My Take: 50 Favorite Horror Films of 1980-1984

Maintaining this list to a mere 50 films was a daunting task, especially considering that my original number was more than 100. First, I tried to streamline the original list by removing thrillers, comedies, science fiction, and mysteries. A few still remained, like ALTERED STATES, VENOM, SATURN 3, and ROAD GAMES, and that's my decision, because I like these particular films. You'll notice quite a few "must-sees" of the genre are absent, notably THE EVIL DEAD, THE BEYOND, MANIAC, and VIDEODROME. It was tough cutting them, but then again, I had some hard cuts to make, and those films I could do without. Does the absence of your favorite horror film mean I believe it's not worthy? Not at all, but the 50 films on this list represent the ones I most enjoy watching, and not necessarily the ones most beloved by certain circles. Do I consider all the films listed here to be Great Movies? Absolutely not. In fact, many make an appearance because I suspect they're not as well-known as others, and I wanted to throw them a bone, poor bloody things. I am not trying to impress readers, believe me, just offer my own opinion. This is a list of 50 "Favorites" and not necessarily 50 "Best." There's a difference. Yes, I realize most of the films are American, with the exception of several Argento titles and a pair of British movies. Almost all of them were released by major studios. I wish this wasn't true about myself, these viewing habits, but there you are. Of the 50 films, five are sequels, and that's not bad for a list from 1980-1984, the heyday of the horror sequel. There are thousands of other lists similar to this one on IMBD. When it comes to genre films, it seems, everyone is a professional critic. This list happens to be mine. Finally, I am 100% certain that I've missed one or two films that should be here, and that's my oversight, not my intention. This list may be amended over the next few weeks as certain titles come to mind, but not by much.
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1.
The Fog (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Legend says that Antonio Bay was built in 1880 with blood money obtained from shipwrecked lepers which no one believes. On the eve of the town's centennial, many plan to attend the celebrations, including the murdered lepers. (89 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
 
2.
Ghost Story (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
Two generations of men find themselves haunted by the presence of a spectral woman. When the son of one of the elderly men returns to his hometown after his brother's mysterious death, they attempt to unravel her story. (110 mins.)
Director: John Irvin
 
3.
Poltergeist (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A family's home is haunted by a host of ghosts. (114 mins.)
Director: Tobe Hooper
 
4.
The Changeling (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A man staying at a secluded historical mansion finds himself being haunted by the presence of a spectre. (107 mins.)
Director: Peter Medak
 
5.
Terror in the Aisles (1984 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A compilation of scenes from science fiction, crime drama and horror films of the 1930s through 1980s. (84 mins.)
Director: Andrew J. Kuehn
 
6.
The Thing (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
It's the first week of winter in 1982. An American Research Base is greeted by an alien force, that can assimilate anything it touches. It's up to the members to stay alive, and be sure of who is human, and who has become one of the Things. (109 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
 
7.
Psycho II (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
After twenty-two years of psychiatric care, Norman Bates attempts to return to a life of solitude, but the specters of his crimes - and his mother - continue to haunt him. (113 mins.)
 
8.
Halloween II (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
While Sheriff Brackett and Dr. Loomis hunt for Michael Myers, a traumatized Laurie is rushed to hospital, and the serial killer is not far behind her. (92 mins.)
Director: Rick Rosenthal
 
9.
Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
At the snobby Crawford Academy, Virginia's group of friends start to go missing years after horrible events that happened to her as a child around her birthday. (110 mins.)
Director: J. Lee Thompson
 
10.
Terror Train (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
A masked killer targets six college kids responsible for a prank gone wrong three years earlier and who are currently throwing a large New Year's Eve costume party aboard a moving train. (97 mins.)
 
11.
The Fan (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
Douglas, a record salesman, is an obsessive fan of actress Sally Ross. When his letters are rejected, he strikes out at her and her loved ones. (95 mins.)
Director: Edward Bianchi
 
12.
The Shining (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future. (146 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
 
13.
Cujo (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
Cujo, a friendly St. Bernard, contracts rabies and conducts a reign of terror on a small American town. (93 mins.)
Director: Lewis Teague
 
14.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists. (97 mins.)
Director: John Landis
 
15.
The Howling (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
After a bizarre and near fatal encounter with a serial killer, a television newswoman is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem. (91 mins.)
Director: Joe Dante
 
16.
Friday the 13th (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A group of camp counselors is stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to reopen a summer camp which, years before, was the site of a child's drowning. (95 mins.)
 
17.
Venom (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Terrorists who kidnap a child from a wealthy family are pursued by a deadly snake. (93 mins.)
Director: Piers Haggard
 
18.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.6/10 X  
Kids all over America want Silver Shamrock masks for Halloween. Doctor Daniel Challis seeks to uncover a plot by Silver Shamrock owner Conal Cochran. (98 mins.)
 
19.
Scanners (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A scientist sends a man with extraordinary psychic powers to hunt others like him. (103 mins.)
 
20.
Dressed to Kill (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A mysterious blonde woman kills one of a psychiatrist's patients, and then goes after the high-class call girl who witnessed the murder. (105 mins.)
Director: Brian De Palma
 
21.
The Burning (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A former summer camp caretaker, horribly burned from a prank gone wrong, lurks around an upstate New York summer camp bent on killing the teenagers responsible for his disfigurement. (91 mins.)
Director: Tony Maylam
 
22.
Inferno (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
An American college student in Rome and his sister in New York investigate a series of killings in both locations where their resident addresses are the domain of two covens of witches. (107 mins.)
Director: Dario Argento
 
23.
Tenebre (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
An American writer in Rome is stalked by a serial killer bent on harassing him while killing all people associated with his work on his latest book. (101 mins.)
Director: Dario Argento
 
24.
Prom Night (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  
A masked killer stalks four teenagers, responsible for the accidental death of a little girl six years earlier, at their high school's senior prom. (92 mins.)
Director: Paul Lynch
 
25.
Christine (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A nerdish boy buys a strange car with an evil mind of its own and his nature starts to change to reflect it. (110 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
 
26.
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A decades-old folk tale surrounding a deranged murderer killing those who celebrate Valentine's Day turns out to be true to legend when a group defies the killer's order and people start turning up dead. (90 mins.)
Director: George Mihalka
 
27.
The Sender (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A disturbed telepathic man is able to transmit his dreams and visions into the minds of the people around him. (91 mins.)
Director: Roger Christian
 
28.
Visiting Hours (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  
A deranged, misogynistic killer attacks a journalist. When he discovers that she survived the attack, he follows her to the hospital to finish her off. (105 mins.)
 
29.
Cat People (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A young woman's sexual awakening brings horror when she discovers her urges transform her into a monstrous black leopard. (118 mins.)
Director: Paul Schrader
 
30.
Dead & Buried (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A suspense horror film set in a small coastal town where, after a series of gory murders commited by mobs of townspeople against visiting tourists, the corpses begin to come back to life. (94 mins.)
Director: Gary A. Sherman
 
31.
Altered States (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A Harvard scientist conducts experiments on himself with a hallucinatory drug and an isolation chamber that may be causing him to regress genetically. (102 mins.)
Director: Ken Russell
 
32.
Creepshow (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
An anthology which tells five terrifying tales based on the E.C. horror comic books of the 1950s. (120 mins.)
 
33.
Gremlins (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A boy inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town. (106 mins.)
Director: Joe Dante
 
34.
Road Games (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A truck driver plays a cat-and-mouse game with a mysterious serial killer who uses a young female hitchhiker as bait to lure victims on a desolate Australian highway. (101 mins.)
 
35.
Hell Night (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
Four college pledges are forced to spend the night in a deserted old mansion, where they are stalked by the monstrous survivor of a family massacre years earlier. (101 mins.)
Director: Tom De Simone
 
36.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Several people are hunted by a cruel serial killer who kills his victims in their dreams. While the survivors are trying to find the reason for being chosen, the murderer won't lose any chance to kill them as soon as they fall asleep. (91 mins.)
Director: Wes Craven
 
37.
The Prowler (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
An unknown killer, clad in World War II U.S. Army fatigues, stalks a small New Jersey town bent on reliving a 35 year-old double murder by focusing on a group of college kids holding an annual Spring Dance. (89 mins.)
Director: Joseph Zito
 
38.
Amityville II: The Possession (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  
A family moves into their new home, which proves to be evil, resulting in the demonic possession of the teenage son. Only the local priest can save him. (104 mins.)
Director: Damiano Damiani
 
39.
Island of Blood (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.7/10 X  
While filming on a remote island, a low-budget film cast and crew fall prey to a mysterious killer hellbent on making a real-life snuff horror film. (82 mins.)
Director: Bill Naud
 
40.
The Children (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  
A nuclear-plant leak turns a bus-load of children into murderous atomic zombies with black fingernails. (93 mins.)
Director: Max Kalmanowicz
 
41.
The Final Conflict (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
The now adult Antichrist plots to eliminate his future divine opponent while a cabal of monks plot to stop him. (108 mins.)
Director: Graham Baker
 
42.
Evilspeak (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
An outcast military cadet taps into a way to summon demons and cast spells on his tormentors through his computer. (97 mins.)
Director: Eric Weston
 
43.
Galaxy of Terror (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  
SciFi suspense thriller in which a rescue space ship crew meets up with horrors projected by their own imaginations. (81 mins.)
Director: B.D. Clark
 
44.
Humanoids from the Deep (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
Scientific experiments backfire and produce horrific mutations: half man, half fish, which terrorize... (80 mins.)
Director: Barbara Peeters
 
45.
The Silent Scream (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
During her first semester at college, a co-ed finds housing at a seaside mansion where, following the death of a fellow-student, she becomes entangled in a murder mystery surrounding the property and it's secretive tenants. (87 mins.)
Director: Denny Harris
 
46.
The Awakening (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  
An archeologist discovers his daughter is possessed by the spirit of an Egyptian queen. To save mankind he must destroy her. (105 mins.)
Director: Mike Newell
 
47.
Saturn 3 (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.0/10 X  
Two lovers stationed at a remote base in the asteroid fields of Saturn are intruded upon by a retentive technocrat from Earth and his charge: a malevolent 8-ft robot. Remember, in space no one can hear you scream. (96 mins.)
Director: Stanley Donen
 
48.
The Boogens (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
Otherworldly creatures inhabit the bootleg tunnels underneath a small town mining community, and they kill any of the townsfolk who invade their home. (95 mins.)
Director: James L. Conway
 
49.
Xtro (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  
A man who was abducted by aliens returns to his family three years later, but his presence affects them negatively. (81 mins.)
 
50.
The Watcher in the Woods (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
When a family moves to a country home, the young girls experience strange happenings that have a link to an occult event years past. (84 mins.)
Director: John Hough