• Kelly M. Hudson

Saturday Horrors!

The Hyatt family inherit a big, sprawling, decaying mansion from a dead relative. Excited, they move in, not knowing the forces of evil also moving towards the house. It seems that somewhere inside is the fabled Book of Evil, a book that contains every evil ever committed in the world. Whoever controls this book will rule the planet. The youngest son finds the book and opens it, inadvertently releasing several different monsters that plague the household. Meanwhile, there is a vampire couple lingering outside, invading the house at night while the Hyatts sleep, searching for the book. One of them put the bite on Mrs. Hyatt, hoping to use her. A kindly old man joins the family, purporting to be Van Helsing; he too is looking for the book, ostensibly to possess it to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. But the book has gone missing, and they family must find it because if they don’t, on Saturday the 14th, all Hell will be unleashed. Can they keep the monsters at bay and find the book before it’s too late?

Saturday the 14th is one of those movies I must have seen a dozen times on cable TV back in the early 80s. I remember liking it but also being slightly irritated by it. I was a serious Horror fan and growing more serious by the day. The movie felt like it was making fun of what I loved, and although I dug the creatures and yes, the comedy made me laugh, I always felt like it was betraying my fandom somehow. Lo these many years later, on a fateful Saturday the 14th, I decided to revisit it and give it another ride. Mostly, it feels very dated. The FX, especially, but that’s totally forgivable. The humor doesn’t hold up very well, although in some spots I did laugh out loud, so it’s not a dismal failure. The thing just plays too broadly to be very effective on adults. But I think this might be a perfect film to ease a kid into the Horror genre, if they are curious and you are willing. Some of it will be frightening to them but mostly it’s goofy and fun. Nobody can take this seriously and that’s part of its appeal. It has an all-star comedy cast for its time, and some of them really deliver. Richard Benjamin is particularly good as the non-plussed, clueless father. And he is instrumental in the one truly horrifying moment in the film: when he’s making a pickle & pimento loaf sandwich. I’d forgotten all about them, and my stomach curdled when I laid eyes on that monstrosity.

All in all, this is a cool flick for a family movie night, if you want something a bit scary. There’s some near-nudity of the “teen” daughter, but that’s played for comedy and will probably go over most youngsters heads. The violence is minimal and the monsters all look extremely rubbery. But they dance and cavort and make a mess of things, so they’re entertaining. This is a dated horror-spoof that still has some legs, wobbly though they may be.


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