10 Horror Movie Ads from the 1980s That Lied to Us

1984 Publishing
1984 Publishing

If one of the joys of being a horror fan in the 1980s was being seduced by the shocking and lurid come-ons in the newspaper advertisements for these movies, one of the downers was going to the theater and not getting all those ads promised. In the quest to sell tickets, movie marketing often exaggerated what the films themselves had to offer, and occasionally they flat-out lied to us. Here are 10 examples, culled from my new book Ad Nauseam: Newsprint Nightmares from the 1980s, available now from 1984 Publishing.

1. ALMOST HUMAN (1980)

An ad forAlmost Human (1980)
1984 Publishing

Distributor Joseph Brenner was a frequent purveyor of Italian fright flicks in the U.S., but when he got ahold of a 1975 crime thriller called Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare (Milan Hates: The Police Cannot Shoot), he decided not to trust the appeal of its action and sold it as some kind of creature feature.

2. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1980)

An ad for 'I Spit on Your Grave'
1984 Publishing

While the vengeful heroine of this notorious rape-revenge film does wreak horrible revenge on the men who assaulted her, Jerry Gross Organization’s copy still fibbed a bit: She dispatches only four guys, and not one of them is burned.

3. THE DAY AFTER HALLOWEEN (1981)

An ad for 'The Day After Halloween'
1984 Publishing

Months before the official Halloween II hit theaters, Group 1 tried to con fans of John Carpenter’s hit original by passing off an Aussie psycho-thriller initially titled Snapshot (directed by Simon Wincer, who would go on to helm Free Willy and TV’s Lonesome Dove) as a sequel.

4. BEYOND THE FOG (1981)

An ad for 'Beyond the Fog'
1984 Publishing

Released around the same time as The Day After Halloween, here’s another faux Carpenter knockoff, courtesy of Independent-International. This one wasn’t even a new movie; it was a 1972 British production first released at home as Tower of Evil and in the States under that moniker as well as Horror on Snape Island.

5. NIGHTMARE (1981)

The original ad for 'Nightmare'
1984 Publishing

21st Century Distribution’s initial ads for this slasher bloodfest credited gore-makeup god Tom Savini as its “Special Effects Director.” But according to Savini, he only served as a consultant, and the text was altered in the later print promos.

A later ad for 'Nightmare'
1984 Publishing

6. SCREAMERS (1982)

An ad for 'Screamers'
1984 Publishing

This New World Pictures ad should come with a warning all right, but one about its dishonesty: You will not, in fact, see a man turned inside out at any point in this Italian import, originally known as Island of the Fish Men.

7. DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D. (1982)

An ad for 'Doctor Butcher M.D.'
1984 Publishing

In addition to being a “bloodthirsty, homicidal killer,” Aquarius Releasing claimed the doc to be a “depraved, sadistic rapist.” The truth is, he is neither of these, nor does he make house calls; he’s a scientist creating zombies deep in a tropical island jungle.

8. MORTUARY (1983)

An ad for 'Mortuary'
1984 Publishing

Though a mortuary does figure into the plot, this is actually a slasher film (with none other than a young Bill Paxton as the psycho). But by the time it opened, the stalk-and-kill genre was running out of gas, so Film Ventures International misleadingly sold it in both the print ads and trailers as a back-from-the-dead opus.

9. CHOPPING MALL (1986)

An ad for 'Chopping Mall'
1984 Publishing

Read the fine print on this Concorde Pictures ad: The menace terrorizing young people in a galleria after hours is not the grotesque humanoid that image promises, but a trio of security robots running amok.

10. SATURDAY THE 14TH STRIKES BACK (1989)

An ad for 'Saturday the 14th Strikes Back'
1984 Publishing

Here’s a different kind of lie. Concorde Pictures took out this ad in the New York area, giving the impression the film was being released there—but according to those who went looking for it at the time, the movie didn’t actually play at those theaters!

Growing up in the 1980s, Michael Gingold became obsessed with horror movies, and his love of the genre led him to become a Fangoria writer and editor for nearly 30 years, as well as a Rue Morgue contributor. But before all that, he took his scissors to local newspapers, collecting countless ads for horror movies, big and small. Ad Nauseam: Newsprint Nightmares from the 1980s is a year-by-year deep dive into the Gingold archive, with more than 450 ads.


1984 Publishing

7 of the Best Double Features You Can Stream on Netflix Right Now

Sylvester Stallone and Talia Shire in Rocky (1976) and Liev Schreiber in Chuck (2016).
Sylvester Stallone and Talia Shire in Rocky (1976) and Liev Schreiber in Chuck (2016).
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and IFC Films

For many of us, movie night can turn into a movie marathon. If you’re logged into Netflix and pondering what to watch, check out these double feature suggestions that each offer a perfect pairing of tone, topic, or an ideal double dose of Nicolas Cage.

1. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) // The Highwaymen (2019)

In Bonnie and Clyde, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway star as the famous outlaw couple who livened up Depression-era America with their string of bank robberies. More than 50 years later, The Highwaymen shifts the focus to the retired Texas Rangers (Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson) charged with bringing them down.

2. Rocky (1976) // Chuck (2016)

Sylvester Stallone's rousing story of underdog palooka Rocky Balboa pairs well with the biopic of the man who partially inspired Stallone's screenplay. Chuck details the boxing career of Chuck Wepner, a determined pugilist who was given virtually no chance against Muhammad Ali but wound up winning the respect of the crowd. Liev Schreiber stars.

3. Deliverance (1972) // The River Wild (1994)

Water-based getaways become cautionary tales: In Deliverance, Burt Reynolds delivers the performance that turned him into a movie star, a rough and rugged outdoorsman confronted by a group of sinister locals in the backwoods of Georgia. Things don’t get appreciably better in The River Wild, with Meryl Streep as a matriarch forced to navigate the rapids under the gun of criminal Kevin Bacon. Together, the two may have you rethinking your vacation plans.

4. All the President’s Men (1976) // Kill the Messenger (2014)

Newspaper reporting comes under fire in both of these films based on true stories. All the President's Men features Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, The Washington Post reporters tasked with uncovering the Watergate conspiracy. Kill the Messenger stars Jeremy Renner as Gary Webb, the journalist who found a suspicious connection between drug smuggling and the CIA.

5. Carrie (1976) // Gerald’s Game (2017)

After a bad stretch of mediocre adaptations, Stephen King’s work has been seeing an onscreen renaissance. Check out two of the best: Carrie, which stars Sissy Spacek as a telekinetic teen with an overbearing mother and an awkward social life; and Gerald’s Game, which casts Carla Gugino as a woman trapped in handcuffs amid supernatural activity.

6. National Treasure (2004) // The Trust (2016)

Fitting in the very narrow genre of “Nicolas Cage heist movies,” both National Treasure and The Trust are terrific on their own: A double feature contrasts Cage at his blockbuster best with his indie film shades of grey. As Benjamin Franklin Gates in National Treasure, he tries to run off with the Declaration of Independence. In The Trust, he and Elijah Wood are cops targeting a drug money stash. Fans of a more subdued—but still excellent—Cage should find a lot to like here.

7. Inglourious Basterds (2009) // The Imitation Game (2014)

Two very different tales of World War II oscillate from the cerebral to the Nazi-smashing. In Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino offers a revisionist take on the men and women who resisted the Reich. In The Imitation Game, Benedict Cumberbatch is real-life scientist Alan Turing, whose work with computers cracked a German code that helped end the war.

How Mister Rogers Used King Friday to Make Friday the 13th Less Scary for Kids

Getty Images
Getty Images

King Friday XIII, son of King Charming Thursday XII and Queen Cinderella Monday, is an avid arts lover, a talented whistler, and a former pole vaulter. He reigns over Calendarland with lots of pomp and poise, and he’s usually correct.

Fans of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood may also remember that the monarch was born on Friday the 13th, because his birthday was celebrated on the program every Friday the 13th. Though the math isn’t perfect—according to Timeanddate.com, Friday the 13th sometimes happens two or three times a year—the heartwarming reason behind the unconventionally-timed birthday celebrations absolutely is.

Fred Rogers explained that he wanted to give children a reason to look forward to Friday the 13th, instead of buying into the negative superstitions that surround the dreaded date. “We thought, ‘Let’s start children out thinking that Friday the 13th was a fun day,’” he said in a 1999 interview. “So we would celebrate his birthday every time a Friday the 13th came.”

Rogers added that the tradition worked out so well partially because the show was broadcast live, and viewers knew to anticipate an especially festive episode whenever they spotted a Friday the 13th on the calendar.

Speaking of calendars: There’s an equally charming story behind the name Calendarland. In the same interview, Rogers disclosed that King Friday once asked children to write in with suggestions for his then-nameless country. One boy posited that since King Friday was named after a calendar date, his realm should be named after the calendar. Then, the lucky youngster was invited to the set, where King Friday christened him a prince of Calendarland.

King Friday might be king of Calendarland, but Mister Rogers is definitely the king of understanding how to make kids feel safe, smart, and special.

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