26th Jun2020

‘Awesomely Righteous & Radical’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Created by Shane Ryan | Written by Luc Bernier, Jason Ewert, Dean Houlihan, Tom Jolliffe, Matti Soikkeli, Jim Towns | Directed by Luc Bernier, Jason Ewert, Dustin Ferguson, Dean Houlihan, Oliver Jolliffe, Shane Ryan, Matti Soikkeli, Aaron Stielstra, Jim Towns

Pretty much everybody loves the 80s, right? Horror fans are no different, and homages are as popular as ever when it comes to taking a greyhound back to the decade of spandex, hairspray, shoulder-pads and glam. Awesomely Righteous & Radical is an 80s inspired anthology, or… as it says on the poster “a totally tubular 80s homage anthology”.

Now, I’m an 80s horror lover, and I like a good anthology film, so I was intrigued by this. The concept is simple and has potential to be… well… totally tubular, rad, awesome, most excellent. Here, we have a whole stack of short-films with the connection to them all being that they’re set in the wonderfully whimsical and wondrous 1980s.

The quality, as expected with any anthology, is a mixed-bag, but I did have fun with a good amount of the shorts on here. I was a little irritated with the high-def look of a lot of the film, though. I feel like a slightly aged and 80s VHS look would have been a nice thing to see throughout. Some may not agree with that, but I do feel like if you’re gonna do an 80s anthology, then you should go all the way. I’d have liked to have seen that here. That may be a nitpick, but for me it did make the apparent 80s stories feel less impactful. I did like the mix of styles and stories, though, and the various sub-genres that are explored.

I had my favourites here, for sure, and some that I either didn’t really “get” or just felt weren’t as good as the others. Overall, though, it’s a fairly consistent compilation of 80s-based horror with no entry feeling offensively poor. Yes, some are of a much higher quality when it comes to the performances or the cinematography, but I’m a sucker for a low-budget horror flick, so I was cool with the change in tone and look with each short that passed by.

Favourite entries of mine here include Swamp Buck from Jason Ewert, which is a comedy-horror campfire story, and I thought it was a lot of fun. It was a smashing start to the anthology too, kicking things off in the right way. I also dug The Somnambulist by Jim Towns, a bit of a strange short about a group of scientists performing experiments on a patient. It was weird and really well-done, but one of the films in the batch that, for me, was guilty of not really bringing that 1980s feel. Still, it’s a good one. I also enjoyed Tumor Hunter from Aaron Stielstra. The presentation was right on-point, and it felt like a lost exploitation flick that someone found in a warehouse somewhere. That grimy feel is present, and the whole thing feels violent and dirty. I thought, even though the story itself is a basic one of a guy killing people with tumors, that this was a more authentic looking addition to the anthology, and ended things in a positive way.

The film begins and ends well, and there’s some fun stuff to be found in the middle. Sure, it doesn’t all work, but there’s certainly enough here to enjoy. It isn’t all full-on horror, not at all, but the concept is admirable and some of the entries hit the nail on the head. It may be missing some of the gore, grit, slime and sludge that made 80s exploitation horror so delightfully demented, and some sub-genres that you’d think would be staples in this sort of thing aren’t explored at all, but there’s still some good fun to be had with Awesomely Righteous & Radical, and if you’re a horror-anthology fan, and someone with a penchant for the 80s, then you should give this one a shot.

*** 3/5

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