Way back in 1981, when dinosaurs still walked the earth and only the birds tweeted, my father and I went to the movies as sort of a father and son type of bonding experience. The film we saw was Saturday the 14th, starring the husband and wife acting team of Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss, who play a couple with kids who inherit a creepy old mansion that just happens to be cursed. In short, the movie was awful--it was an ineptly made film that tried to be a spoof of the horror movie genre that had just exploded at that time, with Friday the 13th (from which Saturday got its title) being chief among them.
Recently we observed a Friday the 13th, and it was while viewing all of the customary Friday the 13th memes online that I was reminded of this film, and decided to watch it the next day. While there’s an inspired moment, when Prentiss is attacked by bats in the same manner as the classic scene that took place in Hitchcock’s The Birds, watching Saturday the 14th on Saturday the 14th offered no real thrills for me, other than reinforcing the fact that this movie really sucks hard, and that it sucks in a bad way, not in the ’it’s-so-bad-it’s-good’ way. I mean, I understand that it was actually meant to be a comedy. But Saturday the 14th isn’t any more funny than it was supposed to be scary. Saturday the 14th just lays there in its sheer lameness of being a really rotten movie.
The only pleasant takeaway that I have, viewing the film thirty six years later, is the cast. Severn Darden co-stars as Van Helsing, an exterminator who also fights the children of the night on the side. Darden is fondly known to me for his role as Kolp in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, as well as for his part of Apploy on the memorable The Return of Bigfoot crossover on The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman.
Jeffery Tambor also starred in Saturday as a goofy vampire who tries to steal the house out from under the family. Tambor is best known today for his role on Amazon’s Transparent, as well as for The Larry Sanders Show, Arrested Development, Archer, and a host of other series and movies.
Paula Prentiss has always been a busy actor, starring in a slew of comedies in the 1960s, as well as the Parallax View and the The Stepford Wives in the 1970s. She most recently appeared in 2016’s I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House.
Richard Benjamin will always be Quark to me. Not the alien bartender on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but as the intergalactic garbage man on the short-lived series of the same name from the late 1970s. He was also very memorable to me as a kid from his role in the original Westworld. One year after Saturday the 14th would see the release of My Favorite Year, which was Benjamin’s directorial debut (and was a far better movie than Saturday). He would be an actor/director (and very good at both jobs) from this point on.
In doing research for this film, I came across many reviews for it where the reviewer (many who are younger than me) gives a gushing appraisal for Saturday the 14th strictly for nostalgic reasons. They also realize the film isn’t great, but having seen it first at a young age, it still offers sentimental value for them. I first saw this film with my father at the age of 16, and do not share their nostalgic love for it--however, I remember my dad and I having a good laugh over how bad the movie was during our dinner out afterwards, so in that sense I have Saturday the 14th to thank for creating a fond memory of me with my father. --SF