Best Mystery Movies of 1981


Blow Out

7.4/10 IMDB

Jack Terry is a master sound recordist who works on grade-B horror movies. Late one evening, he is recording sounds for use in his movies when he hears something unexpected through his sound equipment and records it. Curiosity gets the better of him when the media become involved, and he begins to unravel the pieces of a nefarious conspiracy. As he struggles to survive against his shadowy enemies and expose the truth, he does not know whom he can trust.

Starring: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz, Peter Boyden, Curt May, John Aquino, John McMartin, Deborah Everton, J. Patrick McNamara ..
Directed by: Brian De Palma
Release date: 1981-07-24

Body Heat

7.4/10 IMDB

In the midst of a searing Florida heat wave, a woman convinces her lover, a small-town lawyer, to murder her rich husband.

Starring: William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Richard Crenna, Ted Danson, J.A. Preston, Mickey Rourke, Kim Zimmer, Thom Sharp, Larry Marko, Carola McGuinness ..
Directed by: Lawrence Kasdan
Release date: 1981-08-28

The Great Muppet Caper

7.1/10 IMDB

Kermit and Fozzie are newspaper reporters sent to London to interview Lady Holiday, a wealthy fashion designer whose priceless diamond necklace is stolen. Kermit meets and falls in love with her secretary, Miss Piggy. The jewel thieves strike again, and this time frame Miss Piggy. It's up to Kermit and Muppets to bring the real culprits to justice.

Starring: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Charles Grodin, Diana Rigg, John Cleese, Robert Morley, Peter Ustinov ..
Directed by: Jim Henson
Release date: 1981-06-26


6.6/10 IMDB

An honest marshal in a corrupt mining colony on Io, Jupiter's sunless third moon, is determined to confront a violent drug ring even though it may cost him his life. After his wife angrily deserts him, he waits alone for the arrival of killers hired by the company to eliminate him.

Starring: Sean Connery, Frances Sternhagen, Peter Boyle, James B. Sikking, Clarke Peters, Marc Boyle, Kika Markham, Nicholas Barnes, Steven Berkoff, Norman Chancer ..
Directed by: Peter Hyams
Release date: 1981-05-22

Dead & Buried

6.5/10 IMDB

After a series of gory murders commited by mobs of townspeople against visiting tourists, the corpses appear to be coming back to life and living normally as locals in the small town.

Starring: James Farentino, Melody Anderson, Jack Albertson, Dennis Redfield, Nancy Locke, Lisa Blount, Robert Englund, Bill Quinn, Michael Currie, Christopher Allport ..
Directed by: Gary Sherman
Release date: 1981-05-29

My Bloody Valentine

6.2/10 IMDB

Twenty years ago in the sleepy mining town of Valentine Bluffs, a fatal mining disaster occurred on Valentine's Day while some of the crew was decorating for a party. The sole survivor of the accident killed the remaining crewmembers and warned the town not to celebrate Valentine's Day again. When a group of teenagers decides to defy that order, a murderous maniac in mining gear begins dispatching townsfolk in bloody and creative ways.

Starring: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Keith Knight, Cynthia Dale, Alf Humphreys, Helene Udy, Rob Stein, Thomas Kovacs, Terry Waterland ..
Directed by: George Mihalka
Release date: 1981-02-11


6.3/10 IMDB

A city cop is assigned to solve a bizarre set of violent murders where it appears that the victims were killed by animals. In his pursuit he learns of an Indian legend about wolf spirits.

Starring: Albert Finney, Diane Venora, Edward James Olmos, Gregory Hines, Tom Noonan, Dick O'Neill, Dehl Berti, Peter Michael Goetz, Sam Gray, Reginald VelJohnson ..
Directed by: Michael Wadleigh
Release date: 1981-07-24

Happy Birthday to Me

6.0/10 IMDB

Virginia is proud that she belongs to a clique. The best students at a private school. But before her 18th birthday, a gruesome set of murders take place and her friends are the ones who are falling prey. Could it be her? She suffers from blackouts due to a freak accident one year earlier. We soon learn the truth behind her accident and what is going on...

Starring: Melissa Sue Anderson, Glenn Ford, Lawrence Dane, Sharon Acker, Frances Hyland, Tracey E. Bregman, Jack Blum, Matt Craven, Lenore Zann, David Eisner ..
Directed by: J. Lee Thompson
Release date: 1981-05-15

The Prowler

5.9/10 IMDB

A masked killer, wearing World War II U.S. Army fatigues, stalks a small New Jersey town bent on reliving a 35-year-old double murder by focusing on a group of college kids holding an annual Spring Dance.

Starring: Vicky Dawson, Christopher Goutman, Lawrence Tierney, Farley Granger, Cindy Weintraub, Lisa Dunsheath, David Sederholm, Bill Nunnery, Thom Bray, Diane Rode ..
Directed by: Joseph Zito
Release date: 1981-11-06


6.6/10 IMDB

A truck driver plays a cat-and-mouse game with a mysterious serial killer in a van who lures young female hitchhiker victims on a desolate Australian highway.

Starring: Stacy Keach, Jamie Lee Curtis, Marion Edward, Grant Page, Thaddeus Smith, Steve Millichamp, John Murphy, Bill Stacey, Robert Thompson, Angelica La Bozzetta ..
Directed by: Richard Franklin
Release date: 1981-02-27

Cutter's Way

6.8/10 IMDB

Richard spots a man dumping a body, and decides to expose the man he thinks is the culprit with his friend Alex Cutter.

Starring: Jeff Bridges, John Heard, Lisa Eichhorn, Ann Dusenberry, Stephen Elliott, Arthur Rosenberg, Nina van Pallandt, Patricia Donahue, Geraldine Baron, Katherine Pass ..
Directed by: Ivan Passer
Release date: 1981-03-19

Omen III: The Final Conflict

5.5/10 IMDB

Damien Thorn has helped rescue the world from a recession, appearing to be a benign corporate benefactor. When he then becomes U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Damien fulfills a terrifying biblical prophecy. He also faces his own potential demise as an astronomical event brings about the second coming of Christ.

Starring: Sam Neill, Rossano Brazzi, Don Gordon, Lisa Harrow, Barnaby Holm, Mason Adams, Leueen Willoughby, Marc Boyle, Milos Kirek, Robert Arden ..
Directed by: Graham Baker
Release date: 1981-03-20

Dark Night of the Scarecrow

6.7/10 IMDB

Bubba, an intellectually disabled man, is falsely accused of attacking a young girl. Disguised as a scarecrow, he hides in a cornfield, only to be hunted down and shot by four vigilante men. After they are acquitted due to lack of evidence, the men find themselves being stalked one by one.

Starring: Larry Drake, Charles Durning, Robert F. Lyons, Claude Earl Jones, Lane Smith, Tonya Crowe, Jocelyn Brando, Tom Taylor, Richard McKenzie, Ivy Jones ..
Directed by: Frank De Felitta
Release date: 1981-10-24

Deadly Blessing

5.5/10 IMDB

After her husband dies of mysterious circumstances, a widow becomes increasingly paranoid of the neighboring religious community that may have diabolical plans for her.

Starring: Maren Jensen, Sharon Stone, Susan Buckner, Jeff East, Ernest Borgnine, Lois Nettleton, Michael Berryman, Colleen Riley, Douglas Barr, Lisa Hartman ..
Directed by: Wes Craven
Release date: 1981-08-14

They All Laughed

6.3/10 IMDB

New York's Odyssey Detective Agency is hired by two different clients to follow two women suspected of infidelity. Ladies' man John Russo trails Angela Niotes, the elegant wife of a wealthy Italian industrialist, while Charles Rutledge and Arthur Brodsky follow Dolores Martin, the beautiful young wife of a jealous husband. Their respective cases are complicated when John falls for Angela, and Charles falls for Dolores.

Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Ben Gazzara, Patti Hansen, John Ritter, Dorothy Stratten, Blaine Novak, Colleen Camp, Glenn Scarpelli, Vassili Lambrinos, George Morfogen ..
Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich
Release date: 1981-11-20


5.9/10 IMDB

Daryll Deever is a janitor in an office building in New York, and a big fan of TV news reporter, Tony Sokolow. When a rich man is murdered in Daryll's building, Tony comes to cover the story and Daryll introduces himself to her. Thinking he may know something about the crime, Tony pursues him, and in order to keep seeing her, he pretends that he does. As the two of them play this game, the killers are watching, assuming that Daryll and Tony both know more about the crime than they do.

Starring: William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Plummer, James Woods, Irene Worth, Kenneth McMillan, Pamela Reed, Albert Paulsen, Steven Hill, Morgan Freeman ..
Directed by: Peter Yates
Release date: 1981-02-13
Best Mystery Movies of 1981 : Killjoy


6.0/10 IMDB

A romantic rivalry leads to an innocent woman's murder. Or is it a hoax crime, part of a cunning deception? At City General Hospital, two young doctors engage in a move-and-countermove rivalry over Laury Medford. It may be more than Laury's beauty that motivates the men. Her father is the hospital's chairman of the board. Marrying her would be an inside track to the chief of staff post. Meanwhile, a senior hospital staffer, who is the mother of one of the two doctors, plots to enhance her son's chances, a mysterious outsider who says he knew the dead woman tails the two men, and Laury may be more than she appears. Murder? Hoax? The answer isn't revealed till the final freeze-frame.

Starring: Kim Basinger, Robert Culp, John Rubinstein, Stephen Macht, Nancy Marchand, Ann Dusenberry, Ann Wedgeworth, Helene Winston, Francine Verrett, Terry Burns ..
Directed by: John Llewellyn Moxey
Release date: 1981-08-24

The Pit

5.7/10 IMDB

Twelve year-old Jamie Benjamin is a solitary misunderstood boy in his preteens. His classmates pick on him, his neighbors think he's weird and his parents ignore him. But now Jamie has a secret weapon: deep in the woods he has discovered a deep pit full of man-eating creatures he calls Trogs... and it isn't long before he gets an idea for getting revenge and feeding the Trogs in the process!

Starring: Sammy Snyders, Jeannie Elias, Sonja Smits, Laura Press, Laura Hollingsworth, Richard Alden, Andrea Swartz, John Auten, Paul Grisham, Wendy Schmidt ..
Directed by: Lew Lehman
Release date: 1981-10-23


5.4/10 IMDB

An Arab oil organization devises a plan to wreck the world economy in order to cause anarchy and chaos.

Starring: Jane Fonda, Kris Kristofferson, Hume Cronyn, Josef Sommer, Bob Gunton, Ron Frazier, Jodi Long, Marvin Chatinover, Ira Wheeler, Ahmed Boulane ..
Directed by: Alan J. Pakula
Release date: 1981-10-11
Best Mystery Movies of 1981 : Neon Nights

Neon Nights

6.2/10 IMDB

Sandy often fantasizes about her mothers’ boyfriend Robert. She pleasures herself while she watches them make love. One evening Robert sees Sandy watching as they make love and the next day while she is in the bathroom he invites himself in. Things start to get hot and heavy when Sandy’s mother catches the two of them about to have sex. Ashamed Sandy runs away from home. She hitches a ride to New York where her sister Denise lives.

Starring: Lysa Thatcher, Kandi Barbour, Veronica Hart, Jamie Gillis, Eric Edwards, Arcadia Lake, Ashley Moore, Jake Teague, Jody Maxwell, Linda Vale ..
Directed by: Cecil Howard
Release date: 1981-12-09

Night School

5.6/10 IMDB

A Boston police detective investigates a series of gruesome decapitations of various college coeds, committed by a helmeted, black-leather clad serial killer.

Starring: Leonard Mann, Rachel Ward, Drew Snyder, Joseph R. Sicari, Nicholas Cairis, Karen MacDonald, Annette Miller, Bill McCann, Margo Skinner, Elizabeth Barnitz ..
Directed by: Ken Hughes
Release date: 1981-01-07


5.1/10 IMDB

Egyptologist Erica Baron finds more than she bargained for during her long-planned trip to The Land of the Pharoahs - murder, theft, betrayal, love, and a mummy's curse!

Starring: Lesley-Anne Down, Frank Langella, Maurice Ronet, John Gielgud, Vic Tablian, Martin Benson, John Rhys-Davies, Nadim Sawalha, Saeed Jaffrey, William Hootkins ..
Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner
Release date: 1981-02-11

Strange Behavior

5.6/10 IMDB

When the teenagers in a small Illinois town start getting murdered, the police chief makes a connection to the mysterious scientific experiments being done at the local university and must stop them before his own son is dragged into the deadly scheme.

Starring: Michael Murphy, Louise Fletcher, Dan Shor, Fiona Lewis, Arthur Dignam, Dey Young, Marc McClure, Scott Brady, Charles Lane, Elizabeth Cheshire ..
Directed by: Michael Laughlin
Release date: 1981-10-16

Student Bodies

5.4/10 IMDB

This zany send-up of teen slasher flicks features a maniacal psycho known as the Breather, who stalks –and murders– promiscuous students at a suburban high school. The fanatical killer's unusual weapons include paper clips, blackboard erasers and eggplants.

Starring: Kristen Riter, Matthew Goldsby, Jerry Belson, Joe Flood, Mimi Weddell, Joe Talarowski, Carl Jacobs, Oscar James, Robyn Flanery, Janice E. O'Malley ..
Directed by: Mickey Rose, Michael Ritchie
Release date: 1981-08-07

The Killing of Angel Street

6.6/10 IMDB

Jessica Simmonds returns from overseas to find her retired professor father in a bitter public fight to save the historic Sydney waterfront houses on Angel Street. After her father's mysterious death, she joins forces with local residents and a union leader against corrupt forces. Based on the real life mysterious disappearance of Juanita Nielsen.

Starring: Elizabeth Alexander, John Hargreaves, Reg Lye, David Downer, Caz Lederman, Alexander Archdale, Gordon McDougall, Norman Kaye, Allen Bickford, Ric Herbert ..
Directed by: Donald Crombie
Release date: 1981-10-01
Best Mystery Movies of 1981 : You Are Not I

You Are Not I

6.6/10 IMDB

A young woman escapes from a mental hospital during the chaos of a nearby multiple-car accident. She is mistaken for a shock victim and is driven to her sister's house by a rescue volunteer. Then the real story begins...

Starring: Suzanne Fletcher, Melody Schneider, Bea Boyle, Evelyn Smith, Luc Sante, Anthony Crisafulli III, George Fendrich, Michael Abbruzzio, Nan Goldin, George Winslow ..
Directed by: Sara Driver
Release date: 1981-01-01
Best Mystery Movies of 1981 : No Place to Hide

No Place to Hide

6.3/10 IMDB

A young art student frantically tries to prove that she is being stalked by a mysterious man who has threatened her life, and finds her sanity questioned by her stepmother, the family attorney, and even a psychiatrist.

Starring: Mariette Hartley, Kathleen Beller, Arlen Dean Snyder, Gary Graham, Keir Dullea, Sandy McPeak, Milton Selzer, Brad M. Bucklin, Anne Gerety, Marc Handler ..
Directed by: John Llewellyn Moxey
Release date: 1981-03-04
Best Mystery Movies of 1981 : Agatha Christie's Seven Dials Mystery

Agatha Christie's Seven Dials Mystery

6.6/10 IMDB

When two mysterious deaths mar an otherwise pleasant weekend in the English countryside, unflappable flapper Lady Eileen Brent teams up with the dashing Jimmy Thesinger to solve the dastardly deeds. Their sleuthing leads them into a world of espionage and international intrigue as they discover a secret society known as "The Seven Dials" and the attempted theft of top-secret government documents.

Starring: John Gielgud, Cheryl Campbell, Rula Lenska, Lynne Ross, James Warwick, Harry Andrews, Joyce Redman, Lucy Gutteridge, Terence Alexander, Brian Wilde ..
Directed by: Tony Wharmby
Release date: 1981-03-08

The Survivor

5.1/10 IMDB

When a 747 crashes shortly after take-off, the sole survivor is the pilot. Virtually unhurt, he and the investigators look for the answers to the disaster. Meanwhile mysterious deaths occur in the community and only a psychic, in touch with the supernatural, can help the pilot unravel the mystery surrounding the doomed plane.

Starring: Robert Powell, Jenny Agutter, Joseph Cotten, Angela Punch McGregor, Peter Sumner, Lorna Lesley, Ralph Cotterill, Adrian Wright, Tyler Coppin, Kirk Alexander ..
Directed by: David Hemmings
Release date: 1981-07-09

The Nesting

4.9/10 IMDB

A New York writer of gothic fiction finds her mansion full of ghosts from a brothel massacre.

Starring: Robin Groves, Christopher Loomis, Michael David Lally, John Carradine, Bill Rowley, David Tabor, Patrick Farrelly, Bobo Lewis, June Berry, Ann Varley ..
Directed by: Armand Weston
Release date: 1981-05-01
Best Mystery Movies of 1981 : Joe Dancer: The Big Black Pill

Joe Dancer: The Big Black Pill

5.8/10 IMDB

The first of three private-eye movies created by Robert Blake about rugged Joe Dancer as the forerunner to a prospective but unrealized series after the retirement of his "Baretta" character. In the initial outing, Blake, as Dancer, follows a trail of bodies through a maze of corruption involving a politically ambitious Beverly Hills family.

Starring: Robert Blake, JoBeth Williams, Wilford Brimley, Neva Patterson, James Gammon, Veronica Cartwright, Carol Wayne, Edward Winter, Phillip R. Allen, Sondra Blake ..
Directed by: Reza Badiyi
Release date: 1981-01-29

Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen

4.0/10 IMDB

Famous detective Charlie Chan is called out of retirement to help a San Francisco detective solve a mysterious series of murders. With his bumbling grandson as his sidekick, Chan also encounters an old nemesis known as the Dragon Queen who is the prime suspect.

Starring: Peter Ustinov, Lee Grant, Angie Dickinson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brian Keith, Roddy McDowall, Rachel Roberts, Paul Ryan, Michael Fairman, Richard Hatch ..
Directed by: Clive Donner
Release date: 1981-02-13
Best Mystery Movies of 1981 : Margin for Murder

Margin for Murder

5.0/10 IMDB

Mickey Spillane's hard-hitting '50s private eye, Mike Hammer, returns to television in the guise of Kevin Dobson to track down the killer of his best friend who was driving Hammer's car. Joining in the hunt are the detective's Girl Friday, the ever-hopeful Velda, and his cop friend, Pat Chambers.

Starring: Kevin Dobson, Charles Hallahan, Cindy Pickett, Donna Dixon, Asher Brauner, Floyd Levine, John Considine, Renata Vanni, Aarika Wells, Charlie Picerni ..
Directed by: Daniel Haller
Release date: 1981-10-15
Best Mystery Movies of 1981 : K-9 and Company: A Girl's Best Friend

K-9 and Company: A Girl's Best Friend

6.1/10 IMDB

Sarah Jane Smith arrives at the home of her Aunt Lavinia in the cozy village of Moreton Harwood, only to find that Lavinia is nowhere to be found and that the Doctor has left her a parting gift in K·9 Mark III. With the help of K·9 and Lavinia's young ward Brendan Richards, Sarah Jane starts investigating her aunt's disappearance. In the process, they discover that Moreton Harwood is home to a coven worshipping the pagan god Hecate and preparing for a human sacrifice...

Starring: Elisabeth Sladen, John Leeson, Bill Fraser, Ian Sears, Colin Jeavons, Sean Chapman, Mary Wimbush, Linda Polan, Gillian Martell, Neville Barber ..
Directed by: John Black
Release date: 1981-12-28

Jaws of Satan

4.0/10 IMDB

A preacher whose ancestors were Druids battles Satan, who has taken the form of a huge snake.

Starring: Fritz Weaver, Gretchen Corbett, Jon Korkes, Christina Applegate, Bob Hannah, Norman Lloyd, Diana Douglas, Nancy Priddy, John McCurry, Jack Gordon ..
Directed by: Bob Claver
Release date: 1981-07-24
Best Mystery Movies of 1981 : Mistress of Paradise

Mistress of Paradise

3.9/10 IMDB

In the 19th century, a wealthy Northern woman marries a Louisiana plantation owner and then becomes suspicious about his first wife's death.

Starring: Geneviève Bujold, Chad Everett, Anthony Andrews, Olivia Cole, Lelia Goldoni, Carolyn Seymour, John McLiam, Myron Natwick, Fred D. Scott, Bill Wiley ..
Directed by: Peter Medak
Release date: 1981-10-04


2.9/10 IMDB

A group of friends on a rafting trip down a river stop in at an old ghost town to spend the night. Soon their rafts disappear, and then they begin to be eliminated one by one by a mysterious killer.

Starring: Pepper Martin, Hank Worden, Ethan Wayne, Woody Strode, Alvy Moore, Ann Bronston, Gregg Palmer, Bobby Diamond, Nancy St. Marie, Dee Cooper ..
Directed by: Byron Quisenberry
Release date: 1981-01-08
Best Mystery Movies of 1981 : The Nightmare Man

The Nightmare Man

6.7/10 IMDB

A heavy fog cuts the small isolated Scottish island off from the mainland, and dentist Michael Gaffikin has just discovered a dismembered corpse on the golf links. Michael and his artist girlfriend, Fiona Patterson, assist the local law enforcements in searching for the murderer. However, as the body count rises and the surrounding circumstances turn increasingly bizarre and gruesome, everyone begins to wonder if the killer is a human or an unimaginable creature...

Starring: James Warwick, Celia Imrie, Maurice Roeves, Jonathan Newth, Tom Watson, James Cosmo, Fraser Wilson, Jeff Stewart, Tony Sibbald, Pat Gorman ..
Directed by: Douglas Camfield
Release date: 1981-05-01
Best Mystery Movies of 1981 : Side Show

Side Show

6.9/10 IMDB

A teenage boy who runs off to join the circus as a side show puppeteer stumbles onto the dark secrets of the fellow performers.

Starring: Lance Kerwin, Connie Stevens, William Windom, Barbara Rhoades, Albert Paulsen, Calvin Levels, Anthony Franciosa, Red Buttons, William Conrad, Rex Williams' Elephants ..
Directed by: William Conrad
Release date: 1981-06-05

Death in the Family

0.0/10 IMDB

A family gathering attempting to establish just who exactly inherits the family's possessions leads to deception, incest, and quite a lot of murder

Starring: Russell Hall, Caroline Aylward, Shirley Carol Aston, Rick Arthur, Jeanne Griffin, Peri Tastsidis, Carol Aston ..
Directed by: Michael J. Murphy
Release date: 1981-03-23

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