Entertainment Earth


The 10 Best Horror Movies of 1981

With the huge success of Friday the 13th, the slasher movie boom was in full effect by 1981. And, thanks to advances in special effects technology monsters, blood letting, and mayhem never looked better. Over in Italy, the zombie movie was ever expanding with more and more flicks in the sub genre. All of these factors and the level and amount of quality horror movies makes this a very interesting year to look at.

Honorable Mentions:
My Bloody Valentine
The Funhouse
An American Werewolf in London
The Prowler

10. The House by the Cemetery- Lucio Fulci's fun gorefest has a couple (the wife being played by Fulci and fan favorite, the beautiful Catriona MacCall) and their annoying kid, Bob (Giovanni Frezza), moving into an old house. In said house, gruesome killings are being committed by an evil, zombie doctor. Silly and drenched in blood, this one has grown on me more and more over the years. A bloody good time to be had, even if Bob is one of the worst  horror kids of the '80s.

9. Burial Ground- This crazy, Italian horror flick doesn't waste time on such trivial aspects such as plot and gives us a zombie movie unlike anything at the time or later! This includes a little person (who looks like a mini-Dario Argento) playing a 12 year old boy who has the hots for his MILFy and sometimes naked mom. There is lots of blood and guts, but one scene involving them both, tops everything else here, and probably else where, with its sheer audacity.

8. Happy Birthday to Me- This ingenious, Canadian slasher movie stands head and shoulders above much of its ilk, cause at least it tries something different. It is not interested in wallowing in the same fucking tired shit most other stalk and slash movies seemed to love to do. Also, Melissa Sue (Little House on the Prairie) Anderson is a total babe and extremely likable in the lead role and titular birthday babe.

7. Dead & Buried- Gary (Vice Squad) Sherman directed and Dan (Alien) O'Bannon wrote this atmospheric take on reanimated corpses. It's a smart and creepy, little flick with some solid acting and a chilling look to it. The well crafted story is further complimented by Stan Winston's phenomenal and gruesome FX work.

6. Possession- It's foreign arthouse movie meets splatter monster meet psychological terror, as the marriage between Mark (Sam Neil) and Anna (Isabelle Adjani) crumbles apart after she asks for a divorce. She is mentally breaking apart herself and fucking a slimy and murderous monster, who may or may not exist. And, that is either the cause or further causing of her mental deterioration or is just in her mind as a result of it. The wild film doesn't offer a lot of answers but is stylish, bloody, sexy, and repulsive. The gorgeous Ms. Adjani is an absolutely breathtaking vision gives a tour-de-force performance, including the now classic, infamous, and disturbing going insane scene involving dairy products being scattered. It must also be noted that Neil is as phenomenal as ever.

5. The Entity- Supposedly based on true events this is one of the best ghost movies of the 80s, as well as one of the scariest. Barbara Hershey gives a powerful performance of a young, single mother being continuously raped by an unseen force. The graphic attacks courtesy of the flick's furious soundtrack and Stan Winston's realistic FX make for a pulverizing gut punch to the audience.

4. The Evil Dead- Sam Raimi's first movie is one of the most exhilarating directorial debuts in genre history. A simple story of college kids stuck in a cabin and getting possessed by demonic forces is taken to the stratosphere thanks to a shit ton of style, a break neck pace, and a A LOT of blood and very graphic gore. Bruce Campbell makes his debut as Ash, one of horror's greatest heroes in this classic that is scary, fun, and gory as fucking hell. Combine this all with the incredible camerawork and you have one of the greatest unrated splatterfests ever made.

3. Ms. 45- The late and beautiful Zoe Tamerlis gives an incredible and tragic performance in Abel Ferrara's cult masterpiece. She plays a deaf/ mute girl who works in New York City's Garment District. She gets raped two times in a row in one day. She kills her second assailant and has a mental breakdown. Soon, all the scummy and sleazy men of NYC that crosses paths with are offed by her and her gun. Ranking among the finest of all NYC horror flicks, this psychological thriller is also the single greatest rape revenge film.

2. The Beyond- Lucio Fulci's greatest masterpiece, this atmospheric and splatter filled supernatural/ zombie classic is worthy of all the worship and love gorehounds and horror fans lap on it. There is little to no plot, beyond beautiful lady (Catriona MacCall) inherits a hotel built on one of the seven doors to hell (side note: this one was originally released in the US in a heavily butchered version as The Seven Doors of Death). Of course, the door is open and soon we get zombies, ghosts, killer spiders, and more. The blood flows, the gore flies freely, and the score is cool as fucking hell. The climax is rousing and exciting (and has one hell of a gore scene involving a gun and someone's head). Meanwhile, the ending, itself, is fucking classic.

1. The Howling- This classic is Joe Dante's best movie, which is saying a lot in of itself. It is also without so much of even the tiniest bit of doubt in my mind, the best werewolf movie ever made. It mixes humor and horror to perfection, with moments that are actually funny and others that are tense and scary. Rob Bottin's FX work is groundbreaking with his werewolves looking frightening and powerful. The first transformation scene is a classic and terrifying splatter moment, because Robert Picardo's Eddie is getting off on the transforming. The flick's climax is rousing, and the ending is yet another moment (of countless of ones) of pitch perfect decision making. There are so many great in-jokes that the movie is a true pleasure in repeated viewings. The cast is wonderful and the characters are truly memorable. Cause you see, this sexy, fun, and frightening classic has so many amazing attributes, that I could on and on. But, the simple point is this one is the best horror film of 1981.

What are your picks for the best horror movies of 1981? Let me know in the comments section below. And, be sure to click on the link directly below for the 1980 list!

The 10 Best Horror Movies of 1980