Not all of the best movies from the 1980s have stood the test of time quite like other nostalgic favorites have. There are even plenty of ‘80s movies with A-list casts that just don’t get talked about much more these days. Take a look at some of our picks for ‘80s movies that deserve more love and see if we can help refresh your memory of them.
Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
The first John Hughes movies that come to mind are probably The Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, while Some Kind of Wonderful — which Hughes penned and Howard Deutch directed — is more likely an afterthought. The drama stars Eric Stoltz as a young man whose date with Amanda (Lea Thompson) sparks conflict with her ex (played by Craig Sheffer) and his best friend (played by Mary Stuart Masterson).
Brewster's Millions (1985)
Richard Pryor is better known for his Gene Wilder collaborations than for Brewster’s Millions — a comedy that puts him front and center. Director Walter Hill’s adaptation of George Barr McCutcheon’s novel (the second, following a 1945 edition) stars the late comic as a man tasked with spending millions of dollars within 30 days, but without keeping a single asset, in order to inherit an enormous fortune.
Hiding Out (1987)
Arguably, the role that made Emmy-winning Two and a Half Men Star Jon Cryer a star was his supporting role in Pretty in Pink, but he also had a noteworthy leading part that is rarely (if not ever) noted today. In director Bob Giraldi’s Hiding Out, he plays a stockbroker posing as a high school student after becoming targeted by the mob.
The Legend Of Billie Jean (1985)
Helen Slater’s most famous ‘80s movie role is probably the title hero of one of the most ill-received DC movies, 1984’s Supergirl. A film the actor might prefer to be better remembered for is The Legend of Billie Jean, in which she plays a teen outlaw on the run.
Lady In White (1988)
Among the more iconic movies set on or around Halloween, Lady in White is one that deserves more attention. Set in 1962, the clever, spooky thriller stars Lukas Haas as a young boy who becomes embroiled in the mystery of a murdered girl after meeting her ghost.
My Science Project (1985)
Perhaps if the sort-of time travel comedy My Science Project had not come out in the same year as, arguably, the greatest time travel movie of all time, Back to the Future, it might have a bigger fanbase. Also starring Fisher Stevens and Dennis Hopper, Christine’s John Stockwell this film leads as a slacker senior whose desperation to pass science class leads him to find a strange device with dangerous, otherworldly abilities.
Night Shift (1982)
Despite being one of the best Michael Keaton movies, Night Shift has become one of the actor’s more obscure films, sent to the wayside by hits like Beetlejuice and the Batman movies. However, director Ron Howard’s screwball comedy, starring Keaton and Henry Winkler as morgue attendants helping ladies of the night secure a safer work environment, should be noted as the film that first helped the Oscar nominee become a star.
The Last Starfighter (1984)
Most of the best video game movies do not simply adapt a pre-existing title, but expand on the concept of interactive media in imaginative and exciting ways, just like in The Last Starfighter. From director Nick Castle, the vastly underrated sci-fi flick stars Lance Guest as a poor teen whose high score on an arcade game leads to his recruitment in a real intergalactic war.
Today, we know 24’s Kiefer Sutherland and the MCU’s Robert Downey Jr. best as action stars, which is a far cry from their roles in 1969. Winona Ryder and Bruce Dern also star in this much-forgotten anti-violence parable set around the Vietnam War.
After Hours (1985)
One might not expect to see a riotous, comedic romp anywhere on Martin Scorsese’s resume, but such a film does exist. To be fair, the plot of After Hours — involving a mild-mannered word processor (played by Griffin Dunne) embroiled in a series of increasingly dangerous circumstances over one night in New York — does seem like a Scorsese film on paper.
One of director Joe Dante’s most underrated and inventive films is Innerspace, which stars Dennis Quaid as a pilot testing a top-secret miniaturization technology who is accidentally injected into the body of a hypochondriac. Said man is played by Martin Short, who delivers some of his most hilarious manic energy in his dazzling sci-fi adventure which also stars Meg Ryan.
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
People do not express much nostalgia these days for Francis Ford Coppola’s fantasy teen comedy, Peggy Sue Got Married. Perhaps that is because the bulk of the story takes place in the 1960s, which Kathleen Turner’s title character is magically transported back to after fainting at her high school reunion.
Near Dark (1987)
How Near Dark — which fuses traditional vampire lore with an old-school Western tone in a modern setting — is not a more beloved horror classic just does not make sense. At least director Kathryn Bigelow went on to receive better recognition as the first woman to win the Best Director Oscar for The Hurt Locker.
River's Edge (1986)
One of the darkest films from the early years of both Keanu Reeves and Crispin Glover’s careers is River’s Edge. Dennis Hopper and Daniel Roebuck also star in this unsettling crime thriller about the life-changing effect that a murder has on the teenage killer and his friends.
Repo Man (1984)
Repo Man may be a sci-fi flick with more than 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it gets less attention these days than, say, 2008’s Repo! The Genetic Opera or Repo Men from 2010. Alex Cox’s cult thriller stars Emilio Estevez as a middle-class punk and Harry Dean Stanton as his mentor who chases after a Chevy Malibu carrying something not of this Earth.
One Crazy Summer (1986)
John Cusack stars in many of the most timelessly popular romantic, coming-of-age comedies of the 1980s, and was also in One Crazy Summer. Also starring Demi Moore and Bobcat Goldthwait, this funny summer comedy about the amusing adventures a young cartoonist embarks on when crossing paths with an aspiring singer is not quite the classic it could have been.
I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)
For years, the Wayans Brothers brought us some of the sharpest movie spoofs around and one of the earliest examples is I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. Writer, director, and star Keenen Ivory Wayans sends up the Blaxploitation genre with this action-packed, laugh-a-minute comedy that has not quite stood the test of time like Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood or the original Scary Movie.
Just One Of The Guys (1985)
Before there was She’s the Man, there was Just One of the Guys. However, the 2006 Amanda Bynes-led rom-com is the more well-known film about a young woman posing as a male than this one starring Valley Girl’s Joyce Hyser.
The Hidden (1987)
Why is it that unique fusions of disparate genres like detective noir and sci-fi horror rarely get the attention they deserve? A prime example of this is the unjustly overlooked The Hidden, which stars Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Nouri as a detective and an FBI agent pursuing an alien parasite committing various crimes as the human hosts it possesses.
To those who only know George A. Romero for his many classic zombie movies, we point you in the direction of Knightriders. The filmmaker writes and directs this grounded drama following a group of motorcycle-riding medieval reenactment performers and without a single reanimated corpse in sight.
Enemy Mine (1985)
One of the most heartwarming instances of enemies becoming friends in the ‘80s occurs in Wolfgang Peterson’s Enemy Mine. The futuristic sci-fi thriller stars Dennis Quaid as a human and Louis Gossett Jr. as an alien who are forced to put their respective species’ war with one another behind them when they become stranded on a deserted planet together.
My Bodyguard (1980)
Chris Makepeace’s Clifford lives every bullied teen’s dream to have someone bigger and stronger on their side in My Bodyguard. Despite its modern-day obscurity, the coming-of-age dramedy marked the film debut of several well-known stars — including Adam Baldwin, Joan Cusack, and Jennifer Beals.
Real Genius (1985)
Later, more serious roles in movies like Top Gun, The Doors, and Batman Forever have caused many to forget just how comedically talented Val Kilmer is. He gives one of his funniest performances in Real Genius as a fun-loving engineering student who discovers he and his younger roommate (played by Gabriel Jarret) have unwittingly been tasked to build a military-grade weapon.
The Philadelphia Experiment (1984)
One of the more underrated ‘80s time travel movies is The Philadelphia Experiment, which is inspired by the alleged disappearance of a destroyer escort ship in the early 1940s. The film — which also spawned a 1993 sequel — follows two WWII-era sailors accidentally transported decades forward.
The Dream Team (1989)
The same year when Michael Keaton made his debut as Batman, he led a funny crime thriller called The Dream Team. He, Christopher Lloyd, Peter Boyle, and Stephen Furst play four psychiatric patients on a day trip to New York City when their chaperone is targeted for murder.
The Serpent And The Rainbow (1988)
Arguably director Wes Craven’s most underrated film is The Serpent and the Rainbow, which is inspired by real-life anthropological researcher Wade Davis’ book of the same name. What also makes the Bill Pullman-led horror flick one of the more comparatively realistic zombie movies is its depiction of voodoo, which the original definition of the word “zombie” derives from.
Return To Oz (1985)
People who still have nightmares about Margaret Hamilton's performance as The Wicked Witch of the West in 1937's The Wizard of Oz might not have the courage to watch Disney's follow-up. A 10-year-old Fairuza Balk (of later The Craft fame) plays Dorothy in Return to Oz, which is noted by those who do remember it as one of the most visually traumatizing "kids movies" of the '80s or any decade.
Author! Author! (1982)
With how few family dramedies there are on Al Pacino’s resume, it is a shame he does not get more love for Author! Author! The Academy Award-winning legend stars as a playwright trying to balance the opening of his latest Broadway show with raising his stepchildren.
Miracle Mile (1988)
Following his scene-stealing role as Goose in Top Gun and years before he starred in ER, Anthony Edwards played the lead of Miracle Mile. Writer and director Steve De Jarnatt’s overlooked action flick follows a young man on a race against time after he becomes aware of an impending nuclear attack.
The Night Before (1988)
Not to be confused with a raunchy holiday comedy movie from 2015 starring Seth Rogen, The Night Before is a coming-of-age rom-com with a dark mystery twist that predates The Hangover by a couple of decades. It stars Keanu Reeves as a teen whose struggle to find his missing date (played by Lori Loughlin) in L.A. is worsened by his inability to remember what happened on the way to prom.
Johnny Be Good (1988)
One of the lesser-known collaborations of Anthony Michael Hall and Robert Downey Jr. (including their shared one-season SNL stint) is Johnny Be Good, which also stars Paul Gleason and a young Uma Thurman. Hall plays the title role of this high school comedy about a football player struggling to decide which of the many college offers he receives would be best for him.
Haunted Honeymoon (1986)
Before her untimely death, SNL legend Gilda Radner starred in several films with her real-life husband, Gene Wilder. One of the last and most unfortunately overlooked is a fun horror-comedy called Haunted Honeymoon, in which the couple play newlyweds trying to cure the husband’s fears by staying in a creepy estate.
You may think you know ‘80s cinema, but your expertise will not be complete until you give these flick a try, or even revisit them for the first time in too long.