If you thought Tammy and the T-Rex (1994) was a wild ride, then strap yourself in for Spookies (1986). Another addition to the Future Cult stand of Glasgow Film Festival 2020, and another addition courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome, Spookies is quite a sight to behold. Spookies is not even one film; it’s two films stitched together to create an 85-minute experience with more monsters than you can fathom.
Spookies started life as Twisted Souls, a film by first-time filmmakers Brendan Faulkner and Thomas Doran, but after some disagreements between them and the film’s financier, the pair quit, and Eugenie Joseph stepped into their shoes and finished the film. However, rather than complete the movie that was already there, Eugenie Joseph decided to add a new chunk of storyline and new characters and try to make it all work together.
The film follows two stories – first up, we have a group of young friends who are traveling home, come across a super spooky looking house, and decide it’s the perfect place to hold a party. The only side of the story, which is the part that Eugenie Joseph added in, follows an old man called Kreon, who plans on killing off the teens by various means so that he can bring his dead bride back to life. He also has an assistant who is a werecat with a hook for a hand, who likes holding door handles from the other side to lock characters in rooms. Spooky!
Shortly after the group arrives, they find a Ouija board, and as every unwise group of teens has done before them, they decide to crack it out and see what will happen. What happens is one of the group, Carol, ends up getting possessed, and Kreon unleashes a number of other monsters all over the house so that each of the teens meets a different grisly fate.
Meanwhile, in the basement, Kreon’s bride has come back from the dead, but she wants nothing to do with Kreon, especially not now he looks about 300 years old. It turns out she killed herself in the first place to get away from him, and he’s been preventing her from fully dying until he had the power to bring her back.
While the story is a horrible mishmash of ideas, and it does feel like it is very clearly two different visions stuck together, the practical effects and range of monsters in the movie are nothing short of amazing. It’s everything you want from a low-budget ’80s film. There are mud people, a spider woman, a Grim Reaper statue that comes to life, and a whole graveyard full of zombies. It’s impressive to see such a vast collection of different monsters in the one movie, and you’re always excited to see what is going to pop up next, and how it’s going to kill another member of the group.
The cast of young people, plus Peter, who looks like he’s old enough to everyone else’s dad, are all incredibly annoying, so seeing them get killed one by one is pretty much what we’re looking for here. The only person I was perhaps sad to see die was Rich, and only because I loved his hand puppet sidekick, Mookie.
Overall, the film is a mess. It feels disjointed, and I think all the parts which were initially supposed to be Twisted Souls are the parts that work the best. With the sheer array of monsters on offer, it feels like a Scooby-Doo (1969) or Goosebumps (2015) movie, just with a little more violence. However, I do love that hook-handed werecat, so if we could work him into the original plot, I’d be happy.
This film is definitely worth a watch for horror fans, especially those who love practical effects, but the lack of direction in the plot means it’s one I won’t be rushing back to watch anytime soon.