A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Epic 80s Horror Movie Marathon Ideas for Halloween

Halloween is upon us, which can mean anything from Trick or Treating to having a few too many drinks while dressed as your favorite superhero. Who can say no to that?

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Yet, regardless of your plans this year, one quintessential element of this tradition is a good old fashioned movie marathon comprised of zombies, vampires and without the word “Twilight” in it (I may have just isolated an entire fan base with that joke, but oh well). Whether you’re more Michael Myers or Freddie Krueger, you will likely be delving into your DVD collection this weekend. But rather than just the standard slasher films or zombie apocalypse gore fests, try giving your Halloween movie marathon a bit of variety. To help you out, I’ve selected five films from a particularly excellent decade of cinema which when screened back to back will provide you with all the scares, gore and outright ridiculousness you need to make your Halloween truly epic.


John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982)

The Thing

Let’s start off with a gruesome classic. A remake of the 1951 film, John Carpenter’s adaptation of the John W. Campbell short story delivered far more gore than the original and became known as the antithesis to “E.T.”, which also came out in 1982. Starring Kurt Russell as one of the scientists trapped in an Antarctic base while trying to fight a shape-shifting extraterrestrial that assumes the appearance of the people it kills, this film received predominantly scathing reviews at the time of its release but has since achieved the status of cult classic, much like the rest of Carpenter’s work.

Like “Alien”, “The Thing” is the perfect merging of horror and science fiction. Though simple in its plotting, it has every bit of Carpenter’s signature B movie adrenaline (despite this being the director’s first major studio feature) and delightfully stylized action sequences. From the moment the alien first strikes to the scene where Russell defiantly shouts “F**k you too!”, this one is an electrifying display of violence and terror which will no doubt send chills down your spine.


“The Evil Dead” (1981)

The Evil Dead

If “The Thing” gives you nightmares, lighten the mood with everyone’s favorite campy horror comedy. Following the traditional cabin in the woods storyline, the film follows five friends on a weekend camping trip in which they accidentally release an ancient force of flesh-possessing demons. Starring Bruce Campbell as the chainsaw-wielding, shotgun-blasting protagonist Ash, this Sam Raimi cult classic is nothing less than “groovy.”


“The Monster Squad” (1987)

The Monster Squad

Can’t decide between Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man and The Mummy? Why not watch a movie that features all of them? And better yet, this is one the kiddies can watch too! When Dracula (Duncan Regehr) and his team seek an ancient amulet he needs to rule the world, they find themselves up against a band of monster-obsessed children, who take it upon themselves to protect their small town from the forces of evil.

Director Fred Dekker and screenwriter Shane Black (“Lethal Weapon”, “Iron Man 3”) combine the heartfelt optimism of a Spielberg blockbuster with the irresistible nostalgia of the 1960s era Horror House films. It’s delightfully cheesy, filled with lovable characters and is currently available on Netflix for your streaming pleasure.


“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)

Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street

Ok, now it’s time for the kiddies to leave the room. There have been countless remakes, sequels and spin offs since horror icon Freddie Krueger first appeared on the big screen, but it’s the character’s debut film that remains one of the late filmmaker Wes Craven’s finest works. Merging the bloody terror of slasher films like John Carpenter’s “Halloween” with the nuances of psychological horror, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” contains everything necessary to scare the living daylights out of you.

The scariest part of Freddie is that he terrorizes and kills his victims in their sleep. Even with the 80s special effects and predictable jump moments, the film remains as much of an adrenaline rush as it was when it first came out. With the character’s terrifyingly disfigured face and eerily sharp claws, buckets of blood and a young Johnny Depp falling asleep at the worst times imaginable, this one’s an essential for your viewing list.


“The Shining” (1980)

Jack Nicholson in The Shining

I can’t think of a better way to cap off this marathon than with a trip to the Overlook Hotel. Starring Jack Nicholson in what is perhaps his most famous performance as writer Jack Torrance, the film showcases his descent into madness as he spends a winter in isolation with his wife and son. Legendary director Stanley Kubrick brings to life the bleakness and relentless horror of Stephen King’s novel, despite King’s objections to the film taking extreme liberties from its source material in the conclusion.

More than thirty years have passed since “The Shining” first arrived in theaters and became one of the most quotable films in American cinema with the iconic “Here’s Johnny” line, and still it remains just as terrifying today. Whether it’s the tracking shot of Jack’s son riding his tricycle down the hallway and witnessing a pair of demonic twin girls or the infamous bathtub scene, this Kubrick masterpiece will keep you awake all night long.

Conclusion: The 80s have some pretty excellent horror, sci-fi and action films to choose from, so be sure to include movies from this decade into your Halloween marathon. What other movies are you watching this year? Sound off in the comments below!

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