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15 ’80s Horror Movies to Stream

Our experts have curated an ‘80s horror movie starter list with 15 classics to watch now—and dozens more to screen later.

If you’re new to ‘80s horror movies, you’re in for a treat. They’re some of the scariest scary films ever—and a whole lotta fun.

Some of us had the luxury of watching these movies in theaters, renting stacks of them on VHS (thanks, Mom!), or—if the ‘rents weren’t supportive of our interests—sneak-watching them on cable TV. Nowadays, we can stream ‘80s horror movies in even greater quantities, so it’s a great time to get into them.

We’ve compiled a list of 15 classic ‘80s horror movies to get you started. Each recommended film has auto-updating JustWatch links telling you which streaming services have them available to stream, rent, or buy. Also, since we’re confident you’ll love ‘80s horror movies, we’re including dozens more recommendations for further viewing.

Find more streaming horror

Check out our reviews of horror streaming services like Shudder, Full Moon Features, Screambox, and Arrow Player, which have tons of ‘80s horror movies.

Best ’80s horror movies

1. The Shining (1980)

A man stares creepily

(Video screenshot from YouTube)

Stanley Kubrick’s film ain’t exactly what Stephen King had in mind for a film adaptation of his 1977 novel. That notwithstanding, The Shining is a stone-cold chiller and a horror classic thanks to King’s story, the cast’s brilliant performances, the fantastic cinematography, an excellent score, and even some of Kubrick’s artistic choices.

And let’s shout out to the late, great Scatman Crothers—voice of the great Hong Kong Phooey (among other things). He played the Overlook Hotel’s head chef—and Danny Torrance’s (Danny Lloyd) “shining” guide—Dick Halloran.

2. Friday the 13th (1980)

From under a bed, a hand hold's a man's head down.

(Video screenshot from YouTube)

This franchise is largely responsible for the ‘80s being the best decade for slasher films. Friday the 13th led to 10 sequels, a remake, an upcoming Peacock TV series (Crystal Lake), so much merch, so many copycat films, and one of the most iconic masked killers in horror history: Jason Voorhees.

Fans and critics alike point to Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) as the best film in the series, followed by the first two Friday films. They’re correct—but part of the reason is Jason’s evolution, which begins in Friday the 13th (wink to the fans who know exactly when) and develops over the next two films, one of which kinda sucks but is worth seeing, anyway.

3. The Evil Dead (1981)

A demon with cloudy pink eyes tries to escape from a cellar.

(Video screenshot from YouTube)

Many ‘80s horror movie lists skip over the first film in Sam Raimi’s now-classic Evil Dead series and go straight to Evil Dead 2 (1987). Is ED2 a better movie? Sure. It also incorporates some of the original script, so some people suggest skipping straight to the second film. Don’t.

What Raimi and crew accomplished with The Evil Dead despite their limited resources might seem cheap and dated now, but The Evil Dead is still one of the scariest films we’ve ever seen. Don’t deprive yourselves of one of horror fandom’s great pleasures. Besides, Evil Dead 2 isn’t that similar to its predecessor.

4. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

A bed-ridden, pale man with piercing yellow eyes bares yellow fangs.

(Video screenshot from YouTube)

John Landis’ 1981 horror-comedy tops pretty much every list of “best werewolf movies” for a litany of reasons. It’s genuinely frightening, and it finds its scares in more than werewolf carnage. The charming main characters get you invested in their plights, heightening the terror, horror, and even grief. And the jokes work—not only because they’re hilarious, but also because they relieve tension, setting up big scares.

The film’s legendary, award-winning special effects include Rick Baker’s masterful, disturbing transformation scene (soundtracked by an on-the-snout song choice that we won’t spoil for you). Also, look for cameos by Muppet man Frank Oz and the late Rik Mayall (The Young Ones, Drop Dead Fred).

5. Creepshow (1982)

A woman in red lighting screams. The word SCREAM, illustrated in comic book style, takes up the left corner of the image.

(Video screenshot from YouTube)

Creepshow is a horror anthology written by esteemed horror author Stephen King, directed by venerated horror auteur George A. Romeo (Night of the Living Dead), and made to look like a horror comic.

That should be enough info to get most horror fans drooling, but here’s a bit more: The film has five stories—six with the wraparound tale—covering family drama, zombies, astro-botanical body horror (starring King himself), ancient cryptids, and cockroaches. Each tale is uniquely terrifying and witty. Along with the well-executed horror-comic gimmick, Creepshow lives up to its claim you’ll have “The most fun you’ll ever have being scared.”

Pro tip: Creepshow 2 (1987) isn’t as fun as the first film, but it has three super spooky Stephen King stories and is totally worth a watch. Creepshow 3 (2005) is terrible—skip it. And the four-seasons-deep Creepshow TV series (2019) on Shudder kicks booty.

6. Poltergeist (1982)

A little girl, her back to the camera, is silhouetted by the TV light. Both of her hands are on the TV screen, which shows only white noise.

(Video screenshot from YouTube)

After following The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) with a killer croc flick (Eaten Alive, 1976) and a slasher movie (The Funhouse, 1981), Tobe Hooper went PG with Poltergeist—and scored another classic.

As ghost stories go, the ‘we-built-on-sacred-land-and-the-spirits-are-pissed’ story is pretty basic—but Poltergeist isn’t. It drops you into a happy family’s life just as they’ve moved into a fabulous new home, which should be one of the happiest times of their lives. And then everything goes kablooey in ways that even modern, R-rated supernatural horror films can’t achieve.

Pro tip: Read our guides for more family-friendly horror movie recommendations: Scary Movies for Kids and New and Upcoming PG-13 Horror Movies for Kids.

7. The Thing (1982)

A man grits his teeth as he fires a flamethrower.

(Video screenshot from YouTube)

John Carpenter (Halloween) directed this second—and most faithful—adaptation of John W. Campbell’s 1938 sci-fi horror story Who Goes There?

The Thing appears on many “best horror movie” and “scariest movie” lists because it’s claustrophobic, intense, paranoia-inducing, and seriously gross. Excellent performances from a cast featuring Kurt Russell, Keith David, and Wilford “Diabetus” Brimley probably help, too.

But get this: Critics hated The Thing, and it performed poorly in theaters—but it finally caught on, achieving its cult status through home video.

8. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A man in a fedora leers after cutting off his fingers.

(Video screenshot from YouTube)

When Wes Craven dropped this film in 1984, we were still trying to wrap our heads around slashers like Michael Myers (Halloween) and Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th) who wouldn’t stay dead. Then came Freddy Krueger. Already dead, Freddy was a child murderer who could crash our dreams and cut us up with his DIY claws.

If you, like me, were young when A Nightmare on Elm Street came out, this was a special kind of scary—especially since we couldn’t get that haunting “1, 2, Freddy’s comin’ for you” nursery rhyme out of our heads. But you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy Freddy’s kicks. Nearly 40 years after its release, Elm Street still haunts anyone who watches it.

Pro tip: Check out How to Watch the A Nightmare on Elm Street Movies in Order, which tells you where to stream, rent, or buy all nine films in the franchise (and more).

9. The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

A slimy zombie leers

(Video screenshot from YouTube)

Dan O’Bannon’s The Return of the Living Dead has a whole different vibe than other zombie movies. I mean, it has all the traits and tropes, but the zombies move faster, which cranks up the terror. The zoms also speak, looking you in the eye and moaning lustily about “BRAINS, BRAINS, BRAAAAAAIIIIINS!” It’s seriously creepy. And when they catch somebody, they bite through skulls like M&M shells. Eeewwww. Eeeeewwwww.

Fortunately, ROTLD has a silly streak, a kickass horror-punk soundtrack, and a topless Linnea Quigley zombie to temper the terror, making the film a helluva good time.

10. The Fly (1986)

A monstrous man-fly hears a noise

(Video screenshot from YouTube)

When the original The Fly came out in 1958, the idea of a man and a housefly merging into one creature was sufficiently terrifying to 1958 audiences. By 1986, audiences needed something extra to activate their spook centers.

Enter David Cronenberg. The body-horror auteur’s knack for the disturbing and disgusting—plus standout performances from Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis—was just what the doctor ordered, ensuring this updated The Fly would remain scary long past the mid-1980s.

11. The Lost Boys (1987)

A man eating Chinese food stars inquisitively at a member of his group.

(Video screenshot from YouTube)

Joel Schumacher’s vampiric take on Peter Pan is sexy, stylish, scary, and totally about arrested male development—but Peter Pan’s populartiy proves all genders relate to not wanting to grow up.

It helps, too, that The Lost Boys is stacked with hotness (what’s up, Dianne Wiest?), set in a Califonia beach town, and has a kickass soundtrack, motorcycle night rides, two Coreys (Haim, Feldman), one Kiefer (Sutherland), and that scene of swole saxman sex-ifying a Christian rock classic.

Best. Summer. Ever. As long as you don’t die (permanently).

12. Hellraiser (1987)

Three gothic leather-clad demons stare menacingly

(Video screenshot from YouTube)

Clive Barker’s film, based on his novella The Hellbound Heart (1986), has (as head Cenobite Pinhead says) “such sights to show you.”

I mean, what’s scarier than solving an ornate Rubik’s Cube and, instead of basking in clout, suddenly finding yourself deep into an acupuncture session you don’t recall making—then you get pulled apart like a quesadilla?

That’s undoubtedly an oversimplified description of this wickedly creative story about Hell and demons. But if that’s the kind of horror that keeps you up at night, you won’t sleep much after watching Hellraiser.

13. Child’s Play (1988)

A red-headed doll chats with a little boy

(Video screenshot from YouTube)

I wish everyone could’ve seen Child’s Play in the ‘80s, when the toddler-sized, freckle-faced, overalls-wearing My Buddy doll was a popular toy. You know, like the Good Guy doll that serial killer Charles Lee Ray, aka Chucky, inhabits in this movie.

Stabby talking dolls are still scary—we know this because the Chucky TV series is about to start filming its third season. So whether or not you had a My Buddy doll as a kid, Child’s Play will get you good.

Pro tip: We’ve got a guide on How to Watch the Chucky Movies in Order, too.

14. They Live (1988)

A man in a flannel shirt and sunglasses holds a rifle

(Video screenshot from YouTube)

Ray Nelson’s short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” was scary in 1963. It became even more so 25 years later with this John Carpenter adaptation. And, 35 years further on, it’s even scarier. Why? Because all this time, hasn’t it felt like an elite group of Reptilian aliens disguised as humans—ssssssshhhhh—have been controlling us, keepin’ the working man down?

They Live is also tons of fun, with mullet-sportin’ wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper kicking all the butts in the lead role while also attempting to act. And there’s no denying the awesomeness of Piper and costar Keith David’s epic six-minute fight in a dirty alleyway.

14. Pet Sematary (1989)

A toddler sneers while holding a scalpel

(Video screenshot from YouTube)

We all live in fear of losing a loved one in an accident. It’s hard to imagine ever coming back from that. But what if your elderly neighbor showed you how to bring back your beloved kitty cat, toddler, or spouse? It’s too good to be true, but wouldn’t you do anything to bring back your loved ones—even if it killed you?

This Stephen King story, adapted by director Mary Lambert, is even more nightmarish than I’ve made it sound. You have to watch (or read) Pet Sematary to discover why. Just don’t do it if you’ve recently lost someone, ‘cause then the film gets scary on a whole ‘nother level.

Pro tip: FYI, the 2019 Pet Sematary is nowhere near as good as the original. In fact, it sucks. Here’s hoping the prequel, Pet Sematary: Bloodlines (coming to Paramount+ on Oct. 6) is better.

More recommended ’80s horror movies

When you’re done watching the films on the main list, get a load of these:

Recommended ’80s body horror movies

  • The Beast Within (1982)
  • The Blob (1988)
  • Brain Damage (1988)
  • Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1989)
  • Possession (1981)
  • Re-Animator (1985)
  • Scanners (1981)
  • Society (1989)
  • Street Trash (1987)
  • The Stuff (1985)
  • Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)
  • Videodrome (1983)

Recommended ’80s cannibal movies

  • Anthropophagous (1980)
  • Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)
  • Cannibal Ferox (1981)
  • Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
  • Cut and Run (1985)
  • Eaten Alive! (1980)
  • Massacre in Dinosaur Valley (1985)
  • Motel Hell (1980)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

Pro tip: Hungry for more cannibal content? Check out the 8 Best Takeout Meals for Cannibal Movie Night.

Recommended ’80s Giallo movies

  • A Blade in the Dark (1983)
  • The House at the Edge of the Park (1980)
  • Macabre (1980)
  • The New York Ripper (1982)
  • Opera (1987)
  • Phenomena (1985)
  • Stage Fright (1987)
  • Tenebrae (1982)

Recommended ’80s horror anthologies

  • After Midnight (1989)
  • Cat’s Eye (1985)
  • Creepshow 2 (1987)
  • From a Whisper to a Scream (1987)
  • The Monster Club (1981)
  • Night Train to Terror (1985)
  • Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)
  • Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Recommended ’80s horror comedies

  • Bad Taste (1987)
  • Brain Damage (1988)
  • Bride of Re-Animator (1990)
  • Critters (1986)
  • Curse of the Queerwolf (1988)
  • Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)
  • Evil Dead 2 (1987)
  • Fright Night (1985)
  • Ghoulies (1985)
  • Gremlins (1985)
  • House (1986)
  • Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
  • The Lair of the White Worm (1988)
  • Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
  • The Monster Squad (1987)
  • Motel Hell (1980)
  • Munchies (1987)
  • A Polish Vampire in Burbank (1983)
  • Parents (1985)
  • Re-Animator (1985)
  • Saturday the 14th (1981)
  • Society (1989)
  • Spookies (1986)
  • The Stuff (1985)
  • The Toxic Avenger (1984)
  • Vampire’s Kiss (1988)

Recommended ’80s monster movies

  • Alligator (1980)
  • Basket Case (1982)
  • The Beast Within (1982)
  • The Blob (1988)
  • Blue Monkey (1987)
  • Cujo (1983)
  • From Beyond (1986)
  • Humanoids from the Deep (1980)
  • Leviathan (1989)
  • The Monster Squad (1987)
  • Pumpkinhead (1988)
  • Q the Winged Serpent (1982)
  • Razorback (1984)
  • The Thing (1982)

Recommended ’80s Satanic Panic movies

  • Demons (1985)
  • Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1989)
  • Night of the Demons (1988)
  • Prince of Darkness (1987)
  • Spellbinder (1988)
  • Trick or Treat (1986)

Recommended ’80s science fiction horror movies

  • Alien (1979)*
  • Aliens (1986)
  • Altered States (1980)
  • Brain Damage (1988)
  • Chopping Mall (1986)
  • Critters (1986)
  • The Fly (1986)
  • Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
  • Invaders from Mars (1986)
  • Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
  • Leviathan (1989)
  • Lifeforce (1985)
  • Maximum Overdrive (1986)
  • Re-Animator (1985)
  • Scanners (1981)
  • The Stuff (1985)
  • Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)
  • The Thing (1982)
  • Videodrome (1983)

Recommended ’80s slasher movies

  • Maniac (1981)
  • My Bloody Valentine (1981)
  • Pieces (1982)
  • Prom Night (1980)
  • The Prowler (1981)
  • Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
  • Sleepaway Camp (1983)
  • The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

Recommended ’80s supernatural horror movies

  • The Beyond (1981)
  • Cat People (1982)
  • The Changeling (1980)
  • The Children of the Corn (1984)
  • Christine (1983)
  • City of the Living Dead (1980)
  • Evil Dead 2 (1987)
  • The Fog (1980)
  • Ghost Story (1981)
  • Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1987)
  • House (1986)
  • Inferno (1980)
  • Poltergeist (1982)
  • Prince of Darkness (1987)
  • Puppet Master (1989)
  • The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
  • Warlock (1989)

Recommended ’80s vampire movies

  • Fright Night (1985)
  • Habit (1987)
  • The Hunger (1983)
  • Lifeforce (1985)
  • My Best Friend Is a Vampire (1987)
  • Near Dark (1989)
  • A Polish Vampire in Burbank (1983)
  • Saturday the 14th (1981)
  • Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1989)
  • Vamp (1986)
  • Vampire in Venice / Nosferatu in Venice (1988)
  • Vampire’s Kiss (1988)
  • Waxwork (1988)

Recommended ’80s werewolf movies

  • The Company of Wolves (1984)
  • Curse of the Queerwolf (1988)
  • The Howl of the Devil (1987)
  • The Howling (1981)
  • Night of the Werewolf (1980)
  • Silver Bullet (1985)
  • Wilczyca / The Wolf (1983)
  • Wolfen (1981)

Recommended ’80s zombie movies

  • The Beyond (1981)
  • City of the Living Dead (1980)
  • Day of the Dead (1985)
  • Dead & Buried (1981)
  • Dead Heat (1988)
  • The House by the Cemetery (1981)
  • Night of the Comet (1984)
  • Night of the Creeps (1986)
  • The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
  • Zombie Holocaust (1980)

Recommended ’80s so-bad-they’re-good horror movies

  • Boardinghouse (1982)
  • Demon Wind (1990)
  • Hack-O-Lantern (1988)
  • Hard Rock Zombies (1985)
  • Hobgoblins (1988)
  • The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1985)
  • Killer Workout (1987)
  • Luther the Geek (1989)
  • Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge (1989)
  • Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987)
  • Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)
  • Spookies (1986)
  • Tales from the Quadead Zone (1987)
  • Things (1988)
  • Troll 2 (1990)
  • Zombie 3 (1988)
  • Zombie 4: After Death (1988)

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