80s The Best '80s Thriller Movies  

Ranker Film
2.8k votes 458 voters 29k views 48 items

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. 
list ordered by

1
109 36
Die Hard is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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 ...more

2
81 36
Scarface is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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 ...more

3
66 26
First Blood is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy, David Caruso Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial First 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. ...more

4
78 36
Batman is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Batman 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.' ...more

5
63 26
Escape from New York is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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 distopian United States ...more

6
54 20
Blade Runner is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
stubb added 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, ...more

7
53 21
The Road Warrior is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
The Road Warrior is a 2013 short biographical drama sports film directed by Brian Mitchell.

8
58 25
The Untouchables is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Robert De Niro, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner The Untouchables is a 1987 American 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 ...more

9
55 23
Witness is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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 ...more

10
47 24
The Running Man is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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. ...more

11
46 24
WarGames is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Matthew Broderick, William H. Macy, Ally Sheedy WarGames is a 1983 American 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 ...more

12
42 21
Mississippi Burning is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand Mississippi Burning is a 1988 American thriller film directed by Alan Parker and written by Chris Gerolmo. It was loosely based on the FBI investigation into the incidents involving of three ...more

13
53 31
RoboCop is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Alex Van Halen, Peter Weller, Leeza Gibbons Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Sergeant Warren Reed is a fictional character from the film series RoboCop, RoboCop 2, RoboCop 3.

14
45 26
48 Hrs. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte, Annette O'Toole Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial 48 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 ...more

15
43 25
The Dead Zone is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, Tom Skerritt This film 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 ...more

16
43 26
Fright Night is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '80s Thriller 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

17
48 31
Friday the 13th is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Kevin Bacon, Tom Savini, Betsy Palmer Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial 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

18
39 24
The Abyss is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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 ...more

19
40 26
The Hitcher is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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.

20
41 27
Christine is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '80s Thriller 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

21
39 28
Red Dawn is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Charlie Sheen, Patrick Swayze, Lea Thompson Red Dawn is a 1984 American 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. ...more

22
15 5
The Accused is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Andrea Louise added Jodie Foster, Kelly McGillis, Garry Chalk The Accused is a 1988 American drama film starring Kelly McGillis and Jodie Foster, directed by Jonathan Kaplan and written by Tom Topor. Loosely based on the real-life gang rape of Cheryl ...more

23
32 28
Body Heat is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Mickey Rourke, Kathleen Turner, William Hurt Body Heat is a 1981 American neo-noir 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 ...more

24
28 24
Manhunter is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Brian Cox, Garcelle Beauvais, Joan Allen Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Manhunter is a 1986 American 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 ...more

25
30 28
Creepshow is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '80s Thriller 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

26
28 28
Blue Velvet is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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 ...more

27
19 18
No Way Out is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
stubb added 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 ...more

28
22 22
To Live and Die in L.A. is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Willem Dafoe, John Turturro, Jane Leeves This film 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 ...more

29
27 28
Blood Simple is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Holly Hunter, Frances McDormand, M. Emmet Walsh Blood Simple is a 1984 neo-noir 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 ...more

30
27 28
Blow Out is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
John Travolta, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Blow 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 ...more

31
21 23
Body Double is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Melanie Griffith, Dennis Franz, Deborah Shelton Body Double is a 1984 American 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. ...more

32
20 25
Videodrome is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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 ...more

33
19 25
Star Trek III: The Search for ... is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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 ...more

34
22 31
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kha... is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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.

35
18 26
For Your Eyes Only is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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 ...more

36
14 23
Thief is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Willie Nelson, James Caan, Tuesday Weld This film is a 1981 neo-noir film written and directed by Michael Mann and based on the 1975 novel by "Frank Hohimer". The film stars James Caan as the titular thief and Tuesday Weld ...more

37
18 29
Eyewitness is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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 ...more

38
15 25
Angel Heart is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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 ...more

39
17 28
Dressed to Kill is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Dennis Franz Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial This film is a 1980 American thriller film written and directed by Brian De Palma and starring Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen and Keith Gordon. It centers on an event involving a ...more

40
14 25
The Vanishing is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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, ...more

41
14 26
The Changeling is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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 ...more

42
16 29
The Killer is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Chow Yun-Fat, Kenneth Tsang, Danny Lee This film 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 Ah Jong, who accidentally damages the eyes of the ...more

43
14 27
Police Story is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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 ...more

44
11 23
Nineteen Eighty-Four is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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. ...more

45
8 19
Suspect is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Tony Buffone added 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 ...more

46
8 23
House of Games is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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 ...more

47
6 22
Dead of Winter is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
Mary Steenburgen, Roddy McDowall, William Russ Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Dead 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.

48
4 28
Salvador is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best '80s Thriller Movies
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, ...more