Comedy, Monsters, Satire, Supernatural, Vampire

Saturday the 14th (1981)

0 Comments 25 December 2012

saturday the 14th coverStudio: New Concorde

Theatrical Release: October 30th, 1981

DVD Release: March 27th, 2001

Rating: PG

Directed by Howard R. Cohen

Review by Craig Sorensen

So Saturday the 14th is a PG rated family film from New World Pictures.  New World isn’t exactly known for their family film output and there’s a reason for that.  This film is a mess.  It constantly feels like it wants to go blue but just can’t pull the trigger.  Which wouldn’t be so bad I suppose if the jokes were funny.  They’re not of course so the film is a little tough to get through.  Still, with all it’s faults, the film does have some charm so I can’t dismiss it completely.  It’s got a hell of a cast and it seems like everyone’s having a good time and I suppose that some of that ends up rubbing off on the audience.

Saturday 14th 1

Saturday 14th 4

John (Richard Benjamin of Westworld), Mary (Paula Prentiss of The Stepford Wives) and their two children Debbie And Billy (Kari Michaelsen of Girl Talk and Kevin Brando voice of Schroeder in The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show) just inherited a spooky old house in Eerie Pennsylvania (get it!).  Jeffrey Tambor plays a vampire named Waldemar who wants to get into the house to steal “The Book of Evil” before anyone else can find it.  Unfortunately for him, young Billy finds and opens the book unleashing various cheap looking monsters throughout the house.  The family has to call an exterminator to come in and help clean up the house and get a crazy man named Van Helsing (Severn Darden of Soggy Bottom U.S.A.).  Now they all have to clear this mess up before Saturday the 14th before, I don’t know, something happens I guess.

Saturday 14th 5

Saturday 14th 6

Yeah, the plot doesn’t make any sense, it’s mostly there to act as a framework to hang jokes on.  Which I don’t really have a problem with if the jokes work.  There are enough jokes here that some of them do work of course.  And you can’t really fault the delivery by the actors, they all have enough comedy experience to carry a film like this (even the younger stars do a pretty good job).  I think that the problems with the film can be squarely placed on the script.  Writer/Director Harry Cohen has had a fairly long career (sure it’s just writing cheapo films for Roger Corman) but this is pretty early in his career.    The film really just feels schizophrenic.  It seems like it should be dirtier than it is.  There is a kind of creepy bath scene with the clearly underage Michaelsen getting undressed that looks like it’s supposed to be sexy.  If they had just cast someone older and gave it an R rating then they could have gotten away with what they clearly wanted to include.  Instead it just comes off as creepy.

Saturday 14th 9

Saturday 14th 10

Still the film has a hell of a cast.  Tambor is usually funny, even when the material isn’t up to snuff.  Benjamin and Prentiss (real life husband and wife) are old pros and add a lot of charm to the production.  They also have plenty of comedy experience between the two of them.  The real scene stealer here though is Severn Darden.  He adds so much character and weirdness to every scene that I wish the film was just about his Van Helsing character.  Also the film has lots of cheap monsters in that classic New World style.

Saturday 14th 3


Saturday 14th 3b

Rough 16×9 approximation

Of course, New Concorde’s 2001 DVD leaves much to be desired.  The film hasn’t been cleaned up at all so there’s specks of dirt all over the place.  Colors are not great but not awful I guess.  Really, it looks like this was transferred from a decently preserved release print.  I’ve certainly seen worse transfers.  The real problem here is that the film is presented in 1.33:1.  It looks to me like the film was meant to be matted off (IMDB lists an original aspect ratio of 1.85:1).  You can correct this yourself by zooming the image in on your monitors.  That’s actually how I watched most of the film and the framing looked good.  At 1.33 though you’re not only throwing off the compositions, you’re also exposing boom mics.  So zooming in is an easy fix.  Of course, that’ll also zoom in on all the problems with the transfer so beware.  As far as extras go, you get Cast and Crew Biographies (haven’t seen those on a DVD in a long time) and some trailers.  You get the original trailer for this and it’s sequel Saturday the 14th Strikes Back (which of course uses footage from Battle Beyond the Stars), and a couple of other awful New Concorde family films.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

- who has written 151 posts on UnRated Film Review Magazine | Movie Reviews, Interviews.

Craig hails from 'Parts Unknown'.

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