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June 12, 2011

The Mike's 31 Favorite 1980s Horror Films: No. 20 - 16

By the time you're reading this, The Mike has safely been whisked away to an undisclosed vacation spot in the southern U.S.  But you know what?  THAT AIN'T STOPPING ME FROM PARTYING WITH '80s HORROR MONTH!  So let's keep our countdown rolling, as we're down to The Mike's 20 favorite '80s Horror films!

Previously on The Mike's 31 Favorite 1980s Horror Films....
#31-#26     #25-#21

20. Clownhouse
(1989, Dir. by Victor Salva.)
My relationship with Clownhouse has already been summed up at FMWL back when it was Midnight Movie of the Week.  Yeah, I know it's not a good movie (it still has some fine scares, however) and I know the director committed a ridiculously disgusting crime while making it. But I just can't help my past.  I grew up with Clownhouse, and I can't hide from it.  It's a part of me.

19. Dead & Buried
(1981, Dir. by Gary Sherman.)
I didn't see this movie until the last few years, but it was one of the first movies to come along in some time that really had me on the edge of my seat due to a palpable sense of impending doom.  A lot of what's stuck with me is that evil Lisa Blount and her tempting ways (she was responsible for two of my Top 10 Willies!), but the coastal California setting and a dose of fog does wonders for Dan O'Bannon's script - which is pretty good in its own right.

18. April Fool's Day
(1986, Dir. by Fred Walton.)
I've made it pretty obvious - heck, I've beaten it into my readers' skulls - that I don't take slasher films very seriously most of the time.  And that's probably why I have so much fun with April Fool's Day, which cause controversy by bucking some slasher trends in its final act.  I also don't think there's a slasher film with a better cast out there, as the likes of Deborah Foreman, Clayton Rohner, Amy Steel and Biff Tannen, among others, bring fun characters to a fun slasher story.

17. Re-Animator
(1985, Dir. by Stuart Gordon.)
Is it weird if I say Re-Animator is one of those movies I respect more than I love?  I generally say that kind of thing about the likes of Lawrence of Arabia or Raging Bull or whatnot, but for some reason I've never had a big emotional connection with Re-Animator.  At the same time, I think about it and I'm immediately showing it respect like I'm watching Atticus Finch walk out of the courtroom.  That's worth something, isn't it?

16. Psycho II
(1983, Dir. by Richard Franklin.)
I like to cite Psycho II as proof that anything can be made into a good movie.  Just think about it like this: 23 years ago, Beetlejuice happened (Not saying it's as good as Psycho, it's just the first non-sequeled movie of 1988 I came up with).  Now, let's pretend that it's now - but Tim Burton is dead and some dude who spent a day on one of his film sets when he was in school is making a sequel.  HOW BADLY WOULD WE TRASH THAT MOVIE?  Yeah, badly. So imagine what 1983 audiences thought a sequel to Psycho would be like.  And yet, thanks to some inventive writing by Tom Holland and Richard Franklin's love for Hitchcock, Psycho II is kind of awesome.  And if Psycho II is awesome, then any movie can be awesome.
Five random facts/questions to ponder as '80s Horror Month moves on.....
1) I'm not gonna go into the details of Clownhouse's legal history again. So instead, let's just talk about Sam Rockwell!  I had no idea who he was back when Clownhouse was a family favorite (even though he had been in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flick! - but there's a scene in Clownhouse where he's telling a "scary story" that now seems to me brilliant. I wasn't smart enough to see it as a kid, but that dude's always been a star.  Go Sam!

2) My reaction to Dead & Buried is almost the opposite to Clownhouse, as I could not, for the life of me, see Melody Anderson as anything but Dale Arden of Flash Gordon fame.  Do you have any tales of not being able to see an actor as anything but one of their more famous roles?

3) April Fool's Day was partially inspired by the famous Agatha Christie tale And Then There Were None, which was also an inspiration to films like George Pollack's Ten Little Indians, Mario Bava's Five Dolls for an August Moon, and Jams Mangold's Identity.

4) Random personal factoid: I'd read of Re-Animator as a teen, but didn't see it until I was into my 20s.  My biggest reason for wanting to see it? That scene in American Beauty when Ricky and Lester joke about the film where "the severed head goes down on the girl".

5) So, Psycho II exists (as do Psycho III & Psycho IV!), much to my initial surprise.  What films would you be most surprised to see successful sequels of?

We're more than halfway through the countdown!  Come back next weekend, when the list whittles down a little more, and some of my potentially glaring omissions move closer to being revealed!


R.D. Penning said...

Jeepers Creepers II

Enbrethiliel said...


I know what you mean about Clownhouse being a part of you and why you'll always love it. (What a great tribute to your sister in the review post, by the way!) In an ideal world, we could all watch the movie and see what you see, and how I wish this were an ideal world!

I'll have to think about Question #2 some more. I know there are some actors I could say that of, but they're not coming to mind at the moment.