Terrifying but Forgotten Horror Movie Posters from the 1980s

The 1980s were a great decade for horror movies, with franchises like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street bringing on-screen terror to millions of fans. They were joined by more standalone fare like Children of the Corn (the sequels … meh) and Fright Night, and book-ended by classics like Salem’s Lot and Arachnophobia.

Some of the most enduring images from those classics are burned into our memories courtesy of stellar movie posters that are nothing less than works of macabre art.

But there were plenty of other horror movies from the 1980s that didn’t generate the fanfare of these blockbusters yet still “graced” us with terrifying, awful, yet exquisite movie posters.

Here are 10 of those forgotten horror movie posters from the 1980s that just might keep you up at night of their own accord, regardless of what you think of the underlying movies.

And the cool thing is that you can actually buy most — or all — of these ghastly sheets on eBay and/or Amazon (affiliate links below).

Enjoy! (Bwahahahahaaa!)

Death Ship (1980)

Death Ship movie poster

When Death Ship hit theaters in 1980, World War II veterans had been home for “just” 25 years or so.

The horrors of the Nazi regime were still pretty fresh in the world’s collective memory, and there were plenty of prime-of-life folks who had lived through the War in some fashion or another.

This movie played on those latent fears by introducing a floating Nazi torture vessel that trolls through the oceans, wrecking other ships, and luring folks on board … and to their demise.

It’s a brilliant but creepy and disturbing concept, augmented well by a movie poster depicting the hulking ship-cum-skull ready to chow down on a life raft full of would-be survivors.

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Funeral Home (1980)

Funeral Home movie poster

Hey, here’s a great idea! Let’s take an old house, with a lot of history, and turn it in to a bed-and-breakfast.

Oh, and wouldn’t it be even better if most of that history had been spent as a funeral parlor?

Man, what great times we could have!

And if a few guests disappear along the way? Well, what do you expect from a place where dead bodies sleep over on their way to the grave?!

Maybe visitors to our Funeral Home should have examined the spectacular black-and-white, comic-fueled movie poster and heeded the warnings implicit therein.

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The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

The Watcher in the Woods movie poster

The Watcher in the Woods has plenty of formulaic fodder to make purists shudder, but it’s still a spooky movie.

A new home in the country …

Creepy kids …

A 30-year old curse folded into the dark woods …

A spirit Hell-bent on setting things right.

And a poster that you should never, ever look at when you’re planning a hike or camping trip in the near future.

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Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

Dark Night of the Scarecrow movie poster

Do you believe in Karma? If they didn’t before, the denizens of the town in this movie sure did by the end of the script.

Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to chase a man into a cornfield and kill him, let’s just say.

It’s especially not a good idea if he’s some twisted up supernatural scarecrow.

Bad news all around.

And, even though Dark Night of the Scarecrow was “just” a TV movie, there’s still a pretty solid poster floating around out there, and it gives you a glimpse of both the chase — on an eerie autumn night — and the turnaround.

Boo!

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Frankenstein Island (1981)

Frankenstein Island movie poster

If your hot-air balloon crash-landed and you were lucky enough to survive, where would least want to end up?

I can think of lots of pretty terrible candidates, but it’s hard to imagine one much worse than Frankenstein Island.

In case you don’t know, that’s the place the famed monster doctor’s family (one of them, anyway) ended up, and where the experimentation continued.

Oh, and mutants. And Amazons.

It’s awful and fabulous all at once. Just like the movie poster that looks like it was put together on whatever the 1981 version of MS Paint was.

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Hell Night (1981)

Hell Night movie poster

The 1980s were prime-time for hazing movies and Camp Slasher films, so it’s not too surprising that the two would meet up for a screen dalliance.

In Hell Night, four pledges have to spend the night in an abandoned mansion in order to gain entrance into their fraternity/sorority of choice.

The old joint is creepy enough on its own, but the real problem — of course — is that the place has a history, and part of it is still hanging around looking for revenge.

Predictable 1980s horror, but the poster is pure 1950s kitsch, and it’s a real work of art.

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Alone in the Dark (1982)

Alone in the Dark movie poster

Sometimes, typecasting works out OK.

I mean, everyone loves Liam Neeson as the guy who lost his daughter/job/wife/car/mind and is Hell-bent on seeking revenge.

It works every single time.

A couple of generations ago, we found out what the already-accomplished Donald Pleasence had really been put on this earth to do — play the doctor who unwittingly unleashes¬† maniacs into society.

First, he was Sam Loomis in Halloween (and for years afterward).

Then, he was Dr. Leo Bain here, in Alone in the Dark.

Bain bears the brunt — and blame — when a group of psychopaths escape their institution during a power outage and go looking for their tormentors.

Paging Donald Pleasence.

This classic poster has a definite Psycho feel to it and will make you happy you never finished that psychiatry degree.

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Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Halloween III Movie Poster

People give this movie all sorts of grief because it does nothing to advance the Michael Myers storyline established in Halloween and Halloween II, and continued in Halloween 4 through the end of time.

But Halloween III picks up on what Halloween was supposed to be about in the first place — an anthology of terror all revolving around the most horrifically splendid holiday on the calendar.

And, speaking as a grumpy old man, there’s not much better in a horror movie tham scaring the crap out of kids and their parents, which is what happens in Halloween III.

The poster is like a mashup of Fright Night and It’s a Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, showing a trio of children heading out for trick-or-treat terror against a red sky and under some sort of howling ghoulie.

I can feel the autumn chills nipping at my spine already.

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Re-Animator (1985)

Re-Animator movie poster

That H.P. Lovecraft sure was a cut-up, wasn’t he?

At least, that’s what the creative minds behind this 1985 film adaptation of his Re-Animator seemed to think.

With lots of cheesy humor punctuated by plenty of gore, this movie is pure 1980s big-screen fun … or silliness, depending on your point of view.

The poster is true to the period, too, with simple but stylish artwork and enough Lovecraftian weirdness to keep you wondering– will this movie get really scary at some point?

Nah!

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Clownhouse (1989)

Clownhouse movie poster

Yep, clowns are about as creepy as creepy creatures come.

Real horror fans and scaredy cats have known that for decades, but Seinfeld and Stephen King (IT) have helped the rest of society grasp that cold reality, too.

Clownhouse is campy, but it strikes right at the throat of our clown fears — escaped convicts murder a gaggle of clowns, take on their personas, and descend on three young brothers left alone in a big house.

Why, parents? Why?

This poster will have you checking behind closed doors for months to come. Just make sure you have a weapon — like a seltzer bottle — handy at all times.

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