Friday, April 12, 2013

The weird things I saw in the 80's.


Through out my twenties and thirties I used to watch almost anything and everything.  I could watch science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, comedy, adventure ~ almost anything.  When I was single, I'd head to the theaters with my pal Jerry Connell.  He'd watch almost anything and everything too.  I had to be more selective as to what I took my girlfriend to see.  Gina has always liked action, adventure and comedy, but not dark and violent...especially not scary.

I went to the movies as often as possible.  If I wasn't going to a movie, I was hitting the video store to pick up a couple of VHS tapes most Friday and Saturday nights.  For the life of me I don't know why I rented some of the movies I did.  Slashers were a big thing back then, but I wasn't a fan of slashers because there was nothing much to them.  Nothing could beat the original slasher, Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO (1960).  Even the Psycho sequels of the 80's and 90's never lived up to Hitchcock's original.


What I wanted from horror wasn't the typical blood bath, but an original story, good characters, good acting and SUSPENSE!  I didn't want to go to the movie just so some creature/specter jumped out of a closet or out of a dream and kill a bunch of teenagers one at a time.  I didn't care for Freddy, Jason or Chucky.  They were all the same to me, created with little imagination.  The first Friday the 13th was good, but all the movies to follow seemed just the same.  Slashers made big bucks back then in spite of my opinion.

I never cared for gore for gore's sake, or horror that relied on people jumping out and planting a hatchet in the head of some poor chic in a bikini.  Even though I didn't rent it, Jerry brought over EVIL DEAD and EVIL DEAD II one night.  I was reluctant to watch it when I saw the name and the picture on the box.  Jerry coaxed me into it and I'm glad he did.  Evil Dead was gory, but had a wicked sense of humor.  ARMY OF DARKNESS later came out in the early 90's and was the best of the trilogy.

I started reading Stephen King books in the early eighties after seeing THE SHINING.  This was a horror masterpiece in both print and on screen.  Some of King's book to movie adaptations were really good, but most were so-so.  I really enjoyed THE DEAD ZONE starring Christopher Walken as Johnny Smith.  The television show that came along years later is quite good too.


Another horror movie that I loved from the 80's is AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, directed by John Landis.  It was my friend Michael Bynum that told me not to miss seeing this one.  The special effects were impressive for it's day but not too impressive today.  The movie is still worth seeing and holds up nevertheless.  The story is original and it's got some humorous scenes in it too.  Humor and horror go together nicely.

John Carpenter directed Kurt Russell in a fantastic remake of THE THING.  Again, special effects have come a long way since that movie, but it's still a great movie with a lot of suspense.  Carpenter also produced THEY LIVE which is leaves much to be desired, but the story had so much promise.  The film was shot in eight weeks on a Roger Corman budget and it shows.  I haven't seen the 2011 remake of The Thing, but why doesn't somebody take some time and money and resurrect and retell They Live the way it should be told?  There's a lot in this movie that makes the story line prophetic, but it's such a crappy piece of work. The story wasn't that believable back then, but would be quite believable today.  This 80's movie needs a do over.

So if you missed the good horror movies of the eighties, I recommend all of the movies above.
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