Oh the ’80s! They are considered by some to be one of the golden ages of horror, filled to the brim with slashers, monsters, and eye-popping special effects. But not all ’80s horror films became the stuff of legend. Some, though quite good, never received proper releases, never became available outside of international territories, or just didn’t get quite the media attention they deserved. Check out our list below of ten killer 1980s horror movie gems that you may have missed
AENIGMA (1987)(COVER PHOTO)
Horror fans know THE BEYOND and ZOMBIE 2, but this ’80s Lucio Fulci flick also has some great moments and is full of disjointed Fulci charm. In a girls’ boarding school, Kathy is taunted by her fellow classmates and eventually dies in a tragic accident. Later, a new girl shows up and classmates start dying, leading some to gather that Kathy may not be completely gone. There is a death scene with killer snails, and as silly as it sounds, it is somehow quite effective!
How to see it: DVD
THE SPIDER LABYRINTH (1988)
This Italian film melds together multiple sub-genres, weaving a tale of a professor who, while translating ancient tablets, gets involved with a weird, murderous cult. It feels fairly Giallo in style, but also incorporates Lovecratian tones, gothic horror, and a lots of artistic originality.
How to see it: This one is hard to find. VHS or maybe an international DVD
FRIGHT NIGHT 2 (1988)
Of course the first FRIGHT NIGHT is an ’80s horror classic. The second installment is equally great, but quite overlooked compared to its predecessor. This one reunites Charley Brewster and Peter Vincent to battle more vamps. Plus, it’s helmed by genre veteran Tommy Lee Wallace!
How to see it: DVD (limited run, so it’s a bit pricey) or VHS
THE BLACK ROOM (1983)
This is a soft core flick with an alluring horror premise. A man rents an apartment in the Hollywood Hills where he can spend time and clear his thoughts during the day. At night, he heads home to his house and wife with vivid stories of daydreams and fantasies he experienced there. But these quickly begin to seem less like fantasies, becoming far more confusing and realistic.
How to see it: Only on VHS
FADE TO BLACK (1980)
This is an innovative slasher (told from the slasher’s perspective) about a disturbed yet likeable young man who is obsessed with movies, channeling the persona of movie characters as he kills his enemies. I know several distribution companies have tried to release his one to Blu-ray without success. Such a shame.
How to see it: A severely limited run DVD which is way expensive now or on VHS
THE DELIBERATE STRANGER (1986)
This was a made-for-TV movie about the real life serial killer Ted Bundy. It stars comedian Mark Harmon, and he is downright chilling as the charming yet horrifying killer. This one is not just a good portrayal of real-life events, it is a great movie.
How to see it: Only on VHS and DVD
A sick, young girl suffers from fever dreams in which her drawings come to life in abstract nightmares. In her dream, she must protect a young boy named Marc who she learns is a real patient being treated by her doctor.
How to see it: Never made it past a VHS release in the USA, but it is available for rental on Amazon
I used to love this Spanish/American horror flick when I was a child, and it still is a lot of fun! Carnivorous slugs take over a town due to toxic waste being dumped into the local sewer. I know that sounds quite cheesy, but the movie somehow maintains seriousness and a bit of class while exploiting killer slugs.
How to see it: DVD, and there is a glorious Blu-ray on the way via Arrow Releasing (due out in September)
SOLE SURVIVOR (1983)
With strong notes of both FINAL DESTINATION and IT FOLLOWS, it is easy to see how this unknown horror gem could have influenced future filmmakers. After being the only survivor of a plane crash, a woman is stalked by lifeless bodies who are killing those around her. For more details, read our prior article here.
THE KINDRED (1987)
A scientist passes away and on her deathbed she asks her son to destroy all of her notes and work. But while cleaning out her house, he finds a creature she created which may somehow be his brother. This one gets totally Lovecratian!