What a brilliant year 1986 ended up being for horror movies – both major releases and underrated horror movies. The big names where led by Aliens and The Fly and also included Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Little Shop of Horrors, Maximum Overdrive, Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Psycho III and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
The underrated horror movies from 1986 ended up serving us with quantity and quality.
April Fool’s Day
A group of nine college students staying at a friend’s remote island mansion begin to fall victim to an unseen murderer over the April Fool’s day weekend.
Director: Fred Walton
Writer: Danilo Bach
Stars: Deborah Foreman, Griffin O’Neal, Clayton Rohner, Amy Steel, Thomas F. Wilson
This film is known more for its twist ending than anything else. For me, it always makes me want to watch Back to the Future because this film has Thomas F. Wilson better known as Biff Tannen, Griff, etc. from the Back to the Future series. This is a decent little slasher that should be checked out.
Eight teenagers are trapped after hours in a high tech shopping mall and pursued by three murderous security robots out of control.
Director: Jim Wynorski
Writers: Steve Mitchell, Jim Wynorski
Stars: Kelli Maroney, Tony O’Dell, Barbara Crampton, Russell Todd
What an odd movie. The description above gives you a little idea of how strange this one is. It does feature Barbara Crampton from Re-Animator and From Beyond. If you are into the 80’s cheese, you have to check out Chopping Mall.
A race of small, furry aliens make lunch out of the locals in a farming town.
Director: Stephen Herek
Writers: Domonic Muir (story), Domonic Muir (screenplay)
Stars: Dee Wallace, M. Emmet Walsh and Billy Green Bush
This is a fun little film starring Dee Wallace and is done to jump on the bandwagon of films like Gremlins and Ghoulies. For some reason, I was a sucker for all of these copycat movies and still enjoy most of them today.
Paul is a new kid in town with a robot named “BB”. He befriends Samantha and the three of them have a lot of good times together. That is, until Samantha’s abusive father throws her down some stairs and kills her. In an effort to save her life, Paul implants BB’s computer brain into Samantha’s human brain.
Director: Wes Craven
Writers: Diana Henstell (novel), Bruce Joel Rubin (screenplay)
Stars: Matthew Labyorteaux, Kristy Swanson and Michael Sharrett
Have you heard of a director called Wes Craven? While you may not have heard of this silly little film, you should check it out. It is not for everyone and it does not hold up to A Nightmare on Elm Street or The Last House on the Left, it is a decent watch.
AKA DÃ¨moni 2
A group of tenants and visitors are trapped in a 10-story high-rise apartment building infested with demons who proceed to hunt the dwindling humans down.
Director: Lamberto Bava
Writers: Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava
Stars: David Edwin Knight, Nancy Brilli and Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni
I hate to include people like Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento as underrated, but this is a lesser-known film and it rocks. If you have not seen it, check it out.
Entrails of a Virgin
AKA Entrails of a Beautiful Woman
Members of a film crew making a soft core porn are dismembered by a demon in a warehouse.
Director: Kazuo ‘Gaira’ Komizu
Writer: Kazuo ‘Gaira’ Komizu
Stars: Saeko Kizuki, Naomi Hagio and Megumi Kawashima
Very strange Japanese soft-core porn-type film that is not for everyone, but well worth a watch.
Scientists create a resonator to stimulate the pineal gland (sixth sense), and open up a door to a parallel (and hostile) universe. Based on a story by H. P. Lovecraft.
Director: Stuart Gordon
Writers: H.P. Lovecraft (short story), Brian Yuzna (adaptation)
Stars: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton and Ted Sorel
This is probably not an underrated film by any means, but if you have not seen it, you really need to. Besides, anything with Jeffrey Combs has to rock, right?
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Based on the true life serial killer, Henry Lee Lucas.
Director: John McNaughton
Writers: Richard Fire, John McNaughton
Stars: Michael Rooker, Tracy Arnold and Tom Towles
Although completed in 1986, the film did not get a theatrical release until 1989. To a certain extent, the reason behind the delay did have to do with censorship issues with the MPAA, but there were other issues as well. Based on the true life story of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, this is a must-see.
A young man who escaped the clutches of a murderous hitch-hiker is subsequently stalked, framed for the hitcher’s crimes, and has his life made into hell by the same man he escaped.
Director: Robert Harmon
Writer: Eric Red
Stars: Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell and Jennifer Jason Leigh
Words cannot describe how much I like this film. To me, this is a perfect ten. Rutger Hauer is simply amazing and is creepy as hell. C. Thomas Howell and Jennifer Jason Leigh also star in this one. This is really not an underrated film, but it is not nearly as big as some of the other films released in 1986.
A zoology student must try to out smart a murderous and super-intelligent orangutan.
Director: Richard Franklin
Writers: Lee David Zlotoff (story), Tom Ackermann (story)
Stars: Terence Stamp, Elisabeth Shue and Steven Pinner
While actually an award-winning film (Special Jury Award of 1986), this is a lesser-known film that should be watched.
Night of the Creeps
Alien brain parasites, entering humans through the mouth, turn their host into a killing zombie. Some teenagers start to fight against them.
Director: Fred Dekker
Writer: Fred Dekker
Stars: Jason Lively, Tom Atkins and Steve Marshall
Thrill me! Fred Dekker’s Night of the Creeps is debatable on whether or not it is an underrated film or not, but I can tell you that it is surely a great film. It is a fun ride from start to finish and has a nice cult following.
Sorority House Massacre
A little girl’s brother kills the whole family but her (she escapes by hiding in the basement). He is committed, and she grows up with a new family, eventually going to college, where she joins a sorority. Due to a memory block, she doesn’t remember that the sorority house was her childhood house. Her brother senses her presence in the house and escapes so he can finish the job he was unable to complete.
Director: Carol Frank
Writer: Carol Frank
Stars: Angela O’Neill, Wendy Martel and Pamela Ross
In Carol Frank’s one and only directorial effort, we get Sorority House Massacre, which is one of the most cliche 80’s horror films you will ever see. It is not a great movie. I am not even sure if it belongs on this list at all, but the fact of the matter is that I do reach for it every once in a while.
Trick or Treat
Sammi Curr was a famous, devil-worshiping rock star who died under mysterious circumstances. Now he wants to come back to life. Doing so requires possessing radio wave & automobiles and making a few human sacrifices.
Director: Charles Martin Smith
Writers: Rhet Topham (story), Michael S. Murphey (screenplay)
Stars: Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Gene Simmons, Ozzy Osbourne
Let’s face it. We were all going to watch this for Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne anyway. It never hurts that it is not that bad of a movie. Between cameos from the metal legends and a half decent story, Trick or Treat is a film that I watch just about every Halloween.
Two fraternity pledges go to a sleazy bar looking for strippers to entertain their college friends. They have problems with transportation, Biker gangs, and worst of all, the staff of the bar, all of whom seem to be vampires, with Grace Jones playing the head vampire.
Director: Richard Wenk
Writers: Donald P. Borchers (story), Richard Wenk (story)
Stars: Chris Makepeace, Sandy Baron, Robert Rusler, Grace Jones
This is a likeable film starring Grace Jones. This is not really anything special, but it is watchable and deserves to be recognized.
A woman (Tawny Kitaen) finds an interest in her friend Brandon’s Ouija Board when he brings it by her party.
Director: Kevin Tenney
Writer: Kevin Tenney
Stars: Todd Allen, Tawny Kitaen, Clare Bristol
Perhaps I wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Tawny Kitaen being in a film, but Witchboard is a decent film that should be checked out. Did I mention that Tawny Kitaen was in this one?
You’ll Die at Midnight
AKA Midnight Killer
Director: Lamberto Bava
Writers: Lamberto Bava (screenplay), Dardano Sacchetti (screenplay)
Stars: Valeria D’Obici, Leonardo Treviglio and Paolo Malco
Lamberto Bava has no business being on an underrated horror movie list, but for some reason, You’ll Die at Midnight is not a well-known film. There are some plotholes and it is not all that original, but this is one that you need to see.