The 80s monster movies were some of the most engaging of all time.
Monster movies dominated the majority of the decade, with several sequels featuring recurring characters like Jason, Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, and many more.
That, however, was just the beginning of the monsters that frightened ’80s audiences.
Slasher murderers were popular in the 1980s, but there were plenty of classic monsters, aliens, demons, and others in monster movies.
Whether they were excellent updates of old classics or creative works, the monsters of that decade gave audiences the creeps.
Below is a list of the 80s monster movies;
1. The Blob (1988)
- Director: Chuck Russell
- Star cast: Shawnee Smith, Kevin Dillon, and Donovan Leitch Jr.
- IMDB ratings: 6.6
The Blob’s adaptation to the big screen may have been the smoothest and most effortless of any 80s monster movies.
You may get the same effect by replacing the communist paranoia of the 1958 original.
It starred Steve McQueen, with some light satire of the horror genre and a good dose of suspicion of the government.
The structural and character similarities between the two movies are striking. While both focus on bloodshed caused by the Blob, their depictions of this brutality differ.
Getting closer to Russell’s The Blob is all that’s required for the blob to perform what it does best.
Some scenes have a dead alive–like a flare for comedic ultraviolence thanks to horrifying sequences of melting faces and severed limbs.
However, nothing beats the phone booth scene, in which you see what happens when the Blob’s entire might descends on someone in a small area.
Finally, The Blob (1988) is a good popcorn thriller that echoes the sentimental, anti-authoritarian spirit of movies like Return of the Living Dead.
2. American Werewolf in London (1981)
- Director: John Landis
- Star cast: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, and Joe Belcher
- IMDB ratings: 7.5
American Werewolf in London, directed by John Landis and released in 1981, is widely regarded as one of the best 80s monster movies of all time.
In this movie, David Naughton and Griffin Dunne played David and Jack, two male backpackers in Europe.
Extreme chaos ensues as a beast attacks them, murders Jack, and bites David.
One of the movie’s most memorable portrayals of a werewolf is David’s transformation into one.
The metamorphosis was a master lesson in scary movie creation, done by special effects wizard Rick Baker employing actual effects.
3. Pumpkinhead (1988)
- Director: Stan Winston
- Star cast: Lance Henriksen, Jeff East, and John D’Aquino
- IMDB ratings: 6.2
Movies like The Terminator, Predator, and Jurassic Park all had groundbreaking special effects, thanks to the late Stan Winston.
In addition, he has directed a few movies, the first of which was Pumpkinhead.
As expected, the movie centers on a fearsome demon summoned by a heartbroken father seeking vengeance against the people responsible for his son’s death.
Pumpkinhead is one of the most memorable 80s monster movies.
This is because he appears bizarre and terrifying, relentlessly pursues his victims, and strives to make every death agonizing.
4. Dragonslayers (1981)
- Director: Matthew Robbins
- Star cast: Peter MacNicol, Caitlin Clarke, and Ralph Richardson
- IMDB ratings: 6.6
This 1981 effort was the cornerstone of darkly colored family fantasy before Peter Jackson gave Sword and Sorcery a seductively sexual shine.
A young man on the verge of adulthood is all that stands between a big fire-breathing beast and a somewhat fey cadre of aristocrats.
Despite Richardson’s early death, he is the movie’s most memorable character.
The visual effects by Industrial Light & Magic are a close second and still impress over thirty years later.
Disney withdrew Pete’s Dragon Slayer from theaters after early showing elicited cries of horror from the movie’s target demographic, children.
5. Q – The Winged Serpent (1982)
- Director: Larry Cohen
- Star cast: David Carradine, Michael Moriarty, and Candy Clark
- IMDB ratings: 6.0
Q is one of the strange 80s monster movies, seemingly due to director Larry Cohen’s desire to create an homage to the classic creature features of his youth.
However, his inability to separate the traditional framework of a “monster attacks city” movie from his interest in the darker side of contemporary urban life is fantastic.
In the end, there is a protagonist who is pure Cohen. He is a petty crook who discovers the monster’s lair and spends most of the movie trying to extort money from the city in exchange for its location.
All this happened while the titular-winged serpent spent its days flying around New York City, killing random people.
6. The Thing (1982)
- Director: John Carpenter
- Star cast: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, and Keith David
- IMDB ratings: 8.2
That the alien in John Carpenter’s masterpiece ‘The Thing’ may pass for anybody is what makes it so terrifying.
The movie was based on John W. Campbell’s 1938 short story of the same name.
Unlike in 1951’s ‘The Thing’ from another world, the monster portrayed as a lumbering brute stays true to the novella’s original conception.
It’s a shape-shifting creature that can adopt the appearance of its prey and switch between hosts.
Of course, the alien does make many appearances, with some of the most fantastic and outrageous make-up effects ever created by the legendary Rob Bottin.
7. The Fly (1986)
- Director: David Cronenberg
- Star cast: Jeff GoldblumGeena DavisJohn Getz
- IMDB ratings: 7.6
Brundlefly represents the most melancholy monster on this list.
In David Cronenberg’s 1986 blockbuster ‘The Fly,’ the half-man, half-insect monstrosity known as Seth Brundle was formerly a bright scientist (Jeff Goldblum).
When drunk during a test of his top-secret teleportation pods, Brundle failed to detect a harmless housefly inside the capsule with him.
His genes were combined with those of a fly, and he spends the remainder of the movie mutating into a nauseous, philosophical, and resentful insect-man.
In the movie’s most memorable concluding moments, the insect’s whole body emerges from the rotting flesh of the man formerly known as Brundle.
8. Basket Case (1982)
- Director: Frank Henenlotter
- Star cast: Kevin Van Hentenryck, Terri Susan Smith, and Beverly Bonner
- IMDB ratings: 6.1
In the 1980s, when low-budget filming became more accessible due to advances in technology, the genre developed.
Despite being made on a relatively small budget, the monster movie Basket Case was given a broad cinema release.
Henenlotter devised this schlocky story of two brothers with nothing more than some bad performers and a large wicker basket.
Duane is a normal person who carries about his separated, disfigured Siamese twin Belial in his basket.
Belial, who escapes from his basket and runs wild, is essentially a lumpy, fanged head with a single, haphazard arm.
Henenlotter returned to make two sequels to the movie in the early ’90s when it gained a cult appeal.
In the end, Henenlotter’s grisly touch and the subversive comedy of a Troma movie come together in Basket Case to create a low-budget masterpiece.