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The 10 Best Horror Movies of the 80’s

Ten creepy movies to scare you this Halloween season. What’s scarier, the monsters or the bad 80s haircuts?

This list is in no way a scientific endeavor – It is compiled from my own experiences as a child in the 80s. These movies have helped shape my oh so precious psyche. Enjoy!


“They’re here…” I’m sure, like most of these movies, the special effects look cheesy. Having said that, watching a grown man tear through his own face, no matter how cheesy, is still good-old-fashioned-horror-movie fun. This is nearly a flawless horror movie, not appropriately cheesy for a Halloween gathering, but great for a movie rental.

The Shining

I’m hesitant to put this one in the horror movie category because it’s a classic in it’s own right. It’s yet another Stephen King inspired horror movie, 3rd on the list. The Shining has one of the most memorable lines ever, “Here’s Johnny!”. Turn the lights low, grab some popcorn, and get ready for the redrum.

Nightmare on Elm Street

No movie did more to scare me as a kid than this one. A man that stalks you in your dreams, has a full hand of knives, and a wicked sense of humor. Notice how no one wears red and green striped sweaters anymore? It’s not just a fashion no-no, it’s a Freddy flashback.

Friday the 13th

This movie set off a whole series of sequels, though Jason is surprisingly absent from this first movie. Want to win at trivia games? Remember this, Mrs. Voorhies. Once you see the movie, you’ll know what I mean.


An all-time favorite, Pinhead is one of the best monster/villains. His ability to inflict pain with absolutely no remorse goes beyond any other horror movie villain. Not to mention, his freakish appearance is enough to instill fear in the bravest of us. He looks like a unique mixture of Punk and Goth with just a hint of demon.

Children of the Corn

Based on a Stephen King novella, this is a tale every parent should watch. A town of children, led by a fanatical preacher, kills all the adults in the town. These children worship a force that lives in the corn fields. Think about that before sending little Timmy and Bobbie Sue to bed early without any dinner.

The Lost Boys

Every person I know that was a teenager in the 80s has seen this film and cherishes it. A group of young studs turn out to belong to the legion of the undead. Who has the awful task of hunting them down? How about the Two Coreys! Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. To make it even cooler, the vampires road motorcycles and had wicked cool 80s metal hair cuts.

Sleepaway Camp

A favorite, yet cheesy, horror flick. The whole movie isn’t great, but the last five minutes are totally worth the time investment. There’s a catchphrase at the end, which is also a spoiler, so I will not repeat it here, but you will be saying it at inappropriate times for years to come.

Pet Cemetery

Yes, another movie about bringing the dead back to life. Really people, let the dead go! This time, it’s a sacred burial ground that gets them hopping; except that when they come back, they’re insane murderers. This movie, though not as gory as some others, is definitely a spooky little thriller.

The Re-Animator

An intense young med-student is hell bent on reanimating the dead, hence the name. Does he succeed? You bet your living cells he does. Not only can he bring back the dead, but he can reanimate individual body parts. For instance, he brings a severed head back to life. Very gory, and a cult classic as well.

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  1. swapna
    Posted September 23, 2008 at 8:32 am

    really nice…

  2. jo oliver
    Posted September 23, 2008 at 10:46 am

    While I do not share your love of Halloween, I do share your love of scary 80’s movies.

    How dare you leave out Micheal Myers (Halloween)>LOL!

    Sleepaway camp was my first taste of sex education- for anyone that remembers the last shot of the movie.

    Great picks.

  3. Lauren Axelrod
    Posted September 23, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    I love these types of movies. The 80’s ones were always the best. However, when I go to see these types of movies now I kind of giggle about the fact the special affects in the old ones were so cheesy. Gotta love em.

  4. Ancient Aspie
    Posted September 23, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Horror movies have never turned me on, so I’ve seen only about half of your choices. Re-animator is probably the best, and The Shining the worst. Hate to say that about a Kubrick film, but there it is.

  5. Ruby Hawk
    Posted September 23, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    I used to watch Horror Movies but no more unless I change my mind. I think the one that finished me was Silence of the lamb. It still gives me shivers. The Shining was bad too and Children of the Corn. Good selection, Ruby

  6. eileenprince
    Posted September 24, 2008 at 12:25 am

    Really good read :) I used to love the 80’s horror flicks, in fact I like them even better than the present day ones. I loved the shining, it gives me chills just thinking about it. Love all your other selections too. I haven’t watched sleepaway camp though and that re-animator though.

  7. eddiego65
    Posted September 24, 2008 at 7:03 am

    Great list of horror films.

  8. BC Doan
    Posted September 24, 2008 at 8:36 am

    I’m not a horror movies watcher! Too scary for me!

  9. MJ Taylor
    Posted September 24, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    I’ve only just recently (early this year) seen all the Children of the corn movies on the horror channel. Even though they were made so long ago, it scared the wits out of me. Those corn children really make you think. The first two Freddy movies were really good. Even as I type I can hear the chanting, ‘One, two Freddy’s coming for you!’ However, the movie that really gave me nightmares, even up to 5 years ago, was friday the 13th series, but only the one’s with Jason. On occassions, I still feel scared of this character. I think it’s because there is something real and too close to home about him. The silent destroyer that makes no comments in the process (like Michael Myers). The fact that in some series, he can disappear from one place and reappear in another unexpectedly. I would love to be able to watch all the series again back to back one day.

  10. Bozsi Rose
    Posted September 24, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Oh MJ, you’re a person after my own heart. I have never been more scared of a horror villian than Jason either. The mask is what did it for me, and what was beneath it.

    Thanks for all the comments guys! This post was just a ton of fun to make. I may try to do one with the 90s as well!

  11. Allison Jae
    Posted September 29, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Wow! I love horror movies. They’ew like comedies to me, and the creepier the better. You have some of my all time favs here. Who doesn’t love the shining. I particularly loved that scene where the blood was rushing down the hallways, and those two creepy little girls.

    I don’t know anyone who hasn’t seen The Lost Boys. And Pet Cemetery. Even if you hate the movie, you got to love the song. Thanks for this article. You made me want to dig up all my old horror films.

    You did forget one. Cat People. That was an awesome film.

  12. jeremy
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    I thought this list was very respectable, exept for the inclusion of children of the corn. major stink fest. how scary can inbread amish kids really be? this list would have been alot better with the evil dead, but made up for it by including hellraiser, friday the 13th, lost boys and the shinning. benchmark horror right there!

    keep slashing!!!

  13. Posted June 29, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I am a huge fan of horror films, but the one from the 80’s are way better than the ones from today!

  14. joosep raudik
    Posted October 31, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    hey, please someone help me, i saw at childhood one good horror movie, and i dont remember the movie name, it was like that… there was 1 meter tall space ugly guy (with hat) and one scene he was coming out someones dick, it was hilarious… but its kinda creepy movie, i remeber also there was 2 movies from that film or even more… all i can remember one short ugly guy at cosmos… can someone help me with that movies name… i dont find it nowhere… SORRY FOR MY ENGLISH!

  15. Posted November 5, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    I am the biggest horror buff ever!! I grew up on all the cheesy 70’s horror flicks… great stuff. I’ve pretty much seen it all…I never miss a horror movie no matter how dumb, cheesy or disappointing it may turn out to be… I LOVE horror! I’m a fan of all genres but the Blood-ier & Gory-ier the better!! This is a GREAT list except for the Children of the Corn…. I agree with a previous comment….. you should have listed Evil Dead in its place. The catch phrase the demon tauntingly repeats while trapped in the basement was haunting…. “I’ll sallow you soul, I’ll swallow you soul!” And that wicked evil laugh…… Good stuff!

  16. Posted January 9, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    evil dead, critters, & George A. Romero’s undead films?

  17. s
    Posted February 23, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    I LOVE THE SHINING!!!! XD <3 <3

  18. coltonhill
    Posted March 23, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    josep raudik, that movie is leprechaun

  19. Posted April 17, 2010 at 12:45 am

    My personal all time favories of those wonderful Horror movies

    1. Return of the Living Dead
    2. From Beyond
    3. Hellraiser
    4. Phantasm
    5. The Re Animator
    6. Evil Dead
    7. Friday the 13th
    8. House
    9. 976-evil
    10. Scanners

  20. Christina
    Posted May 10, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    In the 80\’s I watched a movie about a girl who aged really fast into an old woman with long white hair and long fingernails. That is all I can remember about it. Would anyone happen to know the name of this movie?

  21. Posted May 27, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    maby Warlock

  22. kim
    Posted October 2, 2010 at 4:54 am

    i saw this movie when i was a child and it really creeped me out, all i remember is this guy had a face in his hand and it kept talking to him, possibly encouraging him to do bad things? i’m 25 if that helps to narrow down a timeframe

  23. Posted October 19, 2010 at 5:54 am

    I like the list at Horror Film Trailers top 100:

    Changeling was their #1

  24. Ross Jacobs
    Posted August 21, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Definitely needs some Evil Dead but otherwise I think you hit the nail on the head. I saw a lot of cheesy 80s horror (Puppet Master anyone) – Phantasm was also a good one. I bet you can find even more great picks at http://www.filmcrave.com/list_genre_movie.php?genre=Horror

  25. Paul hepburn
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 9:35 am

    ok, you do have great horror movies here. but what happened to the fly?
    why would you leave that out. it was a great film! mutation and acid dissolving body parts.
    who doesnt love that

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