10 Best Obscure Horror Movies From The 1980s | ScreenRant

The 1980s was an era mostly dominated by slasher movies, with Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, Chucky, and more dominating the box office. However, while mass-produced slasher movies ruled the decade, there were other movies that were more obscure but proved the '80s had some hidden gems, as well.

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These movies sometimes continued with the themes present in the down and dirty horror movies of the 1970s, but there are others that slipped under the radar and left horror fans pleasantly surprised. Most of the great obscure movies that hit in the 1980s have been lost to time and deserve a new generation of fans to rediscover them.

10 Maniac (1980) - Available On AMC+, Vudu, Tubi & More

Maniac is a slasher movie, but it was not like all the other horror movies that had success at the box office in the 1980s. What makes this movie different is that the entire point of view is from the killer's perspective, as he deals with his inner conflicts.

There is a lot of killing in this movie, with special effect maestro Tom Savini bringing his talents to the production. There are also some incredible effects, making it a memorable addition to the genre, and Savini's work here rivals that of his zombie movies.

9 Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer (1986) - Available On AMC+

Michael Rooker has become a cult legend in movies thanks to his work in The Walking Dead TV franchise and the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. However, one of his best early roles came in the 1986 horror movie, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

This is another movie that plays out from the serial killer's point of view, which makes the watch uncomfortable but allows for an affecting horror movie. The movie is loosely based on the real-life serial killer, Henry Lee Lucas.

8 Motel Hell (1980) - Available On Amazon Prime

Motel Hell looks like a goofy spin on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with the story focusing on a butcher named Farmer Vincent, who traps travelers for his gruesome plans. What resulted was a low-budget horror movie full of irony and wit.

Rory Calhoun and Nancy Parsons are both great as Farmer Vincent and his sister Ida, bringing a lot of laughs to the movie, but there is also a lot of gore for those who look for that in their slasher movies. It also gave fans the great line, "It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters."

7 Basket Case (1982) - Available On AMC+, Kanopy, Tubi & More

There are three Basket Case movies, with the sequels proving the Law of Diminishing Returns. However, the first movie, from 1982, is a hidden gem and is about a man carrying around a huge secret in a wicker basket.

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Directed by Frank Henenlotter, the secret is that Duane has a once-conjoined twin named Belial. He carries the twin around in the basket and the two set out to kill the doctors who separated them.

6 The Beyond (1981) - Available On AMC+, Shudder, Tubi & More

The horror movie, The Beyond, arrived in 1981 from director Lucio Fulci. The director, best known for his Giallo horror movies like Zombie 2 and The New York Ripper, made one of his best movies with this one, although it has more graphic violence than many of his other movies.

The 1980s Italian horror movie follows a woman who inherits an old hotel in Lousiana that just might be the gateway to Hell. This was one of the infamous video nasties from the '80s, but it has gained a cult following in the years since its release.

5 The Changeling (1980) - Available On AMC+

The Changeling is a 1980s movie that doesn't get the love it deserves, remaining an obscure horror flick that deserves a bigger fandom. There is even a major Oscar-caliber actor in it, with George C. Scott in the lead role.

Scott plays a man who loses his family and moves into a big home, where he is haunted by a child ghost. The twist is that the ghost doesn't want to hurt him, but wants Scott to help find the person who killed him.

4 Dead & Buried (1981) - Available On Amazon Prime

Released in 1981, Dead & Buried is another video nasty from the 1980s. It almost fits into the 1980s zombie movie genre, but it is a lot more than that. This is a horror movie that is interested in building suspense and tension more than it is about the kills, although there are some great ones here.

With a script by Dan O'Bannon and makeup effects from the legendary Stan Winston, Dead & Buried takes place in a small town where some tourists are murdered and then rise from the dead. This is also a mystery, with the sheriff trying to figure out who is responsible for the reanimated corpses.

3 C.H.U.D. (1984) - Available On Amazon Prime

C.H.U.D. arrived in 1984 and gave way to a sequel that was a very different movie. The second movie was a straight horror-comedy, but the first one was a dark and scary horror about monsters who lived in the sewers under the city.

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There were some recognizable names in the cast, with John Heard and Daniel Stern headlining the movie. The plot saw homeless people living in the sewers mutate because of radiation and become creatures who crawl out and start to kill the people they encounter.

2 Q (1982) - Available On Cinemax Amazon Channel

For fans of the giant monster movies of the 1950s, there was a new creature introduced in 1982 called Q. The movie, directed by Larry Cohen, follows a petty criminal (Michael Moriarty), who stumbles upon a case that brings a giant monster that threatens New York City.

The movie offered a look at the giant creature using stop-motion animation, similar to what was used in Clash of the Titans. The movie isn't as scary as it is entertaining, as Cohen pokes fun at the classic non-Godzilla kaiju monster movies of the past.

1 Altered States (1980)

Altered States arrived in 1980 from director Ken Russell. This is a horror movie with a science fiction slant, where William Hurt stars as a scientist who is studying sensory deprivation. The side effect is that he soon regresses into his primitive state.

The movie could have been straight-to-video fare, but in Russell's hands, it is moody and atmospheric and shows the scientist's horror as he begins to devolve while fighting to regain his life.

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