100 horror films from the 80s. Possibly the best decade for horror cinema!by AltFilmFan | created - 13 Nov 2012 | updated - 17 Nov 2012 | Public
- Instant Watch Options
- Movies or TV
- IMDb Rating
- In Theaters
- On TV
- Release Year
1. The Shining (1980)
R | 146 min | Drama, Horror
A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where a sinister presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from both past and future.
Votes: 864,946 | Gross: $44.02M
Though Kubricks epic horror film may fail to tell the story told in Stephen Kings classic novel- it does succeed in being utterly terrifying. The atmosphere is oppressive and horrific as we watch a family snowbound in a haunted hotel unravel into madness and violence. A classic for a reason.
2. The Thing (1982)
R | 109 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
A research team in Antarctica is hunted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims.
Votes: 358,481 | Gross: $13.78M
The fantastic remake that is a towering achievement in suspense and practical special effects. Things get messy for a team of inexplicably well armed scientists in the south pole who discover a horrifying alien secret frozen in the ice. They play a great game of whose who and the great cast and classic genre contributor John Carpenter deliver a sci fi horror gem.
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
TV-14 | 91 min | Horror
The monstrous spirit of a slain child murderer seeks revenge by invading the dreams of teenagers whose parents were responsible for his untimely death.
Votes: 199,503 | Gross: $25.50M
Wes Craven delivers a solid and original boogey man to the slasher sub genre. Freddy Kruger- the vengeful spirit of a child murderer stalks teenagers in their dreams. The high concept thriller is pulled off with a minimal budget- and the central villain- before too many sequels degraded him to a stand up comedian in burn make up- is a frightening figure.
4. The Blob (1988)
R | 95 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
A deadly entity from space crashes near a small town and starts to consume anyone in its path. Panic ensues, as shady government scientists try to contain the horrific creature.
Votes: 30,759 | Gross: $8.25M
This well made and full of gruesome special effects horror remake is the real deal. A surprising thrilling throwback creature feature with a very strong cast. The film goes places few movies do in order to keep its audience on its toes and having fun. A fantastic popcorn feature.
5. The Entity (1982)
R | 125 min | Drama, Horror
A woman is tormented and sexually molested by an invisible demon.
Votes: 14,294 | Gross: $13.28M
This slow paced but horrifying supernatural thriller claims to be based on a true story and is very compelling. Barbara Hershey gives a brave and utterly sympathetic performance as a single mother who is repeatedly attacked- and even raped- by an invisible entity. People around her believe her to be mad of course- but a well meaning psychiatrist (Ron Silver) is slowly won over and convinced to seek more unorthodox solutions. Scary and well made.
6. Cujo (1983)
R | 93 min | Horror, Thriller
Cujo, a friendly St. Bernard, contracts rabies and conducts a reign of terror on a small American town.
Votes: 38,261 | Gross: $21.20M
Dee Wallace gives a truly fantastic performance as a mother trapped in a desperate circumstance. When seeking to get her car fixed she finds herself and her son stranded in her vehicle and terrorized by a gigantic and rabid dog. Though some changes were made from the source material to keep things palatable for the masses- the movie is very well shot and acted and proves that sometimes the simplest of premises can deliver the goods in the horror genre. A treat.
7. Aliens (1986)
R | 137 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Ellen Ripley is rescued by a deep salvage team after being in hypersleep for 57 years. The moon that the Nostromo visited has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, colonial marines have impressive firepower, but will that be enough?
Votes: 637,342 | Gross: $85.16M
Aliens is probably one of the strongest sequels ever produced. Upping the ante on the original by raising the amount of aliens and squaring them off against tough as nails space marines. Ripley is found adrift in space and her tale of an alien creature is not believed- until of course things start going awry at a remote terraforming station. Great effects and execution all round. Please horror fans- don't doubt- this movie is scary! A classic.
8. Pet Sematary (1989)
R | 103 min | Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
After tragedy strikes, a grieving father discovers an ancient burial ground behind his home with the power to raise the dead.
Votes: 91,746 | Gross: $57.47M
This bitter little pill from Stephen King has some very disturbing images. The story is as simple as they come- but kings twist on the zombie tale has real teeth. After discovering the pet cemetery near his new home has the power to restore life- a father who is half mad from loss- makes the mistake of trying to bury a lost loved one there. Unsettling and well made.
9. Ghostbusters (1984)
PG | 105 min | Action, Comedy, Fantasy
Three former parapsychology professors set up shop as a unique ghost removal service.
Votes: 346,031 | Gross: $238.63M
This is still the high water mark for the horror comedy. This classic new york tale of ghostbusters and their ghostbusting is required viewing for all who like to be entertained. It has aged quite well I must say- a comment that can not be made for a lot of things 80s.
10. Predator (1987)
R | 107 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
A team of commandos on a mission in a Central American jungle find themselves hunted by an extraterrestrial warrior.
Votes: 363,620 | Gross: $59.74M
This bloody action horror flick is way better than it should be. A special military force of badasses are sent into the jungle on a rescue mission. They discover that the previous team sent in died under horrible and questionable circumstances. It all leads to a showdown where we meet a new kind of alien foe. Great creature design and very well directed by John Mctiernan.
11. The Fly (1986)
R | 96 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
A brilliant but eccentric scientist begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong.
Votes: 154,917 | Gross: $40.46M
Another remarkable remake- this one benefiting from the very dark and specific hand of director David Cronenberg and a strong typically eccentric performance from Jeff Goldblum. The make up effects will turn the stomach of the most hardened horror fan. Yet you wil not want to look away. The rare remake that exceeds its source material.
12. Day of the Dead (1985)
Not Rated | 96 min | Horror, Thriller
A small group of military officers and scientists dwell in an underground bunker as the world above is overrun by zombies.
Votes: 61,650 | Gross: $5.80M
The most amazing practical effect make ups ever. EVER! This third entry in the Romero zombie series may suffer from too few likable characters and an over the top affection for profanity, but it sure does deliver in the zombie and gore department. The story is decent and dark and there is an amazing performance, (easily the best in the movie), by Sherman Howard playing a strangely docile undead. Good stuff.
13. Night of the Creeps (1986)
R | 88 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi
Alien brain parasites, entering humans through the mouth, turn their host into a killing zombie. Some teenagers start to fight against them.
Votes: 20,015 | Gross: $0.59M
This movie had everything kids! Serial killers, zombies, slugs and aliens all combine in this very silly and very fun horromedy. Starting in the 1950s and then continuing in the 1980s this demented piece of cult fare should have something to please any and every horror appetite. "Thrill me!"
14. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
R | 97 min | Comedy, Horror
Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.
Votes: 89,028 | Gross: $30.57M
This weird hilarious and horrific film boasts the greatest transformation scene in film history. After two American backpackers encounter a werewolf- the inevitable repercussions play out in downtown London. Served with a wink and a smile the movie succeeds at scares and laughs. A great time.
15. Re-Animator (1985)
Unrated | 104 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi
After an odd new medical student arrives on campus, a dedicated local and his girlfriend become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue.
Votes: 54,397 | Gross: $2.02M
Wow... just- wow. Truly spectacular special effects are put to work in this utterly off its rocker HP Lovecraft adaptation. This is the film that introduced the world to Jeffry Combs- who still plays variations of this weirdo role decades later. A slightly mad scientist uncovers the key to bringing the dead to life. His even more mad professor wants the credit and will kill to keep his secrets. Indescribable madness ensues. It must be seen to be believed.
16. The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
R | 91 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi
When two bumbling employees at a medical supply warehouse accidentally release a deadly gas into the air, the vapors cause the dead to rise again as zombies.
Votes: 52,988 | Gross: $14.24M
You know how everyone seems to think zombies crave only brains? Well this is the movie that both specified the zombies diet and made them fast and unkillable. It is a funny gory ride of a movie that somehow veers from slapstick to gore to exploitation to thriller all while keeping a straight face. Sort of a masterpiece- if you are a sick sob. A favorite.
17. Near Dark (1987)
R | 94 min | Action, Crime, Drama
A small-town farmer's son reluctantly joins a traveling group of vampires after he is bitten by a beautiful drifter.
Votes: 32,660 | Gross: $3.37M
Half the cast of ALIENS reunites for this modern vampire western. A family of bloodsuckers prey upon the unlucky people who cross their paths. Things get complicated when a new recruit finds himself unwilling to kill and in love with one of the vampires. Better than it sounds. These vampires are mean and violent- so Twilight fans should steer clear. Good stuff.
18. The Hitcher (1986)
R | 97 min | Action, Thriller
A young man who escapes the clutches of a murderous hitchhiker is subsequently stalked by the hitcher and framed for his crimes.
Votes: 42,468 | Gross: $5.84M
This movie plays it really straight considering how increasingly preposterous the story becomes. Rutger Hauer leads a strong cast as a psychopathic hitchhiker who kills all of those who give him a ride. When one of his victims slips the web he stalks, frames and horrifies the poor guy into a final confrontation. Not smart- but scary mean and fun.
19. The Dead Zone (1983)
R | 103 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
A man awakens from a coma to discover he has a psychic ability.
Votes: 59,686 | Gross: $20.77M
David Cronenbergs faithful adaptation of a solid Stephen King novel benefits from a strong premise and a great lead performance from Christopher Walken. After suffering a horrible car crash a man awakes to find he has lost years of his life- and gained the ability to see the future. A worthy and Canadian made horror classic.
20. Heathers (1989)
R | 103 min | Comedy, Crime
In order to get out of the snobby clique that is destroying her good-girl reputation, an intelligent teen teams up with a dark sociopath in a plot to kill the cool kids.
Votes: 85,596 | Gross: $1.11M
Yes I do think this movie belongs on this list. This dark as they come horror comedy is the type of movie that couldn't get made anymore. The subject matter is almost too dark to be funny- but you will laugh and be aghast at the bloody goings on. Veronica gets involved with JD, and through a series of unfortunate events- ends up killing off some of the more popular kids in her high school. Consider this: The original ending was even darker.
21. Creepshow (1982)
R | 120 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
An anthology which tells five terrifying tales inspired by the E.C. horror comic books of the 1950s.
Votes: 40,914 | Gross: $21.03M
George Romero and Stephen King combine their skills to pay tribute to the classic EC horror comics. The resulting anthology is a fun mixed bag full of great gotcha moments. My favorite tale called THE CRATE made an indelible impression on me as a child. Also catch Leslie Neilsons great villainous performance in SOMETHING TO TIDE YOU OVER and old uncle stevey himself as an over the top hayseed in THE LONESOME DEATH OF JORDY VERRIL. Lots of fun here.
22. The Vanishing (1988)
Not Rated | 107 min | Mystery, Thriller
Rex and Saskia, a young couple in love, are on vacation. They stop at a busy service station and Saskia is abducted. After three years and no sign of Saskia, Rex begins receiving letters from the abductor.
This very well made and creepy film was made into a sloppy compromised remake. Make sure you watch the original. After his girlfriend goes missing a man becomes obsessed with learning her fate. One day a soft spoken family man approaches him and makes an offer. He can learn the fate of his beloved- only by going through it himself. Great story with some real chills to it.
23. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Unrated | 83 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
Henry, a drifter, commits a series of brutal murders, supposedly operating with impunity.
Votes: 31,012 | Gross: $0.61M
This ugly piece of cinema was well ahead of its time. Psychologically potent- the movie introduces us to Henry, a soft spoken man capable of anything. Michael Rooker seems to have ice water in his veins in the lead role. There is a weird sort of "found footage" segment in here that is genuinely disturbing and the movie has an almost too real feel to it. Certainly not for everyone- and perhaps just a one time ride- but doubtless it is an effective horror movie.
24. Friday the 13th (1980)
R | 95 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
A group of camp counselors are stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to reopen a summer camp which was the site of a child's drowning and a grisly double murder years before.
Votes: 115,033 | Gross: $39.75M
The story is simple and efficient. Camp councilors go to a lake that has a "death curse" and unsurprisingly encounter a killer. What friday the 13th brings to the table here that its predecessors HALLOWEEN and TCM did not was gore. Tom Savini brings his game to the effects in this memorable slasher tent pole.
25. Evil Dead II (1987)
R | 84 min | Action, Comedy, Fantasy
The lone survivor of an onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits holes up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack.
Votes: 144,206 | Gross: $5.92M
This insane sequel is off the charts madness in a good way. One gets the feeling that only Sam Raimi and Bruce Campell knew that they were making a slapstick comedy more than a horror film- the cast plays things impossibly straight- but much fun is to be had here. More of a batty remake than a sequel- but worthy of its cult status. Amazing cinematography and blood all the colors in the rainbow.
26. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
R | 96 min | Fantasy, Horror
A psychiatrist familiar with knife-wielding dream demon Freddy Krueger helps teens at a mental hospital battle the killer who is invading their dreams.
Votes: 68,472 | Gross: $44.79M
Better than most films that end with a number three- this imaginative sequel empowers Freddy Krugers victims for the first time. Now instead of just fighting to stay awake, the kids learn to harness the powers of their imagination and fight back. Creative kills and a decent screenplay make this a pleasant surprise. Good stuff.
27. Poltergeist (1982)
PG | 114 min | Horror, Thriller
A family's home is haunted by a host of demonic ghosts.
Votes: 138,353 | Gross: $76.61M
This pg supernatural thriller has many speilbergian touches- but the thrills do outweigh the disney feel of the first reel of this picture. A family finds some supernatural goings on in their new home. At first it is thrilling an fun- but soon things start to get more and more threatening. When a family member goes missing in the home- it becomes too late to leave and a thrilling paranormal adventure ensues.
28. Hellraiser (1987)
R | 94 min | Horror, Thriller
An unfaithful wife encounters the zombie of her dead lover; the demonic cenobites are pursuing him after he escaped their sadomasochistic underworld.
Votes: 100,077 | Gross: $14.56M
Many horror movies of the 80s have a sense of humour or a comic twist or wink. Not HELLRAISER. This is an ugly exploration of cruelty and betrayal that pulls very few punches. A small puzzle box acts as a gateway to hell where strange creatures call Cenobites come to bring the pain. Original story helps the fact that Clive Barker is a better author than film maker. Worth a look.
29. Angel Heart (1987)
X | 113 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
A private investigator is hired by a man who calls himself Louis Cyphre to track down a singer named Johnny Favorite. But the investigation takes an unexpected and somber turn.
Votes: 78,274 | Gross: $17.19M
Here is a dark picture about a private detective who is hired to find a missing person by a man with the conspicuous name of Louis Cypher. The movie is actually smarter than that tip of the hand implies. The cast is game and the creepy religious imagery adds to the goings on. Good suspense and the slow pace pays off in the third act.
30. The Believers (1987)
R | 114 min | Crime, Drama, Horror
A New York psychiatrist finds that a brujería-inspired cult, which believes in child sacrifice, has a keen interest in his own son.
Votes: 6,042 | Gross: $18.75M
A strong performance from Martin Sheen as a widow protecting his son from a voodoo cult gives this film perhaps more credibility than it deserves. It does have some disturbing moments- and the sinister and cautionary tale of religious extremism does hit a nerve- but it is not a masterpiece. Familiar horror escapism.
31. Silver Bullet (1985)
R | 95 min | Horror
In a small town, brutal killings start to plague the close knit community. Marty Coslaw, a paraplegic boy, is convinced the murders are the doings of a werewolf.
Votes: 23,131 | Gross: $5.40M
A wheelchair bound boy, his exasperated sister and their alcoholic uncle are the first and last line of defense for the town of Tarkers Mills. They have come to believe a prominent member of the community may just be a werewolf. Stephen King's throwback creature feature hits all the bases and it has surprising levels of violence for a picture anchored by little kids. Fun.
32. Gremlins (1984)
PG | 106 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
A boy inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.
Votes: 191,288 | Gross: $148.17M
This is another one of these films that is a little too scary for kids and a little too silly for grown ups. ah well- it is also great fun and boasts some very strong creature effects and puppetry. Billys exotic new pet saddles him with more responsibility than he is ready for- and when his cute furry friend produces an army of scaly gremlins it is up to him to find a solution. Too weird to not be seen.
33. Dead & Buried (1981)
R | 94 min | Horror, Mystery
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.
Votes: 9,503 | Gross: $0.22M
34. Razorback (1984)
R | 95 min | Horror, Thriller
As a vicious wild boar terrorizes the Australian outback, the husband of one of the victims is joined by a hunter and a farmer in a search for the beast.
Votes: 5,603 | Gross: $0.15M
35. Creepshow 2 (1987)
R | 92 min | Fantasy, Horror
Three more bone-chilling tales that include a vengeful wooden Native American, a monstrous blob in a lake, and a hitchhiker who wants revenge and will not die.
Votes: 21,787 | Gross: $14.00M
36. Halloween II (1981)
R | 92 min | Horror
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.
Votes: 72,150 | Gross: $25.53M
40. The Changeling (1980)
R | 107 min | Horror
After the death of his wife and daughter in a car crash, a music professor staying at an old mansion is dragged into a decades old murder of a child by an inexplicable presence in the mansion's attic.
41. Deadly Blessing (1981)
R | 100 min | Horror, Thriller
After her husband dies under mysterious circumstances, a widow becomes increasingly paranoid of the neighboring religious community that may have diabolical plans for her.
Votes: 4,756 | Gross: $8.28M
42. Altered States (1980)
R | 102 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
A Harvard scientist conducts experiments on himself with a hallucinatory drug and an isolation chamber that may be causing him to regress genetically.
Votes: 31,192 | Gross: $19.85M
43. Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
R | 97 min | Horror, Thriller
Kirsty is brought to an institution after the death of her family, where the occult-obsessive head resurrects Julia and unleashes the Cenobites once again.
Votes: 40,546 | Gross: $11.09M
44. The Howling (1981)
R | 91 min | Horror
After a bizarre and near deadly encounter with a serial killer, a television newswoman is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem.
Votes: 30,028 | Gross: $17.99M
45. Beetlejuice (1988)
PG | 92 min | Comedy, Fantasy