NewNowNext's The Backlot's 40 Greatest Horror Movies Of The 1980s (2015)

by d-25906 | created - 06 Apr 2018 | updated - 06 Apr 2018 | Public

Ranked. Compiled by "snicks".

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1. My Bloody Valentine (1981)

R | 90 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

46 Metascore

A decades-old folk tale surrounding a deranged murderer killing those who celebrate Valentine's Day turns out to be true to legend when a group defies the killer's order and people start turning up dead.

Director: George Mihalka | Stars: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Keith Knight

Votes: 16,530 | Gross: $5.67M

2. Night of the Creeps (1986)

R | 88 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi

62 Metascore

Alien brain parasites, entering humans through the mouth, turn their host into a killing zombie. Some teenagers start to fight against them.

Director: Fred Dekker | Stars: Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow

Votes: 19,295 | Gross: $0.59M

3. Prom Night (1980)

R | 92 min | Horror, Thriller

45 Metascore

At a high school senior prom, a masked killer stalks four teenagers who were responsible for the accidental death of a classmate six years previously.

Director: Paul Lynch | Stars: Leslie Nielsen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Casey Stevens, Anne-Marie Martin

Votes: 14,228 | Gross: $14.80M

4. Day of the Dead (1985)

Not Rated | 96 min | Horror, Thriller

60 Metascore

A small group of military officers and scientists dwell in an underground bunker as the world above is overrun by zombies.

Director: George A. Romero | Stars: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato, Jarlath Conroy

Votes: 60,167 | Gross: $5.80M

5. The Fog (1980)

R | 89 min | Horror, Thriller

55 Metascore

An unearthly fog rolls into a small coastal town exactly 100 years after a ship mysteriously sank in its waters.

Director: John Carpenter | Stars: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, John Houseman

Votes: 59,937 | Gross: $21.38M

6. Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

R | 110 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

24 Metascore

At the snobby Crawford Academy, Virginia's group of friends start to go missing years after horrible events that happened to her as a child around her birthday.

Director: J. Lee Thompson | Stars: Melissa Sue Anderson, Glenn Ford, Lawrence Dane, Sharon Acker

Votes: 7,726

7. The Evil Dead (1981)

NC-17 | 85 min | Horror

71 Metascore

Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.

Director: Sam Raimi | Stars: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Betsy Baker

Votes: 177,104 | Gross: $2.40M

8. Re-Animator (1985)

Unrated | 105 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi

73 Metascore

After an odd new medical student arrives on campus, a dedicated local and his girlfriend become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue.

Director: Stuart Gordon | Stars: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale

Votes: 52,405 | Gross: $2.02M

9. Poltergeist (1982)

PG | 114 min | Horror, Thriller

79 Metascore

A family's home is haunted by a host of demonic ghosts.

Director: Tobe Hooper | Stars: JoBeth Williams, Heather O'Rourke, Craig T. Nelson, Beatrice Straight

Votes: 134,615 | Gross: $76.61M

10. The Children (1980)

R | 93 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

A nuclear-plant leak turns a bus-load of children into murderous atomic zombies with black fingernails.

Director: Max Kalmanowicz | Stars: Martin Shakar, Gil Rogers, Gale Garnett, Shannon Bolin

Votes: 1,710

11. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)

R | 87 min | Horror

43 Metascore

A teenage boy is haunted in his dreams by deceased child murderer Freddy Krueger, who is out to possess him in order to continue his reign of terror in the real world.

Director: Jack Sholder | Stars: Robert Englund, Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Rusler

Votes: 57,662 | Gross: $30.00M

12. Child's Play (1988)

R | 87 min | Horror, Thriller

58 Metascore

A single mother gives her son a much sought-after doll for his birthday, only to discover that it is possessed by the soul of a serial killer.

Director: Tom Holland | Stars: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif

Votes: 82,522 | Gross: $33.24M

13. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

R | 87 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

26 Metascore

Mrs. Voorhees is dead, and Camp Crystal Lake is shut down, but a camp next to the infamous place is stalked by an unknown assailant.

Director: Steve Miner | Stars: Betsy Palmer, Amy Steel, John Furey, Adrienne King

Votes: 54,785 | Gross: $21.72M

14. Fright Night (1985)

R | 106 min | Horror, Thriller

62 Metascore

A teenager discovers that the newcomer in his neighborhood is a vampire, so he turns to an actor in a television horror show for help dealing with the undead.

Director: Tom Holland | Stars: Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Roddy McDowall

Votes: 56,309 | Gross: $24.92M

15. The Funhouse (1981)

R | 96 min | Horror

56 Metascore

Four teenage friends spend the night in a carnival funhouse and are stalked by a deformed man in a Frankenstein mask.

Director: Tobe Hooper | Stars: Elizabeth Berridge, Shawn Carson, Jeanne Austin, Jack McDermott

Votes: 11,468 | Gross: $7.89M

16. Hell Night (1981)

R | 101 min | Horror, Thriller

Four college pledges are forced to spend the night in a deserted old mansion, where they are stalked by the monstrous survivor of a family massacre years earlier.

Director: Tom DeSimone | Stars: Linda Blair, Vincent Van Patten, Peter Barton, Kevin Brophy

Votes: 5,635

17. Pin (1988)

R | 103 min | Horror, Thriller

Isolated by his strange parents, Leon finds solace in an imaginary friend, which happens to be an anatomy doll from his father's doctor office. Unfortunately, the doll begins to take over Leon's life, and his sister's life as well.

Director: Sandor Stern | Stars: David Hewlett, Cynthia Preston, Terry O'Quinn, Bronwen Mantel

Votes: 3,663

18. Terror Train (1980)

R | 97 min | Horror, Thriller

Three years after a prank that went terribly awry, the six college students responsible are targeted by a masked killer at a New Year's Eve party aboard a moving train.

Director: Roger Spottiswoode | Stars: Ben Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Hart Bochner, David Copperfield

Votes: 8,980

19. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

R | 97 min | Comedy, Horror

60 Metascore

Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

Director: John Landis | Stars: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Joe Belcher, Griffin Dunne

Votes: 86,305 | Gross: $30.57M

20. The Thing (1982)

R | 109 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

57 Metascore

A research team in Antarctica is hunted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims.

Director: John Carpenter | Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, Richard Masur

Votes: 347,841 | Gross: $13.78M

21. Motel Hell (1980)

R | 101 min | Comedy, Horror, Thriller

64 Metascore

A seemingly friendly farmer and his sister kidnap unsuspecting travelers and bury them alive, using them to create the "special meat" they are famous for.

Director: Kevin Connor | Stars: Rory Calhoun, Paul Linke, Nancy Parsons, Nina Axelrod

Votes: 9,229 | Gross: $6.34M

22. The Burning (1981)

R | 91 min | Horror

42 Metascore

A former summer camp caretaker, horribly burned from a prank gone wrong, lurks around an upstate New York summer camp bent on killing the teenagers responsible for his disfigurement.

Director: Tony Maylam | Stars: Brian Matthews, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer, Larry Joshua

Votes: 14,416

23. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

R | 79 min | Horror, Thriller

31 Metascore

Little Billy witness his parents getting killed by Santa after being warned by his senile grandpa that Santa punishes those who are naughty. Now Billy is 18, and out of the orphanage, and he has just become Santa, himself.

Director: Charles E. Sellier Jr. | Stars: Lilyan Chauvin, Gilmer McCormick, Toni Nero, Robert Brian Wilson

Votes: 12,788 | Gross: $2.49M

24. The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

R | 93 min | Comedy, Horror

61 Metascore

When an archeologist uncovers a strange skull in foreign land, the residents of a nearby town begin to disappear, leading to further unexplainable occurrences.

Director: Ken Russell | Stars: Amanda Donohoe, Hugh Grant, Catherine Oxenberg, Peter Capaldi

Votes: 9,469 | Gross: $1.19M

25. Demons (1985)

Not Rated | 88 min | Horror

A group of random people are invited to a screening of a mysterious movie, only to find themselves trapped in the theater with ravenous demons.

Director: Lamberto Bava | Stars: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Karl Zinny, Fiore Argento

Votes: 18,654

26. Deadly Eyes (1982)

R | 87 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Contaminated grain breeds overgrown, killer rats in this Golden Harvest production. Dachshunds were dressed up as rats for the special effects.

Director: Robert Clouse | Stars: Sam Groom, Sara Botsford, Scatman Crothers, Cec Linder

Votes: 1,043

27. Pieces (1982)

Not Rated | 85 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

The co-eds of a Boston college campus are targeted by a mysterious killer who is creating a human jigsaw puzzle from their body parts.

Director: Juan Piquer Simón | Stars: Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Frank Braña, Edmund Purdom

Votes: 7,812 | Gross: $2.03M

28. The Howling (1981)

R | 91 min | Horror

68 Metascore

After a bizarre and near deadly encounter with a serial killer, a television newswoman is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem.

Director: Joe Dante | Stars: Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Christopher Stone

Votes: 29,258 | Gross: $17.99M

29. Scanners (1981)

R | 103 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

60 Metascore

A scientist sends a man with extraordinary psychic powers to hunt others like him.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Jennifer O'Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane

Votes: 44,945 | Gross: $14.23M

30. Christmas Evil (1980)

R | 100 min | Horror, Thriller

A toy factory worker, mentally scarred as a child upon learning Santa Claus is not real, suffers a nervous breakdown after being belittled at work, and embarks on a Yuletide killing spree.

Director: Lewis Jackson | Stars: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull, Andy Fenwick

Votes: 5,413

31. Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1981)

R | 96 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

An orphaned teenager finds himself being dominated by his aunt who's hell-bent on keeping him with her...at all costs.

Director: William Asher | Stars: Jimmy McNichol, Susan Tyrrell, Bo Svenson, Marcia Lewis

Votes: 1,967

32. Curtains (1983)

R | 89 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Six young actresses auditioning for a movie role at a remote mansion are targeted by a mysterious masked murderer.

Director: Richard Ciupka | Stars: John Vernon, Samantha Eggar, Linda Thorson, Anne Ditchburn

Votes: 3,773

33. I, Madman (1989)

R | 89 min | Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

A bookshop clerk finds that an insane and murderous doctor from one of the store's horror novels has come to life.

Director: Tibor Takács | Stars: Jenny Wright, Clayton Rohner, Randall William Cook, Stephanie Hodge

Votes: 2,569 | Gross: $0.15M

34. The Dolls (1987)

R | 77 min | Horror

55 Metascore

A group of people stop by a mansion during a storm and discover two magical toy makers and their haunted collection of dolls.

Director: Stuart Gordon | Stars: Ian Patrick Williams, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, Carrie Lorraine, Guy Rolfe

Votes: 8,711

35. The Beast Within (1982)

R | 98 min | Horror

A young woman gets raped by a mysterious man-creature, and years later her son begins a horrific transformation into a similar beast.

Director: Philippe Mora | Stars: Ronny Cox, Bibi Besch, Paul Clemens, Don Gordon

Votes: 3,227 | Gross: $7.74M

36. New Year's Evil (1980)

R | 85 min | Horror, Thriller

33 Metascore

During a New Year's Eve celebration, a Los Angeles disc jockey receives a phone call saying that when New Year's strikes in each time zone, someone will be murdered - and she will be the last one.

Director: Emmett Alston | Stars: Roz Kelly, Kip Niven, Chris Wallace, Grant Cramer

Votes: 2,360

37. Blood Beach (1980)

R | 92 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi

Something or someone is attacking people one by one on the beach. Some of them are mutilated, but most of them are sucked into the sand, disappearing without a trace. What is the creature ... See full summary »

Director: Jeffrey Bloom | Stars: David Huffman, Marianna Hill, Burt Young, Otis Young

Votes: 2,112

38. The Boogens (1981)

R | 95 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Otherworldly creatures are released from the bootleg tunnels underneath a small-town mining community, and begin chomping on the locals.

Director: James L. Conway | Stars: Rebecca Balding, Fred McCarren, Anne-Marie Martin, Jeff Harlan

Votes: 2,209

39. Visiting Hours (1982)

R | 103 min | Horror, Thriller

A deranged, misogynistic killer assaults a journalist. When he discovers that she survived the attack, he follows her to the hospital to finish her off.

Director: Jean-Claude Lord | Stars: Michael Ironside, Lee Grant, Linda Purl, William Shatner

Votes: 3,444 | Gross: $13.26M

40. Rats: Night of Terror (1984)

Unrated | 97 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

In a post-apocalyptic Earth, a group of punk friends find themselves against millions of bloodthirsty rats - but the weirdest is yet to come.

Directors: Bruno Mattei, Claudio Fragasso | Stars: Ottaviano Dell'Acqua, Geretta Geretta, Massimo Vanni, Gianni Franco

Votes: 2,164



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