This list from the Old Stuff Archive. Per my post from the other day, I’m going through the archive and re-posting a bunch of old items that didn’t make the cut when I migrated this site from FrontPage to WordPress. Enjoy!
The following is a list of some of my favorite 80s films. When I originally wrote this article, it was a follow-up list of “Honorable Mentions” to this list of my 31 favorite 80s films. As such, the descriptions are much shorter and don’t include IMDB links or pictures.
Amazon Women on the Moon – A hilarious comedy from 1987. There’s no “plot” to this film; the movie is just made of bits and pieces that go back and forth, as if you were flipping through the dial trying to find something to watch. While the film is still funny, it’s extremely dated. And if you’re under the age of 30 you might miss much of the humor altogether since you weren’t around during the “VHS vs. Laserdisc”, “Celebrity Roast” and “The Late, Late Night Movie” era.
Back To The Future – A hugely popular trilogy of films in the 80s, starring Michael J. Fox as the time-traveling teenager that must go back and make sure his parents stick together. It’s still good family entertainment (although the quality of the films decreases at they go on), but I didn’t include it on my list since most of the action takes place in the 1950s.
Beetle Juice – Lots of people love this film. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I just don’t like most Tim Burton movies. I’m sorry, make me hand in my “cool people’s card” if you will, but I just don’t care for them. This one’s pretty funny, though.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure – Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter star as two surfer- stoner dudes who have to go back in time and meet some of history’s greatest minds. Although many love this film, it grates on my nerves.
Brazil – This Terry Gilliam movie is one of my all-time favorite films. It only makes it on the “Honorable Mention” list because even though it was made in 1985, it looks and feels too futuristic to be an 80s film. Jonathan Pryce stars as Sam Lowry, a love-struck bureaucrat that’s caught in a dystopia similar to something out of 1984, but not nearly as “evil”. At least at first.
Class – Andrew McCarthy stars in this comedy about a prep school kid who’s having an affair… with his roommate’s mother! Also stars Jacqueline Bisset, Rob Lowe, Virginia Madsen, John Cusack and Cliff Robertson.
Dream A Little Dream – Another Corey Haim\Corey Feldman movie. I don’t care for it personally, but my friend Holly would say that any list of 80s movies that doesn’t include this movie isn’t a list at all… so I added it here.
Footloose – A god-awful film starring Kevin Bacon as the “city boy” who moves to a small town and offends the locals with his “metropolitan” ways. John Lithgow plays the preacher that doesn’t like dancin’, drinkin’ or generally anything that brings teens of the opposite sex within 20 feet of each other. A huge hit in the 80s, it’s cheesier than Top Gun and has dancing instead of cool fighter jets.
Ghostbusters – Many loved this blockbuster 80s comedy. It’s a pretty decent film with a lot of laughs, but there’s not a lot about it that screams “80s movie” in my mind.
Heathers – An excellent dark comedy about high school cliques. It could have made my “31 Great 80s Films” list – and would have scored highly, mind you – were it not for the cast. Christian Slater, Winona Ryder and Shannen Doherty give this film a distinctly 90s feel, even though it was made in 1989 and therefore qualified for my list.
Hellraiser – Unlike A Nightmare on Elm Street, this is the 80s horror movie that the boys watched together. Even guys who didn’t get along – like me and the jocks – could watch this together and have fun.
Hiding Out – Jon Cryer (“Duckie” from Pretty In Pink) plays Andrew Morenski, a successful stock broker who runs afoul of the mob and has to “hide out” as Max Hauser, a teenage high-school student in North Carolina. “Hauser” teaches the teens a thing or two about life, and the teens teach Max a thing or two, too. Also stars Annabeth Gish, who is still as cute as a button.
The Hitcher – A super-creepy film about a young couple who pick up the wrong person. Much better than the recent remake, even if C. Thomas Howell is the hero in the original version. Wow… how bad does a movie have to suck when C. Thomas Howell’s version is considered better than the remake?
The Hunger – Stylish vampire movie starring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon. Its main claim to fame is the opening sequence, which features the gothic rock band Bauhaus doing their famous song “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”. Frankly, this movie isn’t “scary” at all (it’s not supposed to be) and is very slow and deliberate. But then there’s the lesbian scene between Deneuve and Sarandon, so it has that.
Just One of the Guys – Terry (Joyce Hyser) is a pretty girl who fears that her teachers don’t take her seriously because she’s pretty. So she switches to a school across town… dressed as a guy! Of course, she falls in love with a guy named Ricky, and uncomfortable, gender-bending hilarity ensues! If you think this sounds similar to the Amanda Bynes film She’s The Man… well, you’d be right. Although Man is based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, there are enough similarities between Man and Guys that Man is considered a remake of Guys too. One thing Guys has over Man: a young Sherilyn Fenn!
The Last American Virgin – A new girl at school threatens to drive a group of friends (who are all under pressure to have sex and do drugs) apart. Despite the description here, this movie is a pretty funny comedy.
Legend – This 80s fantasy film was directed by Ridley Scott and stars Tom Cruise and Mia Sara. Although made in the 80s, it doesn’t have anything to do with the 80s (hey, it’s a fantasy film, OK?). I’m including it on the Honorable Mention list simply because it’s a great film that I enjoyed, plus it’s an excellent example of how studio politics can ruin a great film. If you buy\rent this on DVD, watch the “theatrical version” first and then the “director’s cut” and tell me which one’s better.
License to Drive – The best of the Corey Haim\Corey Feldman movies. How those two got to be popular in the 80s is a mystery to me. I guess Satan gave them the “a deal’s a deal” phone call sometime in the early 90s.
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – A depressing and slightly homoerotic film about life for Allied prisoners-of-war in a Japanese prison camp in 1942. The camp is run by Capt. Yonoi (played by Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, who also did the soundtrack). Yonoi is all about discipline and honor, and he thinks the Allied soldiers that surrendered are cowards. All that changes when Jack Celliers (David Bowie) comes to the camp. Sakamoto worked with 80s pop star David Sylvian on the soundtrack – you can hear David singing in the closing credits.
Miracle Mile – Anthony Edwards stars as Harry Washello, a young saxophone player who picks up a ringing payphone by sheer chance, only to find out that the Russians and Americans have launched all of their nuclear missiles at each other. Apparently the caller – in a missile silo in North Dakota – has dialed the wrong area code in trying to give his Dad the bad news. What does Harry do? Who does he save? How does he save them? Can he save them? And what happens when the entire population of Los Angeles knows that the end is coming?
A Nightmare on Elm Street – Iconic 80s horror series; like the Back To The Future films, the quality decreases rapidly as the series goes on. Although the movie is based on an interesting premise, it’s still the kind of horror film you watch with your girl – i.e. kind of weak.
Nineteen Eighty-Four – Based on the George Orwell book of the same name, this film makes this list ‘cos it’s about what someone thought the 80s would be like (plus it was made in 1984, too). John Hurt plays Winston Smith, Suzanna Hamilton plays Winston’s love interest Julia and the great Richard Burton plays party member O’Brien in one of his last roles before his death. The 80s pop band Eurythmics did an excellent soundtrack for the film but sadly the director hated it, so only the time you hear the band is over the closing credits.
The Pick-up Artist – Robert Downey Jr. stars as Jack Jericho, the ultimate womanizer who finally meets his match in Randy Jensen (Molly Ringwald). You see, not only is Randy perfect in Jack’s eyes, she’s also the daughter of a mobster. How’s THAT for keeping a guy in line? Also stars Dennis Hopper, Harvey Keitel, Vanessa Williams, Victoria Jackson and Lorraine Bracco.
Road House – Maybe the best awful film ever made! Patrick Swayze plays Dalton, a bouncer-for-hire with a degree in philosophy. He comes to clean up the Double Deuce Club and runs afoul of local kingpin Brad Wesley and also falls in love with Dr. Elizabeth Clay (Kelly Lynch). This movie is horrible. Seriously… it’s bad. However, some have called it the “guy’s Dirty Dancing” in that it’s one of those films that, when you come across it on the dial you just can’t keep yourself from watching it.
Red Dawn – “Wolveriiiiinnnnneeeessss!” ‘Nuff said.
Romancing The Stone – Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner star in this film, which is something of a romantic version of the Indiana Jones movies. Again, there’s not a lot about this movie (except for the clothes and haircuts) that says “80s movie” to me, although it’s certainly entertaining. Stay far away from the sequel though.
Roxanne – Steve Martin stars in this take off on the play “Cyrano de Bergerac”. It’s funny and sweet – a movie you should watch with your significant other.
She’s Having A Baby – A sweet comedy with Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth McGovern about… a young couple having a baby.
Some Kind of Wonderful – My least favorite John Hughes film. It’s perfectly entertaining stuff, however you might watch this and think to yourself, “man, this is exactly the same story as Pretty in Pink, only with the genders reversed!”. And you’d be right, too.
To Live and Die in L.A. – From William Friedkin (director of The Exorcist and The French Connection) comes this awesome tale about a Secret Service agent who will do anything to hunt down the counterfeiter that killed his partner. Although panned by critics at the time, looking back on it it’s a great film. 80s electro-pop band Wang Chung did a great job on the soundtrack too!
WarGames – Matthew Broderick stars as a smart, yet underachieving kid who spends most of his spare time hacking in to computer systems. He ends up accidentally hacking in to a secret Department of Defense nuclear war simulator; thinking it’s a new game that’s due to come out, he inadvertently almost causes World War III. The ending of the film is as cheesy as they come, and “real” hackers have delighted in tearing apart the technical end of the film, but come on… it’s a film about hackers!