Spookies: Rare 80s Horror Re-Defines The Meaning of ‘So Bad, It’s Good’

Do you like bad movies? Like really bad movies? Horror has plenty of them for the true aficionados of bad cinema. There’s the more obvious casual fan candidates – Nic Cage’s Wicker Man remake, Snakes on a Plane, and Deep Blue Sea. And then there’s the ones familiar to horror fans like Basket Case, Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2, or Maximum Overdrive. But maybe you’re something of a cinephile. You’ve experienced ultra-low budget cult classics like Carnival of Souls, Bad Taste, or Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things. So naturally you’re now looking for a deep cut. Let me present to you, Spookies. There’s a very good chance you’ve never heard of this one. And that’s with good reason. But allow me to make case for this little seen movie.


Looking for a place to party, a group of teens and adults stumble upon what appears to be an abandoned mansion. But in the decrepit building’s bowels, an aging warlock waits for unsuspecting guests to prey upon. With each life taken, he comes closer to restoring life to his preserved wife. Before the party can get started, a host of monsters and oddities are unleashed on the party-seekers turning a night of fun into a fight for survival.

Spookies Re-Defines the Meaning of “Everything But The Kitchen Sink”

No synopsis could do Spookies justice. That’s not to say the above description is inaccurate. And it’s not necessarily that Spookies’ plot is incomprehensible. After all, this isn’t Mullholland Drive or Donnie Darko. Rather Spookies takes the expression ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ and runs wild with it. Aside from its premise of pseudo-young people trapped in a house, directors Brendan Faulkner and Thomas Doran seem to literally throw whatever jumps into their minds at the screen. There’s what looks like a cross between a werewolf and a cat person along with flatulent zombies, a Grim Reaper statue come to life, a vampire boy, a tiny lizard-like demon, a person who turns into a spider … you get the point. It’s a series of almost unrelated scenes that feel stitched together, all delivered with some truly wonderful cheesy 80s effects.

…directors Brendan Faulkner and Thomas Doran seem to literally throw whatever jumps into their minds at the screen.

In part, Spookies’ ‘stream of consciousness’ approach stems from a troubled post-production that saw a third director brought in. Additional scenes were written, filmed, and slammed together into one completely illogical movie. Throw in a total of four writers and Spookies looks more like a table read of 14-year-old horror fanboys. What you get as a result is a completely unrelated opening scene with a runaway boy. And it’s a prologue that’s topped off with an ‘out-of-leftfield’ bleak ending. Did I mention the flatulent zombies? Yes, the zombies repeatedly fart while attacking for no apparent reason. Middle-aged men are hanging out with slightly younger looking adults trying to pass as college-aged adults for reason not understood. How does the warlock keep his wife preserved? Who knows why? Nothing is explained. And in no way does this reduce how much fun t

Spookies Benefits From Its Ultra-Low Budget and Cast of Unknowns

In addition to its gloriously terrible (occasionally impressive) practical effects, Spookies benefits from its super low budget. That is, this is the sort of movie that’s less about objective quality and more about experience. Though it’s certainly no Phantasm, Spookies does have something of a surreal vibe to it. This doesn’t make it a good movie on any technical criteria. But it does make it easier to forgive it for its consistent lapses in logic. Simply put, this is a drinking horror movie – one best enjoyed with other lovers of bad cinema and copious amounts of alcohol.

…this is a drinking horror movie – one best enjoyed with other lovers of bad cinema and copious amounts of alcohol.

Obviously, no one is going into Spookies hoping for top-tier performances. Not surprisingly then, Spookies rounds out its cast with no one you know. In fact, there’s not even cult actors to be found here. No Linnea Quigley. No Barbara Crampton. What you get is a slight step above other ultra low-budget horror movies, like Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, and a step below Return of the Living Dead. Ultimately, the performances are serviceable, adding to the movie’s cheesy charm.

Spookies Throws Caution (and Logic) To The Wind For Glorious B-Movie Results

They really don’t make ’em like this anymore. Arguably, no one has ever made a horror movie like Spookies. At least Children’ Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things had a comprehensible storyline whether it made sense or not. By the time the credits roll, you’ll have no clue what just happened or why in Spookies. To say it’s a batshit crazy movie would be an understatement. But it’s also a wildly fun ride that is everything you want out of a cult movie. No matter how confused you may get, you’ll never be bored.

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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