The 14 Best ’80s Horror Movies–And Where to Stream Them

Okay, name a decade where the horror movies towed the line perfectly between serious scares and glorious camp. You said the ’80s, right? Although the decade was positively brimming with terrible sequel after terrible sequel, there were still plenty of originals that easily top the “greatest of all time” lists. Although it was difficult, I compiled the 14 best ’80s horror movies, all of which you can stream right (and some for free!). So grab your popcorn and the best blanket to hide under, because things are about to get spooky.

The Shining (1980)

The Shining

Jack Torrance brings his family with him as he becomes the winter custodian of a massive old hotel. Hands-down the best Stanley Kubrick movie, the master filmmaker made changes to Stephen King’s original novel to make this masterpiece. While King himself wasn’t happy with the changes (like going from croquet to a hedge maze) I think the rest of us can admit that the movie was better off for it.

Watch The Shining on HBO Max.

Friday the 13th (1980)

Friday the 13th

The movie that started far too many campy sequels. Years prior to the opening, some overzealous camp counselors were busy having sex and didn’t notice that camper Jason had drown in the lake. Now Camp Crystal Lake is opening for a new season…yet the new counselors keep dying one by one. Did you know Kevin Bacon’s in this? He’s got a pretty cool death scene, too.

Watch Friday the 13th on Hulu and Paramount Plus.

Poltergeist (1982)

Poltergeist

A family lives in a house in a new sub-division and everything seems great. That is until furniture starts moving and youngest daughter Carol Anne gets sucked into the TV. Now they need a medium to help cleanse the house of spirits. Poltergeist is one of those movies that bridges the gap. Horror fans love it, but so do people who normally hate the genre. You can probably thank writer Steven Spielberg for that.

Watch Poltergeist for free with ads on Tubi.

Creepshow (1982)

Creepshow

Written by Stephen King, this anthology horror film features multiple stories of terror. From the fallen meteor that makes grass grow on whatever it touches, to Ted Danson getting buried alive in the sand, there’s something for everyone. It then went on to spawn a sequel and a currently running TV show.

Watch Creepshow for free with a library card on Kanopy.

Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Sleepaway Camp

It’s another year of summer camp and everyone’s here to have fun. But oops, someone’s killing off campers, counselors, and staff alike. But who? If you haven’t already heard about the ending of this movie, I’m not about to spoil it for you. It’s a classic. (Although it rightfully wouldn’t work as a storyline in 2022.)

Watch Sleepaway Camp for free with ads on Peacock, Tubi, and the Roku Channel.

Gremlins (1984)

Gremlins

For when you like a bit of humor and Christmas spirit with your horror, check out Gremlins. Billy’s dad gets him just about the cutest Christmas gift ever, a Mogwai named Gizmo. Billy just has to keep him away from water and never feed him after midnight. Sounds easy enough. But when he accidentally botches those rules, the town’s about to be overrun by hilarious little monsters.

Watch Gremlins on Netflix and HBO Max.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Written and directed by horror auteur Wes Craven, this movie adds a new layer of fear. If you die in your dreams, at the knife-gloved hand of Freddy Kreuger, then you die in real life. Try as they might, the teens in this slasher classic can’t run from sleep for very long. Watch for Johnny Depp’s death–one of the best slasher death scenes in horror cinema.

Watch A Nightmare on Elm Street for free with ads on Tubi.

The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

The Return of the Living Dead

Some dumb employees accidentally release a gas that starts to turn the dead into zombies. Don’t let the name fool you; this isn’t a George A. Romero zombie flick. Even so, it’s one of the best out there. It’s a perfect mix of scary and campy. Did you know that this was the first instance of zombies specifically eating brains and saying “braaaainnnss” in the process?

Watch The Return of the Living Dead on HBO Max.

The Fly (1986)

The Fly

Jeff Goldblum’s Seth Brundle is working on a breakthrough invention: teleportation. But when his experiment goes awry by way of a fly in the machine, Seth begins to change. This is classic–and horrific–body horror courtesy of David Cronenberg. While this version of The Fly is actually a remake, it’s by far the best version.

Watch The Fly on for free with ads Tubi.

The Lost Boys (1987)

The Lost Boys

A family moves to Santa Carla, California ready for a fresh start. But when older brother Michael falls in with the wrong crowd, it’s up to Sam and his friends to fight the vampire presence that’s been plaguing the town. This is the most quintessentially “’80s” movie on this list thanks to leather jackets, glorious mullets, saxophone-playing muscle men, and the Coreys.

Watch The Lost Boys on Netflix.

Evil Dead II (1987)

Evil Dead II

Ash is stuck in a cabin surrounded by forest demons and needs to find a way out with the help of some passersby and the Necronomicon. And when he finds himself missing a hand, why not fit a chainsaw there instead? While I could have put the original on this list, I couldn’t in good conscience when the sequel was so much better. Evil Dead II is the perfect blend of horror and comedy.

Watch Evil Dead II on HBO Max.

Child’s Play (1988)

Child’s Play

The movie that made an entire generation fear their dolls, Child’s Play is a classic. A serial killer is on the run from the law, so when they corner him in a toy store, he does some spooky magic to transfer his soul to a Chucky doll. Now he’s wreaking havoc while two feet tall and made of rubber and plastic, proving you can do anything if you set your mind to it.

Watch Child’s Play with a Starz subscription.

Night of the Demons (1988)

Night of the Demons

It’s Halloween night and the weird girl in school has invited a few fellow seniors to a party in an abandoned funeral home. Unfortunately, they wake up the demons that have been slumbering there and it’s time to get possessed. If you’re a big Linnea Quigley fan, she shines in this one. While the acting quality in this ’80s horror movie isn’t exactly the best, it makes up for it in plot and some killer scares.

Watch Night of the Demons for free with ads on Peacock and IMDB TV.

Pet Sematary (1989)

Pet Sematary

Another Stephen King adaptation, Pet Sematary finds a family moving to a new town. After a tragedy takes the life of his son, the father looks to the Native American burial grounds hidden behind the local pet cemetery for help. There’s a lot to like about this horror movie, though every scene with Victor Pascow is reason enough alone to put this on your watchlist.

Watch Pet Sematary on Netflix.

Want more horror? Check out our list of the best ’90s horror movies, too! And if you want the best of the best, regardless if it’s on streaming, check out our list of the best horror movies of the ’80s.