Now that October has officially arrived, movies fans who are looking to get into the spirit of the season seek out dark and scary tales to creep them out, so long as they are available to stream to your home instantly. Luckily, there are plenty of services out there with films that can scratch that spooky itch and delight you with stories featuring things that go bump in the night.
This week, we're celebrating a defining decade in the genre, shedding the spotlight on some of the best films the '80s have to offer. Gruesome and gory special effects were taken to new heights in the genre, with makeup artists like Tom Savini and Rick Baker becoming just as notable in the industry as any filmmaker. That enthusiasm for delivering buckets of blood also led to lots of humor, as it's hard not to laugh at how far the filmmakers would go to find news ways of conveying carnage.
'Hellraiser' - Netflix
Arguably Clive Barker's biggest contribution to the horror genre, Hellraiser delivered audiences a violent and twisted love story, in addition to heaping helpings of Hellish creations.
After moving into the home of her deceased lover, a woman begins offering his spirit deadly sacrifices, which ultimately lead to his resurrection. Unfortunately, this lover's corporeal form manifests slowly, starting with his skeleton before his nervous system and on to his musculature, delivering viewers one ghastly figure after another.
Resurrecting a deceased lover is easier said than done, with demonic "Cenobites" ultimately appearing to take the lover back down to Hell.
Doug Bradley's performance as a demon with nails hammered into his skull, earning the loving nickname "Pinhead," established the villain as one of the most iconic horror characters of all time, despite only appearing in the film's finale. Regardless of Pinhead's screen time, Hellraiser is one of the darker and more disturbing debuts of the '80s, with the effects looking like they will ooze off of your screen and into your own home.prevnext
'Child's Play' - Hulu
With much of the decade being dominated by killers with knives for hands or hockey masks that hide their humanity, Child's Play went a completely different route by hiding a killer inside a playful and innocent creation.
After being fatally injured, serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) uses his final moments to perform a ritual that allows his spirit to possess a child-sized doll, which a mother inadvertently gives to her young son. This playful Good Guys doll, demanding he be called "Chucky," comes to life to dispatch anyone in his way as the killer attempted to find a new host for his spirit.
Child's Play's blend of humor and horror immediately made the film's villain a hit, with writer Don Mancini continuing to write films featuring the character to this day, with a planned TV series being developed that continues the killer's mayhem.prevnext
'Return of the Living Dead' - Amazon Prime
George Romero helped define the zombie genre with Night of the Living Dead and delivered another fascinating depiction of humanity when they realize their time is up with Dawn of the Dead, yet Return of the Living Dead reminded viewers just how fun the premise was with its ambitious effects.
After morgue workers inadvertently open the remains of a victim from the incident depicted in Night of the Living Dead, a gas is released into the atmosphere that begins turning individuals in the vicinity into the living undead. Hitting theaters in the middle of the decade, Return of the Living Dead put archetypes of the decade in the middle of the madness, leaving jocks, preps, and punks to fight for their lives against the reanimated ghouls.
Featuring a killer soundtrack and fast-moving zombies, the walking corpses become the stars of the show as audiences can revel in how many victims these monsters can vanquish.prevnext
'The Fly' - Hulu
David Cronenberg's The Fly made good on two different trends of the '80s, which were remakes and impressive special effects.
While developing equipment that can transport matter, Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) needs to take his research to the next level by testing whether or not his device works on a human subject. As you can imagine, things don't go entirely to plan, as a fly slipped into his device along with him, fusing his genes with the insect and ultimately mutating him.
The 1958 film starring Vincent Price leaned into the silliness of the situation to deliver a campy adventure, with Cronenberg's version being far more tragic. In addition to the groundbreaking special effects, the film also delivers a rivetting and depressing lovestory, as Brundle's motivations were merely to better humanity, leaving his girlfriend Veronica (Geena Davis) to witness his descent into becoming a monstrosity.prevnext
'Pumpkinhead' - Amazon Prime
As evidenced by Pumpkinhead, sometimes all you need is a cool title for a creature for a movie to virtually write itself.
When a group of coeds accidentally kill his child, Ed Harley (Lane Henriksen) is overwhelmed by grief, destroying his will to live. Ed seeks a witch in the nearby woods which he has heard could help him and, when learning that his boy cannot be revived, seeks vengeance for those who killed the child. After carrying out a ritual, the demonic Pumpkinhead rises from the earth to enact justice upon those who have wronged the distraught father.
The film's narrative doesn't offer audiences anything fresh, but with the film being Rick Baker's directorial debut, the titular monster becomes a standout creation of the decade, with Baker knowing exactly how to shoot the beast to maximize terror. Additionally, the witchcraft and folklore elements make it essential viewing for the Halloween season.prevnext
'Elvira: Mistress of the Dark' - Hulu
It's difficult to overstate the impact Cassandra Peterson's Elvira had on the decade, making it only inevitable that the horror host would make her way to the big screen to deliver her signature scares and sarcasm at the height of her popularity.
Struggling to make a living as a horror host, Elvira discovers a relative of hers has died and left her a house in a small Massachusetts town. After moving into her new home, Elvira draws both desired and unwanted attention, with some residents becoming enamored with the Mistress of the Dark while prudish members of the community seek her removal.
The film delivers audiences everything an Elvira fan would want, from countless double entendres to jokes about horror movie icons, in addition to reminding viewers that horror hosts used to be so popular that they could star in their own films.prevnext
'Howling II: Your Sister Is a Wereewolf' - Amazon Prime
In 1981, the werewolf subgenre earned a defining entry with An American Werewolf in London, which revived popularity in the beasts. While you might be wondering if The Howling is required viewing to enjoy Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf, you can breathe easy knowing that nothing can prepare you for the wackiness of this film.0comments
After discovering that his (dead) sister was a werewolf, a man travels to Transylvania to wage battle with a werewolf queen who was ultimately behind the American werewolf infiltration.
While American Werewolf in London and the original The Howling are praised for their accomplishments in the subgenre, Howling II is a movie you'll have a hard time wrapping your head around, as its nonsensical plot pales in comparison to the lauded films that came before it. What the film lacks in narrative cohesion it makes up for in goofy special effects, gratuitous sex, and Christopher Lee wearing sunglasses.prev