Monday, April 9, 2012

The Slasher Decade: 1986

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 Comedy of 1986...

After 1985, a year filled mostly unsuccessful slashers, there was probably little hope for the crop to come out in 1986. But surprisingly, nearly all the releases of 1986 stepped up their game - not by adding more gore or fear than the previous years' slashers, but by adding more comedy. That's right, 1986 probably has the biggest bunch of intentionally funny slashers, and oddly enough most of them were suitable enough to launch a success post-Golden Age of Slasher Films era.

The sequels of the year were all parodies of their predecessors, creating both a different atmosphere and attractive a different audience.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Psycho III, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre all aimed for laughs over screams. While these sequels were not nearly as successful as the movies they follow, they were not complete failures, and many of them are considered cult classics and are appreciated for their daring change of style. Original slashers, namely April Fool's Day, Chopping Mall, Evil Laugh, and Killer Party also were funnier than what had come before, but the new mix didn't exactly take off with the mainstream - not one of these movies were commercial successes. 

The low-budget home video slasher market grew tremendously: films like Blood Hook (another comedy-slasher hybrid), Night Ripper!, Revenge (the sequel to 1985's straight-to-video hit BLOOD CULT), Terror at Tenkiller, and Screamtime all had a good amount of success on home video. These movies were cheap and easy to distribute, and often avoided the critical backlash that theatrical slashers were receiving. 
Foreign cinema slashers played weakly; Midnight Killer has been all-but-forgotten by Italian cinema fans due to its lack of originality. The Canadian made-for-TV "Body Count" barely had anyone watch it at the time of its release. 

Other low-budget affairs tried to take it to the theaters, but quickly came an went.
Slaughter High stands as one of the year's most enduring cult classics. Crawlspace and Shadows Run Black have made slight comebacks in recent years for nostalgic fans. And ultra campy flicks like Mountaintop Motel Massacre and Sorority House Massacre (a spin-off of THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE) failed to reach an audience, yet have also risen as campy cult films for their "so bad, they're good" charms.

There were some sizable hits both theatrically and critically. While Cobra, the action-slasher, was derailed by critics it made a nice profit upon its release. Another action-slasher, The Zero Boys, had a much more limited run and has fallen into more obscure territories. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (not released nationwide until 1990) is often considered a modern masterpiece and was critically praised for its performances. The year's biggest surprise hit was The Hitcher, a tense thriller that was both a commercial and critical success.  

While 1986 did not change the game or having any sure-hits, it is widely regarded as one of the wittiest years of the 80's - giving moviegoers the same 80's feel that other genres, like BACK TO THE FUTURE, THE BREAKFAST CLUB, and THE TERMINATOR had established earlier. So here are the movies of 1986...

April Fool’s Day - A group of college students head out for a weekend of relaxation at an isolated island cottage but when a practical joke goes awry the bodies start piling up. Available on DVD

Blood Hook - During a lake fishing contest a psychotic killer claims his victims by landing them with giant fishhooks, and police have no clear suspects since everyone is using the exact same hook! Available on DVD

"Body Count" - As a serial killer strikes the city, the wrongly-accused prime suspect teams up with the sister of one of the victims to catch and stop the real killer: a virginal college student dating an unsuspecting girlfriend. CHCH-TV television movie.

Chopping Mall - Programmed to serve as night security at a high-end shopping mall, a trio of robots goes amok, terrorizing the teens locked inside the complex. Available on DVD

Cobra - Quick-triggered Los Angeles cop "Cobra" Cobretti shoots, blasts, and punches his way through the ranks of a murderous gang terrorizing the streets. Available on Blu-ray and also on DVD

Crawlspace - A suicidal heir to the Third Reich continues his Nazi reign of terror as the voyeuristic landlord in a building full of unsuspecting young females whose murders he plans while he spies on them in his crawl-space. Available on DVD

Dreamaniac - A heavy metal musician uses black magic to bring his "dream girl" to life, but those dreams become nightmares when she preys on the guests at a sorority party. Straight to video. Available on DVD

Evil Laugh - A psycho killer with an uncontrollable laugh targets teens who rented out an abandoned orphanage for their big party, unaware that the killer has already staked it out as his domain. Available on DVD

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives - Tommy Jarvis is tormented by the fear that Jason Voorhees isn't really dead and digs up Jason's corpse to cremate him, but when things go awry, Jason is resurrected, sparking a new chain of brutal murders. Available on DVD.

Gunblast - After a woman hires a hitman to kill her ex-boyfriend, she ends up falling in love with the hitman, leading to deadly consequences. Straight to video. 

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer - Henry, a solitary drifter leads his mate Otis on a senseless killing spree while Otis' unsuspecting sister Becky comes to visit and finds herself falling in love with Henry. Available on Blu-ray and also on DVD

The Hitcher - A young man's seemingly harmless act of picking up a hitchhiker along a barren desert highway becomes a harrowing odyssey of terror when he learns the psychotic hitchhiker has a taste for blood. Available on DVD

Killer Party - Three sorority pledges are tasked with ensuring that the gals of Sigma Alpha Pi throw a party at an abandoned fraternity house, unaware that a vengeful spirit has come back to murder the guests. Available on DVD

Midnight Killer - After fingering the wrong man in a murder, an inspector teams up with a criminal psychologist to catch the maniac who continues hacking up young women across the city. 

Mountaintop Motel Massacre - Little do the guests of Mountaintop Motel know that it is run by a deeply disturbed woman who has just murdered her daughter and plans to murder all the guests as well. Available on DVD

Night Ripper! - A hooded lunatic goes around murdering beautiful models and dismembering their bodies. Straight to video. 

Psycho III - Norman Bates once again re-opens the Bates Motel with the help of a new assistant, and when he starts hearing "mother" in his head, he seeks the help of a young nun while dodging a snoopy journalist. Available on DVD

Revenge - Sequel to Blood Cult finds the brother of a victim and the widow of a farmer setting out to prove the existence of the Satanic cult that is killing and dismembering people in a small college town. Straight to video. Available on DVD

Screamtime - Slasher film anthology surrounding a killer stalking a failing puppet show; a young couple moves into a new house and has horrific visions of murder; a motorcyclist is tormented by a telekinetic demon. Straight to video. 

Shadows Run Black - After three college coeds are brutally bludgeoned to death, a discovers that the victims form a group of close friends - only one is left alive! Available on DVD

Slaughter High - Eight people are invited to a five-year high school reunion at their now-abandoned high school where a former student, disfigured from a prank gone wrong, awaits to take revenge. Available on DVD

Sorority House Massacre - Years after her brother killed her parents, Beth visits her friends' sorority house - which is hauntingly familiar - and her crazed brother escapes from the mental hospital and returns home to find her! Available on DVD

Spine - Two young women become the latest victims of a serial killer targeting nurses across the city, and they must find a way to escape his torture chamber if they wish to live. Straight to video. 

Terror at Tenkiller - Two girls take off to the country and soon corpses begin turning up near the lake as one by one the locals disappear, until only one girl is left to fight the killer. Available on DVD

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 - A disc jockey records Leatherface and his family committing murder, and she teams up with an obsessed Texas Ranger to track down the cannibalistic family and put and end to their madness. Available on DVD.

Truth or Dare? - Using a twisted take on the classic children's game "truth or dare", a psycho forces people to tell him the truth or fall prey to the dare. Available on DVD. 

The Zero Boys - When a trio of weekend survivalists take their girlfriends into the mountains, they discover a gruesome massacre and are forced to defend themselves against murderous rednecks. Available on DVD

No comments:

Post a Comment