John Hyatt, portrayed by Golden Globe winner Richard Benjamin (The Sunshine Boys), has just inherited a house from his late uncle’s estate. The reading of the will by John’s uncle’s attorney (Stacey Keach Sr) doesn’t sit well with those assembled. Aunt Lucille, played by Emmy nominee Rosemary DeCamp (The Bob Cummings Show), is especially taken aback by the house not having been left to her. Perhaps she shouldn’t be upset, because as the attorney reads further into the will, he states that there is a curse on the house, and immediately drops dead.
Forgoing any belief in curses, John moves his family into their new house. The other members of the Hyatt family consist of: Mary, his wife, a role acted by Emmy nominee Paula Prentiss (He & She); the Hyatt’s teenage daughter, Debbie played by Kari Michaelsen (Gimmie a Break); and their young son Billy (Kevin Brando). After moving into the house, odd things begin to occur, especially when Billy, being inquisitive, opens a book called “The Book of Evil.” With each page of the book that Billy turns, he releases a monster from its confinement. The book serves as a prison for the monsters. (As an aside: In addition to playing a married couple in the film, Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss have been married in real life since October 26, 1961).
The book, is being sought after by other interested parties. Waldemar, portrayed by Golden Globe and two time Emmy winner Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent), is a vampire who is several hundred years old. He and his wife Yolanda (Nancy Lee Andrews), also a vampire, are desperate to get their hands on the book. Attempting to thwart the vampires, in his own desire to retrieve the book first, is the vampire’s greatest rival Van Helsing (Severn Darden). The vampires and Van Helsing are both insistent that the fate of the world rests in the hands of whoever controls the book. The delineation between the good guys and the bad, might not be as cut and dry as a viewer thinks.
“Saturday the 14th” was directed by Howard R. Cohen (Time Trackers). Additionally, Cohen wrote the screenplay based off of a story written by Jeff Begun (The Double). The film was released in the United States on October 30, 1981. While comedy is the dominant genre the filmmakers utilized throughout the 75 minute movie, it is also officially considered parts fantasy, horror, and Sci-Fi. The film was followed by an utterly abysmal sequel “Saturday the 14th Strikes Back,” which was released on August 5, 1988. (As an aside: “Saturday the 14th” was hurriedly produced because around the same time United Artists were about to release a film called “Thursday the 12th,” which was also a horror comedy; it’s name was later changed to Pandemonium (1982).
“Saturday the 14th” is not meant to be taken seriously in any way. The humor and sight gags are silly, but fit with the overall tone of the film. The acting really can’t be judged because the plot is preposterous. There is no explanation as to how the world’s greatest assemblage of monsters got contained inside of a book that holds them prisoner; quite frankly it doesn’t need to be explained, to do so, would change the type of film that it is. For those of you who like horror film parody, vintage camp, or are fans of actor Jeffrey Tambor, and who’d like to see him in one of his earliest film roles, then this is a movie that you should enjoy. For the rest of you that might want to give this film a shot, it is currently available to be streamed on Amazon Prime.