RELEASE DATE: MAY 14, 1986
RATED: R | RUNTIME: 85 MINS
DIRECTOR: GENIE JOSEPH | SCREENPLAY: THOMAS DORAN
“Arriving at an abandoned cemetery, a group of friends intending to have a night of fun instead fall prey to a series of attacks by vicious creatures sent by a malevolent wizard who needs human sacrifices in order to keep his bride eternally youthful and must find a way to get away alive.”
–Kannibal Corpse Grinder
WHERE TO WATCH
A film with three directors, two production teams and screen time featuring over six different monsters, Spookies is an obscure cult horror ‘classic’ from the late eighties with an infamous production history.
Shooting for the film began in 1984 on what was then called Twisted Souls. However disagreements with the financier lead to the crew being replaced and additional scenes being filmed that were almost completely divorced from what came before. The result is a convoluted, nearly nonsensical plot. That plot mostly follows a group of adults being killed off one at at time by an ancient sorcerer in the second half of the movie. The first half consists of a nearly self-contained story about a young boy set upon by a feral cat-like man.
The cat-man is actually a loyal minion to the same warlock harassing the adults from the later parts of the film. To add a further random thread to the plot, the sorcerer is trying to revive or prolong (it’s not clear from the film) his young and unwilling bride who is stuck in suspended animation. Unfortunately for the warlock in question, as soon as his bride is restored to life she stabs and ‘kills’ him in the film’s conclusion.
The acting, the plot, the tone and the overall production of the movie is far from exemplary but what stands out in Spookies are the creative monster effects. They are a blend between costumes, mechanical on-set operations, make-up and stop-motion animation. Indeed, the smorgasbord of villains and the loving if not altogether convincing baddies of the film are probably why Spookies has over the decades sauntered quietly into cult status. Given the lack of creature effects in many eighties and even more recent horror films, the monster team behind Spookies’ passionate attempt to entertain the horror base is not only admirable but aspirational.
Given that Spookies was originally conceived as an homage to the haunted house genre and comes with a titular villain named Kreon, a sorcerer who oversees the movie monsters, its a perfect film to adapt into a quick-and-dirty 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons adventure. Due to the films sparse plot, I had to elaborate a good deal on the backstory for the characters, including the master of the house Kreon and his magical suite of abilities along with the monsters so as to accommodate the level and XP budget. However, I did my best to stay as close to both the spirit of the film and the movie’s overall story beats.
Chocked full of monsters, traps and illusions, this one-shot 5th-Level Spookies adventure also has fun little movie trivia sprinkled throughout for those unfamiliar with the film and help to pepper in bits of the films comedic tone. But make no mistake, the adventure is not for the faint of heart and you might want to warn your players they are in for a night of terror and more than likely death. So if that sounds like an few hours of roleplaying that you’re looking for, download Spookies and prepare for some horror!
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