15 June 2017



'I'm gonna lie down on top of you and do the nasty...!'

These are three fantastic horror flicks from the company known as 88 FILMS or, as they also like to be known, the company which 'treats the classics with respect.' I know that that motto will be appreciated by all the true horror fans out there who might be reading this triple review.

SPLATTER UNIVERSITY (1984) or, as it's sometimes referred to, 'SPLATTER U,' is a terrific slasher film with more blood in it than the Blood Bank on Blood Drive Day. That's super-lame, I know, but I just had a big dinner and I'm feeling kinda grumpy and tired, haha.

DEMONIC TOYS (1992) is a 'toys-come-to-life' film that also features a siege in a toy factory and it's the toys that are mostly doing the slashing, the eviscerating and the disembowelling. It's a slasher film from the early 'Nineties that still has enough of the 'Eighties in it to satisfy hardcore fans of the slasher horror genre, the ones who think that no good slasher films were made after the 'Eighties ended, if you get me...!

Last but definitely not least, TOURIST TRAP (1979) is one of the best examples of a 'Backwoods Horror' film that I've ever seen. You guys know what a 'Backwoods Horror' film is. Bunch of dumb young 'uns drive out into the 'Murican countryside looking for excitement, fun, sunshine and sex, those horny no-good young 'uns.

'Course, they don't get what they're looking for. They find instead a creepy old mansion/ house/barn/abandoned wax museum and get chopped into a million pieces by Leatherface or his equivalent, with whom these isolated 'Murican backwoods are seemingly riddled. Dopey young 'uns surely do get what's coming to 'em, and then some. Stupid young 'uns...!

SPLATTER UNIVERSITY stars the charming, sweet and extremely pretty scream queen Forbes Riley (aka Francine Forbes) as Julie Parker, the young sociology teacher whose classes at her new job aren't a huge success.

Darn fool kids have no more interest in learning sociology than I do in clearing the leaves out of my gutters. If the Good Lord had intended me to do what the 'Muricans call 'yardwork,' he wouldn't have given me such soft and sensitive lily-white hands, haha.

Anyway, these students are so dumb that it's not surprising that a knife-wielding serial killer is able to cut a bloody swathe through them without the least difficulty. Teachers and staff at the college are in the firing line also, so it's up the beautiful young sociology teacher (who went on to become a super-rich fitness guru in real life after the film, by the way) to work out who the killer is before her number, too, is up...

There are only two suspects in the film and it turns out to be one of them, which is a tad lame. The special effects and blood-and-guts scenes are top-notch, though, and if a trip down Memory Lane is what you're looking for, you'll be thrilled skinny at the sight of some of the worst 'Eighties hairstyles and fashions I've literally ever seen in any slasher movie ever.

The special effects and puppetry, including stop-motion animation, in DEMONIC TOYS are superb as well, but the story here didn't excite me as much as in the other two films. 

A stunningly beautiful young woman with the rather unfortunate real-life name of Tracy Scoggins (she played Monica Colby in Dynasty spin-off THE COLBYS!) plays a tough lady cop holed up in a toy factory overnight. 

Her motley crew of companions are as follows: a criminal she's taken prisoner, a surly security guard and the cute loser with the seriously bad attitude who delivers his 'chunky chicken' to him at work every night. Mind you, if your work mascot was an obscenely oversized chicken perched squarely on the roof of your crappy company car, maybe you'd have a bad attitude too, haha.

Things would be a lot simpler for the shut-ins if the blood of a second, dying, criminal hadn't activated all the evil toys in the factory, plus the evil 'kid' who is their leader. The movie then turns into HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, ROSEMARY'S BABY or Hammer's TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER when the evil 'kid' sort of morphs into a Satanic demon, a demon, moreover, who has discovered a terrible use for the baby the beautiful young cop lady is carrying. Isn't 'moreover' a great word? You don't hear it enough these days, which is a shame.

I love the surly, mean-ass security guard (he was in Korea, you know!) and the cute bucket-of-chicken-delivering delivery boy but there is way, way too much shooting in this film. It's like the movie should have been called 'Shoot-out In The Old Abandoned Toy Factory' or something.
Every few seconds some bozo is discharging a goddamned firearm. 

The toys are terrific, though, especially the foul-mouthed and extremely ugly Baby Oopsie Daisy. 'You're gonna die now, mother****er...!' or words to that effect. This one never had a theatrical release, by the way, but went straight-to-video in 1992.

TOURIST TRAP is apparently one of Stephen King's favourite films. He regards it as an 'obscure classic,' which is high praise indeed. As I said earlier, it's a 'Backwoods Horror' film that puts the viewer in mind of everything from CARRY ON SCREAMING, WOLF CREEK, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and MOTHER'S DAY (also on 88 Films) to Vincent Price's HOUSE OF WAX, Wes Craven's THE HILLS HAVE EYES and Rob Zombie's HOUSE OF A THOUSAND CORPSES.

We're all familiar with the kind of 'Backwoods Horror' film that contains a rundown and rather rubbishy so-called 'tourist attraction,' in this case a Western Museum, where murderous shenanigans transpire behind the seemingly innocent facade of tatty mannequins and chipped waxwork dummies.

We're familiar too with the 'helpful stranger,' the guy- it's usually a guy- who says he'll fix up the Dopey Young 'Uns car right nice so that they can be on their way, but meantime he's happy to put them all up for the night and next morning the prettiest girl wakes up chained to an operating table in the basement surrounded by the corpses of her former friends...

Chuck Connors (former Major League baseball player and Western actor), looking a lot like Stephen King's hillbilly character in the first CREEPSHOW movie, is absolutely brilliant here as the 'helpful stranger.' He owns the dilapidated old Western Museum and is so kindly and hospitable and fatherly, even, to the three nekkid girls whom he finds skinny-dipping in his lake. Well, I reckon any guy would be kindly disposed towards a trio of naked ladies disporting themselves in his pond, heh-heh-heh. There ain't nuthin' so strange about that no-how.

The girls have a male friend too but he doesn't have the purdiest tits known to man in a low-cut tube top that's no more than a hanky draped round the torso, so who cares? Snigger. That's Tanya Roberts we're talking about here, by the way, the absolute stunner who once had a gig replacing Shelley Hack on 'Seventies/'Eighties TV series CHARLIE'S ANGELS. 'Good morning, Charlie...!'

The girls get the collective fright of their lives as they are chased around the old attraction by a terrifying masked man in a variety of truly frightful wigs that make him look sort of like Donald Trump crossed with Angela Merkel by way of Teresa May, no offence meant to these charming and no doubt hard-working politicians...!

What goes on in the basement of the Western Museum, a museum where the mannequins are all surprisingly lifelike, will give you the willies big time. This film is definitely the scariest of the three, probably because everything that happens in it could actually happen to you, if you were ever unlucky enough to run out of petrol near a creepy old gas station that hasn't sold gas to a solitary soul since Jesus was a lad in short pants.

Yes, it could happen to you if you met a 'helpful stranger' who said he'd give you and your friends a tow out to his place, where you could fill up with gas, get a bite to eat and a place to park the jalopy and lay your head for the night.

But the phones in his house are all dead and there's a room plastered with newspaper cuttings about missing or murdered hitch-hikers and you've got a bad feeling about this, I mean, a really bad feeling.

Don't go driving down the backroads, I beg of you. At least, not without telling someone
where you're going and when you'll be back. Otherwise, one day it might be your face on the latest newspaper cutting to adorn the wall of fame in that downstairs bedroom that smells of damp and maybe something else, something even more sinister.

And if you do encounter a 'helpful stranger' on your travels, be warned. And be wary. Yes, he might be on the level. Then again, he might just be the last person you ever see...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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