Writerly Things: Why Do Movies of the 1980s Seem Scarier Than Those of Today? Traci Kenworth

Image by tomekwalecki from Pixabay

Writerly Things 8/3/2020: Why is It the Best Horror Movies Seem to Have Been Made During the 1980s?

Traci Kenworth

I’ve been re-watching The Hitcher starring C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Rutger Hauer. It’s credited with the most shocking and disturbing scene in cinema history ever. That is when Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character, Nash, is chained between two semi-trucks and the villain begins tugging her between them. That film made a lot of people afraid to pick up hitchhikers in its day. I wonder if the films of today have the same effect.


Who can forget the Queen of Horror, Sigourney Weaver as Ripley who fought of an alien on her spaceship as those around her died? I don’t think anyone could replace her staunch toughness and her ability to rise above it all. Even the sequel displayed this. I won’t go into Aliens 3 or the later sequel where Winona Ryder was supposed to replace Ripley in the new franchise as neither hold a candle to those two.

Even the Hitcher had sequels that never lived up to the original. They weren’t suspenseful enough or didn’t come close to pushing us over the edge of terror, I guess.


This was the best movie of this franchise, though the second gets a nod as well. Knowing that that machine was out there, that it would never, ever stop, until Sarah Conner was dead terrified many. I mean, there are quite a few people wary of machines today because of this movie. Even those in the higher up departments.


Another terrifying movie as the hunter who came down at a certain season to hunt man. This time a group of soldiers in a jungle who were already busy with a human enemy. This creature takes over a mission to kill all. Its sequels failed to reach the same heights as the original but that makes it no less scary.

The Lost Boys.

It introduced vampire and comedy together and became gold for it’s two fellow stars. When Sam discovered his brother Michael was a vampire, all hell broke loose. A coven of vampire targets the family and it’s up to the two of them joined by the Frog brothers to save the day.


A family moves into a new community, thinking they’ve got it made, and are in for a good life. Instead, their daughter goes missing. Clowns come to life. And coffins burst up through the foundation.

Amityville Horror.

A house possessed. A family in danger. A priest tries to help and finds himself in the battle of his life. Who could forget this heart stopping movie that made us check those housing leases more thoroughly?


Who could forget those shiny, metal balls with blades within them chasing down the characters? The Tall Man driving around in his hearse, taking the living down to his moratorium.


The movie that kept people out of the water and terrified of sharks ever since. The original, once again, was the best.

I could go on and on with more movies made back then but you get the gist. I admit there are some good movies today, but the eighties seem to be the crown jewel in scary times. Although with the coronavirus going on, who’s to say that movies won’t go through another heightened period? I’ve seen some new ones that look promising, so we’ll see.

I’m wondering though: if sequels in movies do much good? Maybe the second can repeat the success but the third and so on? They don’t seem to come close to what the original introduced. This doesn’t seem to be the case with books; however, I see the sequels intensifying the situations. Wonder if it’s the media that’s the problem?

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