This has to be the lightest year for horror in the 1980s. It is one of two years without a Friday the 13th film, 1987 being the other and right before A Nightmare on Elm Street’s release. 1983 may have been the year before the 1980s kicked it into high gear and we even started to see a shift from a 1970s style of filmmaking to what we knew in the 1980s.
I keep track of every single horror film I watch. I have a Google document that has over 860 different horror films I have seen and 1983, well in 100 years of horror, it yielded only 11 for me. Looking at my list alone, it is very weak. There is no clear cut favorite, but there are some fun films in the bunch. Christine and Cujo may be the most high profile films, where Sleepaway Camp is a cult favorite and Psycho II is an amazing sequel to a legendary horror film.
Mixed in the bunch are two, yes two 3D gimmic films, a strange vampire film, Videodrome (an oddity in its own right), two movies most haven’t seen and one Italian horror film. Tell me what movies from 1983 I am missing out on, because this is 100% the weakest year of the 1980s.
Let’s jump in.
10. Mausoleum (1983)
Bad movie. I mean it just isn’t good. We have a 10 year old girl who’s parents die and she goes in to a Mausoleum and gets possessed by a Demon that manifests decades later when she is an adult. There are some fun scenes and of course she has to seduce different men and gets all naked. But yeah, not great.
9. Jaws 3D (1983)
What is there to say about Jaws 3D that hasn’t been said? Well, it’s better than Jaws the Revenge…right? Jared from the Horror Syndicate has a soft spot for this one and I can see why. There is a good movie in here, if that hadn’t focused on the 3D gimmic, it’d likely be way better.
8. A Blade in the Dark (1983)
This was a late Italian Giallo. By the early to mid 80s, the giallo was really starting to die out. But, this one is a stand out, where as by this time it was mostly the Dario Argento show. To be fair, Lamberto Bava directed thus one and he have worked in the Argento circle, Demons comes to mind immediately.
7. Amityville 3D (1983)
When this series really started to become laughable. This may be my first visit to Amitville. I remember seeing this way before the first. I like the idea of debunking the claims the house is haunted. That is about it. This one is watchable and has a great opening. The end, well…the house explodes. This makes all further sequels pointless.
6. Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Everyone knows about Sleepaway Camp right? Right? Well the title tells us what the movie is about…a camp. Felissa Rose stars as Angela and there are killings at the camp…oh no who did it? Another 80s slasher “who dun it?” Sleepaway Camp has a cult following, but it’s really not that great. I prefer the campy sequels, they don’t take themselves too seriously and are fun.
5. The Hunger (1983)
I hadn’t seen the Hunger until a few months ago. It is an odd vampire film with a rapidly aging David Bowie. It’s very stylistic and worth a watch. But, it’ll likely be my only watch. Although, Susan Sarandon does bare her…you know.
4. Cujo (1983)
Probably the most recognized film released in 1983. It is a very terrifying film in many ways. Being trapped in a car for so long with just your son, being stalked by a rabid dog. Yeah, scary. It’s not my favorite, I know Nathan Thomas Milliner of THS Discourse loves Cujo.
3. Christine (1983)
We recently did a show all about the John Carpenter film based off of a Stephen King story. It’s a good one. Seeing Arnie’s descent is great and there are some great visual scenes with Christine. But Christine riding down the highway on fire is a top moment for me.
2. Psycho II (1983)
Say it with me…”UNDERRATED”. Pyscho is no doubt one of the greatest horror films ever made and it can be tough to follow up something great like Psycho, especially without rehashing the same story. Psycho II adds to the story and for a bit we see Norman Bates grow. It is so good and could have easily been #1 for 1983.
1. Videodrome (1983)
What a were fucking movie. It is the kind of movie you just get completely engaged in. You cannot look away, you may not know what is going on, but it has this almost hypnotic, dreamlike quality. It is so odd and James Woods is phenomenal. Watch it.
So, we’re done with 1983. From this point on, things are gonna get tougher as the 80s kick horror in to high gear.
Very soon we will get into 1984 – 1989. The 1990s will be back to one list and of course I’ll drop a Top 50 of the 1980s, based on my opinions.
Thanks for reading.