5 Best / Worst 80s Horror Paperback Covers

Is it possible for a book cover to be so bad that it is brilliant?

I decided to hunt through covers of retro horror paperbacks and share some of the best, or worst, cover designs.

If you don’t know, the 70s and 80s were brilliant times for horror. Horror novels in particular were popular and their covers were deliciously over the top, just like most things from those decades.

Disclaimer: I haven’t read any of these books, but I plan to if I get my hands on them. I will try to include a blurb for them all so you can check them out yourself.

5. After Alice by Margaret Bingley

After Alice F002

I have so many questions about this cover.

  1. What the hell is going on?
  2. Is that skull attached to a baby mobile?
  3. “She’s seductive. So decadent. So much deadlier than she was ever alive” …That skull doesn’t look very seductive.
  4. Why is there a baby?!


“In the tradition of Shirley Jackson and Ruby Jean Jenson comes the terrifying tale of a marriage menaced by supernatural powers. Spine-chilling fiction from the author of Devil’s Child and Children of the Night.”

4. Keeper of the Children by William H Hallahan


I love this cover for its design. It almost looks like a Goosebumps book. This cover does a great job of making me what to read it because, I dont know about you, but I need some killer teddy bears in my life.

Also, why is he chopping a rat in half? Did he cut his own head off while playing with that axe?


“In a child’s bedroom in a suburban Philadelphia home, Edward Benson is listening for footsteps on the stairs.

The footfall Edward is waiting for will not be human. It could be someone’s pet cat, or a stuffed teddy bear, or a smiling marionette doll.

But whatever it is that comes creeping up the stairs will have two qualities: it will be animated by a terrifying, diabolical force, and it will have only one intention — murder.

If Edward Benson wants his daughter back, he will have to fight a battle no human has ever fought before. And he must win, for only the victor will return with his life — and his soul.”

3. The Folly by David Anne


Rabbit, why are you so angry?

I think my favourite terrible thing about this cover is the anatomy. That isn’t how rabbits’ mouths work. It’s muzzle it too long and it kinda looks like a pug rabbit hybrid.



The peace of the quiet English country village of Frickley, situated a few miles from the Government Research Station of Porton Down is abruptly shattered by a series of inexplicable, violent deaths. The victims are so badly mutilated as to be unidentifiable.”

2. The Doll Who Ate His Mother by Ramsey Campbell

doll ate mother Tor Books 1985

This cover is my #Aesthetic. I love its colour scheme, I love the creepy eyes shining through the statue, I love the blood, it is just a very pretty horror cover. An A+ Paperback from Hell.


“It was a freak accident. The man had suddenly stepped into the road, and the brakes had failed. Clare could only steer wildly, the car finally crashing into a tree and on to the kerb. Now her brother Rob was dead, silent in the passenger seat, slumped against the door. He died of massive head injuries. But there was something else, something that at first she couldnt quite grasp, that seemed inexplicable. His right arm was missing. Gone. Someone had taken it.” 

1.Skeletons Having FUN!

BeFunky-collage (8).jpg

My FAVOURITE thing about retro horror covers is the skeletons. I don’t know if it is the way they are drawn or the fact that skeletons are not scary, but they always look so bloody happy. I am not frightened of them, I just want them to have a good day.

Look how pretty this skeleton feels, don’t you just want her to have a nice day?:


Skeletons deserve happiness too, because, deep down, aren’t we all just a skeleton driving a skin robot, powered by a ghost?

7 thoughts on “5 Best / Worst 80s Horror Paperback Covers”

  1. The Doll Who Ate His Mother, what the hell, LMAO. I’m actually already checking out these books to read though. The covers are all so ridiculous and cool at the same time. Great post, thanks for sharing your finds.

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