27 Chilling Horror Movies From The 1980s

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While the 70s transformed horror, the 1980s allowed the horror genre to truly reach its greatness. These 80s horror movies cover everything from slashers to man-eating plants to aliens.

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The cinematic chills and thrills gave us some of the most well-loved classic movies and franchises – Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Aliens.

80s Horror Movies

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

In Wes Craven’s classic slasher film, several Midwestern teenagers fall prey to Freddy Krueger, a supernatural serial killer who preys on the teenagers in their dreams — which, in turn, kills them in reality.

2. The Thing (1982)

In remote Antarctica, a group of American research scientists are disturbed at their base camp by a helicopter shooting at a sled dog. When they take in the dog, they soon find out that’s not what it is at all.

3. Gremlins (1984)

A salesman is looking for a special gift for his son and finds one at a store in Chinatown. The shopkeeper is reluctant to sell him the “mogwai” but sells it to him with the warning to never expose him to bright light, water, or to feed him after midnight.

All of this happens and the result is a gang of gremlins that decide to tear up the town on Christmas Eve.

4. The Evil Dead (1981)

Ashley “Ash” Williams (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend and three pals hike into the woods to a cabin for a fun night away. There they find an old book, the Necronomicon, whose text reawakens the dead when it’s read aloud.

The friends inadvertently release a flood of evil and must fight for their lives or become one of the evil dead. Ash watches his friends become possessed, and must make a difficult decision before daybreak to save his own life in this, the first of Sam Raimi’s trilogy.

5. Evil Dead II (1987)

Evil Dead II is part horror, part comedy, with Ash Williams once again battling horrifying demons at a secluded cabin in the woods.

After discovering an audiotape left by a college professor that contains voices reading from the Book of the Dead, Ash’s girlfriend Linda becomes possessed by evil spirits that are awakened by the voices on the tape.

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6. Poltergeist (1982)

Strange and creepy happenings beset an average California family when ghosts commune with them through the television set. Initially friendly and playful, the spirits turn unexpectedly menacing, and, when Carol Ann goes missing, Steve and Diane turn to a parapsychologist and eventually an exorcist for help.

7. Aliens (1986)

After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds of aliens that have invaded the colony.

8. Child’s Play (1988)

A dying serial killer uses black magic to put his soul inside a doll named Chucky — which a mom then buys for her young son.

When Chucky kills Andy’s baby sitter, the boy realizes the doll is alive and tries to warn people, but he’s institutionalized. Now Karen must convince the detective of the murderous doll’s intentions, before Andy becomes Chucky’s next victim.

9. Hellraiser (1987)

Frank inadvertently opens a portal to hell when he tinkers with a box he bought while abroad. The act unleashes gruesome beings called Cenobites. When Frank’s brother and his wife move into Frank’s old house, they accidentally bring what is left of Frank back to life.

10. The Shining (1980)

Jack Torrance becomes winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel, hoping to cure his writer’s block. He settles in along with his wife and son who is plagued by psychic premonitions.

As Jack’s writing goes nowhere and Danny’s visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel’s dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.

11. Cujo (1983)

When sweet Cujo is bitten by a bat, he starts behaving oddly and becomes very aggressive. As Cujo morphs into a dangerous beast, he goes on a rampage in a small town.

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12. Children of the Corn (1984)

Based on Stephen King‘s short story of the same name, this child-fueled nightmare charts the ordeal of a couple that winds up in a Nebraska town where the kids have decided that ritualistically killing adults is the best way to guarantee a good corn harvest.

It has the juice!

13. Beetlejuice (1988)

After the Maitlands die in a car accident, they find themselves stuck haunting their country residence, unable to leave the house, when the unbearable Deetzes and teen daughter Lydia buy the home, the Maitlands attempt to scare them away without success.

Their efforts attract Beetlejuice, a rambunctious spirit whose “help” quickly becomes dangerous for the Maitlands and innocent Lydia.

14. Re-Animator (1985)

A medical student brings his headless professor back from the dead with a special serum.

15. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

A flower shop assistant pines for his co-worker Audrey. During a total eclipse, he discovers an unusual plant he names Audrey II, which feeds only on human flesh and blood.

16. Maximum Overdrive (1986)

A group of people try to survive when machines start to come alive and become homicidal. The amount of times I watched this on TV when I was a kid.

17. The Lost Boys (1987)

Teenage brothers move with their mother to a small town in northern California. While the younger Sam meets a pair of kindred spirits, the angst-ridden Michael soon falls for Star — who turns out to be in thrall to David, leader of a local gang of vampires.

18. Friday the 13th (1980)

Crystal Lake’s history of murder doesn’t deter counselors from setting up a summer camp in the woodsy area. Then they find themselves stalked by a brutal killer. As they’re slashed, shot and stabbed, the counselors struggle to stay alive against a merciless opponent in Friday the 13th.

19. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Two American college students are backpacking through Britain when a large wolf attacks them. David survives with a bite, but Jack is brutally killed. As David heals in the hospital, he’s plagued by violent nightmares of his mutilated friend, who warns David that he is becoming a werewolf.

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20. Pet Sematary (1989)

This Stephen King adaptation is about a man who uses a supernatural pet cemetery to bring his toddler son back from the grave. It’s has disturbing as it sounds.

21. Creepshow (1982)

A compendium of five short but terrifying tales contained within a single full-length feature, this film conjures scares from traditional bogeymen and portents of doom.

22. Fright Night (1985)

Charley is a teenage horror-film junkie, so it’s no surprise that, when a reclusive new neighbor moves next-door, Brewster becomes convinced he is a vampire.

After strange events begin to occur, Charlie has no choice but to turn to the only person who could possibly help: washed-up television vampire killer Peter Vincent.

23. The Fog (1980)

Strange things begin to occur as a tiny California coastal town prepares to commemorate its centenary.

24. Christine (1983)

Unpopular nerd Arnie buys a 1958 Plymouth Fury, which he names Christine. After a bully defaces Christine, the auto restores itself to perfect condition and begins killing off Buddy and his friends.

25. The Blob (1988)

In a tiny California town, high school students discover a strange, gelatinous substance that melts the flesh of anything living in its path.

The substance gets into the town’s sewer system, where it begins growing uncontrollably, occasionally emerging to feast on unsuspecting townspeople.

26. From Beyond (1986)

Obsessive scientist successfully discovers a way to access a parallel universe of pleasure. When he is seemingly killed by forces from this other dimension, his assistant is accused of the murder.

After a psychiatrist and detective take the case, the trio risks a return to the other world in order to solve the mystery.

27. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

This serial killer movie takes a docudrama approach to its story (based on real-life Henry Lee Lucas) about a murderer and his partner-in-crime acting on their murderous impulses. And it gave us Michael Rooker!

Ashley Hubbard is a writer, photographer, and blogger based in Nashville, Tennessee. When she's not searching out the strange and unusual things in life, she's searching out vegan food and is passionate about sustainability, animal rights, and social justice.

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