Growing up an impressionable child of the 80s, when the horror genre was being overthrown by the slasher regime, there were a few movies that slipped through the cracks. Films that stood on their own; undefinable; unclassified. A time when, I feel, horror movies were at a pinnacle through original ideas and analog special effects, budget or no budget, these filmmakers were driven by passion and art to create something new and did it with an underlying sick sense of humor. Strange little gems that creeped in through my cornea and never found their way out of my brain. I present to you, my dear reader, after a decade of research via daily trips to the video store and watching late night HBO and USA’s Up All Night, 20 films that you might not have heard about, but should definitely see.
In no particular order, let’s get started:
1. FADE TO BLACK (Vernon Zimmerman, 1980)
A shy movie nerd goes on murderous rampage dressed as his favorite cinematic characters.
2. BASKET CASE (Frank Henenlotter, 1982)
A young man and his evil, separated, Siamese twin wreak havoc on the doctors that separated them against their will. Said evil twin also happens to inhabit a basket.
3. THE STUFF (Larry Cohen, 1985)
A killer alien blob under the guise as a delicious creamy treat torments the world.
4. MONSTER SQUAD (Fred Dekker, 1987)
The Goonies meet universal monsters.
5. SOCIETY (Brian Yuzna, 1989)
Contortion horror at its very best.
6. BRAIN DAMAGE (Frank Henenlotter, 1988)
A parasitic leech named Almer attaches itself to a host and trades psychedelic trips for blood.
7. FROM BEYOND (Stuart Gordon, 1986)
A machine that allows you to see a parallel dimension goes terribly awry.
8. DOLLS (Stuart Gordon, 1987)
A creepy mansion, a mysterious couple of toy makers, and a brigade of haunted dolls. What could go wrong?
9. SLEEPAWAY CAMP (Robert Hiltzik, 1983)
Typical 80s slasher, not so typical ending.
10. MOTEL HELL (Kevin Connor, 1980)
A farmer kidnaps, then plants unsuspecting drifters in his garden to sell later at his roadside stand.
11. TERRORVISION (Ted Nicolaou, 1986)
A new family’s satellite dish becomes the passageway to a weird, alien world.
12. STREET TRASH (James M Muro, 1987)
A toxic sludge bottled under the moniker “Viper” is sold by a local liquor dispensary to hobos on the cheap not knowing that the consumers eventually melt down into piles of gooey sludge.
13. THE GATE (Tibor Takács, 1987)
A couple kids unlock a gateway to hell and unleash a slew of claymation demons.
14. 976-EVIL (Robert Englund, 1988)
Freddy Krueger directs this tale in which the people who dial a phone number turn into satanic killers.
15. SLUGS (Juan Piquer Simón, 1988)
Carnivorous slugs slime their way through and spook a small town.
16. PARENTS (Bob Balaban, 1989)
Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt have strange, human meat sex and confuse their child.
17. NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (Fred Dekker, 1986)
Alien super crawlers invade a town and turn the inhabitants, live or dead, into zombies.
18. THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (Dan O’Bannon, 1985)
Zombies express their concerns about needing brains to a group of living humans after a government blunder several years prior.
19. KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (Stephen Chiodo, 1988)
A self explanatory klassic.
20. NEAR DARK (Kathryn Bigelow, 1987)
Never trust the bite of a beautiful vampire, it might turn into a fight for survival, food, and the melting rays of the sun.
I hope these movies help fulfill some sort of void in your life, as they did mine.
As always, thanks for stopping by and reading, Belcher.