There is no doubt that the 1980s was a prime decade for horror cinema of all kinds, witnessing the birth of many subgenres and the golden age of the slasher film during the premiere. half of the decade. There were some great werewolf movies like The howling and Wolfen, sci-fi creature features like The thing, and monumental haunted house threads such as The brilliant, all of which makes it a good time to be a horror fan.
However, there was no horror subgenre that spanned a decade as prolific as zombie cinema. What started in 1968 with George Romero Night of the Living Dead slowly gained strength during the 1970s, but truly blossomed into a phenomenon during the 1980s. Zombie movies became rampant in the United States in the 1980s, but also spread virulently in the 1980s. Italy and beyond, as a global obsession with the living dead made it the most recognizable cinematic monster of the decade. Along the way, better access to cheap video material slowly began to make zombie flick a staple in low-budget independent horror cinema, a status the subgenre still enjoys today. Up-and-coming horror writers all over the world have crafted zombie movies as their first shot. Some have erupted, but many more have since been thrown in the trash cans of horror movie history.
If you’re reading a list like this, you probably don’t need to be told to check out the likes of The day of the Dead, Re-animator, evil Dead or even foreign films like Demons Where The beyond. These are all rightly hailed as 1980s zombie classics and are some of the first movies suggested when someone goes looking for an 80s zombie flick. What we’ve rounded up here are five more obscure, off-the-beaten-path features to expand your 1980s zombie palace. They’re bloody; They are bad ; they are everything you want from the zombie cinema of the time. Enjoy!
Note: If you want to go beyond the 80s, please enjoy our list of the 50 best zombie movies of all time.
Director: Robert scott
Low-budget nerdy zombie movies abounded in the straight-line horror boom of the ’80s, and The dead video essentially satirizes this reality. These types of movies are almost defined by their own lack of ambition – it’s not Dawn of the Dead trying to make a cultural statement, and it’s not 28 days later trying to reinvent the wheel; it’s just silly for the sake of being silly. The kind of people who watched this movie when it first came out were the horror and zombie finalists, the people who scoured the video rack every week looking for something new and disgusting that they had not seen. This one simply stands out for being particularly goofy, with a gang of zombies who manage to come out of a haunted TV, as if they were in The ring, before wandering around the neighborhood and murdering neighbors for sports. They’re all in ragged business suits for some reason, like they’ve just finished their shift at the local insurance agency. This is all happening because of a shipping error that sent the damn television to the wrong address, as it was apparently intended for the “Institute for the Study of the Occult”. It even features a protagonist who is a disgruntled, tramp-like man called “the garbage collector”, so named because he takes out “human garbage”. It’s just absurd, vintage ’80s zombie silliness that’s as hilarious as it is silly. It’s a movie where a zombie in a wedding dress comes out of a washing machine to strangle a housewife, go ahead. –Jim vorel
Director: Umberto Lenzi
If you like ridiculous foreign horror cinema, and especially crazy Italian zombie movies, then Nightmare city is like the holy grail of your sub-genre. Because this movie is crazy. His zombies are irradiated and pizza-faced, with ridiculous makeup and a compulsion to drink blood like they’re vampires, as the radiation destroys their own red blood cells. They’re unique to zombies in that they retain some cognition, enough to pretend they’re not infected until they’re within range of people to kill. And oh, how they kill! These zombies are armed to the teeth with knives, axes, and even machine guns. I’ll say it again: this movie features machine gun zombies, priestly zombies, doctor zombies, and even zombies who are supposed to have somehow flown and landed a large military plane on their own. Add to that a deliciously wacky English dub full of awkward pauses, weird vocals and philosophical ramblings, and you have in your hands the birth of a camp classic. Nightmare city stars Mexican actor Hugo Stiglitz (yes, the inspiration for the character of Tarantino Inglorious Basterds) as a rogue journalist who travels the countryside with his wife, trying to escape ghouls as she continually rambles on the futility of the human experience. This all ends up in one of the most vivid conclusions you can see in a zombie movie, and I wouldn’t dare to spoil it. Suffice it to say, Nightmare city is Euro-trash zombie cinema, but it’s a BIG Euro-trash zombie cinema for your next weird movie night. –Jim vorel
Director: JR Bookwalter
The story behind The dead next door is one of those cases which is arguably more interesting than the movie itself: it was produced by Sam Raimi, using some of the recipes he had made on Evil Dead II, to allow his friend JR Bookwalter to realize the low budget zombie epic of his dreams. Raimi, for whatever reason, is credited as an executive producer as “The Master Cylinder,” while evil DeadBruce Campbell plays a dual role – not on screen, but as a voiceover for not one but two characters, as the whole movie has apparently been re-dubbed in post. Unsurprisingly, this gives The dead next door an air of dreamlike unreality, and that’s before we even mentioned that this movie was FULLY SHOT IN SUPER 8, rather than 32mm. What you got inside The dead next door, then, is something unique even for this genre: a grainy, low-budget zombie action drama, featuring a combination of cringe-worthy amateur actor performances and touches of unexpected professionalism, all at a time. The story revolves around an “elite team” of zombie exterminators stumbling upon a zombie-worshiping cult, but you don’t watch this one for the plot, you watch it for the gore. Apparently done as an excuse to simply practice the effects of blood and practical beheadings, The dead next door sometimes looks like a backyard attempt to replicate the insane bloodletting seen in Peter Jackson Undead, except with the references to the genre which are so captivating you can’t help but laugh. “Dr. Savini”? “Officer Raimi”? “Commander Charpentier”? They’re all there, in a zombie flick that feels like it was never meant to be seen by anyone other than the director’s family members. Still, there is an eerie charm about this shoddy level of privacy. –Jim vorel
Director: Mark Goldblatt
A really fucked up fusion of the buddy cop genre with a zombie comedy, dead heat stands out as a truly unique concept from the late 1980s, one that was planted when it was released and has apparently been overlooked at this point, even by many genre enthusiasts. It’s a shame, because the movie is actually surprisingly creative as it takes the format of something like Deadly weapon then plunges it into a vat made from the remains of Re-animator and Return of the Living Dead. Vincent Price and Kolchak Legend Darren McGavin appears as a pair of villainous scientists, but the screen is largely dominated by the misogynistic antics of an extremely smarmy Joe Piscopo and his friendlier partner Treat Williams, who is killed and then brought back to life with a tech. experimental, having only 12 hours to solve his own murder before he becomes a complete zombie. Filled to the ears with simple liners, expensive stunts and top-notch practical effects, makeup and monster costumes, dead heat is a demented ride that never stops, even for a moment, as it goes from the shootout to the car chase to the monster show. Sequences like a whole butcher’s meat showcase coming to life make it a memorable and screaming experience, in a zombie comedy that deserves to be rediscovered by fans of the 1980s in particular. It truly has some of the best special effects of the era, in a movie that many horror geeks have never seen. –Jim vorel
Director: Andrea Bianchi
Infamous even among his Italian zombie horror contemporaries, Cemetery: Nights of Terror is a premium Euro-shlock, which was intended to shock and offend the sensibilities even of the jaded horror geeks who stumbled upon it. Extremely basic in its construction, it was one of the plethora of Italian zombie films that seemed to profit from the notoriety of Lucio Fulci’s seminal. Zombie 2 from 1979, which itself benefited from the Dawn of the Dead. Which does Graveyard more or less a scam of a scam, which perfectly sums up his laissez-faire attitude to the basics of continuity or quality acting performance. The characters here stand out clearly for their utter strangeness, especially Michael’s “child” character, who was actually played by a 25-year-old dwarf actor. His Oedipal attraction to his own mother is just one of the taboos Graveyard, which pushes the limits of the number of spectators willing to integrate Franco de Jesus sexual deviance into their zombie horror experience. The ghouls, on the other hand, have the mummified appearance of that of Amando de Ossorio. Tombs of the Blind Dead, and quality makeup effects are the best case to look for Graveyard today it’s obvious that this is the one area of film where someone actually cares about the end result. If you’re in the mood for some really seedy stuff (and horrible dialogue) this Halloween season, Graveyard has you covered. –Jim vorel
Jim Vorel is Doughthe resident horror guru. You can follow him on twitter for a lot more cinematic content.