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June 29, 2011

The Mike's 31 Favorite 1980s Horror Films: No. 5 - 1.

Well, the day is here.  What was once the entire field of '80s horrors films was narrowed down to 31, then the first 26 films on the list were revealed, then five omissions were sadly unveiled....and then, there were five.
No more words....let's see my five favorite '80s horror films...NOW.

Previously on The Mike's 31 Favorite 1980s Horror Films....
#31-#26     #25-#21     #20-#16     #15-#11     #10-#6

5. Gremlins
(1984, Dir. by Joe Dante.)
I've had this argument before, as it seems most consider Gremlins to be a great '80s film but not a great horror film.  I refuse to acknowledge their argument.  It's a film about little monsters terrorizing a town that brings the fears of the 1950s into the '80s and does so in a fantastic manner.  It's got monster splatter, it's got a town terrorized, it's got inventive kills, and it's even got one of the best monologues on human horror that's ever been put on film.  It is a horror film...and it's a great one.

4. An American Werewolf in London
(1981, Dir. by John Landis.)
OK, there's a slight theme developing here in my top 10.  It seems that I love a) throwbacks to the monsters gone by, and b) a bit of humor with my horror.  Oh, and c) would have been Jenny Agutter and d) would be the overuse of songs with "moon" in the title.  But there's no arguing against Landis' shocking horror comedy, which has only gotten better with age.  I mean, who didn't want to be David Naughton when they grew up? I KNOW I DID.  And the makeup effects were so good that they invented an Oscar for them.  I know I bring that up every time I talk about this movie, but it's like the LeBron doesn't have six championships argument - it's the only one I need.

3. The Evil Dead
(1981, Dir. by Sam Raimi.)
Despite the way we all think about Bruce Campbell now, we need to remember that this one does not, I repeat NOT, fall into that "humor with my horror" category.  Though we look back at the film and smile, there's really nothing that funny about The Evil Dead, the film that made us realize that trees could rape and bodily fluids didn't have to be liquidy and red.  It's kind of like Hellraiser in the sense that it's an endurance test...but it's also really fun and kind of timeless.  Whenever I need gore, this is the place I start.

2. Fright Night
(1985, Dir. by Tom Holland.)
If you think I'm overcompensating on this one because an awful looking remake is on its way, you're dead wrong.  In fact, the last time I made this list in December of '09 - thank God none of you actually read the site back then! - I had it as my favorite of the decade.  I've had a soft spot for Fright Night for a long, long time, and I can still vividly remember watching that crazy scene with the impaled Evil Ed when I was a very young Mike.  It's one of the horror movies that has definitely shaped my life, and it'll always be one of my favorite horror films and one of my favorite films in general.

1. The Thing
(1982, Dir. by John Carpenter.)
Maannnnnnnnnn....I didn't want to let you be number one, The Thing.  You win EVERYTHING.  But....I guess you are just that good.

Gosh, what else is there to say about you, The Thing.  Everyone loves you.  You've proven to be timeless thanks to your atmospheric setting, due to your ambiguous and haunting ending, due to your jaw dropping special effects, and - of course - due to Kurt Russell's beard.  You literally have everything a horror movie should have, and I'm not sure if there's a way I could have voted against you....even if you aren't very '80s.  I mean, would it have killed you to throw in a ballad or two?

I kid, I kid.  But I don't kid about The Thing....because it's the winner of the number one spot again.  Let us grow beards and rejoice in its name!


therealphoenixanew said...

An excellent top 5! And I have seen three of them already, go me.

Seeing as how Gremlins is largely a cautionary tale, how could someone try to claim it's not a good horror film? Preposterous.

An American Werewolf in London changed my mind about werewolves in general and the stories that could be told with them. Such a good film.

I promise I'm going to make it through The Evil Dead trilogy sometime before the end of this year, and I'll probably be kicking myself for taking as long as I did to watch it.

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about Fright Night going in, but I ended up really loving it. I hate to say it, but I'm actually kind of excited for the remake - it seems like they're doing an appropriately updated version, even if it is way too soon to do so.

I plan to watch and cover The Thing as part of the "Monsters vs Aliens" challenge Enbrethiliel and I have both been doing.. but the more I hear about it from you the more I think that it's going to be a very long post indeed. I enjoyed the original quite a bit, so I'm fairly confident this remake will live up to the hype too.

Matt-suzaka said...

While The Thing, Werewolf and Evil Dead would come to be expected high up on a list such as this, I shall give you copious props for including Gremlins and Fright Night.

Both are childhood favorites as well as being prime examples of what what mainstream horror is missing nowadays: films that are scary but remain accessible to young audiences while not treating them like they are stupid.

I actually love both sequels to each film, and in the case of Fright Night, I used to read the shit out of the (very awesome) comic book series that had come out back when the second film was released. I still have most of the issues, too.

Jose Cruz said...

This is amazing. This list is VERY close to what my top 80's horror flicks would be as well. And can I just give you a huge blogging hug for taking the time to not only point out that The Evil Dead is NOT a horror comedy, but for also including the still highly underrated (in my mind) Fright Night.

Hahahaha, you're so COOL, The Mike!

A hero never dies said...

Fright night is certainly the most 80's movie here The Mike, it was the first VHS I ever had my own copy of and boy did it get some hammer so it's a personal fave of mine. The Thing is one of THE best films period, so it's no surprise it wins again!

Awesome list from start to finish!

Marvin the Macabre said...

Excellent choices, all.

I recently rewatched Gremlins for the first time since puberty and found that I want my own mogwai just as much now as I did in childhood. I could kick myself for getting rid of my full-size Gizmo and Stripe toys.

Funny thing is, I showed Gremlins to my kids (ages 8 & 5) and didn't censor any of the gore, but skipped past Phoebe Kate's monologue because of the line, "That's how I found out there was no Santa Claus." I suppose Dante figured any kid old enough to watch gremlins exploding in the microwave was old enough to know about Santa.

While I love all your picks, I don't think any of them would have made my personal top 5 (Top 30, yes). The Thing, maybe. It is, after all, as close to a perfect film as I've seen. But for some reason, I don't have the affection for it that I have for other 80s horror movies. It's probably a better film than anything that would have made my top 5, but I just don't have that personal connection with it, you know?

Enbrethiliel said...


This is an epic Top 5 that was definitely worth waiting for.

And of course Gremlins is a Horror movie! A child-friendly Horror movie (even that bit about Santa Claus) which we really should have more of these days.

R.D. Penning said...

WOW!!! Now that is a Top 5 Mike!!!

The Mike said...

Thanks everybody! I'm wicked glad to see so many Fright Night supporters, I thought it might get me a little guff. Alas, y'all renew my faith in Brewster.

Marvin - I know exactly what you mean about the connection to The Thing, but it's grown on me over the years. I used to think the characters were too basic for me, but with time I started to love how little I knew about them. It kinda adds to the tension, because if we knew the characters more we might spot changes in their actions and such.

But, there's always different strokes for different folks.