A History of
Modern Horror Begins.
Slasher pics were extremely prevalent during this period, as were endless strings of sequels and numerous rip-offs. Low budget exploitation pics were still rife at the start of this decade however, with the popularity of video's taking off in the early 80's combined with the widespread introduction of satellite and cable TV, horror pics slowly started to become geared towards the commercial end of the market ...
"Friday the 13th" in 1980 was one of the first commercial slasher pics to be released following the success of "Halloween". The plot, about an unseen stalker preying on teenagers was similar in many ways, but the film managed to distinguish itself due to its graphic excesses and set the standard that all other exploitive slasher pics would follow.
1980 also saw the release of "Zombie Flesh-Eaters" by the low budget Italian gore hound Lucio Fulci in an attempt to cash in on the success of "Dawn of the Dead". The following year in 1981 a low budget "Friday the 13th" rip-off entitled "The Burning" appeared, the special effects of which were even by the same guy (the now legendary Tom Savini). The film is most notable as it was the picture that successfully launched Mirimax film studio's.
More gore and mayhem followed on this year with the release of "Maniac" by William Lustig, which starred former "Bond" girl Caroline Munroe. This was another gory and violent, low budget shocker, with Tom Savini also doing the special cosmetic effects. Werewolves also reared their ugly heads once more in the hugely successful "The Howling" about a small country retreat populated by werewolves, and in the black comedy "An American Werewolf in London" in which an American tourist goes around terrorising people in modern day London after he is bitten by a werewolf.
Michael Myers went on the prowl again in John Carpenters "Halloween 2", which picked up straight after the original and James Cameron made his directorial debut with the low budget sequel "Piranha 2 : Flying Killers", with Lance Henricksen battling mutant piranhas that have been crossed with catfish and flying fish, producing killer fish that can fly through the air (believe me, it's worse than it sounds). Another Steven King novel was adapted for the screen in this year, namely "The Shining", by director Stanley Kubrick which starred Jack Nicholson, who is still best remembered for the line "Here's Johnny"!
1982 saw the release of "Friday the 13th Part 2", which continued the graphic slasher theme and Tobe Hooper teamed up with Steven Spielberg for some ghostly goings on in "Poltergeist". "The Evil Dead" was also released this year, taking its inspiration from "Night of the Living Dead" and "The Exorcist" as a group of youths holed up in a woodland cabin summon up evil spirits and zombies after reading from an ancient book. The film, a well made low budget picture, became an instant cult hit.
Many horror sequels appeared in 1983 trying to cash in on the gimmicky 3D fad, that lasted all of 5 minutes. These included "Amityville 3D", "Jaws 3D" and "Friday the 13th Part 3D". All of which seeming to have fairly pointless plots and appeared to be churned out solely to satisfy 3D hungry audiences. "Friday the 13th part 3D" is only worth a mention as, ironically, it was this episode in the saga that its lead character "Jason" became a household name after acquiring his now legendary Ice Hockey mask.
"Psycho 2" was released in this year, once again starring Anthony Perkins, which picked up the original plot some 22 years later with Norman Bates being released from his mental hospital and re-opening his old motel. John Carpenter released a third Halloween movie, entitled "Halloween 3 : Season of the Witch", which disappointed fans of the series, with it having an entirely new plot about a fiendish toy company, making deadly Halloween masks. The film was a box office failure, but Carpenter faired much better with his adaptation of Steven Kings killer car novel "Christine".
'83 also saw moral panic hitting the shores of the UK in this year, as it was suddenly discovered that there were no laws governing the release of films onto video tape, and so small distribution companies started to flood the shelves with all sorts of low budget horror films, many of which having previously been banned at the cinema. In response, the government started drawing up lists of the films they wished to prosecute and ban, before finally outlawing the trade in uncertified tapes in 1984 and implementing rigorous censorship laws for home viewing.
Notable films released in 1984 were "A Company of Wolves", a sort-of gory version of Red Riding Hood, and the highly successful horror/comedy "Ghostbusters". "Friday the 13th Part 4 : The Final Chapter" was also released this year, except it was far from the last in the series, and dream demon "Freddy Kruger" made his first appearance in Wes Craven's horror shocker "A Nightmare on Elm Street", played by horror veteran Robert Englund.
This year also saw another hugely successful sci-fi/horror pic released, this being James Cameron's "The Terminator" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Zombie mayhem re-appeared in 1985 with the release of George Romero's "Day of the Dead", the third in his Living Dead series, although the film was not as successful as his two previous zombie flicks. "Return of the Living Dead" by Dan O'Bannon, which took-off Romero's zombie pictures and mixed graphic excesses with tongue-in-cheek humour, faired much better and became a huge cult hit as did "Re-Animator", which was a kind-of modern day, dark humoured, gory version of Frankenstein featuring zombies.
Also released was "Friday the 13th Part 5 : A New Beginning", after the film makers decided that the films had made too much money for them to stop at part 4, and "A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 : Freddy's Revenge" in which Freddy returns to kill more teens on Elm Street and more Werewolves appeared on the big screen in Steven Kings "Silver Bullet".
1986 saw Jeff Goldblum star in "The Fly", a remake of the original 1950's shocker by director David Cronenberg, whilst singer Grace Jones appeared in the lacklustre vampire pic "Vamp". Several sequels were released, starting with "Psycho 3" starring Anthony Perkins again, "Phantasm 2", which despite being filmed some 9 years later picked up directly after the first picture, then there was the disappointing "Poltergeist 2" which starred most of the original cast, and the appalling "Howling 2" with Christopher Lee, who was later quoted as saying "The less said about my role in that film the better".
Machines took over the world in Steven Kings "Maximum Overdrive" and Jason returned from the grave in "Friday the 13th Part 6 : Jason Lives", Leatherface also made a comeback in Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2" which was a rather dull horror comedy and no-where near as good as the original. However the biggest film of the year was undoubtedly James Cameron's Sci-Fi/Horror pic "Aliens", a sequel to Ridley Scott's "Alien" which once again starred Sigourney Weaver, along with the supporting cast of "Terminator".
The horror comedy "The Monster Squad" in 1987, was a kind of cross between "Ghostbusters" and "The Goonies", and was presumably a deliberate attempt to cash in on the success of them both. This was more of a kids movie, although was quite funny in places, in which a group of youths battle classic horror monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein's monster (Tom Noonan), the Wolf Man and The Mummy.
Sam Riami released "Evil Dead 2 : Dead by Dawn", in this year. A part-sequel, part-remake follow up to his original "Evil Dead" movie. The vampire pic "Near Dark" also came out, starring some of the supporting cast from "Aliens" and Freddy Kruger returned again in "A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3 : Dream Warriors", once again starring Robert Englund, and another giant shark went on the rampage in the awful "Jaws 4 : The Revenge" which featured Michael Caine.
However, the most talked about film of the decade was undoubtedly "Hellraiser", adapted from the novel The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker. The film was made notable by its excessive blood and gore, and Its grotesque central character Pinhead, played by British actor Doug Bradley, who's character added to the list of modern day popular horror monsters. The other notable horror pic to emerge in this year was the Sci-Fi/Shocker "Predator" in which an alien hunter battled Arnie Schwarzenegger in the jungles of South-America.
1988 saw more sequels abound with Jason, Freddy, Pinhead, Michael Myers and several others returning for more, starting with "Friday the 13th Part 7 : The New Blood", in which stuntman Kane Hodder took over the role of Jason and claimed it as his own, having previously been played by a different actor in each film, "A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4 : The Dream Master", with Robert Englund again, "Hellbound : Hellraiser 2", with Doug Bradley reprising his role of pinhead and there was more ghostly apparitions in the pointless "Poltergeist 3". Most notable was the film "Halloween 4 : The Return of Michael Myers", which ignored the part 3 spin off and picked up the original Halloween storyline 10 years after, with Donald Pleasance reprising his role as Dr Loomis.
Two new horror characters were also created in this year with the introduction of the devil doll Chucky in the film "Childs Play", as voiced by cult horror star Brad Douriff, and the ex-cop turned psycho-zombie Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar) in the less memorable, low budget "Maniac Cop" by William Lustig, which took a welcome break from the endless run of sequels being churned out at the time.
More sequels followed in 1989 with the extremely dull "Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5 : The Dream Child", the lacklustre "Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers", the appalling farce "Friday the 13th Part 8 : Jason Takes Manhattan" and the low budget "Amityville 4 : The Evil Escapes". Also released was "Ghostbusters 2", which was an amusing follow up to the original horror/comedy.
|HISTORY OF HORROR|