Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My years in horror: 1985

First, let's review. We are discussing the best horror movie from every year that I have been alive. For those of you who are new with us at Warning Signs, we started this series with 1979. Our choices so far:

1979: Alien
1980: The Shining
1981: An American Werewolf in London
1982: The Thing
1983: Michael Jackson's "Thriller"
1984: Ghostbusters

 Decent amount of variety among the six films we've looked at in this series. If you missed any, feel free to go back and catch up.

Moving forward now to 1985. Among that year's horror releases were the vampire flick Fright Night (which I heavily considered for this spot), the TV movie The Midnight Hour (which I remember catching glimpses of while trick-or-treating), and the zombie films Day of the Dead and Return of the Living Dead of which one was directed by George A. Romero and the other starred Clu Gulager and the infamous nude dance scene by Linnea Quigley.

But it is another film that sometimes gets roped into the zombie subgenre and also includes an infamously repulsive scene of carnality that I consider the best horror movie of 1985: Re-Animator.

 The film, directed by Stuart Gordon, is based on H.P. Lovecraft's "Herbert West: Re-Animator" stories. The stories were set around the time of the American Civil War (and there is a part of me that would love to see that movie) and follows the gruesome adventures of West and fellow med student Dan Cain. West and Cain attend Miskatonic University in Arkham, Mass., and get into shenanigans when West reveals to Caint hat he has a serum that can re-animate the dead.

Gordon takes the sometimes staid text of Lovecraft and throws in some great campy gore and the one thing always missing from Lovecraft: sex. Cain has a girlfriend, Meg (played by the very attractive Barbara Crampton), but esteemed teacher Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale) not only wants to bone her but also wants to steal West's serum. He's a bad dude. In the poster above, Dr. Hill is the one with his head lopped off. Sadly, Hill's decapitation is not his final comeuppance.

And that is when we get the absolutely jarring sex scene. With Meg naked and strapped to a table, the decapitated head of Dr. Hill attempts to perform oral sex on her. She squirms but has nowhere to go. Gaack! Thankfully, Meg gets saved (for the moment) but things get worse for West and Cain as Hill has figured out how to mind control the corpses he fills with West's green serum. The "zombies" do some damage but West and Cain eventually come out on top (Although Meg doesn't make it. Sorry, they needed a reason for the sequel Bride of Re-Animator). Hill returns for the sequel to continue battling West and Cain but nothing tops the original.

On a side note, 1985 also saw the release of this site's namesake, the psychovirus movie Warning Sign. Unfortunately, the movie is not even close to being the best of any year.

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