“We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.”
– Stephen King
Horror movies seem to promote a strong reaction either way. You either love them or hate them.
For those who enjoy them, there are also many subtle genres within horror to enjoy like suspense, thriller, gothic, gory, campy, body horror, ghost horror, monster movies or even teen horror.
A good horror line creeps us out, gives us a chill, makes us chuckle or gives us a hint of something yet to come.
Sequels are very commonplace nowadays, but it seems like the 1980s brought us a lot of horror icons and franchises, some of which are still going to this day. Some have been “rebooted” several times or have gone through highs, lows and various iterations.
Hopefully, revisiting some of these classic quotes will make you want to reload and entertain yourself all over again or introduce a horror classic to a friend.
30. Dead Alive (Braindead)
The Line: “I kick ass for the lord!”
Context: Before director Peter Jackson brought us Frodo and Bilbo, he made a few low budget horror films in New Zealand. This tale finds Lionel (Timothy Balme) engaged in one of many skirmishes with the undead including his own mother. Things are not going well, so the local priest also intervenes.
Why is it great: The entire film is so over the top and awesome!
Who would not want to see a religious figure roundhouse kicking the undead and battling alongside our hero? At one point, he rips a zombie’s arm off, kicks the zombie’s legs off and ends up getting bitten by the zombies severed head which flies though the air and lands on him.
29. They Live
The Line: “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum.”
Context: Tough guy drifter “Rowdy” Roddy Piper has recently discovered aliens have been living among us and secretly brainwashing us through subliminal messages. The only way to identify them is by wearing special sunglasses. He happens to wander into a bank wearing these glasses and carrying a shotgun.
Why is it great: Piper is able to quickly identify the bad guys with the glasses and unloads on them to enact revenge. It is about time someone did before their clandestine plans to control humanity are realized.
28. Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens
The Line: “Is this your wife? What a lovely throat.”
Context: One of the original screen horror stories and based on the novel “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” tells of real estate assistant Hutter visiting Count Orlok to broker a deal. While at his castle, strange events start to transpire.
Why is it great: The comment by Orlok gives the viewer the hint to the character’s predilections viewers in the early days of film were horrified to discover. The film itself shaped storytelling for many future horror films and franchises and still chills to this day.
The Line: “No tears please, it’s a waste of good suffering.”
Context: After using the “puzzle box” and summoning the “Cenobites”, Kirsty Cotton gets a first taste of their menacing presence and power. The room fills with light through the walls and the demons appear before her. The first conversation between them establishes their relationship quickly and Kirsty steers them away from her and toward her uncle Frank instead.
Why is it great: Pinhead became a horror icon in the 1980s and 1990s as kind of a 2nd tier to Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhies. It’s funny in the first “Hellraiser” film his name in the credits is listed only as “Lead Cenobite”.
The makeup combined with Bradley’s delivery made the character interesting and menacing before the franchise ended up being marginal at best after many sequels.
The Line: “I wanna play a game.”
Context: Amanda (Shawnee Smith) discovers she has been placed in a room with an unusual contraption strapped to her head. She listens as a taped message from her captor explains she is wearing a “reverse bear trap” which has the power to rip her jaw completely open.
Why is it great: The first “Saw” film was truly unique and had one of those startling endings you end up being mad at yourself that you didn’t figure out while watching it for the first time. The setup for the “torture” scenes were used well in the first film only to become boring and cliché in subsequent offerings.
25. The Fly (1986)
The Line: “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
Context: Ronnie (Geena Davis) returns to Seth (Jeff Goldblum) after his teleport only to discover he has another female guest whom he is trying to coax into the teleport chamber. Ronnie attempts to warn the other woman about the dangers of the situation.
Why is it great: David Cronenberg’s remake version of “The Fly” stands as a true macabre horror classic. Brundle’s descent from human to fly hybrid is truly gruesomeness at its best. The scene foreshadows things to come as the girl decides against participating in Brundle’s elusion.
24. Child’s Play
The Line: “Hi, I’m Chucky. Wanna play?”
Context: The best use of the line in the film is when Andy’s mom (Catherine Hicks) sees her son’s new “Good Guy” doll sitting on the living room table and goes to investigate. She opens the battery slot on the dolls back to reveal there are no batteries within.
Why is it great: Dolls are not scary enough without this line which goes from innocent introduction to demonic reveal. It is at this point she realizes something is terribly wrong with her child’s toy when she attempts to attain his identity before throwing him in their fireplace.
23. The Thing
The Line: “I know you gentlemen have been through a lot, but when you find the time, I’d rather not spend the rest of this winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH!”
Context: In Antarctica, a simple blood test has been devised by the inhabitants of a survey base to detect who is human and who has transformed into an inhuman monster now in human form.
Why is it great: The scene preceding was another reveal of “The Thing”. Each time a person’s blood is tested, you are never sure what will happen if the results are unfavorable. The line is meant as a moment of comic relief to relieve some tension for the audience.
22. Pet Sematary
The Line: “Sometimes dead is better.”
Context: Neighbor Jud (Fred Gwynne) tries to warn new area resident and friend Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff) his solution to resurrect his daughter’s recently deceased cat is not a good one.
Why is it great: Every parent would never want their child to suffer in any way. This film takes a hard look at the lengths a parent would go citing this theory.
The ultimate reveal of undead child, Gage, is truly disturbing in many ways. When you watch the scene where Gage kills Jud, you wonder how did filmmakers even get the 5 year old child to do some of the things depicted onscreen?
21. The Fly (1958)
The Line: “Help me! Help meeee!”
Context: Subsequent to Andre (David Hedison) being transformed, he becomes trapped in a spider’s web and is unable to help himself break free. Ultimately, he attracts the attention of a man (Vincent Price) who aids in ending his misery.
Why is it great: Kind of an eerie baby scream, the cry of “Help me” was really creepy in the 1950s era of low-budget horror the likes of which had not been heard in theaters before. The high pitched cry for help will haunt your nightmares.