Slasher is the horror fan's horror subgenre. A type of flick that more often than not depicts gruesome butchery, bountiful blood, and plentiful gore - In other words, stuff that satisfies the most devout horror heads. Whether or not a story plays any part in the structuring of a "good" film is dependent upon what the fans feel. Slasher films certainly don't have to be cinematically sound, or even good by general standards, for fans to develop a love.

The silver screen trend of assailants stalking and picking off random victims in frequently grotesque ways kicked off in 1974 with Bob Clark's Black Christmas, and became commonplace with John Carpenter's Halloween in 1978, after which every young filmmaker and sleazeball wanted in on the slice 'n' dice craze.

Thankfully, the darkly captivating draw of Michael Myers spawned an excessively long list of slasher films throughout the 80s. Variations of Michael escaped looney bins and nuthouses seeking vengeance. Following the success of early 80s backwoods efforts like Friday The 13th, The Burning, and Madman, even more films of the slasher variety spouted up, favoring killers in the woods terrorizing campers over the maniac infiltrating suburban neighborhoods trope.

While the slasher vehicle has lived on, it's hard to dispute the 80s were the pinnacle of the subgenre. If there were a tier to slasher flicks, Halloween, Friday The 13th, and several others would be sitting atop the pyramid, having served as inspiration for many of the copycat to original films that came after.

Movies like The Burning, Sleepaway Camp, and The Slumberparty Massacre are just beneath the top in the "minor classic" section. Below these flicks is everything else. Among the litter of "everything else" is a great selection of slashers, some generic but fun, others quite inventive, that have their niche audiences but nothing beyond a small cult following.

Slashers may be pure shlock, serving up heavy doses of graphic gore to please genre lovers. Others do place importance on story and atmosphere in an attempt to craft a genuinely creepy world where murders happen to take place. While some prioritize gruesomeness over feel, it remains constant that a great slasher movie isn't necessarily a good film.

Let's countdown some of the unsung slashers of the 80s: The hack 'em up ventures that haven't received the stamp of cult classic. These films range from solid chillers that deserve widespread recognition, to cheesier trashy efforts that are by no means excellent movies, but trite treats for slasher lovers who can't get enough bloodspill amidst theatrical murder.

Here are 25 slasher flicks of the 1980s in need of more appreciation. Are they fantastic films that merit critical acclaim? Absolutely not. Are they savage fun for fans? Most definitely.

The Unseen (1980)

The Unseen 1980

Synopsis: 3 female investigative reporters spend the night in a large farmhouse, where a strange sort of "thing" lurks in the basement.

Barbara Bach in a low-budget, perverse shocker, a killer creep beneath the floorboards, and a nutty climax full of man-baby monster madness. That's what this almost entirely unknown and unloved early 80s horror has in store.

The Unseen doesn't tread far from customary slasher zone, save for the last 20 minutes when our grotesque killer shows himself to wreak havoc. What's initially slow-moving; even tedious, heats up with gross hack'in fun that at least makes the film's wrap-up a pleasingly violent grossout finish. Even prior to killer baby (Stephen Furst of Animal House) creeping up from down under, director Peter Foleg wedges in enough peculiar touches and off-the-wall antics to make this more watchable than most run-of-the-mill slashers.

"Man child" characters, babied by often insane families with dark secrets to hide, always serve the cinematic creep factor, which The Unseen does offer. It's creepier than many killer flicks of the same ilk, and satisfactorily weirder than is standard. This won't be your favorite slasher but it's an unsettling entry genre lovers won't want to miss.

Body Count (1986)

Body Count 1986

Synopsis: A Shaman stalks and kills teen campers at a cursed camping site in the Rocky Mountains.

In terms of plot and tropes, they don't come much more generic than Ruggero Deodato's Body Count. Naive, partying teens in isolated woods getting picked off. No ground broken here, but a few notes in favor of Body Count to consider: Veteran Italian exploitation director Deodato is in his element, depicting gruesome deaths in a gorgeous setting, with style and at a quick pace. In 80s Italian cinematic fashion, the plot's thin, and characters are stock to a laughable extent, but Body Count's teen victims are especially lively and eccentric. Their frequently useless banter is a joy to follow along with. Dialogue's stupid. Characters are dumb. If that's not enticing, I'm sorry.

Deodato, known more for his grungier jungle Cannibal films like Cannibal Holocaust, tackles slasher territory with an unwavering desire to disgust. Kills are graphic. Shock scenes are executed with finesse. Deodato isn't offering new substance, but he brings stylish grit and gratuitous blood to a subgenre that was already tired by 1986, in a setting that had been used for the same material time and time again.

More of a personal pleasure, but Body Count being set in the Rocky Mountains is a huge plus, too. This isn't some pathetic, flat Midwest campground or little park where theatrical kills are taking place. We have ourselves beautiful endless woods, in combination with true to the period and place characters that emit a 80s mountain town feel. Add in the funky suspense of a Claudio Simonetti score, and Body Count is a quintessential hike into 80s horror, routine as it may be.

Just Before Dawn (1981)

Just Before Dawn 1981

Synopsis: A group of young campers in the backwoods of Oregon are hunted by a pair of inbred maniacs.

A clear matter of bold opinion, but Just Before Dawn is the most underappreciated slasher ever made, for my taste. It helps being a passionate fan of both woodsy horror and atmospheric haunts. Just Before Dawn is heavy on woods and atmosphere, as it moves snailishly in comparison to your average slasher, taking time to show crawling shots of sprawling woods set to the sounds of serenity between distant cries and shouts from violent inbreds.

The addition of a wandering, lonely little girl eyeing our campers from afar contributes to the sinister ambiance.

This is as slow-burn as films of the slasher variety come. The aura's thick; creepily peaceful, but dripping with the disturbing sense that butchery awaits. Colors are lush. Sounds are limited to nature's chimes with unsettling whistles, and eerie tones and when the chase revs up. Our heroes/victims are average teens, though fortunately not dumb or annoying. For better or for worse, sex and raunchiness is low to nonexistent.

Nothing in Just Before Dawn is over the top nor outrageous. It's a camping excursion gone wrong by way of vengeful inbred hicks. We creep towards gorey slasher goodness, but the chilling slow ride to get there is spectacular in itself. Not to mention Just Before Dawn features a hell of a final girl showdown, in which one of the leads goes fist to cuffs with a towering yokel.

It's an eerie escape outdoorsy horror fans will revel in, with moments of great action and righteous kills. Where Just Before Dawn truly shines is its desolate, hopeless feel.

Strange Behavior (1981)

Strange Behavior 1981

Synopsis: Life is violently disrupted in a quaint midwestern town where university-led experiments are turning young people into murderers.

Strange Behavior is strange, indeed, and a real cult-film mesh of horror subgenres that's equal parts ludicrously campy and sincerely disturbing.

Alternatively titled Dead Kids, this offbeat camp-fest takes a surreal look at a little Midwestern town where university-led mad science experiments are turning adolescents into mindless, controlled killers. Though it leans more towards sci-fi paranoia and shlock quirkiness than it does slasher, Strange Behavior packs several moderately horrifying kill sequences, one of which etched into my brain forever as a truly visceral cinematic murder.

Running on a bizarre B film plot with the antics and presentation to match, Strange Behavior is likeable in its cheesy premise and peculiar sci-fi tropes, but when it ramps up horror this film ladles out sincere chills. Lulls in action do occur, and Strange Behavior has sparks of corny small town melodrama, but nothing so groan worthy or lusterless that it impacts the oddball fun and bits of shock.

Ruthless murders in small town america. Freakish mystery. A worried and at-risk cop digging to expose potential mad science absurdity that's spawning killers. This little Aussie shlocker from writer/director Michael Laughlin must be seen by slasher lovers, B movie heads, and general weirdos.

Absurd (1981)

Absurd 1981

Synopsis: An escaped lunatic with supernatural abilities goes on a killing spree in a small town, and a priest-doctor vows to stop it.

Italian shock auteur Joe D'Amato knows brutality and blood, both of which are on full display in Absurd, a Halloween knockoff with top-notch gore and outrageous kill scenes. D'Amato's tale of a Greek lunatic let loose on a killing spree may be uninspired, but it's everything sick slasher fans want in their hunt 'n' stab vehicles.

Heads shoved into ovens, drills through skulls, and bandsaws severing heads - D'Amato's purely giving horror fans what they crave, in an utmost graphic way. The camera frequently lingers over gruesome spectacles, without rush, rendering the imagination useless.

Absurd has mind-numbing moments and monotonous sections, like watching a priest and detective drive for a prolonged boring period, or a tedious scene in which a young girl tries to break free from bed straps, but yawner strings only last so long before fierce nuttiness ramps up.

Stagefright (1987)

Curtains 1983

Synopsis: A crew of stage actors spend the evening in a theater for rehearsal, while a masked killer picks them off one by one.

Michele Soavi, a student of Italian horror master Dario Argento, made his directorial debut with Stagefright, a shocking and suspenseful giallo/slasher hybrid that leads with class and visual inventiveness, despite also bringing the savage terror it needs to keep horror fans engaged.

Stagefright lacks deep protagonists and does suffer from pacing issues, but that's more than made up for by the strong, spooky atmosphere, gorgeous costume design, and a fantastic killer who sports an owl mask.

Soavi aims for style over substance, as is usual in Italian horror, and that emphasis on style makes for a beautifully artful mystery. Stagefright's technically sound and more tense than the norm. Soavi makes horrifically good use of detailed gore, but he doesn't rely on gross nonsense. This is a chilling, atmospheric suspenseful splasher with sparks of true horror and a beautifully macabre finale.

Tag on a vibing late 80s Italian horror score, and you've got an artsy experience of a late 80s slasher, with at least one unforgettably horrifying sequence.

Curtains (1983)

Curtains 1983

Synopsis: Six aspiring actresses are auditioning for a film role in a secluded mansion where a masked murder is in hiding.

More genre fans probably know the iconic ice skating murder scene from Curtains than the film itself, but it's a worthy bleak slasher as a whole with a formidably creepy killer, truly eerie moments, and a couple turns to keep matters electrifying.

Curtains is far from outstanding, though it finds strange appeal in its flaws. The film fluctuates between sophisticated thriller and sleazy slasher, making for an uneven tone, but a fun one that evokes multiple multiple feelings. Silly little subplots are wedged in and never fully hashed out. At one point a genuinely unnerving doll shows up, only to never be mentioned again. With an already dream-like atmosphere, Curtains rises to weirder, more surreal status with its unexplained creepy moments and odd shifts in tone.

Acting ranges from great to ridiculous, with a fantastic leading performance from John Vernon. The flick showcases glorious setpieces. The killer mask is one for the record books, and Curtains isn't short on haunting imagery. While it may not be the most slashery of slashers, this Canadian horror has style, an otherworldly feel, and bits of nightmarish terror.

Pieces (1982)

Pieces 1982

Synopsis: A college campus in Boston is the scene for a brutal murder spree, led by a crazed killer who's constructing a puzzle of human body parts.

Comical amounts of blood, gruesome kills, laughably horrendous acting, a terrible basic plot, and generally tacky early 80s Euro-Sleaze energy - the makings of slasher gold. Pieces is just that. It's so thoroughly and unabashedly 80s grindhouse it feels almost evil. More disgusting slasher films exist, and this isn't tipping the charts in heinousness, but it's far from tame. That, I'm sure, intrigues many of you.

From its opening scene, Juan Piquer Simon's Pieces is a harsh and bloody yet lurid and visually intriguing true-to-form splatter flick that you feel almost reprehensible for watching. A gruesome beginning in which a young boy hacks his mother into pieces is followed by an onslaught of senseless butchery.

Campus coeds get hacked up with day-glo flare, and there's a slight amount of mystery as to who's doing it. You won't find gripping suspense in Pieces, though it does include a couple of batshit twists that heighten thrill. As far as story, acting, and character development goes, I have nothing to report. Pieces is for the genre freaks. It's the slasher fan's slasher. Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth, and other renowned filmmakers have expressed love for this flick for good reason. This is the height of strangely enjoyable cinematic indecency.

I, Madman (1989)

I, Madman 1989

Synopsis: A bookstore employee who enjoys 50s pulp novels begins seeing the fictional book killer in real life, as he carries out violent attacks against people she knows personally. Her cop boyfriend isn't convinced it's true.

I, Madman, like John Carpenter's In The Mouth Of Madness, tells a terrifying tale of a horror novel come to life. It's a high on tension, stylish fantasy slasher with elements of the supernatural that's like a film noir in structure appearance - brown-toned scenes, with book passages played out on screen.

The killer - deformed, deranged, and lacking facial features himself, steals the body parts of victims to improve his looks and impress a woman.

Director Tibor Takacs approaches a worn out genre with inventiveness. I, Madman isn't a bloodbath, nor is it a knockout slasher classic, but it's cheesy fun for slasher fans who want something off the beaten path. It suffers only in its completely out of left field ending.

Visiting Hours (1982)

Visiting Hours 1982

Synopsis: A deranged killer attacks a television journalist, but doesn't successfully kill her. He hunts her down in the hospital where she's recovering.

A pulse-pounding, adeptly shot hack 'em up revenge story set in a hospital, Visiting Hours isn't wildly imaginative but its performances are enjoyable, and director Jean-Claude Lorde handles pedestrian slasher fare with a giallo-like sophistication.

Michael Ironside plays assailant Colt Hawker, who hunts down hospitalized tv news reporter Deborah Ballin (Lee Grant) to finish the gruesome job he started. Ironside's a menacing presence, simultaneously serving creepiness and getting under your skin. A gripping movie psycho for the ages.

Lee Grant is convincing as Deborah - A sharp reporter and determined individual who you can't help but cheer for in this tense cat and mouse game.

Jean-Claude Lorde builds tension well and captures some neat shots. The film's death scenes are real-feeling and unnerving. Uneven pacing and lack of big surprises do hurt Visiting Hours, but it's mysterious enough, pretty thrilling, and quite freaky thanks to Michael Ironside's crazed lunatic show.

The House On Sorority Row (1982)

The House on Sorority Row 1982

Synopsis: A group of sorority sisters pull a prank on their housemother that goes horribly wrong, but the worst is yet to come - A mysterious killer is hiding in the sorority house.

For those who prefer surprisingly sharp turns and actual mystery in their campus-set slashers, The House On Sorority is a fun, funny, and overall quite engrossing fix that stands above many of the assembly line slashers of its time.

What starts with a sorority house prank gone deadly wrong turns into a series of grisly murders to satiate your killin' fix and keep you guessing as to who's doing the killin.' Despite playing with every standard genre element, The House On Sorority Row finds its individuality in being driven by a mystery littered with false leads and dire urgency. Rather than being purely a hoky horned up college slasher, it's a whodunnit in the framework of a hoky horned up college slasher. Essentially it's a hoky horned up college slasher - Maybe it's a campy but impressively suspenseful cookie cutter slasher that's just slightly more gripping and inventive than the rest of the lot?

A hauntingly hopeless ending helps wrap up matters memorably, making The House On Sorority Row quite unnerving, with an ambiance stronger than a film of this nature probably deserves. I always found the lead Katherine (Kate Mcneil) to be a deep main character for a film about sorority sisters being murdered. Her feeling lost and purposeless before college graduation is widely relatable. While such a trait isn't ingenious or complex, it's a pleasant addition to the sort of film that usually doesn't bother showing people as people.

The New York Ripper (1982)

The New York Ripper 1982

Synopsis: A worn down NY police detective teams with a psychoanalyst to track down a serial killer who has been targeting young women all over the city.

Bold calling the work of horror great Lucio Fulci "underrated," but The New York Ripper doesn't receive the same love as his "Gateway to Hell" trilogy, or Zombie. Maybe that's fair, though it at least deserves more fandom from gorehounds.

This detective thriller/slasher is Fulci to a T - brutal, bloody, tasteless, anti-women, and spectacularly stylish given its grotesque subject. Peak sleaze cinema meets giallo in this gratuitously exploitative, nasty flick that's tongue-in-cheek enough to not come off as overtly horrendous.

Great gore, a groovin' 80s Italian soundtrack, and Fulci flare come together for a disgusting good time. Fast-paced kills and plenty of splatter await you in The New York Ripper. As does a ludicrous killer who speaks in Donald Duck quacks. You might find a bit of comedy here if you're properly demented.

Bloody Birthday (1981)

Bloody Birthday 1981

Synopsis: Three children, born during a solar eclipse, turn into savage killers 10 years after their births.

Three murderous children, made killers by being born during a lunar eclipse, terrorize their town, and that's a plot anybody I respect can love.

What's delightfully dark about this killer kid flick is they're not possessed, soulless children carrying out useless murders. This trio of little tyrants cunningly plan out their murders, and even have cover up stories.

The kills are creative, though not particularly gorey or gross, and they incorporate an arsenal of weaponry, from arrows to shovels. The children's performances are surprisingly convincing, giving Bloody Birthday an edge over the lot of hackneyed murderous children flicks.

On top of that, generous nudity is spread throughout the film. If puny little psychos committing well-plotted murders isn't your cup of tea, you do see some boob.

Dated cheesiness works in Bloody Birthday's favor, but the trio of little tot assailants are, for my money, effectively creepy and worth any horror fan's time.

Madhouse (1981)

Madhouse 1981

Synopsis: In the days approaching her birthday, a young woman is hunted by her psychotic twin sister.

Not to be confused with the 90s comedy romp starring Kirstie Alley, Madhouse is a twisted story of psychopathy from writer/director Ovido Assonitis.

In his prime, Assonitis was known as "The Rip-Off King," due to his blatant copying of big-budget hit horror films. He made Beyond The Door (1974,) an Exorcist-style flick, Tentacles (1977), a killer octopus creature feature in the fashion of Jaws, and {Piranha II: The Spawning (1981,) which he famously directed after firing James Cameron. Madhouse is Assonitis' leap onto the slasher bandwagon.

The film was originally produced between late 1980 and early 1981 in Savannah, Georgia, but it wasn't released until 1983. It bears striking resemblance to another 1981 slasher, Happy Birthday To Me, but it's unclear who copied who and what.

While it borrows from earlier slasher and thriller films, Madhouse has some unique aspects, mainly it being free of horned up teenagers and sex. There's a killer twin twist, not unlike what was seen in Brian De Palma's Sisters, but Assonitits adds an additional spin so it isn't purely derivative.

This psycho slice 'n' dicer is, for the most part, leashed, running on an eerie atmosphere of hopelessness, as we follow a sweet and innocent teacher at a school for deaf children. There's a deeper sense of paranoia in Madhouse than what's in most slashers, and that tense feeling is helped by a lollygagging killer who takes his time. This is low-budget fun. Weird, and absent of a score in parts that could use a score. Assonitis gets crafty with kills to avoid costly effects, and that's a minor treat. Madhouse won't make your top 10 list, but it's strange slasher material on a shoestring budget with impressive cinematography.

Hell High (1989)

Hell High 1989

Synopsis: A teacher, haunted by the accidental deaths of 2 students in her past, is visited by a group of 4 current, psychopathic students who aim to torment her.

Hell High, in name and premise, seems as formulaic as they come, but this is a twisty, gruesome roller coaster ride that's a little more "home invasion thriller" than it is slasher, but unsettling B-movie delightfulness nonetheless.

The group of teen boys, each representing a different notch of moral depravity, are rightfully loathsome but strongly written. The teacher they torture, Miss Brook (Maureen Mooney,) is complicated - haunted by a checkered past, guilty of her own moral pitfalls, but one to hope for given troubling context.

Hell High is shockingly smart, and just plain shocking. The snappy script allows characters to be quick-witted and compelling. Ultimately, the complexity of these violent characters becomes as engrossing as the brutality of the film's home invasion horror goings on.

Thanks to expert twists from director Douglas Grossman, this is a low-budget gem that demands a watch. To explain anything further would be to ruin your degenerate good time.

Intruder (1989)

Intruder 1989

Synopsis: An overnight stock crew at a local supermarket find themselves in a fight for their lives against a masked maniac.

A single-setting slasher can go oh so wrong, but this late 80s sleeper, set in a grocery store, keeps matters fast-paced, gross, and enjoyable.

Intruder boasts a high kill count, fantastic shots, excessive gore, and laughs. Scott Spiegel, who previously worked on Evil Dead 2, directs, bringing in Sam and Ted Raimi for roles, in addition to a short cameo from Bruce Campbell towards the film's finish.

Matters start slow, before catapulting into nonstop carnage with kills aplenty and righteous effects. Spots of dry humor add character. Awesome cinematography makes you almost forget the film takes place entirely in a grocery store. Intruder is neat visually, and occasionally very funny, but it's the murders (which happen with various objects,) and copious amounts of gore that make this a must for slasher heads. Crafty filmmaking and a strong feel of sleaze are fully at play.

Silent Scream (1979)

Silent Scream 1979

Synopsis: (Released in 1980, just barely qualifying as an 80s effort.) During her first semester of college, a girl staying in a seaside mansion where a death recently took place is caught up in a murder mystery.

Silent Scream, like every other film on this list, falls short of classic material for one reason or another. In this case, it's a trite setup with predictable playout. What sets it above the hilariously long list of films of its kind is its powerfully spooky atmosphere, helped by the dilapidating seaside cottage setting, an element of mystery, and a screeching score.

Silent Scream, more so than other "trapped in a house with a killer" flicks, is unnervingly atmospheric, with a careful build towards a cat-and-mouse game that becomes genuinely tense. A who's who of 70s B-movie actors lead this little psychological slasher, including the great Barbara Steele who delivers a skin-crawling performance. A classier slasher offering, Silent Scream doesn't have to be too nasty to supply shocks. It's a great mysterious killer venture with an uneasy feel, and the proper amount of unintentional cheese to raise nostalgia.

Moonstalker (1989)

Moonstalker 1989

Synopsis: Camp counselors in training and visiting tourists are stalked in the wintery woods of Nevada.

State park fornicators, beware: The moonstalker is scouring the Nevada wilderness of any and all horny people.

Moonstalker is in no way remarkable - A psychotic, masked killer stalks campers in a Nevada state park, but the story being set in a winter's snowy campground is a nice change of pace from summer slashers. Something about the snow-capped mountains and fires glowing on a dark winter's eve give Moonstalker a real feel of isolated creepiness. The killer, a deranged man named Bernie who kills off his entire family before hunting down the film's main characters, is a memorably intimidating villain.

Pairing well with an already generic film is a score that completely rips off Halloween. The unoriginality is obvious but funny, and familiarity does have its comfort.

Don't expect anything groundbreaking from Moonstalker. It's stale and corny with pretty poor effects, but the obvious ripping off of everything that came before it, set in snowy Nevada, might charm folks who like a deliciously gory timewaster.

The Mutilator (1984)

The Mutilator 1984

Synopsis: Teens vacation at a beach house. The boy whose father owns the home accidentally killed his mother during childhood. His father decides upon vengeance.

Story-wise, Buddy Cooper's The Mutilator is nothing to write home about. In fact, it features just about every 80s slasher trope out there. From a tired story, to simple characters, and rough acting, it's amazing this could make any sort of "good" film list. The Mutilator finds its value in being high on enthralling kills and gruesome with gore. Fish hooks, pitchforks, and chainsaws are all at work. Stomachs are literally being torn out. It's an excessively violent, unrepentantly nasty treat. The best part is, our movie teens are so hateable you have no choice but to eagerly root on their bloody demises.

The Mutilator is strictly for trash fanatics. Outside of outrageous slaughter and unintentionally hilarious dialogue, it's quite mediocre, but this is a slasher list, after all, and The Mutilator is more than passable for the subgenre.

Offerings (1989)

Offerings 1989

Synopsis: A man, who was once a tormented young boy pushed down a well by local bullies, returns to kill and drop off presents for the one girl who treated him with kindness.

Offerings is a Halloween rip-off so blatant and shameless it teeters on parody. From the film's opening few seconds you can already tell writer/director Christopher Reynolds is a Carpenter fan. Even the story feels reminiscent of Michael Meyers returning home from the institution, or really any slasher killer's origins.

Offerings won't scare you, nor will it introduce you to anything wild and new, but it poses an excellent time. Dialogue's stupid and very funny, which seems intentional. In one scene, two girls are watching a slasher film and commenting on the terrible acting they're seeing. It's "meta" for its time.

The highlights are the peculiar bits Reynolds throws at us, almost as if to say "look at how silly and weird this is!" In a genre that's frequently strange and almost always gross, it seems he's merely upping the ante and trying to get memorably goofy. A girl forces her friend to eat dog food. People chow down on "meat pizza." Reynolds crams in a bit of a love story, as the film's pathetic killer romantically leaves body parts for his love interest, Gretchen. (Hence, Offerings.)

Yes, Offerings does have a stock incompetent sheriff in the mix, and he adds major comedic value. This flick is everything you've seen before, but potential sillier in the most enjoyable way. Reynolds knew what he was doing, and it wasn't making a great movie. If his intention was making a zany run-of-the-mill slasher with added absurdity.

Hell Night (1981)

Hell Night 1981

Synopsis: A group of university pledges are forced to spend the night in a supposedly haunted old mansion, where they're attacked by the survivor of a decades-old massacre.

On paper, Hell Night doesn't sound like much. College students being hacked to bits by a mysterious killer is nothing out of the ordinary, but this flick from early on in the slasher craze has a pleasing uniqueness to it, and a spooky atmosphere that almost never finds its way into college campus mutilation vehicles.

Hell Night follows a group of frat and sorority pledges, the evening of a costume party, spending the night in a supposedly haunted mansion where a homicidal maniac is picking kids off. The mansion carries an uncanny aura as is, but add in an unidentified assailant and you have somewhat of a genre mash-up. Hell Night pairs an old school haunted house feel with commonplace slasher larks, creating something ghostly and nostalgic that just so happens to include the bloody kills fans look for in a slasher outing.

A beautiful set design is at work, and the characters' costumes are magnificent. Hell Night has a strangely gorgeous presentation for what it is. Stars Linda Blair and Vincent Van Patten bring their individual charms, and it's always nice to see Blair on screen not vomiting or pleasuring herself with a crucifix. Director Tom De Simone evidently didn't aim for grotesque when making Hell Night. It's free of sleaze, low on gore, and quite tame. What it does offer is old school atmosphere, fun performances, cool sights, and the slasher tropes necessary to fit the bill. This just may be one of the best of the unsung slashers.

Death Screams (1982)

Death Screams 1982

Synopsis: The annual fair in a tiny American town becomes home to murderous mayhem, with just one masked assailant responsible for the terror.

What Death Screams doesn't have - a budget, talented performers, or that strong of a premise, is made up for entirely with charm. This campy outing takes place at a small town fair and feels authentic, as though residents of a tiny town banded together with a theater crew to make this flick happen.

We follow a group of stereotypical teenagers throughout their night at the annual fair, a ripe environment for terror. Death Screams places an unusual amount of importance on character development. While our cut-and-dry teens might night be that interesting, we do feel a strong sense of who they are. Much of the flick highlights these young characters; their beliefs, angst, hormones, relationships, and place in small town America, before the bodies begin piling up. Once slasher madness kicks in, the kills are gruesome and highly entertaining, if not ridiculous and comical.

Low budget gore is surprisingly effective, as arrows are shot through heads and body parts are severed. Though it all takes awhile to get cookin', Death Screams delivers the nastiness, to the tune of a super moody score. If it's breasts and blood you're after, you're in the right place. If you love small town charm, creepy carnivals, and prime early 80s camp, you're in the perfect place.

Graduation Day (1981)

Graduation Day 1981

Synopsis: After a college track star dies immediately upon finishing a race, a masked killer takes out more student athletes.

Graduation Day has little that stands out, blending in with the onslaught of early 80s slashers, but formulaic works in this case, and a few appearances and murders set it slightly above the many flicks it resembles.

Several highlights: Christopher George (from City Of The Living Dead) plays an angry coach, shouting in sweatpants, and though his acting is less than stellar he delivers a nutty performance. Vanna White, of Wheel Of Fortune, is present, and that's an oddball treat. Death scenes aren't impressive and gore effects are shy of pleasing, but the kills - involving sports equipment - are a great gimmick.

Graduation Day is less splattery than the goriest of them, and not quite as vulgar or outrageous as silly slashers that have gone onto cult status, but it has everything: Boobs, sleaze, nonsensical kills, entertainingly bad acting, a bit of suspense to be enveloped by (predictable as it may be,) and goofy characters.

This nears the bottom of the barrel, but uniquely zany touches like killing off student athletes with their sporting equipment of choice, make Graduation Day more worthwhile than the many slashers it seems indistinguishable from.

American Gothic (1987)

American Gothic 1987

Synopsis: A group of travelers stranded on an island in the Pacific Northwest are tormented by an isolated family.

A tongue-in-cheek Canadian psycho slasher with a set of outrageous backwoods villains, American Gothic is a shlocky good time that has glimpses of being a terrifically unnerving horror film, but director John Hough prefers the farcical, exploitative route.

Yvonne De Carlo and Rod Steiger are less than great but phenomenally entertaining as Ma and Pa, a couple of woodsy hicks on a forested isle who offer hospitality to traveling teens before killing them. Their demented little family covers all of the exploitation ground, from incest to necrophilia, thus American Gothic finds a genuinely disturbing feel when it's not hammering audiences with lewd silliness for laughable shock value.

The Final Terror (1983)

The Final Terror 1983

Synopsis: Rangers and their lady acquaintances camp out in an unfamiliar forest near an old mental institution where it's rumored a woman escaped. They're left fighting for survival and figuring out how to catch the woods-dwelling assassin.

The Final Terror is a unique selection, in that I don't believe it has the gruesome appeal to satiate most slasher fans, but I do believe it's a well-crafted bit of woodsy terror with good characters and an eerie tone; thus a generally overlooked 80s horror.

A group of young military guys and their gals head deep into the woods with their guide, a redneck busdriver named Eggar (Joe Pantoliano) who repeatedly encourages the group to try a campsite other than the one they're en route to. Along the way they pass an old mental institution where it's rumored a crazy woman once lived, before her son let her out to roam the woods.

The Final Terror doesn't feature dummies being killed off one by one, unaware that an assailant lurks. Instead, our well-rounded cast of characters catch on early they're in grave danger, and the rest of the film becomes them coming together, fighting for survival and strategizing how they might trap and kill the killer. What ensues is more bloody wilderness survival than slasher, though The Final Terror taps into necessary tropes - A maniac hunting down campers with an assortment of bladed weapons, severed body parts, and a campfire legend that's playing out in real time.

The killer chooses tactical attire, sporting what appears to be a shrub, so they may blend with other shrubs, rocks, etc. Our group of heroes, too, use hunting/military tactics to stay vigilant and sneaky as they hunt and are hunted. This isn't a group of stock teens acting like fools, fornicating, and being hacked to bits.

Editing issues and excessively dark cinematography are cause for slight issue, but The Final Terror manages to be a grim woodsy thriller with a stellar cast and surprisingly compelling story. The eclectic score, ranging from sentimental piano tunes to uncanny synths, is an interesting addition to the mix. At times it seems wildly silly, and in other moments it perfectly matches with the film's dark tone. What's perhaps most notable about this otherwise forgotten backwoods slasher is it boasts the onscreen debut of Daryl Hannah (who does look great!)

With minimal gore and porking, and only a dash of outrageousness The Final Terror might not be your ticket to essential slasher nastiness. It does, however, offer awesome scenic shots, a unique take on woodsy slashers, and excellent performances from a cast of pre-stardom actors.