It’s Halloween season. For some, that means one thing: horror movies. Here are three classic horror movies from the ’80s that deserve a re-watch this Halloween.
Halloween should be a night of thrills for everyone. While children enjoy the thrills of dressing up and going door to door for candy, adults enjoy the thrills in many other ways, including costume parties, haunted houses, and passing out candy to trick-or-treaters. Another way to spend Halloween night is curled up on the couch with the lights off and a horror movie on. Many classic horror movies play on TV or come to streaming services for Halloween. Here are three classic horror movies from the ’80s to revisit this year.
‘Friday the 13th‘ (1980)
One of the defining films of the American slasher genre, “Friday the 13th”, focuses on a group of summer-camp counselors who are in the midst of reopening Camp Crystal Lake. This camp was previously the site of a drowning of a young boy named Jason Vorhees. Throughout the film, an unknown assailant stalks and kills the counselors one by one, each in different, gruesome ways.
“Friday the 13th” doesn’t receive much love from critics. Many are opposed to the film’s high death toll and lack of plot and character development. In her review for Empire, Kim Newman said that it is “a pallid Halloween rip-off, with a mediocre shock count and a botched ending.”
However, the classic horror movie was a financial success. According to Box Office Mojo, it’s the second highest-grossing horror franchise in the United States, making approximately 755.6 million dollars (“Friday the 13th” alone making 39.76 million dollars). This is likely due to the film’s audience appeal. Matt Ford claims in a BBC.com review, “The film’s success was in its ability to understand what made audiences tick, and then manipulate it ruthlessly.”
“It took the shock violence of nihilistic 1970s gore-fests such as Zombie Flesh Eaters and Driller Killer, added some sexually active teenagers, and achieved something approaching mass appeal in the process.”Mark Ford from BBC.com
After the original movie, “Friday the 13th” developed into a franchise featuring 12 slasher films, a television series, novels, comic books, video games, and tie‑in merchandise. Jason Vorhees wearing his hockey mask is now one of the most recognizable images in horror.
While the movie isn’t remarkable or different from other slasher films, “Friday the 13th” is a classic horror movie. It was a big contributor to the horror fad in the ’80s. Along with 1978’s “Halloween”, it set the stepping stones for other classic horror movies, including 1996’s “Scream” and 2019’s ninth season of the TV horror anthology “American Horror Story”.
‘A Nightmare on Elm Street‘ (1984)
This defining film of the American slasher genre, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, centers around a group of teenagers suffering from violent nightmares. The teens soon discover that their nightmares all have a common factor: a disfigured killer with a glove made of razors on his hand. After one of the group is murdered while asleep, they realize if they die in their dreams, they will die in the real world. The protagonist takes on the task of staying awake to find out who this killer is and why he’s after them.
Upon its release, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” received a common review from critics. It was a highly imaginative horror movie created to fit into a genre with built-in limitations. The general premise is the same as other slasher films. Hormonal teens are slaughtered by a serial killer. The use of surrealism and the iconic visual appearance of the killer Freddy is what makes this movie one to remember. Rotten Tomatoes‘ critic’s consensus praises the movie saying, “Wes Craven’s intelligent premise, combined with the horrifying visual appearance of Freddy Krueger, still causes nightmares to this day.”
“With his peeling face, striped jersey and hideous killer mitt, Freddy has taken his rightful place alongside Texas Chain Saw Massacre‘s Leatherface and the hockey-masked Jason Voorhees in cinema’s celebrated chamber of horrors.”Simon Braund from Empire
Grossing 1.271 million dollars during its opening weekend, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” was an instant box office hit. At that point in time, the era of teen slasher films was fading, but director Wes Craven poked at the genre and left a huge imprint with “A Nightmare on Elm Street”. The horror movie ultimately earned 57 million dollars worldwide, keeping the genre alive a little longer.
“A Nightmare on Elm Street” is well known for the burnt-face, razor-glove-wielding Freddy Krueger. If the iconic figure isn’t enough to instill a re-watch, the gore galore and imaginative surrealism aspect should persuade horror movie lovers to tune in to this classic from the ’80s.
‘The Shining‘ (1980)
Switching gears from slasher films, “The Shining” presents a psychological horror movie from the ’80s based on Stephen King’s 1977 novel of the same name. The film revolves around Jack Torrance, an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic, who accepts a position as the off-season caretaker for an isolated hotel in the Colorado Rockies. He brings along his wife, Wendy, and son, Danny, who possesses psychic abilities that allow him to see into the hotel’s horrifying past. As Jack unsuccessfully attempts to cure his writer’s block, he starts to discover the hotel’s dark secrets. His sanity quickly unravels due to the supernatural forces inhabiting the hotel, turning him into a maniac out to kill his family.
Director Stanley Kubrick was best known for making movies with unique cinematography, extensive set designs, and evocative use of music. He dabbled in most things that horror movies were not doing in the time that “The Shining” came out. With “The Shining”, Kubrick attempted to elevate horror beyond stereotypical slasher and haunting films. He made a horror movie that instilled chills by playing with perception and psyche instead of jump scares and gore.
“Kubrick (with co-screenwriter Diane Johnson) filleted the novel, ditching its more formulaic horror elements in favour of a study in madness and ambiguous evil — that, of course, of father, drunk, caretaker, and wannabe novelist Jack Torrance.”Ian Nathan from Empire
“The Shining” initially opened to mixed reviews, and most of them weren’t very positive. The most notable critic of the innovative horror movie was probably the story’s creator Stephen King. In an interview with Writer’s Digest, when asked about disliking his novels’ adaptations, King noted, “…the only one I can remember hating was [Stanley] Kubrick’s cold adaptation of “The Shining”; spending three hours watching an ant farm would be more emotionally uplifting.” Other critics called the movie dull and lackluster with none of the jolts that a horror movie should have.
“There are moments so visually stunning only a Kubrick could pull them off, yet the film is too grandiose to be the jolter that horror pictures are expected to be. Both those expecting significance from Kubrick and those merely looking for a good scare may be equally disappointed.”Kevin Thomas from Los Angeles Times
Before the decade was up, “The Shining” was reevaluated by critics. It gained a lot more praise the second time around. The movie soon found its way into the various top 100 charts, including AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes list with the classic “Here’s Johnny!” line.
“Just as the ghostly apparitions of the film’s fictional Overlook Hotel would play tricks on the mind of poor Jack Torrance, so too has the passage of time changed the perception of The Shining itself. Many of the same reviewers who lambasted the film for “not being scary” enough back in 1980 now rank it among the most effective horror films ever made, while audiences who hated the film back then now vividly recall being “terrified” by the experience. The Shining has somehow risen from the ashes of its own bad press to redefine itself not only as a seminal work of the genre, but perhaps the most stately, artful horror ever made.”Peter Bracke from High-Def Digest
Nowadays, “The Shining” is an unforgettable horror movie from the ’80s. It led the charge of a brand new sub-genre of horror. That factor, along with many of Kubrick’s unique film-making techniques, make it a treat to watch any time of year. A classic horror movie like this can be most enjoyed on or around Halloween when the horror genre is most appreciated.
Halloween is the best time of year to hone in on horror movies. Some of the best out there are classic horror movies from the ’80s. The three above are only a few of the many horror movies from the ’80s that are dying for a re-watch this Halloween.