Thursday 29 October 2015

The Top 5 Horror Films of the 1980's

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to count down some of the best horror films. In this list, we’ll be looking at what the 1980s brought to the genre.


John Carpenter’s The Thing, the story of an Antartic science base being infiltrated by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims, is one of the best horror films of all time. Starring an ensemble cast including Kurt Russell, Keith David and everyone’s favourite diabetic Wilford Brimley; The Thing’s true power lies in the human cast. Like The Mist, The Thing shows us how madness and paranoia can turn humans against each other with violent results while the bigger threat takes a back seat. Iconic for it’s completely male cast – remedied in the 2011 reboot – The Thing is a testosterone fuelled bleak film of violence and horror that also inspired a pretty decent game.
Best momentthe increasingly tense blood test sequence in which the paranoid crew try and figure out who is currently hosting the creature.

Fun fact
there is no right or wrong answer as to when the creature has assumed who. John Carpenter has stated even he doesn’t know.


John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London is a damn good film. After two American men are attacked by a werewolf while backpacking in England, one is informed through disturbing apparitions that he has become a werewolf and will transform at the next full moon. Since the film’s 1981 release, An American Werewolf in London has accumulated a devout cult following and is considered one of the finest films of the 1980s. With incredible make up – the film was the first ever recipient of the Outstanding Achievement in Makeup Academy Award, which was reportedly created purely for the film – the film holds up very well, and it is generally considered Michael Jackson had Landis direct his Thriller music video based on the strength of this film.

Best moment“a naked American man stole my balloons”, one of the finest lines of dialogue in cinema.

Fun fact - every song featured in the film has the word ‘moon’ in the title; Bad Moon Rising, Moondance, Blue Moon, etc.


Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining would be deserving of a place on a Top 5 Horrors list, let alone just of the 1980s. Jack Torrance (an incredible Jack Nicholson) takes a job as an off-season caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel, which means he and his family must live there during the winter. Some time after settling in, the family are trapped by a snowstorm. Jack gradually becomes influenced by supernatural presence and isolation, descending into madness and attempts to murder his family. The Shining is a terrifying exercise in psychological terror and has come to be regarded as one of the finest horror films ever made. An extremely clever and mysteriously provocative film, too – check out the excellent documentary Room 237 for various interpretations of what the film truly means.

Best moment the eerily bleak and perplexing ending which still invites theories to this day.

Fun fact the iconic “Heeeeere’s Johnny!” scene reportedly took 3 whole days to film, and 60 doors were axed apart in the process.


Sam Raimi’s low-budget franchise-starter The Evil Dead tells the tale of 5 students vacationing in an isolated cabin in the woods. After they discover an audio tape that releases a legion of spirits and demons, the group fall to demonic possession and gory mayhem. The Evil Dead has developed a legendary cult status with Bruce Campbell’s protagonist Ash Williams becoming a cult icon, soon to be seen again in the highly anticipated upcoming TV series Ash vs. The Evil Dead. Despite an arguably better sequel - Evil Dead II – which was basically a comedy and a parody of this, one cannot fault the original for scares.
Best moment the evil entity locked in the basement torments Ash and tries to trick him into helping it escape...

Fun fact - the script called for all the characters to be smoking marijuana when they are first listening to the spirit-releasing tape. The cast decided to smoke real marijuana for this scene for an authentic reaction, but the scene had to be later re-shot due to their uncontrollable behavior.


Prompted by the success of John Carpenter’s Halloween, Friday the 13th features a now-familiar plot; a group of teenagers murdered one by one in the woods by a mysterious maniac. Despite being critically panned on release, the film has gone on to be considered a cult classic and has spawned 9 sequels (the first of which introduced Jason as the primary antagonist, the iconic killer who remained for the remainder of the franchise) and, like almost every horror film, a remake. Friday the 13th is unoriginal and hasn’t aged particularly well, but is included on this list purely for its influential nature on horror and the slasher subgenre – one cannot deny its power and iconic status.

Best momentour first glimpse of Jason at the end of the film, leaping from the lake in a decomposing state.

Fun factwriter Victor Miller had originally given Jason the name Josh. But after deciding that it sounded too nice, he changed it to Jason, after a school bully.

Sam Love

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