40 Terrific Years of Terror! Top Ten Horror Films of 1981

40 TERRIFIC YEARS OF TERROR! TOP TEN HORROR FILMS OF 1981

Well here we are. A new year means a new top ten horror list that will remind us all to put Bengay on that upcoming shopping trip inventory of crap. Instead of doing my usual “Dirty 30” (of which I will still do a little later), we’re gonna start 2021 off with a myriad of horror flicks that turn the Fabulous 40 this year!

1981 was a banner year for horror indeed and audiences had a variety to choose from on those Friday night date nights at the local theater. Hot off the slasher craze of the surprise hit of Friday the 13th the year prior, studios were eager to jump on that bandwagon for cheap thrills at a minimum budget that brought in major profits. And thy behold, 1981 gave us fresh faces of horror such as Harry Warden, Gunther, and the introduction of a machete wielding maniac in adult form that would go on to become one of horror’s most iconic villians.

So of course I wanted to start this new year fresh spotlighting some of the very best the year of our slasher lord, 1981 has to offer. While this is at the end of the day, my own opinion piece on the matter, please feel free to comment your favorites- maybe something not mentioned, or hell, give me YOUR list! I would love to hear from you guys! Also, worth noting I’ve included trusty Amazon links to the films mentioned if one would be so inclined to make a purchase- which would also help little me earn a percentage in possibly five years or so (heh). So hey, if you want to add to your horror collection while your fellow nostalgic contributor out with running this website, I will forever thank you and write a sweet Kenny G style love song about you in the very near future.

Alright let’s get dive into this mess. Counting down to what I think is the best movie at number one- THE TOP TEN HORROR MOVIES OF 1981!

10. Dark Night of the Scarecrow

Premiering as a Halloween film of the week on CBS in October of ’81, Dark Night of the Scarecrow apart from stellar performances from the cast, is the first horror film that actually centers around a killer scarecrow!

With a plot surrounding a mentally handicapped man named Bubba, who is falsely accused of attacking a young girl and ends up being murdered while incognito as a scarecrow hiding in a field, and the lynch mob basically getting away with it; it makes for a fine-tuned horror film in the making as well, in revenge fashion the culprits are killed off quite phenomenally one by one. With a scarecrow being sited at each death scene.

Some might feel its cliché ridden, however Dark Night of the Scarecrow is an underrated, hidden gem that is perfect for October viewings! Get it here from Amazon!

9. The Howling

One of two fantastically furry wolf-centered films makes numero nine on the list-The Howling. An almost satirical, and self-aware of being exactly what it is, The Howling stars the beautiful Dee Wallace and is directed by a pre-Gremlins Joe Dante.

Wallace plays a news anchor who after being traumatized after a seemingly to others, hallucination episode on her part, is sent a “resort” ( which is a nice way of saying a nut-house, where she soon finds out what she has experienced is very real- and surrounds her in this very colony she is now stuck in.

The Howling was released in March of ’81, just five months before the “big” werewolf film of the decade. And it’s sort of shame as I feel it became somewhat overshadowed with the hype of AAWIL. Which to be fair, is great of course. However, with two big werewolf film releases in one year, the more flashy one will usually get the glory and juice. Had this been released a year before or after, I feel like more people would hold it higher than they do now. Anyways, get it here on Amazon!

8. Possession

Visually striking and a TRUE GODDAMN BEAUTIFUL horror film, Possession is everything that embodies sexual, feminine empowerments in the genre. Disturbing for some? Sure. But I think it’s done rather tastefully– pun intended. As a matter of fact, if at some point you don’t feel uncomfortable at all during a viewing, I’d say you’re more than probably a sociopath.

A young and beautiful wife (Isabella Adjani) leaves her husband (Sam Neill) abruptly for an unexplained reason. He thinks infidelity is involved. She claims that’s not the case. But goddammit he KNOWS there must be SOMEONE else involved. So he follows her in a very subtle non-stalkery way and holy shit what comes of that story is nothing more than a pure mind fuck. I refuse to say anymore for anyone that is shameful to haven’t had the pleasure, or unpleasure of seeing this.

And if that be the case, please get on this shit immediately. IF you can find it. I managed to find some legit sellers on EBAY (click here), so that might be your best bet.

7. My Bloody Valentine

My Bloody Valentine is basically Canada’s answer to the holiday horror film populace of the ’80s that Friday the 13th kicked off for the decade. And goddamn it is a ripe pickin’ out of the now hundreds of holiday horror genre films that we can currently fill a good size swimming pool with.

The story of antagonist Harry Warden of My Bloody Valentine is fairly a clever set-up: Twenty years prior, an accident in the town’s mine led to five workers being trapped underground when their supervisors left their posts early to attend a Valentine’s dance. Four of the trapped workers died and the fifth, Harry Warden, had to resort to cannibalism to survive.

Anyways, after Warden and the now half-eaten corpses were discovered and rescued, he was by then insane and went mental on his former supervisors- by ripping out their hearts and placing them in cute little Valentine boxes as a warning to never celebrate this day veer again, dammnit!

Yeah, well apparently folks felt the statute of limitations was twenty years, and well- now we got a horror movie. Which you can pick up right here!

6. Friday the 13th Part 2

Well with the magnificent Pamela Voorhees kicking off the slasher genre of the ’80s, it would be stupid not to include the sequel that gave us her now iconic special, special boy Jason! I mean, it’s a pretty good sequel too.

Following the events of the first film, we find ourselves back at Camp Crystal Lake with fresh meat for a now magically grown adult Jason, (who cares if it makes sense) to seek revenge on some unsuspecting counselors for his mother’s death.

From a critic’s POV, the Friday franchise has some stinkers. From a fan’s however (like myself), they all maintain a level of charm that makes us return to each one with loving nostalgia.

Grab the first 4 films on one disc here!

5. Scanners

Ahh, good ol’ Scanners. Cronenberg’s science-fiction horror take on, I guess a fucked up X-Men?! The movie may have hit the 40-year mark, but it’s a tale from the master storyteller that feels very modern and messaging that runs deep that is just as relevant today as it was back then. Hell, a hundred years from now, someone might say the same thing and that’s why this film can possibly NEVER be rebooted in a proper manner. Can’t fix perfect man.

Scanners is a movie with a special ability called “scanning”. Technically, psychic powers such as reading thoughts, control a person’s mind and organs (making your heart speed up, etc…), and yes, blowing someone’s head up. We’ve all seen the infamous scene whether you’ve seen the movie or not. There’s a lot of corporate greed conspiracy going into the plot so I won’t go any further, but seriously if you have been sleeping on Scanners, give it a go- get it here!

4. An American Werewolf in London

When John Landis made the jump from Comedy to Horror, he did so with a BANG- well, maybe rather a vicious snarl but you get the idea. AAWIL, 40 years later, is still looked at very closely by those studying film and especially, students in the special effects industry. The Landis legacy is truly problematic (putting it mildly), and I’m not super comfortable celebrating anything about him. However, I can’t deny how great of a horror film this is, whatever my opinion on the man might be. So personal feelings aside, the art made prior to some seriously tragic events (The Twilight Zone Movie); I’ll stick this guru of lycanthrope effects at number four.

Landis had written the screenplay as a modern homage to Universal’s The Wolfman way back in 1969, almost a decade before the film was made into a reality. Two backpackers from New York take a tour of Europe but only get as far as Yorkshire where they are viciously attacked by a large animal. One is mauled to death, the other barely makes it out alive, however, with a spiffy souvenir- a werewolf bite!

As an early 80s horror film, AAWIL doesn’t exactly fit that stereotype. Beyond fashion and hairstyles, the movie feels just as simplistically modern today as it did forty years ago. Foregoing the horror movie clichés into a somewhat more serious film about tragedy and despair. With of course some light humor here and there. It is Landis after all. Therefore, the movie will most likely stand the test of time for another forty years, and beyond. Get the Blu-ray on sale here!

3. The Funhouse

Now some of you might be asking why I put Tobe Hooper’s ball of weirdness, horror, and fun so high up this list.. And well here’s my answer to that:

Sorry, that had to be done, hah!

My first viewing of Hooper’s The Funhouse was sometime around the age of nine or ten for myself as part of a Saturday afternoon horror movie-thon on basic cable. Saturday morning cartoons were over and then up pops this beauty. The creepy montage of carnival music with the black canvas of credits occupying the merry-go-round of slightly horrifying animatronic figures that occupied the Funhouse at center stage was enough to pique my curiosity to sit and watch this thing and the rest is history. I certainly can’t remember EVERY horror film I saw for the first time. But with The Funhouse, I remember like it was yesterday. On top of it being a pretty great horror installment for the decade, it’s pretty special to me in that aspect.

The story is fairly straightforward with a pair of couples engaging in date night at a traveling carnival with some seedy history behind it. The teens decide it would be a kinky adventure to sneak inside the funhouse and stay the night. Of course, fun is halted when they realize the pop and “son” running it is a pair of murdering maniacs- with Frankenstein face being something way worse than they experienced at any Freak Show.

The first quarter of the movie really sets that shady atmosphere with little random things that occur inside the place leading up to the night in the Funhouse, and I always really appreciated that. The whacky out-of-place old lady in the bathroom, the creepy Magician, and that skeevies-inducing dude showing off his half-naked sister for the adult girls show. The movie just screams everything done right with an 80s horror film without walking into cliche territory and I just love it to death.

Pick it up here!

2. Halloween II

Oh yes. The film that gives one of horror’s GREATEST lines ever narrated by none other than Sir Donald Pleasance, and not to mention the BEST pumpkin opener (fight me) in the series, comes in at a close second.

Directly continuing the violent Halloween night Michael Myers caused in his rage and chaos, Myers follows Laurie to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital and doesn’t skip a beat along the way, killing anyone that enters his path to get to what is now revealed, to be his sister. Halloween II is darker, more aggressive, and a little more fast-paced as Myers is just PISSED now. Many might disagree with me, but I almost prefer it to the original.

Oh and that greatest line ever? You know I’m right.

Slash your way to savings with this Blu-Ray anniversary edition for only $9.99 here!

1. Evil Dead

I’d like to think I’m channeling Ash Williams here when I say, “If you think any other movie was gonna beat this out, this town only has room for one magnificent asshole here. And that guy is me.”

Evil Dead. The film Sam Raimi created spawned a cult-phenomenon of Deadites and launched Bruce Campbell into horror legendary status. Following 2 sequels, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, with later a Starz series and even a stage musical, Evil Dead has certainly made its mark in the genre. It’s got everything almost every movie-goer could possibly ask for in a film. Romance, check. Action, check. Scary shit, check. Oh, and more blood than anyone probably needs in any one film. Heck, Evil Dead was so effective, it was outright banned in West Germany, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, and the UK.  Religious groups branded it evil and newspapers branded it obscene. MP Graham Bright claimed it was so dangerous it could harm not only you and your children but also your pet dog.

Like that was going to stop anyone from wanting to watch it even more.

You can probably disagree with a lot of my rankings here, but I believe collectively that we can all agree that Evil Dead is truly a beloved, badass treasure among the genre.

Nab your copy that includes the first two films on Blu-ray here for $7!

IN A YEAR THAT TOOK EVERYTHING, ADAM GREEN NEVER STOPPED GIVING

It has been a year of loss and pain. Our lives have been turned upside down, put on hold, or altered forever. One way or another, not a single one of us has been spared from the scars. Our nation has experienced a lifetime of trauma in less than a single calendar year, to say nothing of the upheaval of the social battles that have been fought day after day not only this year but for the past four and beyond.

We are hurting mentally and physically, emotionally and financially. We have experienced holidays where we have been unable to see our family and friends. The easy fixes of the past–going to the movies or a ballgame, swinging by the pub for a few beers with loved ones, or just popping by for a visit–have been ripped away from us. Each day blurs into the next, with nothing to look forward to that would offer the slightest variation between Tuesday and Saturday, and it has left us feeling very alone.

Experts have informed us time and again to stay in touch with those closest to us because it’s important to combat the isolation as much as social distancing will allow. That calling or texting or Zooming with those we love, however briefly, will help to alleviate the loneliness that has characterized 2020.

But despite not a single paycheck coming in for the entirety of this horrific year—a stark and terrifying reality that far too many can relate to—Adam Green never stopped giving. Never stopped reaching out. Never stopped providing us with something to look forward to. Hours upon hours of preparation fueled by nothing but a desire to keep people connected or giving them a reason to forget for a few hours.

The first image of the CORONAPOCAPLYSE appeared on March 23 with Green seated at a table rocking glasses and a Holliston tee shirt, a steaming cup of coffee to his right, about to embark on a fireside chat of sorts. Whether you call it fatherly or grandfatherly, for the next three days the filmmaker became a calming comforter as he read I, Survivor, the fictitious novel he co-wrote with Joe Knetter outlining the life story and harrowing events of the Honey Island Swamp massacre experienced by Hatchet III‘s (2013) Andrew Yong (Parry Shen). The worries and fears of the world raging outside the walls of our homes slipped away and for a few hours everything was alright. We could breathe. We could smile. Because we were together.

Every day through April 19, Green aired a live stream on YouTube to provide an outlet for those alienated from their lives. From features including DIGGING UP THE MARROW (2014) and the HATCHET series to every episode of HOLLISTON (2012) and ArieScope’s Halloween shorts, Green shared his library of creativity free of charge and it touched countless lives.

When the original CORONAPOCALYPSE came to a close, Green looked into the camera and offered a simple but touching message: “We’ll get through this,” continuing, “stay safe. Stay healthy. Keep being nice to each other. And keep talking to each other because talking helps.”

The shot faded from Green to a scene from HOLLISTON where his character felt as though he’d reached the end of his rope, that he couldn’t go on. And Oderus Urungus (the late Dave Brockie) delivered as motivational a speech as Adam’s imaginary friend was capable, asking “what it would have been like if (he’d) hung in there for just one more day,” echoing the words of Green’s close friend Dee Snider who encouraged him to chase his dream before HATCHET (2006) came to fruition with the words, “don’t you ever give up.”

With the gorgeous “Flying Theme” from E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982) swelling underneath, images of Green’s work began cycling through to the beats of the John Williams before a message appeared:

“This was Adam Green’s CORONAPOCALYPSE.” but as the music continued powering us through tears, “Adam Green’s” faded into “OUR,” and if it hadn’t already been clear before, it was beyond dispute in the moment: this was not about anything more than giving the fans something to hang on to. Hope that the sun would shine again, and that the pandemic would one day fade into memory.

To the right of the screen was a chat, and as the final images played out, it was clear how much the CORONAPOCALYPSE had meant to so many:

“Got out of work just in time to cry.”

“It’s been a great 28 days!”

“THIS WAS EPIC.”

“Beautiful.”

“JUST ONE MORE DAY!”

“Thank you Adam and the whole @ArieScope family. I love you all and I will always remember and be grateful for this.”

Just before the final note rang out, in a nod to Snider and HOLLISTON and SCARY SLEEPOVER, one fan wrote “METAL!” Clearly, the Movie Crypt Fam is just that–family.

It didn’t end there, however. In September, CORONAPOCALYPSE II streamed the entire HATCHET and HOLLISTON series on back-to-back nights and again provided something to look forward to–an event filled with laughs and togetherness.

All the while, not a single week of the Movie Crypt podcast (hosted by Green and fellow director and HOLLISTON co-star Joe Lynch) was missed because of the pandemic.

To say nothing of the resurrection of the SCARY SLEEPOVER (2015) series in July with comedian Doug Benson, where Green once more demonstrated his deep understanding of what the people needed–an oasis.

The final two episodes of SCARY SLEEPOVER strategically aired on Thanksgiving and Christmas nights featuring fan favorites Corri English (HOLLISTON) and Parry Shen (HATCHET series), respectively. For many, holidays normally spent in the company of loved ones were instead endured alone, until 6 o’clock Pacific when Green and his guests delivered conversation and smiles and laughs and memories that left all who watched them feeling a bit less isolated.

Then came Yorkiethon 5, the Movie Crypt’s annual fundraiser for the Save a Yorkie Rescue for abandoned and abused Yorkshire Terriers. For years Green and Lynch welcomed guests into the ArieScope Studio for a 48-hour marathon where their motto is “we stay awake so they don’t get put to sleep.” But with the Coronavirus, having guests was not an option, so Green and company simply Zoomed with the likes of Anthony Mackie and Barbara Crampton and Joe Bob Briggs and raised nearly $30,000 in a year when money has been (for nearly everyone) harder to part with than ever before.

And all that, the streams and podcasts and series, without a single paycheck coming in for Green himself.

In a year where it seems everything has been taken away from us, Adam Green has never stopped giving. From laughs to love, Adam Green selflessly devoted innumerable hours of his time to give us what we needed more than anything–hope.

Those who follow Green know that he’s an empath with an enormous heart, but never has his love for the fans been more evident than in the most difficult year of our lives. Before signing off on the first CORONAPOCALYPSE (which this writer still can’t watch without tearing up), Green said “I hope that you get everything that you want in life. I love you,” and it’s time we make it clear that the feeling is very mutual.

“Keep being nice to each other. And keep talking to each other because talking helps.” Green wasn’t merely pontificating, he was simply informing us of what he planned to do. And he kept his word.

May you get everything you want in life, Adam Green, because no one deserves it more. We can never thank him enough for what he’s given us these past ten months, but what we can do is make two things abundantly clear: we are grateful, and we love him back.

Holiday Horror Yule Log: Chucky Roasting On An Open Fire

HOLIDAY HORROR YULE LOG: CHUCKY ROASTING ON AN OPEN FIRE

In this final week of Christmas, I wanted to make one last post for the occasion before we all succumb to the annual holiday-hangover paired with gluttonous-induced food comas. And what better way to finalize the ending of 2020 with Chucky’s nuts roasting on an open fire?

The spiritual tradition of the Yule Log is not something I take lightly, as I am a practicing Pagan. However, I haven’t lost my sense of humor either and this is just downright splendid as a nice alternative to the traditional hum-drum log televised for decades; especially for horror fans!

Youtuber ShotgunZen put this holiday twist on the tradition together over on Youtube with a full SEVEN hours of the Chuck burning alive at the hands of Andy.

Not much else to say other than ENJOY and Happy Holidays Nostalgic Nuggets!