SATURDAY THE 14TH – DVD review

I remember being a snot-nosed nine year old and seeing the television commercial for “Saturday the 14th.” At the time, it looked to be pretty humorous. I especially remember the line “I have bats in my belfry.” I thought that was humorous. Then, there are some rather vague memories of eventually seeing this film on television. I don’t remember much from it. Now, eighteen years later, I get to revisit this film through the magic known as DVD.

Every single person who has ever seen the title has quickly surmised that this film is a parody of the slasher classic, “Friday the 13th.” Thinking this is only half correct. The film is a parody, but not a parody of the Jason Vorhees series. There are parodies of “The Creature From The Black Lagoon,” “Dracula” and countless others. Mostly, this film is a parody of a film. It is downright horrible and I can understand why I did not have much recollection of the film from my earlier days. About the only thing I was able to fully remember (other than the ‘belfry’ line) was the opening credits and how poorly they were animated.

So why would anybody want to watch this film? I really don’t know. If you love bad cinema or films so cheesy they stink, then maybe this is in your belfry. The acting in this movie rates somewhere between flat and dead. Richard Benjamin is humorous as John and Severn Darden is mildly entertaining as the exterminator, Van Helsing. The rest of the cast is quickly forgettable. The plot is forgettable too. And, so are the laughs.

This rather poor and fearfully bad cinematic sludge is about a family who moves into a house they were willed. The house has two faults. First of all, there is the Book of Evil that should never be opened, and secondly, the “Twilight Zone” plays 24/7 on every television channel. A Vampire (Jeffrey Tambor in an early role) and his wife want the house to find the book and want to spook the family out of the house. Van Helsing also wants the book for his own purpose. Of course, the book clearly states you should never open it, so it is quickly opened. When it is opened, all types of badly costumed and not so evil creatures start to turn up. If things are not taken care of by Saturday the 14th, then evil will rule the world.

Don’t be fooled. This may sound funny and interesting. It is not. As mentioned before, the only redeeming quality of this film is that it is bad. There were a few moments that I found myself enjoying. Not because they made me laugh or made me jump, but because they had me thinking I had seen one of the lowest points in cinematic history. What were they thinking?

New Concorde Home Entertainment has found it fit to bring this marvel of entertainment to DVD. They have done so by making the film inexpensive. I got my copy for only $8.99. The price, however, reflects both the quality of the film and the quality of the transfer. The film is shown in full frame (4:3) and it appears that the film was cropped to fit the screen. There are marks, dirt and scratches all over the place. The transfer is soft and the colors are faded. The transfer is just not good. The sound quality is equally disturbing. It is mastered in Dolby Digital Stereo. There are moments when the sound level drops and there are pops and hisses throughout the mix. It does sound a tad better than it looks. The DVD features some minor extras. There are four trailers and some bios on the cast and crew. Nothing exciting.

It is always a good thing when even the most obscure and horrendous pieces of cinema make it to DVD. This gives hope that eventually everything will be released. “Saturday the 14th” is one of those films that hold some camp value, but are generally enjoyed because they are just plain lousy. I imagine that a younger audience will find this film very enjoyable. They will not understand a lot of it, but the silly monsters will brighten their day. Props should be given for releasing this picture onto DVD. I was able to remember why I couldn’t remember anything from seeing it on television. Can you believe they made a sequel?

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