The 1980’s. A decade that gave the world giant shoulder pads, feathered hair, Ronald Reagan and other assorted horrors. One thing that the 80’s gave us that was truly worthwhile were the horror films that blossomed out of the decade of excess. Here are our top five horror flicks from the 1980’s. Feel free to disagree with our choices and leave your favorites in the comments below.

5. Hellraiser (1987)

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One of the only successful attempts by a writer to adapt his own work as a director (sorry Stephen King), Hellraiser not only tells an interesting and ambitious story for a horror film, but it introduces a whole new world of horror with the emergence of Pinhead and the Cenobites. With its mixture of S&M tropes and brutal horror, Hellraiser’s story is compelling in that Pinhead may be a servant of Hell, but it’s the heroine’s father Frank who is the real evil in the film.

4. The Evil Dead (1981)

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Sam Raimi’s original horror masterpiece still manages to creep out viewers to this day with its impressive camera work, disturbing visuals and storyline. The film also gives us the first screen introduction to the bad ass force of nature that is Ash Williams. The simple premise of a group of friends who stay at a cabin in the woods and unwittingly release and army of demons that possess them one by one showcases the visual flair of Raimi as he uses both the environment and the camera to deliver some really horrific on screen moments.

3. Poltergeist (1982)

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A classic haunted house story for a new generation, Poltergeist tells the story of an average suburban family plagued by supernatural phenomenon that culminates in the kidnapping of the family’s youngest daughter and a trip to the other side to retrieve her. What made this film scary was the fact that the family didn’t move into some gothic manor or old home. The Freeling family lived in a housing development in the suburbs. Unfortunately, that development happened to be built on top of a graveyard where the only thing moved were the headstones.

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

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Only Wes Craven can seamlessly blend the slasher with the supernatural and create the iconic Freddy Kreuger and only Robert England could give the character the monstrously charismatic personality Freddy has. Child murderer Freddy Kreuger is killed by a group of vengeful parents and he returns to seek vengeance on their children when they are at their most vulnerable, when they dream. It’s a brilliant and unique premise to be sure and the fact that Freddy’s personality puts the audience on his side is even more insidious.

1. The Thing (1982)

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John Carpenter makes his way on the list again with a remake of a classic 1950’s horror film. The Thing is all about isolation and mistrust as a group of research scientists in a remote base in Antarctica find themselves being stalked by an alien who can mimic them perfectly. The isolation of the location and the fear induced by not knowing who you can trust make The Thing one of the most harrowing and disturbing horror films of the 80’s.

What are your favorite horror movies of the 1980’s? Let me know what they are and why in the comments below.

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