As Scott Derrickson's The Black Phone continues to ring up scares in theaters, it's worth noting how the director used his personal experience to tell a "reverse Amblin" childhood tale of terror, according to Time. Of course, one of Amblin Productions' most prominent years was in 1982, which saw the releases of both E.T. and Poltergeist, two celebrated classics that continue to withstand the test of time.
Zooming out even further, 1982 was a banner year for horror movies as well as Poltergeist, with some of the most venerated directors in the genre delivering seminal work that continues to influence and inspire generations of budding filmmakers.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
Made on a micr0-budget of $35,000, what Frank Hennelotter's freaky directorial debut Basket Case lacks in resources it atones for with sheer ingenuity. The story concerns Duane, a countryman who arrives in New York with his deformed parasitic twin Belial in a wicker basket.
Indeed, Basket Case is a mordantly dark horror comedy with a singular vision from a true B-movie auteur. The way the movie relentlessly slaloms between gross-out horror and slapstick humor is fresh, fun, and fiendishly frightening. With a 77 Metascore and 76% Rotten Tomatoes, rating, there's no denying Basket Cases' staying power today.
A superb remake of the 1942 Jacques Tourneur classic, Paul Schrader's beloved movie adaptation injects a sexy, stylish, and startling energy into his version of Cat People. Functioning as a visceral metaphor for a woman's sexual awakening, the story traces Irina (Nastassja Kinski in a spellbinding turn) whose primal urges transform her into a bloodthirsty black leopard.
With a bizarre mythological backstory and baleful bouts of violent bestiality, Cat People goes places most directors dare not (or could not, in the case of the original), resulting in a horrifying hypnotic affect even the most hardened horror fans won't be able to shake.
The rare combination of Stephen King and George A. Romero equals minted cinematic gold, with their anthological horror-comedy classic Creepshow holding up extremely well after 40 years. The mixture of side-splitting humor and gut-spilling horror has rarely been balanced this deftly.
One of the best movie adaptations of a Stephen King short story, the queasy quintet of morbid vignettes does a brilliant job of reflecting the campy tone of the source material while pushing the violence to daring new heights. It makes for an eminently watchable annual horror show that prioritizes fun first and fight second.
Made for a paltry $350,000, Eating Raoul is a delectable cannibalistic curio about the Blands, a boring married couple who decide to rob and kill various swingers to pay for their dream restaurant. When burglar Raoul storms in and tries to get in on the scheme, horrifying hilarity ensues.
Boasting a 69 Metascore and 86% Rotten Tomatoes rating, most recognize Eating Raoul for its central premise, wild anarchic energy, a deliciously demented fusion of food, sex, violence, and murder. All of these components blend together in a subversive stew of sinister unsettlement that has a lot to say about consumerism, excess, and the American dream, a message that still hits home today.
Friday The 13th Part III
Judging by most of its critical review scores, Friday the 13th Part III does not appear to be a great movie. However, horror historians know full well the significance of the summer camp slasher film, which introduced Jason Vorhees' iconic hockey mask for the first time in franchise history.
While the basic plot adheres to the tried and tested formula of Jason stalking and slashing a group of teenage camp counselors at Crystal Lake, the 3D effects make way for some of the most shockingly inventive deaths in the franchise, including a harpoon to the eyeball. Cementing Voorhees' status as a slasher villain, the hockey mask in Part III directly led to a subsequent 20-year reign of terror.
One of the lesser-known titles to make the grade, everyone should track down Pieces, the Spanish slasher that brilliantly blends must-see Giallo-style horror movies with American slasher sensibilities. Directed with great tension and suspense by Juan Piquer Simon, the story tracks a mysterious killer who mutilates Boston university co-eds and stitches their body parts together to create a macabre jigsaw puzzle.
Hailed for its shockingly excessive hyper-gory death scenes, absurd sense of humor, and lurid Euro-sleaze stylings, Pieces manages to hit all the right notes for serious slasher fans to indulge in. As such, there's no surprise the film still boasts a 68 Metascore.
While the debate rages as to who actually directed the movie between Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg, Amblin's Poltergeist remains a nearly perfect tale of suburban dread in the guise of a haunted house movie. The plot traces the Freeling family, a happy nuclear unit whose idyllic existence is threatened by demonic entities out to kidnap their youngest child, Carol Anne.
In addition to becoming the ninth highest-grossing movie of 1982 (per Box Office Mojo), Poltergeist is a tour-de-force in directorial excellence, slowly mounting escalating dread through rich characterization and FX-driven visuals that makes everyone feel for and root for the Freelings to make it out safely. It plumbs deep childhood fears and psychological anxieties like few others and thanks to its PG-rating, manages to entertain the whole family at once.
While some may favor fellow Italian maestro Lucio Fulci's The New York Ripper, most will agree that Dario Argento's ultra-scary movie Tenebrae is the superior Giallo slasher. Currently holding an 83 Metascore and 77% Rotten Tomatoes rating, Tenebrae follows Peter Neal, an American horror novelist who travels to Rome where a mysterious killer uses his past novels as inspiration to savagely slaughter local citizens, implicating Neal in the process.
With operatic levels of graphic carnage many American movies couldn't get away with at the time, Tenebrae is simply one of the best movies from one of the all-time most celebrated Italian horror auteurs on record. A morally complex tale loaded with lush visuals and some of the most beautifully choreographed explosions of gore, Tenebrae proves Argento is the king of Italian horror.
The Slumber Party Massacre
Recently remade as a SyFy original movie, The Slumber Party Massacre follows Trish, a high school senior who decides to throw a slumber party with her best friends, only to find themselves systematically stalked by a deranged killer with a large power drill. As basic as it sounds, there's more to the narrative staying power of the campy slasher outing.
At first blush, The Slumber Party Massacre hardly inspires greatness. But on second look, it turns out that the so-called misogynistic murder spree in the film was actually written and directed by women (Rita Mae Brown and Amy Holden Jones respectively), making the entire outing a trenchantly subversive take on the male-dominated slasher subgenre.
John Carpenter's The Thing is an absolute paragon of VFX-driven terror. The story follows a group of Arctic researchers that slowly discover the presence of a malefic, shape-shifting extraterrestrial presence that assumes human form and kills off the crewmen, one by one.
Beyond the iconic central turn by Kurt Russell and the eye-bugging, skin-crawling practical FX work, and heart-thudding Ennio Morricone score, it's the profound paranoia, mistrust, and sense of isolation among the crewmen that really makes the movie such a nerve-shredding affair. With an 83% Certified Fresh Rotten Tomatoes Rating and currently holding as #160 on IMDb's Top 250 Movies of All-Time, Carpenter's The Thing is still not only one of the best horror movies to come out in 1982 but remains a timeless horror classic today.
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- Friday the 13th Part 3
A Senior List Writer covering a wide array of topics who has been with Screen Rant since September of 2019, Jake Dee has written movie news and reviews since 2008, working primarily with OMG Horror (IGN), JoBlo.com, and Arrow in the Head as a freelance reporter based in Los Angeles. A hopeless cinephile, social media Luddite, certified Nic Cage doppelganger, and a big Weekend At Bernie's fan, Jake can often be found tucked away in a dark corner watching an old horror movie.Born and raised in California, Jake has a Bachelor's Degree in Film & Digital Media from the University of California Santa Cruz with an emphasis on theory and criticism, is the author of several "WTF Happened To This Movie" and "WTF Really Happened To This Movie" videos on YouTube, and has covered everything in the entertainment industry from set visits, studio luncheons, and red carpet interviews to wrap parties, movie premieres, private screenings, talent interviews, and more.More From Jake Dee