[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 5 – Schizoid (1980)

Director: David Paulsen

Cast: Klaus Kinski, Donna Wilkes, Marianna Hill, Craig Wasson, Christopher Lloyd, Flo Gerrish, Joe Regalbuto, Richard Herd

Screenplay: David Paulsen

89 mins. Rated R.

 

Writer/director David Paulsen (Savage Weekend) was told to have a have a screenplay ready within a month that could use Klaus Kinski (Nosferatu the Vampyre, Aguirre, the Wrath of God) and be done for under a million dollars. After having seen it, this perfectly sums up Schizoid.

Advice columnist Julie (Marianna Hill, High Plains Drifter, Coma Girl: The State of Grace) has been receiving creepy notes from a stalker while members of her therapy group are being picked off one by one. As the bodies pile up, Julie begins to see cracks in everyone around her, so who is the assailant, and is she next?

Schizoid is terribly uninteresting. When you have a film featuring Klaus Kinski, one thing it shouldn’t be is uninteresting. Kinski is batshit crazy, so the film should be so much wilder than expected. In fact, the only real win of the film is that Paulsen succeeds pretty well at making everyone suspect in the film. Then there’s the main issue that no one in the film is written likable enough, including Julie, to make me root for any of them.

I would say that there are no truly strong performances in the film outside of an interesting early and somewhat unseen appearance from Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future, Boundaries). Kinski just seems bored and working for the paycheck (he was contracted to do the film, and it’s obvious he’s not feeling it).

Sadly, Schizoid just doesn’t work. There’s not much to really appreciate about the film, but most of the film is mostly forgettable. Just having seen it a few days back, I can’t really cling to anything strong. This is one to absolutely skip. You can do better.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 18 [Happy 30th Birthday!] – Re-Animator (1985)

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Director: Stuart Gordon

Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale, Robert Sampson

Screenplay: Dennis Paoli, William Norris, Stuart Gordon

104 mins. Not Rated.

 

I think I genuinely avoided Re-Animator growing up, though I don’t entirely understand why. It matters not in the grand scheme of things. I eventually did see it, and I couldn’t stop raving about it. The beautiful concoction of quirky strange horror with comedic elements absolutely mesmerized me.

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Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott, TV’s Dark Justice, The Prophecy II) has a new roommate in Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs, The Frighteners, Beethoven’s Treasure Tail), an unstable med student with an interesting emphasis: he wants to re-animate the dead. When West revives the dead cat that belongs to Dan’s girlfriend Megan (Barbara Crampton, You’re Next, We Are Still Here), the young doctor-in-training joins Herbert West and the two dig themselves into the questionable territory separating the laws of man from those of God.

Director Stuart Gordon (From Beyond, Edmond) plays his film like an episode of Tales from the Crypt, enjoying the strange and eclectic tale based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft. Jeffrey Combs does possibly the best performance of his career, and he gets great backplay from David Gale (Guyver, Savage Weekend) as Dr. Carl Hill, a professor at the school who seems out to destroy West and his career. On the flipside, I wasn’t entirely impressed by Abbott’s portrayal of Dan, although he is raised by the terrific work of his costars.

Then there is the real star of the film, and that is the use of practical effects, which elevate the craft by being as real as possible. These effects still work amazingly well even 30 years later.

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Re-Animator is just about a damn near overlooked classic of the horror genre. It features a perfect performance by Jeffrey Combs and the masterful directing of Stuart Gordon. If you haven’t seen this terrific display of strange horror, please do yourself a favor soon.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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