Growing up in the 80s we were blessed with a massive amount of quality films that over the years have become classics that we love to watch again and again.
In Western cinema, the decade saw the return of studio-driven pictures, coming from filmmaker-driven New Hollywood era of the 70s. Movies in the 8os were easily marketable, understandable and had uncomplicated plots that could be summarised in one tagline.
One could argue that the modern blockbuster was born in the 1980s. Producer Don Simpson is usually credited with the creation of the high-concept picture of the modern Hollywood blockbuster.
The 80s were also a time where more and more people were getting rid of their clothes in film.
Film franchises were also at the forefront of cinema, especially in the fiction, horror and action genres.
This was in part due to the success of Star Wars at the beginning of the decade and the new cinematic effects the films helped pioneer. Teen comedy also rose in popularity during this time.
In 1984, the PG-13 rating was introduced to accommodate films that fell between PG and R. This was mostly due to controversies surrounding the violent content of the PG films Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Gremlins (both 1984).
In terms of the quality of films released, in retrospect, some have called it one of the weaker decades for American cinema.
But for every critic, there is a champion who thinks that the eighties will go down in history as golden age of cinema.
We decided it was about time that we celebrated this by compiling 33 fascinating facts about 8 of our very favourites, and we really hope you’ll enjoy reading them…
Sigourney Weaver Was Paid 28 Times More Than Her Alien Salary
Weaver was paid $35’000 for the first film and $1 million for the sequel. (She went on to earn $4 million for Alien 3 and $11 million for Alien: Resurrection).
Carrie Henn Got The Role Of Newt By Not Smiling
Approximately 500 schoolchildren were auditioned for the role of Newt, but many of them had acted in commercials would always smile after saying their lines.
Carrie Henn had no previous acting experience so was not accustomed to this.
The On Screen Marines Really Trained Together
Actors who played marines underwent military training, including running, lifting weights, learning salutes, marching and manoeuvres.
Director James Cameron wanted them to train together so that they would form bonds that would hopefully show on-screen
Sigourney Weaver Didn’t Want To Use A Gun
Weaver lobbied James Cameron to let Ripley go the entire film without using a gun, but Cameron talked her into it after taking her to a shooting range.
Back To The Future
The Script Was Rejected 40 Times By Many Different Studios
The Back to the Future script was rejected 40 times before finally being accepted by Universal.
The DeLorean Wasn’t First OR Second Choice For The Time Machine
The time machine was initially housed in a fridge, then in a tank. Producers settled on a DeLorean because of its similarities to a spaceship.
Eric Stoltz May Appear In The Film After All
Stoltz, who was sacked from playing Marty after filming had begun, may well still appear in at least two shots of the first film.
For example, there is a shot where Marty dives into the DeLorean at the beginning of the film that many think is Stoltz rather than Fox.
It Was Finished In Super Quick Time
From the day the film finished shooting to the day it was released, only 9 and a half weeks had passed.
Nowadays there’s probably single CGI shots that take longer than that to complete!
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The ‘Tears In Rain’ Line Was Written By The Actor Delivering It
Actor Rutger Hauer thought the monologue in the script was overblown, so he was allowed to cut out several lines and add in the most famous himself: “All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”
Harrison Ford And Sean Young Didn’t Get On
Harrison Ford and Sean Young (who plays replicant Rachael), had such a bad relationship when filming that crew members jokingly referred to their love scene as ‘the hate scene’.
Ridley Scott And Harrison Ford Both Hated The Voiceover
After terrible preview screenings, a voiceover was written for Deckard to make the film easier to follow.
Urban legend has it that Harrison Ford intentionally gave a bad performance on it hoping (unsuccessfully) that the voiceover would be binned.
It Put A Curse On A Number Of Companies
Many businesses whose logos appear in the film, including Atari, Pan Am, RCA, Cuisinart, and Bell Phones, all suffered severe business problems in the years immediately following the film’s release.
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The Story Is Based On Fact
Dirty Dancing is partly based on screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein’s own childhood, as she is the younger daughter of a Jewish doctor from New York, spent summers participating in ‘Dirty Dancing’ competitions, and was nicknamed ‘Baby’ as a girl.
Dancing Runs In Jennifer Grey’s Family
Jennifer Grey is daughter of the oscar-winning actor and dancer Joel Grey, star of the film Cabaret. Her father was also a trained dancer.
The Famous ‘Crawling’ Scene Was Spontaneous
The scene where Baby and Johnny crawl towards each other was initially performed spontaneously as Grey and Swayze warmed up before filming. The director liked it so much that he asked them to replicate it with the camera rolling.
The Arm Tickling Scene Was An ‘Issue’
When filming the famous scene where Johnny trails his fingers down Baby’s arm, Jennifer Grey could not stop giggling. There’s video evidence proving that Swayze found Grey’s behavior extremely annoying.
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It Originally Had A Different Name
The film was originally called ‘Ghost Smashers’, because the film studio had yet to secure the name ‘The Ghost Busters’, which had previously been the title of a 1970’s live action kid’s TV show.
It Was Inspired By Real Life Events
Ghostbusters was inspired by Dan Aykroyd’s genuine interest in real-life paranormal events. Aykroyd, who co-wrote the film with Harold Ramis, even claims that his grandfather invented a device that would allow people to communicate with ghosts via radio waves.
The Ghostbusters’ Phone Number Actually Worked
In the original trailer, the ‘555’ number seen in the film was replaced by a working 1-800 number, which led to a recording of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. The number received a thousand calls an hour, 24 hours a day, for six weeks.
The Ending Was Added At The Last Minute
Aykroyd and Ramis came upon the idea of ‘crossing the streams’ during filming of the finale. This meant that an earlier ‘set-up’ scene had to be filmed and edited in, explaining the danger of combining the energy streams in that way.
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Return Of The Jedi
It Could Have Been Directed By Lynch Or Cronenberg
George Lucas met with David Lynch who had just had a critical hit with ‘The Elephant Man’. Lynch showed initial interest but declined after the meeting. Lucas also approached David Cronenberg but he wanted to focus on more personal projects, and thus also declined.
Han Solo Could Have Already Been Dead
Unlike some of the other actors, Harrison Ford did not want to sign up for all three films, preferring to take one at a time. To prepare for the outcome that he wouldn’t want to star in Return of the Jedi (which was thought more likely as he had found success elsewhere in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’), the plan was that he would die whilst frozen in carbonite between the two films and that Lando Calrissian would fill the ‘loveable rogue’ shaped hole he would leave behind.
A Dwarf Was Injured Whilst Operating Jabba The Hutt
Jabba took eight people to operate, which included a dwarf operating his tail. Unfortunately he sustained a painful injury, as when filming Jabba’s death scene Carrie Fisher climbed over the Jabba puppet, and one of her stiletto heels went right through the body and into the head of the operator.
Yoda Was Only In The Film Due To Child Psychologists
Yoda wasn’t meant to be in this film, but was added after a consultation with child psychologists helped George Lucas decide he needed an independent character to confirm Darth Vader’s claim that he is Luke Skywalker’s father.
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James Cameron Was Living In His Car When He Wrote The Terminator
According to an interview with Lance Henriksen, James Cameron was living in his car when he wrote the script for the film. He didn’t even have an agent because he had fired him for not liking the story he had conceived for The Terminator.
Cameron Wrote Aliens Whilst Waiting For Filming To Begin
Filming of ‘The Terminator’ was delayed for 9 months because Arnie already had a commitment to ‘Conan the Destroyer’. During this wait, James Cameron wrote a little film called ‘Aliens’.
O.J. Simpson Could Have Been The Terminator
O.J. Simpson was considered for the role of the Terminator, but producers thought he was ‘too nice’ to be taken seriously as a killer. Hah!
That Line Could Have Been “I’ll Come Back”
Yes, Arnie’s legendary line “I’ll be back” was originally written as “I’ll come back.”
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It Could Have Starred Tom Hanks
Among those who were considered for the role of Maverick were Sean Penn, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Matthew Broderick, Michael J. Fox and Tom Hanks.
Filming Was Very Expensive
The film studio paid up to $7,800 per hour for fuel whenever aircraft were flown outside their normal duties. It was also reported that the director had to write a $25,000 cheque in order to have an aircraft carrier moved. This was simply to enable him to film for an extra 5 minutes and get that ‘perfect’ shot.
A Stunt Pilot Died During Filming
Tragically, stunt pilot Art Scholl was killed during production of the film. His plane went into a tail-spin before crashing into the Pacific Ocean. The film is dedicated to him.
Tom Cruise Is Shorter Than Kelly McGillis
The notoriously short Cruise had to have some ‘help’ with his height when filming scenes with McGillis, due to the fact that he is 5 feet 7 inches, 3 inches shorter than his on screen love interest.
The US Navy Used The Film As A Recruitment Tool
The US Navy used the film as a recruitment drive, setting up recruitment booths outside cinemas showing it.
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Raiders Of The Lost Ark
There’s a Star Wars Reference
Freeze-framing during the Well of Souls scene, you can notice a golden pillar with a tiny engraving of R2-D2 and C-3PO from the Star Wars saga. They are also on the wall behind Indy when they first approach the Ark.
E.T Was Written On Location
Steven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison wrote a script during shooting breaks on the location of the film. Mathison was there because well, her husband was Harrison Ford. This film turned out to be E.T.
Everyone Got Sick On Location
Apart from director, Steven Spielberg. It is thought that Spielberg avoided illness by not eating any of the local food and only eating food he brought with him; lots of Spaghetti-O’s.
Someone Was Bitten By A Snake
During filming, one of the First Unit Directors was bitten by a snake. They had to ‘whip’ the snake off so the motion would ripple up its body and it would let go. Both the director and the snake was fine.
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There Can Never Be Enough Gremlins
One of the studio notes to director Joe Dante and producer Steven Spielberg on seeing the first cut was that there were too many gremlins. Spielberg suggested cutting them all out and calling the film “People”.
A Scene Inspired By Texas Chainsaw Masacre
The Empire Strikes Back
May The Force Be With You
The shots where Luke uses his Jedi powers to retrieve his lightsaber from a distance were achieved by having Mark Hamill throw the lightsaber away and then running the film in reverse.
Carrie Fisher Stood On A Box
Carrie Fisher stood on a box for many of her scenes with Harrison Ford in order to make up for the height difference and have her appear in the frame with him. Carrie Fisher(5’1) was a foot shorter than Harrison Ford (6’1).
Trying To Get Yoda an Oscar
George Lucas was so impressed by Frank Oz’s performance as Yoda that he spent thousands of dollars on an advertising campaign to try and get him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Lucas’s campaign ultimately failed because it was felt that a puppeteer wasn’t an actor. Lucas felt this wasn’t fair to Oz, who honestly didn’t care.
Becoming Independent From Hollywood
One of George Lucas’ goals in doing a Star Wars sequel was to become financially independent from Hollywood, and he succeeded in this goal.
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The Lost Boys
The Two Coreys Were Formed
This was Corey Haim and Corey Feldman’s first film together, which marked the start of a popular 80s trend “The Two Coreys” in which Corey Feldman and Corey Haim starred together in a number of teenage films.
The Peter Pan Influence
The film is titled after the companions of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, who remained forever young.
It Didn’t Take Long To Film
The film only took three weeks to finish shooting.
It Influenced Buffy The Vampire Slayer
This movie invented the phrase “vamp out,” which had passed into common usage on the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1996).
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The Suit Was Good For Weight-Loss
The RoboCop suit was so hot and heavy that Peter Weller was losing 3 lbs a day from water loss. Eventually, an air conditioner was installed in the suit.
The Director Originally Threw The Script Away
The screenplay had been offered to (and been rejected by) virtually every big director in Hollywood before Paul Verhoeven got hold of it. He threw it away after reading the first pages, convinced it was just a dumb action movie. However, his wife read it all the way through and convinced him that the story was layered with many satirical and allegorical elements, after which Verhoeven finally decided to direct the film.
A Statue Is Going To Be Placed In Detroit
After a Kickstarter campaign, a 12 foot statue of RoboCop is in production and will be erected in Detroit.
If you have enjoyed reading this post, please do spread some lovely, nostalgic, film-based memories to your friends and family by sharing it with them!