Horror of the 1980s: beginning, middle, and end

Reveling in some new acquisitions to my DVD and Blu-ray collection, I knew it was once again time to blog about the 1980s. So here’s a selection of flicks I haven’t yet covered spanning from 1980 to 1989.

CONTAMINATION (1980)

I can never get enough badly dubbed, gory, synth-drenched Euro horror of the 80s in my collection, and Contamination delivers in that way. However, it’s not a very entertaining movie and in no way scary.

It’s often accused of being an Alien rip-off because a small group of scientists is investigating slimy eggs found on an abandoned ship in New York. If you ask me, it’s actually Scanners on antacid.

See, these eggs never hatch into facehuggers or anything like that. They simply burst, covering people in green slime that within seconds causes the victim’s belly to absolutely explode!

There are plenty of exploding belly scenes, but other than that, the small group of heroes does a lot of talking as they travel from one location to another trying to uncover the truth about the origin of the eggs. They find it eventually in the form of a goofy one-eyed alien in a scene that goes on way too long to be thrilling.

DEVIL FISH (aka: Monster Shark) (1984)

Lamberto Bava directs this silly but fun movie that is better titled Devil Fish than Monster Shark, because it looks like a mutant fish with tentacles, not a shark. It almost seems like the movie Beneath borrowed the look of this fish monster’s face.

We only get glimpses of this fish monster—mostly its mouth and tentacles—for most of the film, but there are plenty of gory shots of bodies being pulled out of the water along the way.

After the attacks begin and drive the dolphins at the marina nuts (very Jaws 3D), the researchers there go out on a boat to hunt down whatever is making blips on their underwater radar (very Jaws The Revenge, although this came first).

Occasional random kills keep us entertained, as do the hilarious lines that are made even funnier due to the dubbing. For instance, a baddie that wants to kill all the researchers before they can discover the fish monster chokes a woman to death while growling, “Croak! Croak!”

The score is Euro horror cheesy at its best, there’s a classic video game moment, and the fish is eventually lured to…a river? The tight, swamp-like setting of the final act at night is a blast, with plenty of man munching and fish monster footage.

There are a couple of men I’d like to munch in the movie as well.

I’m not sure what, but something compelled me to grab this particular still shot…

DEAD RINGERS (1988)

David Cronenberg delves into the horrors of gynecology enough to make women cross their legs while watching and men to feel sympathy pains, but this isn’t one of his most exciting weird films.

Jeremy Irons plays twin brother gynecologists, one an alpha the other a passive man who eats up his brother’s sloppy seconds when it comes to women. Catch is they never tell the women they’ve been handed off to a twin.

However, the latest victim of their game, a patient with fertility issues and a twisted sexual appetite, discovers there are two of them and becomes involved in a complex, voluntary swap once she meets them both.

The passive brother gets the girl and starts to lose his mind. This psychological thriller has him believing women have mutant genitalia and special ordering nasty surgical tools to fix them. If only it were all as visually gruesome as you’d expect from a Cronenberg film.

Instead, Dead Ringers is more like an acid trip drug addiction story, and that’s just so not my thing.

THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1989)

Edgar Allan Poe gets loosely adapted into a cheesy late 80s slasher that will catapult you right back to the era if you’ve never seen it.

With its polished “old” castle setting and vibrant colors, this feels like a Charles Band film of the early 90s. A photographer sneaks into an exclusive party to get some juicy photos, and someone in a red cape and mask begins killing people. Get it? Rather than the figurative masked red death of a plague from the original story, this one is literal.

There are numerous awesome music video performances by a totally 80s pop rock band.

Frank Stallone has a role in the film, but he doesn’t get any songs on the soundtrack like he did when his brother directed Staying Alive. His career wasn’t that far from over by the time this movie came out…

A bunch of quirky characters is at each other’s throats so that we have no idea who the killer could be. There’s also a court jester stalking the photographer, and he’s actually creepier than the killer!

But the real highlight of the film (aside from the pop rock band) is the death scenes. As hokey as this is, the kills often feel as extravagant, grisly, and odd as the kill sequences in an Argento movie! It’s an unexpected touch in such a silly movie.

And the movie doesn’t forget how silly it is in the end. The hubby and I were laughing out loud as the final battle played out between the main girl and the killer.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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