8. Tourist Trap (1979)
A group of teenagers are lost and decide to take refuge at this strange roadside museum that’s filled with mannequins. But something about this museum seems wrong, and will cost these teenagers their lives.
This movie is a very unique slasher movie, and that’s because of the supernatural elements that are in it. The idea of having a psychic killer as the main slasher villain is actually very unique- and is honestly pretty creepy, especially the mannequins.
Tourist Trap was made in 1979 and it’s pretty obvious that this movie takes a lot of its influence from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, especially due to its rural backwoods location and overall feel. In fact the art director for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Robert Burns, is the art director for this film, and is probably responsible for the feel of it.
This is definitely an underrated horror gem, as the supernatural elements and creepy atmosphere helps the movie stand out from the other standard slashers of the 80s.
9. Visiting Hours (1982)
A serial killer tries to stalk and kill a woman after she’s been admitted to the hospital; after surviving her previous encounter with the killer.
A slasher film that takes place in a hospital, that’s this movies gimmick, and to be fair, this movie definitely uses that gimmick rather well. The main reason why this setting works is because of how creepy hospitals are- even without a killer stalking the halls- but when you add a maniac killer the fear factor rises tremendously.
Actor Michael Ironside plays the killer, and he is great in this role, as he barely speaks and is hulking in his size and brutality. Ironside is less of a generic slasher villain and more of a psychopath, and thus kills his victims in rather simple ways. But the killer’s size and brutality make him all the more believable.
Visiting Hours is more fleshed out than the average slasher, and is more of an adult thriller. The overall tension is felt in a majority of the scenes, and the killer is pretty fleshed out, especially for being made during the 80s slasher movie craze. Visiting Hours is one of the most underrated, and well made, slasher movies.
10. Student Bodies (1981)
A heavy breathing killer is stalking and killing teenagers who have sex. But who among the student body is the killer? Why are they killing people? And why does the killer have such a hard time breathing? It’s up to Toby- the one person who doesn’t have sex- to find out who the killer is.
As you can tell this movie is a parody of the slasher genre- as it makes fun of the then booming slasher movie subgenre- and does so in a hilarious, sometimes very stupid, way. A lot of the jokes make fun of slasher movie clichés, such as teenagers being killed for having sex, pointing out when a character has done something wrong, and even has a body count tally.
The acting is pretty bad, even for an 80s slasher movie. However, there is one actor who made this movie memorable based entirely on his weird look, and is known as, The Stick. The Stick is a double jointed comedian who plays the weird janitor- and is somewhat of a minor character- but this actor has spawned a real cult fascination around him- and that’s mainly because of how weird he looks.
This movie is a hilariously absurd parody of the slasher genre, and is hilarious without resorting to gross out humor or fourth wall breaking- common tropes that a lot of other parody movies resort to. The dialogue, characters, and situations are hilarious and make for one of the most entertaining horror movie parodies- hilarious, but sadly obscure.
11. Stage Fright (2014)
During the opening of the musical The Haunting of the Opera, the lead actress is horrifically murdered. It’s been ten years since that murder, and The Haunting of the Opera is once more being put on, this time by a musical theatre summer camp. However, there’s a killer on the camp grounds that really hates musicals- could this be the same killer that killed before? And will he strike again?
Stage Fright is a pretty recent movie and is a mixture of horror, comedy, and musicals, and it works well incorporating these genres. The musical numbers are pretty well executing, as well as being pretty entertaining. Larger than life musician and actor Meatloaf does a pretty decent job, and actress Allie MacDonald also delivers a solid performance.
Stage Fright, even though the kills are few and far between, is still a pretty decent horror musical. The best way to describe this movie would be to imagine a mixture of Friday the 13th and Glee, and if that sounds interesting to you, then go check this out. If it doesn’t, then at least consider checking it out- because it might surprise you.
12. The Sleeper (2012)
In 1981 a group of girls at a sorority are being harassed by a man over the phone- saying that he will kill the girls in the sorority. One by one the girls- as well as their boyfriends- are killed by this mysterious killer.
This is another pretty recent movie, as it was made in 2012, but is made to feels like an early 80s slasher film. The music and the kills are both made to be accurate for the times- the music has that early 80s synth score, and the kills are made with practical effects. However, the rest of the movie is not as good as some of the other slashers that were made during the early 80s.
The Sleeper is definitely not good; in fact it’s a very trashy looking film- and not the good type of trashy. The acting is terrible, just flat out terrible, and it’s obvious that nobody in this movie is a professional actor. But the worst part about this movie is the script, as there’s no character development in this- especially for the killer, because you never find out why he’s killing people; this movie just doesn’t explain.
The throwback nature of this movie, with its music and directing, all feel like an early 80s movie, and that’s great. But the very weak script and acting are too noticeable not to address. For fans of 80s slashers this movie is definitely a treat, so long as you can get past the more noticeable issues.
13. Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971)
Carlo is a newspaper reporter that is investigating a murder, while investigating Carlo meets Franco-a blind retired journalist. The two team up to investigate the murder, and try and find out who the murderer is.
Cat o’ Nine Tails was made by the legendary director Dario Argento, and many considered this one of his weaker films- even Argento doesn’t really seem to like this movie that much- but this movie is definitely one of his most underrated films, as well as being a pretty strong Giallo films.
The murders, while they might be aplenty, are second to the mystery. The mystery aspect of the movie is very strong and moves at a fast pace. There are plenty of twists and turns that will keep you guessing till the end.
Actors Karl Malden and James Franciscus are both great in their roles, convincingly bouncing off of each other and are fairly likeable.
Cat o’ Nine Tails is a fantastically engrossing giallo, and is one of the genre’s most underrated movies.
14. The New York Ripper (1982)
A New York Police detective and a psychoanalysis team up to track down a brutal serial killer who’s murdering women in New York City.
Now we’re getting into some sleazy territory! This movie was directed by Lucio Fulci, and is one of his most widely remembered giallo films- and that’s mainly because of how violent the movie is. The kills in this movie are pretty brutal, this includes somebody basically being gutted and somebody else having their body cut up with a razor blade- and these deaths are shown in all of their bloody glory; which is to be expected when watching a Fulci film.
The movie has this ultra sleazy look to it, as New York City looks incredibly grimy and rundown- this includes the graffiti infested walls, grindhouse theaters on every corner, and an ultra filthy 42nd street. This setting is perfect for a movie like this, as the characters are all pretty sleazy and the killer is reprehensible.
The New York Ripper is one of the best movies of its genre. It’s a perfectly sleazy giallo that’s often times overlooked due to its excessive violence towards women. The violence is definitely disturbing and vile, so if you’re easily disturbed by that type of violence then definitely don’t watch this movie. However, if you can stomach this type of violence then definitely give it a watch.
Author Bio: Antony Copsey is an up and coming writer, who is studying communications at Rowan University at Glassboro, New Jersey. He is a huge fan of watching movies and writing about them, as well as writing his own material