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The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s

Updated November 10, 2020 107.3k votes 5.2k voters 182.7k views181 items

List RulesMovies 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 classic 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 favorite horror movies to come out of Hollywood. You can also rerank this list any way you like.

The 1980s ushered in a kind of golden age for horror flicks, 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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  • 1
    The Thing
    1,813
    524

    The Thing

    Kurt Russell, Keith David

    Released1982

    Directed byJohn Carpenter

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  • 2
    The Evil Dead
    1,472
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    The Evil Dead

    Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi

    Released1981

    Directed bySam Raimi

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  • 3
    Aliens
    1,565
    467

    Aliens

    Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton

    Released1986

    Directed byJames Cameron

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  • 4
    A Nightmare on Elm Street
    1,938
    611

    A Nightmare on Elm Street

    Johnny Depp, Robert Englund

    Released1984

    Directed byWes Craven

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  • 5
    Friday the 13th
    1,641
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    Friday the 13th

    Kevin Bacon, Tom Savini

    Released1980

    Directed bySean S. Cunningham

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  • 6
    Poltergeist
    1,503
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    Poltergeist

    Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams

    Released1982

    Directed byTobe Hooper

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  • 7
    The Shining
    1,822
    679

    The Shining

    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall

    Released1980

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

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  • 8
    Creepshow
    997
    324

    Creepshow

    Stephen King, Ed Harris

    Released1982

    Directed byGeorge A. Romero

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  • 9
    The Lost Boys
    1,441
    405

    The Lost Boys

    Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman

    Released1987

    Directed byJoel Schumacher

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  • 10
    Hellraiser
    1,282
    456

    Hellraiser

    Doug Bradley, Andrew Robinson

    Released1987

    Directed byClive Barker

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  • 11
    Evil Dead II
    1,205
    430

    Evil Dead II

    Bruce Campbell, Kassie DePaiva

    Released1987

    Directed bySam Raimi

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  • 12
    An American Werewolf in London
    1,211
    486

    An American Werewolf in London

    Jenny Agutter, Frank Oz

    Released1981

    Directed byJohn Landis

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  • 13
    Fright Night
    1,154
    468

    Fright Night

    Christopher Lee, Roddy McDowall

    Released1985

    Directed byTom Holland

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  • 14
    Predator
    1,089
    440

    Predator

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura

    Released1987

    Directed byJohn McTiernan

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  • 15
    Pet Sematary
    1,318
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    Pet Sematary

    Stephen King, Fred Gwynne

    Released1989

    Directed byMary Lambert

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  • 16
    John Carpenter's The Fog
    934
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    John Carpenter's The Fog

    Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh

    Released1980

    Directed byJohn Carpenter

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  • 17
    A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
    933
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    A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

    Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne

    Released1987

    Directed byChuck Russell

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  • 18
    They Live
    539
    162

    They Live

    Roddy Piper, Keith David

    Released1988

    Directed byJohn Carpenter

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  • 19
    Halloween II
    1,171
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    Halloween II

    Jamie Lee Curtis, Dana Carvey

    Released1981

    Directed byRick Rosenthal

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  • 20
    The Fly
    1,089
    458

    The Fly

    Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum

    Released1986

    Directed byDavid Cronenberg

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  • 21
    Christine
    847
    380

    Christine

    Kelly Preston, Alexandra Paul

    Released1983

    Directed byJohn Carpenter

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  • 22
    Gremlins
    1,133
    525

    Gremlins

    Steven Spielberg, Corey Feldman

    Released1984

    Directed byJoe Dante

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  • 23
    Child's Play
    1,070
    476

    Child's Play

    Brad Dourif, Catherine Hicks

    Released1988

    Directed byTom Holland

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  • 24
    Friday the 13th Part 2
    994
    462

    Friday the 13th Part 2

    Betsy Palmer, Lauren-Marie Taylor

    Released1981

    Directed bySteve Miner

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  • 25
    Silver Bullet
    670
    311

    Silver Bullet

    Gary Busey, Corey Haim

    Released1985

    Directed byDan Attias

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