This is one of the most charming, effective little shockers of the 1980s. Its mixture of 1950s science-fiction conventions and 1980s slashers is distinctive and unique, and director Fred Dekker’s enthusiasm for both genres is palpable. With a number of downright hilarious self-referential jokes that predate the self-aware irony of 1996’s “Scream” by a decade, the movie seems both ahead of its time and ahead of its own audience, keeping things entertaining and unpredictable. Remarkably, it treats the male hero’s friendship with his best friend as genuinely loving, which is notably rare in the horror genre. Along the way it’s well cast and the practical effects are dated but downright striking, and Tom Atkins seems to be having fun as Detective Ray Cameron. It’s not high art by any means, but any genre fan will find plenty to enjoy here.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)