For a lot of horror fans, the 1980’s was the golden decade. It’s what everyone seems to go back to. It’s where most of the major icons and franchises were either born or found their footing. As such, there are those who consider themselves purists and are all too dismissive of the current state of horror.
Luckily, a lot of fans who grew up in the 1980’s—or at least grew up on those particular films—wound up becoming directors and the influence of that decade and its filmmakers is very evident in their work. Just like Quentin Tarantino and Rob Zombie clearly take influence from the ’70s, these films were made by people who took inspiration from Carpenter, Cronenberg and even Spielberg and applied it to their own work in an effective way.
Planet Terror clearly takes influence from films like Day of the Dead and Return of the Living Dead, as well as the tone of pictures like Night of the Comet, while also clearly being a Robert Rodriguez movie to its core. The balance works a lot better than one would think. There’s a lot of digital over-saturation to try and recreate the visual look and style of the ‘80’s, but Planet Terror succeeds much more in recapturing tone. It is also oozing with impressive practical FX work.
Under the Bed
Steven C. Miller has proven himself as a director worth taking note of. While there’s a throwback element to titles like Automaton Transfusion and certainly Silent Night, it’s the Amblin-throwback Under the Bed that takes the most influence from the 1980’s from the visual style down to the tone. There’s a lot of influence from the practical monster movies that you don’t see much of anymore, and even films like The Goonies. While it’s not as well known as his other work, Under the Bed is definitely one of Miller’s best.
Beyond the Black Rainbow takes its influence from the elegant, over-stylized thrillers of Dario Argento, Brian De Palma and Stanley Kubrick. The movie is certainly slow in places, but it is also visually stunning. It’s a small film, but the influence of the early 1980’s is definitely clear in the tone, the colors and especially the soundtrack.
Almost Human takes clear influence from John Carpenter, from the cinematography, to the soundtrack and even the opening credits. It’s an alien movie, the kind we don’t see much of anymore, but there’s great tension. You never know exactly what is going on and there are no clear answers for anything at the start. It can be slow in places, for sure, and the response to Almost Human has been mixed, but the intentions are very clear. At the very least, the movie succeeds at recapturing the tone and spirit of early 1980’s horror.
The House of the Devil is the ultimate 1980’s throwback movie. It recaptures everything perfectly. It actually looks like it was made during that decade. Centering on a Satanic cult, it’s a slow burn thriller but one that absolutely pays off. This is an incredibly suspenseful feature and director Ti West has become a major, major talent in the genre since its release. There’s so much attention to detail at work here. Jocelin Donahue plays an immediately likable heroine and to top it off, there are appearances from major 1980’s talents like Dee Wallace and Tom Noonan.