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The Scariest Movies of the 1980s  

Ranker Horror
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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
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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

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#113 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #49 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimefeaturing Freddy Krueger Is Based On The Disturbing True Tale Of 18 People Inexplicably Dying In Their Sleep

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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

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#98 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #42 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedfeaturing Did Steven Spielberg Really Ghost-Direct ‘Poltergeist’?

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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

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#6 of 258 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #39 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimefeaturing The Making Of 'The Shining' Was A Bigger Nightmare Than The Film's Story

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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. Andrew Hubatsek was cast for Zelda's role. Author ...more

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#151 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #126 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedfeaturing 15 Horrifyingly Gruesome Things In Stephen King's Book 'Pet Sematary'

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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

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#116 of 258 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #84 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #33 of 155 The Best Science Fiction Action Movies

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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 taken out one by one while attempting ...more

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#77 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #95 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedfeaturing The Best Kills In Friday The 13th With A Machete

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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.

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#317 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #243 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedfeaturing Behind-The-Scenes Stories From The Making Of 'Hellraiser'

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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

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#180 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #18 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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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

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#356 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #154 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #117 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

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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

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#182 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #215 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #65 of 180 The Best Movie Sequels Ever Made

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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

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#16 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #48 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on All Vampire Movies: List of Vampire Movies and Vampire Films

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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

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#246 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #69 of 771 The Best Horror Movies of All Time #38 of 60 Horror Movie Set-Ups You'd Least Like to Be Trapped In

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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

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#16 of 52 The Best Movies Based on Stephen King Books #41 of 771 The Best Horror Movies of All Time #433 of 601 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

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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. The film marks the ...more

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#217 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #234 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #77 of 771 The Best Horror Movies of All Time

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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

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#167 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #125 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #195 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

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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

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#98 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #143 of 439 The Funniest '80s Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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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

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#229 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #119 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #660 of 997 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

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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

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#139 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #68 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimefeaturing Somehow, Making Predator Was WAY More Insane Than The Actual Movie

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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

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#330 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #216 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on All Vampire Movies: List of Vampire Movies and Vampire Films

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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

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#211 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #325 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #110 of 217 The Worst Sequels Of All Time

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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

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#136 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #12 of 135 The Scariest Animal Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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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.

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#416 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #144 of 771 The Best Horror Movies of All Time #25 of 136 The Goriest Movies Ever Made

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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.

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#155 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #138 of 569 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time #304 of 460 The Most Quotable Movies of All Time

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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

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#212 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #182 of 575 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedfeaturing 'Christine’ Is One Of The Most Underrated Adaptations To Come Off Stephen King’s Assembly Line

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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

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#36 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #26 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimefeaturing 'Gremlins' Was So Intense That It Led To The Invention Of The PG-13 Rating