Another one of my favourite VHS rentals as a kid was Terror in the Aisles. Essentially a compilation of clips from horror movies, this is That’s Entertainment for weirdos. And it works beautifully.
A major reason why this works is the sheer breadth of the films that are used from the old to the new, the well known to the obscure. There are also films used that aren’t strictly horror movies but are still examples of how suspense can be brilliantly generated in a film (Midnight Express, Night Hawks).
This film was also extremely popular in the UK as it contained clips from movies that were either banned by the BBFC (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) or discreetly removed from video shelves by them (The Exorcist).
Another masterstroke by the movie are the links that involve horror royalty Donald Pleasance and Nancy Allen in a cinema pontificating on horror tropes and what makes them work. These sequences are priceless. Look out for a young Angel Salazar as a ‘feature moviegoer’.
Themes such as the villain and the victim/Final Girl are examined with the respective appropriate clips being used to illustrate the filmmakers points. Theres also a lesson in suspense by the master himself, Mr Alfred Hitchcock.
This is a great compilation for either the young horror hound looking for new thrills or the seasoned purveyor of all things cinematically depraved. I never thought this film would see the light of day on Blu ray because of the logistical nightmare associated with a compilation like this and rights issues. I’m very glad to say that I was wrong. A few years back Universal released Halloween 2 (1981) on Blu ray with Terror in the Aisles as one of the bonus features. An essential purchase.
Poor Billy. Not only does he have a frankly terrifying visit with his grandfather in a mental institution, he then sees his parents slaughtered by a psychopath dressed as Santa who flags them down whilst on their way home.
He is then sent to a Catholic run orphanage where the Mother Superior loves to run proceedings with an iron fist. ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’.
We then see Billy all grown up and working in a toyshop. But Christmas is on it’s way and Billy has major issues with anyone dressed as Mr Claus and with the holiday season in general after what hes been through.
Billy then goes on a murderous rampage after being made to dress as Santa.
When this film was released in 1984 it outperformed A Nightmare on Elm Street which was released on the same day. However, after a TV spot was shown during a football game, the spaghetti hit the fan. Busybody morality groups aimed to take this ‘blasphemous’ film out of American cinemas. And it worked.
Yes, the film is a sleazy, extreme slice of holiday-based exploitation. But its also very tongue in cheek and possesses a sly humour that any person with an IQ over 25 will pick up on and enjoy. Halloween was never picketed for being a tasteless and corrupting movie that is based on an American holiday.
In fact, the film feels polished and accomplished but still brutal and seems to foreshadow later movies made a couple of years later like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and The Stepfather. Slick, well-made movies that are still not adverse to being extremely graphic when needs be. A hybrid between Hollywood and low-budget grittier filmmaking.
I love the fact that the murders stick to the Christmas motif with seasonal motifs like fairy lights and antlers being used to bump people off.
I watch this every December. But this celluloid delight can be enjoyed at any time of the year. Be thankful that common sense prevailed and this film is still available to the general public.
I remember seeing this on video at a friends house back in the day and being so freaked out that I had to ask his Dad to walk me home. I was 12 years old. Them were the days.
After the camp of Part 3 this film gets back on track and is resplendent with really vicious kills courtesy of Tom Savini.
Part teen drama, part TV movie about life after separation, the film then becomes what it says on the tin- a nasty 80s horror movie with our friend Jason bumping off the most irritating kids known to man. The film has a very serious and grave tone throughout that precedes the fucked up ending.
Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover both star in this relentless rollercoaster of gore.
Watch for the machete slide scene. This was cut from the original UK video release and is well wirth the price of admission.
My favourite Friday the 13th movie and the end of Fridays imperial phase.