The 80s was an amazing time for horror movies, but which rise to the top and which sink to the bottom of crystal lake?
The 1980s brought some of the best and some of the worst horror movies of all time. Following the surprise success of John Carpenters Halloween, slashers became the dominant horror subgenre, while the hybridizing of genres led to sci-fi horror movies like The Thing and horror comedies like An American Werewolf in London.
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As independent cinema was on the rise, the horror market was flooded with microbudget offerings like Sam Raimis The Evil Dead, with mixed results. The decade brought both slam dunks and disappointing duds. So, here are the five best and five worst horror movies from the 80s.
Sam Raimi gave every lazy horror director the idea to take a camera and some actors up to a cabin in the woods with his groundbreaking debut feature The Evil Dead. Bruce Campbell became an icon overnight in the role of Ash Williams, the ultimate splatter movie protagonist.
From a woman getting sexually assaulted by a tree to a demons head getting blown off with a shotgun, The Evil Dead is filled with iconic horror moments.
This movie is technically credited as James Camerons directorial debut, but the producers pretty much hired him in name only and then enforced their own vision on his film. Cameron wasnt even asked to come to the set after the first few days of shooting.
God only knows what a movie about piranhas terrorizing people wouldve looked like in the hands of the visionary filmmaker who would go on to helm The Terminator and Aliens, but in the hands of meddling producer Ovidio G. Assonitis, Piranha II: The Spawning is a complete mess.
Wes Cravens A Nightmare on Elm Street introduced horror fans to Freddy Krueger, one of the genres most iconic villains. Freddy haunts his victims in their dreams, which is a fascinating premise.
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The first Nightmare movie made better use of this premise than any of its sequels, with Craven deftly blurring the line between reality and the dream world.
After Halloween II followed up John Carpenters terrifying 1978 original with a by-the-numbers sequel about Michael Myers second attempt on Laurie Strodes life, Halloween III: Season of the Witch oddly added science fiction elements into the mix.
Michael is nowhere to be seen for the first (and, so far, only) time in the franchises history in an insane story about a cult summoning the powers of Stonehenge and a TV commercial that can brainwash people.
Before Edgar Wrights Shaun of the Dead, John Landis An American Werewolf in London was the go-to example of a horror comedy that nails both the horror and comedy elements of its hybrid genre.
The self-aware riffs on horror tropes are nothing short of satirical genius, but at the same time, werewolves have never been scarier.
The first Hills Have Eyes movie was hardly an exercise in good taste, but it was at least somewhat inspired. Its 1984 sequel, The Hills Have Eyes Part II, is an exploitative cash-in on an already-exploitative movie.
The sequel was made on the cheap with a shoestring budget and it shows. Wes Craven rarely directed the sequels to his own movies, and he shouldve maintained that policy when it came to The Hills Have Eyes franchise.
Thanks to a little movie called E.T., John Carpenters The Thing wasnt appreciated in its time. But its since been re-evaluated as a masterpiece of sci-fi horror, second only to Ridley Scotts original 1979 Alien movie.
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Kurt Russell leads a band of scientists in Antarctica who are terrorized by a shape-shifting alien that can assume the form of anything including one of them so before too long, they dont know who they can trust.
The only film ever to be directed by Stephen King, Maximum Overdrive takes place in a world where machines have begun rising up. As exciting as that sounds, the movie is filled with too much mindless slapstick humor and not enough of Kings usual creepiness.
King learned the hard way that filmmaking is a difficult process, and vowed to never direct another movie after the disastrous reception met by Maximum Overdrive.
Although the author of its source novel, Stephen King, doesnt seem to think so, Stanley Kubricks The Shining is a masterpiece of horror cinema. Kubricks film is filled with disturbing imagery, from the butchered Grady twins to the elevator full of blood.
RELATED:10 Reasons Why The Shining Is The Greatest Horror Movie Ever Made
Jack Nicholson is captivating in the lead role of Jack Torrance, the winter caretaker at an isolated hotel who gets writers block while working on his new novel, then descends into madness and tries to murder his family.
You know a franchise has gone off the rails when the first one is hailed as one of the best movies ever made and the fourth one is hailed as one of the worst. Contradicting what Hooper said about sharks in the first Jaws movie, a shark travels across the ocean to mercilessly hunt down the Brody family.
Even Michael Caine isnt a good enough actor to salvage the interminable dreck that is the screenplay for Jaws: The Revenge. There isnt a scary moment in the entire movie. Instead, all the shark action is just goofy and laughable.
NEXT:The 5 Best (& 5 Worst) 2010s Horror Movies
NextThe 10 Highest-Grossing Horror Movies Of 2019 (& Whether They're Worth Watching)
Ben Sherlock is a writer, filmmaker, and comedian. In addition to writing for Screen Rant and CBR, covering a wide range of topics from Spider-Man to Scorsese, Ben directs independent films and takes to the stage with his standup material. He's currently in pre-production on his feature directorial debut (and has been for a while, because filmmaking is expensive). Previously, he wrote for Taste of Cinema and BabbleTop.
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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero