Top 10 80s Horror Movies

By: GregMo Roberts

Editor’s Note: In our final installment of the Spooky Flix Fest Top 10 series we asked Greg Roberts from KillerReviews.com to write up his favorite horror movies of the 80s.  Take a look at the list and let us know what you think!

Having been born in the (gulp) 60’s, I have had the privilege of experiencing films released between 1980-1989 when they were originally released and in their actual theatrical settings.  By the mid-1980’s I was already screening over 500 movies per year and my screening habits were gravitating towards the horror genre.

It was a great time to be a horror fan.  Some of the greatest titles and franchises in the horror genre found their beginnings during the 1980s.  Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Hellraiser are just some examples of the tent pole films that went on to become iconic pieces of pop culture reference.

So for Spooky Flix Fest we looked back on the decade and picked our 10 favorite films of the period.  These are the films that we look upon fondly both then and now – films that have held a special place in both our memories and on our DVD shelves.  They may not be considered the ‘best’ of the 80’s, but gosh-darn they were fun!  Our list starts here:

10.  Waxwork (1988)

We can all but guarantee that we are alone in this obscure selection.   This little respected trip centered on a waxwork museum in which the exhibits come alive if a patron steps over the red rope barrier.  Plenty of great special effects were employed in bringing a vampire, werewolf and the Marquis de Sade to life.

The ending was so atrociously over the top that it spoiled some of the better moments of the first 45-minutes, but we still think that this is one of the better 80’s films that could use a new look and a new millennium reboot.

9.  Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Writer/director Dan O’Bannon was the genius behind this story about two employees at a medical supply warehouse that unwittingly unleash a deadly toxin into the air that re-animates the dead.

A group of punk friends wasting the evening away at a nearly cemetery soon become the buffet for a horde of dead looking to feast on human brains.  Equal elements of comedy and gore collide in this brilliantly produced film that all but resurrected the zombie genre made famous by George Romero.

8.  Prince of Darkness (1987)

John Carpenter brought us this story about a group of students who find themselves up against the devil himself when experimenting on a vat of green liquid that has been uncovered in an abandoned church basement.

Zombies, possessed humans, evil green goo and even Alice Cooper threaten all of mankind but luckily, we have Donald Pleasance and a typical techno-style musical score to make the menace a fun one to experience.

House (1986)7.  House (1987)

Horror comedy abounds in this story about a haunted house and writer (Greatest American Hero’s William Katt) who stands brave amongst all the trap doors and supernatural occurrences that surround him in his residence.

Cheers’ George Wendt provides additional comic relief in his attempts at helping his neighbor fight the evil presence.  It’s goofy and at times over the top, but it’s also a lot of fun and it was able to avoid some of the usual trappings of horror films produced during the era.

6.  Lifeforce (1985)

Bad acting and bad special effects highlight our sixth favorite film of the decade.  Tobe Hooper (Poltergeist) directed this film about alien vampires that infect the city of London.

Everything that is wrong with the film is exactly why we loved the 80’s so dearly.

The premise was ridiculously inane and the whole production was outlandish.  But it was also cheesy good.

There are no sparkling vampires here, but there are naked ones (God Bless you Mathilda May) who walk around the city turning its citizens into rioting zombies.

The 80’s were classified as the ‘Decade of Excess’ and Lifeforce is exactly that.

5.  The Entity (1982)

Barbara Hershey starred in this ‘based on a true story’ about a regular single mother who is repeatedly tormented and raped by a supernatural force.  Fearing for her life, she agrees to experiments of both psychological and supernatural in nature with a rather outrageous trial expected to trick the entity into revealing itself.

Thanks to a pounding musical accompaniment every time the entity attacks and having Hershey routinely naked and vulnerable, The Entity became one of the better horror films of the decade that was overshadowed in its year of release that also saw Poltergeist, The Thing and others gets centre stage.

4.  The Hidden (1987)

Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks) and Michael Nouri (Flashdance) starred in action/horror film about an alien that transfers from human host to human host with a penchant for loud music and fast cars.  A detective and a strange FBI agent are both hot on its trail leading to a more conventional, but still satisfying conclusion.

The Hidden still remains as one of those hidden gems worth discovering and although it may be considered more ‘action’ than ‘horror’, it clearly belongs on a list of our most favorite.

The Fly (1986) Poster3.  The Fly (1986)

David Cronenberg directed this masterpiece which is a reboot of a 1958 black-and-white film starring Vincent Price.  Jeff Goldblum plays a scientist working on a teleportation device when he is accidentally merged with the DNA of a common housefly while performing human experiments.

The film is master crafted – smart and gory with Academy Award winning effects.  The Fly consistently comes up in conversation with discussions over the best horror films of all-time and rightfully so.

It is unique and grotesque and you will find yourself actually having feelings for the every morphing Brundle Fly.

2.  Poltergeist (1982)
The year 1982 was a great year for horror.  The Entity, Friday the 13th Part III, Halloween III and Creepshow were just some of the quality horror productions coming through the Hollywood machine.

And the Tobe Hooper/Steven Spielberg effort, Poltergeist was one of the best.  The general idea behind the film was simple – ghosts puncture a hole into world of an average family and kidnap their youngest daughter who can only be communicated to through the television.

Thrilling, frightening, exciting and extremely satisfying, Poltergeist is an enjoyable nightmare of a believable family going against unbelievable forces.  Never before or since has there been a better haunted house film.

The Thing (1982)1.  The Thing (1982)

The once reliable John Carpenter hits our favorites list for the second time with his masterpiece of horror, The Thing, a remake of 1951’s The Thing From Another World.  But Carpenter takes the original concept and makes it his own.  A full male cast headed by Kurt Russell fight off an alien presence thawed from the Antarctic ice.

The alien is able to replicate human forms and it does so in incredible non-CGI fashion.  The remote setting and the increasing sense of paranoia heighten the experience and the result is a smart and audacious film that was not only our favorite horror film of the 1980’s, but also ranks as our favorite horror film of all-time.

 ****

Greg Roberts is a writer for Killerreviews.com and can be found on Twitter @gregmoroberts

 

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3 comments to Top 10 80s Horror Movies

  • Hey GregMo,
    On your list, does Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” (1980) come in at least spot No. 11? Where does that one rate for you? I list it as the very best horror film of the ’80s decade. Just curious…
    Thanks,
    Jason
    P.S. I have to agree with “The Thing” ranking so high. It’s probably No. 2 for me.

  • Peter Nielsen

    This was a great list, Greg. Ten very good movies on it. :-)

  • Jay

    Nice list. Gotta love House. Moreso Big Ben, he was great. I remember watching the Entity years ago, that was one film that stuck out. I’m suprised it hasn’t been re-done. As already said, The thing has got to be in there near the top.

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