15 Truly Scary Horrors From 1980s if You’re Sick of Weak Modern Flicks

15 Truly Scary Horrors From 1980s if You’re Sick of Weak Modern Flicks
Image credit: New Line Cinema, Warner Bros, New World Pictures

From immortal classics to unjustly forgotten masterpieces.

The 80s was the time when horror found its second wind. The slasher film, the main subgenre of the time, filled the screens, and producers and directors tried to find new forms to scare the viewers.

15. Without Warning, 1980

IMDb Rating: 5.1/10

The fantastic horror movie Without Warning can be called the ancestor of the much more famous and popular Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both movies are about an alien that hunts humans, and in both movies the same alien was played by Kevin Peter Hall.

Despite its obvious trashiness, the movie was a horror gem of its time, scaring viewers the most with the "disks" the alien threw at its victims.

14. Puppet Master, 1989

IMDb Rating: 5.5/10

The first independent project from Full Moon Studio, which flooded the video market with horror trash in the 90s. And the project was incredibly successful – so much so that nine direct sequels and several spin-offs were made, in which some of the puppets from the original movie appeared in one form or another.

The plot is nothing out of the ordinary – a group of random people in a mansion are sent to the other world one by one. Uninvited guests are killed by the puppets who protect the secret of their master.

13. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, 1986

IMDb Rating: 5.6/10

Fans have had to wait 12 years for the sequel to the iconic first installment. The director and creator of the franchise, Tobe Hooper, fought for the rights to The Texas Massacre.
Some fans were disappointed by what they saw: the extremely serious and dark spirit of the original was replaced in the sequel by a bloody attraction with an abundance of props.

The gore was enhanced by the special effects of Tom Savini, nicknamed "The Maestro of Blood" by his colleagues. Despite its lukewarm reception in the year of its release, Hooper's film, like many underrated 80s horror projects, has aged like wine.

12. Silent Night, Deadly Night, 1984

IMDb Rating: 5.8/10

While searching for new ideas for slasher movies about maniacs, the makers of the horror film Silent Night, Deadly Night came up with an interesting concept – dressing the main psychopath in a Santa Claus costume.

In its first weekend at the box office, the movie managed to earn more than the other new release of the week, A Nightmare on Elm Street. Later, however, the box office for the Santa Claus slasher movie dropped dramatically, but the final numbers were so attractive that four more sequels were made.

11. Killer Klowns from Outer Space, 1988

IMDb Rating: 6.2/10

Two years before Tim Curry turned the demonic clown into a genre icon in the It miniseries, another horror movie about creepy clowns was made.

The titular killer klowns from the Chiodo Brothers' cult horror film are predatory monsters who have come to Earth (on a circus-shaped ship) to hunt humans (with the help of deadly "clown" devices). All of this sounds extremely wild, but that is no reason to ignore the movie – fascinating, scary, and crazy in the spirit of the 80s.

10. Friday the 13th, 1980

IMDb Rating: 6.4/10

The iconic slasher film of the 1980s that spawned one of the longest running franchises in the history of the genre. The movie, of course, takes many cues from 1978's Halloween, from the overall structure and cinematography to the murder scenes.

The director of the movie, Sean S. Cunningham, did not hide the fact that he was inspired by John Carpenter's film, which became the model for dozens of subsequent teen horror projects. Nevertheless, the movie captivated viewers with its inventive murder scenes and the summer camp setting, which was unusual for slasher movies at the time.

9. From Beyond, 1986

IMDb Rating: 6.6/10

Howard Lovecraft is one of the most respected and honored writers in the horror genre, but it is extremely difficult to adapt his works, which are built on an atmosphere of primitive horror and impending apocalypse. Stuart Gordon, however, has done it four times, from Re-Animator to Dagon.

From Beyond is also based on Lovecraft's book, and although this horror did not reach the fame of Re-Animator, it became a cult classic among the author's fans. The movie exists in two edited versions – the theatrical version, rated R, and the uncut version, which restored the most extreme material that the creators had been forced to remove by the censors.

8. Night of the Creeps, 1986

IMDb Rating: 6.7/10

The mid-'80s was a time of teen movies, and that included all genres – comedies, melodramas, science fiction, and horror. The writers of Night of the Creeps tried to make a teen version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with the plot revolving around an invasion of alien parasites that suck the bodies of their victims through their mouths and turn them into obedient zombies.

As fate would have it, humanity's saviors from the cosmic infection become a team of an elderly policeman and an ordinary teenager on his way to the prom.

7. Hellraiser, 1987

IMDb Rating: 6.9/10

Author Clive Barker chose his own short story The Hellhound Heart for his feature film debut about the inevitable retribution for unbridled hedonism. The archetypal tale of a deal with the devil was given a unique, glamorous and infernal visual style.

One of the main advantages of the movie was undoubtedly the images of the Cenobites. In the first installment of the franchise, however, they only appeared for seven minutes. The leader of the Cenobites, nicknamed Pinhead, was played by Barker's childhood friend Doug Bradley, and went on to play Pinhead in eight of the ten films in the franchise.

6. Fright Night, 1985

IMDb Rating: 7.1/10

The debut film of director Tom Holland, who later created the franchise about the killer doll Chucky Child's Play and the adaptation of Stephen King 's Thinner.

Fright Night strikes a nice balance between funny and scary, and picks up the pace in the second half of the movie. The image of a vampire created in the movie is a pure product of the 80s: a dandy from the American suburbs, dressed in the latest fashion, looking for his victims in discos.

5. Gremlins, 1984

IMDb Rating: 7.3/10

According to the canon, it is better to watch Gremlins on Christmas Eve with the whole family, but if you have not yet seen this cult (anti-) holiday movie, we advise you not to wait until next winter.

Gremlins is a dark Christmas comedy, a hilarious satire of everything and everyone, in which parents will find an anti-capitalist statement about the nature of the holidays, and children will simply have fun watching the cute mogwai and their clawed enemies.

4. The Return of the Living Dead, 1985

IMDb Rating: 7.3/10

Screenwriter of Alien, Dan O’Bannon, made his directorial debut with a horror-comedy about zombies. Yes, the kind you see once and never forget.

O'Bannon proposes a new image of the living dead – they not only walk and talk, but also display rare cunning. For example, after killing the first group of cops, one of the zombies radioed for backup. In this wild horror, punks fight the living dead side by side with a former concentration camp guard, now a crematorium worker.

3. The Evil Dead, 1981

IMDb Rating: 7.4/10

In 1980, twenty-year-old Sam Raimi made a movie that would become a horror icon on a shoestring budget, without the support of major studios, but with the help of creative friends. The financial constraints forced Raimi to make unusual creative choices.

At some points, the viewers simply did not know whether to laugh or be frightened by what they saw. And of course, Ash Williams, a fighter against evil spirits played by Bruce Campbell, remains perhaps the most charismatic protagonist in the history of the genre.

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984

IMDb Rating: 7.4/10

This is one of the most important films in the history of the genre – the image of Freddy Krueger has become an integral part of pop culture since his first appearance on screen. Under the guise of a slasher film, Wes Craven managed to create a multi-layered project full of social and psychoanalytical messages, eroticism and black humor.

Krueger is both dead and immortal, and his dream world makes him perhaps the most powerful villain in cinema. No one has been able to defeat Freddy for good – he has tormented teenagers in numerous sequels, remakes, and parodies, and it seems he will be back.

1. The Shining, 1980

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

No list of the best horror films can be complete without this masterpiece by Stanley Kubrick. The adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name has long since become a cult classic, even though the original author himself hates it.

Jack Nicholson may have played one of his most memorable roles, but the main character of the movie is the Overlook Hotel itself. Its vast spaces, with labyrinths of corridors, and rivers of blood gushing from the doors, have served as inspiration for more than one director.