Photo Credit: Jasmine Bezotte
Halloween Classics Are More Trick Than Treat
October 27, 2022
With Halloween fast approaching, a majority have started celebrating traditions associated with the holiday such as cooking Halloween-themed foods, wearing Halloween-style clothes and, most importantly, watching movies associated with the holiday. These movies can take different forms, from kid-friendly movies that are simply set during or around Halloween to R-rated horror movies. The best of these movies are the classics among the genre, particularly the horror movies.
Made predominantly during the ‘80s, these movies serve to provide hours upon hours of entertainment to viewers regardless of age or squeamishness. Whether you are an avid fan of the horror genre or hate the sight of blood, there is at least one movie made during this era that will meet your entertainment needs. The genre is extremely flexible, and it’s plainly visible through the classics. There are films that push the boundaries of what can be considered a horror film by being extremely goofy, such as “Evil Dead 2,” but there are also the ones that are extremely violent and would put most horror viewers out of commission such as “The Thing” or “The Blob.”
The most important movies of this era, however, are the ones that a large portion of the movie-going audience has labeled as “camp.” What makes a movie camp is often nebulous, but the common thread so-called campy movies have is not taking themselves too seriously and often having some unfavorable qualities, such as over-the-top acting or bad set design. Such films include “Re-Animator,” “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” and “Return of the Living Dead.” A movie is not necessarily good or bad based on the camp factor, but it certainly enhances a viewing experience.
Another important feature of a large majority of the fantastic films of this era is body horror. The subgenre of body horror has been around as long as the 1800s, but it became what it is today with the classic horror movies of the ‘80s. It is defined by disturbing violations of the human body, hence the name. These can take several forms, but most often it takes the form of a transformation, such as in “The Fly.” Almost All of the best classic horror films have some form of body horror in them, which can range from just a minor element of the plot, such as in “The Blob,” to the driving force of a movie, such as in “The Thing.” Body horror, particularly in movies from the ‘80s, is almost always accompanied by the best visual effects in the genre, made by artists who are the top of their field, artists such as Tom Savini and Brian Yuzna.
It is important not just to talk about the popular trends among horror movies of the time, but also to highlight specific examples of these trends from the era. A perfect film that encapsulates the near perfection achieved by movies in this era is the 1982 classic “The Thing,” directed by none other than John Carpenter, who has made some of the best horror films not only of the ‘80s but in general, such as “Halloween” and “They Live.” Adapted from both the notably cheesy 1951 film “The Thing from Another World,” and the source material that movie was adapted from, the 1938 novella “Who Goes There?,’ by John W. Campbell. This film represents several of the popular trends of the time, such as body horror, fantastic visual effects and adaptations of ‘50s and ‘60s horror films.
The plot of the film follows an Antarctic research team as their base is infected by an organism from outer space that imitates other life forms. A majority of the movie follows the team’s suspicions that one another have been replaced by the titular “thing,” and their plans to get rid of the imposters among them. They use several techniques to root out the thing, such as blood tests and appling hot wire to everyone’s blood. The film demonstrates from the first moments how serious it is, with the arctic landscape and the chilling, bleak theme setting the tone for the entire runtime. Seeing how the characters mutate once it is revealed they are a thing and the wonderful, gross effects in action are truly the highlights of this film.
Another excellent example of the merits of ‘80s horror movies is Cronenberg’s masterpiece of “The Fly (1986),” another film adapted both from the 1958 film of the same name and a 1957 short story, this movie tells the story of an eccentric scientist named Seth Brundle played by Jeff Goldblum, who is dedicated to discovering the secrets of teleportation, which ultimately leads to his downfall. The story mostly follows a journalist who wishes to write a story about Brundle’s invention. Brundle eventually decides to teleport himself, and begins to transform into a fly-hybrid creature when the titular fly makes its way into the teleportation device he is using. The movie seems to reflect classic stories, such as Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” through its use of an eccentric scientist whose own experiments result in his downfall. It also demonstrates how frightening movies from this era can be with more stunning, disgusting visual effects.