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10 Horror Essentials From 1980

1980 was an amazing year for groundbreaking and entertaining Horror films. In honor of the 40th anniversary of The Frida drive-in screening of The Shining on November 27th, we’re gonna highlight ten Horror films every fan of the genre should see.



10: Prom Night

The Slasher film classic heavily inspired the popular 90’s Horror franchise I Know What You Did Last Summer. A group of teens who accidentally killed a fellow classmate as young children are being stalked by a masked killer as they get ready for their high school senior prom. Over the years, this film has become a B-picture cult classic, especially for fans of 1980’s Horror.

9: The First Deadly sin

Though considered a Crime Thriller film, the intensity of the suspense and use of violence feels like a horror movie. Golden Age of Hollywood icon Frank Sinatra stars as a close-to-retirement New York City police inspector that is frantically following the trail of a serial killer. A unique aspect of this film is that the serial killer’s weapon of choice was an ice axe with serrated teeth.

8: The Fog

Co-written and directed by Horror icon John Carpenter, this was his second film starring Jamie Lee Curtis after the 1978’s Halloween. As a small California coastal town is preparing for their 100th year anniversary, mysterious events lead to an eerie fog engulfing the town, bringing fear and death. The plot was based on a true story of a shipwreck.

7: Maniac

Considered one of the most violent Slasher films of the 1980s–its bold use of guerrilla cinematic style and gory special effects by legendary FX artist Tom Savini continue to be its legacy. A psychotic serial killer roams New York City, murdering young women and taking their scalps as a trophy. However, when he meets a beautiful photographer, will his bloodlust end, or will she become his next victim?

6: Inferno

A visually stunning surrealist horror Hilm written and directed by one of the most influential Italian horror directors ever–Dario Argento. After a young poet goes missing in her New York City apartment building, her brother goes to investigate her disappearance and a series of brutal murders, caused by the magic of a powerful coven of witches. Another equally influential Italian Horror director, Mario Bava, also assisted with this film, such as shooting scenes of star Irene Miracle and creating the film’s special effects.

5: Cannibal Holocaust

Without a doubt the most controversial horror film on this list, this is credited as the first found-footage horror film. A university anthropologist goes to the Amazon rainforest in search of a missing American film crew and recovers their film canisters. As he views the footage, he is shocked by the stomach-turning brutality captured on camera.

4: Dressed to Kill

An Erotic Thriller by Brian De Palma, it was nominated for two New York Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Director and Best Film. After a prostitute witnesses a murder and becomes the prime suspect for it, she and her son must find the killer before the killer finds her. What Psycho did for showers, Dressed to Kill did for elevators.

3: The Changeling

A chilling haunted house Horror film, listed by Bloody Disgusting as #4 of its “20 Best Haunted House Horror Movies”. While relocating to a countryside Victorian mansion after the death of his wife and child, a composer deals with the raw pain of grief and a ghostly presence within the mansion. The story of this film is based on the real-life haunted house and its events, the Henry Treat Rogers Mansion, located in Denver, Colorado.

2: Friday the 13th

The start of one of the most influential pop culture Horror franchises from the 1980s, inspired by a real mass murder. As a group of camp counselors are in the process of reopening a summer camp with a tragic past, a mysterious presence stalks and murders them one by one. This film was part of the top twenty highest-grossing movies of 1980, alongside Prom NightThe FogDressed to Kill, and The Shining.


Honorable Mentions:

City of the Living Dead

Motel Hell


We’re going to Eat You

Terror Train

1: The Shining

Undoubtedly, one of the most influential and beloved Horror films of all time, The Shining brought American horror films to a new artistic level. A troubled family spends their Winter isolated in the sprawling Overlook Hotel, where sinister energy torments them at every turn. Starting with them seeing horrific supernatural manifestations, the film eventually spirals into a violent battle to the death. In 2018, The Shining was entered into the Library of Congress because of its historical and cultural significance.


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