FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Nov 19, 2005

I was 9, Part II

I promised that 1981 saw the release of more great horror flicks than just the bevy I wrote about yesterday, didn't I? And you were all "Nuh uh, I bet not", weren't you? Well, after this you're so gonna wish you had just believed me in the first place! Haven't you learned to just believe me by now, gentle reader? Haven't you?!

I hope you read the fine post I pointed you to yesterday about the werewolf flick The Howling. 1981 was a banner year for the lycanthropes and the fans who love them, as audiences were treated not only to The Howling but also to Wolfen (which is more about Indian mythology than a straight-up werewolf tale, if you want to be picky...) and to the John Landis classic An American Werewolf in London. If you've never seen it, then you'd best go rent it right this minute and watch it. Then come back and we'll continue talking. Go on, I'll wait. OK- got it? Seen it? Great! Now you know that American is a scary, funny flick long on atmosphere and even...umm...longer on fantastic pre-CGI special effects. When I saw "fantastic pre-CGI", I don't mean "fantastic even though they're not CGI", because to my mind Rick Baker's Oscar-winning man-to-wolf transformation sequences would be tough to top even 25 years later.

The Burning: This above-par slasher flick gave Oscar winner Holly Hunter, Seinfeld's Jason Alexander, and that guy you've seen in a million movies but you can't name one Fisher Stevens their first movie roles as campers doomed to death by the eeeevil Cropsy. Armed with giant scissors, Cropsy set about to get some revenge on the prankin' campers who burned him alive in a joke-gone-wrong years before. When you've got Tom Savini at the helm of the FX department, you know you're in for some gory treats, and while I'd LIKE to vouch that the film delivers, it's currently out of print and the only version I've seen (original release VHS) is so cut up that the effects are severely limited. I sincerely hope The Burning gets the DVD re-release treatment soon so we all get to see Cropsy take out an entire raft full of campers the way it was meant to be seen, dammit!

My Bloody Valentine: I used to reeeeeeally dig this Canadian slasher flick. It's fairly by-the-numbers as these things go: way back when, a mining accident left five miners dead...on Valentine's Day! Seems the accident happened because some selfish, good-for-nothing supervisors shirked their duties to attend the annual St Valentine's Day dance. The one survivor, Harry Warden, swore revenge on the whole town- with lots of raised-fist shaking, one can assume. Now, years later, the kids want to resume the V-Day dance tradition, and Harry sure is ticked off! You know where it goes from there, right? Like I said, by the numbers...but this movie has always stuck out in the crowd for me, for some reason. The killer, all done up in miner's gear with gas mask and pick axe, stalking the mine shafts, smashing the lightbulbs out as he went along was a very scary sight to young Stacie. Older, wiser, kinder, gentler Stacie still thinks it's a little scary. Don't make fun.

Deadly Blessing: I haven't seen this Wes Craven effort in soooo long, I had even forgotten it existed- and thinking about it is making me want to track down a copy. Wes Craven, Ernest Borgnine, Sharon Stone, spiders, snakes, the "Incubus", and the Amish-ish folks who fear it. Ohhhhh yeah.

Scanners: David Cronenberg. Telepaths. Michael Ironsides. Exploding heads.

Hell Night: Linda Blair. Sorority initiation in a haunted manor. Murderer inside. You've seen it all before, but in '81 the ideas were still fresh. Plus, Linda Blair.

Oh 1981, what else? What else could there be? Well, and then there's, wait, I don't mean Maude. I mean there's Just Before Dawn, a flick recommended to me by a kind reader- it's on the way to my house as I type this. There's The Entity, with Barbara Hershey and her invisible, demon rapist. There's The Hand, the Oliver Stone directed flick about...umm...a hand...a hand that KILLS! I gotta revisit that one sometime soon. Nothin' like a detached hand scuttling about, getting up to all sort of nefarious derring-do. Let's not forget The Fan, Dark Night of the Scarecrow, Blood Beach, Final Exam...the list of Stars of the Class of '81 just goes on and on.

Did you think I would could possibly write about 1981 without mentioning my favorite flick from that year- nay, one of my favorite flicks, period- Friday the 13th Part 2? Sorry if I scared you- I was simply saving the best for last. This movie features crazy, potato sack-wearin', backwoods Jason- the best Jason Voorhees in all 11 F13 movies, in my humble opinion. This movie features Amy Steel as our final girl Ginny...and if you don't know how I feel about Amy Steel, well, then you must just be tuning in to this site. What else can I say about this flick that I didn't say during my Friday the 13th marathon in Shocktober!- which you can read about here? Probably not much. And thusly I shall but silently post some pictures.

Oh, 1981, will you marry me?


Anonymous said...

God you make me feel old... but going on about 1981 is like bringing back reallllly bad flashbacks...
I went to see Motel Hell the night Ronnie Regan was elected (that shoulda told me something).
But I would like to mention the drive-in's...I used to go see two or three...gore fests two or three times a month...If I'm not mistaken I saw The Hand, and Scanners on the same night...

Carnacki said...

Yes, bryan! Horror at old theaters (the one in Chillicothe I preferred was used to stage theater and vaudeville back in the day) and in drive-ins were the best ways to see these movies.

Stacie, I'm pimping your Part 1 and Part 2 on my blog. Excellent posts. (I mean, all your posts are excellent, but these really hit home with me.)

Des said...

Hurrah for 1981!

There were some goodies that year weren't there?

Marty McKee said...

I think DEADLY BLESSING is one of Wes Craven's best films, except for the final minute or so, which is so stupid, it must be a studio-imposed climax. The cast is really good (and Maren Jensen is super-hot), and James Horner's score really does the trick.

Jimmy said...

Hi, Stacie. I love your blog. Right up my alley. You helped bring me out of my annual post-Halloween funk, ha.
Dark Night of the Scarecrow scared the holy hell out of me. It was pretty bad-ass for a TV movie.

Stacie Ponder said...

Thanks guys- especially for the pimpin', Carnacki. I'll be doing more of these "Year in horror" type posts, but man- what could top 1981?

And welcome, Jimmy! I'm glad you like the site and I hope you stick around. Dark Night...really needs to be rereleased on DVD. I haven't seen it in ages, but you're right- it's damn spooky. I can't believe it was made-for-tv.