The 80s Horror FX guys were the best around. Now that we’ve largely moved on to CGI, even for blood and guts, it seems the Golden Age is over and it’s not coming back. Not to fear! We can still revisit classic 80s horror FX through these five masters and their masterpieces.
5. Stan Winston, Pumpkinhead
Stan Winston did a LOT for the sci-fi and horror genres throughout the ‘80s, but his work usually had an action movie tinge to it. And while he was the producer and director on 1988’s Pumpkinhead, that film’s effects would not have been what they were if not for the groundwork he laid and his supreme oversight. While Pumpkinhead has since endured some pretty rotten sequels, the original remains a classic monster movie.
4. Gregory Nicotero, Day Of The Dead
Day of the Dead (1985) wasn’t in it with George A. Romero’s first two efforts from a STORY perspective, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better example of gore from the other films than the moment when the zombies pull one of the human bad guys apart. Amazing work from ‘80s horror FX guy and Tom Savini student Gregory Nicotero, who has since turned in more impressive zombie work on AMC’s The Walking Dead.
3. Rob Bottin, The Thing
A man’s head sprouts legs and turns in to one of the most skin-crawling arachnids you’ll ever see. That’s about all you need to know to know that John Carpenter’s The Thing was one of the most awesome horror movies of the ‘80s (and of all time). And the father of Michael Myers has Rob Bottin to thank for it. Bottin would also provide his mind-blowing skills on The Howling, The Fog, Se7en, and RoboCop (the only version, from 1987).
2. Rick Baker, An American Werewolf In London
A finer werewolf transformation has never been filmed than what Rick Baker came up with for John Landis’ 1981 horror-comedy An American Werewolf In London. Every second of this looks utterly agonizing, and three decades later, lycanthrope films haven’t come close to topping it. Baker is considered “the best” by many for this, as well as his work on Star Wars Episdoe IV: A New Hope, The Wolfman, Squirm, and The Incredible Melting Man.
1. Tom Savini, The Prowler
Savini’s body of ’80s horror FX were unstoppable. Pound-for-pound, no one came close to matching the raw brutality and realistic stylings he brought to each slasher film. Without him, an entire popular sub genre of horror would likely not exist. His work on The Burning, Friday the 13th parts one and four, Dawn of the Dead, and Maniac, were all astounding, but for us, The Prowler is his finest hour. The pitchfork murder in the shower, the bayonet through the top of a boy’s head, the swimming pool murder, and that exploding head … thank you, Mr. Savini. Thank you very much!
Which ‘80s horror FX guys should have made our list or are deserving of honorable mention? Share your thoughts in our comments section. And while you’re at it, be sure to check out our 5 Creepiest Horror Movie Scenes for more spooky fun.