The Willies – USA, 1990

‘If you’ve never had them before… You’re going to get them now…’

The Willies is an American 1990 comedy horror anthology film anthology written and directed by Brian Peck (Scuz in The Return of the Living Dead).

Two brothers and their cousin gather around a campfire and tell scary stories:

  • “Tennessee Frickasee” – A woman at a fast food restaurant finds a rat in her fried chicken.
  • “Haunted Estate” – An old man (Bill Erwin) dies of a heart attack after experiencing the terrors of an amusement park’s horror ride.
  • “Poodle Souffle” – An old woman puts her toy poodle in the microwave to dry off.
  • “Bad Apples” – A boy named Danny struggles with school bullies and an irascible teacher (Kathleen Freeman). The only one who shows him any sympathy is the school custodian, Mr. Jenkins (James Karen). While on duty, Mr. Jenkins disappears in the bathroom, and Danny enters later to find Mr. Jenkins’ body with a detached head, and a humanoid monster lurking in the stall…
  • “Flyboy” – Gordy Belcher (Michael Bower) is a reclusive, mischievous kid who plays pranks and who is obsessed with flies. He becomes fascinated with a secret manure created by Farmer Spivey, which causes crops to grow in increased sizes…

Reviews:

“Chances are if I had watched this at my most impressionable, I’d be sniggering more than shivering, because The Willies is a patently juvenile experience […] it lacks the color or the quirks of any number of EC Comics descendants, fashioned so basically as to be anemic and not helped by a uniform level of cheapness in performances and imagination.” John Bishop, Mind of Frames

“In a style not very much removed from the TV version of Goosebumps, you will find The Willies. A harmless, but gross a times anthology that plays out like Creepshow for kids, but equally as enjoyable for adults. In the opening moments of this movie we see not one but two different cast members of Twin Peaks!” Chuck Conry, Zombies Don’t Run

“If you saw it as a kid back in the day, you might have a nostalgic place for it in your heart, but trust me: this movie did not age well. The only reason to even trudge through this piece of duckbill platypus shit is the small appearance by James Karen.” Dymon Enlow, Happyotter

“It kinda plays out like an episode of Eerie, Indiana that’s been dumbed down for mass consumption, with urban legend-esque creepy tales that are so generic, I half-expected the killer with the hook hand or the truck driver flashing his brights to make an appearance.” Sean Gill, Junta Juleil’s Culture Shock

“What’s surprising is the violence. Not overly graphic, but there’s a nasty throat-slitting (which in the movie itself is fake, but still), an exploding dog, blood-spurts and a cool old-fashioned rubber-monster (that story, I see now, is a bit inspired by ‘The Crate’-episode in Creepshow)…” Ninja Dixon

The Willies is a fairly amateurish production but I think its enjoyable on a certain cheese level. It would also help if I were twelve again. The film moves along at a great pace and is never dull, but it definitely targets a younger age range. The stories never really achieve any sort of scares, but are fun in a kind of TV anthology sort of way.” Wes R., Oh, the Horror!

Main cast:

  • Sean AstinDead Ant; Stranger ThingsCabin Fever: Patient Zero; BorderlandThe Goonies
  • Michael Bower
  • Ralph Drischell
  • Kathleen Freeman – Gremlins 2: The New Batch
  • Ian Fried
  • James KarenThe Return of the Living Dead and sequel; Invaders from Mars; Time Walker; PoltergeistFrankenstein Meets the Space Monster
  • Jeremy Miller
  • Clu GulagerThe Boneyard; From a Whisper to a Scream; Terror at London BridgeThe Return of the Living DeadThe Initiation

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