12 Quintessential 80s Thriller Movies That Still Hold Up Today

Get ready to travel back in time to the thrilling world of the 80s! This iconic decade gave us some of the most unforgettable and pulse-pounding thriller movies ever made. The stories were groundbreaking, the characters were captivating, and the suspense was palpable.

What's even more impressive is that many of these quintessential 80s thrillers still hold up today, delivering the same level of excitement and intrigue that they did decades ago. Here are 12 must-watch 80s thriller movies that are just as thrilling now as they were back then.

1. Fatal Attraction (1987)

Fatal Attraction 1987
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) has a one-night stand with Alex Forrest (Glenn Close), but when he tries to end things, she becomes increasingly unstable and violent, leading to a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse that threatens Dan's family and his sanity.

2. Body Double (1984)

Body Double 1984
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

After struggling actor Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) witnesses a murder, he is forced into hiding and becomes obsessed with a beautiful woman he spies on through a telescope. As he gets pulled deeper into her mysterious world, he realizes he may have stumbled into a deadly trap.

3. Blue Velvet (1986)

Blue Velvet
Photo Credit: MGM.

When college student Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) discovers a human ear in a field, he becomes embroiled in a seedy underworld of crime, lust, and violence. Along the way, he falls for nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), but soon finds himself in over his head with dangerous criminals.

4. The Shining (1980)

The Shining Shelley Duvall
Image Credit Warner Bros.

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes a job as a caretaker of the isolated Overlook Hotel during the winter, but as he and his family settle in, the hotel's dark history and supernatural forces begin to drive him insane, leading to a terrifying descent into madness in one of the most iconic films of the past century.

5. WarGames (1983)

Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Teenager David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) accidentally hacks into a military supercomputer, thinking it's a computer game, but unwittingly puts the world on the brink of nuclear war. With the clock ticking, David must find a way to stop the computer from launching a deadly attack.

6. The Vanishing (1988)

The Vanishing Gene Bervoets, Johanna ter Steege
Image Credit: Argos Films.

When Rex Hofman's (Gene Bervoets) girlfriend Saskia (Johanna ter Steege) disappears during a rest stop, he becomes obsessed with finding her. Three years later, he receives a cryptic message from her abductor and sets out on a dangerous journey to uncover the truth about what happened to her.

7. Scarface (1983)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Cuban refugee Tony Montana (Al Pacino) rises to the top of the Miami drug trade, but his ruthless ambition and violent temper eventually lead to his downfall. As he becomes increasingly paranoid and unstable, Tony's empire crumbles around him in a hail of gunfire.

8. Blow Out (1981)

Blow Out John Travolta and Nancy Allen
Image Credit: Filmways Pictures.

Sound engineer Jack Terry (John Travolta) accidentally records evidence of a political assassination and finds himself pursued by a shadowy conspiracy that will stop at nothing to keep the truth hidden. As he races against time to uncover the conspiracy, Jack becomes embroiled in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game.

9. Aliens (1986)

Image Credit: 20th Century Studios

After losing contact with a colony on a distant planet, a team of space marines led by Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) are sent to investigate. When they arrive, they find the colony overrun by terrifying creatures and must fight for their lives against seemingly insurmountable odds in this sequel to Alien.

10. Heathers (1988)

Image Credit: New World Pictures

In this thriller take on the teen genre, Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) is tired of being a nobody at her high school, but when she falls in with the popular crowd, led by the charismatic but psychopathic J.D. (Christian Slater), she finds herself caught up in a dangerous game of murder and mayhem.

11. The Thing (1982)

The Thing David Clennon
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The Thing is a masterpiece of suspense and horror that takes place in a remote research station in Antarctica. As the crew is faced with an alien organism that can assimilate and imitate any living being, paranoia and mistrust grow among them, leading to an intense battle for survival. The film's stunning practical effects and eerie atmosphere make it a standout in the genre and a must-watch for any fan of 80s thrillers.

12. Witness (1985)

Harrison Ford Films Witness 1985 Paramount PIctures
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

After witnessing a murder, Detective John Book (Harrison Ford) takes young Amish boy Samuel Lapp (Lukas Haas) and his mother Rachel (Kelly McGillis) into hiding in their Amish community. As John tries to solve the case and protect his witnesses, he begins to experience a different way of life and develop feelings for Rachel. However, their cultural differences and the danger they face threaten their newfound relationship.

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