Annnnd we're starting off in completely expected territory this time, namely...
Evil Dead 2 (1987)
When you mention the film Evil Dead, this is the one people start automatically thinking of.
Evil Dead 2 is essentially a remake (although NOT beat for beat) of Evil Dead (1981).
The cabin they had shot the first one in had mysteriously burned down...because it was rickety old cabin and a fire hazard to begin with, so they built a new one on a field expedient sound stage in a gym in North Carolina. I think this significantly added to the atmosphere of the entire project.
By now you will have noticed that I included no slasher movies in my list at all and I'm not going to. The victims in those films always ran, screamed, tripped and fell, then followed that up with begging for their lives. I loathed them on general principle.
Ash always fought back. No matter how completely hopeless the situation, Ash took whatever he could find...and fought back. For that matter so did most everyone around him. Now everyone around him died but there was a will to win. Also if you didn't fight you were likely to be raped by a tree so go ahead and fight, it was really the path of least resistance.
There are a lot things that make this an Eighties movie. The big hair look had arrived. The vacu-form MSU tee shirt on the doomed girlfriend. The music score. The necklace from Corey's Jewel Box (which gets you big laughs in Michigan when people find out about it.) And the '73 Olds Delta 88. In 1981 when the first movie was made it was just a crappy old car, by the time this movie came out, it was almost but never quite going to be a classic automobile. Making it perfect of Ash. And then there was the ultimate Eighties line, "Groovy!" No one on Earth had uttered that word since before the Love Boat had first aired. I almost literally fell on the floor laughing when I first heard it, it was that funny...but only in 1987.
The first movie while a drive in classic but had no humor at all. This second one did. Although less humor than most people seem to remember it having. It's just that the humor was so campy and unexpected when it arrived.
Maybe that is the real appeal of the Eighties Horror movie. Campy without Sucky. And Evil Dead 2 was certainly that.
The Lost Boys (1987)
You've been waiting for this one haven't you?
Nothing screams Like OmaGawd, Totally Eighties horror like the Lost Boys. Unlike Return of the Living Dead, this one was actually in touch with the zeitgeist of Generation X. It had a feel for what the Punk scene was quickly evolving into. It had characters instead of caricatures...well maybe that is pushing the hyperbole a bit but the bottom line was these guys felt like Gen Xers and not some shadow puppets created by Boomers to let Boomers sneer at or lecture us. There was a trust of the Greatest Generation present as well as a distrust of the Worst Generation, (which was revealed when it turned out Max was actually the Head Vampire.
It had it's low points to be sure. The Coreys were both in it for a start but so were Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric and Jaime Gertz. The cast was very strong for this movie.
The mythology it created was on the silly side. You can be a half-vampire and be recovered if you kill the head vampire before you feed for the first time. A trope that is now in common use today
And while it was almost more comedy than horror, the scares were there. "...the critical consensus was, 'Flawed but eminently watchable.'"
I don't usually agree with "critical consensus" on general principle but I do with this one.
Now before you jump in my shit for the year of it's release think about two things. One, it was released in January of 1990 which is where the studios dump the stuff that was supposed to be a summer release but they decided wouldn't make enough money. Which means that Tremors was supposed to be a release in 1989. So that wasn't it's fault, damn it.
And two, have you ever thought of Tremors as being something other than an Eighties Movie? Of course you haven't.
I suppose there is some question as to whether or not it is actually a horror movie and I get that. But the answer to that one is, yes. Although it was more in the tradition of the Beast of Yucca Flats school of sci-fi horror.
Tremors couldn't be made today without screwing it up totally. It was the kind of film that took it's time in building the menace of the "graboids". It start's slowly, with suggestions of the monsters that lurk beneath the sand and works it's way up from there. the first death was due to natural circumstances, given that's natural to be dead when you choose to to die of exposure rather than be eaten by a monster. Although that wasn't known at the time but it's a great start.
Val and Earl make for a great mix as an odd couple of best friends. The population of Perfection is a great little micro-society of 1980s America.
I think what I loved about this film the most is that no one ever quit. They kept trying no matter what. My favorite scene is probably yours if you are a regular at this Blog.
And that concludes my list of 1980s Horror films. Joss Whedon took it over and fucked it up but like the decade it came from, it was fun while it lasted.