Back again today with another in my “best of” series. Today’s list comes from the year 1984. You can check out previous lists below:
- Top 5 Horror Films From 1983
- Top 5 Horror Films From 1982
- Top 5 Horror Films From 1981
- Top 5 Horror Films From 1980
As I said with last year’s list, I’m loving putting these lists together and have gotten a great response. Here’s 1984!
Chewie’s Top 5 Horror Films From 1984
All of these films received their US theatrical release within calendar year 1984. If you want to see the full list of all films eligible for this list you can view it here. Keep in mind, these are my “favorite” movies not necessarily what I’d consider the “best” movies.
Children of the Corn – Stephen King is back on my list with another film based on one of his short stories. A young couple is trapped in a remote town where a dangerous religious cult of children believe everyone over the age of 18 must be killed. It stars Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton (yes, that Linda Hamilton) and while it spawned SEVEN sequels, none of them close to the 84 original.
Firestarter – Yet ANOTHER Stephen King novel turned movie with this one. It just goes to show you just how prolific that dude is. Drew Barrymore is a young girl who develops a psychic ability allowing her to create and control fire with her mind. The secret government agency known as The Shop seeks to control her.
Razorback – An little known Australian film starring Gregory Harrison based on a Peter Brennan novel, it revolves around the attacks of a gigantic wild boar terrorizing the Australian outback, killing and devouring people. This is one of those monster movies that’s just sort of fun.
The Toxic Avenger – He was 98 lbs. of solid nerd until he became… Toxie! Tromaville has a monstrous new hero. The Toxic Avenger is born when mop boy Melvin Junko falls into a vat of toxic waste. (Think the dude from RoboCop but not so “oozy”) Now evildoers will have a lot to lose. Written and directed by horror legend Lloyd Kaufman, it stars Mitch Cohen as the Avenger. This one has a ton of dark comedy thrown in and has spawned three film sequels, a stage musical production and even a children’s TV cartoon!
C.H.U.D. – A bizarre series of murders in New York City seems to point toward the existence of a race of mutant cannibals living under the streets. C.H.U.D. is an acronym for “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller”. This one stars John Heard, Daniel Stern of Home Alone fame and Christopher Curry. This is one that you’ll run across every once in a while on AMC’s Fright Fest or IFC. I’ll watch it every time it’s on.
The Top Five
I’m really enjoying putting these lists together. It gives me the opportunity to go back and rediscover some truly amazing films. I do have to say that this was one of the easier top fives to put together… and talk about a slam dunk #1. No contest.
#5 – Gremlins
A boy inadvertently breaks 3 important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town. Written by Chris Columbus (Harry Potter, Goonies, Home Alone) and directed by Joe Dante (Piranha, Twilight Zone, Innerspace) it stars Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates (yum) and Hoyt Axton. This is one of those films that I don’t necessarily think of as a “horror” film but it absolutely is. The lead mogwai is a cute little bugger called Gizmo. The three rules are these: no bright light, no water and most importantly, you must never, ever feed them after midnight. There’s some really graphic deaths here which I’d forgotten about until I went back to it with my kids. Definitely not what I’d consider a kid friendly movie though it was certainly marketed like one back in the day.
#4 – Runaway
In the near future, a police officer specializes in malfunctioning robots. When a robot turns out to have been programmed to kill, he begins to uncover a homicidal plot to create killer robots… and his son becomes a target. I may get some slack for this pick but I’ll defend it for sure. Written and directed by Michael Crichton and starring Tom Selleck, Cynthia Rhodes, Gene Simmons (!) and Kirstie Alley this is one that may not be on horror fans’ radars but it absolutely should be.
After his parents are murdered, a young tormented teenager goes on a murderous rampage dressed as Santa, due to his stay at an orphanage where he was abused by the Mother Superior. This one is iconic to me for one reason… the box art. I can remember walking through my local video store and always looking at the VHS tape with Santa’s arm coming out of the chimney holding an ax. It took me years to get up the courage to actually rent it. It’s got some good kills and was met with HUGE controversy when it came out. As they say, controversy creates cash, and because of that it in its first weekend it out grossed a little film called A Nightmare on Elm Street which was released on the same day. More on that later…
After being “mortally” wounded and taken to the morgue, Jason Voorhees spontaneously revives and embarks on a killing spree as he makes his way back to his home at Camp Crystal Lake. This 4th installment in the Friday the 13th saga stars Corey Feldman, Ted White, Kimberly Beck, and Crispin Glover. It has some of the best deaths in the entire franchise and begins to tell the story of Tommy Jarvis which is one of the few threads that lasts more than one movie in the series. Fellow Friday fan Xina lists it as her favorite in the franchise and I’ve got a hard time arguing with that.
Several people are hunted by a cruel serial killer who kills his victims in their dreams. When the survivors are trying to find the reason for being chosen, the murderer won’t lose any chance to kill them as soon as they fall asleep. It’s #4 on my all time top ten list, so it should come as no surprise to see it on the top here. Written and directed by Wes Craven, it stars Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, John Saxon, Johnny Depp (in his first role) and the immortal Robert Englund as Freddy. This isn’t just an outstanding horror movie, it’s a downright awesome all around film. It was an honorable mention on my overall favorite films of 1984 and I could very well make a case it should be in the top five there as well. It got a reboot in 2010 which was pretty universally hated, but I think that’s because this version is just so damn good. Englund’s portrayal of Freddy Krueger is the stuff of legend (or nightmares as the case may be) and while that character went on to be silly and campy in the later films in the franchise, here he’s a stone cold sadistic killer. I was lucky enough to meet Robert a couple of years back and I’m hoping to meet more of the cast next month when Pip and I return to Horror Hound in Indy. Consider Nightmare to be required watching for all horror fans.
Did I leave off your favorite horror film from 1984? Leave a comment with your thoughts!