Saturday the 14th

The 1980 film “Friday the 13th” is one of the films that really defined the genre of slasher movies in the 80’s. After that movie was a hit, it didn’t take long for Roger Corman’s company to release the film “Saturday the 14th.” It was released in 1981 and you’d think, with a title like that, it would be a parody of masked killer movies. However, the film is more of a haunted house comedy, using vampires and other monsters to try and scare up laughs.

The film concerns an average family who inherit a creepy old mansion. John (Richard Benjamin) is excited about this new home, but his wife Mary (Paula Prentiss) and kids Debbie (Kari Michaelsen) and Billy (Kevin Brando) are not as sure about things. It doesn’t help that there was another couple who were interested in acquiring the house…the vampire Waldemar (Jeffery Tambor) and his wife Yolanda (Nancy Andrews).

What these two are after is a strange book they believe is in the house that is able to conjure up a variety of strange creatures. It doesn’t take long for Billy to discover the book which he starts reading. Soon, the creatures start appearing around the house. This includes a gill-man wannabe with a dorsal fin coming out of his head. After all, we need to parody both “Jaws” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon” as this fish-man pops out of the tub while Debbie takes a bath.

Dad seems to be completely oblivious to all the monster activity in the house. Meanwhile, Mom starts to go through a strange personality change. Could be because she’s got a couple of puncture wounds on her neck…just a thought. Dad is, however, clued in to some noises in the attic that he thinks are owls…so he calls up a local exterminator. The exterminator turns out to be Dr. Van Helsing (Severn Darden). But it turns out, he also has his eye on that magic book. The film comes to it’s climax as the family throws a housewarming party, on Saturday the 14th, where everyone gets trapped inside the house and must deal with the final battle between Van Helsing and the monsters.

There have been many great horror spoofs in the history of the movies. This isn’t one of them. I don’t know how else to say it, the movie just isn’t funny. The concept of comedic timing is completely out the window on this film. And the thing is, performers like (real life husband and wife) Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss…they know better! Talk about collecting a paycheck. However, I did enjoy Kari Michaelsen. When I saw her I was saying, “Why do I know her? Why do I know her?” Then I realized she had been the oldest daughter on the show “Gimme a Break.” There’s nothing really extraordinary about her performance, but she just seems to bring a bit more spirit to her role. The other, more seasoned, actors practically sleep-walk through this one.

There are a few interesting, if cheaply made, makeup effects, though the other visual effects are pretty bad. In the end, there’s just not much to recommend about “Saturday the 14th.” I guess I could say that as a comedy, the movie is pretty scary.

2 thoughts on “Saturday the 14th

  1. I have an ex-girlfriend who turned out to be a real nut case and I should’ve predicted it when I found out that this was her most favorite movie of all time.

    You’re right about Benjamin and Prentis just there to collect a paycheck. Normally they are quite talented, but here their performances were lifeless.

    • I remember having a cousin and several friends who loved this movie back when it was released…but it’s just not funny.

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