1. Fright Night (1985)
No, not the remake that came out in 2011. I'm talking about the 1985 original. Starring William Ragsdale and Roddy McDowall as high school teen Charley Brewster and fake vampire hunter Peter Vincent respectively, Fright Night hits all the right notes of an 80's teen horror flick.
Carley discovers that his new next-door neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon), is a vampire. Obviously, nobody believes him, so Charley goes to Peter Vincent for help after seeing his TV show.
While the plot is pretty cookie-cutter, the acting is over-the-top and the characterization is great. The visual effects and costuming are all pretty good too.
2. Creepshow (1982)
Way back in '82, Stephen King and George Romero decided they wanted to make an anthology film together. Consisting of three shorts - The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill, Something to Tide You Over, The Crate and They're Creeping Up on You!, the film skips back and forth between downright creepy and totally hilarious.
The biggest surprise is that the main character in Something to Tide You Over is played by Leslie Nielsen. You see him and expect it to be a comedic short, but he brings a truly scary performance to the table.
Stephen King even plays the main character, Jordy Verrill, in the first short and he actually does a pretty decent job. The shorts are presented as stories in an issue of a pulp comic called Creepshow, and after watching the movie, you'll wish you could read the comic too.
3. Return of The Living Dead (1985)
Ah, Return of The Living Dead. This gem is an unofficial comedy-horror mashup sequel to the original zombie-flick, Night of The Living Dead.
The plot focuses at first on two employees of a medical supply center, one a veteran, the other a rookie who are stuck working the late shift. The seasoned worker tries to scare the new recruit by telling a story about how the plot of Night of The Living Dead is true, and that the original zombies accidentally got shipped to the very building they're working in. The canister opens, the zombies get out, things get weird.
I know it sounds goofy, but this is honestly one of my favorite movies of all time. It's well-acted, the script is funny and the cinematography is amazing. One of my favorite things about the actual zombies in Return of The Living Dead is that the only way to kill them is to burn them to ashes. It's also pretty rad that they're smart enough to talk, and they even set some traps to get to the brains they crave throughout the film.
4. Halloween 3: Season of The Witch (1982)
When people think about the movie Halloween, they think Michael Meyers. That's because he's the masked killer in every single one of them - except one. See, Halloween 1 and 2 are technically one movie, and they wrap up pretty nicely. So, when it came time to make a third film, the producers figured they'd turn it into an anthology series, with a new scary story hitting theaters every year. Thus, Halloween 3: Season of The Witch was born.
It stars one of my all-time favorite actors, Tom Atkins, as Dr. Daniel Challis who discovers that the Silver Shamrock Novelties factory is up to something sinister. The company's owner, Conal Cochran (Dan O'Herlihy), wants to bring Halloween back to its pagan roots by sacrificing children through witchcraft.
It's got androids, lasers and a really creepy main bad guy. It didn't do so hot in the box office, but it's one of my favorite horror movies of all time.
5. Night of The Creeps (1986)
I definitely saved the best for last - Night of The Creeps. The story starts in 1959, in black and white no less, with a couple out on a romantic date. A murderous lunatic escapes from the mental institution and the couple is told to leave Makeout Point by a jealous police officer. On the way home, the guy finds a crashed alien space ship and while he's in the woods, his date gets hacked up by the axe murderer.
Skip ahead to 1986 and we meet Chris Romero (Jason Lively) and J.C. (Steve Marshall. Chris falls for a girl named Cynthia (Jill Whitlow) and gets it in his head that the only way she'll fall for him is if he joins a frat. It just so happens that the frat he wants to join is lead by Cynthia's boyfriend who tells him and J.C. that if they want to join, they have to steal a body from the medical lab on campus. The body in the medical lab happens to be the guy from the 50's who was cryogenically frozen, and as soon as they let him out he comes back to life... as a zombie because they alien ship he found had a worm in it that took over his brain.
Tom Atkins plays Ray Cameron, a disgruntled, alcoholic detective who only speaks in one liners, which is great because he's parodying 99% of the roles he played before this film came out. There's action, romance, comedy and tons of 80's horror easter eggs to discover. If you only watch one movie on this list, it should Night of The Creeps.