The Shining (1980)

As a horror film, it's one of the best of it's kind, especially one of Stanley Kubrick's best. As a Stephen King adaptation it's extremely controversial. It's become near-common knowledge that the author of the book himself famously denounced it mainly because of the casting. He even made his own TV miniseries in the late 90s as a testament to how much he despised it. I'll admit it's a good adaptation, just not good in general. It pales in comparison to Kubrick's film version of King's original story. Jack Nicholson's performance was so brilliant that you feel like you're going insane with him as the story progresses. From the first moment he appears on screen, he gives out this creepy energy around him.  However, that's not how he was originally conceived by the author. Jack Torrence is a representation of Stephen King's fear of his substance abuse being taken out on his family. Of course back in '77 he wasn't introduced to the "wonderful world of drugs" yet, but it's still an impactful novel ('97 mini-series commentary).

Another casting problem King had was Shelley Duvall. He stated during an interview that her performance looked so misogynistic and that "she was just there to scream and be stupid." It's understandable why he would think that. If you watch the behind the scenes, you notice how Kubrick constantly bullied and pushed Duvall to the breaking point. Stanley Kubrick was a notorious perfectionist. He hogged the entire cast and crew into getting the film exactly like he imagined it. All the abuse these people went through eventually paid off. This masterpiece horror movie would be shown in film classes for decades to come. 

Friday the 13th Franchise: 1980-2009

It can never be denied that the Friday the 13th film series was one of the most successful in the horror genre. What started as a minor rip-off to John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) began a whole string of sequels that were being made almost every year in the 80s. The reason the original movie was considered a rip-off to Halloween is because of the formulas it used. The first was the type of premise that makes a good slasher film. Start the film off with a murder that would set off a string of murders many years later. Second, have most of the characters to be killed off be a bunch of teenagers who indulge in things they shouldn't do such as underage drinking and fornicating. People go into Friday the 13th (1980) thinking it was going to be Jason Voorhees killing these horny teenagers in his hockey mask, but it wasn't. It was a misconception that doesn't really hold out today. SPOILER: the killer in the original film was Jason's mother Pamela Voorhees and Jason doesn't wear the hockey mask until part 3. 

Speaking of the sequels, there were some good ones and a few not-so-good ones. If you have never watched these movies before, I would recommend the first four films only. Sure, parts 6 and 7 were okay, but it really should have just ended with the forth film. They even put "The Final Chapter" in the title, but all that movie did was make audiences want more, so Paramount made more. I've read news that they're going to make a prequel tv series on Peacock, can't wait. Let's just hope the current writer's strike gets resolved before next year starts. 

1981: An American Werewolf in London and The Howling

John Landis is a director who's mostly known for his comedy films such as Animal House, but he eventually decided to go in a different direction in horror while at the same time using a few of his comedy elements. Everything building up to David's first transformation was a good way to get to know his character well. Then there is the moment when he first transforms, which is easily considered to be the best werewolf transformation ever seen on any screen. Just watching his body twist in contortions and hearing him scream in agony will never be forgotten by any lover of the lycanthrope. Some call this the best werewolf movie ever made, which is debatable. 

The Howling is a personal favorite of mine for two reasons:

1. It turned the werewolf lore on it's head 

2. The design of the werewolves

What I'm talking about in terms of the lore is that Gary Brandner established in the novel that werewolves can transform at any night. Joe Dante expanded on this and had his werewolves be able to change shape at any time, even during the day. The design of the werewolf in An American Werewolf in London is good, but the one in this movie is even scarier and more classic. I would read the book first, just to give a unique take in the werewolf subgenre. It's even more shocking and sensual than the film. 


The Evil Dead Trilogy: 1981-1992

Sam Raimi knows how to perfectly blend horror and comedy. Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness aren't scary per say, but they have enough thrills to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. This all started in the early 80s when film student Sam Raimi was only making his own independent films, the First Evil Dead included. After the success of the first film, along with some support from Stephen King, Sam Raimi went on to make one of the best horror comedy trilogies of all time. The more you watch these movies, the more you praise them. They've made the series into somewhat of an anthology today, but we will never forget Bruce Campbell's performance as Ash Williams with his chainsaw hand and boomstick. 

The Thing (1982)

Out of all John Carpenter's works, this would most likely be his second best or at least the second favored by his fans. It comes very close to excelling his previous film Halloween (1978), but it doesn't quite match the brilliant atmosphere and setting. What makes The Thing (1982) special is the relationship between each of the characters. As Ryan Hollinger states, the alien doesn't create the hostility but only escalates one that already existed from the very beginning. Of course there needs to be a span of time between the alien's arrival and each of the men turning against each other out of paranoia. After the shapeshifting creature is discovered, they need to figure out what they're dealing with. Blaine points it out pretty well during the autopsy scenes but even he breaks and becomes the "last" person to be taken over by the thing. Minor Spoiler: the movie ends with an unsettling uncertainty of who has been infected, Childs or McReady. This is the second and best adaptation of the story "Who Goes There?" by John W Campbell Jr..The first being The Thing From Another World (1951), which is also worth a watch. 

Honorable Mention: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

I'll admit it has a very unique concept, it's just that there were times when I wouldn't even bother watching this film. I think it's because it hasn't aged well as other 80s horror classics. Still, it's worth watching at least once for anyone doing their own horror movie marathons. 

Fright Night (1985)

From 1980 to 1984, vampire films were all but dead and buried. That was probably because most of them were period pieces that focused on vampires from 19th century literature and people were just sick and tired of them, they wanted to see all the new slasher films coming out. That is until Tom Holland came along and modernized the genre, while at the same time looking back on the vampire movies from the golden and silver ages. It paved the way for filmmakers to create their own interpretations on the bloodsucking fiends.

The story is so simple and yet so iconic. It's about a suburban high school teen who is struggling in a relationship with his girlfriend (Amanda Bearse), but things are about to get even worse for him when he discovers his new next door neighbor is a vampire (Chris Sarandon). Jerry Dandrige gives Charlie a chance to back off and leave well enough alone, unfortunately he doesn't take it. Then the movie becomes a spectacle for special effects and classic vampire phenomena. Charlie gets the help from the Peter Cushing Impersonator Peter Vincent. If you want to know what happens next, watch the movie yourself. Welcome to Fright Night...for real!

Also, Check out the 2011 remake which is almost as good.  

Honorable Mention: Silver Bullet (1985)

It's far from being the perfect werewolf movie, and it's not even close to being the best Stephen King adaptation. The werewolf makeup affects may look really cheap, but this is the kind of 80s coming-of-age story about a disabled kid (Corey Haim) who needs help from his drunk uncle (Gary Busey)  to free his hometown from a monster. It's currently available on HBO Max, I just don't know for how long. 

Aliens (1986)

Not only is it one of the best sequels ever made, it's also one of the best sci-fi action films. Of course it would have to be directed by the Canadian filmmaker James Cameron. This movie also spawned it's own comic books, video games, and video game rip offs including Halo (in terms of the weaponry). The cast and their characters are great. Sigourney Weaver was still amazing as Ripley. Michael Biehn was a good substitute for some other guy who got arrested on set for drug possession. Bill Paxton (R.I.P) was awesome as Hudson, who spends most of the time panicking and saying famous lines such as "game over, man." Finally, there's Lance Henriksen as the android Bishop. He's not exactly an improvement from Ash in the original, but still holds out. 

The Lost Boys (1987)

This would probably be my 2nd favorite vampire film of all time. Interview With the Vampire (1994) is a little better, but I'll explain why in the next page. As Ryan Hollinger would say, The Lost Boys holds a special place in 80s horror. It's not just about ruthless rebel vampires feeding off of an entire coastal town, it's about two teenage brothers choosing each other and mortality over being eternally young. The soundtrack, filmmaking location, and choice of actors and wardrobe help sell this concept. I have to admit that I enjoy the makeup design of these vampires over the classic canine-fanged vampires. This movie was made during a time when vampires were returning in a big way, when they were eating you and not dating you.