As of yesterday, Sunday (11/27), I had the time to sit and watch the backers edition of In Search of Darkness Part III which was about 5 hours and some change, more like 6 cos of the credits and I enjoyed it so much. It made me remember in the past couple of years all of the 80s horror films that I have watched and reviewed and there’s so many more left I gotta watch! However, I’m in this interesting area of watching horror from the 1930s to the late 1970s at the moment but I’m sure in many of my watch lists on Shudder and Prime that I have tons of 80s gems left to discover and this doc just reminds me to move forward.
So in this post, I wanted to share some of those 80s gems that I have seen and enjoyed in some capacity and would easily recommend to anyone who is into film/horror.
This biggest thing here is that a lot of the BIG films or popular ones won’t be included. I mean, this is the decade of over saturation and big franchises started here so no Nightmare, Child’s Play, Hellraiser, Friday, Halloween, etc., won’t be here. That doesn’t mean I don’t like them, I mean, I’m enjoying Chucky the TV Series and Nightmare is my favorite of the big 3 franchises but let’s give these smaller gems a chance in the spotlight!
Some of these I have personally reviewed here and if possible, I’ll link them! Let’s get started!
One Dark Night (1983) – There’s telekinetic powers, a couple of likable female characters, some bitchy characters we don’t like as much and most of it takes place in a cemetery/mausoleum.
Vamp (1986) – I still stand by my theory that From Dusk til Dawn is heavily inspired by this film.
The Return of the Living Dead (1985) – Super fun parody of the zombie “apocalypse” but with an attitude of rock n roll or punk music.
Night of the Demons (1987) – It took me way too long to see this but I have to give credit to grabbing my attention as a child at video store rentals with the vhs cover(s).
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) – Possibly one of the coolest uses of color in a horror film.
C.H.U.D. (1984) – Social commentary on the homeless/homelessness is at the forefront of this one. It’s really good.
Blood Rage (Slasher) (1987) – It’s not cranberry sauce! I should rewatch this again, it’s been a while. Plus, it’s becoming a Thanksgiving staple for horror fans. One of the few Thanksgiving horror films.
House (1986) – Every ten minutes was just me going “what?” or “what is this?!”
The Gate (1987) – Underrated gem, mixes heavy metal with child focused horror. Plus there’s a cute dog!
The Monster Squad (1987) – Every time I think about this movie, I just think that Dracula really doesn’t give any sort of fucks. NONE. Especially towards the children and it makes me laugh!
Tetsuo The Iron Man (1989) – I’m still confused about this film but it’s a thinker. Very visually visceral, innovative, can be confusing but I think the story tells itself using imagery.
Stephen King’s Silver Bullet (1985) – I had no clue about this film or that it’s essentially Cory Haim’s first big role and I remember saying this in my review, you can see the talent there as a child. Some kids just have that natural acting gift and it’s there with him.
From Beyond (1986) – So not too long after watching Re-Animator, I watched this. This is nothing like Re-Animator.
The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) – Possibly the most realistic film in this list? Like this feels like it can happen (and it probably has) and that’s more terrifying than like a werewolf.
Opera (1987) – Eye porn and Shakespeare. Lots of eye porn.
Sleepaway Camp (1983) – I knew of the ending because it’s ironic, it’s everywhere, the first thing people tell you about this film. What’s great is the constant lead up into that finale of… fuckery.
Stage Fright (1987) – I think this is quite underrated and buried among Italian slasher films. I took a chance on this film and really enjoyed it.
April Fool’s Day (1986) – This movie got me, it really got me. The title says it all but you go into it thinking that someone kills for a really bad joke.
Basket Case (1982) – I have seen this TWICE and I can’t get enough of it. Together, let’s let out one Belial scream! AHHHhhhhhhhh! *closes basket*
My Bloody Valentine (1981) – A great early slasher for the decade, kinda more fun than Friday the 13th in my opinion.
Phenomena (Creepers) (1985) – I have only seen Creepers which is the US shorter version but nonetheless, I like the performance of Jennifer Connelly and Donald Pleasance is a nice sight to see outside of Halloween. There’s a cute chimp and Daria Nicolodi being an antagonist? Rare.
Dead & Buried (1981) – This film was so bizarre. Like I need to watch it again, kind of bizarre but it’s always the small towns that we gotta be weary of. Also a young Robert Englund is in it.
Tenebrae (1982) – ICONIC. Everything. Go beyond Suspiria and Deep Red in Argento’s filmography and you’ll find Tenebrae (or Tenebre) and it’s a really cool giallo film.
Gates of Hell Trilogy (1980, 1981, 1981) – Look Zombi 2 was the first step into the world of Lucio Fulci. It didn’t even prepare me for City of the Living Dead, The Beyond and The House by the Cemetery.
There are so many 80s horror films out there that I know of as hidden gems but haven’t watched them yet and the documentary In Search of Darkness is a great first step into the deeper layers of 80s horror beyond the big heavy hitters. OR just do what I do occasionally, whatever the cover or header the image gives strikes your fancy, add it into the watchlist. Most of the time it is from the 70s or 80s.
What films would you suggest? Leave it in a comment below!