10/14/2008

The Top 10 Horror Films of the '80s

The 80s were a huge time for horror. The success of the Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street franchises saw an almost never ending batch of slasher films get released. Meanwhile, the birth of the VCR allowed more movies than ever to be accessible to viewers, many due to their graphic content could never play in theaters, expect for the most limited of releases, if it all. It also presented the genre with shit loads of controversy, as movies like I Spit on Your Grave, Maniac, Faces of Death, Silent Night, Deadly Night, etc spawned protests, outrage, and anger from critics, feminist group, and the right wing. Whatever the case maybe this is the era that sealed me as a horror fan for life, as by 1987, I was renting horror movies nonstop and reading Fangoria and Gorezone magazines.

10. - This is the greatest zombie film that is not Re-Animator or made by George Romero. Fulci's atmospheric mix of the supernatural and zombie films is his masterpiece. The gore set pieces are astounding, not the least of which is the little girl who gets the top of her head blown off. It also features two great leads in the beautiful Catorina MacCall and David Warbeck. Awesome stuff.

9. - This is the thinking man's zombie film, as Romero takes on the military and man being it's own worst enemy. The dialogue between the characters is classic. Rhodes (Joe Pilato) is a great villain, and, perhaps, worse than the zombies. He and his cronies' sexist words to Lori Caridelli's character (along with all the goings on in the movie) help seal this as the darkest entry in the series. But, beyond all of that DOTD also features THE best gore in Romero's movies, zombie or not. Savini's work is at top form, and the climax is completely and utterly jaw dropping. While, this film was dismissed upon it's initial release; it is now considered a classic. I have to say that I always liked this movie, and it has only gotten better with time. Oh, and Bub rules!

8. - While, this movie feels more like a remake of Sam Raimi's classic The Evil Dead, Raimi swears that it is a sequel, it's just Ash is so stupid he does the same exact thing twice (at least that is Raimi's explanation)! Regardless of what it is, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn manages to top the amazing original. The mix of over-the-top gore and humor makes it one of the best "splatstick" films ever. It also insured that star Bruce Campbell would become a cult fav. Gotta love the whole, possessed chick gets her head stomped on, then has her eye sent flying into a pretty girl's screaming mouth! And, there is no denying the amazing camera work that Raimi incorporates in it. Regardless of one's feelings about crap like Spider-Man 3, Raimi will always be the guy who made the Evil Dead films!

7. - Cronenberg's biggest mainstream hit (up to this point) remains his best film, I think. The acting, writing, score, gore, heart, and amazing FX make this one perfect, in my book.

6. - Joe Dante's masterpiece is the single greatest werewolf film ever. Sure it spawned horrid sequels, but fuck e'm. Let's concentrate on this classic. The cast is amazing, as is Bottin's FX work. The first transformation scene is one of the finest moments in the genre. The love for the genre just drips from this movie. There are so many nods, winks, and tributes to the horror film, that it only makes it better in each viewing. And, what about the scene where the lovely Elizabeth Brooks gets it on with Christopher Stone and wolfs out? Or what about the classic ending? Or... well you get the idea!

5. - Sean Cunningham's classic may have gotten ripped by critics upon it's release, but the movie went on to make a shitload of money and spawn a total of ten sequels! It introduced horror villain, Jason Voorhees (but only as the freaky mongoloid in the water), and along with Carpenter's Halloween helped define the slasher film, i.e. they were ripped off a million times. But, the fact is this classic works where it others fail, because the characters are likable and well written. Also, the movie builds the suspense all the way till the exciting and violent climax. But, of course it is impossible to talk about this film and not mention Savini's astounding FX work. The gore, even though cut to get an R (by the way, fans rejoice, the movie is, along with the first two sequels coming uncut, finally, to DVD in February), is hard stuff, with the pretty girl getting the ax to her face, Jason's mommy losing her head in slo-mo, and most classic of all, Kevin Bacon getting an arrow through his neck, all shining as great moments in slasherdom.

4. - British writer Clive Barker had already made a name for himself with his sexually and violently explicit works of fiction, like his seminal Books of Blood, when he made the jump to write and direct this adaption of his novella The Hellbound Heart. One of the most exhilarating debuts by a director since The Evil Dead or Re-Animator, Hellraiser was gorgeous to look at and highly original in a genre where ripping off Friday the 13th, Gremlins, Jaws, etc was the norm. It gave us a new villain in Pinhead and the Cenobites, and featured some great acting from the cast, was sexy thanks to villainess Claire Higgins, gave us a horror goddess in the stunning Ashley Lawrence, and awashed in gore. The S&M images of the leather clad Cenobites and the whole hell is where pain and pleasure meet set it light years ahead of it's competition. The ending with villain Frank saying "Jesus wept", right before getting ripped apart by the hellish hooks is a classic horror moment.

3. - With slasher films already filled with Halloween and Friday the 13th wanna-bes, Wes Craven's defining masterpiece breathed new life into the slasher film. Surreal and scary Craven made the most of the low budget story of child-murderer Freddy Kruger who returns from the grave. The whole fact that he then invades teen's dreams, and if you die there you die in real life was wonderfully original. Freddy would go to become the single most popular horror villain of the era, followed very closely by Jason and Michael, but whereas the sequels, injected more humor in the films, the original has but a few one liners from Kruger. Mostly he is kept dark and scary. The FX work is stunning, moreso when one thinks of how little the film cost. Johnny Depp's classic death, where his bed shoots gallons of blood is yet, another defining moment in the genre. And, beyond of all that one of the genre's greatest, and prettiest, heroines was introduced in Nancy (Heather Langenkamp). In all one of the finest horror films, ever made.

2. - James Cameron had a tough job in front of him. He had to make a sequel to one of the most famous, influential, and downright scary sci-fi/ horror films ever made. But guess what? He succeed! Not only that but he totally blew away the original classic. Stan Winston's godlike work on the FX ranks as the best, EVER. The Alien Queen is one of the greatest monsters in film history. The pacing is adrenalinized and rip roaring, and the movie perfectly mixes action, science fiction, and horror. But, while it is a very gung-ho and exciting film; it also has a lot of heart. At, it's core is the story of this woman, left without a child, who now has this little girl she has to care for. It succeeds it making you care and does not turn into some wimpy mush. Of course, the movie does not forget nor abandon the horror genre. Witness the nail bitingly intense scene of Ripley (Sigorney Weaver) and Newt trapped in the room with the facehuggers, or absolutely amazing splatter moment, where good android Bishop (Lance Henrikson) gets ripped in half by the Queen (after impaling him in her tail) spraying white, milky robo-blood everywhere.

1. - This my absolute favorite film ever. I have been in love with this film since I saw it at about twelve years of age. Every single thing about this film is perfect. The characters are played by great actors, with Jeffery Combs and David Gale giving amazing performances. The script is fun, whitty, and funny, and very over-the-top. Babara Crampton, as Megan, is one of the most beautiful women to ever grace our beloved genre. Her scene where Dr. Hill (Gale) gives her head, with his decapitated head is truly one of horror's greatest and most infamous scenes. Despite the very low budget, the gore and zombie FX are fucking flawless. Stuart Gordon's debut adaption of H.P. Lovecraft short story is truly one of the most fucking kick ass movies ever made. Watch it, if you never have. Watch it again if you have!


1 comments:

Alan said...

Some how I figured Re-Animator would be Number 1 on your list. No Sleepaway Camp? J/K