The 10 Best 1980s Horror Movies Ranked

Many of the major directors and genres of modern horror were established during the 70s. But Cronenberg, Carpenter, Stephen King adaptations, body horror, slashers and more replicated wetly and crawled into their true skin suits in the high gloss 80s.

1. Re-Animator (1985)

Lots of mad scientists cackle with glee. But it’s hard to think of a Dr. Frankenstein knock-off who takes as much sheer pleasure in his work as director Stuart Gordon and his self-insert, Herbert West (Jeffrey Coombs.)

2. The Shining (1980)

Nicholson smiles and chuckles and deploys advanced eyebrow-waggling technology. But it’s still no contest when Kubrick has the camera and can make the scenery eat itself.

3. Blue Velvet (1986)

Blue Velvet is usually classified as a noir or a thriller or an art film rather than as horror. Dennis Hopper’s volcanically bizarre, gas mask huffing performance as the villainous Frank alone makes the film right for this list, though.

4. The Evil Dead (1981)

Bruce Campbell as Ash would become a better actor. But his charisma is already firmly in place as the shaky-cam roars through the woods around him, magically changing friends and lovers into ranting deadites.