Big hair, puffy shoulder pads and the Sony Walkman (THE music-listening device to have if you wanted to be considered cool) – the ’80s was a time of synth-pop, fashion disasters and the rise of the blockbuster film. Movies from this decade were bigger, badder and louder than ever before, with films spanning every single genre, and certain actors and directors quickly becoming household names.
Here are seven must-watch blockbusters from the decade that brought us MTV, Madonna, Maradona and the Muppet Babies (Google them).
Top Gun (1986)
Guys all over the world wanted to become fighter pilots after watching Top Gun, which tells the story of hotshot fighter pilot Maverick (Tom Cruise), whose reckless attitude to flying and cocky personality puts him at odds with other pilots at an elite flying school. The film’s stunningly choreographed flight scenes are as exciting now as they were when first released, and the struggles Maverick goes through to be the best pilot ever, as well as trying to win the heart of flight instructor, Charlotte Blackwood (Kelly McGillis), are as gripping as ever.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Harrison Ford was a busy actor during the 70s and the 80s, starring in legendary films like Star Wars, Blade Runner and of course the Indiana Jones franchise. There’s probably no better film in the Steven Spielberg-directed series than Raiders of the Lost Ark, which follows Indiana Jones (Ford) as he tries to beat a group of Nazis to the Ark of the Covenant. With big, sweeping landscapes, hilarious one-liners, and a stunning score by John Williams, this film ranks as one of the best films of not just the 80s, but any decade. Watch out for the quite literally face-meltingly awesome finale.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Ford wasn’t the only busy bee in the ’80s – Spielberg helmed more than his fair share of blockbusters this decade, including the legendary E.T. A lonely boy, Elliott, befriends an alien stranded on Earth who just wants to go home. Elliott and his siblings hide the extraterrestrial from the US government and try to find a way to get the alien back home. This film was so popular at the time that it became the highest-grossing movie of all time for 10 years.
Back to the Future (1985)
The Back to the Future franchise started here, with a film that perfectly sums up the decade’s love of cross-genre flicks, and managed to – somehow – combine sci-fi, action, comedy and romance.
Teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) travels 30 years back in time, but needs to find a way back to the present. He meets his parents during their teens, and ends up changing the course of his own history. Can he set things right in 1955 and make it back to 1985? You’ll have to wait and see. It’s worth the watch.
Filled with crazy sight gags, funny verbal puns and immeasurably quotable lines, Airplane! is one of the first films anyone names when talking about spoof comedies – and for good reason. Ted Striker (Robert Hays) has to overcome his fear of flying after passengers and cabin crew suffer from food poisoning, leaving Striker forced to take the helm. The film is often considered one of the funniest of all time, and features a whole raft of cameos from famous faces back in the day.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
“We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.” There’s no-one in the world that can’t identify with that, which is part of the reason why The Breakfast Club is probably the best teen film of all time. All time. Don’t fight me on this. A brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal find themselves stuck in weekend detention. By the end of the film, they find they are more than their stereotypes make them out to be, and they have more in common with each other than they thought.
When there’s something strange in the neighbourhood, what ya gonna watch? Ghostbusters, of course! The 2016 remake is great, but not a patch on the 1984 original starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson as the ghostbusters, a team that track down ghosts in New York City. When they find out a downtown building has become a gateway to another dimension – one that’ll unleash all sorts of paranormal beings upon the world – the quartet set out to close the gateway before it’s too late. The film gave us a fabulously catchy theme tune, a spin-off cartoon series and a burning desire to build our own proton pack weapons.