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Horror Films of the 1980s

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John Kenneth Muir is back! His Horror Films of the 1970s was named an Outstanding Reference Book by the American Library Association, and likewise a Booklist Editors? Choice. This time, Muir surveys 300 films from the 1980s. From backwards psychos (Just Before Dawn) and yuppie-baiting giant rats (Of Unknown Origin), to horror franchises like Friday the 13th and Hellraiser, John Kenneth Muir is back! His Horror Films of the 1970s was named an Outstanding Reference Book by the American Library Association, and likewise a Booklist Editors? Choice. This time, Muir surveys 300 films from the 1980s. From backwards psychos (Just Before Dawn) and yuppie-baiting giant rats (Of Unknown Origin), to horror franchises like Friday the 13th and Hellraiser, as well as nearly forgotten obscurities such as The Children and The Boogens, Muir is our informative guide through 10 macabre years of silver screen terrors. Muir introduces the scope of the decade's horrors, and offers a history drawing parallels between current events and the nightmares unfolding on cinema screens. Each of the 300 films is discussed with detailed credits, a brief synopsis, a critical commentary, and where applicable, notes on the film's legacy beyond the 80s. Also included is the author's ranking of the 15 best horror films of the 80s.


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John Kenneth Muir is back! His Horror Films of the 1970s was named an Outstanding Reference Book by the American Library Association, and likewise a Booklist Editors? Choice. This time, Muir surveys 300 films from the 1980s. From backwards psychos (Just Before Dawn) and yuppie-baiting giant rats (Of Unknown Origin), to horror franchises like Friday the 13th and Hellraiser, John Kenneth Muir is back! His Horror Films of the 1970s was named an Outstanding Reference Book by the American Library Association, and likewise a Booklist Editors? Choice. This time, Muir surveys 300 films from the 1980s. From backwards psychos (Just Before Dawn) and yuppie-baiting giant rats (Of Unknown Origin), to horror franchises like Friday the 13th and Hellraiser, as well as nearly forgotten obscurities such as The Children and The Boogens, Muir is our informative guide through 10 macabre years of silver screen terrors. Muir introduces the scope of the decade's horrors, and offers a history drawing parallels between current events and the nightmares unfolding on cinema screens. Each of the 300 films is discussed with detailed credits, a brief synopsis, a critical commentary, and where applicable, notes on the film's legacy beyond the 80s. Also included is the author's ranking of the 15 best horror films of the 80s.

30 review for Horror Films of the 1980s

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    Here's my favorite line from this book: "This is the exploding head movie to see, if that recommendation carries much weight." That comment is about the movie Scanners, and can pretty much double as my review of this book. IF you're a fan of the genre, you'll enjoy this 800+ page recap of horror movies released in the 1980s. The films are discussed in chronological order and are given star ratings, so you can buzz through the book reading only about the movies that interest you. I enjoyed the di Here's my favorite line from this book: "This is the exploding head movie to see, if that recommendation carries much weight." That comment is about the movie Scanners, and can pretty much double as my review of this book. IF you're a fan of the genre, you'll enjoy this 800+ page recap of horror movies released in the 1980s. The films are discussed in chronological order and are given star ratings, so you can buzz through the book reading only about the movies that interest you. I enjoyed the discussions of my favorite movies of that era (The Thing, Aliens, The Shining, The Terminator), as well as many movies I've forgotten about, and many others I've never seen that have now maxed out my HOLD list at the library. This 2007 book has several interesting appendices, including memorable ad lines, movies grouped by "horror conventions" such as "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" and "The Car Won't Start (or Runs Out of Gas)," and another that recommends more recent movies based on what you liked in the 80s, i.e. "If you liked Warning Sign, then try 28 Days Later."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bill Cassinelli

    A massive tome of a book, this one chronicles the majority of horror films which dominated the movie screens of the 1980s. It is not, however, without its many typos and mistakes. Also, I do question some of the author's opinions and ratings of some of the films herein, but all-in-all it is a wonderful journey to nostalgia for me and my childhood years basically living at the cinema.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Horror DNA

    Countless movie review guides clutter store shelves and for the most part they are all interchangeable, following the same basic template: an alphabetical listing of titles, and sometimes a rating scheme with a number of stars, thumbs, skulls or chainsaws, is accompanied by a brief plot synopsis occasionally sprinkled with snarky critical comments. Horror Films of the 1980s is something different and readers will be pleased by the attention to detail that is lavished on each of the 325 films inc Countless movie review guides clutter store shelves and for the most part they are all interchangeable, following the same basic template: an alphabetical listing of titles, and sometimes a rating scheme with a number of stars, thumbs, skulls or chainsaws, is accompanied by a brief plot synopsis occasionally sprinkled with snarky critical comments. Horror Films of the 1980s is something different and readers will be pleased by the attention to detail that is lavished on each of the 325 films included. Author John Kenneth Muir (Horror Films FAQ: All That's Left to Know about Slashers Vampires Zombies Aliens and More) offers a far more thorough approach to the material and his dedication creates a definitive reference book, which is spread over two volumes. The first indication that readers are in for something special arrives in the form of the thoughtful essay "Don't Worry, Be Happy (Or, Be Afraid... Be Very Afraid)", a 15-page introduction that studies the political climate of the 1980s and frames the governmental, socio-economic and military contexts of the decade. President Ronald Reagan is taken to task on several fronts, exposing the hypocritical and contradictory nature of the man and his administration. This study explores how filmmakers reflected the growing fears of society and led to a cinematic trend focusing on the vulnerability of the human body, either fantastically through a popular wave of werewolf films (An American Werewolf in London, Wolfen and The Howling; all 1981), clinically, as in the works of director David Cronenberg (Videodrome, The Fly, Dead Ringers), or through the rise of the slasher film. You can read ZigZag's full review at Horror DNA by clicking here.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Here's the John Kenneth Muir drinking game I came up with: 1) Every time Muir says a horror movie in the '80s was a metaphor for AIDS, take a drink. Take an extra drink if the release date of the movie precedes the recognition of the disease conditions which eventually became known as AIDS (say, anything before 1982). 2) Take a drink every time Muir complains about George W. Bush (oh, for the days when W. was as low as the presidency had sunk!). 3) Take a drink for every time Muir mentions the qual Here's the John Kenneth Muir drinking game I came up with: 1) Every time Muir says a horror movie in the '80s was a metaphor for AIDS, take a drink. Take an extra drink if the release date of the movie precedes the recognition of the disease conditions which eventually became known as AIDS (say, anything before 1982). 2) Take a drink every time Muir complains about George W. Bush (oh, for the days when W. was as low as the presidency had sunk!). 3) Take a drink for every time Muir mentions the quality of a sex scene or how attractive a particular topless women is in a way that makes you vaguely uncomfortable. Having said that, the first two chapters put forth some interesting analysis of the genre as a whole over the course of the decades, and the capsule film reviews provide some good detail about nearly every major horror film released in the U.S. market. I could see this being a reference work I'd go back to, and I'll probably check out his volumes on other decades in the genre once I've had a chance to recover from reading this one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Ford

    What was initially intended to be exclusively indulged as a time-waster and occasional distraction from work proved to be a rich, insightful breakdown of the trends which defined a decade of horror films, and which continue to do so to this day. Highly recommended for anyone curious, as Muir’s appraisals of films - even when I disagree strongly with them - are always insightful and frequently revelatory.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Mcbroom

    I love the 80's! It was my time to shine and this is why I love this book! Having been a fan of the 1980's and always a fan of horror films, I love how Muir takes the poltical and social climate of this decade and explains why it was so important to the filmakers. Filled with trivia, plots, interviews and social commentary this book is a must for movie buffs!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Your standard encyclopedia of horror film, though it does go a little more in depth than others I've read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Coy Hall

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mike D

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steve C.

  11. 4 out of 5

    james p. lohmann

  12. 4 out of 5

    Diana

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hayden Larsen

  14. 5 out of 5

    BFisher

  15. 4 out of 5

    Price Partridge

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

  17. 5 out of 5

    Phil

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brad Wilke

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brian Joynt

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vince Fontaine

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sam

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melissa H

  23. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Albright

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jon Y.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sean Tenney

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  27. 5 out of 5

    carissa

  28. 4 out of 5

    Francis Wiget ii

  29. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mark

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