Guide to ‘80s horror films
BY Creative Content Editor
I was born in the wrong decade. I have always been obsessed with watching horror movies ever since my sister Shaneil showed me “Demon Knight” and “Creepshow” as a child. However, there was always a decade I favored above all others.
Ah, the ‘80s, a period of big hair, multicolored windbreakers, pastel eyeshadow and the emergence of cult horror film classics. As an ‘80s and horror movie lover, I have seen every ‘80s horror film known to man … even the bad ones, and there’s a science to this decade.
According to Britannica, “A horror film is a motion picture calculated to cause intense repugnance, fear or dread.” These films may also incorporate incidents of physical violence or psychological terrors brought on by disturbed, psychotic or evil characters. While this remains true for today’s generation of horror films, during the ‘80s, slasher films and B-movies reigned supreme.
This decade was known for decrepit serial killers, blood that looked like ketchup and cheesy camp counselors who were too busy partying rather than doing their job. These types of movies were a hit with true horror movies fans. The ‘80s was the decade that sparked the rise of slasher and sleepaway camp movies. I can vividly remember the first time I watched “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and saw Freddy Krueger’s razor sharp hands, and my life was forever changed.
Here’s a complete guide to ‘80s horror:
“The Shining” (1980)
This film is the epitome of ‘80s horror, released May 23, 1980, this was the film that sparked the ‘80s horror movement. Based off of the novel, “The Shining,” written by Stephen King, this psychological horror film drew viewers in with beautiful cinematography and creepy images that shook you to the core. While this film isn’t the bloodiest, it didn’t need to be to scare it’s viewers, and leave them muttering REDRUM in their sleep.
“An American Werewolf in London” (1981)
This British-American horror comedy was written and directed by John Landis who is known for directing Michael Jackson’s music video “Thriller” is one of my all time favorite films. This movie is focused around two American students who are backpacking around England on holiday, when they are attacked by a werewolf and a s— storm unfolds. While this film has gore and a scary werewolf, it also has gorgeous shots of London that make you want to go visit the city.
“The Thing” (1982)
John Carpenter released this gem in 1982, and it’s a fan favorite for science-fiction horror lovers. It revolves around a team of Antarctic researchers whose journey turns lethal when they encounter a shapeshifting alien among them. Even though this film isn’t a slasher, it’s terrifying in its own way. Nothing is scarier than not being able to distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake.
“Friday the 13th” (1980)
Jason Voorhees, a name that everyone knows as the horror slasher film king. Sean S. Cunningham released the original “Friday the 13th” in 1980, and I’m sure he had no idea the impact he would have on this decade. Although Voorhees wears a burlap sack on his head in this first film and wields a variety of weapons, the trademark hockey mask and machete that would appear in later films have become every teens nightmare while camping in the woods, and the twist towards the end draws in all of its viewers.
“Sleepaway Camp” (1983)
This film sparked a successful franchise of films due to its popularity with the horror community. “Sleepaway Camp” centers around the story of a young girl going to a summer camp, where a series of murders begin shortly after her arrival. Additionally, this film has blood, gore, naive teenagers and a shocking ending that has been talked about for years. You don’t want to miss out on this slasher.
“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)
Wes Craven’s hit film “A Nightmare on Elm Street” became the film that people talked about for years. Freddy Krueger first hit the big screen in 1984 and was one of the scariest horror maniacs in his day as he attacked teens in their dreams. He played into the fact that sleep is the first cousin of death and haunted many adolescents nightmares. This film stars a great cast and features Johnny Depp with a crop top in his first feature role. It’s worth checking out.
“Creepshow 2” (1987)
Alright, so technically this isn’t a slasher film, but it’s an anthology that features some elements of a slasher flick. George A. Romero wrote this screenplay based off of stories written by Stephen King, and it was an instant hit due to the success of the first installment titled “Creepshow.” This installment features three stories that push the envelope of horror and leave viewers feeling confused, uncomfortable and disgusted yet still wanting more. After watching this film, you’ll realize why George A. Romero was known as The Godfather of the Dead.
“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II” (1986)
Now this is a film for people who love gore. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II” features serial killer Leatherface once again taking his anger out on unsuspecting teenagers or young adults. While viewers are left disturbed by the slaughter scenes, they also feel a sense of empathy for the manic Leatherface who is the brunt of his family’s antics. This is a film that deserves to be viewed by a multitude of viewers.
“Chopping Mall” (1986)
This movie is like no other film I’ve seen before. “Chopping Mall” centers around a group of teens locked in a shopping mall and terrorized by malfunctioning security droids whose main goal is to murder them by the end of the night. Even though this film does feature cheesy graphics, mediocre acting and awful fashion choices, it’s a great film to watch with friends. It’s more comedic than scary, but it does have its scary elements from time to time.
“Redneck Zombies” (1987)
Zombies are my favorite genre of horror, and when you add comedic elements, it’s even better. “Redneck Zombies” is the poster child for a B-Movie; however, it does have some elements of a good scare. Between flesh-eating zombies, close up shots of blood and fleshing dripping from the fingertips of the undead it’s bound to give you goosebumps. This film is great for viewers who want horror but also want a laugh from time to time.
“Killer Klowns from Outer Space” (1988)
This is a strange movie; you’ve been warned. I’ve had an aversion to clowns from a young age, but I was able to make it through this movie. It centers around a group of teenagers, who see a comet crash outside their small town and happen to encounter a group of murderous aliens that take the appearance of clowns. While it’s more strange than terrifying, it’s creepy clown costumes with large noses, razor sharp teeth and beady eyes this film will be sure to give you nightmares.
While horror films have been around for many years, there is no other decade that does it like the ‘80s. These films are cult favorites that should be enjoyed either with family, friends or even by yourself on a Friday night.