Saturday, February 4, 2012

Top 13: The Best Horror of 1987 (A 25-Year Retrospect By a Fan Who Saw All of Them New)

compiled by Nickolas Cook

It doesn't seem like I had first watched some of these horror films 25 years ago, but, as the man says, 'time keeps on slippin'-slippin'-slippin' into the future', and the movies I loved so much back then have all become classics in the genre today. But this aging Horrorhead actually saw almost all of them when they were brand spankin' new, many of them on opening weekend at one of my many local theaters--theaters which have since become extinct...demolished...they are no more. But, hey, that's how it works. All the things that we take for granted will last forever, I have found usually die or go away long before you're ready for their demise.

Compiling this list was a little like taking a stroll down memory lane. I can still remember the thrill, the fear and even a few nasty nightmares brought on by these flicks. And looking back, 1987 really wasn't such a bad year for horror movies--not nearly as bad as some of the lean years we've seen since. After all, 1987 was the year that we saw Clive Barker's first cinema outing as a director, the first time we got to see a certain alien hunter with dreadlocks and the first time we got a whole new definition of what 'truly disgusting' really means, in the form of a sickening flick about necrophilia.

As I put this thing together, I realized there were a lot of great movies that have stuck with the fans through this last quarter of century, and if only I'd had more room, I would've loved to include more of them. It felt wrong not to have movies like STREET TRASH, EVIL DEAD II, THE BELIEVERS, THE HIDDEN and half a dozen more on the list. But I had to draw the line at 13, and so I had to have certain criteria for a film to make it into that magic number. Firstly, it had to be meaningful to the genre, impactful, and classic enough that even the new generation of CGI-freaks still seek them out. Also, I had to throw out genre movies that had more sci-fi leanings than horror, like THE HIDDEN, which is a damned great film. And lastly, I tried to find movies in that year that were in their own unique, so I stayed away from sequels, like EVIL DEAD II.

A lot of my best memories in my younger life were of going to the theater to see the new John Carpenter film, or the new Stephen King adaptation to hit the big screen. Back then, I had a close knit group of like-minded horror freaks that were as crazy for the next new horror film as myself. We used to make a big deal about going to see them, planning weeks ahead of time, which theater to go to, etc., etc.

I still watch pretty much every film on the list (with the exception of one; and I'm sure you'll know which one, because I cannot imagine anyone wanting to see it more than once; many probably wouldn't even make it through it the first time..unless, of course, there's something a little off with your particular slant on normal sex). Many of them I've seen probably close to fifty or more times. They're damned good films, but it might sound a bit obssessive. Well, maybe it is. But when a horror film touches your life, you tend to become a little obssessed by it. Some of them I watch repeatedly because they bring back good memories. They take me back to that year. Back in 1987 I was stil 17 years old for most of the year and fresh out of highschool. I had a job I liked and I'd recently moved into an apartment with my best friend and his older brother, both of whom I'd known since I was 12 or 13 years old. The world was my oyster, so to speak, and it felt like an exciting time to be alive. Of course, back then, I was also pretty naive about the real world that I had jumped into feet first.

Talk about scary...

Anyway, I survived, learned my life lessons with a minumum of scars, and held onto some pretty damned great memories from my young life.

So, like me, if you can remember the movies that gave you great memories at the end of the 80s, then come on and hop into the WAAAAAAAAY BACK MACHINE with me and check out the best horror films of 1987.

(NOTE: The list is in alphabetical order, not by greatness or importance to the genre, so please, no angry emails that we didn't get them in the right order. I know it's a huge hassle for people to read anything on the internet without skimming the hell out of it, but sometimes life is hell. So buck up and just read the note. Thanks)

13. Angel Heart
Director: Alan Parker
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro and Lisa Bonet

12. Bad Taste
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Terry Potter, Pete O'Herne, Peter Jackson, Mike Minett and Craig Smith

11. The Gate
Director: Tibor Takács
Cast: Stephen Dorff, Christa Denton, Louis Tripp and Kelly Rowan

10. Hellraiser
Director: Clive Barker
Cast: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith and Doug Bradley

9. The Lost Boys
Director: Joel Schumacher
Cast: Corey Feldman, Jami Gertz, Corey Haim, Edward Herrmann, Barnard Hughes, Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland and Dianne Wiest

8. The Monster Squad
Director: Fred Dekker
Cast: Andre Gower, Robby Kiger, Brent Chalem, Ryan Lambert, Michael Faustino, Stephen Macht, Leonardo Cimino, Duncan Regehr, Tom Noonan, Ashley Bank, Lisa Fuller and Jack Gwillim

7. Near Dark
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein and Bill Paxton

6. Nekromantik
Director: Jörg Buttgereit
Cast: Daktari Lorenz, Beatrice Manowski and Harald Lundt

5. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Director: Chuck Russell
Cast: Heather Langenkamp, Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne, Priscilla Pointer, Craig Wasson and Robert Englund

(VIDEO EXTRA: You can't even think about the above movie without hearing the classic theme song from Dokken)

4. Opera (aka Dario Argento's Opera and Terror at the Opera)
Director: Dario Argento
Cast: Cristina Marsillach, Ian Charleson, Urbano Barberini and Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni

3. Predator
Director: John McTiernan
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura and Kevin Peter Hall

2. Prince of Darkness
Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Jameson Parker, Victor Wong and Lisa Blount

1. The Stepfather
Director: Joseph Ruben
Cast: Terry O'Quinn, Jill Schoelen and Shelley Hack

--Nickolas Cook