Sunday, February 3, 2013

Movie Review: Saturday the 14th (1981)

Saturday the 14th
SATURDAY THE 14TH - Poster Image

Written & Directed by Howard R. Cohen

John...Richard Benjamin
Debbie...Kari Michaelson
Mary...Paula Prentiss
Waldemar...Jeffrey Tambor

SATURDAY THE 14TH - Title Screen

When I was a youngster frequenting the local mom 'n' pop video store, one of my more frequent rentals was the title Saturday the 14th Strikes Back.  Even after multiple viewings, I had somehow convinced myself that the title was a joke, that it wasn't a sequel to another film.  Like Leonard Part 6, starring Bill Cosby.  Eventually, my father clued me in to the fact that it was a sequel--he had seen the original--but unfortunately the video store didn't carry it.  Don't ask me why.

Now, all these years later, I've finally been give the chance to see the original Saturday the 14th thanks to the wonders of Netflix Instant.  Was it worth the extended wait?  Not by a long shot.  But to be fair, if I watched Strikes Back through modern eyes, it surely wouldn't hold up either.

SATURDAY THE 14TH - Soon All Ded

The plot is fairly simple:  A family moves into an old house they inherited after the death of a relative, paying little to no mind to the curse that is said to be hanging over the estate.  The precocious young son finds a book called the Book of Evil and when he opens it, he unleashes a legion of cheap, goofy-looking monsters and the family has to come together to save themselves, save the neighborhood, and save the world.

In case the title hasn't clued you in, this is a spoof film.  The IMDB synopsis would have you believe that it is "primarily a spoof of the Friday the 13th series", but that's not even close to true.  Aside from the title, there's nary a reference to Jason Voorhees or Camp Crystal Lake.  It takes gentle pokes at a small handful of other films, though, including Dracula, The Birds, Creature From The Black Lagoon and Jaws (at the same time).

It is, at times, amusing in an eye-rolling sort of way, but it is rarely if ever actually funny.  It's not even very clever.  The acting is generally hammy and well over-the-top, and the special effects are a noxious soup made of corn and cheese.

And yet, despite the flaws, I did find myself enjoying this movie.  Can one be nostalgic for something they've never seen before?  I suppose, in certain situations, you can be.  Nostalgia by proxy.

If this were the sort of thing you enjoyed as a kiddie, then you might want to give it a watch.  But for the rest of you, you might find yourself disappointed.

SATURDAY THE 14TH - Bath time for beauties

On an interesting side note, the house in this movie is on Elm Street, and there is a scene with the daughter taking a bath that closely mimics the famous scene with Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) in the original Nightmare on Elm Street.  However, this movie came out a full three years before Nightmare on Elm Street hit theaters.

Rated PG
75 Minutes
United States

"If you weren't immortal, you'd kill yourself."


  1. When I was a kid, I liked this one, but now as an sucked the big one. I will be reviewing this one soon, looks like we watched the same movie this weekend!

  2. Francisco: Yes, nostalgia can be powerful...but sometimes it's not powerful enough. Looking forward to your review.


  3. I felt the same way, m'man. I remembered this fondly from the cover alone, and when I finally saw it, was not nearly as impressed as I thought I would be... but not exactly disappointed, either. It has it's moments. Like when Jeffrey Tambor and the old Van Helsing guy are having their little face-off and mugging for the camera. Silly, silly stuff. I went out of my way to order this on DVD a year or two ago, and I kinda paid more than I should've for it. But it's a fun piece of my collection that I'll maybe dust off every few years, I guess.

    I'm back, brotha.

  4. J2: Good Lord, brother! These extended absences of yours make the internet a dull place sometimes. I almost put an Amber Alert out for you. Anyway, glad to have you back!


  5. Thanks man! CJFBAPMC 4 Life

    I'm over here now:

    glad to see you still going long & strong here at Midnite Media.

  6. Thanks, man! CJFBAPMC 4 Life

    I'm over here now:

    Glad to see you still going long & strong here at Midnite Media.

  7. I saw it recently and enjoyed it just as much as when I was 6 years old. I must be in the minority or maybe I never grew up!

  8. Feelingfine: Never be ashamed for liking any movie, even when others don't share the opinion...ESPECIALLY when it's a film you enjoyed as a child. One of the reasons I watch so many horror flicks is an attempt to recapture the feelings I had as a youngster, staying up way past my bedtime to watch Child's Play on cable, or Freddy's Nightmares on TV, or People Under The Stairs in the theaters (like...six times).


  9. Does anyone have a clue if this gem will ever be released on blu ray ???


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