My Top 40 Greatest 80’s Movies

J M Yingst

In no specific order, I’d like to share my favorite movies of the Great Decade- the 80s. Weird plots, bad acting and worse clothes, yet strangely enough its movies have an eerie draw to them. Now, when I say 80s I’m using it loosely- by that I mean the certain style that has cultivated into its own genre. Allow me to take you down the boulevard of classlessness of an old tradition long gone, but not forgotten: cheesy movies from the 80s.

( Here’s the first 20 of 40 movies; the second half follows next week)

1~ The Breakfast Club: Altogether, a great movie. Funny, tear-jerking and the beginning of the “Brat Pack”….what else could you want. The film birthed the creation of the ultimate badass, John Bender. “Brian, this is a very nutritious lunch. All the food groups are represented. Did your mom marry Mr. Rogers? Uh, no. Mr. Johnson.”

2~ Better Off Dead: John Cusack, young and hopeless. What doesn’t he touch that turns to gold? Demented and funny as hell- a classic cult comedy. “I want my $2!”

3~ Over the Top~ Possibly the worst acting ever. Stalone delivers quality meathead-ness. “This hat is like a switch…”

4~ Rad: BMX bad-asses meet Full House. Aunt Becky (Lori Laughlin) from Full House co-stars in the Rocky of the BMX world.

5~Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Amazingly written and made, as well as great cinematography. If you haven’t seen it you must be dead. “Good point there. He was the walrus. I could be the walrus and I’d still have to bum rides off people.”

6~ Lucas: Corey Haim, a contender for the All-80s title, acts his little heart out in this coming of age story slash a “root for the geek” flick. Possibly the beginning of the “slow clap” in 80s film. Charlie Sheen and Kerri Green co-star.

7~ Gotcha: Anthony Edwards stars in “Gotcha”, a story of a college kid/ paintballer’s European vacation which turns into espionage and love. Badass and comedic, go rent it…if the video stores have it!

8~ Gleaming the Cube: Christian Slater and Tony Hawk star in this coming of age about a skater who avenges his adopted Asian brother’s death. Part comedic, part skateboarding, part action, all 80s.

9~ Best of the Best: Eric Roberts and Chris Penn star in this American classic of martial arts. Complete East meets West. The US Karate Team travels to Seoul, South Korea to challenge their favored counterpart. This one will prick your heart. At an additional note, Eric Roberts gives the worst over-acting performance in cinematic history.

10~ Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: Before Keanu Reeves’ “I know kung-fu” and “I caught my first tube today, …sir” came such lines as “All we are is dust in the wind, dude” and “I’m Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan.” And we owe it all to Bill and Ted’s. Here’s why our generation is so messed up. Reaves’ bad acting pretty much all started here. Another must see. “San Dimas High School football rules!!!”

11~ Big Trouble in Little China: John Carpenter’s creation allowed Kurt Russell and Kim Catrall to lead a pack of 80s greats in and out of San Francisco Chinatown’s underworld of demons and ancient warriors. Some of the best lines in film, incredible special effects (for the 80s, at least) and an alluring storyline. An all around great. “When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, looks you crooked in the eye and asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like that: ‘Have ya paid your dues , Jack?’ ‘ Yessir, the check is in the mail.'”

12~ One Crazy Summer: John Cusack, Demi Moore and Bobcat Goldwaith star in this hilarious, bizarre comedy about a guy’s (Cusack’s) post-graduate summer in Nantucket. One of the 80s finest. [Reading obituaries] “Hey Hoops, you ever notice how people die in alphabetical order?”

13~ The Karate Kid: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue and 80s Championship bully, William Zabka shatter records and careers in the first Karate Kid. Since when are people sympathetic of teenager geeks from Newark? I’ll admit, I watched it a thousand times when I was young. “Kobra Kai, do or die!”

14~ UHF: Weird Al Yankovic and Michael Richards, along with an indifferent cast twist and turn through George Newman’s (Yankovic’s) distorted daydream life and into the reality of Newman owning his own UHF television station. The UHF channel premiered such shows as “Conan the Librarian,” “Wheel of Fish” and “Stanley Spudowski’s Playhouse.” “Oh, Joel Miller. You’re a lucky, lucky boy ’cause you know why? You get to drink from the fire hose!

15~National Lampoon Vacations: All are great, and unique. Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid and Beverly D’Angelo lead hilarious vacations throughout the globe. Every movie lends a new set of Russ and Audrey, Chase and D’Angelo’s kids. Some include 80s legend and icon, Anthony Michael Hall, and Juliet Lewis. Cameos galore, including John Candy. “‘I’m going steady, and I French kiss.’ ‘So? Everybody does that.’ ‘ Yeah but Daddy says I’m the best at it.'”

16~ Howard the Duck~ Where else can you see Lea Thompson get touchy-feely with a stuffed duck. Terrible acting and writing. But then again that’s why it’s funny.

17~ Dream a Little Dream: Corey Feldman and Corey Haim together in yet another movie. When a young mind and an old mind swap during a bicycle accident, lives can change (the movie isn’t as lame as my last sentence). Funny and somewhat deep. “Wow, I always thought SAT meant Saturday Afternoon Test. What is up?”

18~ Back to the Future: Three words…Michael, J and Fox. The movie is an excellent paradigm of the 80s, but with all the promise film had to look forward to in the 90s. You can’t go wrong when Huey Lewis is in the movie, as well as, supplies the soundtrack with a number one hit. Classic 80s.

19~ The Goonies: Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin, 80s legend Corey Feldman, Jonathon Ke Quan of the Indiana Jones Series,
Kerri Green, and all-time evil mother Anne Ramsey, plus many more lead the way in a Steven Spielberg/Richard Donner collaboration. A youth number one hit. Lots of laughs and one-liners.”The Truffle Shuffle.” “Hey you guys!!!” “Rockyroad.”

20~ Just One of the Guys: William Zabka again lends an outstanding bully role to this work. The film includes a cast of nobodies, but is extremely funny. The plot goes like this….girl fakes she’s a boy to get journalism job, finds herself in process. Full of one-liners. [On the phone] ” Hey yo, scumbag! Suck your own! Eat me! [Hangs up phone, tells sister], “Mom says hi.”

Remember, these are my favorites, but let me know some of the ones you thought to be on the list. Let me know at the message board section of

If you enjoyed this article you should read, My Favorite 80’s Movies, Part 2