18. Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977)
“Funnier than “The Omen”… scarier than “Silent Movie” . A group of cheerleaders are sought after by a witch and her group of Satanists who want to sacrifice a virgin. Unbeknownst to the satanic group, one of the cheerleaders ends up being a witch with greater powers then their own.
This is a light horror comedy spoof that is full of silly dialogue and situations, some minor nudity, and somewhat of a twist ending. It is mostly noteworthy for its appearances of aging former stars John Carradine, John Ireland, and Yvonne De Carlo and Charlie Chaplin’s son Sydney Chaplin. De Carlo is mostly remembered for playing Lily Munster on The Munsters.
This could kind of be seen as having an influence on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie and television series: it has a cheerleader with special powers, some darker elements, and comedy. If you enjoy spoofs, or horror-comedy, then you may enjoy this film.
19. Demons (1985)
“Their Evil Becomes an Orgy of Bloodshed” . This is an Italian horror film produced by well known director Dario Argento and directed by Lamberto Bava, son of famous Italian horror director Mario Bava. A college student is given a free screening ticket to a movie by a partially masked man in the subway.
The theater crowd contains a mix of different people. The movie features demons and ends up slowly turning each viewer into a demon themselves, spreading like a virus.
There isn’t much going on here plot wise, as its pretty much just the audience transforming into demons in different ways. It’s full of a ton of gore effects to please fans of the demon or zombie type genres.
And there are a lot of effects, including a guy having his eyes ripped out. The film did well enough to have seven sequels follow, mostly just by name. The soundtrack contains a lot of heavy metal music, including Motley Crue and Billy Idol.
If you like horror, gore, or zombie films, then you may enjoy this.
20. The Prince of Darkness (1987)
“Where are you…? Christ?” . A priest (Donald Pleasance) brings a physics professor and a team of students to investigate a strange cylinder that contains a green liquid, located in the basement of an abandoned church in Los Angeles. Their research leads them to discover that the green liquid is Satan and it is slowly escaping, inhabiting members of the research team.
The remaining surviving members of the team theorize that Satan is actually the son of a more powerful force called the Anti-God, which it is trying to bring into this realm from the realm of anti-matter. Will they be able to stop him and prevent the end of the world?
The film was written, directed, scored, and edited by John Carpenter. He is arguably one of the great directors of the 1970’s and 1980’s, creating a ton of movies with cult followings including Halloween, The Fog, Escape From New York, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, Assault on Precinct 13, and They Live.
It is considered the second film in an Apocalypse trilogy from Carpenter, which also includes The Thing and In the Mouth of Madness. It has a strong story and script, with a great cast, and may be the scariest of the movies that he has made.
The cast features some regulars who have appeared in other Carpenter films, including Victor Wong, Dennis Dun, Donald Pleasance, and Peter Jason. The score on all of Carpenter’s movies is always good, and in here it adds that extra element that would be missing without it.
It initially received mixed reviews but did fairly well at the box office; it has a very strong cult following and is considered a somewhat undervalued film. If you’re a fan of horror, the director, or action films, then you really need to watch this one.
21. Blood Diner (1987)
“Food So Good, It Tastes Just Like Mom Used To …” . The Tutman brothers follow orders given to them by the brain of their dead uncle, who they have resurrected from the grave.
Their mission is to collect female body parts so that they can resurrect the ancient Lumerian goddess Sheetar. They use their vegetarian health food diner as a front to collect female body parts and find a virgin sacrifice. They are being tracked down by a chief with a Russian accent and two weird detectives, a 1970’s male gigolo and a black female from New York.
This is meant to be a horror comedy spoof that is a loosely based sequel to the Hershell Gordon Lewis splatter film Blood Feast. There are all kinds of camp humor bits, grossness, violence, gore, and nudity to please fans of cheap movies from the drive-in era. Some weird bits include a professional wrestler named Jimmy Hitler, and a competing cook with an odd ventriloquist dummy.
If you love the absurd and weird, horror-comedies, Troma films, or campy drive-in films, then you may find this pretty amusing.
22. Believers (1987)
“Nothing Can Stop Them. No One Can Help You. They Know Who You Are” . Psychologist Cal Jamison (Martin Sheen) moves to New York with his son after the death of his wife and takes a job as a police Psychologist.
There he ends up getting involved in investigating a series of ritualistic child murders that he believes are voodoo related. As he gets deeper into the investigation, the cult that is involved target Jamison.
The film was directed by John Schlesinger, who also did Midnight Cowboy and Marathon Man. It stars Martin Sheen, who is known for his appearances in Badlands, Apocalypse Now, The Dead Zone, and Firestarter.
It also features early roles for Jimmy Smits and Helen Shaver. It is one of the few films from the 1980’s that deals with cults, as the fad had pretty much died out in the 1970’s. The only other major film related to the subject matter was Angel Heart, which was a period film set in the 1950’s.
The film is suspenseful and features a decent performance from Sheen. Some critics have complained that it is slow and too violent. But this type of film has to slowly build you towards the point where you suspend disbelief just like Jamison and start to believe in something that is supernatural.
This is something you should watch if you are interested in voodoo, psychological thrillers, or any of the cast and crew.
23. Night of the Demons (1988)
“Angela is having a party, Jason and Freddy are too scared to come. But You’ll have a hell of a time” . A group of ten teens go to a Halloween party that is taking place at an abandoned funeral parlor called Hull House, which is rumored to be cursed by demonic spirits.
The spirits cannot pass across an underground stream that is below the large walls built around the house. One of the girls performs a séance and awakens a demon, becoming possessed by it. Now they are getting picked off one by one and turning into demons. Can anyone escape and get across the stream?
This is the ultimate mix of 1980’s horror, true horror effects along with some comedic elements. The special effects are very good in this film.
Steve Johnson was credited as the designer and creator; he has his own effects company and had worked on The Fog, Humanoids from the Deep, Videodrome, An American Werewolf in London, and Big Trouble in Little China. Two sequels followed along with a remake in 2009.
If you love the 1980’s and horror films from that era, then you will most likely enjoy this one.
24. Witchery AKA Witchcraft (1988)
An Italian produced horror film that involves a group of people that are trapped at a haunted hotel on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. The group includes a couple investigating the places paranormal history, a family that is considering reopening the hotel, and a young female architect. They are hunted down by the demon ghost that inhabits the hotel.
The plot is weak as it’s mainly an Italian knock off of Evil Dead and the first sequel to the Italian film Ghosthouse. What it lacks for in plot, it makes up for in its location, special effects, and American actors. It was filmed at a hotel located on the coast of Massachusetts, which makes for some nice location shots through ought the movie.
The gore effects are very good, including a scene where a demonic man with a deformed mouth rapes a female character. The cast includes Linda Blair and actor David Hasselhoff, who is best known for starring in Knight Rider and Baywatch. Blair is probably best remembered for starring in The Exorcist, but also appeared nude in a series of exploitation films such as Chained Heat and Red Heat.
There are enough horror effects and nudity to please most genre fans, despite the weak plot. If you enjoy horror, witchcraft, or the cast, then you may be interested in this.
25. Black Devil Doll (2007)
“He’s a Lover! He’s a Killer! He’s a muthafuckin’ puppet! And if you think you’re ready for him, think again bitch!” . It’s the blaxploitation version of Chucky, just badder, blacker, and more politically incorrect. A bored large breasted young white girl decides to play with an Ouija board and summons a black man into a wooden puppet, who was just executed for a series of murders.
This is a hilarious low budget attempt at recreating an exploitation film, similar to Grindhouse and Black Dynamite. Except this one is a bit more gratuitous when it comes to language, nudity, and sexual situations.
So if you like watching a puppet as it fucks and murders a bunch of white girls, while saying things that are highly inappropriate, then this is up your alley. There is also a similar film that most likely inspired this titled Black Devil Doll from Hell (1984).
All the works cited can be found here.
Author Bio: Raul J. Vantassle is a jazz musician whose key strokes move about the page creating an explosion of formlessness to form, or just total bullshit. His heroes include John Waters, Robert Crumb, Charles Bukowski, and the Cobra Commander. His Knowledge of film goes across the board but he specializes in Asian and cult cinema. He may be the filthiest person alive. You can visit his blog here.