1987: A year of historic events indeed. The first “The Simpsons” cartoon short is shown on The Tracey Ullman Show. President Ronald Reagan delivered his famous speech at the Berlin Wall. And Freddy Krueger delivered his most infamous line of the Nightmare franchise for the first time, “Welcome to Prime Time Bitch!” Also yes, I consider a Krueger one-liner as significant as the Berlin Wall speech- don’t judge me.
That being said, 1987 was a monumental year for horror. Considering the previous year 1986 and one hell of a year to follow, ’87 did a pretty bang-up job of another year full of horror flicks that we would cherish for years to come. So let’s just get right to it, but not before we give one honorary mention. There were so many damn good horror films out of this year it pains me to leave this one out so a big shout to…
No one can play a psychopath step-parent like Terry O’ Quinn and that’s just how it is. Jerry Blake wants the perfect family, and he’ll kill to get it; which he does again and again as it seems like the perfect family doesn’t exist- shocker. Preying on widows and divorcees, Jerry/Henry/Bill whatever his name is that day is every bit as intimidating and sus even when trying not to be; so I find it a little insulting being a woman that these ladies aren’t tuning into that ol’ women’s intuition.
Although it would be extremely difficult today in a tech-social-media society for a homicidal maniac to be able to get away with these kinds of shenanigans, in 1987, it’s a fun ride and a gentle reminder of what once was in a pre-internet era: A bountiful time for serial killers.
Also, I like to fantasize that Terry O’ Quinn’s character of Sheriff Haller in Silver Bullet is in fact Jerry Blake gone mad with brain damage after that werewolf beating. Disappeared and began a new life as a serial killer unbeknownst of his life before. Watch them back to back and give that theory a try. Makes it that much more fun.
10. The Gate
The Gate is nothing short of bonkers nostalgia full of good old-fashioned Canadian charm and that’s exactly why we love it.
Kind of like Stranger Things meets The Goonies for a visual reference, The Gate takes that nostalgic 80s’ kids’ in danger hullabaloo and dials it into B-Movie madness with little satanic panic demons running around everywhere trying to take over the Earth thanks to a couple of curious kids digging up a portal of Hell in a suburban backyard. Because, that’s where all portals to Hell lie dormant, am I right? For context, one of the kids coincidentally finds a heavy metal LP that comes with a demonic bible of sorts that gives the kids all the information they might need should they want to open a portal to the dark realms and summon demonic forces.
That’s pretty much all you need to know to know this movie rules.
9. Prince Of Darkness
He might be best known for Halloween and The Thing, but John Carpenter’s Prince Of Darkness might be the creepiest and underrated of all his horror film entries. The score alone is overwhelmingly sadistic and unnerving and it damn well better be if you got the likes of Alice Cooper cast in your movie.
Horror genius Carpenter mixes faith, fear, and science into a delicious cocktail of horror movie cosmo when an old abandoned church a priest finds an old relic, a key, an old book, and a mysterious vat of green liquid. Mix in a group of scientists lobbying it up in the church along with a group of vagrants gathering outside the church, and the unthinkable happens: the green liquid attacks and it is the unholiest of Nickelodeon green gak you’ll see this side of Double Dare.
8. The Lost Boys
I feel like I might get a massive amount of shit from die-hard Lost Boys fans for putting this so low on the list. But, it is what it is folks. Also, I still believe the sax man in chains needed more screen time in an encore song, thanks very much.
Santa Carla is a hell of a place to live- if you’re a vampire that is. But it also makes for one hell of a movie, especially with not one, BUT TWO Coreys’ involved in trying to take down a gang of punk-rock teenage vampires. What I love most about The Lost Boys is that is a nostalgic 80s time capsule caught on film. Everything wonderful about northern Cali in the 80s’ is captured perfectly in a movie we can revisit time and again. From the mentality of teenage minds right down to the aesthetics. It’s a damn treasure for sure.
Stuart Gordon’s DOLLS was one of the first films I REALLY embraced as a kid on my own with zero influence from anyone else. Based solely on the VHS cover art alone, a rental happened and I was delighted every time I rented that movie- and it was legitimately about 98 times.
DOLLS is a creepy concept that marriages a kids’ fantasy that your toys come to life (it ain’t Toy Story folks) and the horror genre. With the visions of both Charles Band and Stuart Gordon, we get DOLLS. A movie that on the surface looks like another B-horror flick, but runs so much deeper, and scarier than that. Definitely, one of the greatest films to come out in the 80s under the radar and hold such a loyal cult following today. I mean, fans are loyal, and that’s a fact.
6. Monster Squad
The film that proved that not only the wolfman does indeed, have nards, but that also you can blow up a fuckin’ werewolf only for him to piece himself back together comes in at number five. And I feel almost sad about that but damn, 1987 was such a great year where other important films were laid on the table alongside the Squad that it just edges it out.
Monster Squad is like The Goonies on a whole ‘nother level of awesomeness with all the monsters we know from the golden age of horror, coming back and wreaking havoc on a small town with Dracula at the helm looking for his amulet so that he may obtain world domination and then destroy it. And only a small group of horror movie fans that call themselves the Monster Squad, can stop them. Also worth noting that Dracula has NEVER been more terrifying. He grabs a little girl by her chin, lifts her up, and calls her a bitch. That’s some balls I couldn’t even wrap my head around as a 5-year-old watching this; the same age as Phoebe in the film. That sort of fucked me up a little.
It’s pretty much every kid horror fan’s dream to meet a real-life monster and then become the hero to stop them to boot. Much like with The Lost Boys and The Gate, the nostalgic aesthetics of this movie pleases our senses but on a level way higher than the aforementioned. It rocks me until I drop.
Predator is a goddamn glorious spectacle full of the manliest of testosterone and honestly, I’ve always been here for it. The mash-up between a steroid-induced action film and a slasher movie deserves some kind of award- but I guess the best I can do is put it in the top five here of 1987.
With a cast like Carl Weathers, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, and of course Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a hunting match with a technologically advanced lone alien in the jungles of the fictional Central American country of Val Verde, ( the same made-up country used for Arnold’s 1985 action gala Commando) it’s hard to not fuckin’ love everything about this movie. From the “chef’s kiss” one-liners, gory kills, and ARNOLD VS an ALIEN thirty-minute finale, Predator is everything an 80s’ action/horror film should be and more.
Now “GET TO THA’ CHOPPA, MYAHHHHHH!”
4. Creepshow 2
On rare occasion, a sequel is right on par with the original, notwithstanding a shorter version but just as good as the 1982 anthology we all love and adore.
With three stories in the horror anthology that just seems to get better as the film rolls along with a frame story of little Billy on the run from some asshole bullies in animated form, Creepshow 2 is a goddamn good time for everyone of all ages. With a screenplay by George Romero and stories by Stephen King, Creepshow has always seemed to me to be the kind of fun, and silly horror anthology that 10-year-olds would try and smugly rent under their parents’ noses at the local video shop. As a witness to this in my youth with friends who didn’t have quite as cool parents as I did, I always associated the anthology series as a youthful gateway into the horror world. To my surprise, a lot of fans don’t seem to like this installment in comparison with the original. My answer to that is simply putting it at number 4 and offering them a one-way ticket to Lake Sludge.
3. Evil Dead 2
And sometimes when a sequel is on par with the original, then there are others that even surpass their predecessor. That is mother fuckin’ Evil Dead 2.
Honestly, there’s no evidence to the contrary that Bruce Campbell is the second coming of Christ because who else can we call when the deadites are on the loose? When Ash saws off his own hand while screaming manically, I’ve never felt closer to God. Evil Dead 2 is heavy metal horror on steroids with a low budget and is better, faster, and more gnarly in every single way all while being unapologetic for what the movie actually is. Self-parodying isn’t uncommon in horror franchises, but the fact that Evil Dead 2 did it to the point that it BECAME the franchise and the most beloved, is fucking wild.
Now, swallow this.
Jesus wept only because there was ONE other horror film that could beat out Clive Barker’s masterpiece- Hellraiser.
I can distinctly remember the time when my little brother was 9 and my parents had to pick him up from a sleepover in the middle of the night because he was scared shitless after watching a little horror movie with a friend. Can we all take a guess on what film that was? Mmmhmm. That being said, I had never seen Hellraiser myself so after this debacle, I dived right into it and never looked at a Rubix cube the same way again.
Hellraiser is beautifully chaotic in its energy to terrify and turn your stomach acid upside-down-or if you prefer, inside-out. Doug Bradley, in his very minimal screen-time, managed to make a monster of an icon out of Pinhead and has become the Robert Englund of his own character; as in, there’s just no replacing the guy. Yes, I’m well aware of the upcoming reboot with the casting of a female; which in actuality, is a lot closer to the literary version of the descriptions of the cenobites not having a binary gender identity. In fact, Pinhead is described as having a feminine-sounding voice, but I don’t care about any of that. Give me Doug, or give me death.
Yep. This is my hell.
1. A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors
Yep, I have crowned a sequel to be the Horror Champ of 1987. Wes Craven’s ANOES gave birth to one of the greatest horror icons and franchises to come out of the 20th century, and Dream Warriors is like The Godfather II to that film; continuing directly from the source at the same steady beat while expanding it much deeper than one could ever dream of, ironically. As an advocate for mental illness, Nightmare 3 is a film I hold near and dear to me; and one I can dissect and pick apart for hours with all the metaphors I’ve found in the film regarding the subject.
The film has a great story, memorable kills, and really was the birthing point of when Freddy really came into his own as a sadistic villain, that somehow you loved?! That’s some genius shit right there. Sort of how Vince Gilligan shaped Walter White in Breaking Bad, no matter how malevolent he made the character, the audiences embraced him even more. Not to mention, it coincides with the time Freddy Mania really got momentum and brought the horror phenom to the mainstream, enticing the youth of our generation to indulge in our curiosities of the horror genre. When a film and a goddamn sequel for that matter can make that kind of impact, it has to be acknowledged and respected.
Bless the Prime Time, Bitch.
Obligatory Honorary Non-Horror Mention
Listen, I can’t even talk about films of 1987 without at the very least, giving a shout-out to part man-part machine, Robocop.
While the film itself isn’t horror per se, Robocop harbors some elemental terror in the fact that man is playing GOD over another man’s life and death. Even though the cops of Detroit signed a waiver with OCP gaining them access to their remains in the event of a tragedy, selling your soul to big corp while giving them too much power is just as relevant as is today in this terrifying age that we all live in where the monopoly of greedy corporations take away the average joes’ livelihoods all for the sake of a buck and some extra power. Pretty sick and twisted metaphors inside a badass movie that I’ve seen about 200 times and never get sick of it.
Also, seeing this guy melt as a kid and then explode into a pool of sludge was definitely one of the scariest fuckin’ things I’ve ever seen. Don’t you deny it.
So let’s make like Clarence Boddicker, sniff some wine off our fingers, and raise our glasses to a wonderful year of terror- 1987.