vote on everything
Watchworthy
5.1k voters

The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s

Updated October 14, 2020 109.9k votes 5.1k voters 182.1k views161 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!

Photo:
...more
  • 1
    The Thing is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,795
    523

    The Thing

    Kurt Russell, Keith David

    Released1982

    Directed byJohn Carpenter

    amazon buy button

    More The Thing 

    #55 of 242 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time#7 of 144 The Best and Scariest Psychological Thrillers of All Time

  • 2
    The Evil Dead is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,465
    384

    The Evil Dead

    Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi

    Released1981

    Directed bySam Raimi

    amazon buy button

    More The Evil Dead 

    #956 of 1,647 The Most Rewatchable Movies#14 of 714 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

  • 3
    Aliens is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,553
    465

    Aliens

    Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton

    Released1986

    Directed byJames Cameron

    amazon buy button

    More Aliens 

    #175 of 1,189 Every Oscar Winning Film Ever#140 of 149 Movies That Should Never Be Remade

  • 4
    A Nightmare on Elm Street is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,926
    611

    A Nightmare on Elm Street

    Johnny Depp, Robert Englund

    Released1984

    Directed byWes Craven

    amazon buy button

    More A Nightmare on Elm Street 

    Ranking Freddy Krueger's Best Kills from A Nightmare on Elm StreetBehind The Scenes Of Glen's Death In 'A Nightmare On Elm Street'

  • 5
    Friday the 13th is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,633
    527

    Friday the 13th

    Kevin Bacon, Tom Savini

    Released1980

    Directed bySean S. Cunningham

    amazon buy button

    More Friday the 13th 

    The Most Terrible And Mysterious Things That Have Happened On Friday The 13th#51 of 280 The Best Whodunit Movies

  • 6
    Poltergeist is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,496
    544

    Poltergeist

    Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams

    Released1982

    Directed byTobe Hooper

    amazon buy button

    More Poltergeist 

    Did Steven Spielberg Really Ghost-Direct ‘Poltergeist’?#257 of 355 The Best Rainy Day Movies

  • 7
    The Shining is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,809
    678

    The Shining

    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall

    Released1980

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    amazon buy button

    More The Shining 

    Behind-The-Scenes Stories About Shelley Duvall From 'The Shining'The Making Of 'The Shining' Was A Bigger Nightmare Than The Film's Story

  • 8
    Creepshow is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    992
    321

    Creepshow

    Stephen King, Ed Harris

    Released1982

    Directed byGeorge A. Romero

    amazon buy button
  • 9
    The Lost Boys is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,436
    405

    The Lost Boys

    Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman

    Released1987

    Directed byJoel Schumacher

    amazon buy button
  • 10
    Evil Dead II is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,195
    430

    Evil Dead II

    Bruce Campbell, Kassie DePaiva

    Released1987

    Directed bySam Raimi

    amazon buy button
  • 11
    Hellraiser is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,272
    456

    Hellraiser

    Doug Bradley, Andrew Robinson

    Released1987

    Directed byClive Barker

    amazon buy button

    More Hellraiser 

    #36 of 114 The Best Intelligent Horror Movies#181 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

  • 12
    An American Werewolf in London is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,204
    486

    An American Werewolf in London

    Jenny Agutter, Frank Oz

    Released1981

    Directed byJohn Landis

    amazon buy button
  • 13
    Fright Night is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,148
    468

    Fright Night

    Christopher Lee, Roddy McDowall

    Released1985

    Directed byTom Holland

    amazon buy button
  • 14
    Predator is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,080
    440

    Predator

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura

    Released1987

    Directed byJohn McTiernan

    amazon buy button

    More Predator 

    Somehow, Making Predator Was WAY More Insane Than The Actual MovieKiller Details In ‘Predator’ That Fans Have Hunted Down

  • 15
    Pet Sematary is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,315
    520

    Pet Sematary

    Stephen King, Fred Gwynne

    Released1989

    Directed byMary Lambert

    amazon buy button

    More Pet Sematary 

    Real Burial Grounds And Locations That Could Have Inspired 'Pet Sematary'#187 of 364 The Best Movies Based On Books

  • 16
    John Carpenter's The Fog is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    921
    399

    John Carpenter's The Fog

    Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh

    Released1980

    Directed byJohn Carpenter

    amazon buy button

    More John Carpenter's The Fog 

    #4 of 20 20 Pretty Interesting Movie Details We Found This Week#38 of 64 Horror Movie Set-Ups You'd Least Like to Be Trapped In

  • 17
    A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: D is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    925
    332

    A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

    Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne

    Released1987

    Directed byChuck Russell

    amazon buy button

    More A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors 

    #304 of 554 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies#28 of 61 The Best Horror Movies About Hospitals and Mental Asylums

  • 18
    They Live is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    529
    161

    They Live

    Roddy Piper, Keith David

    Released1988

    Directed byJohn Carpenter

    amazon buy button

    More They Live 

    #232 of 457 The Most Quotable Movies of All Time#66 of 181 The Best Alien Movies Ever Made

  • 19
    Halloween II is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,162
    519

    Halloween II

    Jamie Lee Curtis, Dana Carvey

    Released1981

    Directed byRick Rosenthal

    amazon buy button
  • 20
    Christine is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    843
    377

    Christine

    Kelly Preston, Alexandra Paul

    Released1983

    Directed byJohn Carpenter

    amazon buy button

    More Christine 

    'Christine’ Is One Of The Most Underrated Adaptations To Come Off Stephen King’s Assembly Line#15 of 49 The Best Movies Based on Stephen King Books

  • 21
    The Fly is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,079
    457

    The Fly

    Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum

    Released1986

    Directed byDavid Cronenberg

    amazon buy button

    More The Fly 

    #1000 of 1,137 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time#10 of 136 The Scariest Animal Horror Movies Ever Made

  • 22
    Child's Play is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,062
    476

    Child's Play

    Brad Dourif, Catherine Hicks

    Released1988

    Directed byTom Holland

    amazon buy button
  • 23
    Gremlins is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    1,127
    525

    Gremlins

    Steven Spielberg, Corey Feldman

    Released1984

    Directed byJoe Dante

    amazon buy button

    More Gremlins 

    'Gremlins' Was So Intense That It Led To The Invention Of The PG-13 Rating#62 of 314 The Funniest '80s Movies

  • 24
    Friday the 13th Part 2 is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    988
    462

    Friday the 13th Part 2

    Betsy Palmer, Lauren-Marie Taylor

    Released1981

    Directed bySteve Miner

    amazon buy button
  • 25
    Silver Bullet is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 1980s
    667
    310

    Silver Bullet

    Gary Busey, Corey Haim

    Released1985

    Directed byDan Attias

    amazon buy button

    More Silver Bullet 

    #2 of 23 Underrated Halloween Movies You Should Watch This Year#20 of 20 The Scariest Kids In The Stephen King Cinematic Universe, Ranked

FilmsFilmEntertainmentHorror1980s80s MoviespollBest MoviesHorror Movies and TVGraveyard Shift