Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Slasher Decade: 1985

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 Leftovers of 1985...

All in all, 1985 was a less-than remarkable year for slashers. 1984 had marked the end of the Golden Age of Slasher Films, an era of horror films that ran from 1978 through 1984. And much like you would expect, 1985 put out a limited number of releases in the slasher market, most of them being leftovers made before the fall of the Golden Age.

While A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge proved that a new franchise had launched in popularity, the rest of the movies released in 1985 failed to capitalize on the market. Even the year's other major sequel, Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, saw a steep decline in revenue from the previous entries, and this decline would only continue for the series. The year's other sequel, The Hills Have Eyes Part II came eight years after the cult classic original, and showed itself as not only a cheesier effort, but also a less-inspired one.

1985 saw the growing success of straight-to-video releases. The straight-to-video trend had not really taken off, although other straight-to-video slashers had been released beforehand. Made for about as low-budget as possible, films like Blood Cult and The Ripper were modest home video hits, making it clear that the market for slashers was shifting from the big screen to home distribution. Canadian television station CHCH-TV once again released a slasher film, "Blue Murder". 

Some movies were holdovers from the Golden Age, but they were also tired entries. Too Scared to Scream, Deadly Intruder, Bits and Pieces, and The Mutilator all suffered because they were dated - these seemed like they should have been released two or three years earlier. Movies like Night Train to Terror, Victims!Blood Tracks, Future Kill, and The Nail Gun Massacre edged for a nastier tone, promising more violence than what had be done before, but their theater lives were short lived and they became mostly viewed on home video. And movies like Appointment with Fear and Horror House on Highway Five were both just plain bizarre and too much for a general audience to handle, or understand. 

Aside from the success of A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge, the year's big surprises came from Italy: Phenomena was such a global success that it re-energized the long dying giallo thriller genre for a brief period in the late 1980s. Another giallo success, Formula for a Murder, was not as big in the United States as Phenomena was but nonetheless was a huge foreign film. Without a doubt, Freddy Krueger and the Italians came out on top in 1985. So here are the slashers of 1985.

Appointment with Fear - After knifing a woman to death with his spirit, a comatose serial killer tries to find the woman's infant son - now staying with one of her friends - to kill as a sacrifice to the ancient Egyptian tree-god who gives him his powers.

Blood Cult - A mysterious series of grisly murders at an Oklahoma campus lead a grizzled police detective to suspect that a Satanic cult is responsible, and his own daughter may be involved. Straight to video. Available on DVD

Blood Tracks - While shooting a rock music video at an abandoned factory, a film crew becomes stranded when an avalanche strands them and a murderous family living in the factory attacks them.

"Blue Murder" - A reporter attempts to track down the maniac that is killing porn stars. Originally a television movie on CHCH-TV. 

Bits and Pieces - As a psychopath wanders the streets of the city, beautiful young women fall victim to his deadly mother fixation. 

The Deadly Intruder - After escaping a mental hospital and evading the police officer hot on his trail, a murderous psychopath begins a relationship with a woman he's obsessed with. 

Formula for a Murder - A victim of child abuse grows up physically handicapped and is subsequently terrorized by her childhood attacker she long thought dead. 

Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning - Still haunted by his gruesome past, Tommy Jarvis wonders if somehow he is connected to brutal slayings occurring in and around the secluded halfway house where he now lives. Available on DVD

Future Kill - Fraternity boys are held responsible for the accidental death of a Dallas gang leader and must flee through the hostile city while a psychopathic gang member seeks revenge for his leader. Available on DVD

The Hills Have Eyes Part II - Years after the first massacre, traumatized survivors return to the hills with a biker team and once again must fend off hungry savages as they reemerge from the hills! Available on Blu-ray and also on DVD

Horror House on Highway Five - While doing a research project, a van of students stumbles across a psychotic family; one a Nazi doctor, one a necrophile, and one a murderer wearing a Richard Nixon mask. Available on DVD

The Mutilator - A decade after accidentally committing matricide, a teenager brings his friends to his beach house for spring break, unaware that his now-crazed father plans a bloody revenge. 

Nail Gun Massacre - After a young woman is assaulted by a gang of construction workers, the rapists begin turning up nailed to trees and walls. Available on DVD

Night Train to Terror - God and Satan discuss the dark fates of three unforunate souls, including a twisted womanizer who harvests human organs, a man who falls for a porn star belonging to a death club, and a pretty slave to Satan. Available on DVD

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge - When his family moves to Elm Street, a teenager begins having nightmares of the diabolical Freddy Krueger, who is trying to possess him through his dreams. Available on Blu-ray and also on DVD

Phenomena - Possessing the unique gift of communicating with insects a young girl becomes a valuable asset in tracking a serial killer targeting the boarders at her school. Available on Blu-ray and also on DVD

The Ripper - A college professor finds a ring that resembles one found at the scene of Jack the Ripper's last murder. But when he wears it, brutal slashings occur in the small town. Straight to Video. Available on DVD

Too Scared to Scream - A veteran police detective recruits a rookie female officer to help catch a killer murdering tenets in one of New York's high-rise apartment complexes. 

Victims! - Four teenage girls on a camping trip in the woods are systematically stalked and killed by a demented pair of crazed men.

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