Graveyard Shift The Scariest Movies of the 1980s  

Ranker Horror
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11.6k votes 807 voters 22.2k views 66 items

List Rules Scary horror movies released in the 1980s.

The 1980’s were know for a lot of historical events such as the ending of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the release of the first IBM personal computer. But more importantly, the 1980's brought us some of the best, scariest, cheesiest, horror movies in the history of film.

But what are the scariest 80s horror movies of all time? The films on this list, ranked by film lovers, has the scariest 80s movies. Whether you’re looking for a realistic flick based on actual events or a completely fictional fright film, there’s sure to be the perfect movie on this list for you!

This list has the scariest horror movies from the 80s, including: Blood Beach, The Beast Within, and An American Werewolf in London.

Vote up your favorite 80's horror movie or add one that always brings the scares, that isn't already on the list.
list ordered by

1
343 98
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but chickens double d added 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

2
323 96
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dee123 added 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

3
310 95
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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

4
267 113
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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

5
239 97
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but chickens double d added 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

6
228 95
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but chickens double d added 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

7
231 101
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but chickens double d added 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

8
208 92
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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.

9
228 103
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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

10
176 93
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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

11
177 88
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but chickens double d added 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

12
129 58
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PriscillaScutt added 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

13
166 94
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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

14
151 81
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but chickens double d added 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

15
161 96
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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

16
173 95
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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

17
169 97
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but chickens double d added 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

18
131 80
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ozzy added 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

19
150 99
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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

20
136 95
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dee123 added 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

21
137 90
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dee123 added 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

22
104 68
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Doug Bradley, Ashley Laurence, Kenneth Cranham Hellbound: Hellraiser II is a 1988 British-American horror film directed by Tony Randel. It draws heavily upon, and was made by much of the same cast and crew as its precursor, Hellraiser.

23
106 71
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but chickens double d added 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

24
143 88
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Robert Englund, Hope Lange, Clu Gulager A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge is a 1985 American slasher horror film and the second film in the Nightmare on Elm Street film series. The film was directed by Jack Sholder and ...more

25
113 80
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but chickens double d added 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.

26
101 87
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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

27
95 84
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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

28
78 72
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ozzy added 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

29
86 79
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BrianWestonBlamires added Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Heather O'Rourke Poltergeist II: The Other Side is a 1986 supernatural thriller film and the second entry in the Poltergeist film series. A sequel to Poltergeist, it features the return of the original family, ...more

30
78 70
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Barbara Hershey, Ron Silver, George Coe The Entity is a horror film based on the novel of the same name by Frank De Felitta. It stars Barbara Hershey as a woman tormented by an invisible assailant. Despite being filmed and planned for ...more

31
77 68
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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

32
71 66
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dee123 added Alice Cooper, Donald Pleasence, Peter Jason Prince of Darkness is a 1987 American supernatural horror film directed, written and scored by John Carpenter. The film is the second installment in what Carpenter calls his "Apocalypse ...more

33
72 68
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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

34
63 61
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Stacey Travis, Phil Fondacaro, James LeGros Phantasm II is a 1988 American action-horror film and sequel to Phantasm. It was written and directed by Don Coscarelli, starring Angus Scrimm, James LeGros and Reggie Bannister. In it, the ...more

35
83 85
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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

36
67 66
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David Paymer, Dick Miller, Tom Atkins Night of the Creeps is a 1986 American comedy horror written and directed by Fred Dekker, starring Tom Atkins, Jason Lively, Steve Marshall and Jill Whitlow. The film is an earnest attempt at a ...more

37
53 64
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dee123 added 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

38
67 75
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but chickens double d added 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

39
77 70
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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

40
63 74
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Lamberto Bava, Michele Soavi, Urbano Barberini Demons is a 1985 Italian horror film directed by Lamberto Bava and produced by Dario Argento, starring Urbano Barberini and Natasha Hovey. The screenplay was written by Bava, Argento, Franco ...more

41
64 75
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Tara Buckman, Linnea Quigley, Lilyan Chauvin Silent Night, Deadly Night is a 1984 American slasher film produced by Ira R Barmak, written by Michael Hickey, directed by Charles E. Sellier, Jr. and starring Robert Brian Wilson, Lilyan ...more

42
61 77
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Michael Ironside, Patrick McGoohan, Jennifer O'Neill Scanners is a 1981 Canadian science-fiction horror film written and directed by David Cronenberg and starring Jennifer O'Neill, Steven Lack, Michael Ironside, and Patrick McGoohan. In the film, ...more

43
51 66
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Linda Blair, Peter Barton, Ron Gans Hell Night is a 1981 American independent horror film directed by Tom DeSimone, written by Randy Feldman, and starring Linda Blair. The film depicts a night of fraternity hazing set in an old ...more

44
51 74
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Holly Hunter, Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens The Burning is a 1981 slasher film directed by Tony Maylam and written by Peter Lawrence and Bob Weinstein. It is based on an original story by Maylam, Weinstein, and Brad Grey, with a musical ...more

45
46 74
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dee123 added 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

46
51 64
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Guy Rolfe, Stephen Lee, Hilary Mason Dolls is a 1987 Italian-American horror film directed by Stuart Gordon. The film was shot in Italy in 1985 and released in 1987.

47
40 63
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Rory Calhoun, Wolfman Jack, Paul Linke Motel Hell is a 1980 horror comedy film directed by Kevin Connor and starring Rory Calhoun as farmer, butcher, motel manager, and meat entrepreneur Vincent Smith. It is often seen as a satire of ...more

48
35 61
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dee123 added Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasence, Patrick Bauchau Phenomena is a 1985 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento and starring Jennifer Connelly, Daria Nicolodi, and Donald Pleasence. Its plot focuses on a young girl at a remote Swiss ...more

49
39 63
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Jamie Lee Curtis, Vanity, David Copperfield Terror Train is a 1980 slasher film, directed by Roger Spottiswoode and starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Ben Johnson and David Copperfield. It follows the members of a college fraternity who played a ...more

50
5 4
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Michael St John added Farley Granger, Lawrence Tierney, Christopher Goutman The Prowler is a 1981 horror film directed by Joseph Zito, and written by Neal Barbera and Glenn Leopold.