Were the 80’s the best decade for horror movies or am I just biased because that’s what I grew up on? Perhaps a little bit of both? Either way, I have taken a look back at the movies that this totally tubular decade brought us and picked out my personal favorites. These are listed in chronological order and I am not saying that these are the best movies of the 80’s; they’re simply my best movies of the 80’s.
In an effort to not bombard you with a long list, we will do this in two year blocks. Please, enjoy the best that 1980 and 1981 had to offer.
1.Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Yes, I actually like this movie. I think we can all agree that the turtle scene is probably the most disturbing thing that has happened to any of us, but outside of that, this is a good movie. Of course a group of American’s thought that they could just go into the cannibals’ world and do whatever they wanted. From the impaled woman to the most awesome castration scene ever, this is an unflinching look at the ugliness of man.
2.The Changeling (1980)
How can a proper ghost story with George C. Scott be anything but fantastic? (Mr. Scott will alway be my favorite Scrooge.) As with most ghost stories, there is a very sad tale at the heart of this film, but it is beautiful, nonetheless. It’s always what you don’t see that is the most terrifying.
3.Friday the 13th (1980)
Do not, I repeat, do not go get a little somethin’ somethin’ with your girl when you should be watching the kids swimming. Just don’t do it.
Joe Spinelli turned in such a great performance as Frank Zito in this film. He is introduced to us as a crazed man scalping women and talking to mannequins, yet somehow, he convinces a beautiful photographer to go out with him. The kills in this movie are amazing and there are legitimate moments of suspense sprinkled throughout his fast moving downward spiral into insanity. Frank is so crazy that you almost feel bad for him when he meets his ultimate demise at the hands of his own craziness.
5.The Shining (1980)
I realize that I am about to lose friends with the following statement. I don’t find this to be an amazing movie. It’s a good movie, but it isn’t great; especially when comparing it to the novel. Yes, yes, it isn’t fair to compare a movie to the book, but how can that, possibly, be avoided? This movie is amazingly beautiful. The twins, the woman in room 237, the blood cascading out of the elevator, even that damn carpet is all a visual feast for the eyes. Jack Nicholson did an undeniably bang up job of channeling Jack’s madness, but outside of that, this movie is a wee bit long and, quite frankly, I wish Wendy would just shut the f*ck up.
6.The Watcher In The Woods (1980)
I still vividly remember the first time I saw this movie. They were showing it in the library on the last day of school. About half way in, the teachers realized that this movie was terrifying everyone, so they turned it off. Well, I was having none of that! My mom called every video rental store in town until we found this movie. You know what? It scared the bejeezus out of me. This is a Disney film (no joke) with Bette Davis, a solar eclipse, occult and paranormal themes and it is proper creepy.
7.An American Werewolf In London (1981)
This film holds a special place in my heart and it, mostly, holds up today. The werewolf attack is terrifying, zombie Jack popping up in the mirror is still a great jump scare and the transformation scene was so epic, it won Rick Baker an Oscar for Best Makeup. The transformation scene is still, 34 years later, perfection. The wolf running rampant through Piccadilly Circus is scary and heartbreaking all at once. Just a great, great movie.
8.Cannibal Ferrox (1981)
So, this one is a bit controversial because it is almost exactly the same as watching Cannibal Holocaust. It’s got it all; real animal deaths, rape, excessive gore and the penultimate castration scene. It seems that people like one of these movies over the other simply by virtue of whichever one they saw first. I enjoyed both equally.
9.The Evil Dead (1981)
Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, a book bound in human flesh, a tree rape, decapitation and all around awesome gore. This movie remains a beloved film for a reason; it rules the world.
10.Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Really, the main reason for this movie being awesome is we got “Baghead Jason” in this film and I really prefer him to all of the other versions. I also have a strange respect for a sequel that doesn’t have a clever title; just Part 2.
11.Halloween 2 (1981)
This is a great one because the action, essentially, picks up right where the first movie left off. Hospitals are creepy enough, but this one is strangely desolate and quiet and it’s being terrorized by Michael Myers. As with any good sequel, this Halloween is much more brutal than it’s predecessor and that is why I can forgive it’s weak spots.
12.My Bloody Valentine (1981)
This movie is kind of terrible, but I love it to bits and pieces. It’s just a classic 80’s horror set in a small town with a crazed slasher and teenagers who can’t wait to die. The scene in the laundromat gets me every time and that gas mask is uber creepy.
13. Student Bodies (1981)
Again, this movie is terrible, but it’s so terrible that it’s good. A killer who has some severe anger issues, talks through a rubber chicken and has an obsession with horse head bookends simply doesn’t stop being hilarious to me.