This is it the cream of the crop. The absolute peak of perfection when it comes to '80s slicers. These are the slashers that I adore, cherish, want to marry, need five minutes alone with, the ones I can't live without.
5: The Burning (1981)
This might be a a bold statement, but for me personally I think 'The Burning' is actually better than anything in the 'Friday the 13th' series. Also to further incite fan-rage I think it may be the best slasher to grace the golden-age, while obviously some of its elements may have dated, I still find the movie vastly superior to anything released in the mid '90s revival - yes even the over hyped 'Scream'. Although it was designed to be a purely commercial endeavour by the Weinsteins to launch their new found studio, the level of craftsmanship and creativity can’t be denied. Just look at the fantastic direction by Tony Maylam, or what about Rick Wakeman’s much imitated, atmospheric score (finally granted a release in 2007). 'The Burning' also has some of the most gruesomely inventive kills ever conceived by effects master Tom Savini, who if you remember turned down 'Friday the 13th 2' for this.
The raft scene obviously.
4: Prom Night (1980)
'Prom Night' is another one of those inexplicable movies that I love for reasons that I'll never understand. Everybody has a movie that they embrace, no matter how much they know they shouldn't. Even back in the day when I sold my VHS collection I only kept two tapes, the awesome thriller 'Lisa' and 'Prom Night'.
The actual experience of watching the movie was never going to meet my feverishly high expectations. I do remember liking it at the time, but remember feeling somewhat underwhelmed by the lack of violence, and the slow plodding nature of the story. It felt more like a made for TV special, based on some obscure out of print mystery novel. Having since revisited the movie a number of times, I find my fondness growing with each viewing and am pleasantly surprised just how watchable and fun it remains. Although Lots of the movies elements have now dated horribly, it's the squirm inducing disco scenes that stick out the most, like a chopped up corpse. It even sours the supposed tension filled climatic fight against the killer, as the whole sequence is set to an out of place dance tune. You would think these elements would completely ruin the film, but the more I watch ‘Prom Night’ the more I’ve grown to love these cheesy oh so ‘80s trapping, to the point now I can’t imagine the movie without them.
I love the creepy calls the killer makes, his silhouette ominously cast on the wall as he phones his intended victims.
3: Sleepaway Camp
Oh 'Sleepaway Camp' you crazy maelstrom of madness how I love you? Let me count the ways: I love how bitchy and mean the kids are, I love how much everybody swears all the time, I adore the creepy kid bothering cook, and what about that ending?
The ultimate summer slasher, this movie perfectly captures the hazy chaotic fun of being away from home surrounded by strangers, some friends, others foes. The kids really do run the show in this movie as we are treated to their 'Lord of the Flies' interactions, as more and more fall victim to the vicious killer. Just amazing.
That final reveal.
2: Curtains (1983)
Was it fate, or just dumb luck, that helped me stumble across this obscure, 1983 Canadian slasher. It was about six years ago, while searching the net for lesser known slasher movies when I came across an interesting article (found here), for a movie I had never heard of, but whose concept instantly intrigued me. The reviewer, who was a long time fan of the movie – even his pen name was Stryker - was desperate for the film to receive a proper, long overdue, re-release. You see at the time, this little horror gem, had like so many other movies, become lost in the void from VHS to DVD, with neither a release date, or a disturber hinted at for the near future. Enticed by the prospect of an obscure '80s Canadian slasher - love me some Canadian slasher - I immediately set out to source as much information as I could. At the time, movie downloads were a foreign concept to me, I still believed in the old fashioned method of hunting a movie down through my local retailer, or as a last resort the dusty dens of second-hand shops.
Finally through many hours of searching, I managed to seek out a workable download link from a temperamental file sharing website. The copy I downloaded was terribly muddy and low resolution, but still, besides the visual faults, the over whelming experience was very enjoyable. The combination of creepy visuals, and the wonderfully atmospheric score by Paul Zaza, left a lasting impression on me. Like many before me, I was now a member of the, ‘please release 'Curtains' on DVD club’. A small, but dedicated group, that continue to make this movie an underground cult sensation?
Unlike the popular slashers of the time, 'Curtains' strays from the clichéd traits that where already cemented into the genre. Instead of the bland cast of 'bubble-headed'-blonds, or 'air-head' jocks, getting carved up, the characters in 'Curtains' are adults, with genuine deep-seated, emotional problems. Be it envy, obsession or good old fashioned revenge, 'Curtains' has, as they say, more proverbial meat on its bones than just some bland maniac in a mask movie.
The ice skating murder is the stuff of slasher legends.
Opening with a familiar slasher scene we see a small group of people gathered around a campfire at North Sea Cottages - a special retreat for gifted children. Illuminated by the warm glow of the fire, the adults and children listen intently as head counselor Max recounts the grisly urban myth of Madman Marz. A farmer who in a moment of crazed horror murdered his entire family with an axe, after which he was beaten and hung by a mob of angry townspeople who discovered his heinous deeds. Later, when they returned his body and that of his wife and children had disappeared, leaving a lasting curse over the woods. The house where these atrocities were committed is not far from the campers, and it is said that Marz still lurks somewhere close by, watching, waiting for any that dare cross his path.
It has taken me about 10 years to finally see this movie and I must say it was worth the wait, while the meandering pace might be a small point of contention for some viewers, thankfully the deaths are pure head chopping gold, with most of the effects still thankfully holding up today. 'Madman' does set itself apart from the crowd with a number of unique aspects, such as the whole movie taking place over a couple of hours, as well as the cast being mostly adult characters, over the clichéd troupe of horny drunken teens. Another interesting aspect is the music by Stephen Horelick, which perfectly sets the films '80s tone, it being a nice mix of john carpenter synth, and Saul Bass strings. 'Madman' is a cheesy blast, and one that should satisfy any '80s slasher fanatic.
One of my favourite moments in 'Madman', is when Betty (Gaylen Ross) and her love interest T.P, enter a hot tub and before making love, somehow manage to have a slow dance while immersed in the water. The fridge scene, which I won’t spoil here, is another moment of comedic disbelief. It's these elements of trash that make '80s slashers so much fun, and for good or bad, you just don’t see in movies anymore.
How Many Have You Seen?