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15 Underrated Horror Movies From The 1980s

23 October 2013 | Features, Film Lists | by David Zou

1980s horror movies

Pretty much any true fan of horror and horror lore is a fan of the classic horror films from the 80s. The campy slasher was popularized, the creature features were abundant, and the gore was always live-action, ALWAYS. The pivotal start of this infamous decade of horror provided some of horror’s most well known and greatest films of all time, The Thing, The Shining, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Evil Dead, Aliens. However, they are not the movies that will be featured today, this list will show you a shout-out to the most underrated horror films of 1980s.


15. Come and See


Inspired in part by ‘I Come from the Burning Village’, a collection of interviews with survivors of the Nazi atrocities committed against the peasant farmers of Belarus in the early 1940s, Klimov’s savage masterpiece influenced Spielberg’s ‘Saving Private Ryan’, and Malick’s ‘The Thin Red Line’, though neither deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence. Separated from the partisan soldiers he joined after leaving behind his mother and two sisters, 12-year-old Florya (Kravchenko), together with pretty teenage peasant girl Glasya (Miranova), wanders aimlessly and struggles merely to survive. Deafened by an explosion, Florya bears silent, wide-eyed witness to the genocidal near-annihilation of the civilian population. Cinematographer Alexei Rodionov’s fluid Steadicam draws us into the black heart of the horror, which is also painted on Florya’s increasingly haggard face.


14. Threads


Originally aired on British TV during the mid ‘80s, Mick Jackson’s docudrama is a sobering, scary and highly realistic hypothetical account of what might happen following a breakdown of society perpetrated, in this instance, by a nuclear strike on Sheffield. The sense of impending doom is palpable as the city’s citizens watch TV news reports about the collapse in relations between Russia and the West. Panic buying becomes looting as humanity begins to adopt a dog-eat-dog mentality. Then the obliteration begins – and it’s pretty ghastly. Small wonder ‘Threads’ is in this list; while not strictly part of the horror genre, it provokes a raft of similar emotions – only here you’re aware that this can really happen. Powerful, thought-provoking stuff.


13. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer


Its chilly, detached tone reminiscent of Richard Brooks’s 1967 adaptation of Truman Capote’s documentary novel ‘In Cold Blood’, this ferociously intelligent film records the murderous exploits of blithe psychopath Henry (Rooker) and his old prison pal Otis (Towles) with an unblinking eye. To begin with, the violence is relatively oblique: Henry’s past murders are presented as a series of grotesque tableaux, accompanied by the distressing sounds of the victims’ death struggles. Later, the murders become virtually unwatchable, a fact that is used against the audience in the infamous ‘home invasion’ scene, which is revealed in retrospect to be a video recording that Henry and Otis are viewing. The BBFC’s James Ferman did not buy McNaughton’s line about audience complicity, so he re-edited this scene, destroying its effect.

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  • Nate Kelly

    Finally! Threads is drawn into the horror genre – probably the bleakest movie ever made – saw it as a teenager here in the UK when it first aired and like many was pretty traumatised by it.

  • Nate Kelly

    Society as well, when it first came out on VHS it was a pretty bizarre trip through movieland.

  • Jarbloko

    what about maniac cop?

  • CComry

    “Threads” was not a horror movie, and to lump it in such a terrible category is offensive. Horror films are nothing more than violence porn.

    • David Louis Krownes.

      What about the ones that aren’t violent, or make statements about society. Did you really blanket an entire genre based on the few bad films you’ve been exposed too. The first Halloween film barely has any blood, great horror films are like Grimm’s Fairy Tales, they are warnings for society…wait, are you against Fairy Tales ?

      • CComry

        Then it’s not horror. And fairy tales were created as a means of control, or to start moral panic. They’re silly. I live in the real world.

  • David Louis Krownes.

    “Come and See” is not a horror film it is a war film.

  • Andreas Persson Andell

    Re-animator, An american werewolf in london, The Beyond, The Fly, Hellraiser and Poltergeist are hardly underated… they are all simply classics and everyone knows of them. Seriously Poltergeist? Who wrote this?

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