Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Slasher Decade: 1981

Between the years of 1980 through 1989, there were nearly 290 slasher films released. Averaged out, that equals two releases a month for the entire decade - an extremely impressive figure. There's a reason why the 1980's will always be famous for having slasher films galore. 

Looking back on the decade that now seems like a foreign time, these slasher films help capture a certain nostalgia that certain moviegoers (such as myself) crave. While slasher fans definitely love a good villain, some scary stalking sequences, and creative kills, they also undoubtedly yearn for the 1980's culture - from the big hair to the heavy metal music.

Here is a list of the complete 1980's slasher movie guide (and I might even be leaving some out! Please let me know if I have). Enjoy!

Let the Body Count Continue with 1981...

1981 is the peak of the Golden Age of Slasher Films. While none of its movies were as successful as 1978's HALLOWEEN or 1980's FRIDAY THE 13TH at the box-office, many of the movies were able to add fuel to the slasher frenzy fire. This year saw the releases of some of the genre's most important flicks, including The Burning, My Bloody Valentine, and The Prowler.

In 1981, the mass-media was tuned into the slasher craze. Major movie stars like Lauren Bacall and James Garner headlined The Fan and Lauren Tewes of "THE LOVE BOAT" starred in Eyes of a Stranger. Television networks were also interested in turning slashers into TV-movies, such as what CBS did with "Dark Night of the Scarecrow". Major Hollywood studios were funding slashers; Universal oversaw the production of Halloween II; Paramount released Friday the 13th Part 2; Sony released Happy Birthday to Me. Still, some of 1981's biggest hits - including the year's highest grosser Graduation Day - were independent features. Famed directors also cashed-in on the genre, like Wes Craven with Deadly Blessing and Tobe Hooper with The Funhouse.

Slasher films started to combine genres; science fiction elements drive Evilspeak and Strange Behavior; fantasy constitutes Bloody Birthday and The Demon; and comedy became the drawn for the "original slasher spoof" Student Bodies and the infamous (sometimes unintentionally funny) Don't Go in the Woods... Alone! College campuses were prime real-estate for slashers, as demonstrated by the hit Final Exam and Night School. Escaped mental patients also grew in popularity, as they terrorized families in Home Sweet Home, Madhouse, and Nightmares

Foreign markets grew on slashers; Italy's splatter-fest Anthropophagus 2 grossed out audiences worldwide, and the giallo The Black Cat saw itself abiding to many slasher conventions. On the flip side, American slashers like The House Where Death Lives and A Day of Judgment continued to seek major influence from the Italian giallo thrillers of the 1970's. Australia's "Ozploitation" also got into slashers with the release of Road Games. And Spain had a cult-classic on their hands with Bloody Moon.

Although it didn't feature anything ground-breaking, 1981 released a number of slashers that today are considered the genre's best. The year was probably the height of slasher movie popularity, as in the following years the quality and quantity would start to decline into the depths of straight-to-video. So here's the classics of 1981.

Absurd - A seemingly indestructible psychopath - created as a results of a nuclear experiment gone wrong - launches a killing spree in a small town. Available on DVD. View Trailer

The Black Cat - The townspeople of a small English village begin to die in a series of `accidents,' and suspicion falls on a mysterious local medium who records conversations with the dead. Available on DVD. View Trailer

Bloody Birthday - Three babies are simultaneously born in the same hospital at the peak of a full solar eclipse and, ten years later, they begin a killing spree together. Available on DVD. View Trailer

Bloody Moon - A disfigured young man is released from an asylum into the care of his sister and wheelchair bound mother, who operate a boarding school for young woman. When he begins an affair with one of the students, bodies start piling up. Available on DVD. View Trailer

The Burning - After a prank leaves him horrifically burned, a former summer camp caretaker returns to the campgrounds seeking revenge against those responsible. Available on DVD. View Trailer

"Dark Night of the Scarecrow" - A young girl's injuries ignite a lynch mob into killing her mentally challenged friend. But when they discover they killed the wrong man, a strange apparition stalks them seeking vengeance. Originally a CBS television movie. Available on Blu-ray and also on DVD. View Trailer

A Day of Judgment - In the 1920s, a mysterious man in black rides into a small Southern town on a quest of retribution for the town's sins, carried out by various forms of murder. 

Deadly Blessing - On an Amish farm, a man dies in a mysterious tractor accident and his widowed wife finds herself fearful of the community, which views her as an incubus of evil. Available on DVD. View Trailer

The Demon -  A private investigator with psychic powers is hired by a couple whose daughter was carried off into the night by an inexplicable creature. Available on DVD. View Trailer

Don’t Go in the Woods… Alone! - A maniac embarks on a blood-splattering rampage, hacking and slashing all who enter the woods! Available on DVD. View Trailer

Evilspeak - A military cadet and social outcast taps into a way to summon demons and cast spells on his tormentors through his computer. Available on DVD. View Trailer

Eyes of a Stranger - In Florida, a reporter protects her disabled sister from a serial killer whom she believes to be her neighbor. Available on DVD. View Trailer

The Fan - An stressed, aging star misses all the stalker signs as one obsessive fan lets his fantasies spill over into psychosis, resulting in him slicing up her friends. Available on DVD

Final Exam - A quiet campus entering exam week falls prey to a knife-wielding maniac hell bent on making sure that school is out....forever! Available on DVD. View Trailer

Friday the 13th Part 2 - Five years after the bloodbath at Camp Crystal Lake, new counselors at a a nearby camp ignore the warnings and are attacked and slaughtered by a hooded killer. Available on Blu-ray and also on DVD. View Trailer

The Funhouse - Four fun-loving teens decide to spend the night in a travelling carnival's funhouse where one of the deformed carnies begins brutally murdering them. Available on Blu-ray and also on DVD. View Trailer

Graduation Day - A high school track runner suddenly dies from a heart attack and shortly after a killer wearing a sweat suit and a fencing mask begins killing off her teammates. Available on DVD. View Trailer

Halloween II - Picking up where its predecessor left off, Michael Myers stalks the deserted halls of a hospital while Dr. Loomis discovers the chilling mystery behind Michael's bloodshed. Available on Blu-ray and also on DVD. View Trailer

Happy Birthday to Me - At an upscale academy, Ginny sees the guest list to her birthday party declining as somebody butchers her friends. Available on DVD. View Trailer

Hell Night - Four college pledges must spend the night in Garth Manor - once the site of a horrific family bloodbath - on the anniversary of the now legendary murders. Available on DVD. View Trailer

Home Sweet Home - An escaped mental patient makes his way to a middle-class family's Thanksgiving celebration. Available on DVD

The House Where Death Lives - An attractive nurse moves into a mansion to care for its invalid owner, and soon after nightly murders begin around the property. 

Just Before Dawn - When one of them inherits mountain land, five youths set out for a weekend camping excursion. Despite ominous warnings they trek farther into the foliage and encounter a machete wielding maniac. Available on DVD. View Trailer

Madhouse - Do-gooder Julia has an insane, deformed twin sister named Mary, who escapes from the local asylum, picks up a man-eating dog, and soon thereafter, the bodies of Julia's friends and students mount around her. Available on DVD. View Trailer

Murder Syndrome - A successful actor with a bloody past invites the crew of his latest film to his childhood home, where strange occurrences begin happening. Available on Blu-ray and also on DVD

My Bloody Valentine - 20 years after a Valentine's Day mining disaster, local teens ignore warnings and decided to hold a February 14th dance, as a killer sets out to stop them. Available on Blu-ray and also on DVD. View Trailer

Night School - At a small Boston college, a killer whose m.o. is the ritualistic decapitation of young women baffles a homicide lieutenant assigned to the puzzling case. Available on DVD. View Trailer

Nightmare - An unbalanced patient is released from a New York mental hospital and travels to Florida to cause havoc for a well-meaning family. Available on DVD. View Trailer

The Prowler - Thirty years after a horrific unsolved double-homicide, a dance is held again for the first time since that horrific evening, bringing a killer out of retirement! Available on Blu-ray and also on DVD. View Trailer

Road Games - A lone trucker and a free-spirited hitchhiker fall prey to a maniac in a van whose game is butchering young women along the highway. Available on DVD. View Trailer

Scream - A group of people on a rafting excursion happen upon a deserted town and decide to set up camp when a murder occurs, and they realize that the town is not as deserted as they thought. Available on DVD

Strange Behavior - A serial killer targets local teenagers and the Sheriff suspects the killer is connected with the high school's Psychology department. Available on DVD. View Trailer

Student Bodies - This "original" slasher spoof follows 'The Breather' as he picks off sex-starved students with an arsenal of ridiculous "weapons"! Available on Blu-ray and also on DVD. View Trailer

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