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The Goriest Horror Movies from the 80s

Goriest Horror Movies

Get Ready to Get Gross

The horror genre is known for having several definitive elements: monstrous villains, eerie atmospheres, people who constantly trip while running through a forest at night, etc. Once the 80s rolled around however, the genre gained a new tentpole feature: gore. Loosened content restrictions, improvements in makeup and practical effects, and the increased popularity of slasher movies allowed creators to stretch the R rating — and sometimes go beyond it.

When used properly, gore can up the psychological stakes of a movie. It adds a body horror aspect that chills an audience to their core and shows just how terrifying the actions on screen are for the film’s protagonists. Other times, gore can be so stylized and over the top that it infuses the film with a more artistic — and sometimes even comedic — flair. Here are some gross, grizzly examples from both camps.

5. Evil Dead II (1987) 

Goriest Horror MoviesLife isn’t easy for Evil Dead II protagonist Ash Williams. All he wanted to do was have a romantic getaway with his girlfriend at a derelict cabin in the middle of nowhere. They dance, kiss, and exchange gifts, but that all changes when Ash discovers the Necronomicon: an ancient book bound in flesh and penned in blood. Now he’s lopping off his possessed girlfriend’s head, fighting with his own amputated hand, and watching as every unfortunate bystander in this forest turns to a geyser of multicolored blood. The only solution to this predicament? A chainsaw and a sawed-off shotgun. Evil Dead II’s bloody gore is exaggerated to the point of being comical at times. This, combined with director Sam Raimi’s Three Stooges-esque humor, makes it a great entry point for those looking to get into the gorier side of 80s horror.

4. Hellraiser (1987)

Goriest Horror MoviesBrutal and bereft of humor, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser is just as much of an art film as a horror film. When Frank — a hedonist and womanizer — finds and solves a strange puzzle box from another dimension, he unintentionally summons the demonic Cenobites to his attic. The leather-clad beings use chains and hooks to rip the man to pieces and hide his remains beneath the floorboards. When Julia — Frank’s ex-lover and his brother’s wife — stumbles upon the gooey remains of the not-quite-dead Frank, she discovers that he can be returned to his original form. The only cost? Human blood. Julia agrees to help and starts seductively luring men to her house only to kill and donate them to her old flame’s body fund. Frank’s transformation from a hunk of meat to a hunk is both disgusting and impressive. The amazing anatomical practical effects of his regeneration and his victims’ deaths show just how otherworldly and disgusting this process is. This alone is worth the watch, but wait until the Cenobites show up.

3. Society (1989)

Goriest Horror MoviesIf nothing else, this movie is weird and legitimately unsettling. However, if gore is in demand, Society can supply it. Known for its infamous “Shunting” scene, Society is a byproduct of director Brian Yuzna and artist Screaming Mad George. The film follows high schooler Bill Whitney as he attempts to uncover the truth behind his town’s strange social divide. The plot is an allegory for classism, but it tackles the topic in a surreal and disturbing way. Bug-filled hallucinations, upper-class inbreeding, and body horror inspired by Salvador Dalí have turned Society into a cult phenomenon. Spoiling the visual aspects of the “Shunting” would be a disservice to anyone who actually wants to watch this movie. Let’s just say that Society proves that blood isn’t always necessary when it comes to making memorable — and truly disgusting — gore. 

2. The Thing (1982)

Goriest Horror MoviesThe Thing is a classic for both the horror and sci-fi genres, and for good reason. When an American research team in Antarctica takes in a stray sled dog, they unknowingly welcome one of the most terrifying creatures in film history into their facility. The dog — a host for the eponymous alien — begins to infect and assimilate the other dogs and researchers at the outpost. The survivors, as well as the audience, watch in horror as the newly-infected hosts transform into horrific extensions of the parasite. A decapitated head turns into a spider-like creature, and a dead man’s torso splits open, revealing a fanged maw inside his chest cavity. These are just a couple of the terrifying, graphic transformation scenes in this movie. All are done practically, and aside from some spotty stop-motion animation near the end, each of these gory effects still holds up. 

1. Re-Animator (1985)

Goriest Horror MoviesWho knew the key to eternal life was a syringe filled with glow stick fluid? In this H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, egotistical scientist Herbert West has one goal: to be the man who cures death. After arriving at Miskatonic University, he partners up with Dan — a naive med student — to test his glowing solution and reanimate a handful of cadavers on campus. An overdose of West’s death cure results in the duo being attacked by a horde of the undead led by a decapitated head. Whoops. The film’s practical effects — a mix of makeup and animal intestines — go into overdrive to sell the insanity and nasty nature of this experiment gone wrong. Opening with exploding eyeballs and closing with West fighting off sentient intestines, this film’s wild gore and bizarre story have combined to make it a cult classic in the world of horror cinema.

Re-Animator (1985) Official Re-Animator Productions Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Ethan Mallory joined the Dead Talk News team in 2023. Aside from writing for Dead Talk News, he has also worked as a student editor for the Short Vine Literary Journal. Ethan is currently pursuing a film major and an English minor at the University of Cincinnati. While working for Dead Talk News, he has covered trending horror and action film news and written comic reviews.