Top Horror Flicks of the 80s


There are several things which make the 80s such an iconic and memorable decade. Even if we didn’t grow up during that time, it’s evident that this was an era that created some very interesting tropes and trends for the future. We might fondly remember the game shows every night, for instance, where the formats were a base for similar shows today. 

However, the horror movie genre of the 80s is on another level. Horror movies might have been around for a long time, but was in the 1980s that special effects and some classic ideas made their mark for the first time. 

The horror movies of the 80s had filmmakers taking the benefit of the previous years’ foundations and using them for a unique, history-making twist. There are all kinds of horror movies from this decade, including family-friendly ones. Let’s take a look at some of the best ones below:


Poltergeist was easily among the most successful movies in the 80s horror genre. It was both produced and written by none other than Steven Spielberg, whose name we all know to this day. The main story revolves round a girl who was captured, presumably by evil spirits. 

This particular movie isn’t too gory and is even considered tame when you consider that it was released before we had the PG-13 ratings. However, it’s was still effective enough to give the viewers a highly scary experience. 

There are also some iconic moments here, such as one character being trapped in a portal that comes out of her closet. There’s also at least one gruesome scene, with the disturbing portrayal of something peeling off a man’s face. While the filmmakers back then might have managed to get the film a PG rating, it’s certainly not going to get one these days. 

What’s even more intriguing is the apparent curse on the film. The actress who played the kidnapped child, Heather O’Rourke, tragically died at 12 years of age. This makes the movie attached to a sort of urban legend along with everything else. 

Fright Night

From Columbia Pictures, we have a classic form of vampire movies in the form of ‘Fright Night’. Granted, vampire movies have been quite popular since the 1920s, but this particular work is an entertaining and unique offering from the genre. 

The plotline has Chris Sarandon playing a mysterious neighbor, with the whole film having a deceptively innocent suburban feel. The special visual effects are from the Ghostbusters team, making this another movie with both gore and silliness in perfect harmony. We’ll say this one is worth watching if only for the excellent performance by Sarandon, which can turn from scary to charming and vice versa in a heartbeat. 

Child’s Play

The possessed doll, especially the kind that Chucky was, is enough to bring a thrill of fear down our spines. Chucky could be dubbed the first nightmare doll and is still a relevant character to present generations. While the doll itself might not be too scary to look at by itself, it’s the brilliance of the voice that makes up the Chucky character. 

‘Child’s Play’ was a huge success in itself, and has given rise to several more movies in a horror franchise. Some might even consider that the sequels were consistently sillier as time went on, but no one can deny the scary aspect of the original from the 80s. 

Friday the 13th: The Next Chapter

While ‘Friday the 13th’ might be its own series, this particular film is the quintessential offering. It has its comical moments, though it’s a slasher film at heart. 

Basically, this is the movie where the viewer first experiences Jason’s main nemesis, Tommy Jarvis. The final round between them could be labeled disturbing, especially as it taps into some problematic psychology. 

Some might say that the actors and the plotline give the film a balanced feel. It’s an overall strange experience, so make sure you’re ready for that before watching. 

A Nightmare on Elm Street

One simply cannot talk about the iconic movies from the 80s without mentioning this series at least one. With this movie, we get an introduction to one of the biggest villains in the horror genre, Freddie Kruger. The agency of this child killer is so large that it covers no less than seven sequels and at least one remake. 

The basic idea behind the film might have been relatively simple, but it was actually quite brilliant for its age. You have some dream logic, the popular slasher concept, and genre deconstruction in a most subtle manner. 

In this manner, the defined slasher genre got a definite refinement in the 80s. The burnt skin and iconic knife of Freddy Kruger make him a terrifying character for even the bravest viewer. There’s also some comedy in there, which might seem surprising but actually makes the film a lot better. It doesn’t hurt that this film is also Johnny Depp’s movie debut. 


After Poltergeist, movies like Gremlins and Indian Jones And the Temple of Doom were instrumental in signifying the need for a PG-13 rating. ‘Gremlins’ is a movie that features somewhat cute creatures, but also costs of gory kitchen scenes and knife attacks. There’s also a lot of pus involved, so you need to have a strong stomach for such viewing sessions. 

This particular film might have been a huge success back in the day, but it doesn’t have too many sequels as yet. However, there are several movies such as ‘Critters’ and ‘Ghoulies’ that seem to copy the basic idea. There is an animated prequel announced in recent news as well, which is good news for Gremlins fans. 


With some of these classic movies of the 80s, we have whole new franchises, iconic villains, and some very impressive special effects. The more nasty and gore-filled scenes were still cut by the censors, but the effect of these horror masterpieces still remains very much in vogue. It might be time to start a horror movie night based on the 80s offerings—you’ll definitely have a lot of choices on hand!

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