The definition of a great movie trailer is equally ambiguous as the definition of a great film, and both have changed fluidly over the course of decades. It’s easy to forget that trailers from a few decades past were very stylistically different—which is to say, they weren’t uniformly full of Hans Zimmeresque BRAAAM sounds.
Horror trailers of the 1980s are an especially fun, campy time capsule to explore in 2014. It was the second golden age of the B movie, as cheapo horror flicks shed the naivete of ‘50s giant monsters and haunted houses to embrace a grimy, splatter-soaked aesthetic replete with neon, sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. We dug through some murky Internet backwaters to find this eclectic collection of forgotten, cast-off and supremely weird ‘80s horror trailers, with an eye toward obscurity. Don’t look for Friday the 13th here: Today we celebrate the weird, the wild and the absurd.
The following are numbered but not ranked, and—it should go without saying—many of these are NSFW.
1. Schizoid, 1980
This particular Psycho rip-off shows admirable restraint by waiting a full six seconds before barging in with a riff on the Psycho shower scene.
2. Motel Hell, 1980
You know, Sandra, I’m beginning to suspect that this mom and pop isn’t entirely on the up-and-up! The corpse garden is overgrown, and there isn’t even a mint on the pillow!
3. Cannibal Apocalypse, 1980
Two minutes and eighteen seconds of people biting each other and blowing up. Zero suggestion of plot. One hilarious line delivery by the police captain. And a sprinkle of John Saxon.
4. The Burning, 1981
If you’re thinking of comparing this film to Friday the 13th—DON’T! As an aside: This trailer appears to be a clear inspiration for Edgar Wright’s fake “DON’T” trailer that was attached to Grindhouse.
5. Inseminoid, 1981
“The inconceivable is about to be conceived — INSEMINOID”
6. Evil Speak, 1981
Not now, Mom! I’m summoning Beelzebub on the COM-PU-TOR!
7. The Nesting, 1981
I don’t think the narrator has seen this movie, as he seems to be deliberately avoiding any direct description of anything. Nobody ever gets around to mentioning what’s nesting exactly, but “it’s the terror that hides inside your mind.”
8. The Loch Ness Horror, 1981
In tonight’s performance of The Loch Ness Horror, the part of Nessie will be played by a reject from the Island of Misfit Muppets. Enjoy.
9. Deadly Blessing, 1981
“We didn’t really have time to look up what an ‘incubus’ is, but we’re hoping you’ll bear with us. Please enjoy Amish Ernest Borgnine instead.”
10. Hell Night, 1981
This “trailer” is like a Readers Digest Condensed Movie—I especially like the full minute of exposition in the beginning to explain the whole backstory of “Garth Manor.”