Which 1980s Halloween movies made your skin crawl?
The 80s was a seminal decade for horror films, producing many classics that helped define the modern Halloween aesthetic. This was the era that saw the rise of the slasher genre, with villains like Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers terrifying audiences. It was also a time when horror invaded mainstream pop culture more than ever before, from music videos to breakfast cereal.
As Halloween became a more widely celebrated holiday during the 80s, the spooky season inspired a wave of movies aimed to scare and delight kids and teens.
Let’s take a look back at 15 of the most memorable 1980s Halloween movies guaranteed to make your your inner wolf howl.
The Fog (1980)
John Carpenter’s classic thriller The Fog tells the tale of a foreboding glowing mist that returns to haunt a seaside community a century after the town’s founders lured ships to crash on the rocky coast and plundered their wealth. Now the victims emerge from the fog seeking revenge during the town’s centennial celebration. With the ominous glowing fog enveloping Antonio Bay, locals must uncover the grisly truth of their town’s founding before they succumb to the vengeful spirits in this atmospheric ghost story perfect for Halloween night.
Of course, the most obvious Halloween connection is Carpenter himself, and his everlasting movie franchise…
Halloween II (1981)
Picking up directly after the horrifying events of the 1978 original, Halloween II follows survivor Laurie Strode as she is taken to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, only for Michael Myers to continue his murderous rampage in pursuit of his sister. Halloween night descends into terror as Myers ruthlessly stalks the darkened hospital halls in search of Laurie, leaving a trail of brutally slain nurses and orderlies in his wake. With pulse-pounding suspense and shocking violence, this first sequel raised the bar for slasher sequels to come.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The diabolical Freddy Krueger invades the nightmares of suburban teenagers on Elm Street, gruesomely killing them in their dreams and causing their deaths in reality. As the teens try to stay awake and stop Krueger’s reign of terror, the line between dreams and waking life blurs. With its supernatural concept of murders taking place in dreams, sadistically imaginative kills and Krueger’s iconic disfigured look, A Nightmare on Elm Street terrified audiences and changed horror forever.
It’s a worthy child of Halloween in the family tree of 1980s low-budget horror movies.
Cat’s Eye (1985)
This creepy anthology film from Stephen King connects three frightening tales through the presence of a wandering cat. In one story, the cat goes up against a vicious troll tormenting a young girl. Another finds the cat caught in a quit-smoking clinic with sinister secrets. And in the third, the cat attempts to rescue a little boy from a deadly monster. With great performances, dark humor and fun thrills, Cat’s Eye emerged as a Halloween gem. It’s King, after all – who better to light up the October night!
Teen Wolf (1985)
Michael J. Fox stars as an ordinary teenager who unexpectedly inherits a family curse and transforms into a werewolf in this lighthearted 80s horror comedy. As Fox’s character Scott Howard gains supernatural basketball skills and newfound popularity in his fuzzy wolf form, he learns valuable lessons about embracing his true self over vanity and fame. With groundbreaking makeup effects and a party-ready soundtrack, Teen Wolf put a friendly spin on classic monsters for Halloween.
The Lost Boys (1987)
When two brothers move to the atmospheric beach town of Santa Carla, they find out the hard way the town has a teen vampire infestation. As one brother falls in with the charismatic pack of bloodsuckers led by Kiefer Sutherland and the other starts to hunt them, loyalties and friendships get tested to the limit. With its fresh take on vampires as sun-loving teens, this stylish hit fueled Halloween viewers’ thirst for blood.
Quirky supernatural comedy Beetlejuice follows a recently deceased couple whose ghosts remain stuck haunting their former home. When an insufferable new family moves in, they hire a mischievous spirit named Betelgeuse to drive out the residents by any means necessary. Michael Keaton shines as the manic trickster Betelgeuse in Tim Burton’s comedic fantasy spectacle, filled with out-there characters and inventive practical effects that made it an essential Halloween movie.
Child’s Play (1988)
The notorious killer doll Chucky arrives to terrify audiences in Child’s Play. After being fatally shot, a serial killer uses voodoo to transfer his soul into a popular Good Guys doll, which lands in the hands of a young boy. The boy soon realizes his new toy is alive and murderous. Fueled by Brad Dourif’s chilling voice performance as Chucky, this techno-horror thriller started a franchise that would haunt kids for decades.
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Michael Myers returns once again to wreak havoc in Haddonfield on October 31st, this time targeting his young niece Jamie Lloyd. With Donald Pleasance back as Dr. Loomis and more atmospheric shots of Myers stalking in the shadows, this sequel brought back the franchise’s signature brooding tension and fulfilled audiences’ desire for more Myers mayhem at Halloween.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
Playfully twisted horror-comedy Killer Klowns depicts a sleepy small town invaded by murderous alien clowns intent on capturing humans in cotton candy cocoons to drink their blood. With its crazy concept of circus tent-like spaceships and clownish police cars, as well as innovative makeup designs, this oddball B-movie homage delighted Halloween audiences with its totally bizarre and creepy premise.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
Freddy Krueger returns to stalk the dreams of new teenage victims in this hit sequel, as the few survivors left from previous Elm Street films try to end his terror for good. When Freddy kills her friends, heroine Alice Johnson discovers she has the power to bring them back…but they return with Freddy’s soul inside. As the line between dreams and reality keeps blurring, only Alice has the power to defeat Freddy once and for all in this surreal fantasy slasher.
The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
Horror legend Wes Craven took audiences to frightening new depths with this supernatural thriller inspired by Haitian voodoo culture. After a man is found dead and buried, he mysteriously returns in a trance-like state. An anthropologist travels to Haiti to investigate the secret of a voodoo powder that can turn men into the “walking dead.” Examining the real-life legends around zombification in Haiti, The Serpent and the Rainbow used spine-tingling supernatural concepts to deliver thought-provoking Halloween scares.
In this darkly comedic horror satire, a young boy in 1950s suburbia grows increasingly suspicious that his outwardly wholesome parents have some disturbing secrets and unusual appetites. As troubling clues pile up in their mansion’s creepy basement and meat freezer, the boy realizes his picture-perfect parents may be something much more sinister. Led by Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt’s amusingly macabre performances, Parents put a dryly humorous twist on horror.
Pet Sematary (1989)
One of Stephen King’s most emotionally harrowing horror tales came to life in 1989’s Pet Sematary, about a grieving father who uses an ancient burial ground to resurrect his dead toddler with tragic consequences. After the man’s son is killed on a rural road, he refuses to let go and buries him at the supernatural site referenced in the film’s title. But when the boy returns changed, the father is forced to confront the terrible costs of not accepting death.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
Freddy Krueger finds diabolical new ways to terrorize the next generation in The Dream Child, haunting protagonist Alice’s unborn son’s dreams and using the baby’s dreams to pull victims into nightmares. As Alice taps into her future child’s dream powers, she confronts Freddy both in the dream world and finally in the flesh for an epic final showdown. The Dream Child brought imaginative new dream sequences and chilling visuals to Freddy’s nightmarish world.