TNB Night Owl–Pandemonium

The 1970s brought us a spate of splatterpunk slasher movies. The 1980s brought us a spate of slasher spoof movies. As with any satire subgenre, some are fantastic. Some are nightmarishly horrible. Most are somewhere in between. Such is the case with PANDEMONIUM (1982).

PANDEMONIUM was originally titled THURSDAY THE 12TH, which should give a hint to the level they’re aiming toward. The movie opens with a young student named Bambi (Candy Azzara) pining over football star Blue Grange (an all too small role for Tab Hunter). He doesn’t even notice her because he’s so focused on the cheerleaders. Those same cheerleaders pick on Candi and shun her from their activities. Soon after, the entire squad is skewered with a javelin. We are then treated to a newspaper headline montage showing that all cheerleaders in the town of It Had To Be, Indiana from then on were horribly murdered. It only makes sense that, once Bambi grows up, she would open a cheerleading camp there.

The cheerleaders are played by either soon-to-be stars like Judge Reinhold and Carol Kane, or faces that you recognize from somewhere but can’t place, such as Teri Landrum and Debralee Scott. There’s jokes based on the cheerleader stereotypes, knocks at popular slasher films like CARRIE, or even cornball wordplay (“Are you Pepe?” “Not since they removed my prostate.”). Those scenes are intercut with a displaced Canadian Mounty (Tom Smothers) and his assistant (Paul Reubens, who spends a lot of time channeling his Pee Wee Herman character). They are in town because both an prisoner and a mental patient have escaped.

About halfway through the movie the cheerleaders start dropping like flies. Who is the killer? One of the escapees? Bambi? Pepe? One of the surviving cheerleaders? In a way it doesn’t even matter because with spoof movies like this, it’s about the ride and the gags along the way more than the story itself.

The cast was filled with both veterans and newcomers to comedy, all of which knew what they were doing with the jokes given. The timing was great, the delivery was great. I can’t imagine this movie working as well with a different cast.

This was the final feature directed by Alfred Sole. Previously he’d made a porno, a sci-fi exploitation, and a well-received and well-respected horror film, ALICE, SWEET ALICE. It’s obvious Sole has a love for the horror genre. It comes through in the spoof. He’s not laughing at but laughing with.

PANDEMONIUM may not be the funniest movie to come out of the 1980s, or the most original, but it’s not bad and it’s a funny way to pass the time.

Question of the night: What’s your favorite 80s comedy?

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