Kiss Daddy Goodbye (1981)

Kiss Daddy Goodbye (1981)

Kiss Daddy Goodbye (1981)

Kiss Daddy Goodbye‘ is an American horror film that was released in 1981 and was directed by Patrick Regan.

The movie has also been released under the alternative title ‘Revenge of the Zombie‘.

Kiss Daddy Goodbye‘ might sound like the name of the weirdest porno you’ve ever found on your roomate’s laptop search history, but it’s actually a 1981 zombie horror.

It’s actually probably more accurate to say that this is a supernatural-horror as there is only really one zombie in this movie who is reanimated by two children with supernatural powers in order to act as a tool for revenge. Oh, and the zombie is their dad.

This movie has split opinion in generally two camps – those that view it as a tired, sluggish, and contrived horror, and those that view it as a forgotten classic, and an overlooked gem.

I refrain from using the word “classic” because I’m not quite sure which side of classic it falls into: is it the great-for-the-time, smartly made, innovative classic in the vein of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, or is it a schlocky, violent, godawful thriller in the vein of….well, most everything made in the 1980s, really.

Kiss Daddy Goodbye (1981)

Kiss Daddy Goodbye (1981)

So, Kiss Daddy Goodbye revolves around two kids, who are kept in isolation by their (rightly) paranoid father after they inherited supernatural powers from their now-deceased mother (if they were setting up for a Kiss Mummy Goodbye prequel, let it be known I totally would have watched that).

Things go as fine and dandy as you would expect for a family in which most of the members have devastating supernatural powers (hey, look how well it worked for Carrie and her mother!), until a group of long-haired do-no-gooders turn up and kill the father.

The kids decide to use their powers to wreak revenge on their father’s killers by re-animating his body and using it to murder off their enemies in a variety of suitably gory ways.

Kiss Daddy Goodbye (1981)

Wise words….

I think what I find confusing about this movie is that it seems to straddle so many different genres at once: you’ve got the creepy kids represented, you’ve got a strong nod to the revenge horror genre, as well as zombies, psychic powers, and good old dirty eighties gritty violence underpinning everything. So does it have something for everyone, or does it stumble and fall through all those gaps?

On the surface, the film isn’t particularly well-made – little attempt has gone into a decent restoration, meaning the sound editing is hilariously bad, the video quality a bit grim, and the bleached-blonde buxom bit of totty appears even more orange that I expect she was at the time. Aside from technical difficulties, there are problems with the film itself: the two child actors who play the kids who re-animate their dear departed dad are pretty awful (and, apparently, played by the director’s own children – a whole new spin on “take your child to work day”).

The rest of the performances swing between “unbelievable if amusing clichés” (a big nod to the evil bikers here, who look like they’re in an ironic Halloween costume) to “who told you that you could act, because they were lying”, featuring some very emotive eyebrows and lengthy bits of exposition delivered by clearly inexperienced performers, bless them.

The direction is apparently non-existent, with the camera essentially propped up in front of the actor and then left to run till the scene is out, giving to some awkward moments when performers clearly have to make an effort not to look straight down the lens.

Given that there is only one zombie in the film then it must look good right? Right? Well….not really. The actual zombie here just looks like someone’s dad with some white powder and scribbles from a pen on his face.

Kiss Daddy Goodbye (1981)

‘The Zombie’

But for all its faults – and between static camerawork, dull acting, and a plot that reaches the heady heights of “average” maybe once or twice during the movie – Kiss Daddy Goodbye just oozes cult b-movie. This is the sort of film that was constructed solely for that title – it’s crude, violent, aggressive, and actually rather imaginative in places, lifting itself above a generic gory stabathon and into a guilty piece of fun that fits perfectly with the thrift-shop VHS collection you’ve been working on recently. Not unmissable by any stretch of the imagination, but perfectly enjoyable if you do happen to catch it one late, wine-sodden night.

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Written by: Louise MacGregor