The wait for American Horror Story: 1984 is almost over. In less than a week the horror anthology returns to FX and this time, the scares and terror will take viewers not to the end of the world as last year's Apocalypse did, but back to the 1980s with a season that appears to draw heavily from the horror slasher film genre of that era. It's a theme that made even more clear in the season's official opening title which series co-creator Ryan Murphy released on social media on Thursday.
Given the 80s horror slasher vibe of American Horror Story: 1984, we thought it might be fun to round up a list of films we think might be worth checking out ahead of Wednesday's upcoming season premiere. As we've seen in teasers for the season, 1984 appears to be going all-in on the genre and even in the official trailer we've some specific elements that have appeared in some cult favorite horror films. To that end, we've come up with eight specific films to check out to get yourself prepped and ready for American Horror Story: 1984. To be fair, we could have made this list a lot, lot longer than eight films so we've whittled things down to a nice selection of films you might expect -- such as Halloween and Friday the 13th -- and a few you may not immediately consider.
So, without further ado, here are eight films you might want to check out to get yourself ready for American Horror Story: 1984!
Okay, we know that there are some problematic elements to Sleepaway Camp -- particularly the very questionable transgender representation in the film -- but even with that, the 1983 film is kicking off this list because of just how darn campy it is. Camp is a fairly significant element in pretty much every season of American Horror Story and with Sleepaway Camp embracing that same over-the-top tone it just feels wrong to not suggest it as a must-watch heading towards the horror anthology series' own trip into 80s slasher territory. It's also worth watching because Sleepaway Camp subverts the genre's expectations with its iconic, stunning ending. Ryan Murphy rarely does what viewers expect and neither did Sleepaway Camp.
If you've watched any of the teasers or even just the official trailer for American Horror Story: 1984 then you know that Camp Redwood very much looks and feels like Camp Crystal Lake. Add to that the fact that when most people think of 80s slasher horror, they immediately think of Friday the 13th (and pretty much all of the sequels that come with it) and it’s a must-watch before we're all trying to survive Mr. Jingles next week.
Okay, this one's not an 80s movie. We never said all your movie prep would be from the 80s. I Know What You Did Last Summer makes the list because of a specific moment in the trailer for American Horror Story: 1984 when Cody Fern's character runs over someone in his sweet conversion van on the way to Camp Redwood and then pretend they found him injured on the side of the road. It's a perfect parallel to the general plot of I Know What You Did Last Summer in which a group of friends run over a fisherman and dump his body only to be terrorized by said fisherman a year later. It'll be interesting to see if the person the Camp Redwood crew run down ends up coming after them.
We're suggesting Scream 4 specifically, but you may want to also watch the original Scream for reference as well (it makes the story of Scream 4 make a bit more sense.) Scream 4 makes our list because it stars Emma Roberts, but in this slasher film turn, Roberts doesn't play an innocent. She plays Jill, who ends up being the killer. We think that twist is an interesting one that might be worth keeping in mind because, while Roberts' character in 1984 is looking very much like she could end up being the Final Girl, she could end up being the villain after all. This is American Horror Story. You never know.
Speaking of Final Girls, the 2015 film -- which stars American Horror Story alum Taissa Farmiga -- is another one that makes our list partly because of a popular fan theory about 1984. The theory is that the season won't actually be set in 1984 but will be a movie-in-a-movie type of thing. It's an idea that is similar to the plot of The Final Girls in which the daughter of a scream queen finds herself and her friends trapped inside her mom's 80s slasher movie. It's also just fun and funny movie that you totally should watch anyway.
Pieces is a standard, straightforward slasher in which a boy who kills his mother grows up to literally cut up women into pieces. Pieces is definitely a horror film, one that we have to warn you is very gory, so much so that the film was seized and confiscated in the United Kingdom during the "video nasty" controversy over obscene and violent content in the early 1980s. To call it bloody is an understatement but what makes Pieces a fitting add to this list is how the film approached nudity. Unlike many films within the 80s slasher genre, Pieces is surprisingly fair in terms of male and female nudity. Considering that the casting video for American Horror Story: 1984 leaned towards showing off the physiques of the men a bit more than the women -- and had some very interesting close-ups of Matthew Morrison's, um, bulge -- we think Pieces may just be worth a watch.
You can't have a horror list and not include Halloween, but more than that, American Horror Story: 1984 appears like it will have a pretty significant similarity in terms of story. In Halloween, killer Michael Myers escapes a sanitarium where he had been committed after murdering his teenage sister on Halloween night. In the trailer for 1984 we find out that Mr. Jingles has also recently escaped some sort of mental institution where he had been held after the previous Camp Redwood massacre.
In many of the teasers and trailers for American Horror Story: 1984 it's an axe, not just a knife, that we see the killer menacing campers with which immediately made us think of Madman. The 1982 film featured an axe-wielding murderer named Madman Marz who summoned by campers during a campfire tale, goes on a killing spree. The film is pretty campy and cheesy, too, which feels like a good tonal fit to American Horror Story as well.
What movies do you think we should have included on our list? Let us know in the comments below!
American Horror Story: 1984 premiers on Wednesday, September 18th on FX.