top of page
  • Rev Horror

Saturday the 14th

Dir. Howard R. Cohen (1981)

A family moves into a new house they inherited and find a book that releases all evil into the world.

Y'all. I slept on this one for waaaay too long. Older horror comedies are far more hit than miss, and it's very rare to find one that actually accomplishes its goal of being funny without veering into offensive territory. We covered this a little bit in our review of Student Bodies, and it's easy to tell from a movie like that that comedy tastes have evolved and the things that used to be okay to say are no longer viewed so permissively. It's different with a film like Blazing Saddles, where the "offensive" jokes are used on purpose to prove a point, but most comedies don't have that level of nuance; there is an entire generation of comedy on film that can feel unwatchable at best, and most of the worst offenders have been slowly lost to history. Saturday the 14th, however, avoids all of those potential pitfalls by keeping itself relatively lighthearted, a PG movie (that probably would be PG-13 today) that aims most of its humor at kids but with plenty to keep the adults interested as well.

A family that has recently inherited a house discovers a book that will release all of the world's evil, resulting in a catastrophe that will end the world on Saturday the 14th. Two vampires are also looking for the book, as well as an "exterminator" named Van Helsing, and the family is caught between the people vying for the book and the monsters that they have accidentally released. With a delightful 50's creature design reminiscent of the Atomic Era and a script that manages genuinely funny jokes at a healthy clip, Saturday the 14th makes the potential end of the world as humorous as possible while also containing some mildly scary moments.

Every single part of this movie is perfection. It's been so long since I've laughed out loud at a horror comedy, especially with such frequency. The dry sense of humor, Brooksian and reminiscent of films like Rocky Horror Picture Show, fits like a glove. The actors all have practically perfect comedic timing, and the monsters, cheesy as they are (and they are cheesy as hell), are flawless fits in a film that often uses The Twilight Zone as background noise. The visual gags hit home consistently, most notably the running joke about owls that had me laughing out loud every time. As a fan of the old monster movies from the Cold War era, Saturday the 14th really struck a cord with how well it was made, and it's much more entertaining than I expected it to be.

It shouldn't be a surprise, of course: produced by New World Pictures, Roger Corman's legendary (and prolific) production company, Saturday the 14th has just the right people behind it to be a surprising hit. Corman's wife Judy produced the film, and writer/director Howard R. Cohen also did a number of Care Bears episodes in the 80's. The sense of humor and the clever play on genre tropes works perfectly in the film, a sort of "meta" before meta was a consideration within the horror genre. For a horror comedy to work well, it has to play on those staples of the genre in a way that is both obvious and complementary, and S14 does so splendidly.

On its surface, Saturday the 14th looks like a film that wouldn't stand up to viewing 40 years later: the effects are super cheap, the production quality is certainly not all that high, and many of Corman's films are only enjoyable to those who grew up watching them. However, good comedy is timeless, a fact proven by Cohen's witty script and the stellar performances from everyone within. With fantastic 50's creature design and a willingness to make fun of itself and it's budgetary shortcomings, Saturday the 14th is the throwback horror comedy I didn't know I needed in my life. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend checking it out. I'm gonna have to head over to Shout Factory and pick up a copy on blu-ray, and I suggest you do the same.

Who this movie is for: Horror comedy fans, 50's monster movie lovers, Realtors

Bottom line: I can't believe I don't own this movie, and I'm going to rectify that as soon as possible. Saturday the 14th is charming, funny, and scratches the perfect itch for someone looking for an inoffensive but genuinely funny comedy with horror elements. From the 50's-quality creature design to the flawless comedic timing, this one will be a joy for any experienced horror fan. And it's the perfect day to watch it! It's streaming on Tubi if you want to check it out or just watch it again.

Featured Reviews

Featured Interviews

bottom of page