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Published on August 6th, 2009 | by Darren & Lottie


Two Sheets To The Wind: Top 5 Movies of the 80s

Right off the bat, this seemed like it was going to be an easy post to do. There’s a bunch of 80s movies that love. I would do a long list and whittle it down to my top 5 and a few honourable mentions.

Then I asked the question – should this list be the top 5 films that define the 80s, the culture and style of the decade? I asked should it be a list of truly great masterpieces from the decade, the fact that they were released in 198X being irrelevant? Then I wondered if I should just list my favourites, the ones I remember growing up with, and then suffer the ire of the readers as they chastise and criticise my inclusion of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as the greatest film of the era.

So…bring it on bitches. Here’s my favourite movies from the 80s.

Darren’s Top Five 80s Movies

5. Heathers (1988)

“What is your damage, Heather?”

This is the toughest list yet. What were we thinking? How can you pick 5 films out of a decade of incredible, kitsch, childhood defining classics. How do I leave Ghostbusters off? Or Aliens? Or Terminator. These are all amazing movies. But I can’t label them my favourite 80s movies. Sure, Ghandi is better than Heathers, but it doesn’t fill me with the same nostalgia and childish glee as when I watch Christian Slater pull a gun on the two jocks, while Winona Ryder narrates in the background. I love it. I may go watch it now.

Roger Rabbit, Jessica Rabbit, Eddie Valiant4. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

“Roger, darling. I want you to know I love you. I’ve loved you more than any woman’s ever loved a rabbit.”

I fell in love with this movie as a child. I loved the cartoons mixing with real life. I wanted real life to be like that. Across my childhood and preteen years I watched it again and again. Then after a few years I revisited it with older eyes and saw a whole different movie, with adult references, dark humour and……the sexiest woman to ever grace my little TV screen – Jessica Rabbit. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? never ages. It stands up now, twenty0one years later, and looks as good as any movie released today.

3. Back to the Future (1985)

“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.”

I spoke about Back to the Future II when discussing the Top Five Sequels, but the original is the best. It set in motion an epic time travelling journey and rather than get bogged down in headache inducing time travel jargon and large naked Austrian robots, it presented us with a coming of age comedy, where a young man not only saves his own life, but the lives of his entire family. It’s action packed, it’s damn funny and it’s endlessly quotable. And I still wince everytime he plays that guitar on stage.

2. Beetlejuice (1988)

“Ah. Well… I attended Juilliard… I’m a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I’ve seen the EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT… NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT YOU’RE TALKING TO A DEAD GUY… NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK? You think I’m qualified?”

I’ve watched Beetlejuice more times than any other film, I think. Tremors (1990) may come close, but it’s not an 80s movie so why am I even mentioning it? Tim Burton found the perfect canvas in Michael Keaton, better than anything he’s done with Johnny Depp, in my opinion. Together they created the screen’s most disgusting and loveable anti-hero. Even Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin can’t bring down this film. With a supporting cast that seem to just bounce off each other, Beetlejuice is exciting, original and will be watched for decades to come.

1. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

“Hey, Cameron. You realize if we played by the rules right now we’d be in gym?”

This is very strange. Literally as I type up this list, Rick tells me that John Hughes has passed away. John Hughes arguably had the greatest influence on teen movies in the 80s. He directed the era defining films Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Weird Science. Though his quality of work dwindled once the 80s drew to a close, his importance will always me remembered. For me, his greatest film and the one that has to be on the top of my list of best 80s movies is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

This classic film is every young boy’s dream. The premise is so simple. Ferris (played by a cocky little Mathew Broderick) decides to ditch school for the day and convinces his highly strung friend Cameron (Alan Ruck from Spin City) to join him, while borrowing Cameron’s dad’s precious car. Across the manic day the duo find love, learn important life lessons and probably do more in one day than most people do in a year. It’s fun and funny and I love it.

Honourable mentions: Go on to IMDB.com and use the Browse by Year funtion. Work your way through the 80s. No matter how awful they may be (Mannequin), they still deserve a mention. No matter how dated they may be (Jumpin’ Jack Flash), they still deserve a mention. And no matter how bad the acting may be (Teenwolf) they still deserve a mention.

I had the same dilemma as Darren. Should I focus on my own personal favourites? Or the movies which, for  me, epitomised the 80s? The big-hair, gaudy jewellery , awesome soundtrack movies.

Those classics tat will always spring to mind whenever someone mentions film in the 80s such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, The Goonies, Back To The Future and The Karate Kid.

Or those which I watched most often? Be it because they played on Pover-TV every bank-holiday and school vacation  or that they were just so of their time.

What about those films which, setting aside when they were made, are truly amazing all-time classics?  Then on my second JD and Coke I decided to make a list of “I can’t believe this was an 80s not a 90’s movie”. That might be taking it a step to far.

Needless to say, this was really, really tough.

But I’ve always tried to keep these lists about my own personal favourites. I was genuinely surprised to discover that so many of what I thought were movies of the 90’s were in fact made in the 80s. I suppose that was the curse of  Irish Cinema in the 80s and early 90’s. I remember Sister Act playing in screen at home in 1994. It was released in the US in 1992. Enough said.

Lottie’s Top Five 80s Movies

5. Big (1988)

“I read it. I said it. I stole my momma’s credit.”

Listed for the most part for it’s watch-ability factor. I must have seen this two, maybe three dozen times over the course of my childhood. It was Tom Hanks at his best if you ask me.

4. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

“It’s K-K-K-Ken c-c-c-coming to k-k-k-kill me.”

One of the most hilarious movies of all time. I didn’t actually see this one until the Naughties but it’s still an 80s movie.

3. Beetle Juice (1988)

“It’s showtime.”

If I watched Big three dozen times, I’ve watched Beetle Juice a hundred times over. It is, to this day one of my favourite movies of all time. Brilliantly funny and clever but still very dark. Possibly the highpoint for every actor in it. Even Keaton who is still the best Batman.

2. Die Hard (1988)

“Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!”

I dare you to argue with me on this one. It’s twenty years on and John McClane is still kicking ass. Just last year he killed a helicopter with a car for goodness sake.

The Princess Bride1. The Princess Bride (1987)

“As you wish”

I’ve told you before of my massive girl-crush on Robin Wright Penn, right? Well it all stems from The Princess Bride and somewhat down to Santa Barbra, but the less said about that the better. This is the standard all other love-stories and fairytales have to try to achieve. It’s beautiful, funny, sweet even a little bit sexy. And by coincidence, the 13th of August? You are taking part right?

The “cheat” list:

I feel like I’ve cheated on this one somewhat seeing at all my choices are confined to two years and I probably didn’t see any of the above until after 1990. So I’m making a supplementary list of those movies, which for me, define the 80s.

5. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

4. Splash (1984)

3. Back To The Future (1985)

2. Brazil (1985)

1. Trading Places (1983)

Very Honourable Mentions:

E.T, The Breakfast Club, Gremlins, Full Metal Jacket, The Terminator, When Harry Met Sally, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Dirty Dancing, The Goonies, Heathers, Spaceballs, Lost Boys, Top Gun, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Dead Poets Society, Predator, Mannequin, Karate Kid, Batman, Ghostbusters, The Thing, Police Academy, Adventures in Babysitting, War of The Roses.

Hardest one yet Byrne? I think so.

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About the Author

The couple that blogs together, stays together. Check out here and here for other posts by Darren. Click here and here for posts by Lottie.

8 Responses to Two Sheets To The Wind: Top 5 Movies of the 80s

  1. I once rented Beetlejuice from the video shop on the same day that it was on tv.

    Obviously the Princess Bride is my favourite and has always been

  2. Rick says:

    Not a breath of Tim Burton’s Batman anywhere…

  3. Ronan says:

    Grammar asshole time: 80s. No apostrophe. 😀

    Everything John Hughes defines the 80s, but Back to the Future is definitely my #1.

  4. Ronan says:

    Also, 3 Men and a Baby from 1987 is another 80s classic.

  5. Lottie says:

    @Rick – read it again. *VERY* honourable mentions. The thing about Batman (and it is a great thing) is that it doesn’t feel like an 80s movie.

    @Ronan – None? Really? Fail on the internet.

    I also forgot Big Trouble in Little China.

  6. Peter says:

    Well now this is proving to be the most difficult one yet! A period of economic boom. A period of growth and expansion and of scientific and technological breakthroughs.

    The commercial production of electricity and the automobile was underway. Prohibition was gaining prominance and a “liquor-free” drink was brewed, known now as Coca-Cola. Mark Twain published Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Robert Louis Stevenson published Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
    It was also in 1885 that Thomas Edison invents the first ever movie in New Jersey! So eh bloody slim pickings for movies.
    So the 3 I could find of the 80s on IMDB were:
    1888 – Roundhay Garden Scene
    Lasting less than 2 seconds and consisting of 24 frames of film – not exactly the most compelling of movies. Basically its a couple of people walking in a circle……
    1888 – Traffic Crossing Leeds Bridge
    Um, its some traffic, crossing a bridge, Leeds bridge I believe
    1889 – Leisurely Pedestrians, Open Topped Buses and Hansom Cabs with Trotting Horses
    So their are some people right, walking, the actiually pass a bus and a horse. Thats it.

  7. Rick says:

    @Lottie Eh, oops, sorry. I had your list thoroughly, swear *hides*

    I saw Batman 8 times in the cinema in the Summer of 89. The opening Friday there was a queue up Abbey Street to Liffey Street from the Adelphi from early in the morning. Went back and saw it again the next day too…

  8. hugo fitzpatrick says:

    I may have only been born in 1988 but i still love 80s cinema.

    My top 5 would be:

    5: The Wraith – best Soundtrack ever, better than the gay romp that is Top Gun!

    4: Who Frammed Roger Rabbit: Jessica Rabbit, case closed!

    3: Ferris Buellers day off: The car, the characters, the get well soon sign on the water tower, the fight with the dog, the scams, the chase home, the ooh yeah music, the car crash, his girlfriend, the fact cameron was in his 30’s, and Shake it up baby. Legendary film.

    2: War Games: Would you like to play a game?

    1: Willow: I wore this movie out when i was a kid. I had it on VHS and i played it relentlessly nearly twice a day, every day. It’s magical, its hilarious and i had a crush on the princess and i was only 6! How can you not love the Diekenies and the little people? Or Mad Mardigan? A true classic. Far better than LOTR or Star wars, because its one movie and is just as brilliant as anything else out there.

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