80’s films to watch

Dalton Gackle

The 80’s were a great time for movies. New technology expanded the action and sci-fi genres, budgets expanded and bankable, larger-than-life stars emerged for the first time since the 40’s. Due to these things, a lot of great movies came out of the 80’s that are great for movie night. 

Now, we all know the biggest hits: The first two Terminators (though Judgement Day was 1991), Alien and Aliens, ET, The Goonies, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Karate Kid, Top Gun, Jerry McGuire and Rain Man – but have you seen some of the films that achieved success in their day, but are not as well known and oft quoted today as these other films are?

First off, I would recommend that you put just about every movie John Hughes was ever associated with on your list. He was the man from the early 80’s through the 90’s.

His films include: National Lampoon’s Vacation; Sixteen Candles; The Breakfast Club; Weird Science; Pretty in Pink; Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; Uncle Buck; National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation; Home Alone; Home Alone 2; Dennis the Menace; and Flubber.

Now, the movies not by John Hughes that you should watch:

1. Roadhouse

The name’s Dalton. James Dalton, played by Patrick Swayze, stars as nightclub bouncer in this action film. He arrives at a new club that is trying to downgrade violence inside and keep its doors open.

Unfortunately, a town mogul has a tight grip on what does and does not happen in the small town of Jasper, Missouri. Dalton refuses to work for said mogul, and so the man starts to destroy all of the businesses of Dalton’s friends. Dalton is not too happy about that.

Let’s be clear. Roadhouse is not a particularly good film, but it is entertaining. It has been rated one of the best worst movies ever made.

This is a good one to catch up on before the remake with Ronda Rousey comes out in a year or two.

2. Spaceballs

This Mel Brooks satire spoofs Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien and Planet of the Apes until they can be made fun of no more. It stars Rick Moranis as the Dark Helmet, a war-man contracted by President Skroob. Skroob is played by Brooks.

The giant spaceship that Skroob is president of is critically low on air. Skroob is trying to capture Princess Vespa from Planet Spaceball, so that he may have leverage to steal Spaceball’s air.

Unbeknownst to the villains, Princess Vespa has run from the altar and away from the planet. Her father then contracts space traveller, Lone Starr, played by Bill Pullman, and his friend Barf, played by John Candy, to return the princess.

Soon, the villains are on the princess’s trail as well, making for enthralling encounters that are comedic gold.

3. Stripes

Bill Murray headlines this army and spy satire, where the misfits become the heroes.

A ragtag group of guys in the army have to struggle through laziness and apathy to get through basic training. When they surprise the army commander with their drilling routine, they graduate and are promoted to a special force in Italy.

However, these men get bored and decide to head to West Germany to see some women driving the top secret vehicle they are supposed to guard.

The Russians steal their vehicle and these hooligans must then prevent the nuclear destruction of the United States.

4. The Brave Little Toaster

The Brave Little Toaster is an underrated independent animated film. It was put together by ex-Disney animators and CalArts grads who would go on to form Pixar.

The premise is that inanimate objects are just pretending to be inanimate around humans. A brave toaster and her friends decide one day that they want to find their owner, who is off to college, so they head out on a fantastic journey for a bunch of appliances.

The comedic and adventurous story is able to encompass a sense of want, belonging and even sacrifice.

5. Good Morning Vietnam

Robin Williams shines in this war dramedy. Williams portrays actual army radio DJ, Adrian Cronauer, as he steps into the intensity of war torn Saigon. There, Cronauer berates his superiors in a comedic fashion, while putting on an increasingly popular comedic news segment over the radio, followed by rock music.

Things get serious when Cronauer learns he is not giving his fellow patriots the full stories of the war. This leads to contempt, and emotional display, as Cronauer becomes torn between a pretty Vietnamese girl and the protection of information for the safety of his comrades.

These five movies are great to put near the top of your list, assuming you have seen the big titles I mentioned earlier. Start with the big ones, then make sure you see these movies before you move in to the 90’s; watching the films will be worth your while.