In the 1980s, movies were getting stranger, actors more flamboyant, and directors a little riskier. The kings of ’80s sci-fi/horror, David Cronenberg and John Carpenter, lit up the silver screen with wild, imaginative storylines and gruesome practical effects. Moviegoers never knew what monstrosity they were going to see next, what unimaginable creature or alien would appear, and to what lengths characters would go to stop the horror that surrounded them.
The gritty, and often grotesque, style of ’80s sci-fi/horror movies, sometimes categorized as “body horror,” was what they were known for, and it’s what has solidified many of these movies as cult classics.
Anything based on H.P. Lovecraft is going to be a wild ride. 1985’s Re-Animator follows scientist Herbert West who has invented a serum to re-animate the dead, thinking he could bring the dead back to life. But he soon realizes that it brings back the dead into a zombie-like state, where the body becomes violent and uncontrollable.
The dean of medicine at West’s college finds out but is killed by a re-animated corpse. Hysteria ensues as he re-animates more bodies, bringing out telepathic abilities in them, as he tries to control the monsters he’s created.
Alex, played by a young Dennis Quaid, has psychic abilities. While mostly using them to gamble and get girls, he is soon swept into a secret program that helps people with psychic powers infiltrate other people’s dreams.
Used therapeutically to help quell nightmares in some, others in the program want to use it to kill. Bob Blair, a powerful government agent, wants to use this psychic power to assassinate the President, and Alex has to fight within dreams to stop him. And remember, if someone dies in a dream, they die in real life.
Based on the Stephen King novel, The Dead Zone follows Johnny Smith, who has gained psychic powers after being in a coma caused by a car wreck. With one touch, he can see someone’s future. But he also realizes that he can change that future.
Disturbed and filled with anxiety, Johnny tries to live a normal life. But when he touches the hand of a politician, he sees a dire future that must be changed. Johnny sets out to kill the politician before he can cause the nuclear annihilation he sees in his visions.