I have been planning a series of posts to list a bunch of underrated horror movies so that you may catch something that you may have missed. I did not want a huge post listing all of the films and I surely did not want a top ten list because that would be damned near impossible to narrow down. Instead, I decided to go year by year. Not sure why I decided to start with 1980, but here we are.
Please note that this is not a definitive list of good films from this year. This is a list of underrated films from this year.
Christmas Evil (AKA You Better Watch Out / Terror in Toyland)
Director: Lewis Jackson
Writer: Lewis Jackson
Stars: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn and Dianne Hull
Christmas Evil is a 1980 slasher film directed by Lewis Jackson. I was not even sure if this film should have made this list simply for the fact that is has gained a cult following. It actually predates Silent Night, Deadly Night, in which a deranged man goes on a murderous rampage dressed in Santa Claus clothing.
This one follows Harry Stadling, who is traumatized on Christmas eve by seeing Santa Claus groping his mother (it was actually his mother and father). As you watch Harry’s descent, you start to wonder who the evil one truly is. At least for me, by the end, I feel for Harry.
Antropophagus (AKA Anthropophagous: The Beast / Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper / Zombie 7: Grim Reaper)
Director: Joe D’Amato
Writers: Joe D’Amato, George Eastman
Stars: Tisa Farrow, Saverio Vallone, Margaret Donnelly, Vanessa Steiger, Mark Bodin, Bob Larsen, Simone Baker, Mark Logan, Rubina Rey and Zora Kerova
It may be silly to list a movie by Joe D’Amato in here seeing as though he has over 200 directorial credits, but I am doing it anyway. While not a gem by any standards, it is a decent movie, especially if you are into exploitation films.
It was originally released uncut and soon became one of the infamous titles to feature on the government’s Department of Public Prosecutions list (DPP), better known to the tabloid press as the “Video Nasty” list. There are heavily edited versions of this film, so to get the full effect, make sure you get the uncut version.
He Knows You’re Alone
Director: Armand Mastroianni
Writers: Scott Parker
Stars: Don Scardino, Caitlin O’Heaney and Elizabeth Kemp
Interesting little movie that was a slasher before it was cool to be a slasher. A little ahead of its time maybe, but you would not know that now with how many slashers we have all seen. Decent body count, but nothing special in the kill department. This is probably a movie that you want to say you have seen.
Director: George Bowers
Writers: William Bleich, Mark Tenser
Stars: Trish Van Devere, Joseph Cotten and David Gautreaux
Slow burner type of movie that is definitely worth a watch. Very slow at times, but keeps you engulfed with the story, which makes you want to stick through it to see how it will end.
Humanoids from the Deep (AKA Monster)
Director: Barbara Peeters
Writers: Frank Arnold (story), Martin B. Cohen (story)
Stars: Doug McClure, Ann Turkel and Vic Morrow
This is one that you have to see. It is a little over the top and very silly, but a must-see film for any genre fan. This is true 80s cheesiness, but one with decent gore. Outside of that, the characters are not very likable and the plotholes are all over the place. With all of those flaws, I still watch it every few years.
Director: William Lustig
Writers: C.A. Rosenberg (screenplay), Joe Spinell (screenplay)
Stars: Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro and Abigail Clayton
Director William Lustig, probably best known for the Maniac Cop films, brings us Maniac (not related to Maniac Cop). It is one of the most visceral horror movies for its time. It is also known as one of the most disturbing horror films ever made with some extremely brutal kills.
Night of the Demon
Director: James C. Wasson
Writers: Jim L. Ball (story), Mike Williams (screenplay)
Stars: Michael Cutt, Joy Allen and Bob Collins
Is Bigfoot real? Night of the Demon takes on that challenge. For all of the films that made the Video Nasties list, a lot of which are questionable as to why they made the list, Night of the Demon is an obvious addition. It way over the top gore that never lets up, but it is more than just simple gore. It is a well thought out story, and did I mention the gore? Check this one out. It is fun.
To All a Goodnight
Director: David Hess
Writer: Alex Rebar (screenplay)
Stars: Jennifer Runyon, Forrest Swanson and Linda Gentile
Actor turned director David Hess (The Last House on the Left, House on the Edge of the Park) makes his directorial debut with this one. Actually this is the only film that he directed for 30 years, and even that 2010 release was a short.
Fun movie with good times and bad times, but not incredibly special. There is a reason this one is at the bottom of the list, but it does make the list, so take that for what it is worth.