If there’s one thing about the 80s that has really stood the test of time, it has to be the movies. The 70s may have given birth to the blockbuster era thanks largely to Jaws and Star Wars, but it was the 80s that saw Hollywood really embrace that new mindset and reach greater heights of spectacle and imagination than ever.

With Steven Spielberg and George Lucas leading the way, the 80s brought us spectacular sights and sounds the likes of which the big screen had never seen before.

Still, it wasn’t all big budgets, stunts and FX wizardry. The 80s was every bit as great a time for plot and character-driven stories, with a new generation of superstar actors bringing scores of iconic characters to unforgettable life.

Admittedly there’s plenty about the movies of the era that may seem dated now: the neon lights, the synthesizer soundtracks, the gaudy fashions, not to mention some of the attitudes.

Even so, these were movies that were designed to make your eyes widen and your pulse race, and many succeeded – but the ones that have really stayed with us went far deeper.

The question is, which do we consider to be the very best movies of the 80s? We’ve listed below the ones we consider the greatest the decade had to offer; scroll down, rank them for yourselves, and if you think of any we missed, go ahead and add them in.

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48 Hrs.

One of the most popular action movie formats of the 80s was the buddy cop movie, in which circumstances place two mismatched individuals together (at least one of whom is a cop) in a race against time. This concept was popularised, and in many respects perfected, by 1982's 48 Hrs. Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) is San Francisco's toughest, grumpiest cop, on the tail of dangerous criminal Albert Ganz (James Remar). Cates' investigation leads him to Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy), a one-time partner of Ganz who's now behind bars. Reluctantly, Cates gets the trash-talking criminal a 48-hour leave from prison to help him track down and capture Ganz. Initially developed with Clint Eastwood and Richard Pryor in mind for the lead roles, 48 Hrs. was directed by Walter Hill, and marked a couple of famous firsts. For one, it was the first producing credit of Joel Silver, who became the most successful action producer of the 80s with such hits Commando, Predator and Die Hard. Secondly, it was the debut film of Eddie Murphy, then a stand-up comedian aged just 21. Murphy would follow this film with Trading Places and Beverly Hills Cop, and was soon established as the biggest comedy star of the decade. The hard-edged action and coarse humour of 48 Hrs. helped set the tone for action movies in the decade ahead, as well as inspiring many more buddy cop movies such as Joel Silver’s 1987 hit Lethal Weapon, and Walter Hill’s 1988 film Red Heat. A sequel followed in 1990’s Another 48 Hrs.

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Aliens

Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi horror Alien made a significant impact on the genre film climate, but when James Cameron was tasked with calling the shots on its 1986 follow-up, the result was one of the most distinctive, memorable sequels ever, which really stands apart as a great film in its own right. We rejoin Alien's sole survivor Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) as she awakens after drifting through space in suspended animation for 57 years. To her horror, LV-426 - the planet on which she and her crew encountered the deadly Xenomorph - has now been colonised. However, when contact with the colony is lost, Ripley is enlisted to serve as an adviser on a rescue mission, alongside a team of Marines. On reaching the planet, Ripley's worst fears prove correct: the colonists are all dead, and the aliens have taken over. Alongside the Marines, she must now battle to stay alive and wipe out the alien threat, which is even greater than she imagined. The real masterstroke of Aliens is that, rather than try to match Alien as a horror movie, it goes in a different direction, embracing gun-toting action - hence the tag line, 'this time it's war.' Cameron had already proven his skill as an action director with The Terminator, and Aliens further cements this, with explosive set-pieces aplenty. Central heroine Ripley really comes into her own here. Weaver commits hard to the role, and landed a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her efforts; a rare accolade for a sci-fi film. However, Aliens is a tremendous ensemble piece all around, with memorable supporting turns from Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein and Bill Paxton. Two more Alien sequels came in the 90s, followed by the two Alien vs Predator films and Ridley Scott’s prequels Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. However, most would agree the series has never again reached the heights it did with Aliens.

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An American Werewolf In London

In the early 80s, director John Landis was famed for his comedy hits Animal House and The Blues Brothers - so when he decided to try his hand at horror with 1981's An American Werewolf in London, no one was quite prepared for the results. David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are Americans back-packing across Britain. Ignoring the advice of locals, the duo cross the Yorkshire moors by night, where a horrifying attack leaves Jack dead and David badly wounded. Waking in a London hospital, David is cared for by nurse Alex (Jenny Agutter) with whom he develops a romantic connection - but he's haunted by horrific nightmares, and visions of his dead friend Jack, warning David that he is about to become the same as the creature that attacked them: a werewolf. While Landis handles the comedy as skilfully as on his earlier films, the director takes the horror elements entirely seriously. The result is a film that’s just as scary as it is funny, hence An American Werewolf in London is frequently held up (alongside Evil Dead II) as the greatest comedy horror film of all time. An American Werewolf in London was a true ground-breaker for special effects, thanks to Rick Baker’s still-astonishing werewolf transformation, for which he was awarded the first ever Best Makeup Oscar. The film also had a big fan in Michael Jackson, who enlisted Landis to direct his iconic 1983 music video Thriller, for which Rick Baker again provided the makeup.

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Back To The Future

This 1985 science fiction comedy adventure is widely hailed for having one of the most perfectly crafted screenplays ever. Back to the Future provides every bit as much rollercoaster ride entertainment as any great 80s blockbuster, yet at heart it's actually a pretty small-scale, character-based story about home and family. Skateboarding wannabe guitar hero Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is your average 80s teen, but has an unusual best friend in the aged, eccentric inventor Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd). Marty is stunned to find out that the Doc has built a fully functional time machine out of a Delorean automobile, but when the machine's first test goes awry Marty finds himself trapped in 1955. Crossing paths with his future parents Lorraine (Lea Thompson) and George (Crispin Glover), Marty inadvertently alters the past, threatening his very existence. Whilst the 1955 Doc Brown works to get him home, Marty must also play matchmaker to ensure his parents still get together. Director Robert Zemeckis and producer Bob Gale (both of whom also wrote the script) had been trying to get Back to the Future made for some time, but it wasn’t until Zemeckis had a hit with 1984’s Romancing the Stone that they finally got the green light. Michael J. Fox was initially unavailable to play Marty due to his commitment to TV sitcom Family Ties, so the film started production with Eric Stoltz playing Marty. However, after two weeks of shooting the filmmakers realised Stoltz didn’t suit the role, and fired him. A special deal was then worked out for Fox to shoot the film around his Family Ties commitments. Back to the Future became the biggest hit of 1985, with over $381 million in box office receipts and glowing reviews. Four years later, the team re-united to shoot 1989’s Back to the Future Part II and 1990’s Back to the Future Part III back-to-back. Rumours of a reboot come up occasionally, but Gale and Zemeckis have taken steps to ensure this can’t happen in their lifetimes.

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Beetlejuice

Tim Burton's sophomore feature film, Beetlejuice is a comedy horror-fantasy film starring Michael Keaton as a maniacal poltergeist. Released in 1988, the plot follows a recently deceased couple (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) as they struggle to acclimatise to their new, ghostly status - but when another family moves into their Connecticut home, they reluctantly enlist the demon Betelgeuse to make short work of the house's latest residents. The original script submitted to Burton was much darker, featuring Beetlejuice as a squat, Middle Eastern man who mutilates and murders the new family's youngest child, but it would be subjected to numerous rewrites by Burton, Larry Wilson and Warren Skaaren, significantly lightening the tone. One important addition was the leitmotif of Harry Belafonte music while Betelgeuse's antics are taking place, the most memorable being a possessed dance to the Banana Boat Song. Featuring a variety of practical effects, stylised sets and rambunctious performances, Beetlejuice was both a critical and commercial success, taking $74.2 million on a tight budget of $15 million and ultimately winning the Academy Award for Best Makeup. Beetlejuice would come to define much of Burton's Gothic-inflected filmography, with the most obvious boon of his collaboration with Keaton being the pair's work on 1989's Batman and its sequel, Batman Returns. A sequel, under the name Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian, was proposed in the early 90s; Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder even signed up for the project, providing Burton directed. However, the film was ultimately swallowed up by the resurgent interest in the Batman franchise. Beetlejuice was adapted into a critically acclaimed stage show, premiering in April 2019. The musical's run was cut short in March 2020, however, due to the 2019-20 coronavirus pandemic.

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Beverly Hills Cop

Eddie Murphy was a 23-year-old stand-up comedian with two hit films to his name (48 Hrs. and Trading Places) when he landed his first leading role in what proved to be the biggest blockbuster of 1984: action comedy Beverly Hills Cop. Murphy is Axel Foley, a fast-talking Detroit cop whose childhood friend is murdered. Anxious to bring the killers to justice, Foley follows the trail to the prosperous Beverly Hills, and corrupt businessman Victor Maitland (Steven Berkoff). Way outside his jurisdiction, Foley finds himself being followed by detectives Taggart (John Ashton) and Rosewood (Judge Reinhold); initially assigned to stop Foley, the bumbling local cops wind up assisting in his investigation, alongside the noble Lieutenant Bogomil (Ronny Cox). The brainchild of 80s super-producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer (whose other hits included Flashdance and Top Gun), Beverly Hills Cop was initially offered to Mickey Rourke, then came close to getting made with Sylvester Stallone; but the producers rejected his expensive, ultra-violent script ideas (which Stallone ultimately took to 1986’s Cobra). Murphy was cast very late in the day, prompting hasty script rewrites: the comedian ad-libbed much of his dialogue as a result. A smash hit, Beverly Hills Cop earned over $316 million worldwide and shot Murphy to superstardom, while Harold Faltermeyer’s theme song Axel F also became a chart success. 1987 sequel Beverly Hills Cop II proved equally successful, but 1994’s Beverly Hills Cop III flopped. A fourth film is said to be in the pipeline.

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Blade Runner

Originally released in 1982 and directed by Ridley Scott, Blade Runner is an adaptation of Philip K Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The film sees 'blade runner' Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) enlisted to hunt down and destroy a group of synthetic humans - or 'replicants' - who have escaped from an off-world mining colony. Meanwhile, Deckard is forced to question his own humanity, especially as it relates to Rachael (Sean Young), a replicant with whom he begins a sexual relationship. Notoriously a flop during its initial theatrical run, Blade Runner made a meagre $32.9 million at the box office from a budget of $30 million. Controversially, and without Scott's knowledge, the version of the film released in theatres in 1982 featured a morose voiceover from Ford. "I thought that the film had worked without the narration," said Ford in 2007, "...and I was obliged to do the voiceovers for people that did not represent the director's interests." As a result of the friction between Scott, producers and the studio, a total of seven versions of Blade Runner have been released, culminating in 2007's Final Cut. Alterations include color grading, previously deleted scenes and the removal of the voiceover. After the release of a director's cut in 1992, the film became one of the first to be released on DVD. The film has become particularly famous for its valedictory speech by Rutger Hauer's Roy Batty, conceived by co-screenwriter David Peoples but significantly altered by the actor the night before filming. "If there's a great speech in science fiction cinema," notes Sidney Perkowitz in Hollywood Science, "it's Batty's final words." Blade Runner was followed in 2017 by a sequel: Blade Runner 2049. Starring Ryan Gosling as K, a new blade runner, the film has Ford reprise his role. While that film drew $260.5 million at the box office, its significant production and marketing budget also made it a commercial disappointment, though it was a critical darling.

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Cocktail

Two years after jetting to superstardom in the smash hit Top Gun, new Hollywood hot-shot Tom Cruise took on the role of another cocky, ambitious young upstart at the head of his game - but this time, the story took place in a very different industry. 1988's Cocktail casts Cruise as Brian Flanagan, an aspiring businessman who moves to New York in search of a high-paying job but meets with nothing but rejection due to his low qualifications. Enrolling in business school, Brian lands a part-time job in a cocktail bar, working under seasoned bartender Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown); however, the glamour of the bar soon takes over Brian's life, and he and Doug become the kings of the cocktail. In a daze of alcohol and women, the dream team is soon driven apart by ambition and jealousy. Brian heads off on his own to pursue his dreams in Jamaica; here he meets and falls in love with Jordan (Elisabeth Shue), and this - along with a troubled reunion with Doug - prompts him to re-assess his life. Directed by Roger Donaldson (No Way Out), Cocktail was written for the screen by Heywood Gould, adapted from Gould's own semi-autobiographical novel detailing his own experiences as a bartender. Bryan Brown called it "one of the very best screenplays I had ever read," noting it was "very dark" and dealt with "the cult of celebrity." However, when Tom Cruise signed on for the lead (which was not originally intended to be so young a character), heavy rewrites were insisted upon to make the film more audience-friendly. A significant addition was the emphasis on the bartenders throwing and spinning bottles; although this is what Cocktail is best remembered for, it was not part of Gould's original novel or script. Brown felt the rewrites made Cocktail "a much slighter movie" than what might have been. The critics would seem to agree, as the film attracted almost universally negative reviews. However, audiences felt otherwise, as Cocktail proved a big hit; its global box office haul of $171 million made it one of the top ten hits of 1988.

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Die Hard

Die Hard might well have been a flop. After all, the role of NYPD detective John McClane was offered to - and declined by - at least eleven actors, including eventual star Bruce Willis. However, Die Hard has since become an action movie mainstay and made stars of its two leads. The film sees McClane travel to Los Angeles to reignite his marriage; what the detective doesn't understand, however, is that his estranged wife is attending a workplace Christmas party that's about to be gatecrashed by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his cohort of terrorists. As those at the party struggle to seek help from the outside world, McClane finds himself the lone hero as Gruber's plan begins to unravel. Always intended as a summer blockbuster, Die Hard returned $141.5 million on a budget of $28 million and spawned a franchise. It was also critically acclaimed and is often argued to be the best Christmas film of all time. The film was Rickman's feature film debut, with the actor having previously impressed producer Joel Silver in a Broadway production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses; it was Willis' second-ever Hollywood production, and he was then best-known for his stint in the comedy TV series Moonlighting. The success of Die Hard not only made a name for Rickman and Willis, but spawned an entire genre of action films that sought to recreate the dynamic of a down-to-earth hero battling against a mob of heavily armed thugs. These include Under Siege, Speed and Air Force One.

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Dirty Dancing

Starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, Dirty Dancing is a romantic drama dance film that became an 80s sensation. When Francis Houseman (Grey), nicknamed Baby, is taken to an upscale holiday resort, the exploitative staff quickly begin to irritate her. Striking up a friendship with Johnny (Swayze), a member of the working-class entertainment team she finds herself falling in love and into a world complicated by sex and power. Written by Eleanor Bergstein, Dirty Dancing caused controversy on its release due to its theme of abortion, an indecent proposal, and the central romance between a 25-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl. However, it was an uproarious box office success, earning $214.6 million on a budget of only $5 million, making it one of the most successful romance films of the 80s. The film has become iconic for its climactic dance number, set to (I've Had) The Time Of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. The difficult lift that occurs during the dance, and which Johnny and Baby struggle to perform throughout the film, has similarly become a recurring pop culture image. In spite of the chemistry between the leading duo, Swayze and Grey notoriously did not get along on set, often having arguments; their mutual dislike dated back to their initial collaboration on Red Dawn, a film in which teenagers resist a Soviet invasion with guerilla warfare. Grey considered Swayze arrogant. Dirty Dancing was followed by a loose prequel in 2004's Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. While not involving the characters of the original film, Havana Nights does make use of the same basic plot. It also stars Swayze in a cameo as a dance class instructor. Havana Nights, despite being made on a budget of $25 million, made only $27.7 million at the box office.

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E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

For eleven years the highest-grossing film of all time, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a family science-fiction film that has become one of the most enduring pop-culture touchstones of the 80s. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film depicts the unlikely friendship between a young boy, Elliott, and an alien stranded on Earth, who learns to speak English by watching Sesame Street and is able to heal wounds by touch alone. However, government agents soon take an interest in the strange, new lifeform. Produced on a budget of $10.5 million, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial returned a record-breaking $792.9 million at the box office; it would only be knocked off the global top spot by 1993's Jurassic Park, also directed by Spielberg. The film is notorious for its heavy product placement, making it something of an 80s time capsule. Not only does E.T. develop a fondness for Reese's Pieces, but the ad hoc communication device he uses to phone home includes a Speak & Spell, an educational 80s toy. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial launched the career of Drew Barrymore, who stars as Gertie at the age of just seven. Having initially auditioned for Poltergeist, on which Spielberg served as executive producer, Barrymore's lie that she was in a punk rock band convinced the director that she had the imagination required for a role in E.T. The scene in which Elliott and E.T. fly through the sky on bicycles has become a cornerstone image of pop culture, to the extent that it was repurposed for the logo of Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment. The set-piece of plucky children interacting with the supernatural while riding bicycles has been heavily referenced in Stranger Things, It: Chapter One and further media that seek to capitalise on 80s nostalgia.

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Ferris Bueller's Day Off

While Matthew Broderick enjoyed success with his second film, 1983's WarGames, there's no doubt that his titular role in Ferris Bueller's Day Off remains his most iconic. Released in 1986 and directed by John Hughes, the film has Bueller skip school for a spontaneous adventure around Chicago - all the while attempting to avoid getting caught by the Dean of Students, Edward R Rooney (Jeffrey Jones). The film was a box office success, returning $70.1 million on a budget of $5.8 million, and has become a frequent pop culture reference point for Bueller's tendency to break the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience. In fact, the film features one of popular cinema's first post-credits scenes, in which Bueller emerges in a dressing gown and tells the audience to go home. The sequence in which Bueller gatecrashes a parade float to lip-sync Wayne Newton has also become enduringly famous. The part of Sloane Peterson, ultimately played by Mia Sara, initially caught the attention of frequent John Hughes collaborator Molly Ringwald; however, Hughes refused to cast her, claiming that the role wasn't significant enough his Pretty in Pink star. Ben Stein, who plays Bueller's totemically boring Economics teacher, claims he was cast due to a chance encounter with a former president: "Richard Nixon introduced me to a man named Bill Safire, who's a New York Times columnist," said Stein. "He introduced me to a guy who's an executive at Warner Brothers. He introduced me to a guy who's a casting director. He introduced me to John Hughes. John Hughes and I are among the only Republicans in the picture business, and John Hughes put me in the movie."

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Flash Gordon

Based on a comic strip, 1980's Flash Gordon is an English-Dutch-American space opera film about a football star drawn into an interplanetary conflict. Starring Sam J Jones as the titular New York Jets quarterback, the film has become a cult classic in the decades since its release. When Flash Gordon's plane is downed by a meteorite, a series of chance encounters brings him to Mongo, a planet ruled by Emperor Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow). Ming has grown bored and decides to toy with Earth, creating natural disasters and ultimately planning to destroy the planet entirely. It falls to the space-traveling sportsman to carefully negotiate the political rivalries of Mongo and its adjacent planets - often atop a 'rocket cycle' - as he attempts to thwart Ming's evil scheme. Described by Roger Ebert as another space opera in which "[filmmakers] of unlimited imagination [are] harnessed to definitely limited skills," the film nonetheless displays "energy and love and without the pseudo-meaningful apparatus of the Force and Trekkie Power..." Replete with bright colours and a soundtrack by flamboyant rock band Queen, the film has garnered a cult following for its wacky plot and larger-than-life performances. In particular, Brian Blessed's role as Prince Vultan, the ruler of winged aliens who reside in Sky City, has become one of his best-known and most-quoted. When Flash Gordon unexpectedly survives Ming's latest onslaught, he utters the immortal line: "Gordon's alive?!" "If I’m halfway up Kilimanjaro and meet a Maasai tribesman," Blessed noted in a 2015 interview with The Telegraph, "he’ll say, 'It’s you! Please shout, 'Gordon’s alive!’ "It’s a cry for freedom," the actor added.

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Flight Of The Navigator

After Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial broke box office records, long-time family film champions Disney were keen to make a similar sci-fi smash of their own. The result was 1986's Flight of the Navigator, and while it didn't make nearly as much money as E.T., it still had a significant impact on audiences. 12-year old David (Joey Cramer) mysteriously disappears for eight years, only to re-emerge without having aged at all, and with no memory of where he's been. After testing, scientists realise that David's disappearance is connected to the alien spacecraft which has been captured by NASA. Soon, a psychic signal draws David to the craft, which it turns out he has been aboard before, having been enlisted to a benevolent alien mission of which he has lost all memory. Flight of the Navigator was directed by Randall Kleiser (Grease) and was a Norwegian co-production. Critics weren’t necessarily blown away, but younger viewers were enthralled by the idea of a young kid taking the helm of an alien spaceship alongside various cute and funny aliens, plus the robotic Max (voiced by an uncredited Paul Reubens). It may have borrowed heavily from the Spielberg handbook, but Flight of the Navigator did make its own minor innovation with its early use of CGI for the spacecraft. It’s also notable for giving an early role to future star Sarah Jessica Parker. A Flight of the Navigator remake has been in development since 2009; Neill Blomkamp (District 9) is currently attached.

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Footloose

The unlikely story of a town that implements a ban on dancing, and a group of teenagers who seek to resist the ban, Footloose is a 1984 musical drama film that made Kevin Bacon a household name. Ren McCormack (Bacon) moves to a conservative Utah town where dancing has been forbidden, though a group of seniors are seeking to hold a prom regardless. What follows is an adventure in which Ren teaches his classmates about the joy of dance and begins to fall for Ariel (Lori Singer). Returning $80 million on a budget of $8.2 million from a domestic theatrical run, Footloose shrugged off mixed critical reviews to become one ofo the most famous films of the 80s. Much of its enduring popularity can be traced to the film's soundtrack - in particular the title track by Kenny Loggins, though it also includes Loggins' I'm Free. The soundtrack sold nine million units, and these two songs were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Originally, the film could have had Ren played by Rob Lowe - though he had to forego the film due to injury - and Ariel by Madonna, who auditioned but failed to get the part. Bacon turned down the lead role in 1983's Christine in order to star in Footloose instead. While the plot of the film might seem fanciful, it's in fact based on Elmore City, Oklahoma, which instituted a ban on dancing since 1898 in order to discourage drinking and lust. When Elmore City high school students attempted to host a prom in 1980, school board president Raymond Lee cast the deciding vote in favour of the students with the immortal words: "Let 'em dance."

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Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters is a 1984 supernatural comedy film written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, directed by Ivan Reitman. The titular Ghostbusters are parapsychologists who become sought after in a world beset by phantoms and monsters. Starring Bill Murray alongside the screenwriting duo, as well as Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis in supporting roles, the film has become a cult classic for its ambitious special effects, bolstered by Ray Parker Jr's number-one theme song. Professors Peter Venkman (Murray), Ray Stantz (Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Ramis) set up an independent ghost-hunting business after being fired from their university jobs, and become entangled with Gozer, an ancient god of destruction. The project was initially planned as a collaboration between Aykroyd and John Belushi, who had previously worked together on Saturday Night Live and feature films such as The Blues Brothers. However, Belushi's sudden death in 1982 meant Aykroyd enlisted Murray for the part instead. Alongside the cast's witty repartée, the film's production design - including the 'proton packs', 'Ectomobile' vehicle, and the Stay Puft marshmallow man - has spawned several pop culture icons. Ghostbusters quickly became an astonishing box office success, drawing $282.2 million during its initial theatrical run on a budget of $25-30 million, becoming the highest-grossing comedy film of all time at that point. That total has since increased to $295.7 million after further theatrical runs, making the film the most successful comedy of the 80s. The film was followed in 1989 by Ghostbusters II, and then later by a 2016 reboot (marketed as Ghostbusters: Answer the Call). Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a direct sequel to the original films starring the surviving members of the original cast, is set to premiere in 2021.

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Gremlins

This 1984 horror comedy from director Joe Dante and executive producer Steven Spielberg proved to be a game-changer for the movie business in ways that the filmmakers might not have anticipated. Written by Chris Columbus (who went on to write The Goonies and direct Home Alone), Gremlins is set in the idyllic small town of Kingston Falls in December, Gremlins centres on Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan), a young bank teller whose father Randall (Hoyt Axton) gives him an unexpected early Christmas present: a mysterious but extremely cute little animal called a mogwai. However, the mogwai - which they name Gizmo - comes with three important rules. First, he must be kept away from bright lights; second, he must never get wet; and third, he must never be fed after midnight. Of course, it wouldn't be much of a story if all three of those rules didn't get broken - and once they have been, Christmas in Kingston Falls turns into a disaster zone, as the quaint little town comes under attack from the malevolent Gremlins. Director Joe Dante came to Gremlins having made his name with horror movies Piranha and The Howling, so it's hardly surprising that his first move into more family-oriented movies would still be on the sinister side. The often intense scenes of threat and violence sparked an outcry from parents and critics, who considered the film far too dark for the PG rating it had been granted in the US. This controversy over Gremlins - as well as similar outrage over gruesome scenes in another 1984 PG-rated blockbuster, Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - prompted Spielberg to suggest the introduction of the PG-13 certificate. The MPAA agreed, and the PG-13 was introduced later that year. Still, despite the nasty bits, Gremlins is still largely good-natured fun. The creatures are very cartoonish in look and temperament, and this humour keeps things from getting too grim. The comedy came even more to the forefront in Dante's 1990 sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch, which saw the return of Zach Galligan plus supporting actors Phoebe Cates and Dick Miller.

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Labyrinth

While Jim Henson's name will always be synonymous with The Muppets, the late puppeteering legend is equally beloved by many for this 1986 musical comedy adventure, which pits David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly into a fantastical world of wonder. Connelly (aged just 14 when cast in the role) is Sarah, an imaginative but emotional teenager left babysitting her infant brother Toby. Frustrated, she flippantly wishes for her brother to be taken away by goblins - only to see her wish unexpectedly granted by the sinister but seductive Goblin King (Bowie). To save Toby before he becomes a goblin himself, Sarah must solve the mysterious labyrinth within 13 hours. A spiritual sequel of sorts to Jim Henson and Frank Oz’s 1982 film The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth was conceived to be a more light-hearted and family-friendly venture into a mystical world. To this end, Monty Python alumnus Terry Jones was hired to pen a screenplay that packs in plenty of humour amongst the often bizarre, reality-bending events that occur. Star Wars creator George Lucas was also on board as the film's executive producer. Once they hit on the idea of making the Goblin King a singer, David Bowie was at the top of their wish list immediately, although Michael Jackson and Sting were also considered. Bowie threw himself into the project (and some eye-poppingly tight trousers), composing and recording five original songs for the film, the most famous being Magic Dance. For the role of Sarah, a number of soon-to-be big name actresses were considered before Jennifer Connelly was cast, including Helena Bonham-Carter, Marisa Tomei and Laura Dern. Though met with low box office returns and middling reviews on release, Labyrinth soon found its audience on VHS and television, and has long since been elevated to the status of cult classic. A new Labyrinth movie is in the pipeline, said to be more spin-off than remake. In May 2020, Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange) signed on to direct the film.

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Midnight Run

Conventional wisdom has it that Robert De Niro didn't go mainstream until the late 90s, when the highly esteemed actor stepped away from prestige dramas to make the likes of the Analyse This and Meet the Parents movies. However, the legendary Raging Bull and The Godfather Part II Oscar winner had already ventured into more light-hearted, mass appeal territory in 1988’s comedy thriller Midnight Run. De Niro is Jack Walsh, a bounty hunter hired to locate embezzling accountant Jonathan 'The Duke' Mardukas (Charles Grodin). Walsh finds him easily enough, but what should be a simple transport job is complicated by both the mafia and the FBI being anxious to get their hands on Mardukas, not to mention the contrasting personalities of the bounty hunter and his mark. Directed by Martin Brest (Beverly Hills Cop), Midnight Run came together as De Niro was keen to do a comedy, after being rejected for the role that ultimately went to Tom Hanks in Big. Robin Williams and Bruce Willis were both considered for the role of Mardukas, but De Niro wound up having the most chemistry with Charles Grodin. De Niro still approached the action-comedy with his signature method seriousness, working with real bounty hunters and police officers as research, and actually scarring Grodin’s wrists from putting on the handcuffs too tight. Midnight Run was a hit with critics and a modest box office success, making almost $82 million. It spawned three TV movie sequels, none of which feature the original actors.  

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Predator

By 1987, Arnold Schwarzenegger was already established as the biggest action star on the planet - but he'd rarely been pitted against an adversary that seemed to pose him a genuine threat. This changed with Predator, the sci-fi action thriller that became one of the Austrian Oak's most enduring hits. Dutch (Schwarzenegger) is the Major in command of an elite commando team. Hired by old buddy Dillon (Carl Weathers), a solider-turned-CIA agent, the team fly out into the Central American jungle on a rescue mission. However, when events take a sinister turn in the jungle, the team realise there's something out there hunting them - and, as Sonny Landham's Billy puts it, "it ain't no man." Predator was the first major movie from director John McTiernan, who - thanks to both this and his follow-up film, 1988's Die Hard - would become one of the biggest Hollywood action filmmakers of the decade that followed. Sadly, his later collaboration with Schwarzenegger - 1993's Last Action Hero - didn't turn out quite so well. With Schwarzenegger heading up a cast of muscular he-men, Predator is one of the most testosterone-heavy films of the 80s. Infamously, it very nearly co-starred another action star, Jean-Claude Van Damme, who was initially cast as a very different-looking alien hunter. However, as Van Damme was far shorter than most of the cast (and was said to be difficult on set), it was decided the 7'4" Kevin Peter Hall would make a more imposing adversary. The Predator was also redesigned by Stan Winston, giving us the dreadlocked, crab-faced monster we know today. Reviews were lukewarm on release, but today Predator is held up as one of the best action movies ever. Sequel Predator 2 followed in 1990, before 2004's sci-fi action crossover Alien vs. Predator and its 2007 sequel Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. Since then, the series has been rebooted twice with 2010's Predators and 2018's The Predator.

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Raiders Of The Lost Ark

As if playing Han Solo in Star Wars wasn't enough, Harrison Ford landed the part of another iconic hero in 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark. From the dream team of director Steven Spielberg and executive producer/story writer George Lucas, this old-fashioned adventure introduced us to the hat-wearing, whip-cracking archaeologist Indiana Jones. Set in 1936, Raiders of the Lost Ark sees Indy (Ford) enlisted by the US military to locate long-lost Biblical relic the Ark of Covenant, which the Nazis are trying to locate. Indy's quest reunites him with his old flame Marion (Karen Allen), with whom he journeys to Egypt to find the Ark before the nefarious Belloq (Paul Freeman), a rival of Indy in the employ of the Nazis. Steven Spielberg had long dreamed of directing a James Bond movie, but when the 007 producers turned him down his friend George Lucas pitched him Indy, a two-fisted hero in the vein of the swashbuckling serials both men loved growing up. When it came to casting their leading man, Spielberg and Lucas first wanted Tom Selleck. However, Selleck had already signed on to star in TV series Magnum, PI and had to turn it down, clearing the way for Harrison Ford. Making $384 million worldwide, Raiders of the Lost Ark was the biggest box office hit of 1981. The decade ahead saw two sequels in 1984's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. A TV spin-off, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, followed in the 90s. Then in 2008, the movie series was revived with the divisive Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. A fifth Indiana Jones movie is scheduled for July 2022, although only Harrison Ford will be returning. James Mangold is expected to take over from Spielberg in the director's chair.

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Road House

For many, the late Patrick Swayze's cinematic legacy is defined by 1987's Dirty Dancing. However, for those who like their movies that bit rougher, Swayze never packed as much punch as he does in 1989's Road House. Swayze is Dalton, a professional doorman known as a 'cooler.’ Renowned as the best in the business (even though everyone who meets him "thought he'd be bigger"), Dalton is hired to come work at the Double Deuce, a small town Missouri night spot being torn apart by crime, violence and drunken debauchery. Under Dalton's guidance, the Double Deuce sees its fortunes improve; but not without incurring the wrath of Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara), a shady millionaire who seems to have the whole town in his pocket. Things are complicated further by Dalton developing a romantic connection with Dr Elizabeth Clay (Kelly Lynch), with whom Wesley is infatuated. There's not a whole lot to Road House in terms of story; the movie's lasting appeal lies in its distinctive, unabashedly trashy tone. Directed by the aptly-named Rowdy Herrington (who later made 1993 Bruce Willis movie Striking Distance), Road House is bursting at the seams with tough-talking macho men in tight jeans, scantily-clad women of loose morals, and beat-'em-up action that gets crazier by the minute. The down-and-dirty atmosphere is enhanced by a great blues rock soundtrack courtesy of Jeff Healey. As ridiculous as things get, Swayze (who turned down Kurt Russell’s role in Tango & Cash in order to make the film) plays it totally straight as the ice-cool, intellectual tough guy. His fight scenes may be eye-openers - especially that finishing move in the riverside punch-up - but what really lingers in the memory are Dalton's many philosophical asides: "pain don't hurt," "no one wins a fight," etc. While only a modest success on release ($30 million at the box office), Road House has developed a huge cult following. It's also become the stuff of legend thanks to a connection with Bill Murray, a friend of actress Kelly Lynch: reportedly every time Road House screens on TV and it reaches the love scene, Murray calls Lynch's husband to inform him, "Kelly's having sex with Patrick Swayze."

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RoboCop

One might think that a movie about a murdered cop brought back to life as a cyborg would be all kinds of stupid. However, as cartoonish as its core concept might be, 1987's RoboCop is probably the smartest action movie of the decade, and - like all the best sci-fi - it may be set in the future, but it's really a reflection on the times in which it was made. At an unspecified future date, the city of Detroit is largely controlled by corporation OCP, which owns the police. In the face of rising crime, OCP executive Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer) pitches a bold new project: RoboCop, a cyborg police officer. However, to build him they first need a human cop, and they find their subject in Alex Murphy (Peter Weller), a principled officer gunned down in the line of duty. Saved at the point of death, Murphy is rebuilt as a heavily armoured super-cop, with his memory erased and new directives programmed into his mind. Once put out on the beat, RoboCop makes a sensation - but soon, flashes of the dead man's memory start returning, particularly once he comes face-to-face with the criminals who 'killed' him. RoboCop established Dutch director Paul Verhoeven as a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. The level of violence and bloodshed on display is surprising even now, and Verhoeven's name would soon be synonymous with the extreme with his later films Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Showgirls and Starship Troopers. But despite all the bullet-ridden carnage, what really hits hardest in RoboCop is its satirical sense of humour. OCP and its sleazy executives are a bald-faced attack on the profit-fixated yuppie culture that was so predominant in the 80s; Ronny Cox and Miguel Ferrer both relish in playing such venomous characters, although Kurtwood Smith largely steals the show as the deranged criminal Clarence Boddicker. Though not a huge hit on release (earning $53.4 million in cinemas), RoboCop became a popular sensation, spawning two sequels, a live-action TV show and - controversially - a children's animated series. In 2014 a RoboCop remake hit cinemas, but this hasn't stopped plans for a direct sequel to the original, RoboCop Returns, which is currently in development.

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Short Circuit

What if a robot suddenly came to life and developed a mind of its own? This was the question asked by 1986 sci-fi comedy Short Circuit, which provided us with one of 80s cinema's cutest robots outside of the Star Wars saga: Number 5, aka Johnny 5. As his name suggests, Number 5 is on of a quintet of military robots built by weapons manufacturer NOVA, which malfunctions and disappears after being struck by lightning. Robot designer Newton Crosby (Steve Guttenberg) and his assistant Ben Jabituya (Fisher Stevens) head out in pursuit of Number 5, but not before the lost robot meets animal-loving Stephanie (Ally Sheedy), who teaches the robot about the beauty of the world, and comes to the astonishing realisation that Number 5 is alive. Sheedy and Guttenberg bring human star power to the movie, but the show is stolen by Number 5, a state of the art animatronic creation for the time, voiced by actor Tim Blaney. Though popularly remembered as Johnny 5, the robot only renames himself in the film's final moments; the character’s association with that name comes from the sequel, plus the fact that the Short Circuit theme song by El Debarge is entitled Who’s Johnny. Though Short Circuit was only a modest box office hit (takings of $40 million), Tim Blaney and Fisher Stevens would return for 1988 follow-up Short Circuit 2. Both films are controversial today due to Stevens’ performance, as the white actor portrayed an Indian character under heavy make-up.

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Stand By Me

Thanks to such films as E.T. and The Goonies, the 80s was a great decade for films about kids. 1986's Stand by Me is another film of that ilk, but very different in tone and content; rated R, with coarse language and often distressing subject matter, it's really not for kids, even if the central characters are all aged 12. Even so, it's one of the best, most moving films about childhood ever made. Set in Oregon in the summer of 1959, Stand by Me centres on young friends Gordie (Wil Wheaton), Chris (River Phoenix), Teddy (Corey Feldman) and Vern (Jerry O'Connell). Hearing tell that a local teen was hit by a train and killed some miles out of town, the boys decide to venture out there in search of the body in hopes of becoming local heroes. However, the journey that ensues proves to be one of great self-discovery for all four of them. Stand by Me proved to be a major breakthrough movie for many of those involved. For one, it was adapted from Stephen King's novella The Body, helping the wider audience realise there was more to the author than the horror novels with which he was most closely associated. In addition, it was a major turning point for director Rob Reiner, then still best known as a sitcom actor and director of 1981's This is Spinal Tap. The success of Stand By Me proved his versatility, paving the way for such later hits as The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally..., A Few Good Men and Misery. The last of these is another King adaptation, and Reiner named his production company - Castle Rock Entertainment - after King's fictional Oregon town, where Stand by Me is also set. Above all, though, Stand by Me is renowned for boasting four of the best child actor performances ever from its central cast, all of whom went on to successful careers (elder actors Kiefer Sutherland and John Cusack also make an impression). There’s a particular poignancy to the masterful performance of River Phoenix, who died a mere seven years after Stand by Me was made.

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The Breakfast Club

The sadly missed John Hughes had already made some waves as the writer of National Lampoon's Vacation, and with his 1984 directorial debut Sixteen Candles; but it was his second movie, 1985's The Breakfast Club, that really established Hughes as a pioneer of 80s teen comedy dramas. Set on a Saturday morning, The Breakfast Club centres on a mismatched quintet of teens forced to come into school for a weekend detention. By chance, each of them represents a different facet of the high school social structure: a popular girl (Molly Ringwald), an athlete (Emilio Estevez), a troublemaker (Judd Nelson), a brainy nerd (Anthony Michael Hall), and a quiet loner (Ally Sheedy). Their stern teacher (Paul Gleason) sets them one assignment: to write an essay explaining who they think they are. However, as the five young strangers get to know one another, they're surprised to find they all have far more in common than they thought. The Breakfast Club became the cornerstone of the John Hughes teen movie brand. As well as going on to write and direct 1985's Weird Science (also starring Anthony Michael Hall) and 1986's Ferris Bueller's Day Off, he also penned the scripts for 1986's Pretty in Pink (which again starred Molly Ringwald) and 1987's Some Kind of Wonderful. All this firmly established the prolific Hughes as the king of teenage angst in the 80s. The Breakfast Club poster, showing the five teens sat together, became as iconic as anything in the film itself; which makes it intriguing to think the cast might have looked quite different. Emilio Estevez originally auditioned for Judd Nelson's part; Nelson himself was a last-minute replacement for John Cusack; Ally Sheedy's part almost went to Molly Ringwald; and other actresses considered for Ringwald's role included Robin Wright, Laura Dern and Jodie Foster. The Breakfast Club also made an anthem out of the Simple Minds song Don't You (Forget About Me), featured prominently in both the opening and closing sequences, and immortalised by Judd Nelson's iconic air punch in the final shot.

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The Empire Strikes Back

This was the first true blockbuster of the 80s. The second instalment in the Star Wars saga first hit the big screen in May 1980, and ever since The Empire Strikes Back has been held up by many as the best film in the long-running series, and one of the few sequels to really improve on its predecessor in every respect. Picking up some time after the events of 1977's original Star Wars: A New Hope, we find our heroes in the Rebel Alliance struggling in their war with the Galactic Empire. Following some daring escapades on the ice planet Hoth, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) flies off alone to seek training from the Jedi master Yoda, whilst Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) are forced to flee, eventually finding sanctuary in the Cloud City controlled by Han's old frenemy Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams). However, our heroes find that things aren't quite what they seem this time around - and events take a considerably darker turn than before, culminating in one of the most famous climactic revelations in film history regarding the villainous Darth Vader (once again played by David Prowese and voiced by James Earl Jones). While original Star Wars writer-director George Lucas is still executive producer and provided the story, this time the directing reins were handed to Irvin Kershner. Perhaps as a result of Kershner's more human touch, the performances feel more nuanced and three-dimensional than in the previous film, and there's a greater sense of emotional investment all around. The action is still every bit as awe-inspiring as in the original, highlights including the early Hoth battle, the Millennium Falcon's daring asteroid field escape, and the first lightsaber duel between Luke and Vader. Though its $33 million budget was one of the biggest in film history at the time, The Empire Strikes Back ultimately made almost $548 million in cinemas; adjusted for inflation, it's still the third highest earning Star Wars movie of them all (with the original in first, and 2015's The Force Awakens second).

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The Goonies

Released in 1985, The Goonies is an adventure comedy film co-produced and directed by Richard Donner. The story concerns a group of friends, the titular Goonies, whose neighbourhood is about to be demolished to make way for a country club. When the children discover an old pirate map in the attic, they follow it into an underground cavern in search of lost treasure, valuable enough to save their neighbourhood and more besides. The children are in competition with a criminal family led by Mama Fratelli (Anne Ramsey) who seek the treasure for their own ends. Starring Sean Astin, Corey Feldman, and many other child actors of the day, The Goonies is considered to be a quintessential adventure film and has developed a cult following. Among the film's many pop culture moments are the 'truffle shuffle', a fat-jiggling dance performed by Chunks (Jeff Cohen), and the line "Hey, you guys!" delivered by the youngest, deformed Fratelli brother, Sloth. While The Goonies never topped the box office - coming in second behind Rambo: First Blood Part II - it nonetheless made a healthy $126 million from a budget of $19 million. Much of the budget was spent on production design, including One-Eyed Willie's ship, which really was a full-sized replica of a pirate ship. Adding to the quirkiness of the film, the soundtrack was written and performed by Cyndi Lauper. The song, The Goonies 'R' Good Enough, was a top ten hit and appears briefly in the film, though the song wasn't completed until principal photography concluded. The music video stars much of the cast of the film, with the notable exceptions of Kerri Green and Anne Ramsey, alongside professional wrestlers Rowdy Roddy Piper and Captain Lou Albano.

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The Karate Kid

From the late 60s onwards, karate had gone from a mysterious Far Eastern art to something taught at sports centres and strip malls across the west. In the 70s, every kid enrolled in such classes hoping to become Bruce Lee; but in the 80s, we sought to follow in the footsteps of Daniel LaRusso, aka Daniel-san, of 1984's The Karate Kid. Daniel (Ralph Macchio) is a New Jersey teen recently moved to LA. Here he befriends cheerleader Ali (Elisabeth Shue), but becomes the target of her bullying ex-boyfriend Johnny (William Zabka), a Karate black belt. Humiliated, Daniel endeavours to learn karate himself – and finds an unlikely teacher in enigmatic handyman Mr Miyagi (Pat Morita). Oscar-winning Rocky director John G. Avildsen calls the shots on this similar underdog story, which screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen based in part on his own adolescent experiences. Thanks to his vulnerability, Macchio won the lead role over such stars as Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr. and Nicolas Cage. Daniel-san's headband became iconic, as did his signature crane kick – although in truth, this isn’t a karate move. A $91 million hit, The Karate Kid earned Best Supporting Actor Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Pat Morita, spawned three sequels including 1994 spin-off The Next Karate Kid, and was remade in 2010 with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. More recently, Ralph Macchio and William Zabka returned to the franchise with webseries Cobra Kai, and plans have also been announced for a Karate Kid stage musical.

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The Lost Boys

Directed by Joel Schumacher, The Lost Boys is a teen-oriented horror movie that rejuvenated the vampire for a new generation of audiences. With a handsome, charismatic ensemble cast, this 1987 box office hit helped launch the careers of many of its young up-and-coming stars. Set in the fictitious California beach town of Santa Carla (but in fact mostly shot in Santa Cruz), the film centres on teen brothers Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim), new in town with their struggling single mother Lucy (Dianne Wiest). Michael soon becomes infatuated with mysterious local girl Star (Jami Gertz) and falls in with her friends, a rebellious gang of long-haired, leather-clad bikers headed up by David (Kiefer Sutherland). After drinking a strange red liquid as part of a gang initiation, Michael finds himself experiencing nightmarish symptoms, and the younger Sam quickly realises the horrifying truth: his big brother is turning into a vampire. With a title that nods to Peter Pan, The Lost Boys was originally conceived as a children's film for Richard Donner to direct, as a companion piece to his earlier hit The Goonies; but when Donner decided instead to offer Joel Schumacher the director's chair, Schumacher 're-vamped' the project into something hipper, edgier and more mature. The Lost Boys marked the first collaboration of the 'Two Coreys,' Haim and Feldman, the latter of whom appears as comic book store clerk and self-proclaimed vampire hunter Edgar Frog; the teen idol duo would re-unite in several other films in the years ahead. It also gave an early role to Alex Winter, who would achieve fame alongside Keanu Reeves in 1988's Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Meanwhile, Kiefer Sutherland would re-unite with director Joel Schumacher in another teen-friendly horror, 1990's Flatliners. Two direct-to-DVD sequels would follow in 2008's Lost Boys: The Tribe and 2010's Lost Boys: The Thirst, while a TV reboot of the franchise is currently in the works.

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The NeverEnding Story

"Turn around, look at what you see..." It may be remembered primarily for the unforgettably cheesy theme song sung by Limahl (and more recently immortalised in season three of Stranger Things), but 1984's The NeverEnding Story is among the most striking, mind-bending family adventure movies ever made. Bastian (Barret Oliver, later seen in D.A.R.Y.L. and Cocoon) is a lonely social outcast, mourning the loss of his mother and targeted by school bullies. Fleeing from his bullies one morning, he takes refuge in an old bookstore, where the old bookseller tells him of a book entitled The NeverEnding Story. Fascinated, Bastian 'borrows' the book and sneaks off to read it, and is immediately swept away into the tale of magical world Fantasia. The story tells him of a brave young hero named Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) who is charged with finding a cure to a sickness which has befallen the Empress, whilst the world around them is slowly being consumed by a dark force known as The Nothing. However, the more Bastian reads, the more drawn into the story he becomes, until he realises it may not just be a story at all. Although it's in English with a largely American cast, viewers may not have realised that The NeverEnding Story is actually a German production; the most expensive ever made in the country up to that point ($27 million). Adapted from Michael Ende's novel (of which it uses only the first half of the story), it was the first English language film from director Wolfgang Petersen, who would go on to make such Hollywood hits as Outbreak, Air Force One and The Perfect Storm. While the film proved largely popular with audiences and critics, one person it didn't win over was author Michael Ende. Feeling the film did not adhere closely enough to his novel in tone or content, Ende sued the filmmakers, blasting their work as "gigantic melodrama of kitsch, commerce, plush and plastic." However, Ende lost his lawsuit, and was unable to prevent The NeverEnding Story from becoming a franchise: The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter (based on the second half of the novel) was released in 1990; followed by The NeverEnding Story III: Escape from Fantasia (an original story not based on Ende’s work) in 1993.

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The Shining

Although it received a tepid response upon its 1980 release, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining has since been hailed as "the most stately, artful horror ever made," and is considered one of the most terrifying films of all time. Adapted from the landmark Stephen King novel of the same name, The Shining sees aspiring writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) take a job as a caretaker at the mysterious Overlook Hotel for the winter months. While there, he and his family (Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd) encounter a series of strange and horrifying situations that ultimately drive Torrance mad. The film has become infamous for the scene in which Torrance tears through a door with an axe in an attempt to kill his wife and child. It was revealed in Making The Shining, a fly-on-the-wall documentary created by Kubrick's daughter, Vivian, that Shelley Duvall collapsed from exhaustion after providing a series of escalatingly hysterical takes. Nicholson's infamous line, "Here's Johnny!", taken from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, originally fell on deaf ears with the British Kubrick and was nearly cut. It has since become one of the most enduring lines in film history. The Shining was something of a sleeper hit at the box office, ultimately grossing $46.2 million on a budget of $19 million, though critical responses were mixed. A Variety review pilloried the film, lamenting that "Kubrick has teamed with jumpy Jack Nicholson to destroy all that was so terrifying about Stephen King's bestseller." King himself was similarly nonplussed, and even supervised a rival version made for television. In retrospect, the miniseries has been compared unfavourably to Kubrick's film.

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The Terminator

Directed by James Cameron and starring former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger as the eponymous killing machine, 1984's The Terminator is a science fiction film that proved to be a breakthrough for both its director and its star. Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) is sent back in time from a post-apocalyptic future where machines have overthrown humanity, his mission being to protect Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), whose son will grow up to lead the human resistance. However, the machines have also sent something back in time: a terminator, a machine encased in living tissue with the sole purpose of eliminating Connor. Made on a budget of only $6.4 million, The Terminator topped the North American box office for two weeks and accrued a worldwide haul of $78.3 million. Not only that, but the film spawned a wildly successful sequel in 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day as well as a further four films. The Terminator continues to be a pop culture stalwart, most notably for Schwarzenegger's delivery of "I'll be back," a line repeated not only in further films in the franchise, but also in other Schwarzenegger projects and countless other films. The actor had previously struggled to find work in Hollywood due to his thick, Austrian accent, but a string of action and comedy roles soon arrived in droves. Schwarzenegger would later parlay his iconic performances into a run for the governorship of California; while running, and once elected, he frequently became known as 'the Governator' in reference to his 1984 role. The character was most recently revived in 2019's Terminator: Dark Fate, which saw Schwarzenegger reunite with Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and James Cameron as producer.

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Top Gun

Starring Tom Cruise as a maverick fighter pilot, Top Gun is one of the 80s' most commercially successful films, and much of its dialogue continues to be referenced in popular culture. Released in 1986 and directed by Tony Scott (and produced by the legendary blockbuster duo Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer), the film sees Cruise's Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell attempt to overcome the death of his best friend, Goose, and continue his promising aviation career. Produced on a surprisingly slim budget of $15 million, the film grossed a remarkable $386 million at the worldwide box office. Cruise, who had previously succeeded in coming-of-age comedies like Risky Business, was turned into a blockbuster megastar virtually overnight. Critical response to the film, however, was mixed. The aerial action sequences were praised, but the dialogue-heavy scenes were less well-received. Nevertheless, the film scooped a statuette, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song for Berlin's Take My Breath Away. The film is also closely associated with the Kenny Loggins track Danger Zone, which was originally set to be recorded by Toto. Ultimately, disputes with Toto's lawyers nudged the band out of the project. As a result of their prominence in the film, sales of bomber jackets and aviator sunglasses increased significantly, and the film became the world's best-selling VHS cassette, with 2.9 million units shipped. A sequel has been in development for several years, though it stalled after Scott's death in 2012. Titled Top Gun: Maverick, the film will see Cruise reprise his role as Mitchell, who has now become an instructor for TOPGUN. The film was originally scheduled for release in June 2019, but was later pushed back to December 2020.

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