8.2.11

Like it was 1980...




  Something happened in the 1980s, whether it be the after effects of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Wes Craven's twisted mind, or the mark of the slasher from both Black Christmas & Halloween, but whatever it was took a hold of the horror genre moving out of the 70s and into the next decade.  It was the new faces from the 70s that were beginning to bring more characters to life as well as they were building on old characters; newcomers also brought fresh faces to the screen and new ideas.  After what filmmakers in the 60s and 70s had done for the horror genre, the 1980s was a perfect time for it to bloom and become something bigger and better than it ever was.  Naturally, things progress but the films that came out during this decade I feel are the epitome of the genre and collaborated to make the 10 years from 1980 to 1989 the finest it has seen.

  Michael Myers saw more screen time in the eighties along with a new killer named Jason Voorhees (after his mother started hacking people to bits for him first).  We were introduced to another psychopath from the mind of another possible psychopath, Wes Craven: the child killer Freddy Krueger, who saw five installments of A Nightmare on Elm Street.  Kane Hodder and Robert Englund became household names, Bruce Campbell was a cult superstar, and everybody who was anybody that was into kinky sex knew who Pinhead was.  I can also tell you that Santa was never so scary as in Silent Night, Deadly Night.  
  We also saw Gremlins come to life as a classic horror comedy and creating one of the cutest little creatures puppeteering has ever had.  The Omen trilogy was complete with what I thought was a solid film starring Sam Neill as an older Damien.  Just Before Dawn brought a low-budget, tight grip survival horror film set in the back country starring Greg Henry as an atypical outdoorsman and The Howling became one of the better known werewolf movies in the genre.  George A. Romero also put out another zombie masterpiece like no other can, Day of the Dead, although City of the Living Dead and The Serpent and the Rainbow both were fresh additions to the genre especially the latter.  
  The Stepfather created a whole new paranoia for mom's new boyfriend the same way as Psycho did for roadside motels.  David Cronenberg gave us Videodrome, Dead Ringers, The Fly showcasing some fine acting by James Woods, Jeremy Irons & Jeff Goldblum respectively.  John Carpenter put a big stamp on the decade with several excellent films including my favourite of his, The Thing starring Kurt Russell.  Michael Mann made an incredibly wonderful film called The Keep, bringing his signature style of directing to the genre (and it had Nazis!).  We even got another good look at the life of Norman Bates in Psycho II, a fairly decent follow-up to Hitchcock's classic.
  Sleepaway Camp, not an overly innovative film, blew horror fans away with an incredibly shocking ending that had even the smartest viewers scratching their heads.  A film by John McNaughton touched deep with Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, a story loosely based on the life of Henry E. Lucas one of the most brutal and psychopathic serial killers in American history.  Rutger Hauer proved to always have what it takes to be different and a little weird playing a psychopathic, hitchhiking murderer in the nightmarish film The Hitcher.  Another twisted film involving Nazis was In a Glass Cage, the story of a murdering pedophile rendered paralytic and in the care of a young boy.  
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Blue Velvet served different purposes but ended up serving one of the same: Dennis Hopper is the coolest crazy person ever.  Kathryn Bigelow redefined the vampire film with Near Dark, a film that reminds me of why Twilight is just so fucking uncool.  Lance Henriksen proves time after time that he is a MUST have in the genre (Pumpkinhead was badass!).  
Even a few surprises came out that created some pretty cool characters such as Clownhouse, Scarecrows, Child's Play (which spawned sequels that really didn't live up to the first), Combat Shock (I can't stand Troma but this one had some political aim), The House on Sorority Row, Visiting Hours, Pieces, Madman, The Prowler, The Burning & My Bloody Valentine.  
The Tobe Hooper directed, Stephen Spielberg penned Poltergeist left us with the everlasting image of a little girl communicating with an entity through the television.  
Barbara Hershey had what I consider to be her best role in The Entity, a devastating and haunting masterpiece.

Several decent entries based on stories by Stephen King were made and he also teamed up with George A. Romero for the anthology Creepshow.  Stanley Kubrick jumped into the genre with an adaptation of King's The Shining, a tour-de-force of a film that boasted the role of a lifetime from Jack Nicholson and a truly terrifying performance from Shelley Duvall.  Pet Sematary forever creeped me out with the scene involving the wife's sick sister from her childhood- every time I go into a basement, that's what I think of.
  The greatest director from Canada, James Cameron, gave us a sequel to Ridley Scott's amazing outerspace horror, Aliens.  And of course who can forget the incredible action horror film with the one and only Ah'nold and Jesse the Body, Predator one of my all-time favourites.  Possession gave us one of the most shocking horrors ever, another starring Sam Neill.  Cannibal Holocaust & Cannibal Ferox gave us two solid entries in the cannibal subgenre, as well as Joe D'Amato giving us a twisted cannibalistic killer in Anthropophagus (The Beast).
       Last but not least, I almost regrettably forgot to mention Lucio Fulci's terrific film The Beyond about a Louisiana hotel that's built over the entrance to Hell.

       I thank the 1980s as a diehard horror fan.  I thank that wonderful decade for it's redefining of the genre and the furthering of interest that came with it.  My movie collection will forever be filled mostly with films from this amazing decade.  A lot of the movies I've watched the most come from this list and I urge anybody who likes a good horror to check as many of them out as possible.  Granted, there are a varying tastes when it comes to this collection of films and of course you've got to go with your taste buds (if you want something crazy then go for Cannibal Holocaust or Possession but if you want something a little more tame but still psychotic then check out Sleepaway Camp, The Burning, The Prowler or My Bloody Valentine for a classic slasher).  All in all, the 1980s was a killer decade for murder on film and I hope that we'll see another one just like it soon enough.

*Note*: I'll be adding a full list of over 80 horror films from 1980 to 1989 shortly once I finish watching all films on that list- stay tuned!

































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