of its own, and the werechihuahua creature is certainly memorable, but you can tell they didn’t have much money.
#3 Pretend that the guy in a suit who looks like your bank manager is a teenager.
#4 Apparently, the rule is that if you find a cake and presents in an abandoned house on your birthday it’s probably yours.
#5 Nobody knows how to open a door in this film. Nobody. They do everything except turn the fucking knob.
#6 The vampire guy might be a robot. I can’t say for sure, but I can’t rule it out.
#7 I got three words for you: Farting Mud Monsters. The back of the VHS box calls them Lust-Crazed Muck Men, but I think my description is more fitting.
#8 This entire movie was made because the producers had access to a really cool “Haunted House” location. The Jay Estate in Rye, New York. It’s a historic site now.
#9 There ain’t no way that the script for the reshoots consisted of anything other than a bunch of cocktail napkins with scribbles on them
#10 Of all the cobbled together nonsense endings in the world, this is some of the most cobbled together nonsense I’ve ever seen. I’m in awe. Also, this actress who pops out of nowhere for the ending is giving it her one hundred percent and I am here for it. You go girl! Grab your moment in the spotlight!