Dead teenagers. That, believe it or not, was the dominant image in 1980s horror movies. Teens, who make up most of that audience, apparently loved nothing better than seeing themselves slaughtered on the big screen. Teens didn’t care about plot, acting or filmmaking techniques. As long as some mad killer, usually wearing a cheap mask and carrying an iconic weapon, was chopping up their age group, they were more than happy to pay to see that slaughter then come back next week, hungry for more.
During a notorious moment in “Rosemary’s Baby,” Rosemary cries out in alarm, “This is no dream! This is really happening!” And that’s the brilliance of Roman Polanski’s 1968 thriller. He takes what is, admittedly, a pretty ridiculous story about a coven of elderly Satan worshippers on New York’s Upper West Side and makes you think that it’s really happening. His method? He plants the film firmly in the real world, full of struggling actors and annoying neighbors and respected obstetricians.
Special guest Stan Kiejko, film series program coordinator for The Element, joins the program to talk about The Shining (1980). Kiejko and The Element are hosting a viewing of Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror film in Rockford. Rockford-area listeners can catch it at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, at Rockford Brewing Company, 200 Prairie St., Rockford.
The Exorcist has everything Catholics fear: Ouija boards, the devil, and girls talking about sex. The 42-year-old movie follows the demonic possession of Regan, a 12-year-old girl being raised by her actress mother in Georgetown. Regan (Linda Blair) begins dropping c-words, spitting up pea soup, doing crab walks and sleeping above the covers once the devil takes over her body. She also kills a couple people, but somehow that’s not as disturbing as the c-word being dropped by a 12-year-old girl.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the movie that proves dinner with the family can be an actual nightmare, is as scary today as it was 41 years ago. Released this month in 1974, Texas Chainsaw follows a group of young friends who meeting their grim and untimely deaths at the hands of a family of cannibals. The film’s somewhat grainy, low-budget look — it was made for less than $300,000 — helps create an eerie feeling even before the grotesque killings begin.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho stands the test of time as the quintessential psychological thriller for any generation. Considered by many as one of the greatest films of all time, Psycho is set in motion when Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) embezzles $40,000 ($322,483.78 in today’s dollars) so she can start a new life with her boyfriend (John Gavin). Crane is driving through the night to meet her beau, but an onslaught of rain forces her to pull over and spend the night at the Bates Motel. It’s there where she encounters Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), the sometimes kind and sometimes creepy SPOILER ALERT villain in the film.
Can a monster movie that relies on the same special effects used to create the Abominable Snowman in 1964’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer be suspenseful and entertaining? Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes! Unless you ask Billy Kulpa. Today we review the original King Kong (1933). The effects may seem cheap by today’s standards, but nothing like King Kong existed back in 1933. The classic picture also manages to do something the 2005 Peter Jackson version could never do: end in less than three hours.