Welcome back to the greatest_ever arena...and welcome to the first ever audience-requested competition! Thanks to kristenlou
for the suggestion--and the unrelenting terror that will be yours for the next several weeks as we sift through a massive catalogue of competitors to determine our next champion. In order to introduce the contest, allow me to spin you a tale of yesteryear...
Once, not so very long ago, the world was a simpler place. Communism, Tylenol, and J.R. Ewing were bad; America, greed, and Matthew Broderick were good. Ronald Reagan was defending the world from the Red Menace and jelly bean haters, Cabbage Patch Kids were plentiful, and Saturday Morning Cartoons ruled the airwaves. Yes, it was an idyllic time. But those of us alive in those halcyon days of old knew that the world was less perfect than it seemed. Another world lurked in the dark places of our homes, our shopping malls, our campgrounds, and our college campuses. A world of mutants in the sewers, ghosts in the basement, and werewolves just about everywhere. A world where various social and ethnic stereotypes could die in a variety of showy and horrible ways without the local police taking notice until it was too late
. A world where blondes didn't have more fun at all, and in fact were more than likely to be disemboweled within minutes of taking off their shirts. A world of blood and revenge and Roberrt Englund. This competition will strike a torch and enter that darkling world with brave chin jutting forward, disposable ethnic and/or slow-running friends at its side, and a rallying cry of "Hello? This isn't funny, guys...hello?"
Welcome to the competition for the greatest '80s Horror Film...ever
. Get your popcorn ready.
A few ground rules for this one--first of all, I've had to reduce the field of play slightly, since there were quite literally hundreds of horror films released in the fecund '80s. Therefore, the following rules have been used to determine the competitors:
1. Only films with a wide American or international release between January 1, 1980 and December 31, 1989 are viable.
2. Only one film from each series can compete. No Ghoulies
I-VII creating their own voting bloc.
3. In the case of film series, I've arbitrarily chosen the earliest film of the bunch to have been released in the '80s. This means we won't get to see great schlocky sequels like Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
, Gremlins II
, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
, or (my personal favorite) Sleepaway Camp II
, but we will have to deal with Halloween II
and Omen III
since their predecessors were '70s films. Life is full of little disappointments. Maybe we'll do a "greatest_ever movie sequel" contest someday.
4. No straight-on comedies. Transylvania 6-5000
, Teen Wolf
, and My Best Friend is a Vampire
are out. On the other hand, funny films that are genuinely horror-y regardless of schlock level get in--a few of them do, anyway.
5. I've artificially limited the entries for some categories--otherwise we could spend a month just discussing the "coeds being hacked apart with occasional nudity" or "Tromaville" subgenres.
Even with all these rules and regulations in place, and having pared down the list considerably, we've got a crowd of competitors: 80 films competing to be the best. In order to get through these in reasonable order, we're starting off with previews--all you get for each category is the film's title, tagline, and featured actors. You can choose as many as you want--the top four vote-getters will move on automatically, and there'll be a group of slots reserved for the top vote-getters among the non-winners, so spread the love like stage blood on a rusty hacksaw.
Our opening bracket is reserved for the films of the master of modern horror, Stephen King. Say what you will about his prolixity, his odd notions of what constitutes terror, and his tendency to repeat ideas (seriously, read Cell
and The Stand
and get back to me), no other individual has done as much to scare us about what our dogs, cars, clowns, phones, appliances, and children might be planning for us. So let's give him his due--greatest_ever style.STEPHEN KING MOVIES: The PreviewsChildren of the Corn Tagline
: An adult nightmare.Starring
: Linda Hamilton (a.k.a. Sarah Connor) as Vicky and Peter Horton (the guy from Thirtysomething
who wasn’t in Revenge of the Nerds
) as the improbably-named Burton Stanton.Also starring
: Julie Maddalena, future voice actress for hundreds of English-dubbed anime, as lovable tow-headed psycho Rachel.Christine Tagline
: How do you kill something that can’t possibly be alive?Starring
: Alexandra Paul (currently starring in Mad Men
) as Leigh Cabot and Harry Dean Stanton (one of the alien-snacks in Alien
) as Rudolf Junkins.Also starring
: a pre-Travolta’ed Kelly Preston in a minor role as “Roseanne.”Creepshow Tagline
: The most fun you’ll ever have...being SCARED!Starring
: A pre-Cheers
Ted Danson as philanderer and drowning victim Harry Wentworth and Adrienne Barbeau as shrewish wife Wilma Northrup (along with a whole cast full of other people you probably know).Also starring
: Stephen King, the man himself, as Jordy Verrill in one of his few non-cameo roles.Cujo Tagline
: “Now there’s a new name for terror...”Starring
: Dee Wallace (the mom from E.T.
) as Donna Trenton and Danny Pintauro (the little suburban brat who was cowed by Alyssa Milano for about eight years on Who’s the Boss
) as Tad Trenton.Also starring
: Ed Lauter (from Long Island) as Joe Camber.The Dead ZoneTagline
: In his mind, he has the power to see the future. In his hands, he has the power to change it.Starring
: Christopher Walken in a career-making turn as Johnny Smith (his reading of Poe’s “The Raven” at the start of the film is enough reason to rent it) and Tom Skerritt as Sheriff George Bannerman.Also starring
: Martin Sheen as Senator Greg Stillson, who at one point uses a baby to shield himself from an assassin’s bullet.Firestarter Tagline
: “Will she have the power...to survive?”Starring
: Drew Barrymore (of the Hollywood Barrymores) as Charlene “Charlie” McGee and Heather Locklear (you know, Marla Maples’ cousin1
) as Victoria Tomlinson McGee.Also starring
: Art Carney, who apparently wandered onto the set on his way to a Honeymooners reunion and decided to do a cameo.1 This is totally true—and not at all relevant unless you’re actually old enough to have been aware of what and who Donald Trump was doing in about 1988.Maximum Overdrive Tagline
: Who made who?Starring
: Breakfast Club
ber Emilio Estevez as Bill Robinson and a pre-Simpsons
Yeardley Smith as Connie.Also starring
: Character actor Pat Hingle as “Hendershot.”Pet Sematary Tagline
: Sometimes dead is better.Starring
: A pre-ST:TNG
Denise Crosby as Rachel Creed and the inimitable Fred Gwynne as knowing neighbor Jud Crandall.Also starring
: a then two-year-old Miko Hughes as adorable zombie Gage Creed.The Shining Tagline
: A masterpiece of modern horror.1Starring
: Jack Nicholson as novelist and axe-wielder Jack Torrance and Shelley Duvall as his wife Wendy.Also starring
: a young Danny Lloyd as “Redrum”-scrawling tyke Danny.1 Yeah, I was surprised too. Apparently “Here’s Johnny!” was just a catchphrase, or maybe there was a copyright thing with Ed McMahon. I don’t know—but I’m a little sad about it.Silver Bullet Tagline
: It started in May in a small town and every month after that whenever the moon is full...It came back.Starring
: Gary Busey as “Uncle Red” and 80s icon (and proof that the ‘80s had relatively forgiving standards of iconography) Corey Haim as wheelchair-bound werewolf-hunter Marty Coslaw.Also starring
: A pre-Lost
Terry O’Quinn in one of his many ‘80s horror film roles, this time appearing as Sheriff Joe Haller.
Got all that? Good. Vote away--and remember, for the opening round you can vote for as many films as you like. Enjoy...
It's good to be the King...
Children of the Corn
This one will be up and running until Wednesday. See you then...oh, and feel free to suggest films you want to make sure are in the competition in the comments section.