Tuesday, May 19, 2015

GUEST POST -- Greatest Monster Movies: Eighties Edition

Written by: Brandon Engel

The horror genre has always been responsible for pushing the envelope in all aspects of film.

Horror fans are more willing to suspend belief to entertain even the wildest premise and ridiculous props and mechanisms. That being said, the eighties were the decade where horror movie producers showed no restraint in experimenting with their movies. The following are examples of "bad" films that are actually hidden gems for hardcore horror fans:

The Deadly Spawn

This film was released in 1983 and only had a budget of $25,000. By today's standards that would hardly be enough to pay for one minor actor, let alone a full feature film. The Deadly Spawn reflected this budget, which isn’t to say it didn’t have any positives. The acting is amateur and there is a couple of scenes where the fishing line is seen holding up a monster but with that being said, the film has an interesting premise and origin. The idea for the film spawned (pun intended) from the 1979 Ridley Scott film Alien and revolves around a group of teenagers who fight to survive an attack by mutant eel-like aliens who crash land on Earth.


This 1988 supernatural thriller is a movie that was "bad" according to critics, yet has built an extensive cult following since its release. The plot follows a shop owner in a small town who visits a witch to seek revenge on the teenagers who killed his son. The witch performs a ritual, but vaguely warns the man of consequences. The man finds out in a gruesome fashion that the witch has created a monster named Pumpkinhead who is hell-bent on killing the teenagers. Fitting its name, the hideous Pumpkinhead comes to life when the witch combined a pumpkin and a human corpse, giving many an irrational fear of orange Halloween decorations.


This film was released in 1984 and was so popular that it actually turned an impressive $4,654,423 profit in the box office. It can also be seen on television today with the El Rey Network hosting horror movie marathons that feature C.H.U.D. (check Direct Ticket for details). This film centers around a mysterious mass disappearance of New York City's homeless population. We eventually learn that the cause of these disappearances are due to humans-turned-mutants who enjoy devouring the people of New York. When the number of homeless people who lived underground drops, they head to the surface to fill their stomachs. This film features multiple twists that keeps viewers guessing until the end. You’ll have to watch to find out what they are!

The Howling

This 1981 film, based on a novel by Gary Brandner, is one of the better werewolf films to come out of the eighties. The plot picks up quickly, following a young journalist who is being stalked by a serial killer. After this traumatizing event, her doctor sends her and her husband to a mysterious retreat called "the colony." The resort is filled with strange characters, including a woman who seduces the protagonist's husband. It is revealed when the two are having sex that they are both werewolves. This film was wildly successful at the box office, grossing over $17 million, although it only cost $1.5 million to make. Because of its large success, this movie spawned seven other sequels and reboots.

The Thing

Directed by John Carpenter, this 1982 film is familiar even to the casual horror fan. It ranked at number eight during its opening weekend in theaters and it is said it would have done better if it was not up against E.T. and Blade Runner. The story revolves around an alien parasite that assumes the form of the human it consumes. This film keeps viewers in suspense as the Thing possesses multiple characters that seem normal on the outside. That is, until they experience a sudden metamorphosis.

Although the eighties was filled with side ponytails and obnoxious bright colors, the horror genre still prevailed with insanely popular (albeit sometimes ridiculous) films that graced the big screen. These are just some of the best horror movies that reigned during the decade of Sega, Madonna, and Rubik’s cubes.

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