Known for its campy, overdramatic acting, the 80s horror film industry was very much alive with the likes of Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
However, there are far more nefarious horror movies that have gone unnoticed over the years but were highly classified as blockbusters of that decade. Many of these 80s horror movies were critically-acclaimed and box office hits.
Apart from the classic 80s horror movies that are known throughout the ages, here are some of the best horror films of the 80s.
Aliens is the direct sequel to the 1979 classic horror film Alien.
Aliens takes place within the desolate ship where star Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley character once again must survive an onslaught brought upon by the alien creatures, and this time, the aliens have something new up their sleeve.
Released in July of 1986, Aliens was highly anticipated, as it took several years to develop the film. Many of the first film’s profits resulted in lawsuits, which further delayed the development of the sequel. However, the film managed to be released and became one of the greatest films of the 80s.
Many consider Aliens to be the greatest horror movie of the 80s, as well as the best sci-fi and action film of that decade. Not only did Aliens expand on its story within that universe, but it also brought forth an iconic protagonist in Ellen Ripley. Overall, the movie was such a hit with critics and audiences that it earned $157 million worldwide.
Poltergeist follows the story of the Freelings as they encounter supernatural incidents within their home, only to find out that entities are feeding off the life force of their children. The movie’s iconic scene where a young girl is facing a static TV set will forever be etched in horror movie history as one of the best scenes in the industry.
The movie was written and supposed to be directed by Steven Spielberg, but he could not continue due to his commitment and contractual obligations with another film.
He chose Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Tobe Hooper as the director of the film, and the two collaborated further with the film and later changed the theme from sci-fi to supernatural to great effect.
Released in 1982, the film became the highest-grossing horror film of that year with over $76 million in the US alone. Critics considered the film as one of the best during that year as well. Poltergeist soon joined the list of classic horror movies, as it continued to dominate in the award circuit later that year.
1986 was a great year for horror. Not only was Aliens a critical and box office success; several other horror films of that year also followed the same track.
The Fly was one of the few horror films that continue to have a presence in many horror movie conversations. The film follows the story of a scientist whose experiment has gone wrong that turned him into the titular monster known as the Fly.
Directed and co-written by David Cronenberg, The Fly was a testament to the 80s decade’s overall use of practical effects and sheer body horror. The Fly perfected the craft of using practical effects and elevated the movie to great heights. Based on a short story and the 1958 movie of the same name, The Fly was received very well by audiences and critics.
The horror movie classic became the most successful horror movie from Cronenberg, earning almost $60 million from a budget of only $9 million. The film was so successful overseas that it paved the way to a sequel that was released in 1989.
The Lost Boys
The Lost Boys is a 1987 teen horror movie by Joel Schumacher and stars Corey Haim and Kiefer Sutherland.
The title of the movie is a direct reference to the Lost Boys of Neverland in the Peter Pan story; however, the movie takes a very dark yet comedic turn with its premise.
The movie follows the story of two brothers as they move to a small beach town with their mother, only to discover that the missing people are caused by a group of vampires that are slowly taking over the town.
The movie was positively received by critics and earned over $32 million that year. The film won the Saturn Award for Best Horror Film in 1987 and was highly influential for its depiction of vampires in modern horror films. The movie’s soundtrack also became very popular, and many people listen to it to this very day.
Friday the 13th Part II
One of the best things that new horror fans discovered about this franchise was that Jason Voorhees was never the original serial killer of the franchise. It was discovered in the first movie that it was her mother, Pamela, that started the massacre at Crystal Lake.
It wasn’t until the second movie, Friday the 13th Part II, that Jason began his deadly rampage and became one of the most legendary horror movie icons ever. The movie is set five years after the killings of Camp Crystal Lake in the first movie. However, there is a brief appearance of the sole survivor of the first movie in the very first act of the movie, only to be killed by an unknown assailant.
The movie then follows a group of young adults as they settle into the newly opened Crystal Lake, and soon after, dead bodies begin to drop one by one. In the end, it was revealed that Jason Voorhees was the killer and thus began the deadly killing spree of the iconic horror movie villain.
Friday the 13th Part II opened in May of 1981 with $6 million and ultimately grossed over $21 million with just a budget of $1 million. The movie was such a success that it birthed the entire Friday the 13th franchise and many other high profile horror movies during the decade.
Many of the iconic horror movies we see today are largely influenced by the horror films of the 80s. Some of them even offer a love letter to the 80s horror genre, where the use of gratuitous violence and practical special effects were the norms.
Truly one of the best decades of horror, the 80s produced some of the best horror movies of all time.