Horror films really hit their stride in the 1980s. The creative minds went wild and the practical effects from that era were some of the best ever committed to celluloid. The ’80s brought a series of classics that are still beloved by horror fans, today; some of which are still being discovered and re-discovered. When we think of 1980s classics I’m sure The Shining, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and The Evil Dead come to mind. But what about the films from that decade that didn’t get the loves they deserved? Well, that’s precisely what we will be looking at, today. For your reading pleasure, we are spotlighting ten hidden horror gems from the 1980s. These films may not all be regarded as masterpieces, but each one of them is worthy of your time and attention.
Don’t Go In The House
This one was made in 1979 but it was released in 1980 so its inclusion is warranted. After being raised by a strict mother who punished him by holding his hand in overexposed flames, Donny becomes an arsonist. He sets out to punish “evil women”. This film is a slow burn with a payoff that is worth the wait.
Don’t Go In The House borrowed elements from Psycho, however, this low-budget slasher still has its fair share of disturbing scenes. Perhaps Don’t Go In The House was overlooked because of the plethora of ‘Don’t‘ horror films that came out in the same era. Films such as Don’t Look In the Basement, Don’t Go To Sleep, Don’t Go In The Woods, and so on. But it is worthy of your attention and is worth tracking down if you haven’t yet checked it out.
In the second installment in John Carpenter’s unofficial Apocalypse trilogy, there’s a churning green slime discovered in the basement of the church. So, a team of quantum physics students are recruited by a priest to investigate. What do they discover? Congregating insects, weird behaviors from bums played by rock stars, and all sorts of other eerie stuff!
I have to admit I wasn’t the biggest fan of this one when I first saw it, however, I absolutely adore the supernatural spin along with the music. And I have come to appreciate it very much over time. This film is oozing with atmosphere and is definitely one of John Carpenter’s most underrated films.
Mr. Wrong aka Dark of the Night
While visiting her Mother a single woman purchases a used Jaguar and on her way back home, she comes across a hitchhiker and the ghost of the car’s previous owner! The former owner was a young woman who was viciously murdered inside the car. Mr. Wrong is filled with surprises and plenty of spooky moments. It’s filled to the brim with suspense and features surprisingly well-written dialogue.
Mr. Wrong does take a while getting started but it gets major points for going in a totally unexpected direction and keeping the audience on their toes.
Billy is rich and popular and he is dating the hottest girl at school. However, he still feels that he doesn’t quite fit in. One day he hears a horrid rumor about his family and friends participating in orgies. Yikes! Unfortunately for Billy, there’s something even worse than incestuous orgies going on!
Brian Yuzna makes his directorial debut with this shocking and sick body horror flick. Society received low ratings upon its initial release but it has developed a cult following over time. To those who enjoy the bizarre, this is definitely one for you to check out.
Anna confesses to her husband Mark that she is having an affair and leaves him and their son. When Mark hires a private investigator to follow her, he discovers she is hiding a shocking secret.
Possession is definitely a movie you need to see to believe. There are plenty of possession films available, but this is one of the strangest I’ve come across!
The Black Room
Siblings tempt swingers in their mansion and lead them to a darkened room where they murder their victims. The reasoning for their killing spree? The siblings have a rare genetic disorder and need blood to survive. They drain their victims by hooking them up to a machine that drains their blood.
The Black Room is a low-budget film that definitely takes some time to pick up, however, there’s plenty of bloodshed and a dark tone that really captivated me.
This criminally underrated slasher takes place in a supermarket that is going out of business. But the store closing is the least of the employee’s worries! There just so happens to be a maniac on the loose, ready to brutally murder them all.
Intruder is a solid slasher film that’s fun and definitely needs more love. If you’re a fan of slashers, this one is mandatory viewing.
Dead & Buried
A sheriff and wife discover the town coroner has been creating a squad of backwood zombies! This film isn’t perfect, but it is gruesome and offers a unique new take on zombie movies.
A witch is put to death in the late 1600s and swears revenge on her persecutors. When she returns to the present day, she begins executing the descendant of those that wronged her. Parts of this film are typical of the supernatural revenge genre but there are still plenty of surprises along the way, as well as entertaining death scenes.
Just Before Dawn
Five campers head off to the countryside for a few days of drinking, partying, and adventure. Unfortunately, for this group of young people, their bitchin’ adventure is cut short when the locals begin to stalk and kill them.
Just Before Dawn doesn’t rely on excessive gore, instead there’s real suspense and levelheaded characters–a rare sight in horror films!