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Guest Post: The Irresistible Nostalgia of 80’s Horror by Author Guy Adams

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Guy Adams’ Notes from the Upside Down: An Unofficial Guide to Stranger Things arrives today from Touchstone; and to celebrate, we have a guest post from the author about the current nostalgia for Eighties horror.  He ties that in with the overwhelming success of “Stranger Things” and how the show manages to hit every Eighties nerve with a focus on the horror of the time.

The Irresistible Nostalgia of 80’s Horror

Age gets us all in the end. Things wither, not only physically but conceptually too. This is why your old, terry-towelling, fluorescent socks have not only rotted into brightly glowing fragments. but the idea of them – the sheer enthusiasm for them – has also crystallised into a sensible mental soup of shame and regret. Good taste will always be the enemy of blind nostalgia.

But the Eighties though. Oh god. The Eighties. The decade that brought us many terrors: Reagan, Thatcher, the threat of nuclear extinction and, of course, the album Never Let Me Down from David Bowie, a god projectile-vomiting radioactive effluvium into our ears.

But the cinema… the horror!

For me Eighties cinema was the birth of horror. It’s all the babysitter’s fault.

Ten years old, and I’m sat down in front of Tom Holland’s wonderful Fright Night. A vampire has moved into suburbia, and it’s up to teenage snoop Charlie Brewster and horror movie host Peter Vincent (the ever-sublime Roddy McDowall) to stop him. The wit of the movie was lost on me at the time; what stuck was the idea that – as per vampire lore – if you invited horror into your home, it could kill you. I didn’t sleep. It unnerved me that much.

By the morning, the fear had passed, but not the excitement. I invited horror into my home. It’s lived there ever since.

I started renting more movies. All the recent big hitters: Poltergeist, Halloween, An American Werewolf in London, the Nightmare on Elm Street pictures (the sixth, optimistically titled Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, was the first eighteen certificate movie I saw in a cinema; my girlfriend at the time, whose tolerance for pizza-faced teen-botherers was minimal, sat in the screen next door chuckling at Blame it on the Bellboy).

I bought old rental tapes, sold off cheaply to make space. Less obvious titles these: Gary Sherman’s Dead and Buried, Sidney J. Furie’s The Entity, Dan Attias’ Silver Bullet. A collection had begun.

And it didn’t stop, through my teens – where I began to stretch my boundaries, hunting down the more forbidden, eclectic cinema of Italy, Spain and Japan – and into my twenties, when the whole lot was replaced with shiny discs.

That collection now stands at several thousand movies. Perhaps addiction would have been a more accurate word.

Now, of course, the Eighties movies are all just added to the mix. I am a man of moods; sometimes I’m on a silent cinema kick, sometimes nothing satisfies like an Italian giallo, sometimes I continue my – frankly insane – mission to watch every single one of Jess Franco’s movies (I’m getting there, god help me). But amongst these passing obsessions aside, there will always be a huge place for the Eighties.

The sharply shot slasher (there’s an absurd comfort in watching teenagers being slashed beneath canvas); the neon-infused glow of John Carpenter; the slick, mucous worlds of David Cronenberg or Frank Henenlotter.

And I’m not alone; “Stranger Things” proved that. Horror thrives off the unkillable (say what you like about Jason Voorhees, he’s no quitter), and the Eighties have perhaps proven to be the most enduring decade of them all. “Stranger Things” takes all the gooey warmth of that decade – because so much of the horror in the Eighties was warm, for all its professed desire to chill: the close families, the rise of the schoolyard oppressed, the triumph of friendship – and stirs it into a stew that is as great as the sum of its parts.

Nostalgia? Perhaps. A little. Because, sometimes, there’s nothing better than remembering when you were a kid and the monsters weren’t real because you could kill them. But not blind nostalgia. No, because unlike those hateful socks, those ugly jeans, and that terrible, terrible Bowie album, Eighties cinema stands the test of time.

Age gets us all in the end? No, not all of us. Because Eighties cinema is immortal. “Stranger Things” proves it with a love letter in eight parts. A love letter that resonated so strongly, I wrote one of my own: Notes From the Upside Down: An Unofficial Guide to Stranger Things.

I tell you – as if you needed to know – why you should love the show and discuss it, and its many influences, until the reader and I are hopefully feeling like we’re back there again. Maybe a bit of that immortality will even rub off.

But probably not, because we can’t all have the staying power of Michael Myers or Freddy Krueger. Once I was Corey Haim, the plucky kid, staring down his fear. Then I was Jason Patric, rebellious and looking for deeper, darker thrills. Now, frankly, I’m Dianne West, occasionally taking time out from the ironing to remind myself of the excitement of youth. Still, could be worse; one day I’ll be Barnard Hughes, and then you bastards better watch out.


Notes from the Upside Down: An Unofficial Guide to Stranger Things is out NOW! CLICK HERE to order a copy from Amazon.

The first season of “Stranger Things” was released in July 2016, and within a month it became the third most-watched season of Netflix original content of all time. This incredible show continues to dominate pop culture, and fans are not so patiently waiting for the next season to be released this October 27th. Guy Adams’ Notes from the Upside Down, a Touchstone original paperback, is here to help fill the Demogorgon-sized hole in our lives.

Synopsis:
Jump inside the world of “Stranger Things” and discover everything you need to know about the hit TV show…

Grab your Eggo waffles and get ready for a visit to Hawkins, Indiana—just don’t forget the fairy lights! This fan-tastic guide has every fact you could ever wish for—from insights into the origins of the show, including the mysterious Montauk Project conspiracy theory, to a useful Eighties playlist (because, of course) and much more.

If you’ve ever wondered why Spielberg is such a huge influence, which Stephen King books you need to read (hint: pretty much all of them), or how State Trooper David O’Bannon earned his name, then this book is for you. Entertaining, informative, and perfect for fans of Eighties pop culture, Notes from the Upside Down is the Big Mac of unofficial guides to “Stranger Things”—super-sized and special sauce included.

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Several Muppets Were Run Through The Walking Dead’s Zombie App and It’s Kind of Amazing

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For many people, a big part of their childhood were the Muppets from “Sesame Street”. The lessons they learned from characters such as Bert and Ernie, Count von Count, Big Bird, and more, were invaluable and set a foundation of how to live ones life. On top of educational lessons, they were taught compassion, sharing, decency, and other traits that form the basis of a civilized society. Then zombies came along and botched everything.

Using an app from “The Walking Dead”, several characters from “Sesame Street” have been zombified, resulting in images that will no doubt make some of you laugh while others might be horrified at what their childhood characters have gone through. It’s kinda hard to deny that Count von Count doesn’t look gruesome as hell with a dislocated and dangling jaw…

Below is a gallery of these images and, just for fun, underneath that is “The Walking Gingerbread”, an actual parody of “The Walking Dead” done by “Sesame Street” for Halloween!

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Josh Millican’s Best Horror Films of 2017

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It may just be that my love of horror grows every year, but it honestly feels as though 2017 has been a red-letter year for the genre. Not only are films like Andy Muschietti’s IT and Jordan Peele’s Get Out generating Oscar buzz but we’ve seen horror elements seep into mainstream movies and TV shows, from Logan to “Stranger Things”.

And this hasn’t merely been an amazing year for mainstream horror, with powerful indies emerging as some 2017’s best; it’s further proof that many of the most compelling and important genre flicks are being produced outside the traditional Hollywood system. Below, in no particular order, are my selections for the Best Horror Films of 2017. Let me know what you think in the Comments section!


Brawl in Cell Block 99

Though the subject matter is completely different, S. Craig Zahler’s Brawl in Cell Block 99 has many parallels to his first film, 2015’s Bone Tomahawk. Both movies build slowly and are anchored by compelling characters and engrossing dialogue; furthermore, both films are deceptively understated until an explosive and shocking 3rd Act hits like a gut-punch.

Vince Vaughn delivers a genuinely poignant portrayal of Bradley Thomas, a down-on-his-luck drug runner willing to do anything to protect his family from disgruntled former associates. Don Johnson also deserves a shout-out for his turn as corrupt Warden Tuggs, the most unnerving fictional jailer since Cool Hand Luke.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 isn’t your typical horror movie, presenting a meandering narrative, but it’s still as entertaining as anything that follows an established formula. Horror is always most compelling when we can connect with a film’s protagonists, and this film delivers in spades.


Raw

Julia Ducournau’s Raw both benefited and suffered from reports of audience members fainting and falling ill during the film’s 2015 premiere at TIFF. Upon its limited theatrical release, The Nuart in Los Angeles passed barf bags out to moviegoers, a tactic usually reserved for the most extreme and outlandish of B-movies, films intentionally crafted to trigger the gag-reflex. While Raw does indeed contain scenes that are very difficult to stomach (pun intended!) it’s hardly a 2-dimensional gross-out.

Before classifying the film as horror, it’s a coming of age saga first and foremost. Themes of cannibalism and bodily mutilations become metaphors for sexual awakenings and transitions into adulthood. Raw is also a compelling study of sibling rivalries and the powerful influence of heredity on personal development.


The Blackcoat’s Daughter

Though released after I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is actually the debut film from Oz Perkins (son of horror icon Anthony Perkins). It combines the supernatural terrors of a possession movie with the compelling complexity of a murder mystery. The all-girls boarding school in winter provides a moody aesthetic with Gothic undertones while serving as an incubator for sexual awakenings and religious guilt.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter hinges on a powerful twist, but this doesn’t hit the audience like a ton of bricks; rather, the film’s secrets are gradually unraveled, resulting in a slow realization that’s as poignant as it is shocking. The film succeeds in no small part thanks to compelling performances by a trio of talented young thespians: Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, and Lucy Boynton.


The Devil’s Candy

Sean Byrne is one of the most talented horror practitioners to emerge from Australia in the 21st Century. His debut film, The Loved Ones, is an under-seen sleeper that balances teen angst, dark comedy, and extreme violence. With his follow-up film, The Devil’s Candy, Byrne is finally getting the attention he deserves.

It’s less extreme than The Loved Ones, but The Devil’s Candy’s understated presentation, genuine drama, and slow-burn build-up delivers more palpable dread and a lasting resonance. The Devil’s Candy is a chaotic mix of heavy metal music and inner demons and can be viewed as a metaphor for how the blind pursuit of art can destroy families.

Ethan Embry deserves a shout out for his harrowing portrayal of father and artist Jesse Hellman. Who’d have thought the kid from Can’t Hardly Wait would develop into such a skilled actor?


Get OutGet Out

Historically, Q1 is a bad time for horror movies, as studios are prone to dumping films they have little faith in. Jordan Peele’s Get Out breaks the rules in many ways and, though released in February, it remains one of the most lauded and analyzed films of 2017—in any genre. The inclusion of sociopolitical elements makes Get Out both unique and timely, although even without its social agenda, Get Out is a compelling and unnerving experience, one that stokes paranoia by exacerbating primal fears related to deception and isolation.

Peele has become an exciting and refreshing figure in horror with plans for more socially-conscious thrillers in the years to come.


47 Meters Down

Nearly unceremoniously dumped directly to DVD in 2016, In the Deep was rebranded 47 Meters Down and given a theatrical release last Summer, where it became an unlikely hit. Perhaps hampered by preconceptions relating to lead actress Mandy Moore, 47 Meters Down is nonetheless immensely entertaining, eclipsing 2016’s shark-horror blockbuster The Shallows.

I do have doubts about the film’s ability to spawn a franchise (there’s currently a sequel in the works, being produced under the temporary title 48 Meters Down) considering this film hinges on a twist that can only be used once, so it’s difficult to imagine a sequel with the same impact—but who knows?

Ultimately, though, even a bad sequel won’t diminish the shine of 47 Meters Down. The film also proves there are still plenty of ways to pack legitimate terror into a PG-13 horror movie.

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Ash Vs Evil Dead Seasons 1 and 2 Are Now Streaming on Netflix

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The last word we brought you guys on the upcoming third season of Starz’s “Ash vs Evil Dead” starring Bruce Campbell was when we shared the show’s all-new teaser trailer (below).

Today we have awesome news that the first two seasons are now streaming on Netflix!

So if you’ve been putting off watching the series (for some reason) or have been waiting until the day where you could just binge-watch the series in one grand swoop, then today is your day. There isn’t a better time than now. Just make sure you’re caught up come February.

Hell, yeah.

Are you excited to watch (or rewatch) the first two seasons of “Ash vs Evil Dead” on Netflix? Let us know below!

“Ash vs Evil Dead” stars Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, and Lucy Lawless. Campbell executive produces the series with Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Ivan Raimi, and Rick Jacobson. Season 3’s new showrunners are Mark Verheiden and Moira Grant.

“Ash vs Evil Dead” season 3 hits STARZ Sunday, February 25, 2018.

Synopsis:

Ash has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead until a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind and Ash becomes mankind’s only hope.

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