Entertainment Earth


The 10 Best Horror Movies of 1980

Ah, the 1980's, perhaps the most beloved decade for horror movies ever and understandably so. While, I personally prefer the 70's (I LOVE the grittiness and boldness of that era!), the 80's is easily, and by far, my second favorite era. A long time ago, I actually did a list of the top of each decade (more or less), but I feel it's time to redo that. So, if you read those pieces (the 80s one, in particular) ignore those and think of this as the TRUE official list by me, Master Gio!

We begin with the first year, with many of these movies being produced or still influenced by the 70's, this is a much more gritty batch of movies that what was to come. You'll see a good amount of Italian horror here and beyond, because, let's face it, they were making the best genre flicks on the fucking planet. So let's get to this list!

Honorable Mentions: 
The Fog
Altered States
Don't Answer the Phone
The Shining 

10. Inferno- The second installment in Dario Argento's Three Mother's Trilogy is one of his most beautiful movies. It is also quite possibly his most incomprehensible. Plot and story are thrown out the fucking window. But, that is fine when the movie, itself, is this wild and over the top. A visually stunning tour-de-force, it also has some great gory kills, an amazing soundtrack, and beautiful women, in other words everything you have come to love and expect in an Argento flick.

9. Don't Go in the House- This mean little psycho slasher has some incredibly strong acting, especially from Dan Grimaldi as the whack-job with a thing for fire. Well, fire and immolating setting beautiful women  with his flame thrower in a steel room that he creates. Disturbing and dark, this one of those early "nasty slashers" that will get under your skin.

8. Doctor Butcher M.D. (AKA Zombie Holocaust)- This wild and fun Italian gorefest combines two of Italy's most popular horror sub-genres, zombies and cannibals. And, it does the later without any of the vile animal killing or more depressing aspects. As a matter of fact, it is an absolute blast to watch. Check out my retrospective on it here.

7. Mother's Day- This early release from Troma Films, from Lloyd Kaufman's own brother Charles Kaufman, is a dark as fuck black comedy mixed with a rape/ revenge and killer hill-billy movie. Three pretty city girls are kidnapped, humiliated, beaten, raped, and one even killed by two cretins and their psychotic mother. It is a very nasty flick with graphic violence and unsavory subject matter. But, it is all well done and worthy of its cult status. I mean, no less an expert than Eli Roth has sung its praises. It also inspired a very different and, in my humble opinion even better remake in 2010.

6. Maniac- William Lustig's controversial, disturbing, and extremely graphic slasher was once condemned as misogynistic crap. But, over time it got recognized as the classic it was meant to be. That never softened its image, though. Joe Spinell gives an amazing performance as the psycho killer who hunts down, brutally kills beautiful women, and scalps them for use with his mannequins. Tom Savini's gore effects are realistic and and along with its dark mood really set itself apart from the stalk and slash movies that were to come.

5. Dressed to Kill- Brain De Palma's mix of psycho horror and erotic thriller ranks among the master's best work in the genre. The exhilarating and violent elevator attack, which was one of the scenes that needed to be cut down to get an R-rating, is one of my favorite scenes in any De Palma flick. Well, acted, sexy, stylish, and bloody, he is at the top his game, before his several missteps to come.

4. City of the Living Dead (AKA The Gates of Hell)- Lucio Fulci's supernatural zombie flick is low on plot but high on style and splatter. A priest hangs himself and opens the gates of hell. The film drips with atmosphere and blood, with at least two scenes that rank among the best gore scenes by anyone (a hot girl barfing up her guts and some weird dude getting a power-drill inside one side of his out the other). Plus, cult favorites Christopher George and the beautiful Catriona MacCall make for very likable heroes. And, sure the ending doesn't make a lot of sense, but this time around you won't care. Trust me!

3. Humanoids from the Deep- This is a wild and bloody monster romp from Roger Corman's production company. In it, sea monsters kill men and rape women for mating purposes. Aside from the dog killings at the beginning, this one is always a blast to watch and something that would NEVER be made today. You can read more of my thought on it here.

2. Cannibal Holocaust- Ruggero Deodato's masterpiece is perhaps the single most controversial horror film in cinema history. And, while yes the real animal violence is utterly repellent and completely deplorable, there is nonetheless a great movie in here. One that haunts you days after you see it and exploits what it also seems to condemn. The definitive and greatest extreme horror movie ever made, I go into further detail about it here.

1. Friday the 13th- One of the most oft-ripped-off horror films in history, this excellent trendsetter is a classic of the genre. Unlike its brain-dead sequels and the wanna-bes it inspired, Sean Cunningham's splatter flick is actually scary and builds suspense excellently. Between its likable characters, good acting, graphic FX by Savini, classic score, excellent climax, and one of the greatest endings in genre history, there is no doubt about it: Friday the 13th is the best horror movie of 1980 and one of the greatest slashers ever fucking made.

What are your choices for the best horror movies of 1980? Let me know in the comments section below. And, keep your eyes open for 1981!