Horror movies from the 1980s and 1990s are a treasure trove of camp, and we’re thankful for the gems that came from the rubble of bad special effects and early-career cameos (is that A young Jennifer Aniston in Leprechaun?). The beauty of these films is that they can be so over-the-top, you can easily convince your friends who loathe this genre to watch them with you. Here are some lesser-known favorites that every nostalgic horror buff should know.

Once Bitten (1985)

This vampire comedy stars a baby-faced Jim Carrey and devastatingly chic Lauren Hutton. Come for the leotards (so many leotards), stay for a dance-off that happens in a high school auditorium. You may also notice that the goth look suits Jim Carrey incredibly well.

Troll (1986)

A wizard is turned into a troll, and the troll sets out to rebuild his world by transforming the tenants of an apartment building into mythical creatures. Pretty simple, right? Julia Louis-Dreyfuss makes a cameo as a green nymph, while Sonny Bono (may he rest in peace) is turned into a hideous plant pod.

Bad Taste (1986)

Before Peter Jackson made “Dead Alive,” he made this movie about aliens that are trying to eat human New Zealanders. This one has a lot of alien vomit. It’s laughably grotesque, but serves as a reminder that all legendary careers like Jackson’s started somewhere.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

If the Garbage Pail Kids and IT had a sloppy one-night-stand, it would result in this whitehead blemish on 21st Century cinema. This one is perfect for anyone who has never been able to enjoy carnivals because the excessive lights, sounds and cotton candy  seem to overcompensate for dark, seedy things happening behind the curtains.  It’s also perfect for anybody who loves mullet haircuts and perms.

My Boyfriend’s Back (1993)

The film’s main character, Johnny Dingle, has one of the greatest names ever created and becomes a teenage zombie who is dead-set on taking his crush to the prom. Among the excessive sexual innuendo tied to cannibalism, this film offers cameos from Matthew McConaughey, Phillip Seymour-Hoffman and Matthew Fox.

Pinocchio’s Revenge (1996)

This plot is a doozy. Stay with me here: Jennifer is a criminal defense attorney, representing an alleged child murderer. Somehow, Jennifer accidentally takes home a wooden Pinocchio doll that was buried with said murder’s victim. Jennifer’s daughter, Zoe, takes the doll to play with, but Pinocchio is more of a real boy than we gave him credit for, and starts killing people. But the blood is not on his wooden hands, and instead Zoe is blamed for the mysterious deaths that occur. Good luck with this one.

Campfire Tales (1997)

Campfire Tales is made up of three vignettes: urban legends told by a group of friends sitting ‘round a campfire after a car accident. James Marsden, Amy Smart, Christine Taylor, Ron Livingston and Jacinda Barrett appear as the characters of beloved tales that you’ve probably heard from older siblings who tried to scare the hell out of you (and succeeded). Remember the one with “People can lick, too?”


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Emily Thomas

Emily is a Toronto-born, Los Angeles-raised writer living in New York. She has spent previous lives as a 19th Century detective and as an herbalist alongside her Celtic ancestors.