The theatre is back open today and we’re taking a trip back to the 1980’s for Friday Fright Fest. Well, the first of two trips to be exact. The 80’s were iconic for horror films. We have such classics as Friday the 13th, The Evil Dead and Hellraiser to name a few. There are just too many truly iconic movies from the 80s that it was tough to pick my top 5. That said let’s dive right into the decade in which I was born, the best era for horror, the 1980’s!
#5. Friday the 13th | 1980
A group of camp counsellors trying to reopen a summer camp called Crystal Lake, which has a grim past, are stalked by a mysterious killer.
Friday the 13th may have been panned by critics when first released but since then it is one of the most famous and influential horror films, the franchise containing one of horror’s most iconic villains. The film is popular enough to become a franchise and spawns several sequels of varying quality and generally inferior to the one that started it all off.
Friday the 13th’ is great guilty pleasure fun and it is very easy to understand its popularity and influence. It’s very gory and gruesome, though not pointlessly so, but it is also very frightening and suspenseful. This is apparent in the deaths, which couldn’t have been more creative or shocking, and the hauntingly eerie music score. Friday the 13th is assuredly directed and moves along at a lively pace. The late reveal is for the better and works very well.
#4. The Evil Dead | 1981
Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.
To many of us, Raimi is already a legend, because he created ‘The Evil Dead’, without a doubt one of the greatest horror movies of all time. Made on a shoestring budget as a labour of love, it still remains Raimi’s best movie. He has subsequently worked on bigger projects with bigger names but it is arguable whether he has ever surpassed the invention, thrills, energy and sheer fun of this.
And why Bruce Campbell never became a genuine movie star after his debut here, and not just a much-loved cult figure, is a complete mystery to me. ‘The Evil Dead’ is a modern horror classic and absolutely ESSENTIAL viewing for any self-respecting movie buff! It doesn’t get much better than this!
#3. The Thing | 1982
A research team in Antarctica is hunted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims.
A group of explorers in the Arctic region have encountered a vicious alien organism that can consume a person and make itself a perfect copy. This is a classic horror film that is loaded with brilliant special effects and graphic violence that is a perfect way to spend a cold evening. Kurt Russel stars as a troubled alcoholic who takes charge and tries to find which person is really the alien creature.
One of the most brilliant things about the movie is that it plays with the idea of not knowing who you can trust. I found it interesting that it had an all-male cast, something uncommon for many movies. The acting is very natural and very realistic. This movie was surprisingly scary and the graphic scenes were surprisingly horrific. It’s a dark, brutal, and claustrophobic sci-fi horror film that has stood the test of time from the genius of John Carpenter.
#2. Cannibal Holocaust | 1980
During a rescue mission into the Amazon rainforest, a professor stumbles across a lost film shot by a missing documentary crew.
A group of documentarians go into the Amazon to film warring cannibal tribes. Unfortunately for them, they don’t make it back. An anthropologist is sent in to find them and is horrified when he sees the grisly images they captured on film.
Starring Robert Kerman, it’s not surprising that this film pushes the boundaries of nudity and cruelty. Men and women naked, some of them sexually brutalized… animals killed, including a monkey who gets his face cut off and the infamous “turtle scene”. I was actually somewhat disturbed by this film — at the very least, rather uncomfortable. One scene where an adulteress is punished was particularly disturbing for me.
I don’t think those of you who are squeamish will want to see this one… or those who don’t like seeing animals killed… but if you want to see a horror film with some sense of reality in it, this is it. There’s also a strong social commentary in it about what makes man civilized or not, but I won’t get into that… you’ll see it.
#1. Nightmare on Elm Street | 1984
Teenager Nancy Thompson must uncover the dark truth concealed by her parents after she and her friends become targets of the spirit of a serial killer with a bladed glove in their dreams, in which if they die, it kills them in real life.
A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the scariest movies of all time and one of the scariest in the 80s. It also introduced one of the scariest villains of all time, Freddy Krueger, one of the ultimate boogeymen that you know who he is just by his name. Wes Craven brought us one of the most terrifying ideas, What would happen if your nightmares were real?
That if you died in your dream, you died in real life? He brought us A Nightmare on Elm Street, a low-budget horror film that has made it huge in the horror genre’s world. The whole concept of the film is just what makes it so brilliant. Not to mention how cool is it that this is Johnny Depp’s first film role? Who knew that that kid was going to be so huge one day, right? But the entire cast made this into one of the scariest movies that will always bring you a few nightmares on its own.