FMWL's trip through 1980s Horror Month is underway, and one of the main attractions I've got planned is this countdown - a round up of my favorite horror films of the decade. Some of my choices may shock you - as will some of the films I did NOT choose - but I hope you'll enjoy a look into the depths of my '80s horror lovin' mind. The countdown will be segmented throughout the month....starting now.
31. The Entity
(1982, Dir. by Sidney J. Furie.)
Maybe I'm overvaluing this one as I start this list. It's too long and too silly in many regards, but the scenes of paranormal dominance are really hard to shake. And have I ever mentioned how much I love Barbara Hershey? Because I do, and this might be her best lead performance. So it's in. The Entity as Midnight Movie of the Week #48 - December 2, 2010
(1988, Dir. by Stan Winston.)
This was the last film I picked for the list (even though I rated it ahead of The Entity). I'm not entirely wild about the film's acting, which is pretty pathetic from everyone who's not Lance Henriksen, but then there's Stan Winston's amazing creature design. It's easily my favorite monster of the decade, and it pushes the film to another level.
29. The Blob
(1988, Dir. by Chuck Russell.)
I'm kind of surprised I didn't push this higher up the list. Maybe my love for the original film is clouding things again, because I do get a ton of enjoyment out of Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont's script for this remake. The story is not one that could have been easily recreated, but the script manages to maintain some of the first film's charm while updating things in an interesting manner. Oh, and it has a blob!
28. Of Unknown Origin
(1983, Dir. by George P. Cosmatos.)
My most recent "find" to make the list, as I just saw this for the first time a couple of months ago and fell quickly in love. The game of "Future Robocop and Mouse" between our lead and the plus sized rodent that is tearing apart his home is never dull and surprisingly dark in tone. Peter Weller gives a surprisingly good performance. Of Unknown Origin as Midnight Movie of the Week #63 - March 16, 2011
(1983, Dir. by David Cronenberg.)
Alright, here's a controversial comment - I'm not wild about most of Cronenberg's '80s output. The Fly has never done much more than repulse me, and Scanners' lead might be the worst actor every to step on to a film set. (To be fair, I do like his adaptation of The Dead Zone - but I might prefer the TV series! - and have some decent memories of Dead Ringers from long ago.) Videodrome, however, stands out as a mind-bending bit of surreal horror that never grows old to me - even if it is repulsive and uneven. Long live the new flesh, indeed.
(1988, Dir. by Anthony Hickox.)
Capitalizing on classic horrors in fun and inventive ways might have been my favorite trend in horror of the 1980s, and Waxwork is one of the shining examples of how to do this well. A great cast - including Zach Galligan (aka Bruce Campbell, Jr.), David Warner, and Deborah Foreman (who is probably the '80s best kept secret goddess) - carries the tale of wax sculptures and alternate dimensions and werewolves played by Gimli; creating a fun bit of horror that's tongue in cheek, yet still a little bit creepy.
Six random facts/questions to ponder as '80s Horror Month moves on.....
1) The actor playing Barbara Hershey's son in The Entity broke his arm during a scene in which he was violently thrown by the titular entity. The son of the "real life" victim of these attacks also had his arm broken in this manner during one of the "attacks". Does that mean something?
2) When I was 8 or 9 years old, the October "Haunted Hayride" in my hometown featured a scarecrow looking character with a large - in my mind it was about five feet in diameter - pumpkin for a head that featured a demonic scowl. I had nightmares about it for weeks, and assumed it was the subject of Pumpkinhead. Have any childhood nightmares you'd like to see on screen?
3) Does anyone know where I can get one of those biohazard suits with the trash can shaped hood that the dudes wear in The Blob? They look wicked fun!
4) The idea of Robocop chasing a giant mouse and setting Tom & Jerry style traps for it in Of Unknown Origin just makes me smile. Do you have any favorite cartoons that you'd like to see as a horror film?
5) I don't really have anything interesting to say about Videodrome. It has chest vaginas that eat Betamax tapes, what can I add to that?
6) Jason Voorhees, the children from Village of the Damned, The Thing, and The Golem were each featured in exhibits in the original script of Waxwork. If you were making your own horror Waxwork, what character couldn't you live without?
Come back soon as the list rolls on; Numbers 25-21 should offer a few surprises! Until then, be well Midnight Warriors!
The Mike began his youth by demanding ghost and monster stories, and was soon given three VHS tapes by his parents - The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Lon Chaney's The Phantom of the Opera, and 1958's The Blob.
Since then, he has embraced the wide world of cinema, and has always kept the bizarre, fantastic, and macabre close to his heart.