2021 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 13: Alison’s Birthday (1981)

13. THE RUBY ANNIVERSARY: Watch something that came out in 1981. The redder the better, right Ben?

How many movies have I seen from 1981? I mean, has there ever been a better year for movies? PossessionScannersEvil DeadEscape from New YorkHeavy MetalDead and BuriedJust Before DawnThe House by the CemeteryEyes of a StrangerAn American Werewolf In LondonButcher, Baker, Nightmare MakerHell Night, Mystics In Bali, even Carnival Magic. Ahh — also Dark Night of the ScarecrowPiranha 2AbsurdDemonoid, MadhouseMy Bloody ValentineThe Monster ClubShock TreatmentNight SchoolThe BeyondThe Other HellHappy Birthday to MeThe ProwlerThe FunhouseBurial GroundOne from the HeartDon’t Go Into the WoodsEvilspeakFear No EvilThe HowlingThe BeyondKnightridersLadies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous StainsRaiders of the Lost ArkHalloween II Friday the 13th Part 2Porky’sThe Road WarriorExcaliburBody HeatCannonball RunStripesThe BurningBlow OutThiefMs. 45Mommie DearestCannibal FeroxGalaxy of TerrorNighthawksInseminoidGhost StoryThe Pit Christiane F.RoarPennies from HeavenSharky’s MachineBloody MoonEnter the NinjaThe Incredible Shrinking WomanThe FanThe NestingThe Black CatNight of the WerewolfFirecrackerMad FoxesThe Man Who Saw TomorrowCentrespreadYears of the BeastHome Sweet HomeDead Kids and man, so many more.

1981 was a great, great time to be alive and excited about horror movies.

On the other side of the world, Australian folk horror was taking root, at least with this film, which starts with 16-year-old Alison playing with a spirit board and we all know just how well that works out in film. It doesn’t work out in minutes, not hours or days, as Alison’s dead father begins to warns her that ‘s she in trouble and that she shouldn’t go home for her birthday through possessing one of her friends, who is then killed dead when a bookcase falls on her.

Years later, Alison and her boyfriend visit her family, who instantly keep them apart and Alison begins having vivid nightmares. The plan is to keep slowly drugging and gaslighting them both, ending with the spirit of a demon named Mirna being moved from Alison’s grandmother into her body, as has been the tradition for two hundred years.

Director and writer Ian Coughlan also made Stones of Death and Cubbyhouse, another movie about devil worship that supposedly has a connection to this movie. I’ve heard that it’s near unwatchable and has Joshua Leonard from The Blair Witch, so I leave it up to some other brave soul to watch it. Who am I kidding — I’ll probably update this post sooner or later with my findings.

As part of the All the Haunts Be Ours box set from Severin, this modern folk horror will finally be seen by a larger audience. It may not be the fastest moving story, it may not have all the gore of the slasher yeat of 1981, but it has a definite dark mood that makes it unlike anything you’ve seen before, even if you know exactly where it leads. You can also watch it on Tubi.

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