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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The American Scream(1988)

Late 80's horror and slasher films are a different flavor of cheese altogether. Most of them stuck to the template laid by the cheese classics of the late 70's and the early 80's. The problem, in my opinion, was the attempt to add humor and cultural references. Where the earlier films you can look back at the fashions and chuckle to yourself and remember yourself as a young tyke wearing the same kinds of clothes. The fashions in the late 80's were so horrendous, that nobody wants to own up to wearing such atrocities. I mean c'mon neon, MC Hammer pants, and hair bigger than a New Jersey debutante, if you ever sported any of these, you are not gonna confess to your friends. For those reasons, I think that late 80's horror, and even the early 90's, are particularly hard to take serious. Only die hard horror/slasher fans can find something redeeming in most of the films of this era. I myself, as you may know, am a sadist, and can usually find something to gleefully cheer/cringe about in these films. Off the top of my head I can think of a few that I still like, and revisit often: Happy Hell Night, Rush Week, Pledge Night, and Primal Rage(damn, they all have the college theme).

The film that we are discussing today, is from 1988, and is one of the most hated films of that era. As per usual, I disagree somewhat with that sentiment. The American Scream is not a great film, but it's not as bad as the legion of internet armchair critics would have you believe. The plot, more akin to a Twilight Zone episode, was a welcome deviation to a overcrowded genre, already crumbling in it's former glories. A normal middle class family, their 2 children, and two of the kids friend's, go on a family vacation to the winter town of Wilson Creek. The town is an ancient society that offs it's children, and now families go there, to "dispose" of their children. A simple plot, but like I said, vastly different than the usual DTV fare of that era. The murders aren't particularly gruesome, but not badly done either. The actors aren't very bad at all, so I can't really figure out why people hate this fun little flick so much. George "Buck Flower" has a small role, and hams it up as usual. Blackie Dammit(aka John Keidis aka Anthony Keidis father), is the "Evil Priest", who does a majority of the killings in the film. He is fun as always, and I have been a fan since he played Walter Baylor in National Lampoon's Class Reunion. Also the actor that plays the father, Pons Maar(now that's a name), really takes it over the top. He acts like he is auditioning for a role in an early John Waters film, he is insane, and really fun to watch.

So, The American Scream is a fun watch, it may not be something that you feel the need to watch once a year. It may not be something that you want to shell out a lot of money for, but if you get the chance to check it out, for free or cheap, it's definitely worth a look. Completest who have to see everything from certain era's, will like me, probably find that it's an enjoyable view, and who doesn't enjoy good campy 80's fun?

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