Well, here we are once again; another 40 years from the time some of the most explosive and memorable horror movies hit the public’s eyeballs and I’m here to celebrate this all-important milestone for what might be, the greatest year of horror ever! Yeah, yeah, I know I’ve said that about 1981, but the following year is really giving 81′ a kick in the ass as far as tried and true horror classics.
1982 is a year for innovations in the genre of Sci-Fi and the Paranormal. Filmmakers really lit a fire under the ass of the ghostly corner of the genre, helping us understand just how truly terrifying the unseen world of the dead can be. The torment in some of these films is truly disturbing- and with it mostly involving women, films like Poltergeist, Amityville II, and The Entity adds the undertone smack-in-the-face reminder of the long-standing theme of the horrors of reality for women that we have long endured. Rape, manipulation, and assault from an unseen force is a metaphor for a horrible truth that occurs on the daily basis- which in turn just makes the film all the more terrifying.
In the arena of Sci-Fi and practical effects, 82′ is a gold standard. This year, the genre really stepped up the shock value bracket with a lot of in-your-face gore and unforgettable scenes of movie magic that modern makeup wizards fall back upon as a refresher. Perhaps with the exception of using real skeletal remains in the final edits. Of which, worth noting was rather common back in the day in terms of production cost. Nowadays, it’s become rather taboo but the art of using real skeletons and human parts in film dates back to as early as Universal’s Frankenstein.
Undeniable classic horror tops the list with a string of strong, original horror films we’ll revisit along the way- including a few slasher sequel classics. The most interesting aspect perhaps of all via this list is that when a lot of these films were released, they were universally panned and hated by the collective. Now they’ve grown on society like a titular parasite invading our senses showing us now what audiences and asshole critics couldn’t see back then. Kind of like “The Thing” hopping from body to body taking off the blinders wowing the shit out of modern cinemaniacs.
Anyways, let’s get to it!
10. Swamp Thing
Some of you may scoff that I decided to put Wes Craven’s superhero horror film Swamp Thing over other selections that didn’t quite make the cut, but my opinions’ are not like most everyone else- which is perhaps why some of you even bother to read my weirdo blog in the first place. Gotta throw in a wrench to keep ya’ll on your toes! But, at the end of the day, fantastic performances by Adrienne Barbeau and Ray Wise solidify a quirky, campy, and downright guilty pleasure story that is SWAMP THING. It’s entertaining as hell that tells us the origins of the Bayou creature at a steady pace that never drags, allowing for us to enjoy this underrated gem for exactly what it is.
Also, Wes Craven guys. Grab it here at Amazon!
Before Jigsaw played games, Timmy went for the throat and just fucked your whole world up.
This absolutely bonkers piece of slasher cinema might be one of the cheesiest horror flicks I’ve ever seen paired with the most gruesome kill scenes- you can’t help but laugh and love it. Pieces is a bit of a hot mess but in the best of ways; and if you’d argue there isn’t such a thing, watch the movie and you’ll 100% agree. It’s a straightforward slasher with both tense moments and ridiculous sub-plotting as far as trying to throw us on who the actual killer is. Which makes it kind of rather charming. What else can I say other than it’s a fun ride to take watching a girl get her legs chainsawed off in the corner of a locker room. Some mighty fine 80s’ horror right there.
8. The Entity
I saw The Entity at an entirely too young of an age and this movie scared the ever-loving shit out of me- and still kind of does as the loosely based true tale of a woman’s torture with a paranormal spirit will tend to do that to a gal.
Based on the notorious Doris Bither case of 1974, The Entity follows a single mother being raped, over and over again by a stalker spirit. Much like in the real-life case, the movie itself is an engaging tragedy and sexploitation of the female body walking a tightrope line between provocative terror and flat-out fetish. It can be a hard watch for victims of SA, in which case this ain’t for you at all. But if you can stomach it, The Entity can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of the supernatural thrillers out there and Barbara Hershey is just exceptional in her role as a distraught victim of this pervo spirit.
The master of Giallo Dario Argento, and the film that was successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act by the Director of Public Prosecutions in the UK up until 1999! Tenebre is literally a body of horror art, making a profound statement about the duplicity of society. Which is probably why it ruffled some feathers along with all the insane violence.
Tenebrae follows an American horror novelist Peter Neal who is promoting his book in Rome, where his arrival also coincides with some gruesome murders where the bodies are plastered with pages of his latest release, “Tenebre”. Argento’s greatest hit is jam-packed with fantastic cinematography and comes correct as an 80’s Italian horror film- complete with a European synthesizer soundtrack. Not to mention the movie is just pretty to look at. Even the kills are just as beautiful as they are brutal.
This movie will probably be higher up on more snooty cinephile lists; however, I am neither a movie snob nor a proclaimed “master cinephile”. I mean, I DID put Pieces on this list if you need a reminder. I’m just an asshole with a blog that has been a fan of horror movies since my diaper days. But anyway, it’s a great watch, so grab it here on Amazon!
6. Friday The 13th: Part 3
Friday The 13th Part 3 (in 3D as that’s the true title) is a monumental addition to not only the franchise but this list itself as this IS the first time Jason wears the now-iconic hockey mask. Also, it was filmed in Super 3D which just made it extra cool.
Even without the 3D gimmick, the second sequel to basically the king of the 80s’ slasher genre, stands on its own as a solid horror film. It’s also the only film in the series where the victims’ AREN’T camp counselors, but rather a gal Chris, and some friends visiting her childhood home at Higgins Haven, Chris’ father’s old farm which just so happens to be sitting right next to old Camp Crystal Lake. What a coincidence! Between the oh-so-extra kills that play off the 3D experience and Harry Manfredini’s score better than it’s even been, Part III is an important entry as it truly gives a visual birth to the now iconic Jason Voorhees that will all know and love.
5. Amityville II: The Possession
Amityville II takes everything we know about the first film, throws some steroids and fire on it, and serves it well done with a side of what-in-the-actual-fuck.
Penned by Halloween III‘s Tommy Lee Wallace, and Italian director Damiano Damiani, Amityville II was destined to be a wild ride. The sequel is actually a prequel with the Montellis loosely based on the real-life DeFeo family. The Ronnie Defeo character, Sonny Montelli, can’t live up to his asshole Dad’s (Burt Young) ridiculous expectations, and thanks to some demonic entities, the kid finally snaps back. While I feel bad for the family obviously, honestly, fuck the dad here. There’s a deleted scene where the father Anthony is anally raping Mrs. Montelli.
This entry is actually based on both Defeo’s ever-changing stories about the murders, and Hans Holtzer’s wildly controversial book, “Murder in Amityville”- where the author speculates as to exactly why Ronnie Defeo killed his entire family. The disturbing, incest relationship Sonny has with his sister Patricia, a volatile parallel between Ronnie and his father, and the speculation of the home being built on an Indian Burial ground all make it into this twisted true-crime retelling. Coupled with a demon possession plot, makes Amityville II one of the most unforgettable, and quite frankly, one of the most horrifying horror films I’ve ever seen. I personally think it’s way scarier than the first movie.
4. Halloween III: Season Of The Witch
A month after writer Tommy Lee Wallace’s Amityville II: The Possession was released, his directorial effort of the highly-anticipated sequel of the Halloween franchise hit theaters in October of 1982- to well, a lot of pissed off fans.
The fact that Michael Myers was this time, not the killer and Season of the Witch took place in an entirely different universe where the prior films were just fantasy fiction, really rubbed fans the wrong way as they felt they had been swindled into a franchise they didn’t recognize- at least, this is according to my own family who are some of the biggest Halloween fans I know and put me on the path of horror movie righteousness. It makes sense; however, this sort of attitude virally panned this entry without giving it a proper chance. Over the years, Halloween III: Season of the Witch has developed a massive cult following, and the red-headed step-child is finally getting the recognition it deserves: as a fantastic piece of horror movie Halloween goodness and dare I say, the Halloweenist of all the Halloween movies. Yeah, I said it.
What happens when George A. Romero, Tom Savani, and Stephen King have an orgy lovechild? Creepshow that’s what and the goddamn greatest anthology there ever was, and ever will be.
Also, now we’ve ventured into back to back Tom Atkins. Fantastic.
Taking the excitement and forbidden fruit of childhood horror comics and visually splattering it on screen into five, cinematically stunning tales of terror, Creepshow is the Horror God’s gift to fans. I don’t even know what to say that hasn’t already been said about it, but I can state this: It perfectly nails what it feels like to be a part of the horror community and how exactly it feels to be a horror junkie in general. Disapproval from those who will fail to ever understand while we quietly disappear into the background with our beloved fetish- and yes, also silently plotting our revenge on them. I’ll never go as far as Leslie Neilson, but I’m not opposed to dousing someone’s home in 1,000 cockroaches to those who scoff at the horror community.
2. The Thing
Much like with Halloween III, John Carpenter’s The Thing was universally shit on by critics. This right here, ladies and gentlemen, is why NEVER listen to a glorified voice on the matter because 95% of the time, they don’t know jack from shit on what fans like. Also, goes without saying never, EVER read a horror movie review that isn’t from a reputable horror site. You’re just going to get steered in the wrong direction from a bunch of jackoffs that don’t understand the genre anyway.
That being said, The Thing is quite possibly, the greatest Sci-Fi horror flick of all time- and a remake at that! For me, The Thing is constantly picking a fight with Ridley Scott’s Alien as the top contender spot; both with similar themes of claustrophobia in isolation. Also with members of the crew from both films serving as a possible threat to each other. However, in The Thing, the monster’s agenda is prominent and it’s survival is of the utmost importantace. Every part of the “Thing” is an individual life form with its own survival instinct, meaning it will sever itself in half if that means it can escape from danger faster. All it needs to turn into another creature it just a sample of their DNA, absorb it, which allows it to take on the copied subject’s appearance, memories, and mannerisms. I really wouldn’t want an entire world populated with these things. Would you?
I might even get some shit here for putting this as the runner-up, but I gotta go with my gut here on this one. Relive the terror here!
Written by Stephen Spielberg and directed by Tobe Hooper, albeit debate still stands on where all true credit for the film goes, Poltergeist is the horror champion of 1982 for all the right reasons.
Malevolent spirits stealing a child and tormenting the Freelings play heavy on the innocence factor. Things are a lot scarier when purity is involved- much like when little Regan turned into a green-slime puking demon in The Exorcist. The anguish and trauma the family, in particular, Mom Diane (JoBeth Williams) goes through, you feel deep in your bones. Not to mention all the real-world terror and loss felt offscreen that became legendary in the film world; you know, the whole “Poltergeist Curse” thing.
Poltergeist is hauntingly beautiful. Foregoing a traditional sinister musical score for the film, we’re embraced by a sweet, yet haunting lullaby while we all know a five-year-old girl is alone in some horrific purgatory with a bunch of ghosts clawing at her to “lead them into the light”. The movie starts as innocent and carefree as any film, and the intensity grows as we roll along. Brother and sister playing? Mom taking a bath? Dude eating a bag of Cheetos? All terrifying. We all know something bad is coming. We just don’t know when or how. Until an ugly mug of a beast ghost shows up to let them know they are not in control of a damn thing.
Plus, let’s not forget this magnificent horror treasure induced a giant fear of clowns among the masses. The power of cinema folks.
At the end of the day, what makes Poltergeist the end-all for horror in 82′ is that ultimately, it’s a tour-de-force of filmmaking. There’s so much going on beyond the terrifying surface that says a lot about America, suburbia, and society in general. Here we have a film set in the early ‘80s, opening with the national anthem, where a yuppie dad (Craig T. Neilson) who builds homes basically on top of each other (and on cemetery grounds for that matter) is reading a Ronald Reagan biography. Of course, this is unbeknownst to him, but not his boss, who knew damn well what they building this sweet neighborhood on. Economic gain and greed while they attempt to erase history in the process. Reaganomics everyone.
So there you have it, a fine year for horror movies indeed. Also, my birth year and have no shame in claiming any of these. So let’s hear it- what’s YOUR favorite horror from 1982?