April 14, 2024

Favorite Horror Films From 1986

Garbage Pail Kids - Rock E. HorrorBack again today with another Top 5 Horror Films list and today the year is 1986. You can check out my previous lists below:

I’m absolutely loving putting these lists together. It’s giving me an opportunity to go back and revisit some beloved films from my childhood and to re-discover films that I’d completely forgotten about. If you’re interested in my non-horror version of the 1986 list you can see it here.

Chewie’s Top 5 Horror Films From 1986

All of these films received their US theatrical release within calendar year 1986. If you want to see the full list of all films eligible for this list you can view it here. Keep in mind, these aren’t necessarily what I’d consider the “best” movies and they certainly aren’t ranked based on box office sales. They are what I consider my “favorite” films.

Honorable Mentions

Maximum Overdrive – A group of people try to survive when machines start to come alive and become homicidal. I tell you what… for a guy who says he really doesn’t like Stephen King, he certainly does pop up quite often on my lists. And to be fair, this really isn’t all that great of a movie. This is on my favorites list because of some of the iconic imagery (Can you say Green Goblin truck?) and the fact that when I first saw it it really scared the hell out of me.

Night of the CreepsNight of the Creeps (1986) – Alien brain parasites, entering humans through the mouth, turn their host into a killing zombie. Some teenagers start to fight against them. I’d actually never seen this one until a couple of years ago when I reviewed it for the site. You can read that review here but suffice to say I really enjoyed it. This is B movie horror at its finest and it includes some great gore and a pretty compelling (though rather difficult to follow) story line.

Critters – A race of small, furry aliens make lunch out of the locals in a farming town. What can I say, I’m a fan of films where little things try to eat people. I have a feeling it’s why I enjoy the current zombie stories we’re getting so many of these days. It’s a very straight forward premise but one that continues to work for me even though it’s running the risk of being overdone.

TerrorVision – A family’s new satellite TV system starts receiving signals from another planet, and soon it becomes the passageway to an alien world. Another horror / comedy where things eat people. It has some interested kills and some decent effects. Worth recording if you run across it on your DVR.

Trick or Treat – Sammi Curr was a famous, devil-worshiping rock star who died under mysterious circumstances. Now he wants to come back to life. Doing so requires possessing radio wave & automobiles and making a few human sacrifices. This film includes cameos by Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne. It’s relatively difficult to get a copy of this these days due to copyright issues, but if you can find one it’s worth the watch.

The Top Five

This is an interesting top five here. We’ve got two films that are part of iconic franchises, two remakes and a film that’s been remade. There’s a lot of talk about how there aren’t any original ideas in horror these days. This top five sort of backs that up.

April Fool's Day (1986)#5 – April Fool’s Day

A group of nine college students staying at a friend’s remote island mansion begin to fall victim to an unseen murderer over the April Fool’s day weekend. This one is on my list in part due to the iconic imagery of the movie poster and the VHS box. This is one of the first “film within a film” premises that flicks like Scream did so well in the future. It got a direct to DVD remake in the late 2000’s that wasn’t really warranted.

#4 – Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives

Tommy Jarvis goes to the graveyard to get rid of Jason Voorhees’ body once and for all, but inadvertently brings him back to life instead. The newly revived killer once again seeks revenge, and Tommy may be the only one who can defeat him. If you know me you know I’m a huge Friday the 13th fan so it stands to reason this would make it on my list. We get some outstanding kills here after a pretty piss pour resurrection of Jason but let’s be honest, how many different ways can you bring a killer back? I love the fact that the Tommy Jarvis story continues through this film.

#3 – Aliens

The planet from Alien has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, the rescue team has impressive firepower, but will it be enough? James Cameron is back with the sequel to his masterpiece Alien. Once again starring Sigourney Weaver as the iconic Ripley. I’ve argued in the past whether the Alien films should be considered horror films as they’re clearly science fiction flick. This one especially deserves to be listed in the horror genre. Amazing kills and a story that’s compelling from beginning to end. If by chance you’ve skipped this for all these years because you have some sort of anti sci-fi bias I’d urge you to check it out.

Manhunter (1986)#2 – Manhunter

Former FBI profiler Will Graham returns to service to pursue a deranged serial murderer named “the Tooth Fairy” by the media. I didn’t find this film until years later when Red Dragon was released as a prequel to Silence of the Lambs. And while I love Red Dragon as a film, I think this original is actually better. Will Graham is played by William Petersen (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,) and Hannibal Lecktor is played brilliantly by Brian Cox. He’ll never match Sir Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of the good Dr. but he gives him an awesome spin. Tom Noonan as Francis Dollarhyde gives a very different performance as the Tooth Fairy than Ralph Fiennes did in Red Dragon but it’s equally as compelling.

#1 – The Fly

A brilliant but eccentric scientist begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong. It stars Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz and is based on George Langelaan’s 1957 short story of the same name, which also formed the basis for the 1958 film. This is possibly my all time favorite remakes (That’s a list I’ll have to tackle one of these days). There’s some outstanding effects here and seeing Brundle tranform from human to BrundleFly is sickening. The scenes between Davis and Goldblum mid-transformation are heartbreaking and you can really see the love she has for him even while he’s losing his humanity. There are some really great deleted and alternate scenes on the DVD if you’re into that sort of thing. Jeff Golblum has sort of become a punchline these days but he’s in his glory in this film and his over the top acting is just perfect here. 

Did I leave off your favorite horror film from 1986? 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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