The 1980s were, without a doubt, one of the best decades for horror and largely helped shape the horror movies that we know and love today. Directors like Wes Craven and John Carpenter were taking the genre into terrifying new territory and the advancement of special effects elevated the scare factor.
Not every 1980s horror classic is going to deliver the same shocking scares when compared to the CGI-heavy films of today. Many of the themes and storylines have now become tired clichés, but there’s something about the campiness that injects them with a dose of nostalgic fun. If you’re looking for some retro scares, here are 10 80s horror movie classics that are sure to deliver.
The Lost Boys – Netflix
It simply doesn’t get more 80s than Corey Haim and Corey Feldman and this movie has both! After a mom and her two teenage sons move to a sleepy California surfer town, things get weird real quick. The two brothers soon discover that the town isn’t so sleepy and the local gang of bullies are bloodsucking vampires.
Child’s Play – Tubi | Vudu
Let’s not kid ourselves, talking dolls are creepy and the stuff of nightmares. This 1988 flick about the soul of a serial killer that inhabits a little boy’s doll and goes on a murderous rampage had every 80s kid checking under their bed. You may never look at a doll the same way again.
Prom Night – Tubi | Shudder
Jamie Lee Curtis was already horror royalty, because of Halloween, when she made this 1980 teen scream. The movie about a masked psycho who seeks revenge on a group of teens responsible for a classmate’s death years earlier influenced 90s fare like I Know What You Did Last Summer. It had a 2008 remake, but the original is pure vintage terror.
Return of the Living Dead – Tubi | Vudu
Before zombies made their comeback in the 2010s, they had their time to
shine rot in the 1980s and this movie was one of the decade’s standouts. When two idiots unleash some toxic gas, they open up the gates of the apocalypse with sprinting zombies who will stop at nothing to satisfy their craving for “braaains.”
Dreamscape – Tubi | PopcornFlix | Shout Factory
This strange sci-fi/action/horror flick starring Dennis Quaid may not be as scary as some of the other entries, but then again, wait until you see the cobra demon. The movie follows the perils of a government project that aims to look into people’s dreams and well, let’s just say that it quickly becomes a complete nightmare.
The Evil Dead – Tubi | Vudu | Shudder
Perhaps one of the most popular cult films of all time, The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II are a campy gorefest. The movie centers around some college students who can’t leave well enough alone when they find a mysterious book while spending the weekend at a creepy cabin in the woods. It’s not long before body-possessing demons give the students a weekend from Hell.
Night of the Comet – Tubi | Vudu
Malls were the epicenter of teen socializing in the 1980s, so it’s only natural that one be the setting for a sci-fi/horror movie. After a comet wipes out nearly all of civilization, two L.A. Valley girls enjoy a shopping mall all to themselves — except for the mutant cannibals who are stalking them.
An American Werewolf in London – PopcornFlix | Epix
Director John Landis sealed his place in horror history with this classic werewolf movie from 1981. The film follows a couple of American college students visiting England who fall prey to a roaming werewolf and must deal with the after effects. The movie’s special effects were groundbreaking at the time and still hold up more than three decades later.
The Fly – Hulu
Known for its chillingly good special effects, this 1986 sci-fi/horror film starring Jeff Goldblum is certain to be in any top 10 list of 80s horror classics. The movie centers around a scientist who discovers the secrets to teleportation, but finds out it has terrifying consequences when he accidentally crosses his DNA with a housefly.
Sleepaway Camp – Tubi | PopcornFlix | Shudder
There’s no shortage of horror movies that take place at summer camp, but the twist ending of this 1983 slasher flick make it one of the better ones. A young girl finds out that the summer camp her parents have sent her to is anything but fun and games when she learns that campers who misbehave suffer a murderous punishment.
The horror genre seems to change more from decade to decade than many other movie genres and these 1980s flashbacks will give you a new appreciation for how far its come.