They were cheesy and full of bright colours, big hair and even bigger shoulder pads, but the 80’s were a seminal decade for movies. I know there are some notables that haven’t made the cut, but I can’t include everything. That is the nature of lists. They start and they end. Kinda like films.
If you want to nominate your own, you can do so in the comments. And if feel that strongly about it, make your own list. So, in no particular order, here is my list of the Greatest 80s Movies EVER!
10. Rambo: First Blood part 2 (1985)
Our hero John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) gets sprung from jail and sent back to ‘Nam, where he falls in love, takes on a Vietcong army on his own (and wins), but not before getting captured, escaping, releasing a bunch of American POWs, nicking a gunship, and flying it back to a US camp in Thailand to take revenge on the evil pen-pushers that betrayed him. All in a day’s work.
Fun fact: the entire film was actually shot in Mexico.
9. Rocky IV (1985)
Only with the benefit of hindsight can you see Rocky IV as the blatant cold war propaganda it was with the callous, cheating Ruskie versus the honest, down-to-earth, all-American hero. Even for an 80’s actioner, Apollo Creed’s death scene is one of the most brutal and harrowing ever committed to celluloid, made even more powerful by all that glitter.
Fun fact: For added effect, Stallone decided he and Dolph Ludgren, who played Ivan Drago, should exchange punches for real when filming the films climactic fight scenes. He changed his mind after Lundgren hit him so hard in the chest his heart swelled up and he had a stint in intensive care. Oops.
8. Less Than Zero (1987)
One of the darker entries on this list sees Robert Downey Jr steal the show as Julian in pre-American Psycho Bret Easton-Ellis’ realisation and destruction of the American dream.
Fun fact: Easton-Ellis has written a sequel called Imperial Bedrooms, in which he claims all the characters are alive and well in the present day. That must have taken some doing, as Julian dies in the end of the first one.
7. Pretty in Pink (1986)
Like a lot of other teenaged boys in the 80s, I had a Molly Ringwald fetish. And like a lot of other teenaged boys, now I find it all a bit mystifying. She wasn’t even hot. She was more like that ropey plump ginger girl that went to every class completely unnoticed.
Fun fact: Who else thought Andie should have ended up with Duckie? That would have made total sense. So thought writer John Hughes, and the original ending was filmed that way. But test audiences disapproved, and the ending was re-made.
6. The Breakfast Club (1985)
How could a film about a bunch of kids stuck detention possibly work? Nobody knows, but it does. Helped no end by the classic theme song, Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds, teen angst never looked so cool. This is the archetypal Brat Pack film.
Fun fact: John Hughes made the Breakfast Club on a shoestring budget of $1 million. It went on to gross over fifty times that amount worldwide in cinemas alone.
5. The Karate Kid (1984)
Wax on, wax off. Who knew being treated like a slave could turn you into a double hard bastard? Another classic underdog movie from John G. Avildsen, director of Rocky. Hands up if after watching this film you subsequently tried taking somebody out with a crane kick, only to fall flat on your ass in the middle of the playground.
Fun fact: Noriyuki ‘Pat’ Morita was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor in his role as Mr Miyagi. He lost out to some dude who was in the Killing Fields.
4. Back to the Future (1985)
The first and by far the best in the BTTF trilogy. Written and directed by Robert Zemeckis, produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Michael J Fox in his pomp, this entry had star quality sprinkled all over it. And so it proved when it raked in over $383 million at the Box Office, becoming the biggest movie of the year in the process.
Fun fact: When filming started Fox was busy making Family Ties, so the makers decided to cast Eric Stolz as Marty McFly instead. Four weeks and $3 million later, all agreed the move was an epic failure, even Stolz. From then on a schedule was devised whereby Fox would work on Family Ties during the day and BTTF at night.
3. The Terminator (1984)
Arnie at his irrepressible best. As wooden and unemotional as its possible to get, just what a machine from the future should be like. The idea for the film came to writer/director James Cameron when he was taken ill in Rome after the release of Piranha II, and he dreamed about a mechanical torso dragging itself from the wreckage of an explosion. His agent hated the idea, and told Cameron to work on something else instead. Cameron fired him.
Fun fact: The studio originally wanted to cast O.J. Simpson as the Terminator, and Schwarzenegger as Reese. This plan fell through because Cameron thought Simpson wasn’t believable enough as a killer. Um, right.
2. Aliens (1986)
This isn’t so much a sequel, as a whole new direction for the Alien franchise. Ridley Scott made the first one, and James Cameron was drafted in for the follow-up, which must surely qualify as one of the best action movies of all time. Watch the Special Edition. It kicks all kinds of extra ass.
Fun fact: Though filmed entirely at Pinewood Studios, England, Cameron wanted only actors who could accurately imitate American accents. As a result, over 3000 auditions by British actors were binned and American actors cast in their places, including three from The Terminator (Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton)
1. The Lost Boys (1987)
Sleep all day, party all night. It’s fun being a vampire. Everything about the Lost Boys is just cool from the loaded soundtrack to the witty one-liners and slick production. As an added bonus, Jami Gertz is smoking hot throughout. One of the few films to actually make you want to be a supernatural entity.
Fun fact: The Frog brothers, Edgar and Allen, were named after the writer Edgar Allen Poe, and the reason Kiefer Sutherland doesn’t explode in the end like the other vamps is that he didn’t really die. This was to be addressed in a sequel called Lost Girls, which never got made.
This post was originally published by Huff Post UK:
July 11th, 2014 at 9:34 pm
I can’t believe you didn’t include Dirty Dancing. I’m so disappointed. Of course, you did include Rocky, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, and The Lost Boys, so this oversight can be forgiven.
July 12th, 2014 at 1:03 am
Haha, yes Renee. I overlooked Beverley Hills Cop,Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, An American werewolf in London and Purple, too. I only wish there were more numbers in 10. 😦
July 12th, 2014 at 1:04 am
Damn 10 for being so small.
July 12th, 2014 at 8:06 am
July 12th, 2014 at 1:43 pm
Should’ve done a top 20. 🙂
July 20th, 2014 at 2:42 pm
Definitely, The Lost Boys! 😀
December 15th, 2014 at 4:53 am
The Terminator wasn’t that good a film. It’s sequal Terminator 2 was (though that was in 1992). Other Arnie films like the Predator and The running man were very good and far superior.
December 15th, 2014 at 10:50 am
T2 was certainly a great film, Andy. And if you are looking for an Arnie vehicle, Predator and Running Man would certainly be up there, along with Raw Deal and Commando. But I think the original Terminator was much more than just an Arnie vehicle.
August 6th, 2017 at 8:34 pm
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