Movie Review: Top 20 or 30 alien-zombie-ghost-slasher horror or horror-comedy movies from the Eighties

The reptilians have destroyed my Dish TV STB and I am unable to watch news or films. I am now forced to use YouTube as an alternative TV.

The 80s were a dark period in human history because there were no mobile phones! A ghost could simply cut the phone cord and have you totally at its mercy, just like Joan Hackett found out in Dead of Night.

In moviemaking, the 80s were a turning point because you had most of the comforts of modern life and yet landlines were still the primary means of communication; computer graphics were not sufficiently developed and special effects continued to rely on special props and makeup; and public tolerance of gratuitous nudity had reached a comfortable high. Teenagers (the main target audience) were immature enough to ignore the bloopers but mature enough to be attracted by the scope for heavy petting.

  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948):
    This horror-comedy should be the first movie for anyone diving into the alien-ghost-zombie-slasher genre. The duo are totally unlike their staccato gag delivery on their eponymous vintage radio show. They are funny nevertheless. This movie has the original Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, Frankenstein, Werewolf and a last-minute cameo by Vincent Price as the Invisible Man.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbott_and_Costello_Meet_Frankenstein
  • Zombies on Broadway (1945):
    This kid-friendly RKO production stars a different duo in competition with the above and is just as funny. Bela Lugosi stars as a professor involved in raising zombies.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombies_on_Broadway
  • The Boogie Man Will Get You:
    This 1942 movie with Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre is a horror comedy where Karloff plays a mad scientist who has managed to preserve dead bodies and is on course to revive them as superhumans. Town sherriff Lorre tries to cash in on the discovery and he dishes out most of the gags (with Latin translation) in the movie. “Slapsie” Maxie Rosenbloom also appears as one of the scientist’s unfortunate martyrs to science.
  • Invaders from Mars (1953):
    Invaders is another kid-friendly but thrilling film involving aliens – the first one dealing with Martians. This movie was not copyrighted and is in public domain. It is available somewhere on Archive.org.
  • Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors:
    I saw this movie on Turner Classic Movies when it was shown on Cartoon Network channel. It was I think one of the first horror movies I saw. Four men board a train and are joined by a tarot card reader who tells them how they are going to die in future. One of the deaths involves carnivorous plants as seen in the movie Invasion of the Triffids, which is based on the novel Day of the Triffids.
  • Transylvania Twist:
    This is a delightful little movie that makes fun of all other horror movies. You will particularly like the beautiful actress Teri Copley after this song sequence. This movie was panned by some critics but is just the opposite. It is a fun movie that anybody will like, except perhaps for those losers.

    Note: You will see the director and the lead actress from Chopping Mall at the end of this video.
  • Spaced Invaders:
    I saw a review of this movie at GoodBadFlicks and decided to see it. I think it is kid-friendly but I am not sure.

CAUTION: Not likely family-friendly horror

  • Carnival of Souls:
    This 1962 movie was made within a low budget of $30,000. Unlike most low-budget horror films, this is near-art-house variety. It is about a woman who survives an automobile accident (drag race) and is then tormented by fate which wants her to die. She goes into a trance while awake and people don’t seem to recognize her as if she were a ghost. A pale-faced man (played by the director) scares her several times by appearing out of nowhere. The ending has a neat twist.
  • Comedy of Terrors:
    Vincent Price and Peter Lorre (the bug-eyed guy from Casablanca) are undertakers. When customers do not come in search of them, they go in search of them.
  • D.A.R.Y.L.:
    Daryl seems like any other kid but he is a man-computer military research project that failed in its objective of creating mindless killing machine. Because Daryl developed human emotions of fear, love, hate, etc., the military wants to terminate the project, i.e., they want to kill the kid.
  • City of the dead or Horror Hotel:
    This British movie is set in America with the cast affecting an American accent. The begins with burning of a witch in the town of Whitewood, Connecticut. The witch curses the town’s inhabitants and descendants as she burns and dies. One of them is a professor at a city college and his lecture on witchcraft interests one of his students to visit the town. The witch is now running a motel where the student will stay.
  • Night of the living dead (1968):
    I got this movie on a Digit magazine cover disc. A low-budget and slow horror film, which I never finished initially. Got too scared, probably. It is supposed to have inspired all subsequent zombie dead movies probably because they tried to feast on living human flesh. Earlier, zombies were fresh corpses that were reanimated by Voodoo or unexplained medical discovery/research. There is a colorized version of the movie on YouTube. It or my download did not have the ending. So, I never finished it. It is not very entertaining.
  • Black Sunday (1960):
    A witch who was burnt at the stake in the 18th century returns to haunt a lookalike two hundred years later. I forgotten all details of the movie. Barbara Steele looks good. A mask with nails is put on her face before she is burned.
  • Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1974):
    This low-budget movie starts as a comedy and ends as a horror movie. A young theatre troupe visit a haunted island during the night at the behest of its insufferable director who uses the troupe members to dig up a grave. The director uses a chant from a book of sorcery to raise the dead but nothing happens. Everyone has a laugh and retire to the abandoned mansion but some things are stirring in the graves.
  • Return of the living dead (1985):
    This movie was on TV several years ago. It is about an experimental military chemical leak which reanimates corpses and even dismembered body parts. Some people exposed to the chemical fail to realize they have died and become zombies. Lack of pulse or body temperature confirms this. An attempt to burn zombified bodies backfires as the chemical mixes with rain, falls on a graveyard and the dead crawl out. This movie has Linnea Quigley and plenty of nudity. It is funny and gruesome. Part 2 of this movie is a safe children’s movie and more funny. Part 3 is scary, has gruesome nudity and not funny at all.
  • Dawn of the dead (1978):
    I saw the extra long version of this movie and did not finish it. The beginning is not understandable and I ended up fast-forwarding most sequences. The fun begins when the main characters get holed up in a shopping mall. One of the main characters gets bitten and is shot by his pal on becoming a zombie. I ended it there.
  • Killer clowns from outer space:
    A low-budget but extremely funny movie I saw on TV several years ago.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killer_Klowns_from_Outer_Space
  • The thing:
    This John Carpenter movie was on television I think some years ago. I’ve forgotten much of the plot and I remember that it was very interesting.
  • They live:
    This is one of my favourite movies. It by John Carpenter. It stars wrestler Roddy Rowdy Piper and has already been reviewed here on Moral Volcano (https://moralvolcano.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/we-are-all-zombies-now/).
  • Fright Night 1, 2:
    The cross, holy water, holy shroud and interestingly garlic are toxic/allergic to vampires.
  • CHUD:
    Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. Radioactive material secretly stored and forgotten by the US government in an underground railway tunnel have turns some people into zombies. They first kill the homeless underground dwellers and then turn on those above.
  • Night of the comet:
    A comet hits the earth, envelops everything in a red haze, kills most people, turns survivors into zombies. The few who were protected under layers of steel and other material survive. Among them two plunky sisters with whom you will instantly fall in love…
  • Demons 1 & 2:
    Part 1 has the demons unleashed at a cinema. They attack members of the audience who become zombies. The audience is trapped as exits are closed. Only two escape without being bitten. However, the world outside has also been affected by the zombies that have already escaped. Part 2 has the demons moving to the VHS or TV side of the business for some reason. More entertaining.
  • Spookies:
    A Dracula movie with huge variety of monsters and ghouls. Good scares but tiresome. Special FX advanced for its time supposedly.
  • Devil Doll:
    This 1964 British movie was reviewed in the bad-movie-mocking TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) but it is not a bad movie at all. (MST3K’s atrocious comments on the skimpy costume of the ventriloquist’s assistant are simply over the top.) Sure, it is low budget but the possessed ventriloquist dummy story and ending twist are original. Very few low-budget movies can pull that off easily.
  • Dead Heat:
    Zombies meet Lethal Weapon. A scientist/corporation revives dead criminals using a newly invented medical procedure. However, the drug or treatment is not permanent and the zombies should do his bidding to say alive or rather undead. Zombies here are fully functional except that they have a limited shelf life.

WARNING: Confirmed not family-friendly horror

  • Don’t look in the basement:
    Made in the 70s. The movie is set in a mental asylum, where the heroine turns up to start work as a nurse. This movie is one of those suspense thrillers that will leave you kicking yourself for not guessing the plot. Brilliant acting and directing for such a limited budget.
  • Vamp:
    A stylish horror comedy. Three teenagers find themselves trapped in a strip club where the employees are vampires. The stripper vampires are really terrifying. I have seen one of them in the movie A View To Kill decades ago.
  • Chopping mall:
    This movie features one of the sisters from the Comet film. A shopping mall acquires some security robot prototypes and a lightning strike (the original ‘glitch’, the word now used for everything that goes wrong i.e., in the stupefying millennial parlance) causes a malfunction in them. Unlike my electrical circuits, which get fried, the robots act like they have acquired a psychopathic malware and they start sneaking up on stowaways in the mall and kills them one by one.
  • Sole Survivor:
    This 1984 movie is like Carnival of Souls and is about how fate finally gets its quarry – a woman who is the sole survivor of a plane crash.
  • Blob:
    This movie features a primordial ooze as the villain, which stowawys on a meteorite. It gets into the sewage system and increases its bulk by dissolving people. The movie is famous or notorious for its car scene nudity and it was I think the first movie in which I saw frontal nudity. My friends rented a VHS casette and they were laughing nervously when the nudity appeared. I did not quite understand it. The scene of the man disappearing into a washbasin is another special effects scene that should not missed. Several years ago, I read a Russian report of a similar blob in an underground railway station. I wonder what happened.
  • Doom Asylum:
    A guy and his gal are driving down the road and meet with an accident. The girl dies and the guy wakes up in mortuary. He is totally disfigured from the accident and the pre-mature autopsy. He is for some mysterious reason impervious to pain and organ damage. He kills the medics in the mortuary. The hospital is abandoned but the guy is supposed to be haunting its ruins. Some teenagers take a picnic in the lawns of the hospital and become target of the disfigure maniac. An all-female gothic rock band is also practicing inside the hospital and is pursued by the killer. The movie is a horror-comedy – both parts over-the-top. There are some body mutilations that I could not watch. Unlike most slasher movies, this killings all take place in broad daylight. The movie was supposedly made on a budget but did not appear so. The special effects are so natural and hospital environs so scary, this should have been a big studio production. Most online reviews, even by ordinary users, are negative. I give it 10/10. It delivers on the scares and splatter. There is some deliberately mocking comedy routines, particularly with the black couple that was very enjoyable. Unfortunately, they were both offed pretty early in the film, as per the 80s horror code of killing blacks first.
  • Evil Dead 1, 2, 3:
    Evil Dead (1) was a low-budget horror that was extremely successful when it came out. It was about a bunch of friends spending time at a cabin and then becoming victims to an ancient demons they mistakenly awaken. Evil Dead 2 was I think a remake of the original with better production values. I don’t know which one I saw. When this movie was released in the Eighties, people said that there was a prize for anyone who would dare to watch it alone in a theater. They said someone in the West tried it and died of heart attack. Evil Dead 3 is another low-budget but more high-tech horror comedy. Extremely funny and thrilling.
  • Meet the Applegates:
    A bunch of highly advanced shape-shifting bugs from South America set up shop in an American town disguised as a regular American family. Their mission? To infiltrate a nuclear plant and blow it up so that humans will die and insects can rule again. (Their original habitat in the Amazon has been destroyed by the muricans.)  In the process, the Applegates go through all the highs and lows of what a regular American family goes through, much like the aliens on 3rd Rock From the Sun would do much later in the 90s.
  • Night of the creeps:
    I saw this movie on TV and it was quite funny then. Forgotten much of it now.
  • Slumber Party Massacre 1, 2, 3:
    I have seen one of these movies. In most slasher movies, the killer gets off easily without feeling much pain. In the one that I saw, he not only gets mutilated but one of his intended victims comes with a knife digs into him like there was no tomorrow. It was very gratifying to see that after so many girls were killed. The killer should always died in the most gruesome manner possible. Otherwise, it is not a good slasher movie.
  • Sleepaway Camp 2, 3:
    A horror-comedy. More horror and sufficient comedy. The sister of singer Bruce Springsteen is the killer. She was born a boy but after a sex-change operation and escape from an asylum(?) she is now a team leader at a summer camp. A prude, she doesn’t like what she finds at the camp after hours. She is also easily annoyed.
  • Sorority House Massacre I, II, III:
    Some college students try to clean up a sorority house, take nude showers and get offed by a killer but with an overall comic touch. Part 3 has zombies shoooting each other with assault rifles. Very good fun.
  • Evil Toons:
    Much like the Sorority House Massacres except that the killer is a re-animated (no pun intended) cartoon monster.
  • The Video Dead:
    The undead trapped in a video are unleashed back in to the world by a television. Very good scares.
  • Slugs:
    I saw this movie when we first got cable. It was horrible then and horrible now. You are better off not watching it.
  • Night of the demons (1988):
    This movie is about a bunch of teenagers spending a night at an abandoned mortuary as a dare on Halloween night. One black guy surprisingly doesn’t die first and is in fact is one of two…
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_the_Demons_(1988_film)
  • April Fool Day:
    A girl invites several friends to stay at her family cottage. One-by-one, the invitees get killed. A surprising twist in the end.
  • Basket Case:
    This is an unusual horror movie, as the source of the horror is a separated deformed twin. This movies has 2 sequels, each more scarier and funnier than the predecessor.
  • Return to horror high:
    This movie takes the end twist to the most unbelievable extent.
  • Delusion:
    This 1980 movie tricked me with its ending. I thought no movie twist would ever surprise me.
  • Slaughter High:
    The socially inept nerd gets scalded in acid in a prank gone wrong. He escapes the asylum and wrecks revenge on his classmates having a reunion at their defunct school.
  • I, Madman: This movie has an unusual premise and a believable ending – the only believable ending for a ghost movie. A woman working in an old book store finds a novel called “I, Madman”. Its story is enacted around her as she reads it. A mad surgeon, who had lost his face, kills people to graft parts of their face on to his face. The woman reads about the murder and encounters the dead people as well. She tries to stop them but is foiled.
  • Grave Misdemeanors:
    A high-school kid who works part-time at a mortuary finds that some of the bullies who torment him at school have died and then turned undead. He also finds that zombies are now more upset with him than ever before. The film does show some gruesome embalming techniques but the movie has good action. There is no overacting or ploys with flight-handicapped characters.
  • Vampyres (1974):
    Two lesbian vampyres lure unsuspecting motorists to an isolated castle where they drink their blood and kill them. This movie was made with a budget of £ 80,000 but looks nothing like it. The two vampires are very beautiful and but don’t talk among themselves very much – adding to the mystery. The castle is richly set. The vampyre concept is extremely well-executed for modern times. The women become near-catatonic during daytime and stay in the cellar rather sleep in a coffin. No garlic or holy water stuff. The murders are really terrifying.
  • Nosferatu the vampyre:
    Nosferatu was an imposter of Count Dracula and the book was subject to a lawsuit from the estate of Bram Stoker. Anyway, it exists in films and books. This one has Klaus Kinski as the Count and Isabelle Adjani as the lawyers wife. The film is like a documentary because of the attention to historical detail. Klaus Kinski is scary as ever. The movie Crawlspace is good Kinski primer. I did not last more than two movies of him. He is the scariest slasher ever. The slashers from Nightmare from Elm Street movies are just jokers compared to him. Isabelle Adjani is beauty and pureness personified. She is nothing like in what you see in One Deadly Summer.
  • Bodysnatchers:
    A reptile-like aliens hit ground zero at a military base. They then slowly try to attach themselves to a human and generate a duplicate with body of the human and the mind of the alien and memory of the human. Once the transformation is complete the old alien and human forms are discarded, completing the body-snatching. The mutants slowly take over all humans in the base and plan to spread all over the USA.
  • Let’s Scare Jennifer To Death:
    This low-budget vampire movie is unlike all others. The vampires are not traditional vampires; they don’t have fangs or are afraid of the cross or garlic. They are just regular blood suckers. The blood-sucking aspect is understated, as much of the violent aspects of traditional horror movies. The movie manages to make you feel scared without resorting to shock or violence. This movie, like the next one, will take you down several cliched paths and surprise you with a twist. For example, there is a girl who appears and disappears like a ghost at a graveyard. Traditionally, this ghost would be impossible to catch up but in this movie some of the cast run up to her and try to interrogate her. The title also adds to the mystery. Who is trying to kill Jennifer? The story is of a woman who is trying to get back to her life after a stay at a mental facility. She desperately tries to be overcome by the strange incidents but a voice inside her head constantly tries to make trip her up. This lady’s role is played by a now unknown actress Zorah Lambert. She should have received many awards for this movie. Sadly, she is forgotten today. This is definitely one of the best horror movies from the 80s.
  • Society:
    This 1989 movie is like the previous two but the plot is very novel. You will never guess it. Truly horrifying.
  • Phantasm:
    There are several movies in this franchise. The villain, known as the Tall Man, is from another universe. He steals dead bodies, compresses them into midgets, bottles them and transports them to his old place. Two people try to stop the Tall Man and fail in all of the movies. Very entertaining.
  • Monster in the closet:
    This is the movie that you should see last or after you have sufficiently covered all aspects of the genre. Every hackneyed routine used in the above movies (which continue to be used even today, such as in Zombie Cheerleader Camp) is parodied in this movie albeit with a twist. This movie is full of such surprises. For example, the monster is defeated using a totally impossible-to-guess tactic in this movie. There is one nude bathing scene which parodies all such gratuitous nudity scenes in these movies. If you delete this one scene, the rest of the movie is fun for the whole family. This is probably the best Troma Entertainment (https://www.youtube.com/user/Tromamovies) movie ever.

  • BrainDead or Dead Alive:
    If you are watching movies from the 80s, then you might watch this 1990 movie as well. This is the most extreme of horror movies that I have seen. This movie is what is known as a splatter fest. The extremes it goes on this plane is unbelievable. Read more about it in my post titled Beware of the Sumatran Rat Monkey! BrainDead is the goriest bloodiest zombie movie ever!

About critics and their stupid opinions

There are some websites that have LISTS of horror and horror comedies. I found the above movie titles through these lists. After reading these sites, I would go to Wikipedia and IMDB to read about audience reactions to the movie. Besides being frank and funny, the comments by ordinary users are more informative than those of the critics. Critics’ opinion are mostly useless and sometimes misleading. Some months ago, I saw a movie called Apartment 1303. It was universally panned by critics but I found it quite scary. The fools who call themselves critics seem to have destroyed many good movies in this way. Ordinary people rely on movie critics for a honest opinion and the latter deliberately mislead their audience. Like globalists, the critics praise anything foreign even if it is bad. An example is the movie Vengeance of the Zombies. The male lead is the famous Spanish horror master Paul Naschy. He was handicapped by the fact that it was an English (dubbing?) movie and he was playing an ethnic Indian. Whatever the case, it was extremely awkward movie to watch. Except for the female lead Romy, the movie was downed by all-round failures in acting, editing and direction. But, the critics uniformly liked it and praised it to high heavens because it was a foreign production. Worst among critics is Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t know why the opinion of fools from this website should be listed on Wikipedia. Almost every movie page on Wikipedia has their rating under the heading of “public reception”. Rotten Tomotoes references in Wikipedia should be removed, particularly in light of reports that they are openly and deliberately trying to steer the reviews. So, learn to ignore the critics.

My own appreciation of horror is pretty basic. Once you start watching a movie, your instinct is not to to abandon it midway because you have already spent valuable time on it. You don’t want it to be a complete loss. That is why I stop watching a movie or fast-forward it if there is a lack of thrills. I found the Matrix movie simply unwatchable. I attempted to watch it several times when it was on TV but it was unbelievably fake and incredibly awkward to watch. Ditto for the Alien series. The actors act like they are scared but there are no scares for the audience. The film storytelling tactic of saving the best for the last is just not good. It is a recipe for an incredibly disappointing movie, particularly when the climax fails to click. (I did finish the Alien movies till the end. Matrix no.) A movie needs to be entertaining the from the get-go. Most of the 80s horror movies listed here know how to entertain – right from the beginning. Their intended audience knew what to expect and the makers knew what to give and usually they did a good job of it.

Lingering Questions

Women in the 80s, at least teenagers, seem to have been pretty inept. Or, that is what these stories would like you to believe. There are a few exceptions, like the girls in the Comet, but most of them don’t know how to bolt a door when a killer/monster/alien is chasing them or show the slightest knowledge of self defence. Screaming were what they did mostly. If they did fight, of course, no movie. The horror genre has a name for these women – scream queens – I learned this recently. Black guys are mostly the first ones to be sacrificed. People feel hypnotically drawn into dark passageways and dungeons without ever needing a light or a weapon. Any kind of moral lapse means assured death. After an encounter with a ghost or a corpse at a haunted house, the usual dialog is “I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we split up and go in different rooms?” And, who pays for the electricity bills for these haunted and abandoned mansions. You may be a vampire, ghost or whatever but the power utility company will not cut you any slack.

Bad movies

Before I finish, I would like to mention the genre of “bad movies” (check BadMovies.org). In quotation marks because the movies are entertaining mostly for the bloopers and low-production values. Many horror and horror comedies movies fall in this category.

My definition of a bad movie is where they begin great and then lose the plot. Examples are:

  • The Creature Wasn’t Nice:
    This movie was super annoying. The cast included Leslie Nielsen but there was no plot for most of the movie. You might however want to watch it if you relish the way the scientist chief gets eaten by the monster alien creature he adopted from an adverse environment in the name of SCIENCE. All those morons who create/support harmful/destructive commercial food and drug products and justify it in the name of SCIENCE should go down like that. The “Monster in the closet” movie also has a scientist who ends up in a similar way.
  • Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama:
    A few teenagers unwittingly unleash a demon from a container at a bowling arena. The demon in this movie suffered from an extreme case of sedentary ailments. It never moved much. It however turned a few other teenagers into demons and made them attack the original group.
  • Creepozoids:
    The monster is from the Alien movie and it gives birth to Chucky-like goblin offspring. Survivors from a nuclear apocalypse in 1998 encounter these monsters in a secret government lab. This movie is proof that you can make a movie with no budget if it is set in a dark warehouse. Linnea Quigley, a scream queen, was the only reason I watched the movie. In the Bowl-o-Rama movie, there was just not enough of her punk attitude.
  • Class of Nukem High:
    It started off interesting but took forever to end. A well-known bad movie from House of Troma. But a good critique of how private nuclear power companies behave.

I wish horror films were less than an hour. Otherwise, they should be horror comedies. Else, they are tiresome. Some movies like the “Incredible Melting Man” have no scares and take forever to end. That is a really bad bad-movie.

Movie database

Finally, there is an abandoned software from the defunct video rental chain BlockBuster. It provides a good database of movies (including non-English titles) up to the mid 90s. It can be run using Wine in Linux and in newer Windows using Windows compatibility mode.

References