Saturday the 14th (1981)

Saturday the 14th starts at the reading of a will, as the attorney (Stacy Keach Sr.) informs the various gathered relatives what they have inherited it turns out that married couple John (Richard Benjamin) & Mary (Paula Prentiss) have been left a house, it’s contents & surrounding estate. Sweet as a nut right? Well no because once they pitch up outside with their two children Billy (Kevin Brando) & Debbie (Kari Michaelson) & see the place they discover that it’s in a somewhat ‘distressed’ condition, however they think that with a nice pair of curtains in the windows it won’t look as bad. As Billy explores his new home he finds a book, a book with the ominous sounding title ‘The Book of Evil’, as Billy turns each page a monster is brought to life, from the Mummy to The Creature from the Black Lagoon & it’s not long before the whole house is swarming with the things. Meanwhile Mary has discovered the loft contains lots of bats so they call the exterminators who send Van Helsing (Severn Darden), Van Helsing is convinced that he will encounter Count Dracula (Jeffrey Tambor) since he has the power to transform himself into a bat. Oh, & as luck would have it Van Helsing is a bit of an expert when it comes to monsters & The Book of Evil, but will he be able to stop the world from being overrun by evil monsters & save Mary from a Vampire curse…

Written & directed by Howard R. Cohen I thought Saturday the 14th showed signs of life on occasion but was dead in the water on other’s. The script isn’t a spoof of the slasher genre as it’s title that spoofs Friday the 13th (1980) would suggest but a spoofy homage to lots of classic horror films including Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), The Mummy (1932), The Birds (1963), The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) just about any Dracula film & Werewolf film The House on Haunted Hill (1959), The Exorcist (1973), The Omen (1976), Halloween (1978), The Evil Dead (1982) & a whole plethora of other’s including my favourite scene set in a bathtub that makes fun out of Jaws (1975)! Unfortunately for every sequence that works there is one that doesn’t, it tries hard & it moves along at a nice pace as it tries to fill the screen with visual gags, send-ups & one liners but far too much of it just isn’t funny. There are some amusing moments in it but just not enough of them. I would imagine the average horror fan would get more enjoyment from Saturday the 14th as opposed to those not interested in the genre as some of the in-jokes & references might go over their head a little. It could have been better but then again it could have been worse.

Director Cohen actually does a good job of creating a nice horror film vibe & atmosphere with the old dark cobweb strewn house looking really good but the comedy obviously dilutes it somewhat, I actually sat there wishing it had been played slightly straighter as it could have made for a reasonably effective comedy horror. Despite being aimed squarely at a family audience a decapitated head keeps popping up, the monsters are a mixed bunch as some look quite good while other’s look terrible.

Technically the film is fine & even fairly impressive with decent production values & it’s generally well made throughout. The acting was OK & no-one embarrasses themselves too much.

Saturday the 14th is a watchable comedy horror spoof & sets it’s stall out right from the opening animated credits as a sunglass wearing cartoon bat repeatedly keeps flying into a tree & it doesn’t get much more sophisticated than that. One for the kids maybe as it is just a little bit too silly & patchy for my die hard horror film fan tastes!