Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Slasher Decade: 1989

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 End of an Era: 1989...

And here we have it. The final year of the 80's. And, oddly, the final year of the slasher film boom. Yes, the 90's had their fair share of slashers, but none hit the mark quite as well as the 80's did. And honestly, when someone mentions a slasher film, you automatically think back to the 1980s.

For slashers, 1989 proved a definitive end - most of the movies were neither financial or critical successes, and much of that charm that made entries from earlier years so much fun had been used up. High profile sequels like Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child were all huge disappointments at the box office, bringing in lower profits than any of the series' previous entries and all being reviled by critics and fans alike. Lesser known sequels like Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, Silent Night, Deadly Night III: You Better Watch Out!, and The Stepfather II made little to no impression in the market, either in theaters or on home video.

1989's biggest winners were Intruder and Puppetmaster. Intruder was like one-last hurrah for the slasher boom, as it was a straight-forward slasher movie that seemed like it should have been released several years earlier. Puppetmaster, on the other hand, was a monstrous home video success, spawning one of the most enduring franchises in home video history and setting the path for the stranger horror movies that would follow in the 90s. 

Other than that, 1989's slashers were all pretty much forgotten. Films like ParentsClownhouse and Cutting Class have reached a small token of notoriety for being early roles for major movie stars of today. But a majority of the movies from 1989 have been left in the dust, falling into obscurity throughout the 90s. Supernatural slashers like Elves, Fatal Image, and Night Visitor have been all but completely forgotten. Other films were blatant rip-offs of earlier entries, yet didn't meet the needed success; Las Vegas Bloodbath, Moonstalker, and Nightmare Beach had literally all been done before. Psycho Cop was a copy of MANIAC COP. Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge copied PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and Offerings was yet another HALLOWEEN rip-off. Even Return of the Family Man ripped off a less-than-successful slasher, SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE. And as a perfect end to the 80s, a FLASHDANCE slasher was made with Slashdance

Exploitation cinema, which was decreasing due to the grindhouse theaters being shut down by major multiplexes, found a new market on home video. Hitchhiker in the DarkHell High, Las Vegas Bloodbath, Out of the Dark, and Nightmare Beach were all exploitation films sent straight to home video, but their impact was not the same as the exploitation films that were once released in theaters. Films like Freeway Maniac and Massacre were exploitation flicks that blended together, both featuring a killer on set of a motion picture production.

Yes, 1989 was the end of an era, the end of a decade, and a nice end to the slasher boom. The following couple of years - 1990 through 1996 - would not have any many slasher flicks, as they would become less and less frequent until the release of SCREAM. While none of the movies of 1989 are certified classics, they all certain have their place in the genre, and they mark a fitting finale to an unforgettable slasher decade. 

Clownhouse - On Halloween night, a trio of escaped maniacs murder some clowns at a town fair and take their costumes, where they stalk three brothers in a secluded, large mansion. Available on DVD.  

Cutting Class - A high school girl finds herself at the center of a murder investigation when her two suitors - a high school jock and a disturbed teen recently released from a mental hospital - become the prime suspects. Available on DVD

Elves - A shopping mall is plagued by brutal killings, secretly being committed by a demonic elf who's only purpose is to find a mate and create a master-human race similar to the Nazis.

Fatal Image - An ambitious reporter begins to link her new camera to several grisly murders, as anyone she takes a picture of winds up dead. 

Freeway Maniac - After escaping from a mental hospital, a maniac stalks a B-movie starlet onto the set of a Sci-Fi epic, and starts killing off the cast and crew. 

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan - High school seniors on a graduation cruise bound for New York City become the latest victims of Jason Voorhees, but when they reach New York, the bloody rampage spills into Manhattan. Available on DVD

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers - One year later after the last film, Michael Myers has developed a telepathic bond with his young nice - who can foresee his next murder - and Dr. Loomis has a new plan to destroy The Boogey Man. Available on DVD

Hell High - After spying on their teacher and breaking into her home, a gang of high school thugs humiliate and sexually assault her, unleashing her bloody thirst for vengeance. Available on DVD

Hitcher in the Dark - A truly disturbed young man harboring sexual desire for his deceased mother drives around backgrounds seeking prostitutes to kidnap, torture, rape, and murder. Available on DVD

Intruder - When the employees of a privately owned supermarket are bummed to hear the company is being sold, but someone starts killing the employees in varying gory ways. Available on Blu-ray and DVD

Las Vegas Bloodbath - When a man discovers his wife is having an affair, he goes on a bloody rampage across the city of Las Vegas. Straight to video. Available on DVD

Massacre - Killings that begin with the murder of a hitchhiking prostitute continue onto the film set of a low-budget zombie movie titled, "Dirty Blood." 

Moonstalker - A man lures unsuspecting campers into his wilderness home and unleashes his crazed mass-murdering son upon them while they steals their belongings. Straight to video. Available on DVD

Night Visitor - A teen famous for stretching the truth witnesses his neighbor, whom he thought was a prostitute, kill someone as part of a Satanic ritual - and nobody believes him! Available on DVD

Nightmare Beach - A long-dead biker returns from the grave to continue his bloodthirsty rampage against a collection of partying college kids at the beach. Straight to video. Available on DVD

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child - Unable to overpower the Dream Master, Freddy Krueger haunts the innocent dreams of her unborn child and preys upon her friends' nightmares. Available on DVD

Offerings - A decade following a traumatizing event where neighborhood bullies got the best of him, a man murders those who wronged him and leaves their body parts as presents for the one girl who was kind to him. Available on DVD

Out of the Dark - The beautiful women working at a popular phone-sex company are stalked and killed by a psychotic dressed in a clown mask. Available on DVD

Parents - Centering on a nuclear family in 1950s suburbia, a teenage boy's reoccuring nightmares and unease around his parents makes him question if his mom and dad are secretly serial killing cannibals. Available on DVD

Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge - This take on the classic play finds a disfigured man stalking a mall that was built over the land where his house burned down. Available on DVD.

Psycho Cop - Satanic cop Joe Vickers finds some college kids camping and, after humiliating them, starts murdering them one by one. Available on DVD

Puppetmaster - A group of psychoanalysts investigate the mansion where a puppeteer killed himself 50 years earlier, and soon discover his puppets to be reanimated murdering demons. Straight to video. Available on DVD

Return of the Family Man - An insane serial killer evades a prison bus and escapes to his childhood home - where he massacred his family years ago - to discover a group of partying teens have taken up residence. 

Silent Night Deadly Night III: You Better Watch Out! - Ricky, the comatose Christmas maniac, makes contact with a young clairvoyant's mind, bringing his murderous dreams into reality! Straight to video. Available on DVD

Slashdance - When someone starts murdering the young actresses auditioning for a new musical, a female cop goes undercover as a dancer to solve the crime. Available on DVD

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland - Angela Baker once again returns, wreaking havoc on a new set of campers - privileged teens paired up with underprivileged counterparts. Straight to video. Available on DVD

The Stepfather II - Escaping from the mental hospital and posing as a family therapist, the Stepfather finds a loving mother and son to try and marry, but when her ex-husband re-enters the picture, bloodshed ensues. Available on DVD

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