It took forever, but Christmas hack n' slash icon Silent Night, Deadly Night would get released alongside its terrible sequel in a double feature that horror fans pleaded to the Jolly Fat Man for it to turn up in their stockings in 2003. Another controversial piece, Silent Night was released uncut, which really brought the violent kills to life, including an epic, topless Linnea Quigley death where she is impaled on deer antlers after a little premarital sex. Sledder's heads roll and so did people's minds when they found out the killer would be offing people in a Santa suit, "tarnishing" the reputation of every child's hero. Unfortunately, Part 2 was merely a cash grab, featuring terribly acted new scenes around flashbacks from the original. In a nutshell, they slapped a "2" on the title, shot a few stupid scenes and cashed in on the original once again, selling two films to theatre crowds with production costs of one. If there ever was a film that embarrasses a genre even as misunderstood as horror, it definitely was this one.
While not necessarily strictly a slasher, another classic fell into place when Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes came out having received a tremendous audio visual overhaul and a ton of special features to boot. Packing a strong punch of genuine fear, isolation and helplessness, packed with social commentary and deformed cannibals, few films have been able to match the grindhouse tenacity of Hills. The Canadian effort, Happy Hell Night would also see the light of day with passable gore effects with all the standard slasher cliches.
2004 continued rolling out such clichés in the form of the teen comedy horror hodgepodge, Cheerleader Camp, a fun feature if there ever was one. This one is loaded with hilarious 80s fun, dope rhymes, Leif Garrett, fat dudes, hot cheerleaders and horny instructors, Nightmare on Elm Street inspired terrors and more hijinx than you can shake a pom pom at. They don't make them like this anymore and it's a shame. Besides Carpenter’s classic, Anchor Bay was also responsible for bringing another infamous Halloween movie to disc: Kevin Tenney’s Night of the Demons. Perhaps one of the best all time horror “party movies,” this one is loaded with a cast of characters that would feel right at home in a teen comedy, with Rodger and Stooge especially standing out. Of course, neither of those guys is nearly as memorable as Linnea Quigley, who ends up with a full-frontal nude scene, to no one’s surprise (and who could forget the now infamous “lipstick scene?”). This one also has a mean streak when it needs to, as the cool looking demon effects lead to some vicious scenes of violence, not to mention the brutal ending scene that brings the “razor blade in the apple” urban legend to bloody life.
Low budget, independent features from days gone by wouldn’t be ignored, either. Though it touts the involvement of Bruce Campbell and Sam “The Master Cylinder” Raimi, 1988’s The Dead Next Door is a triumph in independent filmmaking. Writer/director J.D. Walter’s undead romp features a world over-run by flesh-eaters, and the only hope is the “Zombie Squad,” which specializes in dispatching the walking dead. With some fun exercises in gore and a killer opening scene set in a mom and pop video store, this one lacks a lot of technical brilliance, but the sheer enthusiasm of the project shines through in all of its 8mm glory.
The Entity is a film that falls under many fans’ radar, but the newfound digital age gave it another chance to shine. This effective, creepy little chiller about a woman being haunted by an unseen force has plenty of punch and visceral horror. The rape scenes are among some of the most disturbing ever filmed, and the film as a whole is a unique experience. During the 1980s, Freddy Krueger was king, and it’s no surprise that there were a few of attempts to capitalize on that popularity. One of the better Elm Street knock offs was Bad Dreams, which actually featured Nightmare alums Jennifer Rubins and Charles Fleischer (not to mention Dean Cameron, better known as Chainsaw from Summer School). It takes its general premise and a lot of beats from Dream Warriors, but attempts to be a bit more slasher-like and reliant on plot twists. which all adds up to decent slice of 80s horror.
High school can be a pretty scary place, and there have been plenty of films to show just how horrifying it can be from a teacher’s perspective. Very few take the violent, grind house path that Class of 1984 takes, however. A cast of familiar faces (Roddy McDowall, Keith Knight, and Michael J. Fox) highlights this grim, bloody affair. While the entire film is full of intense, uncomfortable scenes (like when a teacher pulls a gun on his class), the riveting third act is packed full of revenge-movie carnage that is immensely satisfying. In addition to these notable titles, many other lesser-known quantities found their way home during the middle of the decade, including films like Neon Maniacs, Fear No Evil, Witchboard, Quicksilver Highway, Race With the Devil, Season of the Witch, Baby Blood, Superstition, and the Mirror, Mirror collection. As the decade headed towards its last few years, Anchor Bay had seemingly exhausted the vaults, delivering both well-known and obscure titles from various horror masters and studios.
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