Spookies (1986) – Film Review
Directors: Genie Joseph, Thomas Doran, Brendan Faulkner
Cast: Felix Ward, Maria Pechukas, Dan Scott
by Sarah Morgan
Sometimes when it comes to making movies, less can be more. Unfortunately, the makers of Spookies didn’t realise that before setting to work.
Originally released in 1986 and clearly made on a limited budget, writers Thomas Doran, Brendan Faulkner, Frank Farel and Ann Burgund threw just about every horror trope they could think of at it in an attempt to make the film appeal to as many fans of the genre as it could. Sadly, they missed their target.
Doran and Faulkner also co-directed alongside Eugenie Joseph, and it’s possible that each had their own ideas of what they wanted to see on screen. Again, a less is more approach might have been more sensible, although to be fair, they were somewhat hampered by lacklustre special effects and actors who just weren’t up to the task in hand.
The tale begins as 13-year-old Billy runs away from home after his parents forget his birthday. While wandering through some woods he stumbles upon an old mansion in the middle of a cemetery, and discovers that one of the rooms has been decorated just for him. Billy assumes his parents had remembered his big day after all, but it’s all a trick and he’s about to fall foul of the local werecat…
Meanwhile, a mismatched group of adults also arrive and hope to hold a party at the seemingly abandoned property, little realising a warlock lives there and plans to use them in some sort of ritual that keeps his undead bride youthful.
Cue lots of aimless running around, several gory deaths and a half-decent finale that makes the previous 80-odd minutes almost worthwhile.
Although not a box office smash on its release, Spookies has since developed a cult following, members of which will no doubt lap up this lavish special edition release that also includes a fascinating ‘making of’ documentary. Not only is it longer than the film itself, it’s also far more interesting.
Plus, there’s another feature-length documentary in the set, this time focusing on Vipco, a company that began releasing obscure horror movies on video in the 1980s before eventually switching to DVD. It’s worth buying the set for that alone.
• Audio commentary with FrightFest’s Paul McEvoy and filmmaker Sean Hogan
• Limited edition booklet: Includes A Twisted History: Vipco, VHS and Spookies by Scott Harrison and Your Future
Belongs to Us: Reaganite Terrors in Spookies by Liam Hathaway
• Twisted Tale - The Unmaking of Spookies - a feature-length making-of documentary, including a commentary
track with documentary co-directors Michael Gingold & Glen Baisley and extensive deleted scenes
• VIPCO: The Untold Story, a brand new, extended version of the feature length documentary on much-loved UK
film distributor VIPCO
• 2015 Alamo Drafthouse screening introductions with Spookies director Thomas Doran and co-writer/producer
Frank M. Farel
• Archival locations featurette with actor Peter Iasillo
• Outtakes and bloopers
• Behind the scenes still gallery
• Theatrical trailer
Spookies is released on Blu-ray by 101 Films, £15