September 21, 2023

Favorite Horror Films From 1981

I’m back again today with the second in my “best of” series. I started with my Top 5 Horror Films From 1980. I got a good response and really enjoyed putting it together so here goes!

Chewie’s Top 5 Horror Films From 1981

All of these films received their theatrical release within calendar year 1981.

Scanners (1981)#5 – Scanners

A scientist sends a man with extraordinary psychic powers to hunt others like him. Written & directed by David Cronenberg and stars Jennifer O’Neill, Steven Lack, Michael Ironside, and Patrick McGoohan. Even if you’ve never seen it, you know its most iconic scene when dude’s head explodes.  Not a great movie, but bumped onto the list merely for that scene.

#4 – The Howling

After a bizarre and near fatal encounter with a serial killer, a television newswoman is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem. Starring Dee Wallace and Patrick Macnee it may have been the first werewolf movie I ever really watched (outside of the black and white Wolfman stuff).

#3 – An American Werewolf in London

Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists. Written and directed by John Landis Werewolf stars David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, and Griffin Dunne. Similar to Scanners above, it’s known best for a singular scene. In this case, its the amazing transformation scene. Even if you’ve never seen this flick you’ve probably seen that clip.

Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981)#2 – Friday the 13th Part 2

Mrs. Voorhees is dead, and Camp Crystal Lake is shut down, but a camp next to the infamous place is stalked by an unknown assailant. Is it Mrs. Voorhees’ son Jason, who did not really drown in the lake some 30 years before? Starring Betsy Palmer, Amy Steel, John Furey this is the first time in the franchise when now iconic Jason Voorhees is doing the killing. We don’t get his trademark hockey mask until Part III but the burlap sack covered killer is up to his old tricks here. Some great kills and really one of the first films in what we now know as the slasher genre.

#1 – Halloween II

While Sheriff Brackett and Dr. Loomis hunt for Michael Myers, a traumatized Laurie is rushed to hospital, and the serial killer is not far behind her. Picking up directly after the 1978 classic Halloween, this is so cohesive that you really can watch the two films as one. While it’s not quite as well loved as the original this may very well be my all time favorite sequel as its essentially an extension of the original. Until I made this list I didn’t realize that we had two sequels from two legendary franchises in the same year. This was intended to be the last we’d see of Michael Myers but after Season Of The Witch they decided to bring him back. Thank goodness they did… he’s one of my favorite killers of all time.

Did I leave off your favorite horror film from 1981? Leave a comment with your thoughts!


I've been a fan of horror and slasher movies for as long as I can remember. I consider the original Halloween to be the best horror movie of all time and my guilty pleasure horror flick would be The Exorcist III. You can find me on Twitter at @406Northlane or TikTok @406Northlane where I'm sure I'll offend you at least once a day.

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[…] this year’s list, but wanted to get that out of the way. A similar situation occurred with my Top Five Horror Films From 1981. Thanks to my buddy Rik for pointing it out. With that item out of the way, let’s start in […]

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