It would have been a miracle if your video store even carried any of these 80s horror films. HBO’s feature film intro anthem was too good to ever welcome them to its movie lineup. I look at four films that even the 80s shunned.
BLOODSUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE (1984)
The Bloodsuckers from Outer Space opener rules. A farmer begins puking blood, turns into a blue-faced zombie (still looks better than the zombies in Dawn of the Dead), and snarls at the camera.
Cue the 80s new wave surfer rock girl group horror theme song. “They’re Out for Blood” is a Halloween playlist must.
The rest of the movie is very Troma in its low-budget horror spoof absurdity, beginning with a hick going off on how people are getting sick around town because of the Satan-worshipping homos and “N” words. Did I mention that the movie takes place in Texas? No need to? Okay. There’s also a cheap, lifeless government/military subplot that could have been ditched for a heavier focus on the main characters—and zombies.
Thom Meyers (who is also in Nail Gun Massacre, below) plays a reporter who spends most of the movie running around town trying to figure out why everyone is turning zombie…while experiencing only a few zombie confrontations. There’s very little in the way of successful humor, unless you consider banjo music during a hand-to-hand fight with a redneck zombie funny (which probably means you haven’t watched many zombie spoofs). The film even breaks the fourth wall in its failed attempt to wink at the audience.
However, the camptastic fun finally comes, in the form of the furry adorable cop and his girlfriend. He sports a flattering little black G-string during sex before showing off his hot buns behind a shower curtain, while she bares her boobs.
As these two are busy panting, they catch the infection, which proves to be airborne, and turn into the funniest (talking) zombies in the whole movie. I also got a kick out of a little boy playing a zombie—he looks so pleased when he steps out from a horde of zombies carrying someone’s arm. The whole movie should have been packed with the amount of zombie excitement crammed into the last twenty minutes.
ZOMBIE ISLAND MASSACRE (1984)
Troma breaks new ground, bringing us a slasher…with a zombie movie title…that features a bunch of middle-aged “kids” getting hacked up! It even starts with a nicely padded couple having sex. Then they’re off to a Caribbean getaway with their midlife crisis posse.
During a tour that includes a creepy voodoo ritual performed by tribal natives, the group’s bus breaks down. They’re spooked and throwing around the word “zombie” a lot. But fear not. There’s just some crazed killer on the loose, bringing us old school killer POV in the woods while taking out the first middle aged couple that goes off to have sex.
Everyone else heads for shelter in a house down the road, and several of them are attacked on the way! The remaining members of their party get offed one by one after (naturally) splitting up! Thank God my middle-aged ass grew up on slashers and knows better.
The kills aren’t so bad (some lite gore), and the movie definitely has a classic 80s slasher vibe. However, the final twist is more in keeping with today’s shocking reveals than the typical killer-seeking-revenge or deformed-creature-in-the-woods themes so popular back then. For a Troma film, Zombie Island Massacre is surprisingly mainstream in its badness.
THE NAIL GUN MASSACRE (1985)
The Nail Gun Massacre is the kind of sludge you’d rent when you’d seen everything else in the horror section of your video store. And you’d like it because, well, it was the 80s and it was a slasher you hadn’t seen yet. For the most part, this film is I Spit On Your Grave…with a nail gun.
Jumping immediately into a scene of a bunch of construction workers holding a chick down to rape her, the movie doesn’t even slightly exploit the situation. It cuts immediately to the opening credits!
Then it takes us directly to the first rapist being stalked by someone in a cool biker uniform with a top-of-the-line nail gun in hand. There’s killer POV and a great dark and sinister soundtrack, but pretty much every kill is just what you’d expect from a movie about a killer with a nail gun; people get nailed. Adding to the quirkiness of this low-budget mess, the killer drops one-liners left and right through a vocoder. It ends up feeling like everyone is being hunted by a spaceman.
Horrible dialogue leads up to each kill then a hot beary sheriff shows up to examine the body (or bodies). This becomes a cyclical sequence of events all the way through.
There’s also plenty of nudity and sex, automatically making this a 5-star 80s slasher. Plus, pretty much all the guys are hot, whether you like them lean and muscular, or chubby and hairy, which makes The Nail Gun Massacre a must for my sausagefest page.
The highlight? One dude has a bangin’ ass that gets major camera time as he screws a girl against a tree. We also get to see his wiener after he gets screwed…I mean…nailed.
Blades opens with a scene that feels like it’s the start of a slasher. Kids hang out in the woods at night…two go off to have sex…the hot muscle guy sadly doesn’t get naked…something approaches with killer POV…and they are attacked.
After that, Blades turns into a very unfunny spoof of Jaws with a killer lawnmower on a golf course. There are plenty of reworked Jaws plot points to appreciate—body parts are found in the sand the next morning, the owner doesn’t want to stop a big pro golf tournament, a suspected mower is caught and immediately claimed as the culprit, the mower gets cut open to reveal its contents, a mother slaps the hero for allowing her loved one to get attacked, and finally, an expert comes in and takes the heroes on a big hunt for the menace.
Still, none of it’s funny. And the movie is way too long at an hour and forty minutes.