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!

Jan 25, 2011

The Year in Horror: 1986

I can't do math. I know, this is not at all shocking. After all, I'm a girl and it's just a fact that girls can't do math. However, I took that concept to moronic new highs (or lows) recently when I had a bright idea for a post topic. See, the idea had something to do with choosing a movie released 25 years ago- I figured it'd be easy, as 25 years ago was, what...1967? '68? Something like that. Maybe I'd write about Night of the Living Dead or Rosemary's Baby or something else equally ca-lassic. Just when I smushed my face up all thinking really hard-style about which movie to choose, however, my brain slapped me across the face. What kind of time-warp shit was going on? My brain was all, "Bitch, 1968 is more than forty years ago. Where are you getting this "25 years" from? 25 years ago, it was 1986. Idiot! Now ice me up some cream."

Apparently in my world, the last decade or so has not occurred. 1986! Nineteen eighty effing six! It doesn't seem possible that it was 1986 25 years ago- especially since I am only 23 myself- but I assure you...I have consulted my science calculator and it is most certainly the case.

Then I got a bit whiny. 1986? No good movies came out in 1986. Nothing good whatsoever came out of 1986! The mid-eighties were a cultural wasteland! They were nothing but a big, dark pit filled with Glass Tiger cassettes, snap bracelets, and Z Cavaricci pants. Why, it's shudder-inducing, I tells ya!

This line of thinking was interrupted by yet another wallop from my brain- "1986 was actually a damn good year for horror, you dolt. Now where's that ice cream?" My brain is right about that, mostly. Take my hand, won't you, and let's travel back a whopping 25 years to 1986!

The sequels

Okay, the sequels that hit in '86 were very comme ci, comme ├ža if you know what I mean. Some are classics of cinema- such as Aliens, in which one Ellen Ripley became a bona fide example of the elusive "strong female character" and my burning dislike of Paul Reiser was born.

Then other sequels...well, the Friday the 13th series pooped out its sixth entry, Jason Lives, a film that is more beloved than it deserves simply because it had the good sense to be released after the dreadful Part V: A New Beginning. I cannot speak knowledgeably on Lamberto Bava's Demons 2, but someday I hope to rectify that. That's right, someday! Someday I'll see it, I just know I will! Verily, I brought a big bag of hope to this blog post.

Poltergeist II is...well, it's there and it's worth a watch, not the least reason why is the tequila worm scene (if you haven't seen it, I'll leave that up to your imagination). 1986 also brought us The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, which is not like the first one, I'll give it that. Psycho 3 brought about a bit of WTF-ery with its "Oh, this a black comedy?" approach, and the less said about Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf, the better...but Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 is another matter entirely. Friends, it's always Garbage Day in my heart.

The slashers

While the films of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers would be churned out for years to come, by 1986 the slasher film was in its death throes and original films within the genre were scarce. Mind you, if the so bad I forgot I even saw it 1986 flick Terror at Tenkiller is any indication, the demise of the slasher was probably a good thing. On the other hand, April Fools Day also hit in '86, and we all know how much I love that movie. I SAID WE ALL KNOW.

Ahem. Oh yeah, and remember that time I made a whole bunch of you watch Slaughter High for Film Club? That was fun. Shut up, Slaughter High is the best movie ever even though it stinks. I mean, "C'mon you guys, let's par-deeeeeeee!" can you not want to marry it?

The sci-fi-ers

I'm not sure why, but sci-fi/horror movies were big, big, big in 1986. I mentioned Aliens, but let's not forget David Cronenberg's The Fly, which holds up remarkably well despite the dueling fluff-mullets of Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. In the words of Pauline Kael, "That shit be classic, yo." Besides, I'm pretty sure that disliking Geena Davis in any capacity will put you on Homeland Security's radar as probably a terrorist.

Stuart Gordon rode the freaky train to H.P. LovecraftTown (I don't know what that means) with From Beyond, which scarred my young brain in several capacities. Critters did their thing in Critters, Martian invaders invaded in Invaders from Mars (from Tobe Hooper!). There were wicked huge gorillas running amok in Link and King Kong Lives (which, the particularly astute among you may notice is also a sequel). And then there was Night of the Creeps. Thrill me, indeed.

More, more, more

Look, I have no idea if Wes Craven's Deadly Friend is good, bad, neither, or somewhere in between. I have not seen it since I saw it 50,000,000 times when it came out and all I really remember is this: Kristy Swanson getting pushed down the stairs by her father was some high fucking tragedy, and Anne Ramsey gets her head blowed up real good by a high-speed basketball. Other than that? I have no idea. Those memories themselves may be erroneous! I suppose I could watch it again to see, but I'd almost rather have it live in my memories, only brought to the fore about when someone says "Have you seen Deadly Friend?", to which I will emphatically reply "I LOVE THAT MOVIE!" even though that should probably be in the past tense. Loved. I loved that movie.

Man, The Hitcher, amiright? Good, good stuff. And that scene. You know the one. This one, which also qualified as high tragedy to my young mind:

I can't believe I never really thought about it much before my recent math...problem, but y'all, 1986! It gave us gold, it gave us crap. Witchboard, House, Gothic (I frickin' hate Gothic. I've tried and I've tried, and I just do not like it. Is it me? I feel like that movie is beloved, at least on a cult level, though the reasons for this obviously escape me), Maximum Overdrive (!!!), Trick or Treat, Troll...those really were the days and this journey down Memory Lane sure was fun. Next up, I'll celebrate the 5th anniversary of 1978!


CashBailey said...

The 80's were a wasteland for horror.

But I think 1986 wins the decade for THE HITCHER, ALIENS and, best of all, BIG motherfuckin' TROUBLE IN LITTLE motherfuckin' CHINA.

matango said...

Wait, House is bad? I remember enjoying it as a horror comedy. (The American one, not the Japanese one, which is also good).

Troll. I had to suffer through Troll so that I could suffer through Troll II.

scary film review said...

wasteland of horror? I loved how the 80's actually tried, well, sometimes. I can't stand the era we are in, with straight to dvd horror that doesn't even try.

Verdant Earl said...

Reading this post, I think that 1986 was the best year of my life.

Re-reading this, I need to get a life.

Thomas Duke said...

"I'm a girl and it's just a fact that girls can't do math"

Not the Asian ones!

/cricket riding a tumbleweed

My word verification code is "weepe", which is what I turn into when I watch a particularly sad Lifetime movie.

Fred [The Wolf] said...

I'll watch any 80s horror, good or bad. That was my decade and I'm sticking to it!

Damn, was sci-fi awesome that year or what?

Andreas said...

Oh, Night of the Creeps. Watching that may be one of the best decisions I've made in the past 2 months. So much win. Just BUCKETS of win.

Checking Wikipedia reminds me of a few you forgot: Blue Velvet, for your artsy horror & naked Isabella Rossellini; Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer for that nasty, low-budget goriness and brother-on-sister attempted rape (oh Jesus); and most importantly, CHOPPING MALL! Where shopping can cost you an arm & a leg!

Killbots electrocuting Dick Miller & blowing people's heads up (real good!), classic horror in-jokes, and Paul Bartel & Mary Woronov guest-starring as their characters from Eating Raoul? Chopping Mall has it all.

Jaakko said...

I just watched Demons 2 and loved it. While it was more goofy than scary, it casually features one of the greatest horror high concepts ever, I'm totally pumped about it. I mean, I've seen something like it happen on Nostromo, but inside an apartment building, now that's just too good to be true.

But then again, I also loved Howling II, although it will always be "Stirba - Werewolf Bitch" to me, not "My Sister Is A Werewolf".

Chris H said...

Demons 2 is notable because it features the return of Tony the Pimp from Demons 1, who after being torn apart by creatures from hell, decided to try a change of career and became a gym instructor.
I do kinda dislike Geena Davis but this is understandable as I've been forced to sit through Cutthroat Island and several episodes of Commander in Chief.
I do kinda like Howling II (awesomely titled Stirba-Werewolf Bitch here in Australia) for how bad it is and because Reb Brown ( teaming up with Chris Lee to fight werewolves is fuckin' AWESOME (and don't forget terrible, very, very terrible).
Thrill me! Night of the Creeps is awesome, nuff' said.

Anonymous said...

How old are you and when did you start this blog?

P. K. Nail said...

Man, I love me some Witchboard! But then again, I haven't seen it since the 80s, so it may in fact be crap. I'm scared to watch it again and tarnish the wonderful memories.

Will Errickson said...

1986 was also when HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER was made, although not released because of its whole "tone."

Stacie Ponder said...

Now I want to see Demons 2 even more! Added it to mah queue.

Anonymous, I turn 24 next month, and I've had Final Girl going, almost a year now! Time flies.

No, that's not true. Final Girl enters its second decade in September, and I recently celebrated the big 6-0. Time flies.

Vulnavia Morbius said...

1986 was kind of a watershed. 20th Century Fox repackaged Aliens and The Fly into a double feature and re-released them both in to theaters just before Halloween that year. It was the last wide-release double feature to be released by a major studio. I saw it at a crumbling movie palace that's owned by a symphony now. I miss that place.

I like both TCM 2 and Psycho 3. They both get props for striking out in a weird direction rather than resting on the laurels of their predecessors. Plus, TCM 2 had a killer trailer.

Jason Adams said...

Demons 2 is the bomb! I want to roll around in it and then take a Silkwood shower and then do it all over again.

I can't believe I still haven't seen Deadly Friend. That Anne Ramsey basketball thing has taunted me for long enough, dammit!

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, Night of the Creeps and April Fools Day!! Love them both. I recently watched Witchboard and it was well worth it. Lots of 80s goodness in that one.
I've had the pleasure of meeting Tom Atkins at a couple different cons. That dude is a smoothie. Really nice guy.

Maynard Morrissey said...

Yay for Deadly Friend!!!

Mikey Sarago said...

1986 also produced ME. So obviously, it was the best year of the 80's. But yeah, I didn't realize how many awesome movies came out that year! Night of the Creeps, House, April Fool's Day, etc....that's a pretty boss list. Looking back at these movies makes me feel super old now, though :(

Hallospaceboy said...

I do the same thing, I still think 1968 was 25 years ago too. But that's cause I am 40+ and I wish it to be so.

1986 was a great year for some of the reasons mentioned. That summer between junior and senior high for me was classic, particularly for movie going. Ahh to be young again!

I saw Aliens and the Fly about 8 times each in a two month span. I also had no life to speak of. But I don't care those movies were fun.

good times, my friend, good times.

David Robson, Proprietor, House of Sparrows said...

I regard 1986 fondly as the year during which I came of age. A weird rebirth came shortly after my 15th birthday.

A wonderful summer saw me enjoying a mess of horror films with my grandfather: THE FLY (since the twerps at Crossroads Mall in SLC, Utah wouldn't let me see it without an adult); FRIDAY THE 13th pt. 6/MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE at a drive-in.

PSYCHO 3 is a much more effective remix of the original than whatever the hell Gus Van Sant was trying to do with his remake.

THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE 2 has much to recommend it, from its effective, self-contained opener on the road to Choptop terrorizing Stretch in the studio to Dennis Hopper freaking the fuck out to Stewart Copeland's creepy end theme, which I sing to this day while walking alone at night. I'm just asking for trouble, I'm sure.

Zane Grant said...

I believe the Smiths dance party in Demons 2 is still cutting edge.

Jazzo said...

How about the terrifying last ten minutes of my my third-favourite film of all-time; Jonathan Demme's SOMETHING WILD. Raw, brutal horror at its finest.

StuartOhQueue said...

Sci-fi/Horror mash-ups like "The Fly" and "Aliens" are enough to make this a good year alone, in my book. What other good things came out of 1986?

Oh, yeah. Me.

LordSlaw said...

I recently watched Deadly Friend (for the first time ever) and liked it for many reasons, a big one being that it starred Albert from Little House on the Prairie!

Chris Otto said...

Are you trying to f**k with Glass Tiger with this post of yours?

Robert said...

It may depend on what your definition of horror is but Michael Mann's 1986 film MANHUNTER at the very least deserves recognition for presenting both the first screen incarnation of Hannibal Lecter (played by Brian Cox) as well as Tom Noon's awesome portrayal of Francis Dollarhyde.

dementia13 said...

I read the first part and thought, "OK, '86 was good for something", but then I started noticing how short this list really is on classic-y classics. Apart from The Fly and Aliens, which I consider to be strictly an action film, anyway. The rest of the list is mainly a strong helping of decent. Deadly Friend is decent, although...Kristy frickin' Swanson. Demons 2 is fun. From Beyond is so-so with lots of bonus points for extreme weirdness. I like Witchboard a lot, but I may be biased, married to a Tawny Kitaen lookalike. So, I'm thinking "unremarkable" for 1986 in film, which is far better than it was in music. Looking forward to that 1978 anniversary piece, just don't wait too long or it'll be the 3rd anniversary.