It’s Scaretober, y’all! Woot! Woot! October is my favorite month, so I’m pulling out all the stops. To celebrate, I’m sharing my favorite scary fun books and movies. All. Month. Long. Let’s get to it!
Today’s feature is Saturday The 14th, the movie (1981).
I L-O-V-E-D this movie as a kid. Although it did have a theatrical release, this movie became another holiday special that ran on basic cable in October every year. I watched it over and over, every chance I’d get. And, like Mad Monster Party, it’s been largely forgotten as time has marched on.
Saturday the 14th is a horror-comedy that makes fun of all the tropes of Gothic haunted house and classic monster movie films.
The Hyatt family has inherited a house from a dead, estranged uncle. Excited to be able to move into their own home, a long-time dream, they pack up and move in. As the family stands in front of a beautiful all-American home with a white picket fence, the moving van pulls away, and the realtor says, “um, no that’s not your house, this is your house.”
They turn to see a rundown mansion, besotted by cobwebs and dead trees. The Hyatts, ever-optimistic, decide to make it home sweet home. Of course, the house has a secret: It contains a rare and dangerous Book of Evil. That’s why a bickering pair of husband and wife vampires (played by Jeffrey Tambor of Arrested Development fame) and an oddball named Van Helsing, keep trying to buy the house and all of its contents from the Hyatts, who stubbornly refuse to move.
Their son, Billy, discovers the Book of Evil, which is an illustrated guide to peculiar monsters. If you open to a page, the monster in the photo disappears in a glowy blue haze after a few seconds. What Billy doesn’t know is that each time this happens, he’s letting that monster loose in the real world. More specifically, into the yard around the house. He thinks nothing of it until some weird things start to happen. Sandwiches disappear. The television will only show the Twilight Zone. There are eyeballs in the coffee. There’s a gigantic rubber glove with only three finger slots in the sink next to the clean dishes. And, of course, a swamp monster appears in his sister’s bathtub.
As the calendar ticks closer to Saturday the 14th, the monsters grow bolder and more violent, readying to take over the world. Of course, that’s also the day the Hyatt’s have scheduled a housewarming party with a bunch of their petty, unlikeable relatives. So you’ve got a house full of mean aunts, cousins, and uncles in a house infested with monsters hellbent on world domination. What could go wrong?
This horror-comedy farce has mostly been long forgotten, except by maybe the most rabid fans of the genre. The effects haven’t held up, but they’re honestly not that terrible either. I mean, the monster party scene in the kitchen at night? Still works. The knock off Creature from the Black Lagoon in the bathtub? Still works! The movie, although ridiculous, is an excellent mashup of horror tropes with a stellar cast. Emmy-winner Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development/ Transparent) as Waldamar the Vampire, Paula Prentiss (Stepford Wives/ Where the Boys Are) as Mary Hyatt, and Richard Benjamin (the 1973 Westworld/ The Sunshine Boys) as dad John Hyatt. It’s worth a watch!
Don’t miss any of Scaretober!