The Best 80s Horror Movies – GameRant

From A Nightmare On Elm Street to The Shining, there are many great horror movies from the 1980s that are still a lot of fun to watch.
The '80s was a formative and creative time for the horror movie genre. From slashers like Friday the 13th to ghost stories like Poltergeist, there was no shortage of movies for those who wanted a good scare. Jamie Lee Curtis appeared in the '80s movie Terror Train, which has a recent Tubi remake starring Robyn Alomar, proving how much fans like revisiting this decade. The original 1980 movie sees a group of friends taking a ride on New Year's Eve without realizing that there's a killer there, too.
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The '80s is thought of as a formative time for slashers in particular, and there were definitely many well-made movies in this subgenre. When thinking about the best horror movies released in the 1980s, there are some popular slashers along with a stand-out body horror story and a sequel that feels special.
Jamie Lee Curtis is best known for starring in the Halloween franchise as final girl Laurie Strode, but the actor also appeared in the 1980 movie Prom Night. While not the most popular '80s horror movie, Prom Night is still a good example of the type of slasher tale that has endured since its release.
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By now, horror fans are used to teen movies about characters attending a big dance or having fun at one location, and Prom Night saw a killer wearing a mask tormenting high schoolers celebrating their senior prom. Curtis played Kim Hammond, who goes on an emotional journey about her family. It probably won't seem all that scary by today's standards but deserves a mention.
It's hard to think about '80s horror movies without thinking about Jack Torrance, the writer who checks into the Overlook Hotel and begins seeing some truly wild, trippy things. The Shining isn't the best adaptation, but it's a good example of what is possible with a compelling horror movie setting.
As Jack Nicholson's character becomes all too acquainted with the spirits at the hotel, horror fans come back to this story when they want a classic that will be as intelligent as it is chilling. Since The Shining is such a classic, it's no wonder that Mike Flanagan directed a sequel, Doctor Sleep, which was released in 2019.
Videodrome is one of the best David Cronenberg movies and remains one of the best examples of what is possible with body horror. The subgenre can sometimes be cheesy, too gory, and off the walls, but Videodrome has a story that makes sense along with many memorable images.
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Max Renn (James Wood) runs a TV station in Toronto and comes across some movies that have a strange secret. Like Cronenberg's other movies, this one is political and also disturbing at times but has an interesting and perceptive message about how TV and other media and technology affect people. While fans love many of Cronenberg's work, this one stands out.
Whether thinking about Freddy Krueger's best punchlines or the fact that Freddy can kill people when they're fast asleep, it's impossible not to consider A Nightmare On Elm Street one of the best releases from the 1980s. Wes Craven's direction is perfect, along with Heather Langenkamp as Nancy Thompson, the final girl who wants to get away from Freddy.
Nancy is just as strong as the villain here, which is fun, and the movie generally stands out as a nostalgic dose of what '80s slashers were like. While some movies from this decade feel dated and cheesy at this point, A Nightmare On Elm Street will never be described as such. Because of his dialogue, fans love Freddy as an iconic horror villain.
Many of the best horror movie kids are adorable, but that's definitely not the right word to describe Isaac (John Franklin) in the 1984 movie Children of the Corn. Isaac convinces the other kids in his area to become part of a cult in Gatlin, Nebraska, as Isaac worships "He Who Walks Behind the Rows."
Since a child is leading a cult, that makes the story even scarier, and the movie has a creepy setting that endures all of these years after it was first released. It's tough not to look at Isaac's dark eyes and not feel frightened. What's more, it's easy to see this movie's influence on other stories about cults.
While some movie sequels are strange, A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors achieves something rare: it feels like part of the slasher franchise but is its own thing. Kristin Parker (Patricia Arquette) goes to Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital and that's where she encounters a grown-up Nancy.
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Fans like this third entry in the franchise and it definitely has better character development than most other sequels. It hammers home the message that stopping Freddy is tricky and that Nancy will most likely forever be haunted by him. Fans also like seeing Freddy as much as possible, which is another reason to check this movie out.
While the 2009 version is one of the worst horror movie remakes, the 1987 movie The Stepfather has a great performance from Terry O'Quinn, best known for playing Locke on Lost. The main character is a con artist who goes by the name of Jerry Blake and convinces women to marry him time and time again, but he's a stone-cold killer.
Although some slashers have plot holes, The Stepfather tells a straightforward story and has such good characters that it's entertaining. It's a perfect depiction of a charming man with secrets, a classic character trope found in many movies. Even if horror fans know the main plotline, the movie is still a lot of fun.
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Aya Tsintziras is a freelance writer who writes about TV, movies, and has a particular interest in the horror genre. She has a Political Science degree from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Journalism from Ryerson University. She loves coffee, reading, working out, and watching TV. She lives in Toronto.


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