you know, i think what i love about most 80s horror and fantasy films is that they choose plain storytelling with smooth direction instead of hot, post-modern tricks with the camera and the whole simplicity and aesthetic integrity of it, so free from all pretensions, is just beautiful. idk. what'd be your favs of the genre? nicely shot 70s-80s horror or fantasy or fairytales with pretty gals i mean. love your blog, btw.
I agree…one thing I always notice and admire about genre films from that time is how economical and resourceful they were. Granted this is largely due to small budgets/shooting schedules/etc. but at the same time the filmmakers seemed to have translated that into a more ‘elemental’ stripped-down look (this includes the relative lack of ‘polish’) and it forced them to experiment with film language as a whole. There were also no digital crutches of course.
I imagine many people including yourself have already seen a lot of my favorites. Some are:
Daughters of Darkness
The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave
Al otro lado del espejo
Belladonna of Sadness
Silent Night, Bloody Night
Night of the Hunted
The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Miss Osbourne
Those tend to be my ‘old reliable/go to’ films for cinema from the time, but they’re also pretty well celebrated among people who are into this stuff…or they’ve at least become better known since the re-evaluation of Franco, Rollin, Borowczyk, et al in the last ten years (I’d like to eventually see a similar re-appraisal of 1980s slasher/supernatural horror films from North America from a point of view outside of the Carol Clover/Barbara Creed/Kier-La Janisse/female neurosis angle, which while interesting can be reductive and negligent of other artistic qualities those films have).
Anyway, I’ll list a few I’ve seen for the first time in the last few years that I would consider favorites and also meet your criteria (it goes without saying that the women in all of these are lovely):
La muneca perversa [Rafael Baledon, 1969]: Weird and frightening. Family secrets, murderous impulses. Contains many of the ‘pharyngeal arches’ of both European giallo and modern slashers. Norma Lazareno is stunning and scary.
Nightmares [Juraj Herz, 1970]: A 30-minute short made for Czechoslovak television about vampires, seduction, and romance, set to music performed by pop star Nada Urbankova, views of an ornate opera house, and unique fantasy sequences and makeup effects. Probably my favorite Herz, though everything he made through the 1970s is worth seeing -not just the genre films.
The Boarded Window [Janusz Majewski, 1971]: Atmospheric and claustrophobic, based on a short story by Ambrose Bierce.
Smile Before Death [Silvio Amadio, 1972]: I like this a lot more than Amadio’s better-known film Amuck, which I thought was kind of boring. I’ve also sat through several very bad films solely for Rosalba Neri and this might be the only film featuring her that I like. Domestic thriller, not precisely a giallo, nice sets.
Horror Rises from the Tomb [Carlos Aured, 1973]: I think Aured’s Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll is an overall better movie, but the color schemes in this are great and Emma Cohen is in it.
Lifespan [Sandy Whitelaw, 1975]: Strong ‘Invention of Morel’ vibe throughout.
The Child [Robert Voskanian, 1977]: Ostensibly a psychic thriller and a zombie film, but the best parts are the ‘70s recreations of the early twentieth century and scenes where nothing happens save building atmosphere. Empty farm houses, trance states, bizarre dreams.
Daughters of Fire [Walter Hugo Khouri, 1978]: Somewhere between an occult film and a ghost story. Some very strange episodes and a great dynamic between two very different women.
Love Massacre [Patrick Tam, 1981]: Incredible-looking slasher film, elemental and painterly in the way it’s put together, and with much emotional gravity. The art gallery scene is a masterpiece.
But, I know many people reading this probably have their own recommendations. Lay it on us.