With Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night remakes in theaters now, and a slew of reboots in the works, it seems like Hollywood is looking backward instead of forward for film ideas. The ’80s offers a cinematic smorgasbord of nostalgia-laced movies to remake, reboot and re-imagine. And it looks like filmmakers will sink their fangs into any sacrosanct iconic 80s pic to drain it of all life and heart.
This has me considering what makes ‘80s pics such tempting cinema for modern filmmakers/studios. Is it just the nostalgia, or is it that some filmmakers in the ‘80s weren’t afraid to take risks? Maybe it’s that sometimes silly innocence that reflects the “let’s break out into dance right now” spirit of the decade.
Since there are so many seminal ‘80s films out there, I’m going to start a Top Ten series highlighting the best ’80s movies in each genre, from horror to fantasy/adventure to everything in between.
So at the risk of giving exploitative filmmakers any ideas, or leaving out some rabid fan’s favorite pic, here’s my list of the Top Ten ‘80s Movies: Horror (and yes, many of these have already been given soulless remakes):
1. The Shining
Stanley Kubrick‘s 1980 thriller The Shining is a cult classic and then some. It has achieved a status few other horror films have, with a multitude of oft-quoted moments and creepy scenes that make the skin crawl. Following a haunted hotel and a little boy with a psychic twinkling, The Shining is a horror that stands out from the crowd in any decade.
All work and no play certainly do make Jack a dull boy, but Jack Nicholson‘s performance was anything but. The charismatic, sly-eyed actor took to the role of Jack Torrence, writer and family man, and made him an incredibly believable psychopath. Shelley Duvall held her own against the power of Nicholson’s performance with a compelling take on meek Wendy Torrence with some great inner strength.
Kubrick used vivid imagery and cutting-edge filming techniques in his adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name. The slow pacing builds a lasting tension and a great atmosphere of claustrophobia, with the hotel itself an inescapable, menacing chasm of horrors. Add the screaming string instrumentals and the deep sweeping classical soundtrack, and you have the makings of one of the greatest horror films ever made. REDRUM.
2. The Thing
John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of the best horror movies ever made, hands down. It’s a sci-fi/horror set in the sub-zero temperatures of a remote Antarctic research station. When an alien force that can shape-shift gets lose in the compound, everyone is a suspect. Kurt Russell led an impressive all-male cast in this 1982 horror classic.
Carpenter’s tense, slow-build horror boasts some of the most gruesome and frightening special effects of any horror I’ve seen, past or present. The bleak landscape becomes another force acting against the human contingent, and thus another layer to the horror element of the film. Still another layer is the dynamic between the survivors, who all begin to suspect one another and can trust no one in what becomes a very individual struggle for survival. This is a classic horror (and one slated for a remake…eeek).
Click below to continue reading.Next