These are our picks for the top 14 comedy-horror films of the 1980’s; from spooky ghouls and menacing creatures of the night, to an eccentric goth-punk movie hostess.
This list is in order by years.
14. Creepshow (1982)
Creepshow is a collection of scary tales involving werewolves, gastly ghouls, skeletons, evil doctors and more – directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King. Also starring Hal Holbrook and Leslie Neilsen.
Creepshow 2 also came out near the end of the decade 1987; this time directed by Michael Gornick.
13. The Man with Two Brains (1983)
Steve Martin stars in this brilliant science-fiction/comedy, with a side a horror – directed by Carl Reiner.
This time Martin is playing a grieving brain surgeon called Michael Hfuhruhurr; who just wants his wife back. It brings him to do some of the craziest things by stealing bodies and brains.
Also starring David Warner, as the experimental scientist Alfred Necessiter, Kathleen Turner as Delores, and Sissy Spacek as the voice of the brain.
12. Gremlins (1984)
Cemented in pop culture for all-time, this dark comedy horror movie directed by Joe Dante, features a cute little Mogwai called Gizmo.
The creature is given to Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) for Christmas. Billy is told to follow a very specific set of rules for keeping the creature as a pet: Don’t expose the Mogwai to light, sunlight kills it; don’t let it come into contact with water; and never feed it after midnight.
Of course, the rules are broken! Creating destructive multiplying versions of Mogwai called ‘Gremlins’. People are left terrified, injured and or dead, as these little creatures cause all sorts of choas around the town.
11. Ghostbusters (1984)
Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! Ray Parker Jr.’s song and film including the car are so iconic.
Ray (Dan Aykroyd), Egon (Harold Ramis), Peter (Bill Murray) and Winston (Ernie Hudson) become beloved heroes of New York City; for taking down ghouls with their proton packs and traps. I discuss further about the Ghostbusters franchise in a separate article.
The Ghostbusters also returned right at the end this decade in ’89; when pink ectoplasm floods the city and brings all of the ghosts back. Both also starring Rick Moranis, Sigourney Weaver, Kurt Fuller and Annie Potts.
10. Teen Wolf (1985)
In this coming of age film – directed by Rod Daniel; Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox), the character has to deal with the growing pains of becoming a Werewolf in high school, while also realizing that changing has it’s advantages. Also starring; James Hampton and Susan Ursitti.
This has since inspired various adaptations including a 2011 TV series starring Tyler Posey and Tyler Hoechlin.
9. Re-Animator (1985)
Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs); is a crazy wild-eyed medical student, who invents a drug that can bring people back from the dead, in Re-Animator – directed by Stuart Gordon.
The films stemmed multiple sequels, right into 2003, still played by the same actor, with last film being called Beyond Re-Animator.
8. April Fools Day (1986)
It was just a prank… or was it? A group of friends go to a weekend party, on a remote island where they are gradually picked off one-by-one. April Fools Day is directed by Fred Wilson, and stars Thomas F. Wilson (Back to the Future) and Deborah Foreman.
7. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Little Shop of Horrors is a musical comedy horror film – directed by Frank Oz and stars Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, among many others.
Seymour (Moranis) owns a shop where he ends up with a man-eating plant that causes all sorts of mischief. Seymour must get the plant under control while also looking to get his love life in order.
6. The Monster Squad (1987)
It’s the classic group of Halloween horror characters in this film: Dracula, The Mummy, Gill Man and Frankenstein’s Monster and The Wolf Man, are brought back by a bunch of kids, using a powerful amulet. Directed by Fred Dekker and starring Andre Gower, Tom Noonan, Ashley Bank, Ryan Lambert and Robby Kiger.
5. Evil Dead II (1987)
This is a sequel in the hit franchise directed by Sam Raimi. A combination of demonic horror, perfectly blended in with more comedy, compared to the first film.
Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) goes all out in this one; against an onslaught of demons attacking.
Also, check out our review for Evil Dead Rise (2023).
4. The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Three single women played by Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer use witchcraft to seek their perfect man.
Suddenly, their magic becomes real and a mysterious batchelorette turns up to the town, who is played by Jack Nicholson.
Will this end up being the life they really wanted? The Witches of Eastwick is directed by George Miller.
3. Beetlejuice (1988)
A Tim Burton classic! Winona Ryder moves into a haunted house with her parents (The Deetzes).
Lydia quickly befriends the previous two tennants, Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) that have become ghosts; following an accident.
Michael Keaton fully lets himself loose as this crude and extravagantly villainous bio-exorcist pest called Betelgeuse. Don’t say his name three times, otherwise he’ll be summoned! Great soundtracks from Danny Elfman as well!
2. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)
Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) is an 80’s character that became mainstream, especially among goth-punk horror fans.
Mistress of the Dark – directed by James Signorelli; follows hostess Elvira, as she drives across the country, to save her show from being cancelled by a greedy business, while also encountering sleazy people, spooky threats and a town surprised mostly surprised by her look.
1. The Burbs (1989)
Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks) brings his funny side, to this eerie American suburban neighbourhood film – directed by Joe Dante.
As Ray settles into his vacation home, he’s disrupted by a mysteriously odd family called The Klopeks.
The rest of the neighbours including Art (Ray Ducommun) influences Peterson to become paranoid, causing them to uncover who The Klopeks really are.
Also starring Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher and Corey Feldman.
Honourable mentions that feature in our other 80s horror article among: An American Werewolf in London, Lost Boys, Fright Night and among 22 films to see in the list.
Are there any films that we’ve missed? Let us know via our Twitter page and we may make a second article about this topic.