CULT CLASSIC CUTIES: SUZANNA LOVE as LACEY in THE BOOGEYMAN!

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Cult Classic Cuties are characters from some of our favorite cult classics and midnight movies who captured our hearts and/or actresses who got our attention, but sadly never returned to these type of flicks, or whose sexy stars shined only briefly not quite achieving scream queen status. And this installment’s cutie is…

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SUZANNA LOVE as LACEY in THE BOOGEYMAN (1980)!

The Boogeyman is a supernaturally themed 1980 slasher that has developed a cult following over the years. The film has young Lacey witnessing the murder of her mother’s abusive boyfriend by the target of that abuse, her brother Willy. Twenty years later, an adult Lacey (Suzanna Love) is still haunted by the killing, but has tried to move on and now has a husband and child of her own. She still takes care of her brother (Nicholas Love), who lives with her family and hasn’t spoken a word since that night. Unfortunately, events trigger the return of the vengeful spirit of the abusive man, who starts to terrorize the girl-next-door MILF and begins a nightmare of murder and possession for this Cult Classic Cutie.
Suzanna Love basically had a short film career between 1979 and 1985 before disappearing from acting. Her horror film resume consists of four low budget flicks, only two of those, The Boogeyman and The Devonsville Terror gained any notoriety and were both directed by her then husband, Ulli Lommel. Her down-to-earth beauty made her a perfect girl-next-door type heroine and Love was not afraid to perform in some daring scenes for her husband, such as Boogeyman’s sexually tinged nightmare sequence. Lacey is dressed in skimpy undergarments, glistening with sweat and bound and gagged on a bed at the knife wielding mercy of what appears to be her own brother. While she is in dire peril, there is an eroticism to the scene which, makes it intriguing and disturbing. Was Lommel trying to imply something about Lacey in her nightmare?…or was he just trying to show off his wife’s hot body? As the issue is never pursued in the film, we may never know. She did look quite beguiling despite her perilous predicament.

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(click on the poster for a full review)

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The sweet girl-next-door

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What is Boogeyman’s nightmare sequence trying to tell us? Lacey obviously isn’t saying.

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MILF Lacey in one of the film’s few quiet moments.

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That’s one way of showing off those abs.

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A woman possessed…literally! We’d still date her.

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Lacey and The Boogeyman reunited in 1983 for a sub-par sequel Revenge Of The Boogeyman (aka Boogeyman 2) involving Lacey traveling to L.A. to meet with filmmakers interested in her story. Obviously the vengeful specter begins to kill again, as Lacey reveals she has a remaining piece of the mirror still in her possession.
As for Suzanna Love, she may have only briefly passed through the horror genre, but one of those flicks is a cult classic and her pretty, girl-next-door appeal got her noticed…as did her not being afraid to push the boundaries a bit with Boogeyman’s infamous and disturbingly sexual, bondage nightmare sequence. She also gets to play possessed in the film’s fun over-the-top climax, so her adorable Lacey is girl-next-door babe, sexy bound damsel and possessed MILF all in the same movie! That earns her the title of Cult Classic Cutie!

Be sure to check out our Cult Classic Cuties (click right here on the link) section to see more crush worthy ladies from cult films and midnight movies!

-MonsterZero NJ

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From Frights To Fun: The Evolution Of 80s Horror

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From Frights To Fun: The Evolution Of 80s Horror

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to my full reviews of the films referenced here!)

To me, the 80s is one of the best decades ever for horror flicks…with the 70s following right behind it. Sure, every decade since films started being made has it’s classics from 1922’s Nosfeatu to 2007’s Trick ‘r’ Treat, but in terms of sheer proliferation and the number of classics that came out of it, the 80s was an amazing time to be a horror movie fan and I am glad I was in my theater seat for it all the way. And as I have said before, it was a time where low-budget B horrors could still be seen in a theater, where they belong and a time I will always cherish. I will also admit there was a lot of garbage to sift through to get to the gold, but even those had their entertainment value, especially when you and your friends were sitting in your seats giving those lesser efforts the old MST3K treatment, years before that show even existed…and that classic show is also a product of the 80s, might I add. But the one thing I also find striking about 80s horror is a distinct tonal shift in the style of horror flicks as the decade wore on that can only be appreciated now as we look back in nostalgia. Darker and more somber slashers became flicks that were lighter in tone, more colorful and with far more of a sense of fun about themselves. Let’s take a look…

John Carpenter’s Halloween may not have been the first slasher, but it is the film whose success started the early 80s slasher trend as studios and indie filmmakers realized you could make a lot of money on a shoestring budget. The early 80s cinemas became filled with films that followed the slasher formula with the stories being set on or around a special event or time, such as the prom in Prom Night, or college hazing as in Hell Night, or a fateful day like Friday The 13th. And then, within that setting, having a group of young high school or college co-eds being stalked and cut down by a killer with a grudge, till one feisty young girl…or sometimes a couple…is left to fend off our killer. For the most part these films took themselves very seriously and had a somber mood and moderate pace with the violence level being anywhere from fairly tame, like in thrillers like Terror Train or over-the-top gory as in Willaim Lustig’s Maniac or Charles Kaufman’s Mother’s Day…though, let’s not forget that some of the gorier entries where a result of the success of George Romero’s ultra-violent Dawn Of The Dead which started it’s own trend of extremely violent horrors that predominately came out of Italy and was spearheaded by filmmakers like Lucio Fulci. There were some rare instances where a director had a more humorous approach like Joe Dante’s The Howling or An American Werewolf in London, but horror/comedy is nothing new and the early 80s horror films predominately followed a more serious direction at this point in time.

Monster movies like The Boogens or Without Warning or supernatural horrors like The Fog and  The Boogeyman also followed the slasher format with victims being isolated and killed off one by one, leaving a frightened heroine to fend for herself with the occasional surviving love interest to help her survive. And for the first two or three years of the decade, theaters where inundated with such horrors to the delight of screaming fans. And we got many a classic horror flick out of it. But like any trend, such as the 70s possession flick trend inspired by The Exorcist, these things run their course. But not only did 80s horror start to open up with more supernatural themed flicks like the A Nightmare On Elm Street films, that cleverly added an incorporeal villain and surreal elements to the slasher formula, but the films started to reflect the overall buoyant mood of the 80s with brighter cinematography, more humorous tones and even began to reference and acknowledge past films and filmmakers. The first ‘inside’ reference I can remember was Sam Raimi’s subtle shout-out to Wes Craven by having a The Hills Have Eyes poster displayed in the basement of the old cabin in 1981’s The Evil Dead…to which Craven responded by having Heather Langenkamp watching Evil Dead on TV in the first Elm St movie. In terms of the lighter tone, the first time I noticed it was back in 1982 with Friday The 13th Part 3. When I saw it at my beloved Oritani Theater, I was kind of taken back by it all. The film had a very colorful production design, had a lot more humor than the first two installments…including characters that seemed to be there just for comic relief…and seemed to almost be having fun with the fact that we’ve been through this twice before. Jason went from a creepy, deformed backwoodsman to a hulking comic-bookish monster complete with iconic hockey mask. The film’s trademark kills were a bit more elaborate and far-fetched, as if the filmmakers were getting a bit playful with Jason’s M.O. The tone shift seemed to be starting, but without knowing what was to come in following years, I was simply disappointed with the flick and had no idea the trend would continue.

And the shift did continue with the advent of Freddy Krueger who was creepy at first, but quickly became a wisecracking, demonic gremlin that pulled people into his dream world for elaborate and outrageously gimmick-laden fates. The movies were far more fun than scary, but these films at least were more creative and imaginative than the simple stalk and kill films that came before them, though I missed the intensity and the serious tone of films like The Prowler. Flicks also started to jokingly reference their inspirations, like 1986’s Night Of The Creeps which names every character after a horror film director of that era like “Chris Romero”, “Cynthia Cronenberg” and James Carpenter-Hooper”. We also got MTV inspired films like the music filled and music video styled Return Of The Living Dead, the classic The Lost Boys, as well as, the neon-lit Vamp. Those films were far more entertaining than they were frightening as The Lost Boys even has a touch of Spielberg in it’s over-all tone…reminding us of the stark example of what happened when Carpenter’s grim and gory extraterrestrial The Thing went up against Spielberg’s bug eyed visitor from E.T. in 1982No better an example of the start of audience change of taste in the 80s than was the beating Carpenter’s now classic sci-fi/horror got from critics and at the box office…though, I saw it at least three times in a theater!

The trend continued with even lighter and more humor-laced films as we headed toward the 90s with flicks such as Waxwork, Chopping Mall and Night Of The Demons which were loaded with as many laughs as they were scares and gore. The MTV generation was being fed films that were faster paced, brightly colored and took themselves far less seriously as the arrival of music video and the end of the Cold War had created an era that was a bit more overindulgent and the films of the day reflected this. Even somewhat more serious horror like 1988s Intruder and the 1985 classic The Re-Animator still openly had a good time with their premises and occasionally winked at the audience, which films now acknowledged were sitting there and were familiar with the type of flick they are seeing. Earlier 80s films rarely acknowledged that they were a movie and that there was a horror savvy audience watching, but the second half of the decade was filled with movies that referenced those earlier films and were quite aware of themselves and who their audience was. They played to that audience instead of simply telling their scary story. And at this point Freddy Krueger was turning girls into giant cockroaches and Jason was a zombie battling telekinetic teenagers. Even the old school boogiemen had traded in their scares for more outrageous and silly story lines with each installment, as almost every horror hit became a franchise. Michael Myers also returned in 1988 to now stalk his young niece…why not his second cousin too? Needless to say by the time 1990 rolled around, horror had become burnt out and silly until horror master Wes Craven would revive it as pop-culture-reference filled heavy nostalgia with a bite in Scream… but that is another story.

Another aspect of the shift that may not have been as noticeable to the average audience, but was very noticeable to film buffs was in how these films were now being made and how they looked. By 1985 the home video market was in full swing. I should know, I worked at a Palmer Video back then. Direct to VHS films were starting to appear due to the cost effectiveness of not having to produce film prints for theater showings. And a lot of the horror films of the later decade were being made with the home video market in mind. Even some of the ones that got theatrical releases lacked that theatrical look. Gone were the cinematic visuals and widescreen presentations. Flicks like Witchboard and Waxwork had the look and feel of a TV movie and were filmed in the more TV screen friendly 1:85 format. Only some of the big studio releases and films by veterans like Carpenter and Craven maintained that theatrical look in their visual styles and still looked like a movie made for theaters. A disappointment to those who find the film’s visuals as important as their story and content. And another example of how drastically movies changed from 1980 to 1990.

Whatever the course the horror films of the 80s took, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for these movies, good or bad. Whether it be the more serious chillers of the early years, or the reference heavy, lighter toned flicks that came later on, it was a decade when I came of age and was most influenced by movies and was still a time where a low budget flick like Galaxy Of Terror or Final Exam could see the inside of an audience filled theater. And not only was I proudly there to see it, but will never forget it. And now, decades later, many a night when my social calendar is empty, I can be found in a darkened living room, on the couch, with some of my favorite brews, reliving those days long gone, but never…ever…forgotten!

… and one of the reasons I now share my passion for those movies with all of you!

-MonsterZero NJ

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The Oritani Theater: 300 Main St. Hackensack N.J Photo from the Mitchell Dvoskin collection

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE BOOGEYMAN (1980)

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THE BOOGEYMAN (1980)

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

The Boogeyman is another film I saw in a theater back in the day when low budget stuff like this could be seen on the big screen. It’s a cheesy, somewhat amateurish, slasher/supernatural horror that has earned a reputation as a cult classic.

The movie opens with two small children Lacey (Natasha Schiano) and Willy (Jay Wright) watching their philandering mother (Gillian Gordon) getting it on with one of her various lovers. They get caught and her partner (Howard Grant) takes it out on the older Willy, cruelly tying him to his bed. Lacey waits till her mother and the jerk she’s with move their activities to the bedroom and cuts Willy free with a large kitchen knife. Willy then takes the knife and goes to his mom’s bedroom where the little boy carves up the man, while Lacey watches it reflected in a mirror on the wall. We then cut to 20 years later where Lacey (Suzanna Love) is grown up with a family of her own and still taking care of Willy (Nicholas Love), who hasn’t spoken since the incident. Lacey has her own mental scars and her husband Jake (Ron James), in an effort to free her of what haunts her, takes her back to her mom’s old house. Seeing the mirror again triggers a vision of the murdered man and she breaks it in a fear filled rage. Her husband takes the broken mirror back to their home…this guy’s a real therapist, isn’t he…where they soon discover the angry spirit of the murdered lover resides within the mirror and breaking it has set him free to kill anyone caught in the mirror’s glare!

Written and directed by Ulli Lommel this film has a few effective moments here and there, but is a slightly amateurish film with some very cheesy sequences…though that can be fun. The film combines a slasher flick, with victims being slain by the murderous spirit one by one in graphic ways, with a supernatural horror, as our killer is a ghost and eventually a priest is called in to try to stop him. The heavy Halloween influence is obvious with certain camera shots and the electronic score by Tim Krog, which evokes Carpenter’s scoring work, and the title itself referencing the legendary character as did the classic Carpenter thriller. The film does do it’s own thing, but Lommel really doesn’t generate much suspense and some of the kills are borderline silly and poorly executed. The most effective sequences are the opening flashback…the scene with young Willy being bound to his bed by their mother’s guest, who is wearing a stocking over his head, is very uncomfortable…and a surreal dream sequence where Lacey finds herself bound and gagged to a bed like Willy was, but with someone (Willy?) about to savage her with a kitchen knife. The overblown final confrontation with the malevolent spirit is also kinda fun, if not a little silly. The plot as a whole is a bit convoluted. The idea that Lacey’s husband would bring her to her old house so abruptly and then take the broken mirror home and put it up, is quite a stretch. The fact that shards wind up all over the place and that anyone caught in a shard’s glare is murdered, is a plot device that only serves to up the body count and it makes no sense that the dead man would kill random victims instead of focusing his rage on the family…was he a serial killer to begin with?… We never find out, not even his name. And since most of our victims are random, they evoke little emotional reaction from the audience as they are no one you really care about or particularly like. There are some funny scenes along the way, including some of the murders and I, even upon my recent revisit, have trouble deciding if they are intentional or not. But they are cheesy fun.

The cast are all fairly wooden. The pretty Suzanna Love (who was also Mrs. Lommel at the time) has a few moments here and there, but is otherwise a bit bland. Her best scenes are when acting with the boy playing her son (Raymond Boyden), so maybe the mommy thing suits her. She does have a girl-next-door beauty that definitely qualifies her as a MILF and that certainly gives her appeal. Nicholas Love (Suzanna’s real-life brother) basically does little but stand around looking distressed as Willy and Ron James is pretty wooden as Lacey’s husband Jake. The only person who performs with a little life is legendary actor John Carradine, in a small role, as Lacey’s psychiatrist Dr. Warren.

Overall, the nostalgia factors of both being a very early 80s style movie and having seen it with friends at the now long-gone Fox Theater in Hackensack, are far more effective than much of the movie itself. It has a few moments and the cheese factor can be entertaining, but as a serious attempt at horror it’s a bit goofy and has a slightly amateurish feel…though it does have it’s chills and Lommel creates some atmosphere in the flashback opening, dream sequences and the final confrontation climax. The cast are all fairly bland and the fact that we know little or nothing about the ghostly killer doesn’t help strengthen his character either. I still recommend this to anyone who is a fan of, or is discovering films of this era. It is fun, but just don’t quite expect the classic it is sometimes referred to as. The film was fairly successful and spawned two semi-sequels.

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) mirror shards.

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