Picture this ... the year was 1982
We are now entering a time where I remember actively seeing some of these movies on cable. Many were popular on TMC and showed up a ton. It's also as strong a year as 1981, possibly stronger as some truly amazing films that came out in 1982. First up is probably my favorite horror movie, or worst case 1B depending on my mood that day ...
I can't tell you how many times a movie I'm super excited about, comes out and bombs. The Thing would have been one of those movies. Blows my mind that this horror masterpiece was only able to scrape up $19.6 million (E.T. scored a high of $359+ million). What's weird is no one seemed to like this movie. The critics destroyed it; attacking the story, the actors, and the violence. While some had positive things to say about the special effects, they still were lumped in with the criticisms.
The movie found its audience after being released on VHS and soon was recognized as the masterpiece it is. That said the damage was done. The studio lost all faith in the movie after test screenings. They abandoned the original marketing plan and pivoted with new taglines and approaches that failed. John Carpenter lost his confidence and refused to talk about the movie for years before opening up on its failure. Universal decided they couldn't trust Carpenter to make the next picture of his 2-picture deal and instead paid him to go away - that movie was Firestarter.
This movie does such a good job of terrifying the audience on so many levels. The cast is spectacular and Kurt Russel shines in the role. I find the special effects to be some of the best done and superior to the CGI we were given in the prequel The Thing movie released in 2011. You can stream if you have Starz, but really everyone should own a copy of this movie.
Blurb - A research team in Antarctica is hunted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims.
My #2 movie from 1982 is Creepshow. Close friends, George Romero (Night of the Living Dead fame) and Stephen King (Duh) finally get the opportunity to work together. King wrote the script and starred in one of the shorts, while the King of Zombies directed. Warner Brothers was able to secure a number of incredible actors - both established and up-and-comers - to star in this movie.
The movie is broken up into 5 tales and does a great job of weaving the horror and the funny. This movie came out in November of the year and is the only Romero movie to open #1 in the box office. It is 1 of 3 horror movies in 1982 to have Adrienne Barbeau - "The Crate" segment of Creepshow, The Swamp Thing, and uncredited voice of the computer in The Thing. You can stream on AMC+.
Blurb - An anthology which tells five terrifying tales inspired by the E.C. horror comic books of the 1950s.
Paramount continues to push the Friday series with Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3D. This movie provides Jason with his iconic hockey mask look. The 3-D was thrown in because the studio felt the Jason movie needed a gimmick since they kept repeating the same formula for the scripts. Director Steve Miner returned after his debut directing Part 2.
The movie takes place immediately after Part 2, and while the original plan was to have Ginny from Part 2 be in the movie which would bring Jason to the hospital she was being kept after the ordeal. Sounds a lot like Halloween 2 and would have produced a much different picture than what we got with the Part 3 they released.
Blurb - Having revived from his wounds, Jason Voorhees takes refuge at a cabin near Crystal Lake. As a group of co-eds arrive for their vacation, Jason continues his killing spree.
Keeping pace with Paramount, Universal released the 3rd Halloween movie: Halloween III: Season of the Witch. This is the only Halloween movie without Michael Myers. John Carpenter never expected them to star Myers, instead wanting to put out an anthology of films that gave the audience a completely different experience each time. This might have worked if they did this with 2, but waiting until the 3rd picture backfired for Universal.
With Myers appearing in the first 2 pictures, the audience was upset to discover him missing in part 3 - even though Carpenter went out of his way to kill off the central characters to stop them from rearing back up. If they had sold it as a stand-alone film, it might have fared better. It's one of my favorites of the franchise. You can stream it on amc+.
Blurb - Kids all over America want Silver Shamrock masks for Halloween. Doctor Daniel Challis seeks to uncover a plot by Silver Shamrock owner Conal Cochran.
From the name and the poster, you really are led to believe The Slumber Party Massacre is your typical slasher skin flick. Add in that Roger Corman is the producer and demanded all the sleazy elements that the audience expected from his movies, and there's no reason to think there's anything unique about this film. Except the script was done written by Rita Brown as a parody of the sub-genre. Add in that the movie was handed to a woman to direct, and you get a much funnier and more self-aware movie.
Corman loved the script but demanded Amy Holden Jones to direct it straight which she embraced. She had a checklist of musts and she filmed them quickly and by-the-book, so she could get to the parts she was interested in directing. It's a fun and smart movie addition to the slasher genre. Stream it on tubi, VUDUfree, and Shudder.
Blurb - A female high school student's slumber party turns into a bloodbath, as a newly escaped psychotic serial killer wielding a power drill prowls her neighborhood.
Okay, so if we were going by box office numbers(8th highest box office in the US) and critical acclaim this movie should be higher ... like in the 1st spot. Yet I don't know if I see it as entertaining or influential as the films above. I'm sure many will argue with me but since it's my list, I get to order these however I want. Of course, I haven't seen this in years so maybe I should revisit the movie to see if it moves up the list.
It does have a lot going for it. It's got Spielberg during his rise as producer and Tobe Hooper of TX Chainsaw Massacre to direct. Interesting note - Spielberg offered him E.T. but he turned it down accepting the ghost story instead. Spielberg worked on both movies and had them filmed close together. You can watch it on HBOmax.
Blurb - A family's home is haunted by a host of demonic ghosts.
This is a weird one. I would have loved to have been at the pitch for Q, The Winged Serpent. While Bruce Willis wanted the role of Detective Shepard, the director didn't know who he was and instead went with David Carradine. The movie is a fun look of early 80s New York as it combines a police procedural, a serial killer film, and a monster movie. When I was younger (before CGI made it easier) I had a rule - if a movie has a decapitation, it instantly gets a spot on these lists. Guess what's in this movie ... You can stream on Pluto TV.
Blurb - NYPD detectives Shepard and Powell are working on a bizarre case of a ritualistic Aztec murder. Meanwhile, something big is attacking people of New York and only greedy small time crook Jimmy Quinn knows where its lair is.
I must have watched Swamp Thing a hundred times in the 80s. It was one of my favorite comic book movies until they started making actual comic book movies. Written and directed by Wes Craven as he waited for his next big project, this movie is a weird mashup of "Beauty & the Beast" and science fiction/horror from the 1950s. This is also the 3rd movie to feature Adrienne Barbeau in 1982 - and possibly the only reason to watch it now. You have to rent/buy it if you want to watch it.
Blurb - After a violent incident with a special chemical, a research scientist is turned into a swamp plant monster.
Dario Argento continues to wow audiences with his unique eye for direction in this classic. Tenebre means darkness or shadows and this movie is bathed in just that. The film is still banned in Germany. You can stream on amc+ and Shudder.
Blurb - An American writer in Rome is stalked and harassed by a serial killer who is murdering everyone associated with his work on his latest book.
An almost instant Cult Classic, Basket Case is the perfect example of a low-budget horror movie success. Writer / Director Frank Henenlotter made the movie in part because he didn't think anyone would actually see it. This belief gave emboldened him to make a pretty intense film. Much to his horror it built a strong underground following and to this day is still celebrated for its original story and fun brand of gore. Stream it on amc+, tubi, and Shudder.
Blurb - A young man carrying a big basket that contains his extremely deformed, formerly conjoined twin brother seeks vengeance on the doctors who separated them against their will.
Cat People was a TMC favorite when it came to cable. I'm not sure I've seen this one all the way through, but I've seen enough of it in pieces to get the idea of the film. The director of American Gigolo brings the same sensibilities to this film, forcing the sexuality of the main character onto center stage. Instead of werewolves, which we've seen growing in popularity the last few years, he has his characters turn into panthers. It does have Malcolm McDowell in it and he's always fun to watch in these types of films. You can stream it on peacock.
Blurb - A young woman's sexual awakening brings horror when she discovers her urges transform her into a monstrous black leopard.
Roger Corman strikes again with Forbidden Planet. What was originally pitched as a Lawrence of Arabia in space, soon became a rather obvious ripoff of Alien. Known for limiting budgets, and turning a profit, Corman gave the director the set used for Galaxy of Terror and film footage from his 1980 science fiction film, Battle Beyond the Stars. This one has all the makings of an 80's Corman film - boobs, blood, and monsters. You can stream on tubi, PlutoTv, and IMDB.
Blurb - In the distant future, a federation marshal arrives at a research lab on a remote planet where a genetic experiment has gotten loose and begins feeding on the dwindling scientific group.
FYI: This is a Not Safe For Work Preview - there is a flash of nudity.
There are 2 reasons The Beast Within should make any best-of list. It is one of the movies to advance special effects - esp. the air bladder tricks - for films. The second reason may be more important ... it is Tom Holland's first studio script bought and produced. Tom Holland was an actor who eventually turned his talents to writing and directing, and I think cutting his teeth on this movie helped him understand how to strengthen his future projects(Fright Night, Child's Play). You can stream it on Paramount+.
Blurb - A young woman gets raped by a mysterious man-creature, and years later her son begins a horrific transformation into a similar beast.
Amityville 2: The Possession continued the Amityville franchise to so-so results. Its only real importance is Tommy Lee Wallace, the writer of Halloween 3, also wrote this film. You can stream on AMC+.
Blurb - A dysfunctional family moves into a new house, which proves to be satanic, resulting in the demonic possession of their teenage son.
Filmed in 1981, Madman made its debut in early 1982. Looking to capture some of the slasher popularity, the creatives were planning to base their movie around the Cropsy Killer legend but The Burning beat them to it. So they made some slight adjustments and gave us Madman Marz. It's a straight-forward slasher, but it's done well and makes a fine addition to the sub-genre. Stream on tubi and Roku.
Blurb - A legendary psychopathic murderer stalks a summer camp.
I don't know much about this movie. Alone in the Dark has a killer cast, and is directed by Jack Sholder who will go on to direct Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and one of my favorite science fiction movies, The Hidden. I honestly don't know if I've ever seen this one, but I do know if I saw this artwork on a VHS tape in the '80s, I would have snatched it up. It appears to be a standard slasher, but its real importance is the fact it is New Line Cinema's first produced movie. I can't find it anywhere to stream, but once I do, I'll let you know.
Blurb - A quartet of murderous psychopaths break out of a mental hospital during a power blackout and lay siege to their doctor's house.
Warning - Red Band Trailer - I guess the early '80s didn't shy away from nudity.
There were so many non-horror films from 1982 that I've decided to focus on them similarly for Wednesday's post. See you then.
Carver Pike's new book is out. It's a part of a series. Here's what you need to know ...
Click here to get to the book - The Maddening