10 Lesser-Known 1980s Horror Movies You Need to See

The 1980s were known for big hair, neon colors, loud music, and also a massive boom in the horror genre. The advent of the VCR created a whole new market for rental tapes, and filmmakers could not churn out horror films fast enough to keep the ravenous fans satisfied. But because there was such a saturation of horror films being released, many gems of the decade have since become forgotten or overlooked. Here are ten horror films from the 1980s that deserve a resurgence.


This movie is severely underrated in the USA, never receiving much widespread exposure or acclaim, even on cult circuits. A samurai horror comedy about a man who falls madly in love with a woman he soon discovers is a ghost enslaved by a tree demon, the film is hilarious, touching, and at times quite frightening.



I’d like to think that everyone has seen this movie. But I have discovered from speaking with many fans that some diehard horror geeks have been put off by the highly stylized visuals of the film as well as the opening song and dance number. For shame! STAGE FRIGHT is an 80s version of the classic Italian giallo slasher movie. A killer in an oversized owl mask wielding a chainsaw carves his way through a theater troupe. It. Is. Epic.


ZEDER (1983)            

ZEDER is a good movie that suffered from some bad marketing choices. The distributor released this Italian flick in the USA under the name REVENGE OF THE DEAD to capitalize on the zombie trend of the 80s. The problem is that ZEDER is not a zombie movie nor does it feel like one. It is, instead, a slow-burn mystery film about science vs the supernatural.


GOTHIC (1986)

GOTHIC is Ken Russell’s demented and stylistic interpretation of how Mary Shelley created her legendary book FRANKENSTEIN. The movie is psychedelic, disjointed, and somehow feels both sleazy and classy simultaneously.



I put this title on a list of lesser-known anthology films just a few weeks ago. Scream Factory recently gave DEADTIME STORIES a fancy Bluray release, and it is finally getting some much-deserved exposure. The segments focus on twisted and horrific versions of well-known fairy tales.


THE PIT (1981)

This movie is downright bizarre, but highly amusing. It feels like several different movies, awkwardly woven into one flick making it understandable why THE PIT didn’t get much attention beyond the initial release. A young boy with some seriously wicked tendencies discovers a pit full of carnivorous monsters; he also has an evil teddy bear that comes to life, and he has an unhealthy obsession with his babysitter who still gives him a bath even though he is almost a teenager himself. I know. That is a lot of wtf-style chaos to unpack! Yeah, just watch it.



Horror has seen a number of spoof movies through the years, but this was one of the first and funniest. STUDENT BODIES targets the surge of slasher films releasing in the late 70s, focusing its satire on standard masked killer tropes, stock teen characters, and the heavy amounts of sex found in the films.



This slasher features Jennifer Jason Leigh in one of her earliest on-screen roles. A news anchor woman is chasing a killer who is terrorizing the city. She soon becomes the killer’s next target along with her deaf/blind sister. EYES OF A STRANGER has a bit of a made-for-TV feel to it, but it is a great mystery with some powerful tension.


THE DEADLY SPAWN (1983)(Cover Photo)

Creature feature fan? Don’t miss THE DEADLY SPAWN. This had a dynamite run in the 1980s, becoming a staple of rental store shelves, but over the decades it has not maintained a cult following as much as many other 80s flicks. A group of teenagers must save the world from an invasion of vicious man-eating aliens.



Dust off your old VCR because BLUE MONKEY never even had a DVD release, leaving it still trapped on tape format. I, for one, have a fondness for this obscure little monster flick about a parasite who mutates and runs rampant in a hospital.