If you grew up binging on horror movies from the early to late 1980s, you probably came across a number of the titles mentioned in my list of 10 of the most popular horror movies from 1981 to 1987. In the section below, I have put together my choices in no particular order.
10. Day of the Dead (1985)
Just a quick question for our readers: how many of you consider George A. Romero’s 1985 zombie outing Day of the Dead, the third film in his living dead series, his finest piece of work in the genre? Whatever your opinion is I would have to say for me personally, Day of the Dead is definitely Romero’s flagship title. You can watch it right now on Shudder.
9. Re-Animator (1985)
I have such fond memories of watching Stuart Gordon’s 1985 splatter film Re-Animator after returning home from school one evening and popping the VHS tape into my video recorder for the first time. I can honestly say the scene with the reanimated Rufus the cat has stuck with me all these years later. Easily one of the most popular horror movies of the 80s.
8. The Thing (1982)
You can’t have a list of some of the most popular horror movies ever made without the inclusion of John Carpenter’s beloved 1982 science fiction classic The Thing. The visually pleasing practical effects work featured throughout the film, created by special make-up effects creators Rob Bottin and Stan Winston, is probably the greatest ever seen in horror.
7. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
You won’t find a more popular lycanthrope movie out there than John Landis’ 1981 British horror classic An American Werewolf in London. After 40 years, the legendary practical effects work and creature design, created by special make-up effects artist Rick Baker, still manages to shock audiences four decades on. You can watch the film’s iconic transformation scene on YouTube.
6. Creepshow (1982)
Ok I cheated a little bit here with the inclusion of Creepshow, as you know as well as I do, it’s clearly a horror anthology containing multiple stories and not a full blown horror movie like the others on this list. However, I could not write a list of 80s horrors without including it. Check out a clip from one of the stories titled “The Crate” via YouTube.
5. Hellraiser (1987)
When I think of Clive Barker, I think of his 1987 horror classic Hellraiser. If you love British horror films, Barker’s Hellraiser will not disappoint in the blood and gore department. Truly one of the most disturbing, gruesome horror experiences of its time. Its popularity among horror hounds still remains strong to this day. Here’s a classic clip from the film.
4. The Lost Boys (1987)
Joel Schumacher’s The lost Boys is highly regarded as the greatest vampire move of the 1980s in a large majority of horror fans minds. Featuring a steller cast, an outstanding soundtrack, and tons of blood and gore effects, The Lost Boys earns its rightful place on this list among some of the most popular horror movies of its time.
3. The Evil Dead (1981)
When Sam Raimi’s splatter film The Evil Dead made its initial debut in West Germany, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Ireland and the UK in 1983, it was banned outright, earning a reputation rather quickly as “the number one video nasty”. All these years later, Raimi’s The Evil Dead remains one of the most popular horror films ever released.
2. Fright Night (1985)
Tom Holland’s Fright Night is probably my favorite vampire movie out of all the others released in the 1980s. Chris Sarandon’s transformation into blood sucker Jerry Dandrige is unforgettable, featuring some of the most frightening looking makeup effects work ever seen in a horror movie. Take a look at one of the film’s most eerie scenes via YouTube.
1. The Howling (1981)
Going head to head with John Landis’ groundbreaking practical effects driven An American Werewolf in London in 1981, The Howling was able to stand its ground thanks to the stunning practical effects work created by FX wizard Rob Bottin, who in the very next year went on to create some of the most amazing practical monster work for John Carpenter’s The Thing. For those who have not seen The Howling, I recommend you check out as soon as you can.
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