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Best Special Effects in ’80s Horror Movies, Ranked




Modern horror is often lost in a sea of bad CGI and cutaways. The art of practical effects isn’t entirely extinct, but the days of every horror movie relying on them are long gone. The 1980s were truly the pinnacle of practical effects, puppeteering, and animatronics. From grizzly murders, to monsters never before seen on the silver screen, there are countless movies that still impress to this day. This list highlights the best of the decade.

Making a sequel to an iconic movie is a tough task. Making a sequel that can actually compete with the original is even harder. Time and time again, they’ve proven to be nearly impossible to nail, as was the case with A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

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. Thanks, in part, to the incredible special effects, this would not be the case with Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. This movie is not only a great sequel; it’s a great movie on its own. It’s even considered by some to be the best in the franchise.

The third film in the franchise tells the story of Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette), who has the power to pull people into her dreams. She’s visited by Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), and after barely surviving his attack, she’s admitted into a mental hospital. The only problem? All the other patients have been dreaming about Freddy, too.

There are countless classic kills in this movie that utilize some incredible practical effects. From the scene where Jennifer Caulfield (Penelope Sudrow) has her head thrown into a sentient TV controlled by Freddy, to a giant worm like version of Freddy Krueger, nearly consuming Kristen Parker whole. Each death in this movie is memorable and exciting. Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors will be celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. There’s never been a better time to give this movie a chance.

Related: Every A Nightmare on Elm Street Film Ranked

George A. Romero teaming up with legendary make-up artist/special effects technician Tom Savini almost guaranteed this film to be an all-time great in the practical effects department. It would not be a let-down.

A follow-up to the 1978 classic Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead is about a group of survivors camped out in an old mining facility after the zombie apocalypse has spread worldwide. Dr. Sarah Bowman (Lori Cardille) leads a group of scientists looking for a cure, but a battalion of soldiers led by captain Henry Rhodes (Joseph Pilato) grows increasingly impatient, and increasingly violent.