Friday, April 6, 2012

The Slasher Decade: 1983

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!

The Beginning of the End of an Era in 1983... 

By the time 1983 rolled around, the Golden Age of Slasher Films was about five years in, and the movies had a devoted cult fanbase. 1983 marks the only year of the decade that did not feature a HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13TH, or A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET film, and had it not been for Psycho II's Norman Bates, no widely known killers would have made an appearance. The year's most well-known entries, The House on Sorority Row and Sleepaway Camp, never reaches the mainstream success to make their antagonists true pop-culture horror icons.

While the mass appeal of slashers was fading, there was still a market to show them at Grindhouses and drive-ins. This churned out more sleazy features, including American Nightmare, AngstCity of Blood, and Double Exposure.

Perhaps 1983's most important entries are Blood Beat and Sledgehammer, the first straight to video slashers. Sledgehammer's success would spawn a number of extremely low-budget, straight to video slashers in the following years that would in part be a reason why the Golden Age of Slasher Films ended in 1984.

What is most interesting about 1983 is that, unlike the previous years in the Golden Age, many of these films have become incredibly obscure! Of all the movies released, the made for television movie "Deadly Lessons", the Swedish slasher Blödaren and the British slasher The Last Night have grown into completely obscurity - anyone who can track a copy down of either of these films has incredible skills (or just plain luck!). Even genre favorites like Curtains and Night Warning eventually faded away, and both still await a DVD release. Movies like Sweet Sixteen and The Final Terror, both of which have been revived by DVD in the later years, are now once again rarities.

Some of the 1983 slashers to stand the test of the time are, of course, the goriest. The trash-classic Scalps has grown a devoted cult fanbase due to its graphic violence. The same can be said about the critically reviled A Night to Dismember. Even bigger-budgeted affairs like the Charles Bronson vehicle 10 to Midnight had a decent amount of sleaze.

There is a lot to say about some of the oddities that came out of 1983 - Frightmare, Mausoleum, and Skullduggery are all absurd and wacky entries in the genre. Still, some movies like Disconnected tried to retain the classic "whodunit" appeal of slashers, while films like Mortuary took more inspiration from the Italian giallo films of the 1970s than actual Italian slasher movies like A Blade in the Dark did. So here are the slashers of 1983...

10 to Midnight - A cynical Los Angeles cop on the trail of a homicidal maniac who turns rejection from beautiful women into the ultimate revenge leads to a bloody showdown between the two men. Available on DVD. View Trailer (Explicit)

American Nightmare - A wealthy pianist searches for his runaway sister in the city, uncovering a string of prostitution, incest, blackmail, and murder. 

Angst - After breaking out of prison, a homicidal murderer with severe mother issues lands at a rural home, where he terrorizes a young woman caring for her ailing mother and handicapped brother. Available on DVD

A Blade in the Dark - Bruno, a horror movie composer, rents an isolated villa to concentrate on his work, but the deaths of several young women distract him. Available on DVD. View Trailer

Blödaren - While on tour in Sweden, an all-girl rock band becomes stranded in no-man's land and quickly fall prey to the Bleeder, whose sole intent is to kill them. 

Blood Beat - The spirit of a vengeful Japanese warrior possesses a woman in rural Wisconsin, making her kill with a Samurai sword. Straight to video. View Home Video Trailer

Boogeyman II - A slick movie producer plans to cash-in on the story of shaken survivor of the last film but when the cursed mirror shards reappear, the murders begin anew. Available on DVD. View Home Video Trailer

City of Blood - After several prostitute murders go unsolved, a medical examiner discovers the culprit is an ancient tribal witch doctor brought back to life. 

Curtains - While lead actress Samantha prepares for her latest role in a psych ward, the director secretly brings six other candidates to a secluded mansion to auditions. Soon, a deranged murderer starts killing off the competition. Available on DVD. View Trailer

"Deadly Lessons" - The privileged students at an all-girls school are stalked by a psychopathic killer. Originally an ABC television movie. View TV Spot

Disconnected - Alicia and her twin sister Barbara befriend the ominous Franklin, and soon murders occur. Police suspect Franklin, but Alicia's been receiving strange phone calls while at work...

Double Exposure - A magazine photographer suffers from recurring dreams where he kills his models in gruesome ways. When the city is terrorized by a killer, he begins to suspect himself as the culprit! Available on DVD. View Trailer

The Final Terror - A group of friends head out for a vacation of hiking and camping but when a backwoods mama finds them on her turf, it becomes a survival nightmare. Available on DVD. View TV Spot

Frightmare - After robbing the grave of a their favorite actor and bringing his body to a local theater, several thespian students are haunted by his vengeful spirit. Available on DVD. View Trailer

The House on Sorority Row - Sorority sisters who are days away from graduation commit a gruesome accident that is witnessed by a hideous fiend, which triggers a rampage of death and destruction. Available on DVD. View Trailer

The Last Night - After escaping prison, two psychopaths take cover in a theater where a performance is currently taking place and proceed to humiliate, torture, assault, and murder the theater troupe. 

Mausoleum - A beautiful heiress falls to a family curse where she is possessed by the face of evil that leads her life into a nightmare of lust, terror, and murder. Available on DVD. View TV Spot

Mortuary - When nightmares of her father's death lead her to believe it was murder, a young woman and her boyfriend set out to discover the truth, while evading terrifying hooded figures that want to harm them. Available on DVD. View Trailer

A Night to Dismember - Having fallen subject to the "family curse", a young woman is released from a mental institution and heads home, and thats when mutilated bodies start appearing. Available on DVD. View Trailer

Night Warning - Years after his parents died in a bizarre accident, a teenager tells his overbearing, incestuous aunt that he's going to college, but she will do anything - including commit murder - to make sure he doesn't leave her. 

Psycho II - Released from a mental hospital after 22 years, Norman Bates returns to the Bates motel where he's tormented by memories of "mother." And when the murders start up gain, Norman is the obvious suspect. Available on DVD. View Trailer.

Scalps - Impending doom is in store for college students digging in cursed Indian burial ground, where an evil spirit lies in wait to possess the living and cut a bloody swath of vengeance across the land! Available on DVD. View Trailer

Skullduggery - Five anxious players gather for a medieval board game that quickly escalates into an evil that manipulates a cursed player to go on a killing spree. Available on DVD

Sledgehammer - A group of friends comes to party at a backwoods house where a legacy of brutality awaits in the hands of a shape-shifting killer! Straight to video. Available on DVD

Sleepaway Camp - Painfully shy and sensitive Angela Baker and her raucous cousin Ricky are at the center of a mystery where Teenagers at summer camp are dying mysteriously. Available on DVD. View Trailer

Sweet Sixteen - As beautiful new girl Melissa plans for her 16th birthday party, all the boys she's romantically involved with end up dead. Available on DVD. View Trailer

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