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Top 20 Horror Movies Of The 1980s Main

top 20 horror movies of the 1980s main

The Top 20 Horror Movies of the 1980s: 20 to 11

Written by R.J. MacReady

Who would be crazy enough to try and narrow down the hundreds of great '80s horror movies into the 20 best? Who would have the balls required to say that THIS is the definitive, no-arguments list of the greatest horror movies from the 1980s? This guy. You can disagree – I can't force you to be right – but go ahead and hit us up and let us know YOUR top 20!

Or just thank us for not putting two on each page and making you click page after page of ads to read them all.

friday the 13th part 2 smallBuy from Amazon US 20. Friday the 13th Part 2

Why am I featuring this one, out of all of them? You could absolutely make a case that the first film is a terrifying movie in its own right, featuring a great cast and the iconic location. You could make a case that Part III features the first Jason with the hockey mask that has become one of the greatest icons of horror ever. For my money though, pillowcase Jason is just as terrifying and is his true introduction as an unstoppable force of nature bent on killing anyone who dares come near his beloved home. Best scene: Naked Kirsten Baker swimming at night is amazing, but so is the wheelchair rolling down the stairs.

Horror DNA review of Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection.

friday the 13th pt ii

The Blob SmallBuy from Amazon US 19. The Blob

Another unfairly-maligned movie when it came out, this movie was co-written by one of the greatest screenwriters of our time, Frank Darabont, and directed by Chuck Russell, who had already proved himself on the superior Nightmare on Elm Street III sequel (also co-written by Darabont). Featuring some incredible practical effects from a team including Tony Gardner (Zombieland) and a very hot young actress named Shawnee Smith, this movie's finally starting to develop a following. Best scene: The phone booth or the sink. Both feature amazing practical effects.

the blob

Night Of The Creeps SmallBuy from Amazon US 18. Night of The Creeps

Thrill me! Tom Atkins delivers the performance he was born to give as the most world-weary detective to ever grace the screen. Fred Dekker proves he can bring the funny with this movie that is chock-full of more great one-liners than any other horror flick to date. Also featuring another memorable performance by Dick Miller. If you somehow missed this flick, rectify that now. Best scene: "I got good news and I got bad news, girls..."

night of the creeps

Night Of The Comet SmallBuy from Amazon US 17. Night of the Comet

Girls just wanna have fun, indeed. Pairing up two hotties – The Last Starfighter's Catherine Mary Stuart and Fast Times at Ridgemont High's Kelli Maroney – and letting them run rampant through a post-apocalyptic L.A., and you have the recipe for that perfect ‘80s fun. Never all that scary, the script and director knew that all you needed was likeable sexy characters acting believably in the face of human extinction. A perfect Christmas/New Year's flick that's finally started to get the respect it deserves. Best scene: The bathroom nightmare scene because holy balls is Kelli Maroney hot in that see-through bra and panties.

Horror DNA review of Night of the Comet.

night of the comet

Childs Play SmallBuy from Amazon US 16. Child's Play

Tom Holland again. The guy is clearly a master of horror. Taking something that would be pretty laughable, i.e. the killer doll, and making it terrifying is something that many a writer/director has failed at. But the genius stroke of voice-acting by Brad Dourif coupled with some incredible practical FX headed by Howard Berger, and the tiniest horror icon of all was born. It's no wonder this franchise is still going strong. (And fuck that remake in its face.) Best scene: When she sees the batteries on the ground, and Chucky's head spins around and he talks to her. Chilling.

Horror DNA review of Chucky: The Complete Collection.

childs play

Halloween Iiii SmallBuy from Amazon US 15. Halloween III: Season of the Witch

The most underrated movie in the history of movies. Everyone, myself included, hated this thing when it came out. How could we not? We were primed for a new Michael Myers film, and they give us something that has absolutely nothing to do with it? There was no way this film could have triumphed, but after years and years to get a better perspective, most of us have come to agree that this movie is great. From a script that dares you to like a protagonist who's cheating on his wife and blowing off his kids so he can go bang a girl clearly twenty years his junior, to strange concepts like a company building masks that will melt your kids heads off, leaving maggots and other bugs to crawl around in the left-over goo, this movie is a strange beast that somehow works. Credit to Tom Atkins as the lead, and Tommy Lee Wallace for writing and directing this weird masterpiece with the jingle you can't forget once you've heard it. Best scene: It's gotta be Atkins blowing off his family to go out of town with the young, hot Stacy Nelkin and a six pack of beer. Like, here's your hero, ladies and gentlemen. Who has the balls to do this nowadays?

Horror DNA review of Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

halloween 3

Poltergeist SmallBuy from Amazon US 14. Poltergeist

I know, who directed it? (Steven Spielberg did by pretty much all accounts, including the director of photography, who would know.) Any way you slice it, this movie scarred generations with that tree and that clown doll and that pool full of dead bodies and that TV full of static. Crazy good, with concepts that are still used and re-used in tons of paranormal movies today. Best scene: Peeling off his face? The clown doll attack? The bodies in the pool? The creature in the closet? I can't pin it down.


Fright Night SmallBuy from Amazon US 13. Fright Night

I guess when I boil it down, my favorite horror movies are "fun" horror flicks, and no horror flick encompasses that quite like the original Fright Night. Tom Holland finally got his chance to shine in the director's chair after having written such great flicks as The Beast Within, Class of 1984, Psycho II, Scream for Help and Cloak and Dagger. And shine he does in this throwback creature feature that would have fit in well in the black-and-white era of Univeral's monsters (with a little censorship of the nudity/violence). With a catchy title track by the J. Geils Band, and a host of other great songs, this is still one of the greatest vampire movies of all time. Every time I watch it, I miss Roddy McDowall, who gives one of his best performances as an aging TV host. Best scene: The night club dance.

fright night

The Shining SmallBuy from Amazon US 12. The Shining

The movie that proved Stephen King can't be objective about his writing. Few movies can be called legitimately terrifying like The Shining can. Sure, it strays quite a bit from King's novel, but that doesn't make it any less great of a film. I get that people wish Nicholson was a little more normal at the beginning of the movie so you could see his transformation being a bigger arc, but all of that didn't matter when you find out that Olive Oil and her son "Creepy Finger" Bangs McGee are trapped in a spooky hotel in the middle of a blizzard while ghosts are telling Jack that maybe he'd be better off as a bachelor without kids. Best scene: Another tough one. The twins? The blood elevator? "Heeeere's Johnny!" I'm going to go with the naked woman in the bathtub though, because I've never had a semi disappear that fast in my life.

the shining

The Return Of The Living Dead SmallBuy from Amazon US 11. The Return of the Living Dead

A fun, scary zombie romp like no other. Featuring one of the best synth-theme songs of all time from Matt Clifford, this film is elevated with some interesting ideas courtesy of writer Dan O'Bannon. (Zombies that can talk? The notion that eating brains is the only thing that makes zombies feel "good"?) There have been a million imitations of this movie, but none that have topped it. Best scene: Linnea dancing naked in the cemetery. Obviously.

Horror DNA review of The Return of the Living Dead.

return of the living dead


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