One of the best things about the 1980’s were the horror movies, that’s why there are so many remakes now. Some of the films from this decade may have been pretty cheesy, but the originality was off the charts.
There was literally never a dull moment when it came to films in the 80’s. We had everything from talking plants that ate people whole, to droids that killed teenagers in shopping malls.
Some people think back to the 1980’s and remember it was all about the cult classics featuring our favorites like Leatherface and Jason Voorhees. But there was so much more to it than that.
Sure there was a lot of slasher films in the 80’s, but there were also films that broke ground for a new breed of psychological thrillers like we’d never seen before.
Take a horrifying trip down memory lane with us as we remember our top 15 horror movies from the 1980’s.
15. The Fly.
Technically, this film wasn’t created in the 1980’s. The original version of this movie came out in 1958, but most people don’t know that because it was like a kids movie in comparison to the 1986 remake.
Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis star as Seth Brundle, a self-involved research scientist, and Veronica Quaife, a science-magazine reporter. After inviting Veronica to his lab, Brundle shows her his telepod, which can transfer matter through space. When he puts himself in the telepod, he doesn’t realize he is sharing the pod with a housefly.
The rest of the movie shows his disgustingly terrifying transformation into a fly. If you’re a lover of gore, this flick is for you.
14. Child’s Play
Every child can remember seeing a toy on a commercial and not wanting anything else more in the world. Well, that’s how 6-year-old Andy Barclay felt until his mother, Karen got him a Good Guys doll.
Unbeknownst to Andy and his mother, the toy is possessed by the spirit of a serial killer named Charles Lee Ray. The rest of the movie and the six sequels spawned by this classic shows Chucky murdering anyone that gets in his way.
Three of the films were box office successes with all of the films earning over $182 million worldwide.
Including revenues from sales of videos, DVDs, Video, and merchandise, the franchise has generated over $250 million. It also won a Saturn Award for Best Horror Franchise.
Basketcase is a creepy horror film that still has some people enamored with it today as it did back then. This monster film came out in 1982 and was written and directed by Frank Henenlotter.
Kevin Van Hentenryck stars as a normal-looking guy who seeks revenge for the unwanted surgery that separated him from his deformed conjoined twin brother. Sounds reasonable enough, right?
The kicker is the fact that the deformed twin, Belial, is still alive and also wants vengeance. This movie feels like something we shouldn’t be watching and the level of gore is impressive, to say the least.
12. The Hitcher.
At first, it takes a while to wrap your brain around what is really going on, but watching it, later on, you come to realize that the victim in this movie is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome where he starts identifying with the killer.
The Villian in this story is presented to us without a past, motive or history and that’s what makes this film so terrifying. He’s just a madman with a lust for murder. If You like gore and slasher films, this one is definitely for you.
Creepshow directed by George A. Romero could be in a list all on its own, Creepshow came out in 1982 and was Stephen King’s screenwriting debut. The film has an all-star cast, including King himself, this was the first time that he had ever acted on film.
Creepshow was filmed on location in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area, including Monroeville, where Romero leased an abandoned boys academy (Penn Hall) to build extensive sets for the film.
The film focused on five short stories: Father’s Day, The Lonesome Death of Jory Verrill, Something to Tide You Over, They’re Creeping Up on You, and The Crate. The movie pays homage to 1950’s DC and EC horror comics.
In order for the flick to give viewers that original comic book feeling, Romero hired long-time effects specialist Tom Savini. The film earned a massive $21,028,755 in the United States.
10. Pet Semetary.
This movie has it all! Gore, horror, pets that come back to life. Louis, Rachel and their two children, Ellie and Gage, move from Chicago to rural Maine. Creed goes in to work on his first day at his new job as a doctor at The University of Maine.
Creed meets Victor Pascow, a jogger who is brought in with severe injuries from a car accident. Pascow warns Creed, by name (even though he’s never met him) about the dangers of the pet cemetery. Louis doesn’t heed Pascow’s warnings, and a series of misfortunate events lead to one of the scariest movies of our time.
The film grossed $57 million in North America. Released in 1989 by Paramount Home Video, Pet Sematary was a best-selling video.
Our number 9 on this list is another box office hit that was based off a Stephen King book. Christine was released in 1983 and is a psychological horror film directed by John Carpenter. In the fall of 1957 in Detroit, Michigan, a bright red 1958 Plymouth Fury claims her first victim in the form of a lineman at the Chrysler Corporation.
He would be the first of many victims. This car is not playing around. Christine will murder anyone that dares to mess with her owner. 21 years later, in September 1978, Arnold “Arnie” Cunningham sees Christine for sale on the side of the road and buys her, much to the dismay of his friends and family. That’s when things take a turn for the worse.
This movie has kept viewers on the edge of their seats and will continue to do so. Upon its release, the film brought in $21 million at the box office. Despite a mixed reception among critics, the film has become a cult classic.
Poltergeist graced the screen in 1982. Steven Spielberg wrote the film, but due to a clause in his contract, he wasn’t allowed to do any other movies while he made E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
Because of this clause, Spielberg enlisted the help of Director Tobe Hooper. When Spielberg first approached Hooper with the script, the movie was going to be a sequel to Close Encounters of The Third Kind.
Hooper, who was more well known for his work on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre told Spielberg that he thought Poltergeist would be better as a ghost story. He couldn’t have been more right.
The setting for the movie Poltergeist is a swanky brand new subdivision in Orange County, California planned community called Cuesta Verde. Steven Freeling and his family aren’t living there long when strange things start happening. It all takes a horrific turn when the Freelings youngest daughter, Carol Anne, gets pulled into the TV.
We’re not going to ruin the ending for those of you that haven’t seen it, but is scary and ut it may make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
7. Hell Raiser.
Hellraiser is a 1987 British-American horror film written and directed by Clive Barker. The movie is based on Barker’s book, The Hellbound Heart. While visiting Morocco, Frank Cotton buys a puzzle box from an antique dealer.
When Cotton takes it home and solves the puzzle, the box opens and hooks emerge. The hooks precede to rip him limb from limb, an otherworldly gang of monsters rules the puzzle box called the Cenobites. A terrifying creature named Pinhead governs the Cenobites.
Once you have seen Pinhead, he will haunt your dreams. While there have always been mixed reviews about Hell Raiser, it’s still a horror classic that is loved by millions.
6. The Howling.
Karen White is a news reporter that is being stalked by a serial killer. In cooperation with the Feds, she takes part in a scheme to catch the killer by agreeing to meet him. After the murderer is shot, Karen’s therapist sends her and her husband to a private resort called “The Colony” to recuperate.
The Colony is filled with strange characters. They aren’t there long when Karen’s husband Bill is seduced by a woman that turns into a werewolf in the moonlight. That is just the beginning of this terrifying thriller. Since The Howling’s release in 1981, there have been seven sequels made.
The film is deemed a moderate success by most but managed to bring in $17.9 million at the box office.
5. Evil Dead.
Ashley “Ash” Williams (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend and three pals hike into the woods to a cabin for a fun night away. When they get to the cabin, they find an old book, The Necronomicon.
The gang starts reading from the book and the dead start rising. Ash watches as his friends become possessed one by one and are faced with a difficult decision by daybreak.
The film grossed $25.8 million in its opening weekend, finishing first at the box office. It went on to gross $54.2 million domestically and $43.3 million internationally, for a worldwide take of $97.5 million, against its $17 million budget, making it a box office success.
4. Children of the Corn.
If you know anything about Indiana, you know there’s cornfields everywhere, Children of the Corn is an American film based upon Stephen King’s 1977 short story of the same name that was released in 1984.
Set in a fictitious rural town in Gatlin, Nebraska, the film tells the tale of an evil entity aptly named “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.” Two sinister teens, Issac and his sidekick Malachi lead the children in a revolution, killing all the adults in town.
Roger Ebert from the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film 1 out of 4 stars, writing, “By the end of Children of the Corn, the only thing moving behind the rows is the audience, fleeing to the exits.” I’m going to assume they were leaving from sheer terror.
3. Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer.
Now we’re getting to the nitty-gritty. The scariest boogeymen of all are the ones that actually exist.
Henry (Michael Rooker) is released from prison following his mother’s murder. He supplements his menial jobs with murders and violent crimes. Together with his fellow convict friend Otis, Henry terrorizes the streets.
No one is safe, and this was a truly horrific movie because there are people that walk among us every day that think the same way Henry does.
The film is based on the true-life story of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.
2. The Shining.
Desolated isolation; that is the feeling you may remember when you watched The Shining for the first time, also, the sense of impending doom. You may also remember wishing that you could ride a tricycle around that motel until…
The Shining focuses on Jack Torrance, an up and coming writer, and former alcoholic who accepts a position as a groundskeeper at a motel during the offseason. Everything is going great until Torrance’s son, Jack, starts seeing visions of the hotels horrific past and future.
The characters and settings are influenced by King’s private and personal experiences, including both his stay at The Stanley Hotel in 1974 and his recovery from alcoholism.
That moment mans best friend becomes mans worst enemy, this movie made our number one spot for a reason.
We bet that all of us have had that crazy aunt that is still warning everyone about the dangers of rabid animals. Right? Please don’t get us wrong, Rabies is a very serious thing, but this movie literally made people foam at the mouth. (Pun intended)
On a hot summer day, ordinarily friendly companion Cujo is bitten by a bat, this Saint Bernard is usually a gentle giant, but rabies waits for no man or woman.
As Donna and her son, Tad would soon find out. Stuck in her broke down car, Donna must figure a way to keep her and her son alive against all the odds.
What was your favorite 1980’s horror movie? Please let us know in the comments.