Looking Back 30 Years At The Diverse Horror Films Of 1987

Last week I highlighted the classic action movies that released in 1987. It was a busy year for horror too. The 80s were a grand time for all things gory, and in 1987, supplies of fake blood were in high demand. For most of the decade, Slashers like Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees ruled, but in 1987, Freddy was the only slasher to make an appearance. The year is marked by a diverse range of styles from a western vampire story to slapstick gore, a new 80s horror icon, and more. And not only did horror these films scare their way across cinema screens, they served as a stepping point for several actors and a few future Oscar-winning directors.

Lost Boys
“Don’t kill me, Mike. I’m basically a good kid.”

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Before vampires shimmered in sunlight and were relegated to having crushes on high school girls there was Lost Boys. Joel Schumacher, the man who put nipples on Batman, is very hit or miss. But when you’ve got Keifer Sutherland as an 80s punk inspired bloodthirsty vampire it’s hard to miss. Lost Boys drips in 80s attitude while also being silly at times through characters played by Corey Feldman and Corey Haim.

Hellraiser
“Your suffering will be legendary, even in hell.”

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Artist, writer and director Clive Barker made his directorial debut with Hellraiser which introduced one of horror’s most iconic villains — Pinhead. Hellraiser is gory, HP Lovecraft-inspired horror that’s a little rough today but still unleashes some brutal effects and mind-bending concepts about alternate dimensions and realities.

Near Dark
“It ain’t what’s goin’ on, son. It’s what’s comin’ off. Your face. Clean off.”

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Director Kathryn Bigelow is critically-acclaimed today, but her rise to Hollywood fame started in earnest with the gritty horror flick Near Dark. A vampire film unlike few others, Near Dark, is dirty and bloody visual poetry that’s part western, part biker movie. Bill Paxton as a psycho, bloodthirsty vamp steals each and every scene. And hey, there’s a cameo by James Cameron!

Evil Dead 2
“Groovy.”

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After the massive cult success of Evil Dead, Director Sam Raimi was pressed to make a sequel. The result is Evil Dead 2 which is a sequel or a remake, depending on how you want to look at it. The same slapstick craziness of the first movie is just as prominent here, and it’s a virtuoso of gore. Some are purests, but in almost every way, Evil Dead 2 is a better version of the original film.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 3
“You’re mine now, piggy.”

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The most iconic horror villain of the 80s, and arguably of all time, Freddy Kreuger’s third appearance took the series to new places. Freddy haunts the dreams of teens, but now those teens learn how to fight back with the help of Nancy, the protagonist of the first A Nightmare On Elm Street. Series creator Wes Craven returned as a writer after skipping involvement with the previous installment.

Prince of Darkness
“I’ve got a message for you, and you’re not going to like it. Pray for death.”

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The second in John Carpenter’s “Apocalypse Trilogy,” Prince of Darkness is also the weakest. Where The Thing is isolated and paranoid, and Mouth of Madness is a surrealistic nightmare, Prince of Darkness feels trapped between Carpenter’s more subtle and slow style and Carpenter trying to appeal a little more to the norms of horror at the time.

The Gate
“Demons aren’t going to ring the doorbell!”

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Actor Stephen Dorff made his film debut in 1987 with The Gate, a Canadian horror film about a demonic apocalypse starting in suburbia. Two white kids dig a hole in the backyard that turns out to be a gateway to a demon realm. Wackiness ensues. It’s an uneven film, but worth watching today for the fun and creative use of old-school film techniques to achieve some clever scenes.

Creepshow 2
“Thanks for the ride, lady!”

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The sequel to 1982s horror anthology Creepshow, the film takes its inspiration from Stephen King stories just like the first, but loses George Romero as director. Creepshow 2 isn’t highly regarded like the original, but the quirky short horror stories here have aged a little better, particularly “The Raft” and “The Hitchhiker.”

The Monster Squad
“Scary German guy is bitchin’!”

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After the success of The Goonies, studios worked to recapture that magic. The result was a series of “kid adventures” including this little 1987 oddball called The Monster Squad. A group of nerdy friends, all into horror comics, call themselves “The Monster Squad.” The squad gets wrapped up in a plot by the resurrected classic Universal monsters. The kids, along with the help of Frankenstein, must defeat Dracula who has his own squad that includes The Mummy, Creature From The Black Lagoon, and The Wolf Man.

The Hidden
“A flame-thrower man, can you believe it?”

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Sometimes I think the title of this film refers to the film itself. The Hidden is an 80s sci-fi-action-horror movie which gets little attention. It’s a gem, though, revolving around an alien serial killer with the ability to swap bodies and the law enforcers on E.T.’s trail. The Hidden is a weird buddy cop movie with a sci-fi twist, a lot of action, and a dash of horror.

Bad Taste
“Suck my spinning steel, sh*thead!”

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In 1987, Peter Jackson made his feature film directorial debut with the low-budget Bad Taste. A strange, quirky horror film in which Jackson and his friends do everything. Jackson’s credits include writer, director, producer, co-editor, makeup artist, and co-star. All the signature elements of Jackson’s style are in their infantile stages here, and it’s so fun to watch.

I know I missed a few because I had to leave some stuff off of the list or I’d be writing forever. What’s your favorite horror film from 1987?

Ruben Diaz
Ruben Diaz
Writer, film-fanatic, geek, gamer, info junkie & consummate Devil's advocate who has been fascinated by Earth since 1976. Classically trained in the ways of the future.