Lurkers (1988)

What do you think? More Roberta Findlay? Sure! Why not?

Welcome to this week’s new B-Movie Enema review. I’m Geoff Arbuckle, and this is 1988’s Lurkers. Now, if you think back to 2019, I took a look at Findlay’s Prime Evil. That movie was okay for the most part. However, what I think everyone could agree on is how freakin’ awesome the devil creature that shows up is. The year before Lurkers and Prime Evil, Findlay also did Blood Sisters. That one was a little less than interesting but not without some fun.

The far more interesting elements of those movies, of course, is Roberta Findlay. I’ve mentioned about how Findlay worked with her husband, Michael, on films, but it wasn’t a great relationship. That said, she worked with him while they were separated. She did porn and horror… That’s about it. But that’s perfectly fine too. Most of her movies weren’t particularly high budget, but she often worked as both director and cinematographer on her films. The number of credits as either role on a film is fairly impressive considering she really only had a roughly 25 year career. My point is she kept busy making movies.

Now, I don’t know too much about Findlay and what she’s done over the last 30+ years, but she will show up occasionally on special features on releases of her movies. She also appeared in the second season of Cursed Films for the episode on Cannibal Holocaust last year. Due to the closeness of the releases of Prime Evil and Lurkers, Findlay did get to use a couple actresses in both films – namely Christine Moore who starred in both films and good ol’ Ruth Collins who had lesser roles in both. Ruth Collins, to me at least, will always be remembered for her performance in Doom Asylum. Because Roberta Findlay made movies so closely to each other, she could often probably use the same actors and some of the same crew. All things considered, she released these three movies that I’ve covered on this blog all within about 18 months or so.

So, yeah, she stayed quite busy, but let’s not keep her waiting any longer, let’s talk Lurkers!

The movie starts off with some peculiar harpsichord music that feels like it comes from a British horror film of the 60s and 70s. The credits are written in script. It just has this odd vibe to it as it begins to zero in on an urban neighborhood where kids play jump rope outside, moms do the ironing in a tiny ass kitchen while cooking breakfast and bitching out their daughters for not eating their food. Anyway, we see our leading lady, Cathy, from 15 years ago. She seems to be poking around her shredded wheat cereal in bowls I am positive we had when I was a kid too.

See? I told you that was Cathy from 15 years ago.

Cathy tells her mom she’s not hungry anymore and she doesn’t want to eat anymore of her food. Her mom is a raging bitch. She says that if she doesn’t finish her food, she’ll get THEM to take her away. She says Cathy will behave for THEM. Cathy asks to go to her room. Her mother takes her bowl and tells her to go out and play. Cathy begins crying because she doesn’t want to go outside. “THEY” are on the stairs. The mother apparently burns Cathy with the iron and then tells her to go outside and play. The little girl walks slowly and carefully down the stairs.

Cathy does get outside to watch some of the other girls playing jump rope. The other kids are nice to her and let her get in on this game. Well, that’s until the jump rope wraps around Cathy’s neck and the kids all begin to stare at her. In fact, there’s also a mysterious woman standing in the street watching this play out.

Jesus, Cathy. You’ve had a rough upbringing. Anyway, Cathy’s finally released by the girls playing jump rope and pulling it tighter around her neck when the mysterious woman in the streets stares at a little girl in a white dress until she disappears. That night, Cathy’s mom goes into her bedroom while she’s sleeping and takes the bulb out of the lamp. I assume this is to prevent Cathy from reading her favorite book she always has with her. Cathy’s smart, though… She keeps a flashlight with her book under the bed.

However, as she reads this book, she starts hearing scary voices calling her name. When she looks around the room, she sees ghostly images of ghouls floating closer and closer to her bed.

For realsies, kid… I wouldn’t normally recommend anything remotely like this, but maybe consider packing it up on this life and hope for a better lot next time around? You’ve got an awful mother. The other little girls in the neighborhood ain’t above strangling you to death in the most violent game of jump rope I ever did see. And now you have ghostly ghouls in your bedroom who know your name and have oogie boogie hands as they creep ever closer to you. Just pack it in, Cathy. I’m sorry this life you had sucked. Maybe your next one will be better.

Jump forward to the present. Cathy’s all grown up and walking around the city with what I assume is a cello. She’s followed by the same woman in the street from when she was a kid. She very nearly walks out into the street and gets hit by a taxi as she crosses to see her fiancé, Bob. In the back of that taxi is the little girl in the white dress that was around when she was nearly strangled by the jump rope.

Bob wants Cathy to invite her brother, Phil, to their wedding. Phil is a priest. Cathy is a little cagy about this prospect. Phil is her only living relative and Bob thinks he would want to know his sister is getting married. She thinks it over, and the lovers go to frolic in the city while Bob takes pictures of Cathy. Yes, Bob’s a photographer. We next see him at his studio where Ruth Collins and another model are talking about stocks and bonds or something while we see them undress. I mean, I guess that’s good. Dialog sucks but the visuals are great.

Anyway, Bob and Cathy continue planning for their big day. Bob has a partner at his studio, Monica. She’s a looker too. Now, it should be mentioned that Cathy has yet to meet Monica. That would seem kind of peculiar, wouldn’t it? I mean, there’s no real reason to think that Bob and Monica are more than business partners, but considering Bob is essentially self-employed thanks to this partnership, wouldn’t you think that Bob would have introduced the two significant women in his life to each other? Cathy thinks this is strange for sure. She’s not even been to his studio before.

Good news is that Monica is having a party at the studio to entertain some of her “important” friends. Bob invites Cathy to this soiree. She can go to the studio for the first time AND meet Monica! Win-win! Before we can get to that party, though, we have some other ghostly, LURKER business to deal with first.

While cutting a classical music album with other musicians, Cathy spots the little girl in the white dress staring back at her through the window to the producer’s control room. She shouts and reacts to it, but the other other musicians don’t see her. The producer and his assistant were arguing over several things so they didn’t even notice how she reacted or that it made the other musicians stop playing.

Apparently, it wasn’t that big of a deal. That night, Bob tells her that she’s been working too hard, and she jokes that they probably just think she’s crazy. Then they fuck. Cathy (played by Christine Moore) is all tits out and shot like she’s in a porno… which makes sense because Roberta Findlay did make pornos. I guess seeing a little ghost that’s followed you for the last many years is not that big of a deal as long as you are getting a big dose of Bob’s diiiick.

Anyway, she falls asleep and has a nightmare of when her mother stabbed her father to death. Scared, young Cathy runs down the stairs of the apartment. I don’t know if this whole thing was started because the mom was mad at the little girl for playing dress-up with and wearing makeup or what. In the present, she twitches and it wakes Bob up who then wakes her up. Cathy is rather upset over this because she says it is just like the night that it all happened.

She says that her brother blames her for what happened that night. Cathy says that Phil hid in the corner while it all went down. Bob says that there’s no way her brother, the priest, wouldn’t forgive her for what happened. She disagrees. I want to be very clear about something here… We’ve twice been in the past – once to start the movie, and once in that dream. We’ve not see a little boy in either scene. I’m not sure what to really believe.

I feel like, because this is an 80s horror flick, there is almost no nuance available to make this something like “Phil isn’t real” and that he’s something of a figment of Cathy’s imagination, or possibly a lurker himself. I really don’t know. The problem is they’ve gone out of their way to talk about her having a brother. They’ve made sure to show young Cathy dealing with her unstable mother. Yet, we’ve not seen him. That feels almost deliberate.

But, don’t worry… There’s more to question as we cut to Bob meeting a man at a bar. The man is pretty distraught about something. He says he “can’t go through with it.” Bob tells him that he made a promise and he’s gotta be kept to his word or else. There was some agreement made between this guy and Bob that also had other people involved. The guy benefited in some way. Bob makes sure to point out that this guy, Steve, seemed pretty happy about whatever he got out of this arrangement.

I’ll admit, that the moment we saw Bob with Monica earlier, something felt off about him. Now, he’s pissed about this guy not going through with something important. Bob talks about another group of people he seems associated with. This is all vague and kind of bad guy talk. When Bob walks off after basically telling this guy he’s fucked up, Steve begins convulsing and, as we learn later, had to be taken away in a straightjacket.

Cathy tells a woman who reads her Tarot cards, Rita, that after she marries Bob, she’s giving up her career. Bob makes enough money enough to support them both. Rita gets upset with her. She scolds Cathy for this line of thinking because she doesn’t think Bob would do the same for her. She then asks Rita what the cards say about going to see Phil to tell him about her getting married. Rita says to not go because he won’t understand. She goes to tell Phil, who, by the way, is a real character in this movie, and, sure enough, he’s a dick to her. He won’t go to the wedding. When she mentions her dreams and how bad they are, he tells her there’s something wrong with her and he can’t help. He… He can’t help her. What’s more, he doesn’t want to see her anymore.

Gee… What a real dick.

Alright, so Cathy’s mom was awful. Her brother is a dickhead. Her fiancé is maybe up to nefarious shit. She sees ghosts. She has nightmares. Seriously, girl… I am so sorry your life has sucked so hard.

That night, Bob comes home with a pizza and champagne. They get ripped on said champagne and sensually feed each other that pizza like this is 9 1/2 Weeks.

We next see Bob doing more not-so-great stuff. He goes back to the bar that Steve guy freaked out in and and to be taken away and starts flirting with Sally, the barmaid. In fact, the night of that party in which Bob is going to introduce Cathy to Monica, he calls Cathy to tell her he’s run into some issues at the studio and can’t meet her until about 7 to get her for the party. Why is that? because Bob is spending the day with Sally. I’m beginning to think that Bob might just be an asshole.

But I do like Sally’s curly curls.

Bob spends the day taking Polaroids of Sally and kissing her and telling her how he thinks she’s got real potential as a model. You know, dirtbag shit. He tells her that he is going to show her pics to his partner, Monica.

Back at Cathy’s, she’s taking a bath and dozes off. She gets woken up by a specter of her mother trying to drown her in her own bathwater. It’s just a dream within a dream. She wakes up and she’s all fine. Despite this VERY scary thing that happened to Cathy in the bathtub, she’s all smiles and flirty hugs and smooches with Bob. But that shifts as she comments about how Monica must be beautiful because even Bob said so himself. She wonders if he and Monica ever had a thing in the past, but he just says she’s his business partner.

On the way to the party, Cathy sees the mysterious woman who has always been around throughout her life. They pick her up after Bob first says he thinks she’s a hooker, then says she must be crazy. She delivers the message to Cathy to not “go home.” The last time she saw the ghostly little girl, the ghost told Cathy to go home. In fact, in a flashback to when the meat wagon came and claimed the body of her mother, her own mother even told Cathy something about home. Now, this lady, who we will eventually recognize as something of Cathy’s guardian angel, is saying to not do that. And she’s fairly agitated while delivering the warning.

Cathy is trying to figure out what that warning means. Bob wants nothing to do with her anymore and tells Cathy he’s dumping her off at the next exit. When Cathy turns around, the woman is gone. Bob says that she didn’t just vanish into thin air, so she had to have just gotten out when they slowed down in the traffic. Cathy just kind of buys this.

When they arrive at the building where the studio is, Cathy soon discovers she knows exactly where they are in town. The studio is inside the building Cathy grew up in. She now figures out this is what the lady said in the car. She’s been brought home. Cathy tells Bob about the girls who nearly strangled her with the jump ropes. She also tells him about the lurkers who came out of the wall only at night. She tells Bob that all the horrible things that happened to her when she was growing up happened in this building. Bob just kind of blows this off. She says he cannot make her go inside. She offers to get a car back home and asks him to make an excuse. He says he won’t go to the party without her.

Bob asks Cathy to wait outside while he goes in and tells Monica an excuse. While she waits for him, he hears a guy yelling aggressively at a woman. She then sees the guy walking down the street with an sledgehammer chasing a woman with a bloody shirt. While trying to get away from that, she sees Steve crying hysterically and begging for help. She sees 50s style toughs (you know the kind, it’s like they wear 50s clothing but also look like 70s/80s punk rockers?) waiting for some action in a playground. None of the phones work or they’ve been vandalized. Basically, this whole part of town is bonkers. I will give Cathy one thing… She did not go inside that fuckin’ building.

Anyway, after the waking nightmare that is the South Bronx, Cathy finds she’s basically run in circles and has ended up right back to the front of her old building. Bob finds her out front before she goes inside. She tells her about the guy with the sledgehammer and how he killed this girl. Bob says nothing is going on out here. He doesn’t believe anything she’s saying, but she only gets more upset. She wants to call the police, but there are no phones that work. So, he brings her inside that fucking building to use the phone at the party.

Pretty much right away, Cathy gets the bad juju from the stairwell. Bob “promises” that they’ll call the police and leave. However, Bob says they should get a drink first. This is only irritating Cathy that much more. She’s also surprised by how Monica looks. So, she’s bothered by the fact that she’s back at the building where all her childhood trauma took place. She’s pissed at Bob for treating her like an idiot and infantilizing her about wanting to report this murder. She’s nervous to be meeting Monica, Bob’s business partner. And she just wants to fucking call the cops but goddamn Bob just wants to have a drink at the bar. Motherfucker!

Goddammit, haven’t we all been in this exact situation before? You’re just wanting to report that a fucking guy smashed some poor fucking girl’s fucking head in with a fucking sledgehammer and your fucking prick of a fiancé just wants to drink booze and fucking party. FUCK. I’m feeling irritated FOR Cathy here.

That’s something else I want to bring up about this movie. We’ve seen two gay men in this movie. The first was someone who was helping Bob and Cathy with their invitations. The second was Monica’s butler. BOTH of them were wearing makeup. This was a sort of common thing back in the 70s and 80s. It isn’t just enough that a guy was gay in a movie. They had to be so fay that, at any moment, they might flutter away on their fairy wings. It’s kind of gross now as we look back on this, but it’s maybe kind of meant to be funny… However, I think it’s just meant to be weird. Both Bob and Cathy laugh at the guy at the invitations place. And the butler is kind of a condescending jerkoff. These are very pointed decisions made for these characters to be this cartoonishly gay.

I’ve said my piece, so I shall digress thusly.

Because Bob has completely and totally infantilized Cathy, he’s gone off to call the cops FOR her while Cathy is stuck with Monica. Monica laughs about how Bob and Cathy plan to get married in a church. “Oh, hahaha… How quaint!” I hate Monica. I hate everyone at this fucking party. Cathy tries finding Bob because something is off with how long it’s taking to call the coppers. When she opens the door to the bathroom, she finds Rita and another woman screwing around. Cathy is shocked to find out that her long time friend Rita knows Bob and Monica.

Also, I believe they are using an enema bag in that bathroom. So, chalk it up that Lurkers is one of the few movies featured on B-Movie Enema that actually features the proper tools to perform an enema. But(t) also let it be known that I think they were blowing bubbles into that enema bag. So… Gross?

So I think we see the big reveal here, right? It’s clear there some sort of occult business going on here. Each room has some sort of different depraved shit happening in it. Rita knows either Bob or Monica. Everyone wants Cathy to join in on their batshit sex stuff (or maybe it’s batsex shit stuff?). Bob is screwing around on her. She eventually finds out that Bob and Monica are indeed a couple and that he’s been playing her. Something is supposed to happen at midnight, “when all hell breaks loose” as he says.

Knowing that there are shenanigans afoot, Cathy is desperate to escape the party, but can’t seem to get out or have anyone listen to her about how she saw a murder and is concerned that Bob and Monica are involved. What’s more, she sees the lurkers start to appear in the party. She does eventually get outside the apartment where the party is taking place, but is blocked in the stairwell by the ghostly girl. She goes door to door and sees various crazy shit happening with people dressed like BDSM leather daddies and what not. She even finds herself as a little girl in her old apartment where she grew up.

After running into the little ghost girl, she eventually ends up on the roof of the building. She sees a beaten and bloody Steven tied to a cross. She also knows that the guy she saw earlier with the sledgehammer, Leo (nicknamed The Hammer) is close behind. Steve says she can’t help him. She needs to run and save herself. That’s when Bob arrives to give much needed exposition.

Bob says that everyone at the party are “admirers” of his and Monica’s. Everyone here lived at that apartment building. The building happens to be built over a portal to hell or it is a part of hell or whatever. Anyway, the lurkers are just damned souls. The lady who has acted as her guardian angel is someone who has time and again tried to warn against people like the others, but often fails. Apparently, Cathy was supposed to be the one who died when she was little but her mother did instead. So they are “balancing the books” as it were. Basically, anyone who was ever born or lived in these types of buildings are supposed to die there and be returned to hell. It’s like returning what was born and/or escaped there. If they do this, they get power and immortality, etc.

So… Yeah, that’s the deal. These people all, at some point, lived in this building and they serve Satan or something and they need to make sure people who lived there are returned. It’s… a kind of weak reveal. Obviously, there are supernatural things going on, yes. Sure, there is some weirdness we’ve seen with Bob. But I didn’t quite expect it to be quite like this. I feel like this would have been a little bit better if this manipulation or what have you would GIVE these cultists power instead of it being their job to do this. This final act feels a bit wonky. Like, okay, I can buy a lot of what’s happening here with the supernatural stuff, but come on… These guys are ALREADY in the employ of Satan? That’s dumb. It doesn’t quite feel like what the first two acts set as tone and such.

Anyway, they are either going to stab/sacrifice Cathy, or they will force her to step backwards off the roof. Guess which one happened. Cathy was backed off the roof. Next we see Phil in his office being approached by “Sister Monica” who works for him. Bob is dating Sally and on the way to the apartment where Sally also happened to grow up there. Sally also has a guardian angel who just so happens to be Cathy trying to warn her to not go back to that building.

Look… I’m of two minds here on Lurkers. First, I did kind of dig the more odd first two acts in comparison to the other Findlay flicks of this time period, Prime Evil and Blood Sisters. This one was still the least of the three, but had something that was a little bit different than the other two (even if the other two also dealt with supernatural and/or devil shit). I just prefer the other two so much more. I just wish the movie landed a little differently because that third act was sort of predictable and bland. I just can’t believe how unfortunate Cathy’s whole existence was.

Well, at least I can say that I finally took care of the second feature on the Vinegar Syndrome Prime Evil/Lurkers disc. Next week, it’s more demon shit and more Vinegar Syndrome with the Mexican supernatural horror Demonoid! Check back here in seven days for that. But wait! There’s more! Tomorrow, you can check out the season finale of the shortened fourth season of B-Movie Enema: The Series. What am I watching? 1987’s Terror Squad shot right here in Indiana. So go to the YouTube channel or come back here to this very website or check it out on the Vimeo channel or get the Roku app to watch that with me and my trusty partner, Nurse Disemabudee.

Anyway, time for me to wrap things up and provide some tips to Rita and her gal pal on how to properly use that enema kit they had at Monica and Bob’s party.

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