Written by Patti Pauley
If you’ve been following me closely here on iHorror at all, you’re well aware that I hold an unhealthy yet orgasmic obsession with the 80’s era of horror. Technically speaking, the decade that I was born in, was arguably a monumental period for the genre with over the top storylines, increasingly bad yet so good low-budget horror, advancing monster makeup and what I like to argue, as the birth of the slasher film.
When I chose to make this list and starting rummaging through my collection, I already knew 1986 was a substantial year for horror; but holy hell! It’s only when you really start giving it some deep thought looking at all these glorious titles, that this was truly a golden year for the horror fan. Facing the daunting task of now having to choose merely ten from a pile of classic gems, made this a challenging yet exciting project for myself. Now, because there are more than a handful from this year that were great fucken films, the probability of you thinking I may have missed something will most likely be high. However, after much anxiety from the thoughts of “What the hell did I just to myself here!” I’ve managed to dwindle it down to what I personally think are the best this year has to offer. Given the incredibly difficult task, I’ve added honorable mentions at the bottom of this list that rightfully deserve recognition as well.
So here we are. 30 years later, let’s celebrate the golden year of horror of 1986!
The fur balls from outer space flick is just all around fun and definitely a cult classic among many. Including myself. The Critters, or The Crites as what the film dubs their alien race, takes a somewhat Gremlins like approach with horror comedy and intelligent little shithead creatures wreaking all kinds of havoc. The flesh-eating critters are wanted by alien bounty hunters, who track them down on earth and hilarity ensues. I love how the film doesn’t take itself too seriously and it’s flat-out entertainment to just sit back and enjoy it for what it is.
9. From Beyond
With Stuart Gordon hitting horror gold the year before with Re-Animator, H.P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond oozes machismo of gooey gore and an over the top performance from Jeffrey Combs and Ted Sorel making it an excellent entry into this list. A S&M scientist and his assistant create the Resonator, a machine developed to harness a sort of sixth sense of pleasure and view another plane of existence that also enables other, more aggressive and destructive life forms, to view ours. Science bitch! You have to appreciate what a fucked up, horny gorefest of brain snacking this film is. They definitely don’t make them like this anymore.
8. Poltergeist 2
Following the events from the first film, the Freeling family deals with another round of the relentless poltergeist that plagues little CarolAnne. Though we never saw Henry Kane in the first film, nor any mention of him besides a small subtle hint from Tangina about a “terrible presence”, his role stands above all others in this movie and he is forever etched in horror history as one of THEE creepiest bastards to ever walk across a screen. Poltergeist 2 takes on a sort of good vs. evil approach with the added characters of Kane and Taylor (the shaman indian) with CarolAnne stuck in the middle in a tug of war of fate. I always felt it was an underrated sequel that never gets much talk in the horror community.
House is heavily filled to the brim with the 80’s horror cheese and charm with the story of horror novelist Roger Cobb and the house that both his son disappeared from and his loving aunt committed suicide in. For Cobb, this seems like a good spot for him to finish his writing on his experience in the Vietnam war and his fellow wild army buddy known as Big Ben. Roger’s series of unfortunate events lead to the build up of facing his demons in the home that has been a curse to him and his family.
6. Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer
The film that is based on the confessions of Henry Lee Lucas, who claimed to have murdered over 600 people in the span of eight years, stars the absolutely brilliant Michael Rooker (you can read our interview with him here) as the film’s focus. The random crime sprees that Henry fed off of is both disturbing and enthralling to watch. Rooker gives one hell of a performance here and never gets the recognition it deserves in regards to mainstream media. Cheers to this 1986 gem for not giving a fuck about boundaries and giving us one of the best serial killer films of the twentieth century.
5. Night Of The Creeps
The Night Of Creeps is a true homage of the B horror movie and what can possibly make a film about zombies, alien invasions and ax murderers any better? Tom Atkins. Do I really need to state any more? This movie has it all and it’s just flat-out good times to revisit.
4. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
Oddly enough the last 4 on this list are all sequels and one remake. Go figure. Anyway, TCM 2 is an insanely fun and gory ride all the way through. Dennis Hopper vs. Leatherface? I mean, that’s just pure entertainment right there. The opening scene with the drive by chainsawing is probably one of my favorite scenes not only the franchise as a whole, but of all time. Call me twisted but I think it’s not only genius but hilarious.
3. Friday The 13th Part 6: Jason Lives!
The fifth sequel to the Friday franchise turned its focus back on Jason Voorhees as the killer by resurrecting him from his grave. Who better to switch back on the light than the recurring character of Tommy Jarvis. This sequel to me, always stood out beyond the others with the amazing soundtrack, the diversity of actual likeable characters, and C.J. Graham’s performance as the iconic Jason is definitely in my top three of all the actors that have played the role. Also, gotta love that James Bond intro!
Very few sequels actually trump their predecessor, but Aliens manages to actually do just that. The sequel propels the story into what is supposed to be a rescue mission on a planet where settled human colonies have been disappearing. With the addition of badass over the top crew members, Ripley battles once again, the angry race from outer space. And more than one this time around! The whole film is gold from start to finish and a spectacle to watch time and again. Without a doubt it’s one of the greatest sci-fi/horror movies ever made.
1. The Fly
What can I possibly say that hasn’t already been stated about the massive achievement of Cronenberg’s The Fly? For starters, if you’re going to remake a classic horror film, this my friends, is how it’s done. The transformation of Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) throughout the movie was, for its time, a modern marvel for special effects in the film industry. It’s a film about love, tragedy and some of the most disgusting scenes that still hold up today. The gore is not over the top, but some of the scenes during his mutation into Brundlefly are truly the most gruesome I have ever seen. In my opinion, the greatest remake of all time is also the best goddamn horror film of 1986. Long live the Brundlefly!
And here’s some honorable mentions from the beautifully horror filled year of 1986!
Class Of Nuke Em’ High
April Fools Day
Little Shop Of Horrors
Trick Or Treat
If you agree with my placements or you feel I’m way off and need to scream at me you can follow me on Twitter @Zombighoul. Let’s discuss!