The Nearly Good B-Pictures of the 1980s

by Akira_Chimera | created - 06 Nov 2014 | updated - 1 month ago | Public

Can there even be a thing like 'nearly good B-pictures'? At first I wasn't so sure either. But after years of watching B-movies, more often than not I stumbled across a B-picture which I wouldn't exactly consider to be a good (or even brillant) one. On the other hand it didn't reach the absolute bottoms of z-grade moviedom that connoisseurs of this kind of pictures are used to either. It was simply a movie which, in terms of B-pictures, was competently done, had all those ingredients we love so much in this kind of movies, yes, possibly it was even done bad for all the right reasons. But nevertheless, it didn't click with me, didn't offer that special something which makes B-pictures so enjoyable. What you can expect on this list are B-pictures which are not bad per se, they are more like near misses which can still offer plenty for the B-movie fan. Especially if you are a fan of a certain subgenre, actor or whatever. So have fun browsing through the nearly, but not quite, good B-pictures of the 1980s.

If you're up to it, don't hesitate to leave a comment.

PS: The movies are sorted by year and not necessarily by my preference. This list is by no means complete as I will add new worthwhile films as I stumble across them.

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1. City of the Living Dead (1980)

Not Rated | 93 min | Horror

A reporter and a psychic race to close the Gates of Hell after the suicide of a clergyman caused them to open, allowing the dead to rise from their graves.

Director: Lucio Fulci | Stars: Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo, Antonella Interlenghi

Votes: 14,337

2. Cannibals in the Streets (1980)

R | 96 min | Horror, Thriller

Giovanni Lambardo Radice and John Saxon are Vietman vets that bring back contagious virus that turn people into cannibals when bitten.

Director: Antonio Margheriti | Stars: John Saxon, Elizabeth Turner, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Cinzia De Carolis

Votes: 2,677

3. The Unseen (1980)

R | 89 min | Horror, Thriller

A trio of female reporters find themselves staying overnight in a house occupied by a hostile being lurking in the basement.

Director: Danny Steinmann | Stars: Barbara Bach, Karen Lamm, Stephen Furst, Lelia Goldoni

Votes: 1,355

4. Effects (1979)

R | 84 min | Horror, Thriller

Some crew members of a company shooting a horror film begin to suspect that the "killings" in the movie are real, and that they are actually making a "snuff" film.

Director: Dusty Nelson | Stars: Joseph Pilato, Susan Chapek, John Harrison, Bernard McKenna

Votes: 446

5. Aquella casa en las afueras (1980)

95 min | Horror, Thriller

A young girl's husband rents a lovely home just outside of Madrid so she can spend the last three months of her pregnancy in peace and luxury. Unfortunately, just as they arrive at the home... See full summary »

Director: Eugenio Martín | Stars: Javier Escrivá, Silvia Aguilar, Alida Valli, Mara Goyanes

Votes: 61

6. Macabre (1980)

Unrated | 89 min | Horror

A middle-aged woman, traumatized from the death of her adulterous lover, moves into a room at a New Orleans boarding house where the blind landlord becomes suspicious to her activities of continuing her affair with her dead lover.

Director: Lamberto Bava | Stars: Bernice Stegers, Stanko Molnar, Veronica Zinny, Roberto Posse

Votes: 1,982

7. La nuit de la mort! (1980)

Not Rated | 91 min | Fantasy, Horror

Young Martine begins working as a nurse at Deadlock House, a secluded grande retirement home, but from the beginning not everything is as it seems, strange residents each with their own ... See full summary »

Director: Raphaël Delpard | Stars: Isabelle Goguey, Charlotte de Turckheim, Michel Flavius, Betty Beckers

Votes: 293

8. The Exterminator (1980)

R | 99 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A man's best friend is killed on the streets of New York City. The man (Robert Ginty) then transforms into a violent killer, turning New York City into a great war zone, and Christopher George is the only one to stop him.

Director: James Glickenhaus | Stars: Robert Ginty, Samantha Eggar, Christopher George, Steve James

Votes: 4,594

9. The Last Hunter (1980)

95 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

During the Vietnam war, an American soldier gets trapped behind enemy lines. A squad of his buddies sets out to rescue him.

Director: Antonio Margheriti | Stars: David Warbeck, Tisa Farrow, Tony King, Bobby Rhodes

Votes: 717

10. The Chain Reaction (1980)

92 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

An earthquake in rural Australia causes a dangerous leak at WALDO, a nuclear waste storage facility. Heinrich Schmidt, an engineer badly hurt in the accident, knows that the leak will ... See full summary »

Director: Ian Barry | Stars: Steve Bisley, Arna-Maria Winchester, Ross Thompson, Ralph Cotterill

Votes: 725

11. Forbidden Zone (1980)

R | 74 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Musical

64 Metascore

The bizarre and musical tale of a girl who travels to another dimension through the gateway found in her family's basement.

Director: Richard Elfman | Stars: Gene Cunningham, Marie-Pascale Elfman, Virginia Rose, Phil Gordon

Votes: 4,270

12. Contraband (1980)

Unrated | 97 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Cigarette smugglers in Naples run into problems with cocaine operations being set up by a rival smuggler. Full of violence, including a women's face being burned off with a blow torch and a... See full summary »

Director: Lucio Fulci | Stars: Fabio Testi, Ivana Monti, Marcel Bozzuffi, Saverio Marconi

Votes: 1,529

13. Friday the 13th: Part 2 (1981)

R | 87 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

26 Metascore

Mrs. Voorhees is dead, and Camp Crystal Lake is shut down, but a camp next to the infamous place is stalked by an unknown assailant.

Director: Steve Miner | Stars: Betsy Palmer, Amy Steel, John Furey, Adrienne King

Votes: 53,261 | Gross: $21.72M

14. Evilspeak (1981)

R | 97 min | Horror

An outcast military cadet taps into a way to summon demons and cast spells on his tormentors through his computer.

Director: Eric Weston | Stars: Clint Howard, R.G. Armstrong, Joe Cortese, Claude Earl Jones

Votes: 3,017

15. Madhouse (1981)

Not Rated | 92 min | Horror

A woman is pursued by her murderous, psychopathic twin sister in the days leading up to their birthday.

Director: Ovidio G. Assonitis | Stars: Patricia Mickey, Michael MacRae, Dennis Robertson, Morgan Most

Votes: 1,296

16. Mystics in Bali (1981)

86 min | Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

Researching a book that takes her to Bali and the black magic cult of Leák, Cathy meets an evil witch which promises to train her in the dark arts. Tricked, Cathy is turned into a ... See full summary »

Director: H. Tjut Djalil | Stars: Ilona Agathe Bastian, Yos Santo, Sofia W.D., W.D. Mochtar

Votes: 955

17. Petlya Oriona (1981)

85 min | Sci-Fi

A strange phenomenon has been noticed on the outskirts of our Solar system that quickly approaches the Earth. It's called "Orion's Loop." A spaceship with a crew of people and androids ... See full summary »

Director: Vasili Levin | Stars: Leonid Bakshtayev, Gennadi Shkuratov, Vitali Doroshenko, Anatoliy Mateshko

Votes: 98

18. Student Bodies (1981)

R | 86 min | Comedy, Horror, Mystery

41 Metascore

A murderer known as "The Breather" kills off high schoolers.

Directors: Mickey Rose, Michael Ritchie | Stars: Kristen Riter, Matthew Goldsby, Jerry Belson, Joe Flood

Votes: 4,086 | Gross: $5.17M

19. Night School (1981)

R | 88 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Who's been decapitating the innocent girls at a local night school? The police are baffled.

Director: Ken Hughes | Stars: Leonard Mann, Rachel Ward, Drew Snyder, Joseph R. Sicari

Votes: 2,024 | Gross: $1.17M

20. The Pit (1981)

R | 96 min | Horror, Mystery

A solitary and strange preteen boy wreaks revenge on his harassers when he makes a disturbing discovery in the depth of a forest.

Director: Lew Lehman | Stars: Sammy Snyders, Jeannie Elias, Sonja Smits, Laura Hollingsworth

Votes: 2,089

21. The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)

R | 99 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

39 Metascore

A mercenary with a three-bladed sword rediscovers his royal heritage's dangerous future when he is recruited to help a princess foil the designs of a brutal tyrant and a powerful sorcerer in conquering a land.

Director: Albert Pyun | Stars: Lee Horsley, Kathleen Beller, Simon MacCorkindale, George Maharis

Votes: 5,241 | Gross: $39.10M

22. Cannibal Ferox (1981)

Not Rated | 93 min | Adventure, Horror

Three friends out to disprove cannibalism meet two men on the run who tortured and enslaved a cannibal tribe to find emeralds, and now the tribe is out for revenge.

Director: Umberto Lenzi | Stars: Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Lorraine De Selle, Danilo Mattei, Zora Kerova

Votes: 8,421

23. Treasure of the Yankee Zephyr (1981)

PG | 91 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

In a lake high in the mountains of New Zealand hunter Gibbie Gibson discovers a plane wreck from ww-ii. When he tells it around, a gang of crooks follows and threatens him and his daughter,... See full summary »

Director: David Hemmings | Stars: Ken Wahl, Lesley Ann Warren, Donald Pleasence, George Peppard

Votes: 780

24. Madman (1981)

R | 88 min | Horror, Thriller

A legendary psychopathic murderer stalks a summer camp.

Director: Joe Giannone | Stars: Gaylen Ross, Tony Fish, Harriet Bass, Seth Jones

Votes: 4,428

25. Season of the Witch (1982)

R | 98 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

50 Metascore

Kids all over America want Silver Shamrock masks for Halloween. Doctor Daniel Challis seeks to uncover a plot by Silver Shamrock owner Conal Cochran.

Director: Tommy Lee Wallace | Stars: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O'Herlihy, Michael Currie

Votes: 39,483 | Gross: $14.40M

26. Battletruck (1982)

PG | 91 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Post World War III futuristic tale of collapsed governments & bankrupt countries heralding a new lawless age.

Director: Harley Cokeliss | Stars: Michael Beck, Annie McEnroe, James Wainwright, Bruno Lawrence

Votes: 978

27. Swamp Thing (1982)

PG | 91 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

50 Metascore

After a violent incident with a special chemical, a research scientist is turned into a swamp plant monster.

Director: Wes Craven | Stars: Louis Jourdan, Adrienne Barbeau, Ray Wise, David Hess

Votes: 12,087

28. Blood Link (1982)

R | 98 min | Crime, Horror

Haunted by psychic visions of murder, an American man travels to Europe where he learns that a rash of murders are being committed by someone who looks exactly like him.

Director: Alberto De Martino | Stars: Michael Moriarty, Penelope Milford, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Cameron Mitchell

Votes: 294

29. Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1982)

PG | 94 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

A maverick motorbike racer wanders into a top-secret time-travel research test site which unintentionally teleports him to the mid-1800s and ends up having to fight violent outlaws for his survival.

Director: William Dear | Stars: Fred Ward, Belinda Bauer, Peter Coyote, Richard Masur

Votes: 1,843

30. Forbidden World (1982)

R | 77 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

In the distant future, a federation marshal arrives at a research lab on a remote planet where a genetic experiment has gotten loose and begins feeding on the dwindling scientific group.

Director: Allan Holzman | Stars: Jesse Vint, Dawn Dunlap, June Chadwick, Linden Chiles

Votes: 3,511

31. One Dark Night (1982)

PG | 89 min | Horror

As part of an initiation into a club called the Sisters, a young girl must spend the night in a mausoleum.

Director: Tom McLoughlin | Stars: Meg Tilly, Melissa Newman, Robin Evans, Leslie Speights

Votes: 2,217

32. Xtro (1982)

R | 84 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

A man who was abducted by aliens returns to his family three years later, but his presence affects them negatively.

Director: Harry Bromley Davenport | Stars: Philip Sayer, Bernice Stegers, Danny Brainin, Maryam d'Abo

Votes: 5,373

33. The Clairvoyant (1982)

R | 97 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Two uneasy friends, a police officer and a TV talk show host, each pursue the mysterious "handcuff killer" with the aid of an artist who sees - and draws - the killer's crimes before they're committed.

Director: Armand Mastroianni | Stars: Perry King, Norman Parker, Elizabeth Kemp, Kenneth McMillan

Votes: 409

34. The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

R | 77 min | Horror

A high school student's slumber party turns terrifying as an escaped mental patient with a drill decides to crash the evening.

Director: Amy Holden Jones | Stars: Michelle Michaels, Robin Stille, Michael Villella, Debra De Liso

Votes: 9,071

35. The Aftermath (1982)

Not Rated | 95 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

Two astronauts return to Earth to find that it has been destroyed by nuclear war. L.A. has been taken over by Cutter and his gang of outlaw bikers. Cutter rapes and pillages. There are also... See full summary »

Director: Steve Barkett | Stars: Steve Barkett, Lynne Margulies, Sid Haig, Christopher Barkett

Votes: 490

36. Baker County, U.S.A. (1982)

R | 95 min | Thriller

When a group of college students come across a redneck in the wilderness murdering his wife's lover, they become the objects of his crazed vengeance.

Director: William Fruet | Stars: Henry Silva, Nicholas Campbell, Barbara Gordon, Gina Dick

Votes: 508

37. Double Exposure (1982)

R | 94 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

A photographer for a men's magazine is disturbed by a recurring dream he has that he is killing his models by various gruesome means. Then he discovers that his city is being terrorized by ... See full summary »

Director: William Byron Hillman | Stars: Michael Callan, Joanna Pettet, James Stacy, Pamela Hensley

Votes: 525

38. Angkor: Cambodia Express (1982)

Not Rated | 90 min | Action, Drama, War

An American journalist returns to Cambodia to bring out the girlfriend he was forced to leave behind when the murderous Khmer Rouge took over the country.

Director: Lek Kitaparaporn | Stars: Robert Walker Jr., Woody Strode, Christopher George, Nancy Kwan

Votes: 76

39. Fuga dall'arcipelago maledetto (1982)

96 min | Action, War

On one of his last trips before retirement, a plane of an illegal gunrunner in Vietnam is shot down where he hooks up Annie Belle, a humanitarian rebel.

Director: Antonio Margheriti | Stars: David Warbeck, Annie Belle, Tony King, Luciano Pigozzi

Votes: 121

40. The Concrete Jungle (1982)

R | 99 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

When her slimy boyfriend Danny (Peter Brown) uses his unsuspecting girlfriend Elizabeth (Tracy Bregman) to carry a stash of cocaine in her skis, she is nabbed by airport security. After a ... See full summary »

Director: Tom DeSimone | Stars: Jill St. John, Tracey E. Bregman, BarBara Luna, June Barrett

Votes: 499

41. El extraño hijo del Sheriff (1982)

93 min | Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

Set in the old west, the sheriff's wife gives birth to conjoined twins, she dies during labor and the ashamed sheriff decides to hide his children, years later he force the town doctor to ... See full summary »

Director: Fernando Durán Rojas | Stars: Mario Almada, Eric del Castillo, Rosa Gloria Chagoyán, Alfredo Gutiérrez

Votes: 75

42. Sleepaway Camp (1983)

R | 84 min | Horror

58 Metascore

Angela Baker, a traumatized and very shy young girl, is sent to summer camp with her cousin. Shortly after her arrival, anyone with sinister or less than honorable intentions gets their comeuppance.

Director: Robert Hiltzik | Stars: Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, Karen Fields, Christopher Collet

Votes: 23,196 | Gross: $11.00M

43. Curtains (1983)

R | 89 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Six young actresses auditioning for a movie role at a remote mansion are targeted by a mysterious masked murderer.

Director: Richard Ciupka | Stars: John Vernon, Samantha Eggar, Linda Thorson, Anne Ditchburn

Votes: 3,571

44. Screamtime (1983)

R | 89 min | Fantasy, Horror

A trilogy of three improbable stories of horror and the supernatural are combined into this low budget thriller: "That's the Way to Do It," "Dreamhouse,," and "Do You Believe in Fairies?"

Directors: Michael Armstrong, Stanley A. Long | Stars: Vincent Russo, Michael Gordon, Marie Scinto, Kevin Smith

Votes: 682

45. The Lift (1983)

R | 95 min | Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi

An elevator mysteriously begins to function intelligently on its own, where victims who go near the elevator or use it are killed.

Director: Dick Maas | Stars: Huub Stapel, Willeke van Ammelrooy, Josine van Dalsum, Liz Snoyink

Votes: 5,570

46. A Polish Vampire in Burbank (1983)

Not Rated | 80 min | Comedy, Horror

A somewhat reluctant vampire is taken out by his sexpot sister for his first "night out on the town."

Director: Mark Pirro | Stars: Mark Pirro, Lori Sutton, Bobbi Dorsch, Hugh O. Fields

Votes: 240 | Gross: $0.50M

47. The Final Terror (1983)

R | 82 min | Horror

A group of rangers go camping on unfamiliar forest grounds. All is well until the group members start getting picked off by a cunning, tactical, malevolent, killer in the woods.

Director: Andrew Davis | Stars: John Friedrich, Adrian Zmed, Ernest Harden Jr., Lewis Smith

Votes: 2,263

49. Women's Prison Massacre (1983)

Not Rated | 89 min | Action, Crime, Drama

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