Welcome to the Chatter Box Film list, where we pick our favourite horrors from the 1980’s.
Whether you’ve come here for what to watch on Halloween or in general; there’s a variety to choose from. This list contains movies about vampires, werewolves, ghosts, aliens, supernatural/demonic posessions and zombies.
Here are our top picks for 80’s horror movies:
22. The Dead Zone (1983)
Starting off with this horror-thriller story by Stephen King and directed by David Cronenberg. Christopher Walken’s character Johnny Smith awakens from a coma; caused by a car accident that lasted many years. There’s just one problem, he’s been given a new ‘gift’ that makes him see terrifying visions of the future when he touches anyone, especially when he shakes the hand of rising politician Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen). Johnny becomes haunted by what he could prevent and sets out to kill him.
21. Halloween II (1981)
It wouldn’t be a horror collection without at least mentioning a slasher film from the Halloween franchise. This is the original follow-up to the first movie… which has now been replaced by Halloween (2018) as canon instead. Dr. Loomis is still hunting for Michael Myers as he makes his way through Haddonfield once again. This one was directed by Rick Rosenthal and written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill.
There were three more Halloween movies released in the 80s, especially one anthology movie that didn’t even feature Michael Myers called Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
20. Trick or Treat (1986)
A movie with a literal killer sound system! Young Eddie Weinbauer (Marc Price) is a character that’s picked on in school when he befriends his favourite musician… who happens to be dead. Sammi Curr (Tony Fields) is menacing and electrifying, as he exacts his revenge out on all those around him. A movie also for rock fans that features cameos from Gene Simmons to Ozzy Osbourne.
19. The Beyond (1981)
Lucio Fulci’s gory supernatural movie is about a young woman (Catriona MacColl) who inherits an old hotel where there is a gateway to Hell. All sorts of scary creatures are lurking in the darkness to prey on visitors. Also has brilliant soundtracks from composer Fabio Frizzi and the story is written by Dardano Sacchetti.
18. The Thing (1982)
Based on a story by John W. Campbell, John Carpenter brings out a movie about an alien creature that falls from space near an Antartic Research Station. Helicopter pilot (Kurt Russell) and a group of other people are stranded with this monster, that that can adapt to survive, by morphing into humans and other creatures, and hunting them all down. A very gory movie, the special effects department did a great job creating the monster and gooey mess of blood and guts.
17. Maniac Cop (1988)
Directed by William Lustig. This is about a cop called Matt Cordell (Robert Z’Dar) who got put in prison and the prisoners that hurt him. He comes back from the dead, dressed in a police uniform, and acts out his revenge. Three police officers played by Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell and Laurene Landon look for the killer, however the Maniac Cop finds them first!
16. The Fly (1986)
From director David Cronenberg and a story that was written by George Langelaan in 1957. This science-fiction/horror was Jeff Goldblum’s breakout role about a scientist called Seth Brundle; who mutates into a giant fly after an experiment that goes horribly wrong. Geena Davis is also starring as Veronica Quaife.
15. Aliens (1986)
Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) returns in James Cameron’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). In the hopes that a new crew on a space vessel, will finally take down the terrifying Xenomorphs, Ripley agrees to help. They are gravely mistaken as the alien attacks them one by one. Also starring Michael Beihn, Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen.
14. The Lost Boys (1987)
Joel Schumacher’s horror hit about a two brothers in a new town, discovering a dangerous group of vampires. The film stars Corey Haim, Keifer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, Alex Winter and Jason Patric.
13. Friday the 13th (1980)
A great slasher movie about Jason Voorhees; who drowned in Camp Crystal lake. He becomes a serial killer to act out his revenge on unsuspecting counsellors at the Summer camp. Directed by Sean S. Cunningham and written by Victor Miller and Ron Kurz – starring Kevin Bacon.
12. Child’s Play (1988)
A slasher film about a doll that’s possessed by a serial killer. Chucky is gifted to an unfortunate child on his birthday, that turns out to be a horrible day for this kid. A story written by Don Mancini, directed by Tom Holland and stars Chris Sarandon, Catherine Hicks, Alex Vincent and Brad Dourif voices Chucky.
11. Day of the Dead (1985)
George A. Romero is one of the best filmmakers for zombie movies, with his iconic Night of the Living Dead franchise. Scientists, military and civilians are trapped in a missile silo while hungry flesh-eating zombies are waiting for them. This film stars Joseph Pilato, Lori Cardille and Terry Alexander.
10. Night of the Demons (1988)
A gory demonic horror movie, where a demon called Angela (Amelia Kinkade) is trapped at an abandoned funeral parlour called Hull House, where students just happened to party on Halloween. One by one, these teens become taken over by evil. Who will escape?
9. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Don’t fall to sleep! Robert Englund stars as the nightmare walking Freddy Krueger; who torments people while they are asleep. Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street has spawned quite a few sequels, with Freddy even going up against Jason Voorhees in Freddy vs. Jason (2003) This original also stars Johnny Depp, John Saxon and Ronnee Blakley.
8. Hellraiser (1987)
This is quite a uniquely designed supernatural horror movie by Clive Barker, with so many scary and disgusting scenes.
The Cenobites are extra-dimensional beings dressed in peircings and leather, the most popular character is Pinhead (Doug Bradley).
These beings come to collect you once you’ve solved their puzzle box. It can either be a great outcome to be chosen or a hellish nightmare; depending on the configuration of the puzzle box.
Hellraiser has been made into an entire franchise lasting for over 35 years so far, with a recent reboot in 2022 – starring Jamie Clayton as Pinhead.
7. Christine (1983)
Instead of a sound system being possessed by a dead musician in Trick or Treat, this is a 1950’s car. Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) is instantly drawn to the demonic car, that gets revenge on the people that bullied him, but it doesn’t stop there… his own friends are next! A Stephen King story paired with John Carpenter to make a great classic horror. This is a movie that we’ve also covered for Top 3 Horror Movies by John Carpenter.
6. Fright Night (1985)
“Welcome to Fright Night… for real!”. In Tom Holland’s movie, Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon) is a charming and seductive vampire, who moves in next door to a very observant/nosey teen called Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale), that quickly finds out about his neighbours. Nobody believes him as he attempts to expose the vampire, Charley risks putting everyone that he loves in danger. Turning to a TV actor (Roddy McDowel) for help. An awesome movie that also has some of the best soundtracks by Brad Fiedel.
5. Pet Sematary (1989)
In this horrifying Stephen King story, that’s directed by Mary Lambert; Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff) and his family move into a new home where they are told about an ancient burial ground that can bring animals back from the dead. Creed is faced with a devastating accident when his child is struck down by a vehicle. Forced with a desperate choice, the father takes his son to Pet Sematary. It’s haunting and a different level of terror.
4. The Shining (1980)
A twisted phsycological horror directed by Stanley Kubric and also another story by Stephen King. This stars Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic who moves with his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and Danny (Danny Lloyd) to an hotel in Colorado. The isolation slowly begins to drive him insane. One of the frightening scenes involves the iconic horror movie phrase “Here’s Johnny!”.
3. Poltergeist (1982)
Poltergeists terrorize the Freeling family in their own home… as they find out that it’s built on a burial ground! Another movie where parents lose their child, this time they might be able to get her back. This supernatural film directed by Tobe Hooper, stars Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams and Heather O’Rourke. Poltergeist has spanned multiple sequels and a reboot.
2. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
“Stay off the moors! Stick to the road!” In this blockbuster directed by John Landis; two American college tourists, David Kessler (David Naughton) and Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne) are attacked by a werewolf in the British countryside. One lives and one dies, unfortunately, this character becomes a werewolf and is haunted by those around him who he goes around killing in London. Incredible practical make-up effects by Rick Baker, and one of the best on-screen werewolf transformation scenes in movie history. The movie also stars Jenny Agutter, a nurse who grows emotionally attached to the man/werewolf.
1. The Evil Dead (1981)
Bruce Campbell’s character; Ash Williams is put through gory mayhem in Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead. After Ash and his friends take a vacation to a cabin in the woods, all hell starts to break loose when they play a demonic audio tape. Bruce Campbell’s career was boosted to cult stardom, and a long successful franchise of movies and a TV series were created, especially the sequel that inspired one of my favourite comedy horror movies to be made; Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead.
If you’ve liked checking out our list and would be interested in us bringing out articles for other decades, comment to let us know and share the article.
Which movies are your favourites from this list and which movies would you have liked to see here? Let us know on our Twitter page @chatterboxfilm
Also, stay tuned for a seperate 80’s horror/comedy article coming soon.