American Gothic (1987) – By Charles Rector

 One of the most tasteless plots that is used in all too many horror flicks involves the idea that folks who live in rural areas are all sick, demented murderous types. This goes extra for rural families who are religious. These horror movies tend to be made by urban dwellers who look down on country folk as being "backward." One such horror flick is 1987’s American Gothic.

The fact that this movie was made in 1987 alone is an indication of just how bad this movie was. 1987 was an unusually poor year for movies. Additionally, the 1980’s had a certifiable super surplus of awful horror flicks. Although American Gothic did poorly at the box office, it somehow endured at the video shops to the point that this movie is more widely available today than most other failed feature flicks from the 1980’s.

The beginning of American Gothic is all too familiar for flicks of this sort with the usual faltering airplane forced to land on the usual strangely unmapped island. Exploring, the passengers find the usual isolated rural family that is completely demented. This time around, the heads of the family are portrayed by fairly talented players in the form of Yvonne De Carlo & Rod Steiger. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast is the usual bunch of has beens and hacks.

American Gothic is also a good example of an alleged horror flick that is hardly scary. There are only a few scenes that are even mildly scary and/or has any real suspense. Its a movie with one of those all too familiar plots that you have seen many times before and will doubtless see many times again before you die owing to the general lack of originality amongst horror filmmakers.

To be sure, there are some redeeming aspects to American Gothic. It has a quite creepy atmosphere and uneven camera angles and a picture that is often off center. The movie also presents the forest in an unusually scary way and the trees themselves look like dark figures. However, these features are unable to overcome the generally poor level of acting combined with bad, overused not to mention demeaning to rural folks plot points and a poorly written script. Unless you get a special kick out of watching unimaginative horror flicks, American Gothic is a movie to avoid.