I’ve been on a kick lately of trying to find lost movie gems from the 1980’s, mostly searching for foreign horror flicks from that era. It’s been pretty fun finding a ton of cool Hong Kong stuff and more recently discovering an awesome 80’s horror director from Mexico named Ruben Galindo Jr. The first of his horror movies I checked out was 1985’s ‘Cemetery of Terror’ and that got me hot on the tracks of the rest of his horror output of that era. So far he’s got a great track record, as Cemetery of Terror is ton of fun, a blend of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Carpenter’s Halloween & The Goonies. Well ‘Don’t Panic’ from 1987 is just as entertaining but in a far more ridiculous manner. It’s like a blend of Witchboard, Nightmare on Elm Street 2 with a dash of D-level John Hughes. I mean that in the best way as it’s the perfect flick to watch with a gang of ravenous cinefiles on a Saturday nite!
It’s main character the very whiny, curly blonde, seventeen year old american mama’s boy named Michael who’s forced to move to Mexico City to live with his alcoholic mother. On his seventeenth birthday his gang of irritating teen morons throw him a terrible party where they fully embarrass him in front of his school crush, peer pressure him to get totally wasted & eventually coax him into using a ouija board. Of course weird shit goes down and soon he’s seeing nightmarish visions of violent murders being committed all over the city nightly. While this consumes most of his time, he’s also falling head over heels in love with one of his lovely classmates. The two skip class one day an go on the greatest ridiculously awesome 80’s date ever put to screen while he takes her all over town on his bmx bike. Yeah life seems just perfect but of course he’s plagued by even more bizarre visions of murder, his eyes begin turn blood red forcing him to don sunglasses & avoid the new love of his life. Things get so crazy that he’s unable to sleep, but crazier yet, he begins to roam the streets in a pair of unbelievable dinosaur pajamas that are suited for a 6 year old! It’s one of my favorite things about this movie, those infamous PJ’s!! Best yet is that he spends probably 3/4ths of the film proudly donning them! All I wanna know is where the hell can I find a pair of those for myself?!!
Ok so this ones clearly a ton of idiotic fun, they even have a sort of Freddy Kruger type supernatural slasher dude named…..VIRGIL! He loves to taunt Michael and forces him on a wild spooky goose chase (in his PJ’s of course). This movie bleeds the 1980’s in it’s style and special effects work, modestly executed by FX master Screamin’ Mad George (Predator/ Nightmare on Elm Street 3/ Society)! Unlike ‘Cemetery of Terror’, this one’s in English (though it’s clear there’s some serious dubbing at times for certain actors) but still shows the charm of Mexico in the 1980’s, something I truly appreciate here. It’s filled with tons of ridiculous dialogue, over top bad acting and stands up there with some of the most fun the genre had to offer from it’s US counterparts.
Galindo’s got a few other horror films I need to check out still, but this far in I’m starting to think he must be come sort of cult horror director in Mexico? He clearly had his finger on the pulse of cheezy, fully entertaining 80’s horror and I really think more horror fans here in the USA should be aware of his movies. They can be a bit hard to find physical copies of but luckily ‘Don’t Panic’ has been posted on Youtube if you wanna check it out that way. If you want a physical copy you can find it on Twistedanger.com a site filled with super hard to find cult flicks!! Check it out!
I’d never seen a Roberta Findlay movie before up until a few days ago, but I’m pretty damn stoked to check out more of her work in the horror genre for sure! ‘The Oracle’ is a sweet yet nasty little horror film from 1985 that took me pleasantly by surprise. It really looks more like it was filmed in the late 70’s, even the clothing styles and general quality of the film has a gritty and dirty grindhouse vibe to it that certainly amplifies the charm. Taking place in the seedy areas of NYC during Christmas time (yeah a new holiday horror flick for the books) Jennifer & her asinine hubby move to a new apartment once occupied by an elderly psychic woman and soon stumble upon her creepy ass ouija board ‘The Oracle’ that she often used to communicate with the spirit world.
Jennifer, hyped on her new place, throws a swingin’ housewarming bash and with everyone witnessing, uses “the oracle” to contact a angry spirit of murdered man who demands bloody revenge upon his killers. From that point on the ghostly presence relentlessly terrorizes her & tries to manipulate her into avenging his death. Eventually she complies, but soon the murderers (the dead dude’s ex-wife & greedy biz partner) become suspicious of her snooping, and they re-hire the psycho who’d carried out the vicious killing before to try and track down Jennifer.
There’s a lot to love here with this mean ass supernatural horror romp. it’s got some truly unique characters, a cool female heroine & the killer is equally interesting being a trans/lesbian villain who’s as nasty as they come for horror movie standard of the day back then. The movie doesn’t go out of it’s way to get the point across, but in today’s landscape I doubt that you could present the character at all in the light portrayed in The Oracle. Still it was interesting deviation from the evil traditionally male killers of the 70’s & 80’s. For the obviously low budget it has it makes great use of it’s big city locales & it’s charming, ambitious special fx work. Interestingly enough this film came out a full year before 80’s cult classic ‘WITCHBOARD’.
These two actually have very similar plots and while Witchboard remains the winner here as far as quality horror there’s definitely something awesome about Findlay’s attempt. It’s nastier and carries a sort of sleezy quality that genre fans of B-movies might actually appreciate more when all is said and done. There’s plenty of subpar acting going on here and decent amount of fairly impressive gore to be found. The end of course tries to go the distance with it’s limited FX budget and in my opinion delivers the goods via a sweet little supernatural encounter.
I’m quite curious to check out more of Findlay’s movies, from what I’ve read it seems she dabbled in directing “X-rated” stuff in the 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s before tackling the horror genre with this movie in ’85. I’m curious about her string of movies through the 80’s, her most popular being Tenement. If you’re a fan of trashy 80’s horror you just might dig The Oracle & now you’ve got an excuse to give this underrated gem a whirl during the holiday season too!