Companion to “Conversations in Horror”
“The Best in ‘80s Slasher Films”
In the podcast “Conversations in Horror” hosts Ron McLellen and I look at different aspects of the horror genre in order to entertain and educate fans. This article is a companion to the show as a means to touch upon things that the show doesn’t have time to. Enjoy.
I have a deep love for ‘80s horror films. The ‘80s were a great time for filmmakers to explore every sub-genre of horror film out there. It also happened to be one of the biggest decades for the slasher genre so I’d like to take a few moments to look out at all of my favorite ‘80s slasher films. Some you may have seen while others you may have only heard about in whispers but all (in my opinion) are worth taking a peek at. Films are presented in alphabetical order rather than in a list leading to the best of the best.
BOOGEY MAN, THE (1980)
This is an indie little slow burn of a psychological film that has a lot of atmosphere and mood. Not necessarily considered to be an excellent film but it has its charms and its one of director Ulli Lommel’s best films. When I first saw it as a kid I was expecting a monster film but I ended up with a film that was so much more so now I fondly remember it as a film that wanted to be something more than a simple slasher horror film.
CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980)
Next to Black Christmas (1974) this is one of my favorite Christmas themed horror films. Director Lewis Jackson’s blackly comic film about a crazed Santa Claus who decides who is naughty enough to be killed. Unlike the similarly themed Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) this film doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a lot more fun. I enjoy both films but this is the one I put in every Christmas (next to Black Christmas that is).
FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)
Everyone loves a great slasher and it doesn’t get any better than the original Friday the 13th (even without Jason). I’m still a fan of this film and prefer the mystery aspects of this film that was lost in the sequels (except for maybe Part V). More modern audiences may scoff at this film since it doesn’t have Jason in it but it does contain the amazing special FX make up talents of Tom Savini which means this film never disappoints from beginning to end.
FRIDAY THE 13th PART 3 (1982)
Jason is a force to be reckoned with and nothing makes that more true than this film which is in 3-D and Jason gets his signature hockey mask. The 3-D effects may be dated (and don’t hold up so well in 2-D) but this film is one of the most fun of the sequels. I’m not a huge fan of the franchise (sorry, but I’m a Michael Myers fan) but this is one of the most entertaining of the sequels and not one to be missed.
FUNHOUSE, THE (1981)
I will say this for the Tobe Hooper directed film – it grows on you. I was not a fan of this film when I first saw it. I thought it was a badly done film with nothing interesting to say. At the suggestion of my best friend (and co-host of the show) who loves the film, I decided to give the film a second chance. This, like many of Hooper’s films, are better the second time around. Hooper’s films generally lack a strong story but make up for it in visuals and flare which this film has abundance in. Growing up I never took his films all that seriously so I never really cared for his style but that’s what makes his films so entertainingly good – Hooper has style and it permeates every one of his films, so, even if his films lack a good story they more than make up for it in different ways.
HALLOWEEN II (1981)
This is not my favorite of the Halloween sequels but it is one of my favorite sequels of the ‘80s. Before the sequels post-Part IV came I watched this film (with the original) every Halloween as if they were one film. For the longest time I couldn’t watch one without the other. There are a lot of great things about this film that still resonate but I loved the fact that sacrifices had to be made to end pure evil at the end of the film and there were no true winners (at least until part IV reveals that neither Myers nor Loomis actually died at the end). This was supposed to be the end of the Myers story and a start of something different for subsequent sequels but we all know how that ended.
HELL NIGHT (1981)
Whatever you have to say about this film “boring” isn’t one of them. Linda Blair is fantastic in this by-the-numbers slasher. Despite the film being pretty predictable it’s never boring and always entertaining from beginning to end. My opinion of the film may be a little bit misplaced as I’ve always been a huge fan of Blair’s. I had a crush on her from way back which still allows me to enjoy her films more than I probably should (hey, I’m someone who thinks that The Exorcist 2: The Heretic isn’t a bad film).
This was one of the scariest movies I ever saw growing up. This is probably because I remember seeing a dark and grainy version of the film so everything horrifying was amped up any more. This was also one of my mother’s favorite horror films so I saw this plenty of times growing up and it still holds a special place for me. Most of my friends had never heard of the film before I mentioned it to them and it seems to be one of those films that were quickly forgotten upon release but it is a film worth seeking out.
This is one of my favorite films that I don’t plan on watching a second time in a while. This is part of the same list that includes Martyrs (2008), Cannibal Holocaust (1980), and The Human Centipede: First Sequence (2009) which are films I think are great but not films I’m going to stick in the DVD/BD player and re-watch when I want to be entertained. This is a polarizing film with a gripping performance by Joe Spinell and beyond fantastic make up FX (again) by Tom Savini.
MOTEL HELL (1980)
A cult favorite and one of my favorite films of the ‘80s. This is one of those rare ‘80s films that got the comedy and horror right without being an all-out spoof. This may be a little dated but it is also one of the most entertaining films from the ‘80s that has been overlooked for far too long. Check this film out if you never have.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981)
Next to Halloween this is one of the greatest films that depict the derailment of a holiday. This is a great film from beginning to end and still holds up very well even to this day. I love a good killer in a mask and this film has one of the truly very best. This is probably one that everyone has seen.
SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, THE (1982)
Okay, this is a guilty pleasure film if there ever was one! This may not be a great film but it is entertaining from beginning to end and one of the best of the ‘80s hands down. These types of “throw-away” films may not be everyone’s cup of tea and it might be dated but it’s still one of my favorites to just put in the DVD/BD player with a beer in hand and just enjoy which you should as well.
Okay, so here is a small sampling of some of my favorite ‘80s slasher films. There are MANY more that I never mentioned that are favorites but these should get you started. Enjoy and if you want to hear more go to the actual “Conversations in Horror” podcast – “Talkin’ ‘80s Slasher Films” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wc9g-QrU6U or visit our Facebook Page at - https://www.facebook.com/conversationsinhorror?fref=ts