Forgotten Scares: 10 80's Horror Films Worth Revisiting
These movies are totally worth digging up from the grave.
1. The Stuff (1985)
Larry Cohen's deliciously unique satire, The Stuff, despite a meager budget, managed to serve up a heaping helping of both chills and laughs. The plot revolves around a mysterious substance found oozing from the ground. Naturally, the only logical step is to bottle it and sell it as a new dessert sensation. Who needs quality control when it's this tasty, right? Wrong. The Stuff is actually a living, parasitic entity that takes over its consumer.
Complete with memorable scenes of characters exclaiming, 'Enough is never enough of the Stuff!', this forgotten gem is worth revisiting for its campy critique of consumer culture. Spoiler alert: The Stuff used in the movie was a combination of Haagen-Dazs ice cream, yogurt, and for some scenes, fire-extinguishing foam.
2. Basket Case (1982)
Basket Case, directed by Frank Henenlotter, is about as bizarre as its title suggests. Duane Bradley checks into a seedy motel with a wicker basket. Nothing suspicious there, right? However, inside the basket is Duane's grotesquely deformed, previously conjoined twin brother, Belial. The brothers are on a mission to exact revenge on the doctors who separated them.
With its wonderfully weird premise, the film delivers a fascinating mixture of horror, humor, and surprisingly heartfelt moments. The movie was shot with a budget of just $35,000 and was almost entirely filmed at night to avoid attracting crowds.
3. The Changeling (1979)
The Changeling, directed by Peter Medak, is a compelling ghost story that often flies under the radar. The film follows composer John Russell, played by George C. Scott, who, after losing his family in a tragic accident, moves into an old, ominous mansion. Of course, it turns out the mansion is haunted by a child spirit demanding justice for his murder.
With a slow-building suspense and eerie atmosphere, it's an excellent example of classic haunted house horror. Interestingly, the film is reportedly based on real-life events experienced by co-writer Russell Hunter in the Henry Treat Rogers mansion in Denver, Colorado.
4. The Burning (1981)
The Burning, despite being overshadowed by other summer camp slashers of its era (we're looking at you, Friday the 13th), is worth a second look. The story revolves around Cropsy, a camp caretaker who is hideously burnt in a prank gone wrong and returns for revenge on the unsuspecting campers. The movie is known for its realistic special effects by Tom Savini, and a killer canoe scene. Fun fact: The Burning is the debut film of Holly Hunter and Jason Alexander, who would later gain fame on the TV show Seinfeld.
5. Society (1989)
Society, directed by Brian Yuzna, is a film that truly embraces the bizarre. The movie follows Beverly Hills teenager Bill Whitney, who begins to suspect something is seriously wrong with his wealthy family and friends. This suspicion turns out to be an understatement when he discovers a horrific secret ritual known as 'The Shunt.'
Society combines body horror with biting social commentary, making it a unique entry in the horror genre. With its outrageous, effects-heavy finale, it's a film that definitely deserves to be remembered. It holds an impressive 62% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, quite a surprise given its disturbing content.
6. C.H.U.D. (1984)
What does C.H.U.D. stand for, you ask? Well, it's an acronym for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers, of course. This fun little creature feature revolves around the existence of grotesque, mutated creatures living beneath the city of New York. When the C.H.U.D.s start to come up from the sewers, all sorts of monstrous mayhem ensues. D
espite its campy title, C.H.U.D. actually delivers some pretty creepy moments. It's a satisfying blend of horror and sci-fi that's worth revisiting. The film features an early role for John Goodman, who would later star in the TV series Roseanne and numerous Coen brothers' films.
7. Demons (1985)
From the creative minds of Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava, Demons is an over-the-top, gore-filled romp that deserves your attention. The plot unfolds in a movie theatre (meta, huh?) where patrons are trapped and turned into – you guessed it – demons. As they transform one by one, the theatre turns into a gory battlefield. With its synth-driven score and 80s punk aesthetic, this Italian horror gem is a bloody good time. The film was such a hit in Italy that it spawned a sequel, Demons 2, a year later.
8. Street Trash (1987)
Street Trash is as icky as it sounds, but in the most entertaining way possible. The film centers on a liquor store owner who finds a case of cheap wine called Viper in his basement. Despite its age, he decides to sell it to the local hobos, not realizing it causes anyone who drinks it to melt in the most colorful way imaginable. The film is filled with memorable moments of splattery, gooey gore that are simultaneously disgusting and hilarious.
9. The Stepfather (1987)
The Stepfather, directed by Joseph Ruben, presents a more grounded horror, one rooted in the fear of the all-too-familiar. Terry O'Quinn (before his Lost days) stars as the titular stepfather, a man with an idyllic vision of family life.
The only problem? When his families don't live up to his standards, he murders them and moves onto the next one (sounds like a logical enough solution, right?). The film is an engaging exploration of the darkness that can lie beneath the façade of suburban bliss, featuring a brilliantly chilling performance by O'Quinn.
10. Deadly Friend (1986)
Deadly Friend is a Wes Craven film that often gets lost in the shuffle of his more well-known works like A Nightmare on Elm Street or Scream. The film is a Frankenstein-esque tale of a boy genius who implants a robotic microchip into his deceased neighbor's brain, bringing her back to life.
But as she starts killing people in horrific ways, it's clear that this resurrection has gone terribly wrong. It's a bit of a tonal mess, but that's part of its charm. Notably, the film features a scene where a character is killed by a basketball, which has to be seen to be believed.