80s Movies The Best '80s Horror Movies  

Ranker Horror
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68.5k votes 3.3k voters 148.6k views 162 items

List Rules Movies in the horror genre that were originally released in the 1980s

This list of the best 80s horror movies is a lengthy one, with good reason. The 1980s were a phenomenal decade for horror films, with some of the best, scariest, creepiest and in some cases, campiest films ever made. Several of the greatest horror films ever made were released in the 80s. This list of the top scary films from the 1980s is by no means complete, so feel free to vote for your favorites and please, add any great ones that are missing. You can also rerank this list any way you like.

The 1980s ushered in a kind of golden age for horror movies, with so many titles coming out so fast that it was difficult to keep up. Every week, a handful of new and freaky horror films were released in theaters. And sequels? Oh good grief, the sequels! '80s horror movies included the originals and sequels for the wildly popular Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead, and Friday the 13th franchises. Halloween, while released in the late-1970s, did spawn several sequels released in the 80s.

While slasher horror films and monster movies have existed since the early days of cinema, the genre reached its height in the 1980s. Every major horror film, with a handful of exceptions, featured some sort of psycho killer on the loose, stalking poor, helpless (and clueless!) teenagers. Sometimes these killers were human, other times they were aliens or – gasp!murderous clowns. Graphic violence was the norm, the shock value kept going higher and higher, and these films were certainly among the most nausea-inducing great films of all time.

Need more horror? Check out the best 1990s horror movies as well!

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The Shining Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers The Shining is a 1980 British-American psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, ...more

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A Nightmare on Elm Street Johnny Depp, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp A Nightmare on Elm Street is a 1984 American supernatural slasher horror film written and directed by Wes Craven, and the first film of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. The film stars ...more

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The Thing Kurt Russell, Keith David, John Carpenter The Thing is a 1982 American science fiction horror film directed by John Carpenter, written by Bill Lancaster, and starring Kurt Russell. The film's title refers to its primary antagonist: a ...more

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Poltergeist Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Heather O'Rourke Poltergeist is a 1982 American supernatural thriller film, directed by Tobe Hooper and co-written and produced by Steven Spielberg. It is the first and most successful entry in the Poltergeist ...more

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Friday the 13th Kevin Bacon, Tom Savini, Betsy Palmer Friday 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 ...more

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Aliens Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn Aliens is a 1986 American science-fiction action horror film written and directed by James Cameron, produced by his then-wife Gale Anne Hurd, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael ...more

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Pet Sematary Stephen King, Fred Gwynne, Denise Crosby Pet Sematary is a 1989 American horror film adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name. Directed by Mary Lambert and written by King, the film features Dale Midkiff as Louis Creed, ...more

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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. ...more

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Halloween II Jamie Lee Curtis, Dana Carvey, Kyle Richards Halloween II is a 1981 slasher horror film directed by Rick Rosenthal, and written and produced by John Carpenter and Debra Hill. It is the second installment in the Halloween series and is a ...more

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The Evil Dead Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi The Evil Dead is a 1981 American horror film written and directed by Sam Raimi and executive produced by Raimi and Bruce Campbell, who also stars alongside Ellen Sandweiss and Betsy Baker. The ...more

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An American Werewolf in London Jenny Agutter, Frank Oz, Rik Mayall An American Werewolf in London is a 1981 horror comedy film written and directed by John Landis, and starring David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, and Griffin Dunne. The film starts with two young ...more

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The Lost Boys Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, Corey Haim The Lost Boys is a 1987 American teen horror film starring Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Kiefer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, Corey Feldman, Dianne Wiest, Edward Herrmann, Alex Winter, Jamison Newlander, ...more

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Hellraiser Doug Bradley, Andrew Robinson, Ashley Laurence Hellraiser is a 1987 British horror film written and directed by Clive Barker, based upon his own novella The Hellbound Heart. The film spawned a series of sequels.

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Child's Play Brad Dourif, Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon Child's Play is a 1988 American horror film directed by Tom Holland, written by Tom Holland, Don Mancini, and John Lafia, and starring Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, and Brad ...more

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Friday the 13th Part 2 Betsy Palmer, Lauren-Marie Taylor, Warrington Gillette Friday the 13th Part 2 is a 1981 American horror film directed by Steve Miner. It is a direct sequel to Friday the 13th, picking up five years after that film's conclusion, where a new murderer ...more

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The Return of the Living Dead Clu Gulager, James Karen, Linnea Quigley The Return of the Living Dead is a 1985 American black comedy/zombie horror film written and directed by Dan O'Bannon and starring Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa and Linnea Quigley. The ...more

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Evil Dead II Bruce Campbell, Kassie DePaiva, Ted Raimi Evil Dead II is a 1987 American horror comedy film directed by Sam Raimi and a parody sequel to the 1981 film The Evil Dead. The film was written by Raimi and Scott Spiegel, produced by Robert ...more

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Gremlins Steven Spielberg, Corey Feldman, Phoebe Cates Gremlins is a 1984 American horror comedy film directed by Joe Dante, released by Warner Bros. The film is about a young man who receives a strange creature called a mogwai as a pet, which then ...more

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The Fly Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum, David Cronenberg The Fly is a 1986 American science fiction horror film directed and co-written by David Cronenberg. Produced by Brooksfilms and distributed by 20th Century Fox, the film stars Jeff Goldblum, ...more

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Children of the Corn Linda Hamilton, Peter Horton, R. G. Armstrong Children of the Corn is a 1984 supernatural horror film based upon the 1977 short story of the same name by Stephen King. Directed by Fritz Kiersch, the film stars Peter Horton and Linda ...more

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Predator Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, Carl Weathers Predator is a 1987 American science fiction action film directed by John McTiernan and was distributed by 20th Century Fox. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill ...more

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John Carpenter's The Fog Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, Tom Welling The Fog is a 1980 American horror film directed by John Carpenter, who also co-wrote the screenplay and composed the music for the film. It stars Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Atkins, ...more

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The Howling Dee Wallace, John Sayles, Slim Pickens The Howling is a 1981 werewolf-themed horror film directed by Joe Dante. Based on the novel of the same name by Gary Brandner, the screenplay is written by John Sayles and Terence H. Winkless. ...more

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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 ...more

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Re-Animator Barbara Crampton, Jeffrey Combs, David Gale Re-Animator is a 1985 American science fiction horror comedy film loosely based on the H. P. Lovecraft episodic novella "Herbert West–Reanimator." Directed by Stuart Gordon, it was the ...more

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wiabux added Cujo Dee Wallace, Danny Pintauro, Ed Lauter Cujo is a 1983 American psychological horror/thriller film based on Stephen King's novel of the same name. It was directed by Lewis Teague, and written by Don Carlos Dunaway and Lauren Currier.

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Day of the Dead Sherman Howard, Jarlath Conroy, Terry Alexander Day of the Dead is a 1985 American horror film written and directed by George A. Romero and the third film in Romero's Dead series, being preceded by Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the ...more

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Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter Corey Feldman, Crispin Glover, Judie Aronson Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is a 1984 slasher film written and directed by Joseph Zito. It is the fourth film in the Friday the 13th film series. Though it was billed as "The Final ...more

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Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers Danielle Harris, Donald Pleasence, Kathleen Kinmont Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is a 1988 horror film directed by Dwight H. Little and written by Alan B. McElroy. It is the fourth installment of the Halloween film series and focuses ...more

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CassiopeeLeduc added A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne, Zsa Zsa Gábor A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is a 1987 American slasher fantasy film and the third film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. The film was directed by Chuck Russell, written by ...more

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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 ...more

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Sleepaway Camp Mike Kellin, Katherine Kamhi, Robert Earl Jones Sleepaway Camp is a 1983 exploitation slasher film written and directed by Robert Hiltzik who also served as executive producer. The film is about the killings of teen campers at a summer camp. ...more

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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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My Bloody Valentine Don Francks, Cynthia Dale, Helene Udy My Bloody Valentine is a 1981 slasher film directed by George Mihalka and written by John Beaird. The film tells the story of a group of teenagers who decide to throw a Valentine's Day party ...more

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Pumpkinhead Mayim Bialik, Lance Henriksen, George Buck Flower Pumpkinhead is a 1988 American supernatural horror film. It was the directorial debut of special effects artist Stan Winston. While Pumpkinhead received mixed reviews, the film has built up a ...more

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Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives Corey Feldman, Tony Goldwyn, Ron Palillo Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives is a 1986 slasher film, the sixth film in the Friday the 13th film series. The film was written and directed by Tom McLoughlin. Although the original concept ...more

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CassiopeeLeduc added Silver Bullet Gary Busey, Corey Haim, Terry O'Quinn Silver Bullet is a 1985 horror film based on the Stephen King novella Cycle of the Werewolf. It stars Gary Busey, Everett McGill, Megan Follows, Corey Haim, Terry O'Quinn, Lawrence Tierney, Bill ...more

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Near Dark Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Adrian Pasdar Near Dark is a 1987 American vampire Western horror film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by her and Eric Red. The story follows a young man in a small midwestern town who becomes ...more

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House George Wendt, Kay Lenz, Richard Moll House is a 1986 comedy horror film directed by Steve Miner and starring William Katt, George Wendt, Richard Moll and Kay Lenz. It was followed by three sequels: House II: The Second Story, House ...more

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daniel-claeys added The Amityville Horror James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger The Amityville Horror is a 1979 American supernatural horror film, directed by Stuart Rosenberg, based on Jay Anson's bestselling 1977 novel of the same name. It is the first film in the ...more

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Dennis Hopper, Bill Moseley, Kinky Friedman The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a 1986 American horror dark comedy slasher film, directed by Tobe Hooper. It is a sequel to the 1974 horror classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, also directed ...more

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Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers Danielle Harris, Donald Pleasence, Beau Starr Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers is a 1989 American slasher film and the fifth installment in the Halloween film series. It was directed by Dominique Othenin-Girard and starred Donald ...more

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Return of the Living Dead Part II Mitch Pileggi, James Karen, Allan Trautman Return of the Living Dead Part II is an American zombie horror comedy film that was released in 1988. It was written and directed by Ken Wiederhorn. The film was released by Lorimar Motion ...more

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Prom Night Jamie Lee Curtis, Brittany Snow, Leslie Nielsen Prom Night is a 1980 Canadian slasher film directed by Paul Lynch, based on a story by Robert Guza, Jr., and starring Leslie Nielsen and Jamie Lee Curtis. The story concerns a group of high ...more

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Alien is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
spideyforever added Alien Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Ian Holm Alien is a 1979 science-fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. ...more

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Friday the 13th Part 3: 3D Betsy Palmer, Steve Miner, Richard Brooker Friday the 13th Part III is a 1982 slasher film and the third entry in the Friday the 13th franchise, directed by Steve Miner. Originally released in 3-D, it is the first film to feature ...more

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Friday the 13th: A New Beginning Corey Feldman, Miguel A. Núñez, Jr. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning is a 1985 American slasher film and is the fifth installment in the Friday the 13th franchise. It is the last film to be directed by Danny Steinmann. The ...more

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CassiopeeLeduc added Creepshow 2 Stephen King, George Kennedy, Dorothy Lamour Creepshow 2 is a 1987 American live-action/animated horror comedy anthology film directed by Michael Gornick and the sequel to Creepshow. Gornick was George A. Romero's cinematographer on the ...more

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Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood Corey Feldman, Tony Goldwyn, Jeff Bennett Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood is the seventh installment in the original Friday the 13th series, released in 1988. It is the start of the Kane Hodder era in Jason films in the role of ...more

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CassiopeeLeduc added The Blob Erika Eleniak, Shawnee Smith, Julie McCullough The Blob is a 1988 monster horror film written by Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont, and directed by Russell. It stars Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Jeffrey DeMunn, Candy Clark and ...more