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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!

[Video] Retro Wrestling’s 10 Greatest Wrestlemania Moments!

With Wrestlemania 34 looming over our heads like Shawn Michaels making that spectacular overhead entrance in Wrestlemania XII, I obviously wanted to take advantage here and dive into retro wrestling’s greatest Wrestlemania moments from years’ past!

Retro Wrestling's 10 Greatest Wrestlemania Moments!

If you’re a fan, (and hey who wasn’t in the 80’s and 90’s), you can probably remember the first time you sat and watched the PayPer View spectacle that was (is), Wrestlemania. Whether you were lucky enough to be alive for the first or the twentieth, it stands as a sort of rite of passage for any wrestling fan to sit and enjoy the most important wrestling event of the year at least once at the time of airing. Bonus if you ever got to see the prestigious event loaded with neon spandex live in person! I myself never got to witness any major PayPer View events, BUT I was there when Earthquake performed animal murder (or at least my 9-year-old-self thought at the time) by cannon-balling his very large ass onto Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ bag that held the beloved Damian. And yes, the answer is I cried like a little bitch.

Anyway beyond traumatic memories of dead pythons, be it that it is Wrestlemania weekend, I felt now would be a good time to look back on some of the greatest moments from the event throughout our childhood years. These moments shook us to our core, made us feel all the damn things, and have etched their iconic imprints onto the legacy that is, the glorious Wrestlemania. Here’s what I think is, in my humble opinion of course, the ten greatest moments in retro Wrestlemania history!

 

10. The Mega-Powers Explode!

Wrestlemania V

Retro Wrestling's 10 Greatest Wrestlemania Moments!

The Madness and the Hulkster had a lot of back and forth throughout their wrestling careers. One minute they were bitter enemies, the next absolute butt-buddies. It was just a vicious cycle of fighting, followed by forgiveness and we ate it up every time. However, after the duo formed the ever-so-epic Mega Powers force and then had another falling out over a misunderstanding with Miss Elizabeth, we got the mighty conclusion of the pair’s quarrel that began over a woman and a jealous fit, at Wrestlemania V. This match, in particular, is everything I loved about retro wrestling. Two of the greatest icons, with a totally believable story behind it, raging war at Wrestlemania. Doesn’t get much better than that folks.

 

 

9. The Backlot Brawl

Wrestlemania XII

piper vs goldust

This match of all damn rages is not only memorable as it is, kind of hilarious. Listen, no one talks the kind of trash like Mr. Ass-Kicking Bubblegum himself, Roddy Piper. And when the weirdo Goldust (Dustin Rhodes) began sexually taunting the Hot Rod, our boy in plaid wasn’t having any of that shit. Thus bringing the Backlot Brawl to Wrestlemania VII so the pair could settle the score like REAL MEN. I feel like that fight scene in They Live was good practice for this match. However, Piper punched the Dust of Gold so hard, he ended up breaking his hand. And he kept going like nothing happened. Talk about commitment to the match!

 

 

8. Lovers Reunited

Wrestlemania VII

Savage and Elizabeth

I certainly am not taking anything away from the pretty awesome career ending match between Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior at the seventh installment of Wrestlemania. However, no one can deny this was the most memorable moment resulting from it. Elizabeth and Randy have been like peas and carrots throughout (almost) Savage’s career in the WWF to date here. So to watch the demise of Scary Sherri and the rise once again of what seemed to be, a stronger Elizabeth fall into the arms of the madness once more, was quite touching indeed.

 

 

7. Icon VS Icon

Wrestlemania XVIII

rock-vs-hogan

Before Dwayne Johnson was fighting off the jungle in Jumanji, The Rock was the sport’s biggest star and athlete during the Attitude Era at the WWE. So when we got to witness one generation’s wrestling icon square off against another, it was pretty much the coolest thing ever, (if you smell what the Patti is cookin’ over here). I know. Terrible joke. But I felt this was a proper way to pass the torch, so to speak, from Hogan to The Rock ushering in a new icon as the face for the industry. And it was pretty cool of Hogan to do that for him.

 

 

6. The Rattlesnake Takes On The Bull

Wrestlemania XVII

ausin-rock-chair

One year prior to The Rock taking on the Hulkster at Wrestlemania, he faced one of his toughest challenges to date with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. These two phenoms WERE the top contenders during the attitude era, and have etched a legacy inside the ring worthy of standing alongside the greats before them. For the pair of fan favorites that ushered in a slew of unforgettable one-liners and ass-kicking finishing moves to finally face-off at the Superbowl events of wrestling, was truly a moment not to be forgotten anytime soon.. or ever for that matter.

 

5. The Ladder Oozes Machismo

Wrestlemania X

razor-ramon-shawn-michaels

Never before had we seen a goddamn Ladder Match! And not since then, has one matched up to the power and glory as displayed between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon during the tenth Wrestlemania. Both athletes are some of the most exceptional executioners in the business, and the tense back and forth for the Intercontinental championship is definitely one of the best of all time.

 

 

4. Nothing But Hart and Gorey Glory

Wrestlemania XIII

bretaustin

Single-handedly, the role-reversal moment in history happened at Wrestlemania 13 during the match between Austin and the “Excellence of Execution” himself, “The Hitman” Bret Hart. And I don’t even think it was something that was meant to happen! Which it made it that much better. The intestinal fortitude of Austin’s character during the match gained a lot of favor with the crowd, which in turn, kind of pissed off Hart. Marking the beginning of Bret Hart’s lack of faith in the industry and heel turn, which he talks in depth about in his documentary Wrestling With Shadows.

 

 

3. The Ultimate Challenge

Wrestlemania VI

Wrestlemania-6-hulk-hogan-ultimate-warrior_2069676

Much like earlier in this article with The Rock, Hogan set the stage to make another athlete an iconic superstar at Wrestlemania 6. While The Warrior’s (rest his soul) career didn’t have the longevity as Dwayne Johnson’s has, he’s no less recognizable as The Warrior has his own spot in infamous WWE history. In any regard, say what you want about the Hulkster, but he’s always been a team player when it comes to his fellow competitors. As with this explosive match in 1989, Hogan accepted defeat with dignity and a new champion was born in the ring.

 

 

2. The Savage Steamboat Ride of Awesomeness

Wrestlemania III

savage and steamboat

Many consider the brawl between Macho Man and The Dragon at Wrestlemania III, to be one of the greatest of all time. And goddamn if I don’t agree with said people. Here we have two highly technical athletes who make this match look like a fuckin’ ballet of the ring. Everything about it is perfection and should be studied by any one person looking to make a career in the sport. Or hell, just for the fun of it because it’s just that good. The brawl wasn’t even the main event, but it certainly stole the show. Mostly due to Savage’s role in the process of tediously planning every single move in the match, as Ricky Steamboat told Wrestling Observer Radio.

“It got to the point to where I would turn page after page after page in my notebook and then at about the fourth page, I’d say, ‘Okay this is step 112. I’m going to do this, this, and this. Tell me the rest of the match.’ And he would go through and tell me the rest of the match. And then he would get his book out and he would flip through same pages and he would go ‘Okay I’m on step number 86, and I’m going to be doing this, this, and this, tell me the rest of the match.”

 

 

1. The Giant Slam Heard Around The World

Wrestlemania III

hogan and andre

The only thing that can top the Steamboat/Savage interlocking dance of athletic ability, is this moment right here. The moment that forever etched Hogan as the true immortal and a man of real power and strength. It was heavily rumored at the time Hogan would try and slam the mighty Andre, but no one actually believed he could bodyslam the seven-foot-plus, 500-pound legend in the ring. That being said, the top two spots here confirm what I’ve always believed: that Wrestlemania III just might be, the greatest WWE ticket to date. It truly was a magical time for the sport, and when Andre humbly ended his undefeated 15-year streak at the company to the Hulkster, it made us really want to take those vitamins and say our prayers to no end.

What’s your favorite Wrestlemania moment?! Let’s discuss and Happy Wrestlemania Weekend!