Newest Reviews
Vicious Fun
Circumstantial Pleasures
Tyger Tyger
Filmmaker's House, The
Man Standing Next, The
Rock, Paper and Scissors
Batman: The Long Halloween Part One
Salaam Bombay!
Boss Level
My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To
Edge of the World
Treasure City
Shiva Baby
Flowers of Shanghai
War and Peace
Merrily We Go to Hell
Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt)
Amusement Park, The
Hands of Orlac, The
Death has Blue Eyes
Kala Azar
After Love
Earwig and the Witch
Zebra Girl
Skull: The Mask
Newest Articles
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
  Willies, The What's grosser than gross?
Year: 1990
Director: Brian Peck
Stars: Sean Astin, Jason Horst, Joshua John Miller, James Karen, Kathleen Freeman, Ian Fried, Clu Gulager, Jeremy Miller, Michael Bower, Ralph Drischell, Suzanne Goddard-Smythe, Mike Pniewski, Ari Smith, Kirk Cameron, Tracey Gold, Chelsea Noble
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Teenage Michael (Sean Astin) and his younger cousins Kyle (Jason Horst) and Josh (Joshua John Miller) are camped out in a tent late at night, swapping scary stories. In response to Josh’s insistent requests to hear something “grosser than gross”, Michael tells a story about young Danny Hollister (Ian Fried), a poor, put-upon elementary school kid tormented by mullet-adorned bullies. Danny’s only friend, avuncular school janitor Mr. Jenkins (James Karen), assures him the mean kids will get what is coming to them. Shortly after that Danny stumbles upon a terrifying, bloodthirsty monster lurking in the bathroom next to the grisly remains of Mr. Jenkins. Of course nobody believes Danny until it’s too late... Next up Josh and Kyle entertain Michael with the strange story of Gordy Belcher (Michael Bower), a portly, asthmatic yet thoroughly obnoxious and unsympathetic young misfit obsessed with collecting flies to glue into his weird dioramas. Between shoplifting, feeding fly-laced cookies to innocent schoolgirls and verbally abusing his long-suffering mom, Gordy makes time to steal Old Farmer Spivey’s (Ralph Drischell) "miracle growth" manure. Which turns out to work only too well when fed to Gordy’s flies with disastrous consequences.

For British viewers likely to giggle over the unintentionally phallic nature of that title, The Willies (titter) is an American colloquialism along the lines of "the shivers" or "the creeps." Seemingly skewed towards a younger audience this juvenile horror anthology, the lone writer-director outing for actor Brian Peck (who played Scuz in fan-favourite Return of the Living Dead (1985)), sports the same garish, semi-comical tone found in the later Nineties run of creepy kids TV shows such as Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Eerie, Indiana. Firmly in line with an adolescent’s concept of horror The Willies (chuckle) foregrounds goofy monsters, cartoon grue and a slightly sadistic sense of humour. It is essentially Creepshow (1982) for the juvenile set. Yet one imagines children with the stomach for horror would glean more entertainment from the George Romero-Stephen King classic. Peck’s offering falls uncomfortably between two stools: too scary and mean-spirited for kids, too childish for horror fans.

The stories, prefigured by two brief early anecdotes about a fast-food restaurant that serves fried rats and an old man trapped in a zombie infested theme park, touch on childhood neuroses but are strictly one-dimensional. They come across like skits spotlighting an eclectic cast (a post-Goonies, pre-Lord of the Rings Sean Astin, cult child actor Joshua John Miller of River’s Edge (1986) and Near Dark (1987) fame (later screenwriter of excellent slasher parody The Final Girls (2015)), veteran comedy actress Kathleen Freeman (as Danny’s grouchy schoolteacher, doing the same welcome shtick she did in all those vintage Jerry Lewis movies) and Peck’s Return of the Living Dead co-star Clu Gulager in a cameo so brief you wonder why he bothered. For reasons all its own The Willies (hee-hee) also features multiple cast members from the American sitcom Growing Pains including Kirk Cameron, Tracy Gold (both seemingly reprising their characters from the show!), Jeremy Miller and Chelsea Noble (later a staple presence, along with husband Kirk Cameron, in the Evangelical Christian-themed Left Behind movies).

Peck’s stilted direction fails to imbue them with the right E.C. comic verve. The film ambles interminably where it really needed to zip by, shredding kids’ nerves. In particular the pacing during the monster sequences is painfully slow, highlighting the goofy nature of the creature effects. More problematic though is the muddled morality inherent in the stories themselves. One of them ends with an ostensible innocent more or less assisting a murderer before walking away unscathed. The second tale, with its introverted yet curiously irredeemable, misanthropic child protagonist behaving nasty even to those trying to be nice to him, is even stranger in that it has no discernible point. Gordy Belcher is a gross, obnoxious jerk who meets a gross, obnoxious fate yet comes away seemingly having learned nothing. Eventually the wraparound segment reaches its own laboured nonsensical punchline.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 382 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf


Last Updated: