Welcome to a brand spanking new weekly column here on The Liberal Dead. What you’ll find on IT CAME FROM 1980 X is the finest (you know the Colt 45 variety) in films from the VHS era that may or may not have made it to DVD and may or may not be worth a watch. It’s time to unwrap the magnetic tape from the heads of our VCR’s and open our eyes the way the once were. You can consider this your virtual Mom and Pop video store. That doesn’t mean we sell or rent tapes by any means. Unfortunately there’s just no way to make renting our beloved medium of choice possible for us at this time without losing our entire stock to the private collections of you super creepies. Instead we’ll recommend the movies, and you’ll be responsible for salvaging them from the musty corners of this here Internet machine. I’m not sure you’d call it a scavenger hunt, but back when I was a young-en it was not uncommon to have to call or visit any number of video stores before I’d find the perfect movie for my movie marathons. Let’s have fun with the process and not just watching the movies.
We will advocate on behalf of some of the finer distributors out there from days past as well as those who are still keepin’ the dream alive. Companies like the VHS Preservation Society (VHSPS to the initiated) need our support. Learn about them and buy their wares. They’re not the only company we’ll be focusing on, but given the high quality of their product you can expect to hear us mention their name more than once. We’ll also try to display any finds we make along our marathoning. Now there are plenty of sites out there that do a damn fine job of cataloging the VHS you know and love. That’s not precisely what were doing here. You come to the Liberal Dead because you seem to like what we have to say about the media you put into your mind. This is just another medium for us to weigh in on. We may even reference your favorite VHS/1980’s website from time to time. We’re all fighting the same good fight: The preservation of a time that is far from long gone. The VCR is our muscle car. The VHS cassette tape… our 8 cylinder HEMI.
You might even see a giveway or two in our near future, so keep your eyelids cleanly shaved off. We’ve got a lot of movies to watch, and as horror movie fans our duty is to watch every last one of ’em before we end up the victims of our own maniac, monsters or demons.
Now that we’ve been properly introduced, and you know what to expect from ICF1980X, get ready for our first retrospective. Tonight we look at Judgement Day from 1988. By the year you can already tell that we’re not talking about the Terminator sequel. Judgement Day is film that is near and dear to my heart and may in fact be the reason that I started down the lonely journey of a horror hound (not to be confused with the amazing magazine). When I was about a ten years old my older sister started dating an older gentleman (read that asshole) who worked at the local mom and pop video store, Long Valley Video. Not this young man was not without his uses. He used to procure me any number of horror movie posters from golden age of VHS promotional goods. Among my favorites were The Kiss, Pulse, Lair of the White Worm and Judgement Day.
Now I had seen The Kiss and Pulse. Lair of the White worm was a bit out of my reach until years later due to some telltale boobage and sexual references on the VHS cover box, but it was accessible. Judgement Day, however, was not stocked by my local video store and I began to wonder just what the flick was about. Before the Internet, before IMDB we had to search Leonard Maltin guides, Fangoria and trust the video catalogs at our local video stores. These folks were the gatekeepers. Librarians too. Unfortunately my “gatekeeper” didn’t see the need to stocking Judgement Day and so I went without.
The poster was quite terrifying. As you’ll see form the picture, it’s fairly simply. A demon’s face with Gothic lettering rounding out the title. Not much to go on. For years I’d dig through dollar bins to find it. I’d go to the video stores near relative’s houses and search the back of Fangoria. No luck. Gradually Judgement Night fell out of my thoughts. Years passed. Every so often I’d recollect that the film existed and search out the poster not successfully finding a DVD release. Finally I found a copy for sale on Amazon and procured it from MissMaryBooks. MissMaryBooks has a high seller rating and loads of VHS. It turns out that a copy was release on DVD with some pretty bad formatting and subtitles that have been altered by sellers. This one has never seen a proper release and maybe there’s a good reason for that.
The moment when Judgement Day arrived in the male I was like that damn kid in A Christmas Story slobbering all over his Red Rider BB Gun. What’s more it came with a DVD Digital copy that the company that sold it crafted, lovingly, themselves. Granted this was no where near the quality of other VHS on DVD distro companies, but I didn’t even know it was coming. With VHS and digital copy in hand I waited for the family to drift off to dreamland and popped in the movie. Unfortunately I had to watch it on DVD rather than VHS off the bat due to a technical glitch with my VCR, but no bother. I was watching Judgement Day. Did my years of pining over this film pay off? Was it everything I had hoped for? The reviewers on Amazon all gave it four and five stars. We’re they right?
Judgement Day was made in 1988. Written and directed by Ferde Grofe, Jr who’s previous works are most likely just as mysterious to you as Judgement Day, the movie never saw release on DVD. Instead it was relegated to a very small VHS run and didn’t do well as a rental. It’s not that I’d call it rare by any means. I was able to pick it up and fair condition for $20. The quality was just fine for my purposes although might be considered below collectors grade. Collector’s copies go for $75. It was put out by Magnum Entertainment which might have something to do with the hefty price tag. The movie is also known as The Third Hand and was shot in the Philippines.
The story follows two visitors to a small town that are given strict orders to leave before sundown. When a local girl goes missing and some moderate chaos ensues surrounding the search for the girl, the visitors end up sticking around a bit too long. They find themselves in the yearly Satanic ritual in which Satan himself comes to take souls. Will our ill fated wanderers lose their souls to the ultimate evil or will they escape and save the town from the Devil?
You might find a few of the actors names familiar in the credits. First and foremost would be Cesar Romero. Cesar played the Joker in the 1960’s TV show Batman opposite Adam West. His role is nowhere near as comical, but it’s nice to see him without his make on and getting older. The next in line would be Peter Mark Richman. Richman is a veteran television actor playing in just about every show you can imagine, but most notably for me… Fantasy Island. Also Naked Gun 2 1/2. Be assured that you are not looking at an Oscar winning picture. The acting has all the hallmarks of a made for TV picture. There’s no reason to get your hopes up.
The movie itself is an utter disappointment. Your stuck following a couple of morons around a town that obviously wants them out of it and with bad haircuts no less. They are given every opportunity to save themselves but do not. The suspension of disbelief is impossible to uphold. You won’t yell at the TV after the first 20 minutes. You realize that no one’s listening anyway. They’re doomed. It’s slow with few action sequences to entice the viewer. It’s saving grace are the shots of Satan himself. The poster does this aspect of the film justice. Still frames would be perfect as far as I’m concerned because there’s no brimstone in this Satan.
The music is purely 80’s. It’s not progressive or synth driven. It’s just bad filler. Nothing about this movie is truly creepy. The promotional department responsible for crafting the poster took the one solid, horrific image from the movie and put it on a poster that seemed to stare directly through you… you know, like Satan might stare through you.
I dont want you to think that I’m perfectly disappointed by finally seeing this white whale of picture only to find it unreasonably bad. I’m just happy to know that the movie exists and that whatever it was that lurked behind the eyes of that poster isn’t all that scary. For some reason I’m left wanting to purchase the poster now which I’ve seen for sale before, but how would I explain that. I’ve spent enough money on this film already. Like any journey worth having the fun is in the travel itself and not necessarily the destination. I was more than a little relieved to have watched the film alone. God forbid I watch it with some horror fans who have heard me build this flick up endlessly without seeing it. I would have had my membership card cut up on the spot.
Check back soon for another feature from It Came From 1980 X. Let me know your thoughts and please share this article around if you know someone who is desperately searching for it like I one was. Until next time, put the rectangular shaped object in the rectangular shaped hole.