There’s something so pleasing to me about 80’s cheese horror. I don’t know if it reminds me of shite my babysitters used to let me watch or if it’s just the overall aesthetic, frequent partial nudity, the inevitable jock vs. nerd duality,or the awesome female characters who always seem to pop up.
In this CLASSIC film, directed by Fred Dekker (Monster Squad, Robocop 3) we flashback to 1959 on Sorority Row. Masterfully pulled off in black and white. It’s only slightly tongue in cheek when a blonde bombshell out for a ride with her date, Johnny. Johnny hears a noise and goes to investigate. Which is where the alien brainslug turns him into a murderous zombie.
In 1986, two dweebs pledging a fraternity so that a former Griswold can have a chance with his dream girl find the cryogenically frozen corpse of Johnny. The are supposed to dump to corpse on the steps of another fraternity. Instead, they freak out- but still unthaw the corpse and the brainslug is passed on to a new host and soon the whole campus is in peril ..and so is Chris’s dream girl. The original zombie peeps on Cynthia and Det. Cameron is called in. Cameron (Tom Atkins, who is is still making films and starred in 1951’s Thing From Another World) had helped take down a zombie axemurderer in 1959.
Tongue in cheek nods abound to horror greats throughout the film, including the character’s names. Sgt Raimi (Sam Raimi), Chris Romero (George, obviously), JC Hooper (named for both James Cameron and Tobe Hooper).
Cynthia joins team nerd after uberjock fratbro trips the physically disabled JC. JC is my favorite character, he’s picked on for his physical abilities but he’s more self assured than Chris, he’s a great wing man, he stares down the cool kids, he doesn’t take shit from anyone and he lights a brain slug on fire without hesitation. Shortly after Cynthia recounts seeing a zombie’s head explode and slugs crawl out to Chris, JC gets turned. But instead of turning murderous: he fries himself and his brainslugs, before he does he leaves a tape for Chris explaining brainslugs, telling him that he loves him and good luck with Cynthia.
Meanwhile, the cops are zombie hunting. Det. Cameron confronts the original with a venomous, “I already killed you. You son of a bitch I already killed you.”
Chris meets up with the Detective and gives him the news. Then they head out to the homecoming party with flame throwers, Chris hands Cynthia a 12 gauge saying “Hold this, you’ll feel better.” Then they switch and Chris shoots and Cynthia lights ’em up. Going from near catatonic to certified badass with relative ease.
The ensuing scenes are GOLD. Flame throwers made out of cigarettes and hairspray, running a zombie over with lawn mower, “It’s Miller Time”, infected science experiments. Nothing groundbreaking here, but damn if this isn’t enjoyable as all hell.