Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '88 - Anya Stanley ""

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Underrated '88 - Anya Stanley

Anya Stanley is a columnist at Dread Central and Daily Grindhouse. She is a contributor to Birth. Movies. Death., Vague Visages, and wherever they’ll let her talk about horror. More of her work can be seen at her website: anyawrites.com.

1988 saw some great films. Horror fans got entries in each of the three major franchises of the era (Halloween, Friday The 13th, and Nightmare On Elm Street), while body-swap comedy fans got three major films in their wheelhouse, within the span of a year. This Underrated list has the films that you may have seen sitting on the shelf at the video store, but never picked up until now. You missed out.

1. LADY IN WHITE (dir. Frank LaLoggia)
Local lore can make for some solid horror films. In Lady In White, a Northeast legend makes its way onto the big screen in the form of a classic ghost story. Filmed largely in Wayne County, New York, the movie features a woman’s search for her daughter in Durand-Eastman Park, and a mystery surrounding murdered children of past and present. It’s a style-heavy story with plenty of appealing scenery to boost atmosphere. While the whodunit itself is fairly easy to solve, the movie had enough tension to horrify me as a child, serving as one of my gateway films into the genre.
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2. VICE VERSA (dir. Brian Gilbert)
The 80’s was a magical time for body-swap movies. From Like Father, Like Son to 18 Again! there was no shortage of stories to make us realize that we should be happy with what we’ve got. Vice Versa is the less popular little brother of the body-swap flick family, even though it’s just as fun as its be-careful-what-you-wish-for siblings. Dick Clement and Ian LaFrenais (sitcoms they wrote) bring the classic 80’s zaniness with a mishap that brings a magical skull (stolen from the South Pacific) into the possession of an 11 year old boy (Fred Savage), who handles the skull with his divorced father (Reinhold) while arguing over who has it worse. A switch occurs. Vice Versa came out just five months after Like Father, Like Son and three months before Big, so it makes sense that it would get lost in the shuffle. Watch it anyway.
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3. I’M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA (dir. Keenan Ivory Wayans)
Before Black Dynamite, Keenan Ivory Wayans wrote, directed, and starred in a blaxploitation parody of epic proportions. Featuring a Murderer’s Row of actors from the genre (Jim Brown, Bernie Casey, Antonio Fargas, and Isaac Hayes), I'm Gonna Git You Sucka follows Soldier Jack Spade (Wayans) as he returns home to Any Ghetto, U.S.A. after receiving news that his brother Junebug died of an unusual overdose and decides to avenge his brother and his community entire. I’m Gonna Git You Sucka is a love letter to the genre that brought us Foxy Brown, Black Belt Jones, and Willie Dynamite, and it features one of my favorite comedic scenes of all time with a cheeky Chris Rock being an insufferable cheapskate. This film is due for some fresh appreciation.
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4. NECROMANCER (dir. Dusty Nelson)
Necromancer is an interesting addition to the rape-revenge genre, by way of its method of vengeance. Dusty Nelson’s American horror film follows a young woman who is raped by a group of young men, and enlists a necromancer to aid her in her vengeance. Most movies in this register have a woman victim picking up a snub-nosed little pistol and seeking street justice against her tormentors, but Necromancer has its heroine summoning a demon to act as her personal goon because, as the tagline says, “Black is the magic that shows no mercy.”
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5. PIN (dir. Standor Stern)
To my knowldege, Pin is the only horror movie featuring an anotomical medical doll instead of a ventriloquist dummy or puppet, which should be reason enough to check it out. It’s a subtle, slow-burn psychological horror film adapted from Andrew Neiderman’s novel of the same name, in which an emotionally disturbed young man (David Hewlett) becomes convinced that his father’s medical doll is alive and friendly to him. The story is fairly bloodless, striving for dread over gore. But it has a weird, wonderful potency that gets under your skin and leaves you unsettled. With the recent love for Dead Silence and the hype over Annabelle and The Boy, Pin is sure to entertain.
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