The Best Years of Horror: 1984

Horror films go totally 80s in 1984 as they embrace the future of franchising


J. Dollins

Horror goes franchise in 1984 with “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Ghostbusters,” and “Gremlins.”

There were many huge staples of the 80’s including clothes and music however, one of the best staples of the 80’s is horror films.

1984 is arguably one of the best years of horror in the 80’s. With scary films growing more and more popular due to the trend in slasher films (“Friday the 13th,” “Halloween”), horror merchandise also became a big hit, stretching from lunch boxes to t-shirts.

“A Nightmare on Elm Street,” for example, opened up a whole new franchise for one of the greatest “masters of horror” Wes Craven (“The Last House on the Left,” “The Hills Have Eyes,” “Scream”). Freddy Krueger, played by Robert Englund, became an overnight sensation, spawning a number of sequels and even a television series. Despite being a child molester in the movie, Freddy practically became a cuddle buddy for 80s kids.

With this in mind, let’s take a deeper look at three classics from 1984.


A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, dir. Wes Craven)

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) (Courtesy New Line Cinema)

Unlike other slasher films “A Nightmare on Elm Street” offered a new twist in contrast to others like “Halloween” or “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

This killer has a clear motive for murder.

The movie revolves around teens trying to escape the sharp clutches of Freddy Krueger, a dream demon that kills you in your sleep.

Freddy seeks his revenge after being burned alive by the parents of the teens because he was found not guilty after murdering multiple children.

Even though “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is a fictional story, Wes Craven developed the idea after reading a real news article in the 70’s.

The article was about people who were having terrifying nightmares and forcing themselves to stay awake. When the people eventually went to bed they were found dead in their sleep.

This news article sparked an idea to create an iconic slasher film that would eventually lead on to become a successful franchise.

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” is currently streaming on HBO Max.

Gremlins (1984, dir. Joe Dante)

“Gremlins” (1984) (Courtesy Warner Bros. Studios)

“Gremlins” is a comedy-horror classic that is wholesome enough to watch with your family, but freaky and mischievous at the same time.

If you have seen “Gremlins,” one of the most notable things that sticks out of this crazy movie is the theme song, “The Gremlin Rag.” It’s a chaotic mess, much like the movie itself.

“The Gremlin Rag” is iconic, and once you hear it, it’s hard to forget it.

The movie follows Billy (Zach Galligan), who receives a pet mogwai named Gizmo for Christmas from his eccentric father. Mogwais are a big responsibility, and if handled the wrong way, they multiply and turn into gremlins.

Of course, that’s exactly what happens and mayhem ensues.

As the gremlins wreak havoc on the town of Kingston Falls, Joe Dante’s film luxuriates in dark humor, like during one scene where a gremlin gets thrown into a blender. It creates a perfect balance of fun and scary.

Even though “Gremlins” is a horror movie, because it is set on Christmas Eve, it is often considered a Christmas movie, just like “Nightmare Before Christmas.”

“Gremlins” is currently streaming on HBO Max.


Ghostbusters (1984, dir. Ivan Reitman)

“Ghostbusters” (1984) (Courtesy Sony Pictures)

Similar to “Gremlins,” “Ghostbusters” finds a perfect balance between comedy and horror.

This movie works with  scarier themes, like ghosts, but also adds a twist to make things more comedic like “Slimer,” a morbidly obese ghost that just likes to eat food.

The movie begins with friends who lost their jobs and decided to create a new business called Ghostbusters.

Their ghostbuster business begins by solving minor ghost threats and trapping them away. However, as the Ghostbusters gain more popularity, they are accused of being the cause of the ghost problem.

The Ghostbusters are luckily able to get out of jail and go to the Big Apple to save everyone from the ghost demon Gozer.

Even with the seemingly terrifying storyline it gets equally balanced with the humor of the four protagonists as they’re trying to solve the mysteries of the ghosts.

“Ghostbusters” is currently streaming on Hulu.