What makes sci-fi and horror from the 1980s stand out so much? Even though these genres have been entertaining cinema goers since the turn of the 20th century, it's interesting how this decade is perceived as a golden age for science-fiction, scary films, or a blend of the two. Not only did the era spawn many notable films like An American Werewolf in London, The Terminator, and Predator, it's when the careers of prominent filmmakers like James Cameron, David Cronenberg and John McTiernan really took off.
And when people say "they don't make movies like they used to," they are probably referring to the 1980s. Before CGI became mainstream in the 1990s, horror and sci-fi had to rely on good old fashioned techniques like puppetry, animatronics, and prosthetics to bring their visuals to life. As a result, some of the most stunning and innovative visuals ever seen in cinema came from 80s movies.
Although there are some obvious choices on what sci-fi horrors stood out the most during this time, there are a couple of lesser-known films that deserve just as much credit.
David Cronenberg is known asa a juggernaut in the world of filmmaking, mainly for popularising the concept of body horror. There were elements of this concept in his early work such as The Brood and Scanners but Videodrome helped cement Cronenberg's distinctive film style.
In the film, Max Renn runs a tv station that shows violent and sexual programs. Always on the lookout for a new form of entertainment, Renn stumbles upon Videodrome - an obscure channel that focuses on extreme sadomasochism. Believing this sort of entertainment is the next big thing, Renn attempts to incorporate the show into his network.
Videodrome has many sickly visuals of humans merging with technology, which was made possible by makeup extraordinaire, Rick Baker. Despite a small budget, many of the special effects still hold up (the torso slit is still able to make modern viewers queasy). If you find the film a little incomprehensible, don't worry, everyone does. Videodrome was never meant to be understood, only experienced. It may not be the best Cronenberg movie but it probably encapsulates body horror better than any of his work.