Horror Movie Collections That Started in the 1980s
My son Josh has fallen in love with 1980s culture after becoming a fan of the Netflix series Stranger Things. I graduated high school in 1984 so I lived the times and have been turning him on to all things Eighties like the music that the character Billy from Stranger Things would have listened to driving in his Bitchin’ Camaro (see the band Dead Milkmen). Josh was also interested in horror movies that came out in the 1980s and we began to watch the seminal films of the genre these past weeks leading up to Halloween. This got me to thinking of all the 1980s horror films that originated movie franchises captured in Internet Video Archive’s new Collection data. Since it is the season, here is a list of Collections ranked in order based on IVA’s Power Ratings for the first movie in the Collection. Making a query of IVA’s database where genre equals horror, title is part of a Collection and ordered by IVA Power Ranking produced the list below. Happy Halloween 1980s style!
Horror Collections Started in the 1980s
Gremlins (1984) IVA Power Rating: 89.46
This movie had success written all over it with Joe Dante directing, hot off directing a segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie and before that, the Howling. Frank Marshall and Steven Spielberg were executive producers and it starred Phoebe Cates and Judge Reinhold who both starred in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. A sequel was made in 1990 called Gremlins 2: The New Batch. HBO Max has announced that there is an animated TV show that will be a prequel to Gremlins called Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai coming out in 2021.
Rent on Amazon
Poltergeist (1982) IVA Power Rating: 89.11
Steven Spielberg and Frank Marshall had teamed up prior to Gremlins on Poltergeist. Spielberg was the hottest name in Hollywood at the time and his name on any movie or TV show made it a must-see. Tobe Hooper directed it and was well on his way to earning the title as one of the Masters of Horror after directing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Salem’s Lot. The two sequels, Poltergeist II: The Other Side and Poltergeist III never lived up to the original’s success. The remake in 2015 did fairly well finding a new audience with Sam Rockwell leading the cast but nothing compares to the first entry.
Rent on iTunes
The Thing (1982) IVA Power Rating: 88.79
This movie belongs to two collections. The original The Thing was released in 1951 and there was another remake in 2011 and including this 1982 version, belong to The Thing collection. However, this version of The Thing actually kicked off director John Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy of films about the end of human existence that also include Prince of Darkness (1987) and In the Mouth of Madness (1995). Seen together, Carpenter’s tapestry of end times include aliens, devils and author H.P. Lovecraft, who has his own collection within IVA Collections data.
Rent on Google Play
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) IVA Power Rating: 87.76
My son really liked this one. He could not believe actor Johnny Depp, to him Captain Jack Sparrow, was just a teenager not much older than him. Josh was taken with the fashion and hairstyles of the cast and wanted to dress like Depp’s character Glen Lantz this Halloween. The idea of getting killed in your dreams must still resonate with teenagers today because he was glued. This movie was the launching pad for the iconic character of Freddy Krueger into pop culture and spawned 6 sequels, a crossover with with Jason Voorhees in Freddy vs. Jason (2003) and a remake in 2010. Few horror franchises have found such success.
Rent on iTunes
The Lost Boys (1987) IVA Power Rating: 87.07
“Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire.” This tag line from the first The Lost Boys movie was the 80s goth motto in a nutshell. The cast was the cream of the teen crop of the day with Jason Patric, Keifer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, and Alex Winter and also starring Corey Feldman and Corey Haim whose scenes added comedy to the intended horror. There was a sequel made called Lost Boys: The Tribe in 2008 that has Feldman’s character Frog return to fight more beach-loving vampires and a TV show pilot was submitted this year but just rejected.
Rent on Amazon
Friday the 13th (1980) IVA Power Rating: 85.94
One of the earliest “Cabin in the Woods” horror movies of all time, Friday the 13th would give rise to another iconic character, Jason Voorhees. The Friday the 13th collection includes 10 movies in sequence, ending with Jason X. The parent collection, Jason Voorhees, includes all of the 10 movies in the film series as well as a remake and crossover with Freddy Krueger. This trope of teenagers going to a cabin in woods and bad stuff happens has been washed, rinsed and repeated so many times in the genre. Bonus: one of prolific actor Kevin Bacon’s earliest roles.
Rent on Amazon
The Evil Dead (1981) IVA Power Rating: 85.46
Director and writer Sam Raimi takes the “Cabin in the Woods” theme and turns it to 11 in this first entry in the Evil Dead Collection. It hits all the right notes with gory special effects, graphic violence, and black humor. The series would also propel actor Bruce Campbell into a cult hero. Evil Dead was followed by Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992) and also had a remake in 2013. The TV show Ash vs Evil Dead came out in 2015 with Campbell reprising his role but set 30 years after the events of the film series. The show lasted 3 seasons. “Groovy.”
Stream on Netflix
An American Werewolf in London (1981) IVA Power Rating: 85.30
Werewolves are popular subject matters for movies and TV shows. This entry stands out because of its director John Landis was at the helm and special effects master Rick Baker created one of the best human to werewolf transformation scenes ever filmed. Landis just had a big hit with the Blues Brothers a year earlier and any kid who read Fangoria magazine knew Rick Baker. Griffin Dunne and David Naughton did not succumb to campiness but the black humor was striking and the tragedy of a boy bitten by a werewolf was never more believable. The second entry, An American Werewolf in Paris (1997) was unfortunately forgettable.
Rent on Google Play
Child’s Play (1988) IVA Power Rating: 85.12
This collection has legs with 6 sequels to the original, a remake in 2019 and a TV series coming out on SYFY next year. Chucky has now been with us for over 30 years. This supernatural slasher collection is premised on a serial killer who transfers his soul into a doll and begins a killing spree. Child’s Play feeds on our inherent fear of dolls and our subconscious belief that they are up to something when we sleep. The creator of Child’s Play is slated as the TV show’s showrunner and will be directing the pilot. Fun facts: Actor Brad Dourif voiced Chucky up until the remake in 2019 where Mark Hamill (yes, Luke Skywalker) voices Chucky.
Rent on iTunes
Fright Night (1985) IVA Power Rating: 84.11
Director Tom Holland made a name for himself as a screenwriter who penned the cult-classic Class of 1984 and the well-received Psycho II. His directorial debut came with Fright Night. The story revolves around a teenager teaming up with an aging horror-film star to take on a neighbor who happens to be a vampire. The movie became an instant hit, earning strong critical reviews and winning the Saturn Awards for Best Director, Best Horror Film and Best Writing. A sequel would be made in 1988 without Holland who directed the first Child’s Play that was released the same year. A remake was released in 2011 starring Colin Farrell and David Tennant and a sequel in 2013.
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