One of the most fun things to do as a horror fan is to quote your favorite movies. It’s not even so much a fun thing as it is muscle memory. It’s a calling card to fellow fans. You wear your favorite lines on a T-shirt to see if even one person will notice and recognize it. It’s almost impossible to talk about certain movies, especially titles like Evil Dead 2 or Return of the Living Dead without quoting them.
The ‘80s were the golden age of one-liners. Every hero made an off-the-cuff comment, had one ready for just about every situation. The heroes all had them and, in the latter half of the decade, the villains had them, too. Once Freddy hit his stride with audiences, the pun quotient in horror films skyrocketed. This led to no small amount of bad dialogue.
But it also led to some absolute gems. It’s impossible to fit them all in one article, so here are some of my personal favorites and some of the most iconic, most quoted lines of all time.
Of course this list has to kick off with the endlessly quotable Fred Krueger, in one of Englund’s only ad-libbed lines in the history of the Elm Street franchise. In the script, the dialogue ended with the previous line “This is it, Jennifer, your big break in TV!”
Rudy is the monster squad’s MVP. He’s the guy that gets things done without them ever officially telling him he’s a part of the gang. It’s great to have him call back to his exasperated “Am I in the club or what?” when he’s saving their asses from Dracula’s vampire brides. It’s one of the most badass moments in one of my favorite movies.
That’s right, another line from Monster Squad, because it’s endlessly quotable. This line beat out Fat Kid’s hero moment of “My name is Horace!” due to its iconic status. People who don’t even know this movie may know this line.
And the Fred Dekker hype train keeps on rolling. Tom Atkins’ catchphrase “Thrill me” in Night of the Creeps pretty much cements him as a hardened, badass cop, but the best thing about it is that this is his catchphrase in his day-to-day life so it only gets utilized in more interesting ways throughout the movie, especially with the trade off at the end.
Speaking of catchphrases, “You’re so cool, Brewster!” is the obnoxious drawl Charley’s best friend Evil Ed uses to torment him in both life and death. It’s also used to great effect at the end, as a false promise to set up a sequel.
So, we never hear the full line in most versions of the film, but it’s still one of the most iconic lines in movie history, be it horror or not. Schneider’s delivery is perfect, with how much he struggled not only to deal with the shark but even to get himself on the boat and into the water, it’s a hugely satisfactory moment. Nobody’s rooting for the shark, here. That wouldn’t happen until around Jaws 3-D.
While An American Werewolf in London is known for its comedy as much as its horror, this is really our only moment of levity in the film’s most infamous scene. When Jack visits David to warn him of everything that’s going to happen, David refuses to listen, saying “I will not be threatened by a walking meatloaf.” This line, while hilarious, is also kind of sad, and that’s the tightrope that American Werewolf walks from beginning to end.
It’s one of the most quoted, classic one-liners ever. It’s probably second only to “I’ll be back.” Weaver’s delivery is badass and perfect, this one has more than earned its place in the annals of great movie lines, even though it was misquoted in Scream 2.
One word. One outdated, unloved word. By 1987, the word “groovy” was not groovy to anyone other than Sam Raimi, but with this great tracking shot, the badass reveal of the chainsaw and the sheer absurdity of that line coming out of Campbell’s mouth with that much conviction, he made that word cool again. Evil Dead 2 made groovy one of the most beloved words in horror history. It’s a word that’s now only used by horror fans. And Tommy Chong.
When you have a professional wrestler as the star of your movie, you let him ad lib because you know at some point during that shoot you’re going to strike absolute gold. That was the smartest thing John Carpenter did with They Live–other than the biting, satirical script, the direction, and the score–and it paid off big time. It’s such a great line that many other franchises have tried to adopt it as their own, only to fail, because nobody can match Piper’s delivery.