20 Greatest Horror Movies Of The 80s

The ultimate 80s horror movies for Halloween.

Fright Night 1985

Horror movies have been with us for almost as long as the medium itself. From silent classics Nosferatu and Das Cabinet Der Dr. Caligari through to ghost movies such as The Innocents of the 1960s, to the present day revival in blockbuster indie horrors like Hereditary, scary movies are here to stay.

Each decade saw the release of several horror classics, but it was the 1980s, with the advent of home video, where the genre really started to flourish. Filmmakers took the foundations of preceding years and built on them and twisted them beyond recognition.

New franchises were born along with iconic villains, and as special effects maestros honed their craft the on-screen blood and gore became increasingly elaborate and grotesque. Inevitably the censors fought back, and many of the more outrageous horror films formed the wave of "video nasties" which filled local video stores.

From "family friendly" movies about things that go bump in the night to disturbing X-rated studies of Americas most notorious serial killers and controversial video nasties, here are the twenty best horror movies of the 1980s.

20. Poltergeist

Fright Night 1985
United Artists

"They're here!"

One of the most successful horror movies of the early 1980s was Poltergeist, written and produced by Steven Spielberg, directed by Texas Chain Saw Massacre's Tobe Hooper and starring Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams as the parents of a young girl Carol (Heather O'Rourke) who is captured by malevolent spirits.

By horror standards Poltergeist is relatively tame (released before the introduction of the PG-13 rating, the filmmakers convinced the MPAA to grant it a PG instead of an R), but nevertheless highly effective in capturing the heightened sense of fear as the poltergeist haunting steadily escalates.

It features some iconic horror moments, not least Carol being sucked into a portal in her closet and a particularly gruesome scene in which a man's face is peeled off (certainly not something you'll see in a PG rated movie these days). It's also noted for its alleged curse, which posits that Heather O'Rourke's sad premature death at the age of 12 has become something of a cinematic urban legend.

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