The 1980s gave us some horror films that were sometimes cheesy, disturbing, really good, and cult classics. Slasher films were all over the place and Carpenter and Craven ruled the movies. An idea came to me why not track down and make a guide for these horror films from the 1980s. It’s a guide for all of us that crave the scarier things in life. Remember great guide for Halloween too.
The Shining (1980)
I’ve seen this film so many times that it feels like I’ve lived in the Overlook Hotel. Mr. and Mrs. Torrance with their son go to a Hotel, to look after it for the winter. Well the place is full of ghosts, and Mr. Torrance goes insane and tries to kill his family. The son is also a psychic; he has the “Shining.” The film is good because it’s suspenseful and pulls you in.
Basically a take on TV when it started to play more violent and pornographic viewings. David Cronenberg made a film about when a TV station decides to play a station from Pittsburgh that is actual viewings of death, and a man who tries to find more about it. He learns that it was made by a madman, but is dead, and his daughter takes over telling them that this is the new TV world as reality. It’s a movie with message and now it seems like that couldn’t be anymore possible, with all the reality we have. Let’s hope it never gets this bad.
Herbert West thinks that he found the secret to eternal life but things get out of hand with his research. Zombies, talking heads, and just madness come with his studies. Mixed with comedy and gore this has a cult classic status.
The Fly (1986)
This remake is about a scientist who teleports with a fly unwittingly. Thus the scientist literally turns into a fly creature and wants to reverse the process; he only can do that if he finds the fly. I think the best ever was when the Simpsons made a spoof on this. The remake though isn’t bad to watch, it’s like the cover of the film said, “A True Cronenberg Masterpiece.”
The Hitcher (1986)
A young man picks up a serial killer, when he figures out he’s a serial killer, he escapes. The man is angry because his victims never escape, so he frames him with the murders. So the young man tries to clear himself and escape the murder. C. Thomas Howell stars in this thriller.
Clive Barker a man who thinks well in the box, that meaning he thinks of this idea about a box that unleashes cenobites. Then writes a novella and makes a film about it. Who would have known this one movie could have spawn a cult following. I myself partake in this following, because it’s something different in the horror business. I believe if it wasn’t for Pinhead, our main bad guy, then it wouldn’t have been so good.
Not sure if I really classify this horror but weird works well. Here you have Lord Bryon, Bryon’s girlfriend, Mary Shelly, and Percy Shelly together in Lord Bryon’s mansion. They decided to tell each other horror stories and act in debauchery during a storm.
Bram Stoker’s: To Die For (1988)
This vampire film I missed sadly. Luckily for researching some titles that I’ve never heard about made me find this gem. It’s about Vlad a vampire who falls in love with this real estate agent. Ah but Tom a man from Vlad past has not forgotten about what he did to his love, so he wants revenge.
This revenge tale, like most horror films don’t end well. Pumpkinhead is a film that I almost forgot about and this Halloween will certainly be watching it again. It’s about a group of bikers who run over a child and the father wants revenge. I mean not revenge in the courtroom; he calls on a demon named well you guessed it Pumpkinhead.
The night before a warlock is to be hanged and burned in 17th century Puritan Boston, he is thrown through time, 300 years into the future, to Los Angeles, California. His task: to destroy creation by putting together three sections of the Devil’s Book, this will ultimately reveal God’s true name. The warlock’s accuser from 1691 has followed him through time and stops him. Julian Sands stars in this, he’s also in Gothic too.
Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
If I’m talking about the 80s I can’t leave this out. A slasher film but with a different approach, killing in people’s dreams. We all sleep and sometimes get nightmares. Wes Craven shows us that if we sleep, Freddy Kruger will probably kill us in are dreams. What’s interesting about this is Wes read an article about a boy who was afraid to sleep. because he had these violent nightmares and ultimately this kid died. That article and other ideas sparked a generation of teenagers being killed by Freddy.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Two American college friends David and Jack travel to the English Moors. While walking at night, they decide to take a short cut, bad idea. David wakes up in the hospital with an awful bite and Jack is dead, but comes back and tells David to commit suicide because he will become a werewolf, when the full moon arises. Wonderful werewolf film, its sequel was pretty good too.
Nightmare City (1980)
After a nuclear incident, a reporter tries to save his family from a hoard of zombies. The thing about these zombies though they run fast and use weapons if given a chance. This is another one I never saw either. But the plot sounds quite interesting and kind of fun.
The Fog (1980)
John Carpenter, the master of horror in his own right. Halloween was good because it was suspenseful and the Fog is good because it’s full of vengeance full ghosts in a small coastal town. Jamie Lee Curtis also plays in this film, like she did for Halloween. She was a scream queen in her time.
Creep tales (1986)
A series of horror stories that are told on Halloween night by two hunchbacks and show it to their monsters friends. Okay low budget but still give it that chance, there’s one segment with a werewolf.
Puppet Master (1989)
Alex and his psychic friends come to investigate and are stalked by Andre Toulon’s puppets that have a variety of strange traits including a drill for a head and the ability to spit up leeches. This is a cult classic and every horror fan should watch it.
Pet Sematary (1989)
Creepy and sad at the same time. Here you have two desperate parents who lose their son Gage. The father finds out that there is an Indian Burial Ground, where you can bury the dead and they come back. But with a price, their monsters. Sadly Gage comes back, kills his neighbor, and his mother. His father destroys him, but he thinks that if he puts his dead wife right away in the burial ground, she will come back without being evil. Well he was wrong. This film takes so many emotions at you; it’s depressing but scary at the same time.
Day of the Dead (1985)
George A. Romero synonymous with Zombies and well the cult classic Martin. Day of the Dead is about a small group of military personnel and scientists hiding in an underground bunker in Florida, because the United States is overtaken by zombies. The military learn that these Scientists are experimenting on their men and the dead. So their banished to the caves where the living dead are housed. They think all their problems are solved after getting rid of the evil scientists, but no the zombies make there to way to the bunker.
The Howling (1981)
Karen is a woman who suffered from a tragedy, so her therapist tells her to go to a resort and relax with her husband. She does do that but things are strange, the people act weird, the surroundings are dreary and there are werewolves. Karen finds that when the people are sexually excited they turn into werewolves. Pretty much it’s a battle for her life from these lycans.
David Cronenberg not so mild horror film. You certainty can’t compare it to Eastern Promises or some of his newer films (which his newer films are also excellent). This is a classic Cronenberg here. The story revolves around scientists who help create a breed of “super-brains.” These men and women have incredible telepathic and telekinetic powers. Well a group of renegade scanners want to rule the world, and basically destroy all mankind. Cameron Vale also a “scanner” tries to stop these renegades and their leader Revok. So basically there’s a part in the film where you get to see a man’s head explode, by another mind. Different but gruesome, really gruesome. It may not be a film to watch on a full stomach (If you get sick easy which I don’t) or with the children.
The Sleep of Death (1981)
This film takes place in 1815, where a young Englishman meets up with some odd characters while he’s trying to pursue Countess St. Alyre. In the mix there’s a series of bizarre murders. I like period films with a mixture of horror.
The House by the Cemetery (1981)
Now this film, when I watched it kind of figured it was dubbed voices. To me anyway, and now that I’m looking at it, it was Italian actors. So it answers on of my questions. With that this is about a family who moves in this home that also has a deranged killer who lives in the basement. The killer needs fresh body parts to rejuvenate his cells; he also has maggots for blood.
Child’s Play (1988)
Ah Chucky, he’s funny and a little jerk. So this little boy gets a doll that just happens to have a soul of a serial killer. He terrorizes the little boy’s family. Chucky is that kind of film that you can’t take too serious but still it does have some tension to it.
The Dead Zone (1983)
I think that David Cronenberg is the name of the day, he dominates this list. Another of his films, this time with Christopher Walken. Walken plays Johnny a man in coma for five years. He wakes up and realizes that he can tell a person’s fate by touching them. Johnny soon gets intervenes in a number of would-be tragedies. He soon becomes famous for his gift but longs for his former life. While longing to being normal again he shakes hands with a future president of the US, who could end up being a mass murderer and could harm thousands of people. So it’s up for Johnny to save the world.
The Awakening (1980)
An archeologist discovers his daughter is possessed by the spirit of an Egyptian queen. To save mankind he must destroy her. The coolest thing about this is Charlton Heston stars in it.
Friday the 13th (1980)
Just as famous as Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street. It has a young Kevin Bacon in it too. I think we all know the story; Jason drowns because nobody is there to help him. Years later, his mother murders camp counselors to avenge her son’s death.
A family home in the middle of suburbia is haunted by a series of ghosts. What I like about this film is, it’s not a creepy mansion, it’s a family home. Very famous horror film that’s great for some scares.
So these of course aren’t all the 1980s film ever and I’m probably missing someone’s favorite one. But still it’s an impressive list that I hope you enjoy.
My own opinion and my memory.