Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Slasher Decade: 1987

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 Year Low-Budget Home Video Took Over: 1987...

While home video releases had been fairly popular since 1983, these productions never actually ruled the slasher market. But in 1987, after a slew of disappointing theatrical releases in 1986, filmmakers a more profitable way to make an incredibly cheap movie that was almost guaranteed to make a decent amount of money. You see, home video was still a new thing in 1987, and it was more affordable than going out to the movies. Which meant that it already had a great audience.

Aside from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors, none of the slashers released in 1987 were massive (although Elm Street 3 was, at the time, the second highest grossing slasher film ever behind the original HALLOWEEN). Knowing that not all productions had the means to be a fantasy-horror spectacle like the Elm Street series, distributors turned their interest toward home video, and found great success. Honestly, only two other slashers released that year were actually made for a theatrical release - the Italian giallo Opera and the psychological slasher The Stepfather. Despite strong reviews for both those films, they each were only met with modest box office success.

It was the home video market that really had success. Films like Blood FrenzyAnguish, Body Count, and Stage Fright all were well-received by the genre fans, and proved to be long-lasting rentals from popular video stores. 

With Jason Voorhees' absence in 1987, there was a slew of releases to fill in the craving for campers in peril. Backwoods, Bodycount, Berserker, Twisted NightmareBlood Lake, and The Outing all became some of the cheapest produced FRIDAY THE 13TH rip-offs. Other movies, like Killing Spree, The ShamanOpen House, and Venus Flytrap were set in suburbia to parody the growing yuppie culture. Miami Vendetta even took an aim at the gang violence of South Florida in the mid-80s, and Streets of Death also looked at urban crime. 

Due to the popular demand for home video releases, filmmakers grew aware of their product. Films such as Video Violence and Video Violence 2 parodied the new home video market and brought a sense of realism that anyone can now make movies (very similar to how currently YouTube is an outlet for average-Joe filmmakers). Super-cheap flicks such as Death Nurse and Splatter Farm were shot on camcorders using video technology as opposed to film.

The campy tones were amped up a lot. Blood HarvestBlood Diner, Deadly LoveBloody Movie, and Slaughterhouse were all purposely gory and over-the-top, being reminiscent of the cheap drive-in classics from the 50s and 60s. Killer Workout connected to the teenage MTV generation by centering its plot around workouts to pop music. Both The Majorettes and Return to Horror High attempted to spoof the teen slashers of the early 80s. 

from Opera, another giallo was released: Delirium: Photos of Gloria, although it did not receive the distribution that has made Opera so well known. Sequels to cult classics were released as well, knowing that although a small core audience existed, they would surely rent these titles on home video: Slumber Party Massacre II and Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 both had semi-successful runs. So here's a look at what 1987 had to offer...

Anguish - After being hypnotized and now receiving telepathic commands from his bizarre mother, a man goes on a brutal killing spree to carve the eyeballs from his victims. Available on DVD

Backwoods - After saving a young girl's life, a young couple is invited to a mountain man's house for supper, where they discover the family are homicidal killers. Straight to video. 

Berserker - Follows the Berskerer, a viking warrior donning fur and a bear snout, who attacks and slays unfortunate teens on a camping trip. Straight to video. 

Blood Diner - Sent on a quest by an ancient Egyptian goddess, two cannibalistic brothers begin murdering various travels as means to create a "special dish" that they hope will save their run-down diner from bankruptcy. Available on DVD

Blood Frenzy - A psychiatrist takes six of her patients on a trip, but when they become stranded in the desert, they encounter a psychopath with a taste for murder. 

Blood Harvest - A beautiful girl returns to her hometown to stumble into a mystery involving her missing parents, her hated father, and soon those closest to her are found with their throats slit. Available on DVD

Blood Lake - After two of their friends disappear and are later found brutally murdered, a group of partying teens must try to survive against a blood-thirsty maniac. Straight to video. 

Bloody Movie - In the abandoned mansion of a late Hollywood idol, B-actors meet a hideous demise perpetrated by a mysterious killer disguised as the actor's greatest cinematic characters. Straight to video. Available on DVD

Body Count - When a cold-blooded hit man escapes from prison, he and his sexy and lethal partner set out to execute the agents who sent him away. Available on DVD

Bodycount - A troubled couple runs a campground supposedly built on an ancient Indian burial site and, when a rowdy group of visiting teens come to stay, people start dying at the hands of a knife-wielding killer. 

Deadly Love - After her troubled aunt is drawn to suicide, a young woman inherits her house and must deal with violent teenage punks, a masked serial killer, and the zombie of her aunt's deceased lover that died decades ago. 

Death Nurse - A murderous, overweight nurse and her brother run a clinic out of their home and, after killing the patients, the bill their home estate. Straight to video. 

Delirium: Photos of Gloria - A gorgeous magazine model has attracted a demented fan that starts killing her fellow models and sending her photographs of the victims' bodies. Available on DVD.  

Killer Workout - Two years after a woman was burned to death in a tanning salon, her sister opens up a gym where, all of a sudden, people start dying bizarre deaths. Straight to video.

Killing Spree - When Tom suddenly convinces himself that his wife is sleeping around, it pushes him over the edge into a full-blown killing spree. Straight to video. Available on DVD

The Majorettes - A hooded psychopathic killer is murdering girls of the high school pep squad, and a Satanic biker gang is suspected to be responsible. Available on DVD

Miami Vendetta - After ruthless Cuban drug dealers kill his buddy, a Los Angeles cop goes rogue and travels to Miami for revenge. Straight to video. 

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors - When teens in a hospital psychiatric ward start dreaming of the demonic Freddy Krueger, an old survivor of his nightmares assembles the teens to fight back! Available on Blu-ray and also on DVD

Open House - When a psychologist doing a therapy talk show begins getting calls from a man murdering nubile real-estate agents, he cooperates with the police to try and stop the madman.

Opera - When a young opera singer takes over the leading role in a presentation of Verdi's Macbeth, she triggers the madness of a crazed fan who repeatedly forces her to watch the brutal murders of her friends. Available on DVD

The Outing - A museum curator's daughter is possessed by an evil genie and, when her friends show up to the museum for an exhibit, she kills them in gruesome ways. 

Return to Horror High - Five years after a school massacre, a filmmaking crew shoots in the abandoned halls to make a horror movie, as someone starts killing off the cast. Available on DVD

The Shaman - An evil shaman hypnotizes a family to do his evil bidding as he searches for the next host to possess, and only the family's teen boy can resist him.

Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2 - Original Santa killer Billy might be dead, but his younger brother Ricky follows in the family tradition of Christmas carnage.

Slaughterhouse - The owner of a slaughterhouse facing foreclosure instructs his 350lbs mentally retarded son to go on a killing spree against the people who want to buy his property. Available on DVD

Slumber Party Massacre II - The only sane survivor of the first slumber party massacre, Courtney's dreams of the driller killer returning becomes reality when he is reincarnated as an evil rocker with a deadly guitar. Available on DVD

Splatter Farm - While spending time on their aunt's farm, teenage twins discover she keeps her deceased husband's body around, and her handyman is a serial killer who dismembers his victims in the barn. Straight to video. Available on DVD

StageFright: Aquarius - Violence erupts when a group of young actors rehearse a new musical about a mass murderer and the notorious psychopath escapes from a nearby insane asylum and gets locked in the theater overnight. Available on DVD

The Stepfather - When her mother abruptly marries a mysterious man, a teenage girl becomes convinced that he is a serial killer who has been murdering families for years in his quest for the "perfect American family." Available on Blu-ray and also on DVD

Streets of Death - As prostitutes are being brutally killed by a psychopathic madman, a young police officer goes undercover as a hooker to lure the culprit. Straight to video.

Twisted Nightmare - Years after a handicapped boy died there, several teens mysteriously win a trip back to a "doomed" summer camp, and someone starts killing them one by one. 

Venus Flytrap - Murderous yuppies trick youthful punks into thinking they are vulnerable targets for theft and robbery, and lure them into their home for a torturous evening. Straight to video. 

Video Violence - A normal, unsuspecting couple find themselves completely immersed in a town of crazies that produce and watch their own snuff movies. Straight to video. Available on DVD

Video Violence 2 - Psychopaths across the country send in their homemade snuff films depicting gruesome murders to a television show hosted by the crazed couple from the first film. Straight to video. Available on DVD

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