SATURDAY THE 14TH (1981) Reviews and overview

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Saturday the 14th is a 1981 American comedy horror feature film written and directed by Howard R. Cohen based on a story by Jeff Begun, who also co-produced with Julie Corman. The movie stars Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss, Kari Michaelsen and Kevin Brando.

A belated sequel, Saturday the 14th Strikes Back, was released in 1988.

saturday the 14th title

An all-American family inherits a deceased uncle’s house. John (Richard Benjamin) and Mary (Paula Prentiss) together with their daughter Debbie (Kari Michaelsen), and son Billy (Kevin Brando) then move into the house. Waldemar (Jeffrey Tambor), a vampire figure, and Yolanda (Nancy Andrews), his wife, want desperately to get into the run-down house because it contains a book of evil.

Billy finds the mysterious book Waldemar and Yolanda are after. He opens it and reads of a curse hanging over the date of Saturday the 14th. As he turns the page a monster is unleashed, and with each turn, another disappears from the page and is materialized within or outside the home. The house is soon swarming with monsters.

Soon, strange things start happening: eyes appear in John’s coffee, sandwiches are eaten, the television tunes into The Twilight Zone only, dirt is found in Mary’s bed, dishes get done by themselves, neighbours disappear. As this is happening, neither John or Mary suspect anything, blaming things on a lack of curtains…

Recent release:

Saturday the 14th was released on Blu-ray by Scream Factory on January 15, 2019. Buy via

“Unfortunately Saturday the 14th’s humour feels like it should be more zany, and more madcap than it actually is. Most jokes fall flat against deadpan performances (with the exception of the incredible Jeffrey Tambor) and uninspired direction from Howard R. Cohen. It is a dumb movie, but a harmless one.” Attack from Planet B

“There are a few pleasing notions […] but the humour is for the most part pitifully juvenile and the film itself crude.” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

“Many folks worked on the effects but men in rubber monster suits still look like men in rubber monster suits and most of the jokes fall as flat as corpses.” John Stanley, Creature Features

“Like Love at First Bite, it’s nothing spectacular, but it’s a harmless little movie that breezes by, feeling even shorter than its 75 minute run time. It takes roughly 3 minutes from the time they move into the house for the first monster to show up, and it rarely slows down too much from there.” Horror Movie a Day

“The acting in this movie rates somewhere between flat and dead. Richard Benjamin is humorous as John and Severn Darden is mildly entertaining as the exterminator, Van Helsing. The rest of the cast is quickly forgettable. The plot is forgettable too. And, so are the laughs.” Movie Metropolis

“There is an on-running joke, with regards oblivious John and Mary, about any noise at night, including a monster falling through a window, being owls (and the fact that Mary can’t tell the difference between an owl and a bat) that is severely overplayed. The rest of the film fell really flat laughs wise…” Taliesin Meets the Vampires

” …a pathetic farce which will seem frail even on TV, for which it probably should have been made in the first place.” Variety

Choice dialogue:

Van Helsing: “Selling the house now would be like closing the barn door after the horses eat your children.”

Waldemar: “If you weren’t immortal, you’d kill yourself.”

Cast and characters:

Richard Benjamin … John Hyatt – Witches Brew; Love at First Bite
Paula Prentiss … Mary Hyatt – I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House; Mr. & Mrs. Dracula TV series pilots; The Stepford Wives
Jeffrey Tambor … Waldemar
Severn Darden … Van Helsing
Kari Michaelsen … Debbie Hyatt
Rosemary DeCamp … Aunt Lucille
Kevin Brando … Billy Hyatt
Nancy Lee Andrews … Yolanda
Stacy Keach Sr. … Attorney
Carole Androsky … Marge, the Real Estate Lady
Roberta Collins … Cousin Rhonda – School Spirit; Eaten AliveThe Witch Who Came from the Sea; Death Race 2000; Kolchak: The Night Stalker TV series; Sweet Kill
Paul ‘Mousie’ Garner … The Major
Annie O’Donnell … Annette Muldowney
Thomas Newman … Cousin Phil
Allen Joseph … Uncle Bert
Craig Coulter … Delivery person
Renee Braswell … Stunt person
Elizabeth Charlton Davey … French Maid
Irwin Russo … Truck Driver
Michael Miller … Ernie Muldowney, the Cop

Running time:
75 minutes

Saturday the 14th received a limited release theatrically in the United States by New World Pictures in August 1981 yet took $4 million. It was released on VHS by Embassy Home Entertainment.

The film was released on DVD by New Concorde Home Entertainment in 2001.

Scream Factory announced a Blu-ray release of the film for release on January 15, 2019.

Further reading:

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