Horror fans love debating which decade was the genre's greatest, and you can certainly mount a convincing case for almost any ten-year period since the silent era. (Well, maybe except for the '50s and '90s.) The decade that's gotten the biggest leap in respectability and a heavy dose of nostalgia in recent years is the '80s, which saw a commingling of slasher films, extreme European imports, supernatural monster fests, sequels galore, and a higher number of critically respected entries than usual. The full scope of this period can really be appreciated with the third entry in Garagehouse Pictures' terrific Trailer Trauma series, which seems to lean heavily on familiar trailers at first glance if you just look at the titles but actually packs quite a few surprises into the mix.
Disc one kicks off with 1980, of course, with selections covering the start of what would lead to a division between supernatural thrills and burgeoning slashers: Lewis Teague's giant reptile gem Alligator; Ken Russell's psychedelic freak out Altered States; the middling Bram Stoker mummy outing The Awakening; the much-loved John Saxon monster flick Blood Beach; Ulli Lommel's supernatural slasher The Boogeyman; the superb ghost story The Changeling; the George Kennedy nautical ghost story Death Ship; the Crown International sleaze fest Don't Answer the Phone; the gritty and highly memorable Don't Go in the House; an extremely cool teaser for Brian De Palma's Dressed to Kill edited in the style of classic giallo trailers; the Dennis Christopher movie buff maniac antics of Fade to Black; an evocative and really creepy teaser for John Carpenter's highly atmospheric The Fog (with just narration and no footage from the actual film); the standard countdown trailer for Sean Cunningham's trendsetting Friday the 13th; a decent quality transfer (at last) of the American trailer for Joe D'Amato's gory The Grim Reaper; the nicely mounted trailer for the above-average Armand Mastroianni slasher He Knows You're Alone (featuring some cool exclusive footage) ; more Crown horror with the okay chiller The Hearse; Joe Dante's werewolf classic The Howling (actually '81, but close enough); the grim prison thriller Human Experiments; Roger Corman's immortal Humanoids from the Deep; a dazzling Spanish trailer for Dario Argento's Inferno (which differs slightly from the usual international one); the Michael Caine pirate bloodbath The Island; the unrated Bill Lustig-Tom Savini favorite Maniac; the cult black comedy horror film Motel Hell; early Troma outrage Mother's Day; the holiday slasher New Year's Evil; more early unrated slasher shocks with Nightmare; the Jamie Lee Curtis Canadian disco slasher Prom Night; Bill Malone's "Syngenor" monster mash Scared to Death; the iconic elevator trailer for Stanley Kubrick's The Shining; the memorable slasher Silent Scream; more Jamie Lee Curtis screaming in the Great White North with Terror Train; the troubled but effective Barbara Bach chiller The Unseen; and the endearing, completely nutty all-star alien stalk and slash film Without Warning. All of the 1980 trailers feature a running audio commentary by Exhumed Films' Dan Fraga, Harry Guerro and Jesse Nelson, who have fun bandying around trivia about each film (sometimes spending much more attention on some than others) with capsule crash courses in the history of every title. It's also fun to find out which films they prefer over others; a few of them might surprise you.
Then it's off to the other half of disc one with 1981, which starts off on a high note with the elusive actual trailer (not the teaser seen on the Artisan DVD) for An American Werewolf in London. Then it's a fast-paced tour through one of the genre's finest years: the mine-dwelling critter epic The Boogens; more Tom Savini slasher fun with The Burning; the excellent and very offbeat Dead and Buried; a "coming this summer" variation for Wes Craven's pastoral nightmare Deadly Blessing; the "Clint Howard and devil pigs" telekineses and Satanism shocker Evilspeak; the high school demonic fantasy Fear No Evil; the quirky campus slasher Final Exam; the inaugural (and top-notch) appearance of adult Jason Voohees in Friday the 13th Part 2; Tobe Hooper's noteworthy big studio debut The Funhouse; the drastically simplified and toned-down version of Peter Straub's Ghost Story; amusingly trashy high school slasher Graduation Day; the notorious Italian shark film Great White (with a fun trailer very welcome here in prime conditoin since the film itself can't be legally shown in North America); above-average hospital sequel Halloween II; the beloved Canadian slasher Happy Birthday to Me; the superior Linda Blair slasher Hell Night; the Brother Theodore-narrated U.S. trailer for Lucio Fulci's House by the Cemetery; the grubby British alien gross out Inseminoid; Jeff Lieberman's accomplished wilderness slasher Just Before Dawn; more alien slime with Roger Corman's Mind Warp (better known as Galaxy of Terror); Abel Ferrara's rape-revenge masterpiece Ms. 45; a fantastic (and long!) red-band trailer for the top-notch slasher My Bloody Valentine; the Lorimar trailer for early Rachel Ward slasher Night School; the third and final devilish Damien adventure The Final Conflict; another graphic Tom Savini slasher favorite The Prowler; the Jamie Lee Curtis and Stacy Keach Aussie thriller Road Games; Roger Corman's goofy and well-remembered monster spoof Saturday the 14th; a fascinating red-band Avco Embassy trailer for David Cronenberg's Scanners; the Paramount trailer (at last!) for the uneven but hilarious slasher spoof Student Bodies; the American Paramount trailer for Venom; and a pretty surprising teaser for the third (and least-remembered) werewolf movie of 1981, Wolfen. This time there's an audio commentary throughout by Temple of Schlock's Chris Poggiali, who frequently ID's the trailer narrators and also spends a welcome amount of time noting the history of the film's movie tie-in paperback and literary adaptation backgrounds. The first disc also features bonus Garagehouse trailers for Ninja Busters, Trailer Trauma, Trailer Trauma 2, and The Satanist.
On we go to the rest of the 1980s with disc two, which first tackles the landmark year of 1982: Jack Sholder's marvelous and very eccentric slasher Alone in the Dark; the fact-twisting demonic prequel Amityville II: The Possession; Frank Henenlotter's Times Square jewel Basket Case; the giant bug adolescence splatfest The Beast Within; the shot-on-video brain melter Boarding House; Paul Schrader's ultra-kinky feline fantasy Cat People; the George A. Romero-Stephen King comic book classic Creepshow; the taut and underrated Death Valley; the controversial and very unsettling Barbara Hershey film The Entity; the wildly entertaining Friday the 13th Part 3-D (the high point of the '80s 3-D craze, which is well represented on this set); the much-maligned but increasingly popular Halloween III: Season of the Witch; the atmospheric sorta-slasher Humongous; even more monster rape depravity with The Incubus; the typical but enjoyable slasher-in-the-woods fun of Madman; the odd and mostly forgotten Richard Chamberlain tele-murder thriller Murder by Phone; the very troubled National Lampoon's Class Reunion (a slasher spoof with a crazy teaser that's arguably better than the movie itself); the fun "night in a morgue" film One Dark Night; Demi Moore's debut film and lackluster 3-D offering Parasite; an obscure little low-budget Tobe Hooper number called Poltergeist; the threadbare but effective slasher Pranks (aka The Dorm that Dripped Blood); Larry Cohen's daffy and endearing Q the Winged Serpent, a major jewel of this set with the specially-shot (and super rare) trailer for the spooky sleeper The Sender; the Chuck Norris slasher oddity Silent Rage (which makes one wonder why 10 to Midnight isn't on this set); the flawed but sometimes very creepy slasher The Slayer; the crazed semi-feminist slasher film The Slumber Party Massacre; Wes Craven's rubbery comic book adaptation Swamp Thing; John Carpenter's peerless The Thing; the baffling mummy-alien curio Time Walker; the Canadian hospital slasher Visiting Hours; and another rape-heavy alien film, the squishy British offering Xtro.
1983 gets off to a fun star with the hilariously diluted American release of Lucio Fulci's 7 Doors of Death (better known as The Beyond), followed by a parade of notable titles from a solid but lesser year in horror history: the nutty and completely fictitious Amityville 3-D; John Carpenter's slick and hugely enjoyable adaptation of Stephen King's Christine; the cursed but sometimes very scary slasher Curtains; another high-profile Stephen King adaptation with David Cronenberg's excellent The Dead Zone; the furry dogs-as-rats insanity of Deadly Eyes; Sam Raimi's endlessly influential and splatter-soaked The Evil Dead; the wonderful and sadly overlooked surreal horror gem Eyes of Fire (get on that one, Vestron!); more okay woods slasher fare with The Final Terror; Tony Scott's insanely beautiful vampire classic The Hunger; Universal's famously bonkers Jaws 3-D; Michael Mann's strikingly stylish The Keep (so overdue for a special edition it's ridiculous -- and for some reason the audio's out of sync on this one and the shout out that some showings are presented in 70mm and six-track stereo is mostly spliced out); the wildly misleading Michael Berryman trailer for Mortuary; the Peter Weller giant rat romp Of Unknown Origin; the wildly overachieving Psycho II (perhaps the biggest cinematic surprise that year); the fabulously freaky slasher gem Sleepaway Camp; the bumpy but ultimately very rewarding Disney version of Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes; the famously tragic anthology film Twilight Zone: The Movie; the more normal standard trailer for David Cronenberg's Videodrome; and the alien kid oddity Wavelength.
1984 starts off on a very odd note with the belated and somewhat ignored Boggy Creek II, which then segues to more familiar territory with even more Stephen King terror courtesy of the much-sequeled Children of the Corn. Then it's another New World offering with the subterranean monsters of C.H.U.D., followed by an odd grab bag of that Orwellian year: the cool red-band Cannon trailer for Neil Jordan's gorgeous The Company of Wolves, the inexplicable Empire Pictures anthology The Dungeonmaster, yet another Stephen King adaptation with the North Carolina incendiary epic Firestarter, the hugely popular (with good reason) Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, the misleadingly marketed but fun Mutant, a later slasher cash-in with the fairly gruesome The Mutilator, the terrific sci-fi/horror hybrid Night of the Comet, a TV spot for Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street, and the Cannon Films martial arts possession assault on sanity Ninja III: The Domination. Then we hit the high point of the set, an actual, honest-to-God theatrical trailer for Michael Winner's Scream for Help, which ended up going straight to video after a handful of disastrous test openings. This delightfully cracked thriller is so, so overdue for a quality video release (give us a Blu-ray, Warner Archive!), and it's an utter joy to see at least a few minutes of it preserved in HD widescreen. Don't ever pass up a chance to see this one. Finally the year rounds out with the curious sort-of-horror clip compilation Terror in the Aisles, Troma flagship film The Toxic Avenger, and the utterly forgotten Zombie Island Massacre, mainly notable for the presence of scandal magnet Rita Jenrette.
And on we go to the second and lesser half of the decade, but there's plenty of good (or at least passable) material left: Sting and Jennifer Beals go Gothic with The Bride, New Line hacks down Dario Argento's telekinesis giallo Phenomena into Creepers, George Romero goes unrated in a big way with the much-reappraised Day of the Dead, faux Jason goes on a very sleazy rampage in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, Tom Holland reinvigorates screen vampires with the clever Fright Night, everyone ignores the low budget sci-fi thrills of Future-Kill, Empire Pictures takes over mainstream theaters with the PG-13 Ghoulies, Troma tries to generate another cult hit with the so-so Igor and the Lunatics, Tobe Hooper and Cannon Films go off the deep end with the phantasmagorical Lifeforce, gay panic takes over a franchise with the delirious A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, Roberta Findlay barely seems to give a damn about making The Oracle, Stuart Gordon gives the unrated horror genre a shot in the arm with the perfect Re-Animator, the zombie genre gets punked out with the giddy Return of the Living Dead, Stephen King goes middling with the werewolf yarn Silver Bullet, Larry Cohen tackles commercialism with the satire The Stuff, and New World goes silly with the monster send-up Transylvania 6-5000.
If 1985 was the year of underperforming sequels, 1986 made up for it in a big way with James Cameron's Aliens, which caught everyone off guard. The slasher subgenre proved it still had a little juice left with the quirky April Fool's Day, whose trailer appears here for what may be the very first time on home video, and New Line scored another hit series with the first Critters. A couple of really wonderfully conceived and edited trailers can be found for Wes Craven's problematic but fascinating Deadly Friend and the amusing, latex-heavy Deadtime Stories, with more monster mayhem to be found in the spectacular American, hype-filled trailer for Lamberto Bava's unrated, blood-soaked Demons (which is tons of fun and very different from the European one). David Cronenberg's major hit The Fly is represented here with its usual Fox trailer, followed the franchise-changing slasher humor of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Stuart Gordon's second lively go-round with H.P. Lovecraft in From Beyond, and the nerve-shredding shocks of art house horror breakthrough Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Of course we had to have the breakneck road movie horrors of The Hitcher, plus more New World commercial horror with House, the rarely-seen (and lengthy) trailer for the killer baboon film In the Shadow of Kilimanjaro, and Tobe Hooper's candy-colored Cannon Films remake Invaders from Mars. Another big rarity turns up next with the original release trailer for Killbots, which was only given an ill-fated limited release before being pulled, recut, and transformed into the cult classic we know today as Chopping Mall; it's a great little trailer and very different from the one more commonly available. Also included are a fleeting "coming for Christmas" teaser for King Kong Lives. the popular-on-VHS feminist revenge thriller The Ladies Club, the Cannon ape rampage film Link, the pitch-perfect horror music Little Shop of Horrors, Michael Mann's stylish and very creepy serial killer classic Manhunter, Stephen King's ill-fated directorial debut (and adieu) Maximum Overdrive, a New World red-band trailer for the darkly humorous semi-slasher Mountaintop Motel Massacre, Fred Dekker's knockabout '50s monster homage Night of the Creeps, John McTiernan's inauspicious dip into horror with Nomads, the tequila worm and evil preacher thrills of the baffling Poltergeist II: The Other Side (a trailer that's must scarier than the actual film), Anthony Perkins' wildly underrated directorial go at his most famous character with Psycho III, a hilariously ratty trailer for the atrocious and utterly incomprehensible mess Raiders of the Living Dead ("The kid from The Toy has grown up and he's made a laser gun from a video player!"), a shockingly cool trailer for the not-so-hot but sometimes hysterical Rawhead Rex, the Vestron theatrical trailer for the awesome Slaughter High, another Empire Pictures special with the goofy Terrorvision, Tobe Hooper's divisive but undeniably energetic Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, the heavy metal horror staple Trick or Treat, New World's dip into hip vampire fare with Vamp, the punchy ouija board shocker Witchboard, and the wacko drag race monster action film The Wraith, the world's team up between Clint Howard, Charlie Sheen, and Randy Quaid.
Things weren't looking quite as stable in horror land by 1987 with the slasher film all but dead and buried, but we had a few notable films with a few bona fide classics: Alan Parker's controversial and wonderfully scary Angel Heart, Bigas Luna's startling mind games in the Michael Lerner-Zelda Rubinstein stunner Anguish, John Schlesinger's queasy urban voodoo tale The Believers, the Canadian contagion and monster lunacy of the Canadian chiller Blue Monkey, the spoiler-crammed trailer for the worthy Creepshow 2, Stuart Gordon's short and sweet fairy tale from hell Dolls, Sam Raimi's game-changing horror/comedy sequel Evil Dead 2, New World's camp-crammed adaptation of Flowers in the Attic, more Canadian monster fun with the unlikely box office smash The Gate, the unrelated supernatural sequel Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, Clive Barker's button-pushing directorial debut and transgressive horror favorite Hellraiser, New Line's alien body-hopping romp The Hidden, inferior follow up House II: The Second Story, much undervalued survival shocker Hunter's Blood (great to finally have this trailer preserved on home video), the rollicking high comedy of Jaws: The Revenge (whose teaser wisely features no footage from the actual film), the entertaining slimefest The Kindred, Joel Schumacher's stylish and subtext-laden The Lost Boys, beloved creature feature homage The Monster Squad, fascinating monster comedy and attempted Scott Valentine star vehicle My Demon Lover, Kathryn Bigelow's incomparable vampire classic Near Dark, the ridiculous sci-fi dud Nightflyers (another example of a trailer that's far better than the actual film), Freddy comeback smash hit A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, John Carpenter's inventive and frequently terrifying Prince of Darkness, George Clooney's New World kinda-slasher Return to Horror High, and one of the most critically respected horror films of its era, the beautifully written and executed The Stepfather.
Marching onward we get to 1988, a sequel-loaded year that still produced some favorites that remain fondly remembered today. Among the bloody candy box on display here: the ambitious, flawed, but intriguing slasher Bad Dreams, Chuck Russell's dynamite retooling of The Blob, Tom Holland's accomplished debut for the Chucky series with Child's Play, New Line's not-bad sequel Critters II, New World's MPAA-terrorized undead comedy Dead Heat, David Cronenberg's critical breakthrough film Dead Ringers, bizarre B-movie fun with Lyle Alzado and Deborah Foreman in Destroyer, New World horror hostess vehicle Elvira: Mistress of the Dark,the rocky but occasionally worthy telekinetic twist on the Jason formula with Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, the rarely-seen theatrical trailer for the pretty decent Fright Night Part 2, major Michael Myers comeback Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, grisly and better-than-expected surrealistic sequel Hellbound: Hellraiser II, more Chuck Norris horror-tinged madness with Hero and the Terror, more compellingly odd Canadian chills with Joanna Pacula courtesy of The Kiss, Ken Russell's spectacularly cheeky (and hilariously twisted) Bram Stoker adaptation Lair of the White Worm, George Romero's mainstream-courting simian shocker Monkey Shines, killer cockroach B-movie programmer The Nest, monstrous lipstick ad and Halloween movie perennial Night of the Demons, lackluster but occasionally creative Rennie Harlin sequel A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Don Coscarelli's belated and very welcome big studio effort Phantasm II, famously doomed sequel and series farewell Poltergeist III, Stan Winston's stylish directorial stab at backwoods monster fun with Pumpkinhead, the much-hated comedy stylings of Return of the Living Dead Part 2, Wes Craven's studio-tampered but still evocative The Serpent and the Rainbow (whose trailer was one of the decade's finest), theologically and morally dubious but undeniably potent biblical chiller The Seventh Sign, music video wannabe and Freddy imitator Slaughterhouse Rock, John Carpenter's satirical (and still frighteningly relevant) They Live, okay Roger Corman ghost tale Twice Dead, Vestron supernatural stab at respectability The Unholy, outrageous Nicholas Cage ham fest Vampire's Kiss, and the endearing (and sometimes very bloody) ode to monster movies of yore, Waxwork.
Finally we get to 1989, the farewell year for this colorful decade and a harbinger of just how far horror would fall more much of the following decade (when most films wound up being consigned straight to video). Take this modest sampling, which features some worthwhile films and a lot of titles that barely appeared on the big screen. Sean Cunningham tried to cash in on James Cameron's The Abyss and ended up beating it to theaters with the aquatic monster B-movie Deep Star Six, Fox tried to catch lightning in a bottle (without Cronenberg) with the ridiculous but amusingly sick The Fly II, Jason Voorhees hit a series low (at least at the time) with the misleadingly titled Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Michael Myers bottomed out with the inept and hugely disappointing Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, the rarely seen religious satire Heaven Becomes Hell barely made it to any screens, George P. Cosmatos also tried to cash in on James Cameron's underseas adventure with the watery monster film Leviathan, Death Line director Gary Sherman went legit-ish with the phone prank psycho thriller Lisa, Walter Koenig and Bruce Campbell tried to class up the pretty decent sci-fi chiller Moon Trap (which still needs a decent HD transfer), Mary Lambert delivered a major Stephen King hit with the erratically acted but culturally beloved Pet Sematary, an iconic horror character got a capitalist slasher makeover with Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge (a good film that needs a good HD release very badly - and great trailer!), Judd Nelson went full-tilt psycho with Bill Lustig's respectable cop chiller Relentless, Wes Craven went off the deep end with the highly uneven but sometimes very unnerving (and ultimately very silly) Shocker, Brian Yuzna shocked very small audiences with his latex orgy Society, Terry O'Quinn reprised his best horror role with diminishing results in the okay but poorly written Stepfather II, Roger Corman let it all hang out with the psychos 'n' strippers sequel Stripped to Kill 2 (which pushes that red band trailer designation through the roof) and the modest Alien clone The Terror Within, and Julian Sands got to chew the scenery and fly around in the ridiculous but likable Warlock.
Video and audio quality is very good overall with the existing condition of the trailers varying a bit from one title to the next; all of them are in good to excellent shape with solid colors on all of them and just a few bits of damage here and there. Once again you get rotating commentators by year: filmmaker Ted Geoghegan (We Are Still Here) for 1982, Rue Morgue's Michael Gingold for 1983, Drive-In-Madness!'s Tim Ferrante for 1984, My Best Friend's Exorcism author Grady Hendrix for 1985 (the fastest and funniest of the tracks), horror author and artist Stephen Romano (who also designed the cool cover art) for 1986 and 1987, DJ and writer Dan Buskirk for 1988, and James "Doc Terror" Harris for 1989. They all do a fine job of barreling through the titles at warp speed, often hilariously juggling facts at warp speed to cover each film and offering plenty of oddball trivia along the way. Gingold's "brush with celebrity" anecdote about Jaws 3-D, Ferrante's personal tale about Zombie Island Massacre, and Romano's naughty rant about Zelda Rubinstein are a few of many, many high points. The menu also promises something extra tasty coming soon: Trailer Trauma IV: Television Trauma!