TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SPACE RAIDERS (1983)

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SPACE RAIDERS (1983)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Actually saw this fun little Roger Corman flick in a theater back in 1983. It’s a slight departure for Corman as it was more kid friendly in tone and came with a PG rating. It tells the tale of a young boy named Peter (David Mendenhall), who while playing in the warehouse of his father’s company, gets caught in the middle of a firefight between security and a band of pirates. Peter hides in the very cargo ship the pirates wind up stealing and now is trapped with them as they flee. He slowly endears himself to the band of thieves as he and they are pursued by both bounty hunters and a massive robot warship.

While basically void of the usual blood and boobs that Corman’s flicks were notorious for, this flick does have his thriftiness, as it’s effects are basically recycled from Corman classics like Battle Beyond The Stars, Galaxy Of Terror, Forbidden World and Android. The James Horner score is lifted from Battle Beyond the Stars and Humanoids From The Deep as well. Written and directed by Howard R. Cohen, the film makes the most of it’s minuscule budget and what it can’t accomplish with modest action and recycled battle scenes, it does with heart. Despite not being big on action and having seen a lot of the space battles before in the film’s mentioned, the film is harmless and fun in spite of it’s economical approach in a time where big budget space adventures were becoming common. It’s loaded with charm, as were most of Corman’s flicks, even if it couldn’t possibly compete with the same year’s Return Of The Jedi.

The cast also give this a bit of spunk, too. Mendenhall is cute and likable as the wide-eyed Peter who is having the time of his life with a crew of pirates. While on the subject, the likable band of rogues is captained by Vince Edwards as Hawk. Edwards, who was doctor Ben Casey on TV from 1961 to 1966, plays the ex-soldier with a heart of gold with the appropriate grit and grizzle. He is joined by soap stars Thom Christopher and Patsy Pease as Flightplan and Amanda respectively, with Drew Snyder and future Ghoulies director Luca Bercovici rounding out the crew. B-Movie icon Dick Miller also appears. Everybody takes the material seriously enough to make it work, but appear to be having fun.

This is not a great movie by any lengths, but it has a charm and heart and that makes it fun despite the low budget limitations. You have to give Corman credit for getting another movie out of SPFX, sets and music from past productions and having his filmmakers show some restraint to deliver a more kid friendly flick. One of the last of Corman’s New World Pictures productions before he sold it.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 recycled spaceships from Battle Beyond The Stars.

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE (1980)

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HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE (1980)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

He Knows You’re Alone is a ho-hum early 80s slasher that has it’s killer targeting brides to be. We find out early on, that the unhinged Ray Carlton (Tom Rolfing) murdered his ex-girlfriend on her wedding day. She was the fiancé of Detective Len Gamble (Lewis Arlt) who is now hot on the trail of the serial killer, who targets women engaged to be married. Carlton has picked pretty Amy Jensen (Caitlin O’Heaney) as his next victim and now Gamble races to stop him as Amy’s friends start to meet gruesome ends, leaving a trail of bodies that lead to her.

Flick is directed very flatly by Armand Mastroianni from a script by Scott Parker that is obviously inspired by Halloween. It’s opening murder even resembles Michael Myers’ slaughtering of his sister in that film’s opening moments. This film though, rarely generates any suspense or scares and has a very unremarkable killer as its villain. It’s also very slow paced and while a moderate pace was normal for early 80s slashers, this seems more on the lethargic side. There isn’t really much to talk about in the acting or dialog categories either, though lead Caitlin O’Heaney is cute and likable and there is the first feature film appearance of one Tom Hanks, who is a psychology student that starts dating Amy’s friend Nancy (Elizabeth Kemp). The body count is fairly small and the kills are rather tame and while there is some blood, there is little gore save for a badly rendered severed head. There are a couple of scenes that work somewhat. There is a decent sequence set in a dark house as Amy’s friend Joyce (Patsy Pease) and her married professor, lover (James Rebhorn) fatally meet Carlton. The end chase scene in the tunnels under the city morgue, where Amy’s ex-boyfriend Marvin (Don Scardino) works, has a little pep, but the fact that such a small building has such an extensive labyrinth of tunnels beneath it, makes it kinda odd and amusing. Other than that, the film is fairly uneventful and there doesn’t seem to be any reason for the bride-hating killer to be murdering Amy’s friends. Does he hate bridesmaids, too? On a production level the film looks low budget and the score by Mark and Alexander Peskanov also has a very Halloween vibe to it. The low budget did work in the film’s favor, as it made almost 20x it’s budget back in theaters.

Sure there is some nostalgia, though it’s a bit more 70s-ish than 80s as this was filmed in 1979. The opening sequence in an old style movie theater is especially quaint and nostalgic for those born before the era of the multiplex. The acting is nothing to talk about, though some of the characters are likable. The killer and his kills are dull and there is little suspense leading up to them. There are a few sequences that work, though, overall, it’s rather lifeless and tame.

One of the earliest of the Halloween inspired slashers, but unfortunately one of the least remarkable save for the first film appearance of future Academy Award winner, Tom Hanks.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 knives.

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