Entertainment

The Best '80s Horror Movies  

Ranker Horror
Originally by
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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!
list ordered by
1
The Shining is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
2
A Nightmare on Elm Street is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
3
The Thing is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
4
Poltergeist is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
5
An American Werewolf in London is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
6
The Evil Dead is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi
This film 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. This film ...more
7
Friday the 13th is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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 taken out one by one while attempting ...more
8
Fright Night is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
9
Pet Sematary is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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. Andrew Hubatsek was cast for Zelda's role. Author ...more
10
Aliens is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
11
Hellraiser is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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.
12
The Lost Boys is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
13
Gremlins is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
14
Halloween II is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
15
Evil Dead II is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
16
The Howling is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
17
Predator is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
18
Child's Play is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
19
John Carpenter's The Fog is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
20
The Return of the Living Dead is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
Clu Gulager, James Karen, Linnea Quigley
This film 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 film tells the story of ...more
21
Friday the 13th Part 2 is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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. The film marks the ...more
22
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: D... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
CassiopeeLeduc added 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
23
The Fly is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
24
Creepshow is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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
25
Christine is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '80s Horror Movies
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