A Fool's Utopia 3.14.13: Must See Horror of the 1980s
Posted by Ron Martin on 03.14.2013
This week in one man's utopia we take a look at the must see horror movies from the 1980s in terms of horror street cred. Also, we talk the new SYFY series Stranded, lunchboxes and cheating at Words With Friends.
Last week, we went through the best decade for horror ever, the 70s. This week, we're going through the decade that I mostly cut my horror teeth in. It's a decade dominated by slashers, but also gave birth to some of the most notable franchises in horror history. Which of these movies must you have seen to have your horror street cred? My opinion below
The Shining, 1980
This has a quadruple whammy attached to it. Not only do you need to know this film because it's one of the finest horror films of the decade, but also because it's directed by Stanley Kubrick, has a great performance by Jack Nicholson and was based off a Stephen King book even if King hated the original movie adaptation. You need to know this movie not just for horror street cred, but for pop culture street cred because this has to be amongst the top referenced movies in pop culture of all time. For example, if you've never seen this movie, you were really lost during the last South Park Halloween episode.
We're two for two on the haunted location theme in the 80s. You need this movie in your repertoire so that you understand how creepy TV static, children and very small women with Munchkin voices are. This may be the ultimate "ghost" story on the entire list and is full of horror moments which were not yet cliché such as the scary clown doll, houses being built on Indian burial grounds, swimming with corpses, trees trying to eat people and of course, getting pulled into a closet that leads into some sort of half dimension and coming out covered in placenta. Again, this movie has transcended the genre to become a pop culture referenced phenom.
Sleepaway Camp, 1983
There's only one reason why this movie makes this list --- the ending. Other than that, it's a fine slasher camp film, but wouldn't be in the "must have seen" category. However, I would expect any self respecting horror fan to have seen the ending of this film. I shouldn't have to discuss the movie while trying not to spoil it to a group of horror fans.
A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984
Yes, obviously, you need to know A Nightmare on Elm Street because it introduces Freddy Krueger, by far the most marketed horror icon in the history of horror marketing. You should also know it because it's a really good film. An original idea from Wes Craven who cemented his reputation as a master of horror by writing and directing this film. Freddy Krueger wouldn't become the one liner spewing marketing machine that everyone remembers until A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, but if you're going to see one Nightmare movie, it needs to be this one. Freddy's look and personality aren't quite finalized in this film because it was meant to be a one off. He plays more of a boogeyman role than in other film. Also notable for being the first film of a little known actor I like to call Johnny Depp.
Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter, 1984
Obviously, we're not getting through the 80s without mentioning Jason Vorhees. While none of the films in the series are as good as the original Nightmare on Elm Street, this is the series that defines horror franchises and the 80s in general. Choosing a single movie in the franchise (because I believe you really only need to have seen one to get your most basic horror street cred), it has to be Jason Vorhees as the killer which eliminates the original Friday the 13th and the 5th installment. You want him in the hockey mask the whole movie and at a camp which eliminates the second and third installments. I almost went with Friday the 13th Part 6 but ultimately decided upon the fourth installment of the franchise because it has all of the above elements plus another horror staple perfected by the series nudity. The fourth installment has everything you need from a Friday the 13th movie plus it introduces Tommy Jarvis into the series. He would become Jason's archnemesis for a few movies and then completely disappear.
The Lost Boys, 1987
This makes the list not only because it's a great horror movie, but its one of the greatest horror casts of all time. Joel Schumacher doesn't do horror often, and that's a shame because he did the impossible here by creating a film that is both timeless and a snapshot of a time period. It's relevant to the 80s as both Coreys star in the film, plus Corey Haim's character is basically and 80s time capsule. It has early performances by Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric and Jami Gertz as well as outstanding performance from veteran actors Dianne Wiest, Barnard Hughes and Edward Hermann. Taking the original Dracula out of consideration since it started the entire vampire genre, this is the best vampire movie out there.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
1. I caught the new paranormal show on SYFY Stranded -- color me unimpressed. Basically it's a cross between Ghost Hunters and the old MTV show Fear. They send three people into a haunted location with supposedly no one else on the set. The people record themselves and their experiences while they attempt to ghost hunt. Apparently SYFY hasn't figured out that the whole paranormal TV thing has peaked and it's in its death throws. Or at least it's waiting to be revitalized with a different formula.
I watched mainly because Josh Gates was involved, but he wasn't on screen. He is just an executive producer. The show could benefit greatly from him framing it with a history of the building, giving tips to the "average people" who are doing the ghost hunting and maybe interview them at the end of the show. Instead the show just ended with no analysis of any evidence.
I'd be more interested in the show if they just set up the 100 or so cameras around the property that they had set up, left them there for a week and showed the results.
2. I made a vow to start DVRing SNL this season and I'm glad that I did. The Justin Timberlake episode was fantastic. Was it stunt casting at its finest? Of course it was, but it worked. The show has had a lot of good moments this season. It can be appointment television once again if this newer cast starts to gel and create some recurring characters.
3. SPORTS THOUGHTS:
a. As a person who has grown up and lived in Big Ten County his whole life, this may have been one of the most exciting seasons of Big Ten basketball I can remember. I'm not just saying that because my would be alma mater (would be if I hadn't dropped out after two years) won the regular season title, but because I think the Big Ten has 7 (and possibly 8) legitimate tournament teams. That being said, a second round matchup with either Minnesota or Wisconsin for Indiana has me scared that IU will exit the tourney early while either Michigan or Michigan State wins the thing and steals their #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. I'm more scared of Minnesota or Wisconsin than I would be anyone ranked higher than them. Indiana fans tend to overlook this mid-level league teams and dismiss them as a sure win, but these are the teams that the Hoosiers tend to have the most problems with.
b. I like most of the pickups by the Colts on the first day of free agency. Getting some depth and help on both lines and the defensive backfield was a must if the team wanted to repeat the success of this season. I'm hoping that Cliff Avril comes on board (as of this writing he had not signed anywhere) since Paul Kruger quickly went to Cleveland.
c. I read a story about a difference in opinion between Jim Irsay and Bill Polian on the future of Peyton Manning with the Colts in 2004. The story doesn't matter, it was the comments that I'm writing about. Most of the comments were of the "you stole our team in 1984" variety. Really? Most of the people on the computer still complaining about this can't have even of been old enough to have been watching football when the Colts were in Baltimore. I'm sure they remember when Baltimore took the football team from Cleveland, but that gets dismissed by "we didn't take their name or their colors." Whatever. I'm not a big proponent of "get over it," but in this case, almost 30 years later and two Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl victories get over it!
4. I've been reading how badly our cable system needs a "Classic Nickelodeon" station. Isn't there already a Classic Nick out there? I'm down with a station that not only would run shows like Catdog, Rocko's Modern Life, Angry Beavers and the like but would also pepper in some really old school Pinwheel episodes and You Can't Do That on Television. Does this exist? Also, why hasn't Nick at Nite spun off into its own channel yet? TVLand may have the market on shows from the 50s-70s, but Nick at Nite makes its money on shows from the 80s and 90s. As we Gen Xers get older, there's more money to be made off of these shows.
5. As we all know a few months ago, I finally caved in a started playing the Scrabble ripoff Words with Friends. I'm sorry, I've been told it's not a ripoff because the bonus squares are in different locations. Let me rephrase my sentence. I started playing the completely original, never been done before game Words With Friends. A couple of my "friends" admitted to me that they use the "Words With Friends" cheat page to play. So .what's the point of playing then? You're not matching wits and playing words you've never even heard of before. That's like playing pool but you're allowed to just pick up the balls and throw them into the pockets.
USELESS TRIVIA AND SHAMELESS PLUGGING
LAST WEEK'S USELESS TRIVIA
How many Stephen King books clock in at over 1000 pages?
ANSWER: Three, The Stand, IT and Under the Dome. Big ups once again to the USELESS TRIVIA GURU BEN PIPER!
THIS WEEK'S USELESS TRIVIA
What fictional town does The Lost Boys take place in?
THIS WEEK'S SHAMELESS PLUGGING
Still on the tail of Freddy Krueger, The Resurrection of Zombie 7 is up to series favorite, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors. Subscribe for free on iTunes. Listen to me talk about how creepy children are, Wes Craven's return to the franchise and Patricia's Arquette's first film.
THIS WEEK IN RETRO
There are certain things that I lament the loss of. While I talk until I'm blue in the face about the virtues of a phone that has a cord and not being able to contact anyone at any point in their life, I don't really think cell phones are the Devil. Well, until the generation following me all dies of brain cancer caused by cell phones, but I'll be either dead or too old to care at that point. Saturday Morning cartoons, I lament the loss of for the children! We do it all for the children! I also lament the loss of the topic of today's RETRO, the school lunchbox!
I am sure that some version of the school lunchbox still exists in elementary schools today. I see them on sale, but I can never bring myself to believe they're purchased for actual use. The vibe I get is that people buy them to store crayons in or because their daughter is really into Barbie so anything with a Barbie logo goes under the Christmas tree in December.
Please read the following paragraph in your best old guy voice. If you want to stop halfway through like you forgot what you were going to say and have to retrace your steps before you continue as an added bonus, feel free to do so. Here we go. Back in my day, we used lunchboxes. It was not only a way to transport your lunch from home to school, but it was also a comment on your personality. For example, I had all the lunchboxes pictured above. What could you tell about my personality from these lunchboxes? I liked Pac-Man and Thundercats. Obviously this means that I am into anthropomorphic cats and ghost hunting. Well, one out of two isn't bad. Though, if the anthropomorphic cat was Cheetara, let's talk.
I'm not talking about those plastic lunchbox atrocities. I'm talking metal lunchboxes that the more beat up they were, the more you loved them. The kind of lunchbox that you could make a kid bleed with if he shorted you on a lunchtime trade. These lunchboxes barely had enough room for your sandwich, chips and Star Crunch while also carrying a thermos full of kool-aid. Those kids that put soup in their thermos are you kidding me? Soup? They are the ones that grow up and commit horrible crimes while their neighbors tell reporters "but they were so quiet."