Campiest 80’s Horror Films

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Campiest 80’s Horror Films

By Kate Voss.

If you love cheesy horror movies, there’s no better era than the eighties to turn to for deliciously campy fright films. In the years before CGI, practical effects were a must, meaning horror directors had to turn to more creative means to get the shots they were looking for, leading to gloriously excessive and often unintentionally hilarious results. Here’s our top five.

5. The Lost Boys

The idea of teenage vampires riding motorcycles around California is a silly premise, but a young Joel Schumacher nails the dark comedy tone in this cheeky classic. He’s aided in telling his story by a great soundtrack, hot young stars Jason Patric, Corey Haim, and Corey Feldman, and a diabolically fun performance from Kiefer Sutherland. Keep your eyes peeled for a cameo from Bill and Ted’s Alex Winter. Haim and Feldman returned in direct to video sequels, proving the lasting influence of this great vampire film.

4. Ghoulies

Law and Order: SVU‘s Mariska Hargitay makes her film debut in this astonishingly awful Gremlins look alike (labelling it as a rip-off might be unfair, as Ghoulies went into pre-production prior to Gremlins). Fox initially greenlit this picture for a $12 million budget, which might have led to a quality film, but somewhere along the way the budget got dropped to $1 million and we’re left with pure B-movie sleaze. Extreme overacting, a trite Satanic ritual plot, a pair of evil dwarfs, and demonic little goblins that are obviously hand puppets covered in jelly should satisfy your need for truly terrible film making. If not, there’s plenty more available, as this flick somehow spawned a few sequels.

3. The Gate

There were a number of cheesy heavy metal themed horror films in the eighties and nineties. Two young boys unwittingly open a gate to Hell using heavy metal music and the remains of a pet dog. The plot is cheesy, but this 1987 creature feature actually showcases some special effects that were impressive for the time period, including stop motion animation, and the little demons that end up running around are actually actors in suits, made to look smaller by using forced perspective. The Gate is also notable for the feature film debut of actors Jennifer Irwin and Stephen Dorff.

2. Killer Klowns From Outer Space”

This truly bizarre sci-fi horror film is colorful and imaginative. The titular villains, after arriving from space on a meteorite, set up shop in a circus tent and begin killing people and trapping them in cotton candy cocoons. In a clever twist on zombie mythology, the only way to kill the klowns is to shoot them in the red nose. Terrible acting and hammy dialogue weigh this flick down a bit, but its audacious premise and “anything goes” atmosphere set it apart from other 80’s cult horror films.

1. C.H.U.D.

This masterpiece of schlock actually features some notable actors, John Heard and Daniel Stern, and their efforts to rid Manhattan of the “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers” that live in the sewers and prey on the homeless. Featuring some nonsensical ad libbed dialogue, and a cameo from a then unknown John Goodman as a very unlucky cop, this movie has a freewheeling sense of fun that shines through. The entire series (yes, there was a sequel) did pretty well on the home rental market, and the film is shown regularly on horror-centric tv networks (discover more about these networks here). The commentary track on the DVD is a riot as well, as Stern and Heard have a ball making jokes at the film’s expense.

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.



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