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80s Horror Movies

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Horror movies had a golden period from the early 70s to the mid-80s. By the late 80s, they transformed into fairly bland imitations. There have been few horror films that have scared and shocked audiences in the last decades. Some movies had their moments, but few of the major studios will now take on a gritty horror movie. Most recent productions are empty - they have lost their humour, tension and shock value.

If you have any doubts about how lame recent horror films have become, then see one of the all time classics, The Exorcist (1973). When your sleep returns to normal, catch these classic horror films of the 80s.

Nightmare on Elm St (1984)
Children in a small US town are being killed in gruesome ways while they sleep. They all report seeing a man with razor blades for fingers. Yes, this is where Freddy Krueger makes his debut in a thriller from Wes Craven. It also stars Johnny Depp in his debut role, 3 years before 21 Jump Street. Make sure you see the original and not a TV edit (and watch it late at night).

Poltergeist (1982)
Probably the last scary haunted house film made. This film is set around a family that moves into a new house that is possessed by some very cranky ghosts. The youngest child gets sucked into the undead world while others have wild experiences. It is most memorable for the young innocent girl saying 'They're here....'.

The Thing (1982)
A sci-fi/horror film by John Carpenter which stars his favourite lead, Kurt Russell. Lots of suspense and some memorable horror moments as an Antarctic expedition stumble upon a creature that can absorb people and then mimic them. This film has a big budget for the time - about $US15 million, but unfortunately it didn't get the box office success that it probably deserved.

The Shining (1980)
Adapted from Stephen King's book, it tells the story of a small family who are house-minding a remote summer hotel through the winter. Jack Nicholson plays the father/writer who starts to act a little oddly and then wants to kill his family. Most notable scenes: the lift doors that open and blood floods out into the hallway and 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy'.

Friday The 13th (1980)
Teenagers at a camp get killed in graphic ways in this 80s splatter fest. What makes it a little more unique is the identity of the killer is hidden throughout most of the film which gives it some tension. As a horror movie it is worth a look - and then you must try to figure out how on earth it has managed 10 sequels. This is also one of Kevin Bacon's earliest films.

Re-animator (1985)
This film follows a common 50s sci-fi 'mad-scientist' theme and is loosely based on a HP Lovecraft story. A medical student is trying to perfect a formula for bringing dead people back to life. He starts in a university morgue and discovers that when the dead return, they are a lot more evil then they used to be. As usual, only dismemberment can stop the undead creatures.

The Evil Dead (1982)
A low budget horror movie that later returns with two slicker sequels. This original is set around a remote cabin where a group of teenagers stumble across a book and tape recording which can summon the undead. So naturally, that's what they do. As the demons possess the teenagers, it is apparent that the only way to stop the undead is to cut them into little pieces. Blood and fake plastic body bits cover most the second half of the film. Evil Dead II is a slicker version that is somewhere between a remake and sequel.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Two American backpackers are lost on the moors in Northern England when they are attacked by a werewolf. One is killed and the other survives to become a werewolf himself. He terrorises people around London, with violent murders. This film has many memorable scenes, including the slowly decomposing undead who keep haunting the survivor and a detailed scene showing transformation into a werewolf. Keep an eye out for a brief appearance by Rik Mayall of The Young Ones fame.

Hellraiser (1987)
A horror film with lots of great ideas, interesting creatures and gore that somehow misses the mark. It should have been a classic, but it turns out to be just OK. When a mysterious cube is solved it promises great pleasure but instead it summons the evil Cenobites (anyone who has played with a Rubik's cube will know the great evil that lurks within it). One of the Cenobites' victims finds a way to reincarnate himself by using the blood and flesh of the living. With the help of his ex-lover, now married to his brother, more flesh is delivered to the house until the plan is unravelled by his niece. This film is best known for the lead Cenobite 'Pinhead', pictured on most of the Hellraiser covers.

Some 80s movies to consider that are not pure horror and tend to cross over into other genres such as action or sci-fi: Aliens, Lost Boys, Gremlins, Angel Heart and Predator.

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