The best 80s horror movies part one
Happy Halloween month
Since it is Halloween month (yeah month) I am going to do a few posts on one of my favorite topics, 80's horror movies. I hope to focus on Amazon affiliate links in the future as Steem is increasingly a pay to play system where people with low Steem Power are shut out. Whatever, it is what it is. This is part one, not sure how big it will get, maybe top 50. Normally I would do it in reverse order, but that would involve more planning, and its easier to say these are my top ten first.
10 Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
One of the most controversial movies ever made. CH is one of the first found footage films. A crew of rescuers venture into the Amazon to find some lost film makers who were attempting to contact a tribe of Cannibals. This film contains violence, rape, and real on screen killings of animals. It's realistic style caused many to believe it was real, and Italian director Ruggero Deodato was charged with making a snuff film, a charge he was able to successfully defend against. He actually paid all the actors not to appear in public for a year in order to give the impression it was all real, he produced them for the court though, and also showed the court making of material that proved it wasn't real.
Many people hate this movie, with a passion. It is a sleazy exploitation movie that has been censored all over the world. To this day it has not been released uncut in the UK. There is however a social commentary contained in CH, first and foremost the question of "who are the real savages?" The westerners are the aggressors here, and all round horrible people. There is anti colonial message in the movie. Also the animal killings were done in the context of eating. Avoiding seeing your food killed in a slaughterhouse does not make you morally superior to hunter gatherers who have to do it themselves. Still though I recommend animal lovers watch the edited version.
It's highly sensationalized, but it is also a decent critique on the media and their desire for ratings, no matter how horrible the content. The message is more relevant than ever.
9 A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Director Wes Craven (1939-2015) made a few great horror films, but none were as successful as Nightmare on Elm Street. The story was about a child killer named Freddy Krueger who was burned alive by a mob of angry parents, and came back to haunt their children's dreams. Part monster film and part slasher, the film has spawned quite a few sequels and tie ins over the years. It is the first movie though that remains stuck in my mind, Freddy will always be one of cinemas great villains. This film leaves him mostly in the shadows, to great effect.
8 POSSESSION (1981)
Polish director Andrzej Żuławski (On the Silver Globe, The Devil, The Third Part of the Night) created this horror masterpiece in 1981. It stars Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill. An American spy in West Berlin and his wife are having martial issues, and on the surface that is a main theme. But his wife is not just having an affair with another man, its a little more than that. Saying too much will ruin this film. It is a metaphor for a marriage that is falling apart, and a county that is also in decline. The wall that runs thru the city and the wall that is slowing being built between the main protagonists are not really that different. One of the greatest art-horror flicks of all time.
7 Halloween III (1982)
Many horror nerds continue to shit on Halloween 3 (The Season of the Witch) for one reason: Masked killer Michael Myers is absent from this one. Whatever, the film has since developed a cult following. It's a horror/sci fi mashup starring Tom Atkins. The plot is about a small town in California whose sole economic activity is a mysterious factory called Silver Shamrock that produces masks for children. The factory seems to hold much power over the town, and Atkins is an outsider who shows up investigating a mysterious death tied to the factory.
This really weird movie has everything, androids, occultists, subliminal TV signals, and a subtle anti capitalist message. I wish Halloween 4 had stayed in the Season of the Witch universe, but the Michael Myers fan boys were too powerful and this remains a stand alone film. They really should have just named it something else.
6 Creepshow (1982)
Creepshow is a great 1982 five part anthology consisting of "Father's Day", "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill", "Something to Tide You Over", "The Crate" and "They're Creeping Up on You". All of the stories are good or even great and are all tied in by a fictional comic book called Creepshow, inspired by EC comics horror comics. The stories were written by Stephen King (who stars in one episode) and directed by George Romero (The Living Dead films, Martin). The special effects were by Tom Savini, who has a cameo as a garbage man. Not all the segments are great but overall its a trippy film with comic book like panels and art at the end of each episode. Killer cast includes:
E. G. Marshall
5 Evil Dead (1981)
The ultimate cabin in the woods film. Sam Raimi (Spiderman) directed this movie when he was all of 20 years old. A group of friends go to an old cabin and discover a recording of an archaeologist reading for a Sumerian Book of the Dead. Playing this recording summons demons and all hell breaks loose. This was Bruce Campbell's first role, as Ash, and it is one he continues to play today, in the Ash vs The evil Dead series. Despite the low budget, and inexperience of cast and crew, this movie rocks. It almost faded into obscurity but Stephen King caught an early screening and loved it, and his endorsement has been on the cover of every release of the film since.
I will be attending a screening of this later this month and am pretty excited.
4 The Thing (1982)
The Thing is a science fiction horror film directed by the great John Carpenter. The thing is a parasitic alien organism that first assimilates and then begins to imitate its host body. Uncovered in the Antarctic by a small team of researchers The Thing is a classic of early 80s special effects by Rob Bottin. Cast includes Kurt Russell, Wilford "diabeetus" Brimley, and Keith "They Live" David.
This film didn't do well initially, released at the same time as more lovable alien films like E.T., it has gone on to much success in the home video market, and has since being recognized as one the best sci-fi/horror hybrids of all time. It's not very upbeat, downright nihilistic even. But it has influenced so much (X files, Stranger things, The Hateful Eight etc) it cannot be ignored.
3 Return of the Living Dead (1985)
ROTLD is a not quite sequel to Romero's Living Dead films. I say not quite because a character in the film states the living dead films were based on real events, but the facts changed around to avoid getting sued. The "real story" was the army developed a toxin called 2-4-5 Trioxin to spray on pot crops, but the toxin had the unintended consequence of bringing dead bodies back to life. And lucky for us the army accidentally shipped the "dead" bodies and contaminated soil in leaky tanks to a small medical warehouse in Kentucky where young punk rocker Freddie just got a job...
I love this movie, it has a great 80's punk rock soundtrack. It also introduces the idea zombies eat brains, instead of just flesh. Running zombies, and high functioning talking zombies make this zombie film different from the others. It is gory, funny and well paced. It also features scream queen Linnea Quigley getting naked.
2 Videodrome (1983)
The movie that inspired my name is a Canadian science fiction body horror film that was directed by David Cronenberg and stars James Woods and Debbie Harry. The owner of a small UHF TV station in Toronto discovers a feed from overseas consisting of torture and snuff that begins to control his mind. Woods soon discovers that the purpose of Videodrome is more sinister than he could have imagined. This film is quite visionary as it was made before the internet era, and some of the ideas presented were quite ahead of its time.
1 An American Werewolf In London (1981)
This John Landis directed horror/comedy mashup is a standout horror film, even though it was released at the same time as both The Howling and Wolfen, AWIL rises above the werewolf pack. Two young American backpackers are attacked in the English countryside by a werewolf, and one of them dies. No one believes the survivor and soon after people in London begin to turn up half eaten...
The mood, music, acting and generally great practical special effects by Rick Baker add up to an awesome film. The film is one of a very few allowed to shoot in London's Piccadilly Circus, which is like their Times Square. The movie is both dark and funny, one the first good horror comedies.
Thanks for reading