13 Movies That Prove the 80s Were Totally Bitchin
Article By: Tyler Doupe
As a child of the ‘80s, I vividly remember it as a time when excess was the name of the game. If a little was good, a lot was better. And if it wasn’t cheesy, it wasn’t worth doing. We had Leon Neon, Garbage Pail Kids, MadBalls, and countless other unforgettable forays into awesomeness. But, naturally, the glorious excess of the ‘80s was not limited to product lines marketed to youngsters. It spilled over into almost every aspect of our day-to-day lives, including cinema. And it was arguably never more apparent than in the horror output of the decade.
The genre flicks of the 1980s continue to delight fans to this day with their propensity for excess and a hefty helping of cheese. With that in mind, we will be taking a look back at 13 horror films that we think brilliantly illustrate why the ‘80s was a totally bitchin’ decade. So, put on some Debbie Gibson, grab your Trapper Keeper and round up your collection of Popples, because we’re headed back to the ‘80s!
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The moral of Stuart Gordon’s adult fairy tale is simple: Don’t be a dick and you won’t get murdered by demonic toys. But not every aspect of the film is quite so simple. The hair, makeup, and wardrobe (particularly those which are sported by the British punk rock girls) is totally bitchin’ and quintessentially ‘80s.
2. Killer Klowns from Outer Space
This tale of homicidal space aliens feels like it couldn’t have come from any other era. And that may be why there has been such a prolonged holdup with the sequel and or television series that we’ve been hearing about off and on for some time, now. Regardless of whether or not a follow up effort ever materializes, Killer Klowns from Outer Space stands as one of the most delightfully cheesy and wholly enjoyable genre films from the 1980s.
This quintessential ‘80s horror flick has everything you could want from a product of that era, including pint-sized monsters, gory special effects, and Phoebe Cates. Not to mention, you also get ‘80s staples Corey Feldman and Zach Galligan. Gremlins deserves much of the credit (or blame) for kicking off the tiny creature craze that went from the mid-late ‘80s. Other notable entries in the subgenre include Critters, and Munchies.
David Cronenberg is inarguably the master of body horror and he was at the top of his game with Videodrome. The film is rife with social commentary relevant to the time in which it was released and it also delivers some of the most mind-blowing effects in recent memory. Videodrome isn’t heavy on cheese like most of the entries on this list but it’s every bit an ‘80s film and it remains an unforgettable representation of its era. “Long live the new flesh.”
5. The House on Sorority Row
This ‘80s staple ranks for so many reasons. The dialogue is biting, exaggerated, and way over-the-top. The performances are hammy. The kills are brutal. And the band the plays the party scene is a perfect depiction of the pop music scene in 1983. The House on Sorority Row is undeniably a product of the ‘80s and that’s one of the many reasons why we can’t get enough of it.
6. Chopping Mall
There are few genre films that are more firmly tied to a particular era than this one. Everything about this flick screams ‘80s. From the hairstyles to the wardrobe choices to the score, it is absolutely a product of its time and that is just one of the many reasons why we love it. Genre film faves Kelli Maroney and Barbara Crampton both turned in memorable performances and the Killbot effects are delightfully over the top.
7. The Return of the Living Dead
This flick brought together two of my favorite things in life: horror movies and punk rock. Not surprisingly, it’s always had a special place in my heart. Return of the Living Dead ratchets up the gore quotient and provides a not entirely inaccurate look at punk rock life in the mid-1980s. It’s also filled to the brim with gratuitous nudity, biting dialogue, and state-of-the-art splatter effects. It’s a product of its time but Return of the Living Dead is also a tried-and-true classic.
8. Bloody Birthday
Bloody Birthday is my favorite so bad it’s good flick of all time. It’s the perfect storm of awesomely bad and I find new reasons to love it every time I revisit it. There are so many reasons to like this movie: The performances are hammy in every possible way, there’s an unbelievable amount of nudity, and the sociopathic children at the heart of the story are delightfully evil. Movies like this just don’t seem to come about these days.
9. Night of the Demons
One need not be an expert in the past to peg Night of the Demons as an artifact of the late 1980s. The hairstyles, the wardrobe choices, the soundtrack, and the ridiculous dancing do an effective job of helping anyone watching for the first time to easily place it in the appropriate timeframe.
10. Friday the 13th Part VII: Jason Takes Manhattan
There are a number of reasons Jason Takes Manhattan stands out as an export of the late ‘80s but none more important that J.J.’s bitchin’ guitar skills. Unfortunately, her incredible prowess for stringed instruments is not enough to save her life. Say what you will about this film, but you cannot say that it doesn’t absolutely make you want to spray on some Jovan Musk and lace up your Reebok Pumps.
11. The Slumber Party Massacre
Slumber Party Massacre does an impressive job of flipping the gender paradigm and it takes a decidedly feminist approach to the slasher picture. But Amy Holden Jones’s 1982 flick is nonetheless full of the requisite ‘80s excess you’ve come to know and love. The hairstyles, wardrobe choices, and makeup are all very much a product of the time in which it was made. And we wouldn’t have it any other way!
I don’t know if there are words to convey how f**king weird this flick is. The camp is free flowing and there’s barely even a plot. Pieces primarily exists for the purpose of juxtaposing graphic violence with copious amounts of nudity. And it is great. As with Bloody Birthday, movies like this were made during a small window of time in the ‘80s and just don’t seem to come around anymore.
13. Cheerleader Camp
It slid in at the tail end of the ‘80s slasher boom but this flick is every bit as over-the-top as you’d hope with a name like Cheerleader Camp. This cult classic has all of the big hair and ‘80s fashions you could ask for. Not to mention a supporting performance from none other than teen heartthrob Leif Garrett.