The ninth season of American Horror Story, dubbed 1984, stirred up nostalgia for one of the most beloved and oldest sub-genres of contemporary horror: the slasher. The first slasher is a highly debated topic among the more fervent fans. Some say the original Friday the 13th is the first film to be universally coined as a slasher, whereas others go further back to older films like Peeping Tom and A Bay of Blood.
Viewers of 1984 were awash in dated fashion, familiar tropes, and a distinct mood that felt like a love letter to the slasher niche. And for those who are still craving that evocative euphoria, then you should check out these ten other horror movies from the 1980s.
10 The Burning (1981)
The concept for The Burning began before Friday the 13th came out, but problems behind the scenes delayed its production and release until after the aforesaid movie. For those involved, there was undoubtedly some disappointment with how disregarded The Burning was at the time. However, the film has gained a cult following. Viewers positively respond to the commedable practical effects.
In The Burning, a prank goes wrong when a summer camp's caretaker is accidentally set on fire. After enduring unsuccessful skin grafts, he now walks around covered in bandages and thirsting for revenge. To quench his bloodlust, he stalks the counselors and campers at a different camp.
9 Berserker: The Nordic Curse (1987)
This 1987 slasher is an obscurity that is slowly finding an audience years later. People today are generally more magnanimous towards retro horror as they find things to like about these movies that people back then were less charmed by. Berserker: The Nordic Curse skirts by because it has an unusual plot that involves a viking and a bear. The film has flaws, but at least it tries to be somewhat original.
In the film, a group of people encounters a legendary, Nordic berserker at an old campsite located on a former Scandinavian settlement. The campers then get caught up in a bloodthirsty battle between the viking and a marauding bear.
8 The Zero Boys (1986)
Slashers may have been the rage in the early to mid-1980s, but not every one of them followed the same formula. Nico Mastorakis' 1986 quasi-slasher is a prime example of this. Though it borrows elements from other teen-aimed horrors set in the woods, The Zero Boys is reminiscent of the mindless action movies also coming out at the same time.
The Zero Boys concerns a paintball group celebrating a recent victory at a cabin in the woods. Little do they know, they have encroached on the land of some aggressive locals. Now, the team has to use their skills if they want to survive the night.
7 Cheerleader Camp (1988)
The golden age for slasher movies is reported to be between 1978 and 1984. Movies likes Cheerleader Camp missed the window by a few years. Other similar movies that came out around the same time did not fare too well either. To be fair, sequels from popular franchises like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween could not muster up large returns either. So, Cheerleader Camp was another casualty, not an anomaly. As of today, the movie has yet to be re-released onto a format higher than DVD.
In the film, a group of unsuspecting young women are picked off one by one at a cheerleading camp.
6 Madman (1981)
Like with Sleepaway Camp and other post-Friday the 13th mimickers, Madman's unoriginality is so flagrant that it's borderline undignified. As with The Burning, this movie is inspired by the New York-centric urban legend of Cropsey, a boogeyman based on the very real serial killer Andre Rand. As unoriginal as Madman is, it has some honest-to-goodness, unnerving tension. The filmmakers were happy, too, as their $350,000-budgeted slasher earned them $1.3 million at the box office.
The movie follows campers and counselors who mistakenly summon the notorious killer Madman Marz, a husband and father who murdered his family with an axe.
5 Body Count (1986)
Only the most ardent fans are aware of Body Count's existence. This Italian slasher is directed by Ruggero Deodato, who is best known for the controversial 1980 film Zombie Holocaust. He has influenced directors today like Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth. As for Body Count, it's a routine movie with a backwoods setting. You won't be wowed, but there are worse low-tier slashers from this same time period.
In Body Count, a group of stereotypical teens visit an abandoned campsite. The place is rumored to be haunted by the spirit of a dead shaman. As luck would have it, the interlopers are attacked by someone they believe to be the very same spirit.
4 The Final Terror (1983)
Pure cash grab The Final Terror had different names when it was in development: The Creeper, The Forest Primeval, and Three Blind Mice. Other aliases include Carnivore and Campsite Massacre. For a movie with so many monikers, it had the hardest time finding distribution. The film was shot in 1981, but it wasn't until 1983 did it get released. This was mainly due to three of its stars — Daryl Hannah, Rachel Ward, and Adrian Zmed — gaining popularity elsewhere. The movie also features Mark Metcalf (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Joe Pantoliano (The Sopranos).
In The Final Terror, campers are at the mercy of a cannibalistic maniac as they visit California's redwoods.
3 Just Before Dawn (1981)
Just Before Dawn might be accused of being yet another Friday the 13th aper, but films such as Deliverance, Straw Dogs, and Rituals are bigger sources of inspiration. By that, the atmospheric Just Before Dawn leaves the comparatively safer city environment for a more rustic one. And there, the naïve urbanites are terrorized by someone controlled by his baser desires. Director Jeff Lieberman also gave us Blue Sunshine, Squirm, and Satan's Little Helper.
In Just Before Dawn, campers ignore a ranger's advice and go hiking in the Oregon forest. In doing so, they invite the attention of a machete-wielding cannibal.
2 Sleepaway Camp (1983)
After the success of Sean S. Cunningham's 1980 movie Friday the 13th, there was a crop of shameless copycats. This included the 1983 slasher Sleepaway Camp, also known as Nightmare Vacation. It boasts one of the most shocking endings in horror; new viewers will be totally caught off-guard.
In Sleepaway Camp, Angela is a shy, traumatized teenager who was orphaned as the result of a terrible, childhood accident. Her aunt sends both Angela and her cousin Ricky away to summer camp, where they soon fall prey to a lurking, unseen killer.
1 Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
It makes sense to include the Friday the 13th that started it all. But we all know it exists, and we're all fond of it. Why not make room for the atypical sixth sequel, The New Blood? While it's true that the franchise wasn't selling tickets like it used to, fans of the series still looked forward to Jason Voorhees' next massacre. And like the ultra campy 1984, there's a kindred sense of absurdity present in The New Blood.
In the seventh entry in the long-running saga about Jason's murderous exploits, a telekinetic teenager accidentally frees the notorious Crystal Lake killer from his murky and watery imprisonment. Once Jason "greets" some visitors at the nearby cabins, he and Tina engage in a battle that will only leave one of them standing.