In the 1980s, movies were getting weirder, actors more outlandish, and directors a little more daring. The sci-fi and horror kings of the 80s, David Cronenberg and John Carpenter, lit up the big screen with wild, imaginative stories and gruesome practical effects. Viewers never knew what monstrosity they were going to see next, what unimaginable creature or alien would appear, and how far the characters would go to stop the horror that surrounded them.

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The harsh, and often grotesque, style of 80s sci-fi / horror films, sometimes categorized as “body horror,” was what they were known for, and is what has solidified many of these films as cult classics. .

10 Reanimator (1985)

Re-Animator by Stuart Gordon

Anything that is based on HP Lovecraft will be a wild ride. From 1985 Resuscitator follows scientist Herbert West, who has invented a serum to revive the dead, thinking it could bring the dead back to life. But he soon realizes that he returns the dead to a zombie-like state, where the body becomes violent and uncontrollable.

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The dean of medicine at West University finds out, but is killed by a reanimated corpse. Hysteria ensues as he re-animates more bodies, bringing out telepathic abilities in them, while trying to control the monsters he has created.

9 Dream Landscape (1984)

Alex, played by a young Dennis Quaid, has psychic abilities. Although he primarily uses them to gamble and get girls, he soon finds himself involved in a secret program that helps people with psychic powers infiltrate other people’s dreams.

Used therapeutically to help quell nightmares in some, others on the show want to use it to kill. Bob Blair, a powerful government agent, wants to use this psychic power to assassinate the president, and Alex has to fight in his dreams to stop him. And remember, if someone dies in a dream, they die in real life.

8 The Dead Zone (1983)

Christopher Walken in The Dead Zone

Based on the novel by Stephen King, The death zone follows Johnny Smith, who has gained psychic powers after being in a coma caused by a car accident. With one tap, you can see someone’s future. But he also realizes that he can change that future.

Disturbed and anxious, Johnny tries to lead a normal life. But when he touches the hand of a politician, he sees a terrible future that must be changed. Johnny sets out to kill the politician before he can cause the nuclear annihilation he sees in his visions.

7 The Fly (1986)

One of David Cronenberg’s most famous films, The fly it’s packed with some of your best makeup and practical effects. After inventing a teleportation device, scientist Seth Brundle decides to test it on himself first.

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But when you start the first test, you don’t notice a fly being trapped in the chamber with you. The teleportation device works as you are transported across the room from one small capsule to another. But for the rest of the movie, Seth slowly transforms into a grotesque, giant fly.

6 Scanners (1981)

This cult classic, directed by David Cronenberg, is also about humans with psychic and telekinetic powers (there’s an emerging theme here). These people, called “scanners”, work primarily for two separate warring entities. ConSec is recruiting to take down an underground ring of scanners led by Darryl Revok, each trying to infiltrate and kill members of the other group.

The movie is full of intrigue, murder, and gory violence, with some of the coolest effects of the ’80s, including the most famous head-bang scene in movie history.

5 Altered States (1980)

This mind-blowing and engrossing film, based on Paddy Chayefsky’s novel of the same name, throws viewers into a hallucinogenic dreamlike landscape. After experimenting with sensory deprivation tanks, Edward Jessup goes one step further and begins using hallucinogenic drugs to further his experiences in the tanks, trying to experience other states of consciousness.

But as his hallucinations become more intense and his experiments more dangerous, he begins to slowly regress and rewind to previous physical states of being. Edward must fight to remain human or be transformed into a pile of primordial matter.

4 The stain (1988)

the blob 1988 movie poster

After a military satellite crashes into Earth, a wild and dangerous droplet-shaped creature unleashes itself on a California town, killing and destroying everyone and everything in its path.

This funny and sometimes silly film from director Chuck Russell follows three high school students as they try to defeat the bubble before it kills everyone in town. The military is also descending on the city to contain the stain, which is discovered to be a US-created biological weapon that has become too dangerous to use.

3 Leviathan (1989)

Leviathan 1989 film cover header

After finding a sunken Soviet ship on the ocean floor, a team of geologists salvages some items from the wreck and takes them back to their underwater science facilities. But after drinking some vodka salvaged from the ship, the crewmates begin to feel ill and eventually begin to mutate into hideous underwater creatures.

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After realizing that the Soviet ship was experimenting with its crew with mutagens, the geological team now has to fight the mutated crew to survive on the ocean floor.

two Videodrome (1983)

By David Cronenberg Videodrome it’s a psychedelic journey into a world of deception and mind control. After finding a strange and disturbing TV show called “Videodrome”, Max Renn begins playing it on his own TV station. The show, filled with torture and murder of random people, finally causes its viewers to hallucinate in an attempt to control their minds.

Max discovers that the show’s creator wants “Videodrome” to kill his viewers, thinking that anyone who sees the dirt shown on the show should be wiped from Earth.

1 The Thing (1982)

Kurt Russell holding a gun in John Carpenter's The Thing

This cult classic by John Carpenter sums up all the good stuff about 80s sci-fi / horror. Trapped in the middle of Antarctica, researchers at a science base find an alien frozen in ice. After he wakes up, he wreaks havoc on the base and its inhabitants.

With the ability to transform into human form, the “thing” kills and takes the place of the crew members, causing anxiety and mistrust among the crew, not knowing who is still themselves and who is the alien. With outrageous designs and brilliant use of effects and animatronics, Carpenter and his effects team bring the “thing” to life with vivid and grotesque detail.

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