After saying previously that volume 2 of this series is the 'more advanced degree course' in exploitation trailers, the third volume, 80s Horrorthon, is the opposite extreme and is probably the best place for anyone wanting a potted history of an entire decade of genre cinema to go to! It takes a year-by-year approach to the material, going A-Z through 1980, then 1981 and so on. Though 1980 and 1981 get an entire Blu-ray to themselves, and feature the most trailers (though 1986 is a close second!), as if to suggest their importance to the tail end of a particular kind of exploitation cinema that was soon to get taken up by major studios (Universal, Paramount, arguably New Line being the ultimate studio built on a horror franchise success) and producers trying to play the major studios at their own game (Jerry Gross, the Cannon Group, Dino de Laurentiis, Charles Band's Empire Pictures, and so on!).
For general audiences there are a lot of familiar, high profile titles here: loads of John Carpenter but particularly The Thing, all the Friday The 13ths of the decade (i.e. up to VIII), The Lost Boys, The Shining, the first two Hellraisers, Jaws 3D and Jaws: The Revenge, The Entity, Paul Schrader's Cat People remake, Manhunter, Angel Heart, Tony Scott's The Hunger, Michael Mann's The Keep, every Cronenberg, all three Poltergeists, etc. And then in amongst that there are the titles familiar to fans, and even beyond that
brief forays into really obscure stuff (like the trailer representative of the shot on video trend, 1982's Boarding House, or the amazing looking Eyes of Fire
). So you get a nice combination of the comfortably familiar, the fan favourites, and the leftfield surprises.
Its really interesting watching these trailers all in a row to see how trends rise and fall in films, and how certain plot cycles keep cropping up too. The actual sequels are the prime examples of the way that the look and feel of films even in the same series can radically change from year to year (which is why I'm fine with all of the Friday The 13th trailers being here, as they're the ultimate example to illustrate the changing times from '80 thru '89). And you can also see films badly sequelised (The Fly to The Fly II, say. Or the two Critters trailers here. Unfortunately the best Critters film, Critters 3 (with Leonardo di Caprio!) falls outside the cutoff date!), or sequelised/remade decades later (Boggy Creek II, The Blob, The Fly again(!) and of course Psycho II) to varying degrees of success.
But then you have 1981 being the unofficial 'year of the werewolf' with An American Werewolf In London, The Howling and Wolfen (and then see it arguably tail off with films later in the decade like The Beast Within, The Company of Wolves and Silver Bullet). Then there's the slightly icky 1980-2 'rape period' of Don't Answer The Phone, Maniac, Ms 45, Inseminoid, The Entity, The Incubus. Or the 'evil child' run around Children of the Corn that arguably climaxes with Child's Play. The omniprescence of Stephen King. The irrepressible college kids waiting to fall victim to some crazed maniac or other. Or the way that slasher films move from relatively straight forward and even grubby madman with a knife or chainsaw films (so many ladies in skimpy towels pressed up against flimsy doors that the killer smashes through Shining-style) into supernatural phantasmagorical special effect laden shockers, which probably revolved around the success of Nightmare on Elm Street. Or the films still warning about the dangers of rural America in the wake of Texas Chain Saw Massacre (of course the cartoony 1986 sequel's trailer is on here!). Or the way that seemingly every up and coming/aging veteran British director has a horror film in this period lurking in their filmography! (Ken Russell with the wonderful Altered States, Mike Newell with the rather dull mummy movie The Awakening (which is a more upscale obviously post-Omen influenced remake of Hammer's Blood From The Mummy's Tomb starring Charlton Heston and Susannah York!), J. Lee Thompson with Happy Birthday To Me, Ken Hughes with Night School, Michael Anderson with the shocking looking
Murder By Phone; Franc Roddam with The Bride. Peter Medak might be Hungarian not British, but he did a lot of British films and still ended up doing a ghost film in the US with George C. Scott, the wonderful The Changeling!)
There's even a trailer for a film about horror films of an older era! (1984's Terror In The Aisles
Just personally speaking, I was really glad to see the trailer for Moon Trap on there too, as I fondly remember renting that out as a kid and getting freaked out by it. Though only a few years later I bet it would have seemed tame to my LifeForce-opened eyes! And yes they do have the trailer for the hilariously silly Canadian adaptation of a James Herbert book, Deadly Eyes
And then added to that there is a nice relay race-style commentary from a number of different participants from critics to film directors (the Fangoria guys from the 42nd Street Forever Volume 3 & 5, and Blu-ray commentaries make appearances), which adds a nice extra perspective to things. They're often dealing with one year each and then pass things along to the next commentator, a bit like Criterion's Seven Samurai commentary did.
Anyway, I came away with a number of new films that I had previously not been aware of but would love to see some time: Eyes of Fire
, Death Valley
(which seems to anticipate The Hitcher but with a young Peter Billingsley in the cast, a couple of years before he was in the major role in Bob Clark's A Christmas Story. It is from the director of the excellent western The Culpepper Cattle Company, and the commentary says that this is sort of western-styled horror), The Boogens
, Just Before Dawn
(with a shirt-ripping performance by Pierce Brosnan!) and maybe
Fear No Evil, but I think that's purely down to a murderous punk rock villain killing people to a Sex Pistols soundtrack in the trailer! And it reminded me about The Slayer
(described as 'an arthouse slasher' on the commentary!), previously shown on the Video Nasties compilation set.