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June 30, 2011

The '80s Horror Month at FMWL Wrap-Up Post

Man, it seems like just yesterday I started FMWL's '80s Horror Month...and it's already ending.  I've got mixed feelings about this.  Part of me feels like there's sooooo much out there I didn't get to cover (Truth be told, there is - I'm far from an expert on the decade's offerings), but part of me is incredibly grateful to have it over. 

Allow me to explain that last part.   I must admit, I had slightly devious intentions when I started '80s Horror Month.  In fact, I decided to do '80s Horror Month because I had an idea for a post brewing near the end of May, and I wanted to convince myself that this idea that was circling my mind was wrong.  This idea, in no uncertain terms, was the idea that I wanted to write a post about why I think that '80s Horror is Overrated.

I was in a mood, I guess.  But when I slowed myself down and really thought about it, I realized that it simply wouldn't be right to make such a post.  First of all, calling anything overrated is a silly and childish statement that implies that the writer understands others' opinions AND can judge their worth.  And I don't want that at FMWL.  Second, and most importantly, I couldn't possibly say such a thing about the decade as a whole.  There are far too many things I love about the decade; the statement just wouldn't be true.

So, let's break it down a bit.  Here's a list of what and who, in my mind, are the winners and losers of '80s Horror Month:
WINNER: Fright Night - Checking in at #2 on the list of my Top 31 '80s Horrors, I kind of expected a backlash against the film being ranked so high.  Alas, the half dozen or so commenters who commented all had good things to say of it.  I'm glad, because it might be my favorite thing that is both horror and extraordinarily '80s.
LOSER: A Nightmare on Elm Street - In retrospect (yes, a whole month worth of retrospection later), I'm kinda feeling silly for not putting Wes Craven's original shocker on the list.  I hate the tacked on ending so much, but there's a lot of great things going on in it.  At least I put Dream Warrirors, which offers better Fishburne, breasts, and Dokken, on the list....right?
Also a winner...Jameson Parker's mustache.
WINNER: John Carpenter - It's no big surprise, considering he's my favorite living director, but Carpenter placed three films in the Top 10 of the countdown. I regret nothing, even as I recognize that I must be Prince of Darkness' biggest fan.
LOSER: George A. Romero - He's an icon, but after Creepshow his horror output took a steep dive in my book.  Perhaps his style was better suited to the pre-slasher era, or perhaps he was always just a little too cynical for the masses.  Whatever the reason, Day of the Dead has never wowed me...and I'm not sure if I'd say he's made a good horror film since.
I love this neighborhood!
WINNER: Tommy Jarvis - I had already planned to speak briefly of my love for what I call the Tommy Jarvis Trilogy (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter through Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI) in a post on sequels. But, Enbrethiliel (of Shredded Cheddar) took over while I was on vacation and closed the case. She made my point official - Tommy Jarvis is the best thing about the Friday the 13th movies. (Well, except maybe Banana Girl...)
LOSER: Jason Voorhees - Jason, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. I like you. I like you a lot. You've got an iconic look, you're intimidating, and you're inventive. I understand the appeal of you being you. My sister got me a bobblehead of you with movable arms as a surprise addition to my birthday gift, and I was like fist-pumping psyched.  It's just that....well, I don't know how to tell you this, but....your movies....they aren't very good. Sometimes I have fun with them, but they're not substantial.  Except for the Tommy Jarvis trilogy, I can't tell them apart. So....sorry you didn't make the Top 31 list.  Wanna hug it out?
WINNER: The Initiation - Speaking of slasher films, I got a chance to revisit this one while I was on vacation and being antisocial.  I never wrote about it, because I was on vacation, but I'm kinda convinced this is one of the better slasher films out there. It's got a lot of stuff I dig, including:
  • Clu Gulager and Vera Miles as adult leads.
  • Daphne Zuniga, who's a total babe.
  • That doofus from Remington Steele who was always jealous of Pierce Brosnan and tried to get in Stephanie Zimbalist's pants.
  • Sorority house hijinks, complete with initiation games (Like, duh...did you read the title?)
  • A final act that's set in this crazy shopping center/giant tower.
  • A weird "I was raped once, now I want to have sex while a killer's on the loose" moment.
So yeah, The Initiation.  Deserves some love.  Check it out.
LOSER:  Happy Birthday to Me - One of my favorite slasher films on a personal level, and yet I'm pretty sure I didn't mention it all month.  I have a relatively good excuse, though. Last June 9th, I used it as Midnight Movie of the Week.  This Jun 9th, the MMOTW pick was Bloody Birthday.  Hmmmm, what is it about that day?
That's not the way to get a-head in life!
WINNER: 1987 - In a bit of a surprise to me, 1987 dominated my list of favorite '80s horrors.  How much domination, you ask? Well, of the 31 films that made the list, a whopping EIGHT were released in 1987.  In comparison, the two closest years (1982 & 1983) each put four films on the list.  Like I said.....DOMINATED.
LOSER: 1981 - A lot of people call 1981 one of the greatest years of horror ever.  But I only ended up with three films from that year on the list.  Sure, two of the three ended up in the list's top four....but I kinda expected more. 
WINNERS: The Guest Bloggers - Though I spent most of the month on that list I keep talking about, the highlight of the month for me was having five fine folks jump in and help FMWL out while I was on vacation.  They are (in no particular order) Syrin of My Own Little Corner, Dod of The WGON Helicopter, Marvin the Macabre of The Montana Mancave Massacre, the aforementioned E of Shredded Cheddar, and Andreas of Pussy Goes Grrr.  And they are also all awesome.  In fact, I'd say they saved '80s Horror Month, and I owe them a large debt of gratitude.
LOSERS: People Who Don't Like Lists - I know, I got carried away.  I mentioned that I was kind of excited that this month was ending...because I'm ready to write some reviews again.  I got way too lost in lists this month.  Sorry.
WINNERS: The Midnight Movies of the Week - The MMOTW list has always been my baby at FMWL, and I gotta say I loved the additions I got to make to it due to '80s Horror Month.  Dead Calm was a triumphant revisit, Bloody Birthday is high class sleaze, and The Hidden was as much fun as I've always thought it was.  Adding in F13 Part VI, which has its charms...I'd say '80s horror month provided some great choices.
I could probably go on all night, but the most important thing I realize as I look back at '80s Horror Month - and '80s Horror in general - is that it's really freakin' exciting that so much '80s goodness has survived to be analyzed - even if it's analyzed poorly - more than 20 years later.  There are ups and downs, but the fact of the matter remains that most of the decade's offerings are a sort of horror comfort food.  Even if they're not my favorites, films like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th helped shape where the horror genre was going, and I'm convinced that I kind of have to give them my respect. 

The '80s were a great and powerful force, my friends.  I may not be entirely sad to see them go - there are other things on FMWL's horizon that demand my attention - but I hate to watch them leave. Be well, '80s Horror.  Wherever you go, remember that you've got a friend at FMWL.
Just don't trust Samantha Phillips!


Marvin the Macabre said...

Winner: Lists - seriously, everybody loves lists.

Winner: 80s Horror Month - like you, I have the general attitude that 80s horror gets way too much praise. But also like you, 80s horror month reminded me how much great, genre-shaping stuff is out there.

Loser: The 90s - Here's a real challenge for you: a 90s horror month in which you try to prove that 90s horror is underrated. I have the feeling you'd end up with Scream, a lot of J-horror, and little else.

Winner: Me - The day my guest column was posted on FMWL was my single biggest day as far as pageviews, and I got several new followers from it. Thanks for the opportunity, and all the memories of 80s awesomehood.

Chris Hewson said...

Don't worry too much, the only 80's horror movies you really missed out on you list were Demons, and the three "Night of the" movies, Comet, Creeps and Demons.

Enbrethiliel said...


You what I really like about your blog, The Mike? The way your posts transcend themselves and have to be posted about in other posts so that we understand why you posted what you posted. Epic, dude! (Seriously, I really love it.)

Allow me to chime in belatedly about Fright Night. I actually quite like it (almost as much as Night of the Demons, which, for me, is saying a lot!) and I never thought it might not be so well regarded in Horror circles. It would make my own Top 10 80s Horror Movies list easily!

Don't worry too much about "snubbing" A Nightmare on Elm Street. =P At least you mentioned it in a special post, you know? And in that post, you said Nancy could give Laurie Strode a run for her Final Girl crown and that this movie is pretty damn great if you ignore an ending the writer/director himself wouldn't have put in, had he had a say. Backhanded compliments, yeah, but they're more than "better than nothing": they underline the fact that an 80s Horror celebration with no mention of this movie is not an 80s Horror celebration at all. So both justified your choice and validated your month. It's all win-win with Freddy! =D

(Please don't reread that paragraph. I don't understand my own logic, either, sometimes.)

As for George A. Romero, he was always more of a 70s director to me, and even Day of the Dead (which you know I like) has that pre-80s vibe where I'm concerned. If I put it on any 80s list, it will be to stand in for the rest of the trilogy.

Finally, there is something lovable about Jason Voorhees. There's a reason Friday the 13th is such a notorious franchise despite most of the movies being of horrendous quality. It's like eating a really bad salad every time it's offered to you because the dressing is so good.

PS -- Thanks for making me a winner! You're the best! =D

R.D. Penning said...

People who don't like lists should be hit by a bus.

The Mike said...

Marvin - Much thanks for reading and helping, glad to see you're getting the deserved attention. I considered 90s horror month once...then I wanted to cry.

Chris - Each of those flicks were in the discussion, if I'd done 50, or even 40, they may have jumped in. Creeps was probably closest to getting in.

E - Many thanks! I've always wanted FMWL to exist somewhere between the "stream of consciousness" blog and the "random unrelated reviews" blog, and this project gave me a nice chance to kind of weave my story with these films. And yeah, I'm not really cutting on ANOES...I just keep thinking "Why wouldn't it be one of the Top 31?" and doubting myself. Oh well.

Russ - I can see those people's point at times. It's a little lazy. But dammit, it's fun!