Ah, yes, onto the article. A lot has happened since I wrote that top ten, including several movies that I included (or would include in this one) getting releases! Blood Diner and 976-EVIL II, two films that would have definitely made the cut, got releases in two Lionsgate 6/8 packs. Killer Workout, Death Spa, and Ghosthouse all got MOD releases on Amazon. Others, like Death Valley, Deadly Blessing, The Boogens, Death Ship, and Night of the Scarecrow (not Dark Night; just Night) are getting releases in the future on either DVD or Blu-Ray. So what's left to choose? Well, let's take a look:
20. DEMON WIND (1990)
All fart jokes about the title aside...never mind, keep telling them because this movie is bad. Not just your average bad, I mean baaaaaad. Fortunately, it also happens to be wildly entertaining for just that reason. In fact, I would say that this is just as funny (and bad) as Troll 2, if not more so. A character gets turned into a doll and no one cares, two more characters show up halfway through and serve no purpose but to bump up the body count, a girl points a stick at a passing car with a stick for nearly two minutes straight, and then there's the climax that would make the end scene of Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare shake its head. And it's all as great as it sounds. The demon make-up effects are really good, and Lou Diamond Phillips plays one of the demons! I am not joking.
19. TWISTED NIGHTMARE (1987)
Why did I choose such a seemingly drab image to represent the awesome power of Twisted Nightmare? Simple; Mr. Mustachio over there on the right is Dean. Cringe in awe at the name. Dean might be the biggest jerk I've ever seen in any slasher, and he's definitely one of the most entertaining characters in any film. EVER. Dean throws a beer can at a hitchhiker and yells insults at him. When the group draws to see which couple gets to sleep where, and Dean & respective other get the floor, he calls them all a bunch of assholes, says he's going to leave in the morning, and says how he always hated one of the girls' brother, who was mentally challenged and was burned alive. That night, when Dean begins to whine about how his back hurts from lying on the floor, his girlfriend makes an innocent suggestion that he sleep on the cot. Dean reacts by getting up, telling his girlfriend never to call him a pussy, and throws the cot against the wall. Sure, Twisted Nightmare has some great deaths, a huge body count, and more funny bits, but Dean m'boy, YOU are the reason this is on the list.
18. TO ALL A GOODNIGHT (1980)
To All A Goodnight has a special place in history for being the first full-on slasher to feature a killer in a Santa suit (Christmas Evil was released the same year, but I don't consider that a full-on slasher). There really isn't much to say about To All A Goodnight other than it's exactly what you expect. It's got a killer dressed as Santa, a decent body count (in the double digits), some gory deaths, nudity, etc. The only other thing of note is that this was David Hess's directorial debut (who also has a cameo in it). It's very generic, but if you're into slashers, it's worth watching.
17. SILENT MADNESS (1984)
Like To All A Goodnight, Silent Madness is pretty generic, but with a few fun twists. For one, the film was released to theaters in 3-D, but on video, those effects (the scene where the killer throws an axe at the camera stands out) come across as corny, but that only adds to the fun. There are some good, bloody kills, enough suspense to keep it interesting, and the acting is all good. It even has Sidney Lassick as the quintessential fat sheriff! Once again, there's not much to say other than it's a fun watch worth seeking out.
16. SLAUGHTERHOUSE ROCK (1988)
Slaughterhouse Rock is just one of those movies that couldn't fail (for me, at least). Eighties pop "icon" Toni Basil starred, there was a soundtrack by Devo, it was late-eighties, took place on Alcatraz, and it's a demon-possession flick! Well, it's not as awesome as it sounds, but it's still fun. My one complaint with the film is the soundtrack by Devo. It's GOOD, but none of their more notable songs make appearances (sorry, no "Whip It"). This is also one of the most hated horror movies of 1988 (2.8/10 on IMDb), which I really don't get. The film also builds up to when one of the characters gets possessed and goes on a killing spree, but the murders aren't that impressive (despite one where a guy gets punched through the face). But still, it remains entertaining with the awesome fashions, the trademark comedic duo, and the cheesy effects. Good stuff.
15. THE OUTING (1987)
Before Wishmaster, there was The Outing. Basically, it's a genie (or "Djinn," technically) picking off a gorup of teens one by one in a museum. There are some great creative and bloody deaths, as well as a few good characters. At the end, we get to see the Djinn, and it's awesome. There's also a security guard who's also an opera singer so he sings like that when he's walking around the museum, and after the credits, we get to see him take a bow! It's good, even if the cover is misleading (it builds it up to be set in the woods). Still, a fun watch.
14. MASTERBLASTER (1985)
Okay, so Masterblaster isn't really a full-on horror movie, but I still love it. It's really more of an action film, even though it IS a slasher movie, technically. I love the plot, with a paintball tournament in the woods and someone begins killing people off for real. Everything about this movie is extraordinarily cheesy, from the opening title song, to the stereotyped characters, to the killer's more-than-ridiculous motive/end speech. The movie isn't very bloody, scary, suspenseful, etc., but the characters are all entertaining, the score is campy, and the laughs flow like wine. It's essential.
13. TAG: THE ASSASSINATION GAME (1982)
Okay, now this one's an even bigger stretch. TAG: The Assassination Game is a weird movie because it's too comedic to be a horror movie, yet too serious-minded in places to be anything else. At first, it sounds like a straight comedy: at a college campus, the most popular game is TAG, a game where students, armed with rubber dart guns, are assigned to kill each other off like hit men until only one person, the winner, remains. Throw in Robert Carradine and Linda Hamilton as his love interest, you've got comedy gold, right? Nope. Instead, we also follow one student (played by Bruce Abbott from Re-Animator, Bad Dreams, and more) who begins to take the game a little too seriously and starts to use a real gun. The film isn't terribly funny, but it's entertaining enough just watching the kids play the game, and it does manage to build up suspense during the end chase scene. Overall, it's good entertainment that deserves the digital treatment.
12. THE BRAIN (1988)
A lot of people dislike The Brain because it dares to be different. Yes, it's a giant monster movie from the eighties, and I'm sure a lot of people were expecting a movie purely about a giant brain eating away the population of a small town, and we get that...sort of. It's about a TV show on independent thinking hosted by David Gale (Re-Animator) which uses a giant brain to telepathically take control of all the viewers. Now, one teen has to stop the channel from going nationwide, which is hard, because the show has everyone believing he is a murderer. The film itself is a potpourri of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Crazies, and just your average monster movie, and the combination surprisingly works. The monster effects are phenomenal, with the brain being one of the best monsters of the eighties (in my opinion). And yes, there are plenty of scenes where the brain eats people. There's random boobs, some good gore (someone gets cut in half!), I love the underlying message (that people will believe anything that's put on the TV), and yes, David Gale says, "There's food for thought!" when the brain eats someone. And it's as awesome as it sounds.
11. HIDE & GO SHRIEK (1988)
What a great title, and the movie lives up to it. Mark this one up as one of THE cheesiest slashers of all time, and believe me, I've seen my fair share. In this one, a group of teens decide to spend the night in a furniture store owned by one of their dads. Soon, someone begins killing them off one by one. Simple as that, but with a catch. Have you seen Terror Train? Remember how the killer there took the costume of the previous person he killed so he could trick other people into thinking the killer is that person? Well, the killer here does the same thing...only with clothes. Even if it's a female. Even if it's a negligee. Yeah...this movie has some serious gay undertones that would make Elm Street 2 blush. Anyway, this movie is still great! The first thirty minutes or so is a hilarious time capsule of everything that made the eighties awesome (including a montage to the beat of "Walk this Way"!), some suspenseful and creepy parts later on, and some FANTASTIC gore effects by Screaming Mad George, including THE BEST decapitation I have EVER seen! And, of course, there's the absurd and highly offensive reveal of the killer. This is essential viewing for all parties.
10. ROCKTOBER BLOOD (1984)
Now THIS is a rock/horror movie! Initially, I wasn't a huge fan of Rocktober Blood. I loved the beginning and the ending, but that was it. Upon future viewings, I began to be really entertained by the middle portion! I love the aerobics scene, the absurd "killer in the jacuzzi" scene, and even the grave-robbing scene! It's all cheesy goodness! However, I still stand by my reasoning that the beginning and the end scenes were the best, with the end scene being (possibly) my favorite scene in any horror movie. It's THAT badass. The soundtrack is great, with the music done by the famous metal band, Sorcery! They even make an appearance at the end! This is sleazy slasher goodness at its finest, people!
9. WITHOUT WARNING (1980)
Who can't appreciate a good alien movie? Or one starring Jack Palance and Martin Landau? Without Warning is great. It's a little slow-going, but it builds tension and suspense incredibly well! We never get to see the alien until the final minutes, and the way they reveal it is brilliant and terrifying. There's also some great, flying vagina-looking things that suck blood out of their victims. There are some obvious similarities to Predator, with the whole "alien hunting humans for sport" idea, and Kevin Peter Hall has played both the alien here and the Predator. Cameron Mitchell even makes a brief appearance! And I STILL say Megamind ripped off the look of the alien.
8. ISLAND OF BLOOD (1982)
To follow up on the latter film, who can't appreciate a good, straightforward slasher? Island of Blood is a stand-out for many reasons. For one, the setting is great. It's an island with an abandoned schoolhouse on it, so we get two atmospheric settings in one! Then there's the premise of a movie crew filming there, so we get to see many hilarious scenes where characters rehearse their dialogue, so we get to see bad actors acting bad intentionally! Then there's the gimmick of the killer, who kills according to the lyrics of a sadomasochistic punk song (lyrics include "Boil me! Stab me! Spear me!"). The kills themselves are all good and gory, including the killer rigging a pool to heat up to boiling temperatures so one character gets boiled alive, a chainsaw dismemberment, a decapitation, and more. Then there's the sarcastic kind of humor underlying most of the dialogue that really was funny at times. Of course, good luck finding a copy that isn't REALLY dark, but thankfully, I happened upon a really clean one, so I got to see everything in gory detail. Why doesn't a DVD company pick this up and clean it up for the good people of the world?
7. MIRAGE (1990)
Well, at least some of these were released to VHS! Mirage didn't even get THAT luxury! A shame, too, because this is a genuinely good movie! The setting is the criminally underused desert, and Mirage makes it work with flying colors. I love how vast they made it seem, which adds to the hopeless and almost surreal atmosphere of the whole thing. The characters are likable, the kills are gory, there's plenty of suspense, and the black truck the killer drives is really menacing! The pacing itself is great, and I thought the movie was never boring. 1990's best movie, in my opinion.
6. THE MUTILATOR (1985)
I've always loved The Mutilator ever since I first saw it. Don't get me wrong; this is in NO WAY a good movie whatsoever. It is, however, a huge barrel of fun! Everything about this movie is purely amateurish, save for one key aspect. The acting is atrocious, the opening title song is out of place (but fun nonetheless), the writing is bad, and so on and so forth. However, while all those aspects add up to entertainment on their own, where The Mutilator REALLY shines are the kills. The film lives up to its name with a vengeance, with a gutting via boat propeller, a great decapitation, and in the film's most iconic death, a woman gets a fishing gaffe up through her vagina and out her belly that is as revolting as it sounds. The effects were all done by the legendary Mark Shostrom, and are the reason this movie is still remembered today!
5. PRISON (1988)
It takes a special kind of skill to blend gore and genuine scares as masterfully as this. I saw Prison a year ago and remembered loving it, but I began to doubt it was as good as I remembered it to be when I went in for the rewatch. Once the end credits rolled, I realized I was still in love. This movie is fantastic! One of the biggest gripes I've heard with the haunted house subgenre is, "Why don't they just leave?" Well, here, they can't! They're all trapped in cages just waiting to be slaughtered by this vengeful spirit. The acting is really good, and it even features Viggo Mortenson in the lead! Most, if not all, the inmate characters are likable, with the guards and warden being really, really despicable human beings (the guard that gets the iconic barbed wire death has to be one of the biggest jackasses of all time). The kills are another standout, because they're not your average, run-of-the-mill deaths and tend to get very creative. This was Renny Harlin (Elm Street 4)'s first movie, and it's unbelievable how accomplished the whole thing is.
4. THE KINDRED (1986)
Once again backing up my opinion that eighties monster movies were the best monster movies is this little ditty. The Kindred is directed by Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow, who also directed the phenomenal low-budget slasher The Dorm that Dripped Blood in 1982, as well as the not-so-great-but-still-kind-of-entertaining haunted tiki doll movie The Power in 1984. However, for their last film that they directed together, they went all out and gave us this beauty. Featuring two Oscar-winners (Rod Steiger, Kim Hunter) and some phenomenal, slimy creature effects, this is way better than your average monster flick. The score actually sounds suited for a big-budget movie, and there's some real suspense in there, especially considering all the characters are likable (with the exception of the antagonist(s)). Oh, and a woman turns into a fish for literally no reason. It's great.
3. TERRORVISION (1986)
What else is there to say about TerrorVision? It's a fun, campy, sci-fi/horror/comedy that works! The characters are all entertaining, the creature effects are great (the work of John Carl Buechler, nonetheless), all the acting is intentionally hammy (the parents are played by vets Mary Woronov (Night of the Comet) and Gerrit Graham (Phantom of the Paradise)), and the opening title song is AMAZING. Yet another made by Charles Band's Empire Pictures, this is easily one of their best in how fun it manages to be. Fortunately, for everybody unfortunate enough to have never seen this, it is streaming on Netflix in HD! Now let's just get that Blu-Ray release going!
2. THE KEEP (1983)
I first watched The Keep because I thought it would make great background noise while I surfed the web. However, as time passed I found myself looking more at the movie than the computer. When the film ended, I had no idea what it was about; all I knew was that I loved it. I soon read the book by F. Paul Wilson (which is now my favorite book of all time) and understood the plot completely. I re-watched the movie, and now that I knew the plot, I LOVED it. Plot wise, this movie is a mess. It's hard to follow at times, and important plot points are sometimes said in one line and that's it. However, the way this movie was made is stunning, to say the least. The cinematography is absolutely brilliant and the score by Tangerine Dream is mesmerizing. The acting is great, and features a fairly impressive cast with Jurgen Prochnow, Scott Glenn, Gabriel Byrne, and Ian McKellan. They're all great, but McKellan steals the show as Dr. Cuza (his speech at the end still gives me goosebumps). The Keep was originally around three hours long, before Paramount cut that down to the 90-minute runtime we see today. Where is that footage? Precisely the reason this needs a Blu-Ray upgrade. If something this great was originally twice as long, imagine how amazing the original cut was. Now imagine it in HD. The 90-minute version is on Netflix in HD, so if you don't believe me that this film is great, at least give it a spin. You won't regret it.
1. GHOST TOWN (1988)
Who would have thought a western ghost story would work? Well, to any naysayers out there, this is my reply. Ghost Town. It's #1. It's fantastic. Now, for strictly horror fans out there, you might want to pass this one up, because it's a pitch-perfect blend of action and horror, meaning it works just as well as an action movie as it does a horror flick. Yes, this is another Empire Pictures movie and is, in my opinion, their best. The acting, for the most part, is good, the effects are good, the action is constant, the characters are likable, and while it's not very gory at all, there are some great Western-style shoot-outs. The villain is appropriately menacing (with a face that's half decayed), and Bruce Glover (Crispin's dad) even makes an appearance! Like I said, if you only like horror movies, steer clear. However, if you enjoy both horror and Western movies, consider this a must-watch. Don't ask me why it's no on DVD or Blu-Ray.
Well, there's the list! Of course, no list would be complete without some honorable mentions:
Destroyer (1988) - Fun B-movie satire/slasher with a great cast (Anthony Perkins, Lyle Alzado, Deborah Foreman, etc.)
Blood Beach (1981) - Good monster movie that's like Jaws, only on the beach and not the water. John Saxon and Burt Young are great, too.
The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976) - The scenes with the killer are fantastic, but the police investigation scenes tend to drag.
The Horror Show (1989) - Goofy little supernatural slasher. Very reminiscent of Shocker.
The Invisible Maniac (1990) - It's a little slow, but once it begins to pick up, it's great. From the director of the classic Psycho Cop 2 (Adam Rifkin).
Psycho Cop (1989) - So-bad-it's-good Maniac Cop rip-off with some neat kills, awful (but in a good way) one-liners, and the most paranoid characters EVER.
The Supernaturals (1986) - I'm a sucker for military horror movies, and this one's no exception.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my list! I've had a fantastic time here at HorrorBid thanks to all of you, and I only hope it continues to be this great from here! Oh, and in case you were doubting that Hide & Go Shriek has gay undertones, here's another image: