films The Best '80s Thriller Movies  

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List Rules Vote up your favorite suspense films that were released in the 1980s

The 1980s gave us some of the greatest suspense films of all time. Packed with nonstop action, deception, and intrigue, the best ‘80s thriller movies will have you on the edge of your seat, gripping your bag of popcorn, and waiting to see what’s going to explode next.


This list of the top ‘80s thriller movies features many classic pictures. The mobster movie classic
Scarface, for example, makes the list due to its tightly coiled plot and suspenseful mood. Written by Oliver Stone, directed by Brian de Palma, and starring Al Pacino, Scarface initially received mixed reviews, but has since gone on to achieve a high level of prestige. We can’t talk about ‘80s thrillers without mentioning Die Hard. With Bruce Willis facing off against a megalomaniacal terrorist played by Severus Snape himself, Alan Rickman, the first film in the Die Hard franchise does not disappoint. Packed with quotable lines, an intense stand-off, and plenty of fireworks, this film is the quintessential ‘80s action thriller.


Here, you’ll also find everyone’s favorite Caped Crusader.
Batman, starring Michael Keaton in the titular role, pits the Dark Knight against Jack Nicholson’s The Joker. The film went on to influence the superhero genre immensely, setting the stage for numerous sequels, spinoffs, and an animated series. What do you think are the greatest ‘80s thriller movies? Vote up your favorites, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section. 

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Die Hard is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Die Hard Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia Die Hard is a 1988 American action film directed by John McTiernan and written by Steven E. de Souza and Jeb Stuart. It is based on the 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever, by Roderick Thorp. Die Hard follows off-duty New York City Police ...more

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Scarface is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Scarface Michelle Pfeiffer, Al Pacino, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio Scarface is a 1983 American crime drama film directed by Brian De Palma and written by Oliver Stone. A remake of the 1932 film of the same name, Scarface tells the story of Cuban refugee Tony Montana who arrives in 1980s Miami with nothing, and ...more

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Batman is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Batman Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free TrialBatman is a 1989 American superhero film directed by Tim Burton and produced by Jon Peters, based on the DC Comics character of the same name. It is the first installment of Warner Bros.' initial Batman film series. The film stars Jack ...more

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First Blood is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
First Blood Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy, David Caruso Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free TrialFirst Blood is a 1982 American psychological thriller and action film directed by Ted Kotcheff, co-written by and starring Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo, a troubled and misunderstood veteran. Brian Dennehy and Richard Crenna appeared in ...more

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The Road Warrior is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
The Road Warrior The Road Warrior is a 2013 short biographical drama sports film directed by Brian Mitchell.

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Escape from New York is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Escape from New York Jamie Lee Curtis, Kurt Russell, Ernest Borgnine Escape from New York is a 1981 American science fiction action film co-written, co-scored, and directed by John Carpenter. The film is set in a then near-future 1997 in a crime-ridden United States that has converted Manhattan Island in New ...more

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The Untouchables is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
The Untouchables Robert De Niro, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner The Untouchables is a 1987 American crime drama film directed by Brian De Palma and written by David Mamet. Based on the book The Untouchables, the film stars Kevin Costner as government agent Eliot Ness. It also stars Robert De Niro as gang ...more

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Christine is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Christine Kelly Preston, Alexandra Paul, John Madden Christine is a 1983 American horror thriller film directed by John Carpenter and starring Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul and Harry Dean Stanton. It was written by Bill Phillips and based on the homonymous novel by Stephen King, ...more

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Friday the 13th is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Friday the 13th Kevin Bacon, Tom Savini, Betsy Palmer Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free TrialFriday the 13th is a 1980 American slasher film directed by Sean S. Cunningham and written by Victor Miller. The film concerns a group of teenagers who are murdered one by one while attempting to re-open an abandoned campground, and stars Betsy ...more

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WarGames is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
WarGames Matthew Broderick, William H. Macy, Ally Sheedy WarGames is a 1983 American Cold War science-fiction film written by Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes and directed by John Badham. The film stars Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, John Wood, and Ally Sheedy. The film follows David ...more

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Fright Night is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Fright Night Christopher Lee, Roddy McDowall, Chris Sarandon Fright Night is a 1985 American horror comedy film written and directed by Tom Holland and produced by Herb Jaffe. It stars William Ragsdale, Chris Sarandon, Roddy McDowall and Amanda Bearse. The film's plot follows young Charley Brewster who ...more

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The Running Man is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
The Running Man Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura The Running Man is a 1987 American science fiction action film loosely based on the 1982 novel The Running Man, written by Stephen King and published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. Directed by Paul Michael Glaser, the film stars Arnold ...more

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RoboCop is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
RoboCop Alex Van Halen, Peter Weller, Leeza Gibbons Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free TrialSergeant Warren Reed is a fictional character from the film series RoboCop, RoboCop 2, RoboCop 3.

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The Hitcher is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
The Hitcher Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell The Hitcher is a 1986 action horror film directed by Robert Harmon and written by Eric Red. The film stars Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jeffrey DeMunn.

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Red Dawn is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Red Dawn Charlie Sheen, Patrick Swayze, Lea Thompson Red Dawn is a 1984 American war film directed by John Milius and co-written by Milius and Kevin Reynolds. It stars Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Charlie Sheen, and Jennifer Grey. The film is set in an alternate 1980s in which ...more

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Blade Runner is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
stubb added Blade Runner Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah, Sean Young Blade Runner is a 1982 American neo-noir dystopian science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is a ...more

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Witness is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Witness Harrison Ford, Viggo Mortensen, Danny Glover Witness is a 1985 American thriller film directed by Peter Weir and starring Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis. The screenplay by William Kelley, Pamela Wallace, and Earl W. Wallace focuses on a detective protecting a young Amish boy who becomes ...more

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Mississippi Burning is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Mississippi Burning Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand Mississippi Burning is a 1988 American crime thriller film directed by Alan Parker and written by Chris Gerolmo. It was loosely based on the FBI investigation into the murders of three civil rights workers in the U.S. state of Mississippi in ...more

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Blow Out is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Blow Out John Travolta, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free TrialBlow Out is a 1981 thriller film, written and directed by Brian De Palma. The film stars John Travolta as Jack Terry, a movie sound effects technician from Philadelphia who, while recording sounds for a low-budget slasher film, serendipitously ...more

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Creepshow is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Creepshow Stephen King, Ed Harris, Ted Danson Creepshow is a 1982 horror anthology film with elements of black comedy directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King. The film's ensemble cast included Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson and E. ...more

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The Dead Zone is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
The Dead Zone Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, Tom Skerritt The Dead Zone is a 1983 American horror thriller film directed by David Cronenberg. The screenplay by Jeffrey Boam was based on the 1979 novel of the same name by Stephen King. The film stars Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt, ...more

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The Abyss is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
The Abyss Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Chris Elliott The Abyss is a 1989 American science fiction-adventure film written and directed by James Cameron, starring Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Michael Biehn. When an American submarine sinks in the Caribbean, the US search and recovery ...more

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Body Heat is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Body Heat Mickey Rourke, Kathleen Turner, William Hurt Body Heat is a 1981 American neo-noir erotic thriller film written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan. It stars William Hurt, Kathleen Turner and Richard Crenna, and features Ted Danson, J.A. Preston, and Mickey Rourke. The film was inspired by ...more

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Body Double is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Body Double Melanie Griffith, Dennis Franz, Deborah Shelton Body Double is a 1984 American erotic thriller film directed by Brian De Palma and starring Craig Wasson, Melanie Griffith, and Gregg Henry. The original musical score was composed by Pino Donaggio. The film was a direct homage to the films of ...more

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48 Hrs. is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
48 Hrs. Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte, Annette O'Toole Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial48 Hrs. is a 1982 American action comedy film directed by Walter Hill, starring Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy as a cop and convict, respectively, who team up to catch a cop-killer. The title refers to the amount of time they have to solve the ...more

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Blood Simple is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Blood Simple Holly Hunter, Frances McDormand, M. Emmet Walsh Blood Simple is a 1984 neo-noir crime film written, produced and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It was the directorial debut of the Coens and the first major film of cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld, who later became a noted director, as well ...more

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The Changeling is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
The Changeling George C. Scott, Melvyn Douglas, Barry Morse The Changeling is a 1980 Canadian/American horror film directed by Peter Medak and starring George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere. The story is based upon events that writer Russell Hunter said he experienced while he was living in the Henry ...more

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To Live and Die in L.A. is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
To Live and Die in L.A. Willem Dafoe, John Turturro, Jane Leeves To Live and Die in L.A. is a 1985 American action thriller film directed by William Friedkin and based on the novel by former U.S. Secret Service agent Gerald Petievich, who co-wrote the screenplay with Friedkin. The film features William ...more

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Dressed to Kill is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Dressed to Kill Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Dennis Franz Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free TrialDressed to Kill is a 1980 American erotic crime thriller film written and directed by Brian De Palma and starring Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen and Keith Gordon. It centers on the murder of a housewife and an investigation ...more

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Manhunter is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Manhunter Brian Cox, Garcelle Beauvais, Joan Allen Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free TrialManhunter is a 1986 American crime thriller film based on Thomas Harris' novel Red Dragon. Written and directed by Michael Mann, it stars William Petersen as Will Graham and features Brian Cox as Hannibal Lecktor. When asked to investigate a ...more

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Eyewitness is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Eyewitness Morgan Freeman, Sigourney Weaver, James Woods Eyewitness is a 1981 thriller film about a television news reporter and a janitor who team up to solve a murder. The film was directed by Peter Yates, written by Steve Tesich and stars William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, and Christopher Plummer. ...more

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Suspect is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Tony Buffone added Suspect Cher, Liam Neeson, Dennis Quaid Suspect is a 1987 mystery/courtroom film drama starring Cher, Dennis Quaid and Liam Neeson. Other notable cast members include John Mahoney, Joe Mantegna, Fred Melamed, and Philip Bosco. The film was directed by Peter Yates. ...more

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Police Story is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Police Story Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung Police Story is a 1985 Hong Kong action film written and directed by Jackie Chan, who also starred in the lead role. It is the first of the Police Story series featuring Chan as a Hong Kong police detective named "Kevin" Chan Ka-Kui. ...more

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The Vanishing is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
The Vanishing Johanna ter Steege, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets The Vanishing is a Dutch–French film adaptation of the novella The Golden Egg by Tim Krabbé, released on 27 October 1988. Directed by George Sluizer and starring Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, the film is about the disappearance of a young ...more

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kha... is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Kirstie Alley, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a 1982 sci-fi film written by Jack B. Sowards and Nicholas Meyer adn directed by Nicholas Meyer.

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Thief is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Thief Willie Nelson, James Caan, Tuesday Weld Thief is a 1981 neo-noir film written and directed by Michael Mann and based on the 1975 novel The Home Invaders: Confessions of a Cat Burglar by "Frank Hohimer". The film stars James Caan as the titular thief and Tuesday Weld as his ...more

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Nineteen Eighty-Four is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Nineteen Eighty-Four John Hurt, Annie Lennox, Richard Burton Nineteen Eighty-Four, also known as 1984, is a 1984 British dystopian drama film written for the screen and directed by Michael Radford, based upon George Orwell's novel of the same name. Starring John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton, ...more

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No Way Out is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
stubb added No Way Out Brad Pitt, Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman No Way Out is a 1987 thriller film. It stars Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman, and Sean Young. Will Patton, Howard Duff, George Dzundza, Jason Bernard, Fred Thompson, and Iman appear in supporting roles. The film is a remake of 1948's The Big Clock. ...more

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Blue Velvet is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Blue Velvet Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern Blue Velvet is a 1986 American mystery thriller flm, written and directed by David Lynch. The film stars Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper and Laura Dern. The title is taken from The Clovers' 1955 song of the same name. ...more

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For Your Eyes Only is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
For Your Eyes Only Roger Moore, Sheena Easton, Charles Dance For Your Eyes Only is the twelfth spy film in the James Bond series, and the fifth to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. It marked the directorial debut of John Glen, who had worked as editor and second unit director in ...more

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Angel Heart is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Angel Heart Robert De Niro, Mickey Rourke, Lisa Bonet Angel Heart is a 1987 American horror mystery film written and directed by Alan Parker, and starring Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, and Lisa Bonet. The film, adapted from the novel Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg, earned mostly positive ...more

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Videodrome is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Videodrome Debbie Harry, James Woods, David Cronenberg Videodrome is a 1983 Canadian postmodernist science fiction body horror film written and directed by David Cronenberg, starring James Woods, Sonja Smits, and Deborah Harry. Set in Toronto in the early 1980s, it follows the CEO of a small ...more

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House of Games is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
House of Games William H. Macy, Joe Mantegna, J. T. Walsh House of Games is David Mamet's 1987 directorial debut. He also wrote the screenplay, based on a story he wrote with Jonathan Katz. The film's cast includes Lindsay Crouse, Joe Mantegna, Ricky Jay, and J. T. Walsh. ...more

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Star Trek III: The Search for ... is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock William Shatner, Christopher Lloyd, Leonard Nimoy Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is a 1984 American science fiction film released by Paramount Pictures. The film is the third feature film of the Star Trek science fiction franchise and is the center of a three-film story arc that begins ...more

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The Killer is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
The Killer Chow Yun-Fat, Kenneth Tsang, Danny Lee The Killer is a 1989 Hong Kong action film written and directed by John Woo, and starring Chow Yun-fat, Danny Lee and Sally Yeh. Chow plays the assassin Ah Jong, who accidentally damages the eyes of the singer Jennie during a shootout. He later ...more

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Salvador is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Salvador James Woods, Jim Belushi, Cynthia Gibb Salvador is a 1986 war drama film written by Oliver Stone and Richard Boyle, and directed by Stone. It stars James Woods, James Belushi, Michael Murphy, and Elpidia Carrillo, with John Savage, and Cynthia Gibb in supporting roles. The film ...more

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Dead of Winter is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Dead of Winter Mary Steenburgen, Roddy McDowall, William Russ Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free TrialDead of Winter is a thriller film made in 1987. It was directed by Arthur Penn and is a loose remake of the 1945 film My Name Is Julia Ross. It stars Mary Steenburgen, who plays three roles.