Are these the best horror movies of 1980 & 1981?

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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4.Maniac (1980)
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

I,Frankenstein

I Frankenstein Movie

Alright, I know everyone is really riled up about a “new” Frankenstein movie. I was neither here nor there about it. Although raised on classic films, to me, Frankenstein’s monster will always be the one that Mary Shelley gave me. In 1818, at the age of 18, a young woman named Mary Shelley was traveling with her future husband, Percey Shelley, along with Lord Byron, and JohnPolidori. The four of them decided to have a competition to see who could write the best horror story. The story of Frankenstein and his monster are the result of one of Mrs. Shelley’s dreams and a friendly writing competition. The original Universal film deals mostly with the monster’s conception, if you will, and rejection by his maker. With a slew of sequels behind it, “Frankenstein” is still regarded as one of the best movies of the 1930’s and beyond.

Written and directed by Stuart Beattie (30 Days Of Night and a few of the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies) “I,Frankenstein” brings us the story of Frankenstein’s monster but also adds gargoyles and demons to the mx. Stay with me here; Frankenstein’s monster is a body without a soul and Naberius, the Demon Prince, wants him. While burying Dr. Frankenstein, the demons try to capture the monster, but are stopped by two gargoyles. Gargoyles are Arc Angel Michaels’s warriors who protect humans from demons. Naberius wants to know the secret recipe of Frankenstein’s monster in the hopes of animating tons of corpses and taking over the human race. Got that?

O.K. Well, the gargoyles take the monster to their home and it is decided by the queen, that the monster shall be named Adam and kept alive. This was a nice tip of the hat to the novel:in the novel, the monster refers to himself as “the Adam of your labors” while speaking to Dr. Frankenstein. Well, this Adam has a real chip on his shoulder and all he wants is to be left alone, so, he tries to find solitude. For 200 years. Those pesky demons find him, though, and Adam decides to return to the world and start hunting demons.

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In the present world, Adam has a nice haircut to showcase his chiseled features and he really has a very nice “hobo chic” outfit that compliments his athletic frame. Seriously, where do I find these jeans and overcoat; they’re very sharp looking. Adam has a few severe scars on his face, but he still looks like …….Aaron Eckhart. You can’t cover up handsome with a few facial scars. My first introduction to Mr. Eckhart was in a little film titled, “In The Company Of Men”. Such a talented actor, he’s clearly only being used for his size and “menacing” appearance. The thing is, his character, Chad, in “In The Company Of Men” is a thousand times scarier than Adam. Hell, have you seen Adam with his shirt off? Um, I’m not running away from that.

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So, Adam broods around while Naberius searches for him. Played by Billy Nighy, Naberius is really just Billy Mack from “Love Actually” pretending to be a demon. It’s really very amusing, but I’m sure, unintentional. All of the gargoyles are ethereally beautiful and they even look good when they die. The fight scenes between Adam and, well, everyone else, are super fun. They’re big and loud and really cool looking. Everyone has super cool weapons and can jump around and fly everywhere; it’s ridiculous/awesome. Outside of that, the movie is just another generic, bland, gigantic “popcorn” movie. Clearly being set up for a potential franchise, the story really pushes the limits of acceptance with the last five minutes.

Is it a terrible movie? No. Is it a good movie? No. Is it a decent way to spend some time if you enjoy over the top and completely unrealistic fight scenes? Yup. Is it a good way to spend 93 minutes with Billy Mack as a demon prince? Yeah, it really is; Bill Nighy is undeniably charming. Is it a good way to spend some quality time with Aaron Eckhart, despite the fact that he forgot how to act? Sure is, honey! Look, it’s not the gigantic crap fest that everyone wants it to be. In fact, the three exuberant fanboys that sat behind me would adamantly promote this movie. “I know the critics hated it, but I don’t listen to critics, anyway! This movie was awesome!” These three were having a real “I,Frankenstein” love fest while the credits were rolling. (In the interest of fairness, two people walked out of the movie in the middle of it and never came back.)

So, if you’re looking for something that lives up to the intelligence of the novel, or the classic charm of the Universal film staring Boris Karloff, avoid this movie at all costs. If you enjoy action movies that allow you to “check out” mentally and have lots of cool stuff to look at, this is your new favorite “film”. If you’re an extreme Aaron Eckhart fan,well, he looks really good. It’s a shame he spent more time working out ( you can see him on the cover of this month’s Muscle and Fitness) than he did acting. Or is it? Good acting was never going to save this movie, anyway.