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

Learn Python From Home for Just $50

Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels.com
Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels.com

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Mark Hamill Learned About The Empire Strikes Back's Big Darth Vader Reveal Before Anyone Else

Nope, not even Harrison Ford knew about it.
Nope, not even Harrison Ford knew about it.
Michael Tran/Getty Images

Few cinematic secrets were better kept—or more shocking when they came out—than that of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa's true parentage in the Star Wars saga. According to ComicBook.com, the reveal that Darth Vader is Luke and Leia's father was such a well-kept secret that it wasn't actually put into the script at all. Evidently, only three people on set knew about the moment in advance: Mark Hamill, Star Wars creator George Lucas, and The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner. (Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan was also aware.)

Hamill took to Twitter to explain the pivotal part of the franchise, during which a fake line was used so the actual reveal could be dubbed in afterwards, allowing the trio to keep the secret from the cast and crew for more than a year.

"The cast & crew first learned of it when they saw the finished film," Hamill said to his fans on Twitter. "When we shot it, Vader's line was 'You don't know the truth, Obi-Wan killed your father.' Only Irvin Kershner, George Lucas & I knew what would be dubbed in later. Agony keeping that secret for over a year!"

Props to them for not letting the spoiler slip early. Even with the pressure of keeping such a big plot twist under wraps, Lucas says financial concerns were what plagued him most.

“Well, to be very honest, the most challenging aspect was paying for [The Empire Strikes Back],” Lucas recently told StarWars.com. “In order to be able to take control of the movie, I had to pay for it myself. And in order to do that, I did something my father told me never to do, which was to borrow money. But there wasn’t much I could do because I only had maybe half of the money to make the movie, so I had to borrow the other half, which put a lot of pressure on me.”

If you feel like reminiscing about a galaxy far, far away, check out this year's May the Fourth celebration compilation here. And if you want to see the twist for yourself (whether it's for the first or the hundredth time), all nine movies in the Skywalker Saga are now streaming on Disney+.

[h/t ComicBook.com]

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.