So, to tie in with Tranquil Dreams and Drew’s Ultimate 80s Blogathon, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite films from the 80s. There’s a fair old mix, but I believe they capture some of the best the era had to offer.
The Killing Fields (1984)
The Killing Fields relives the account of a photographer who got trapped in Cambodia during tyrant Pol Pot’s ‘Year Zero’ cleansing campaign; the struggles he overcame to get out of the country and the friends he made along the way. It’s one of those films that serves as a real eye-opener to the events that took place during the brutal regime the Cambodian tyrant led, and is one that will be difficult to forget for anyone who takes the time to watch it due to transparency with which it was made.
The Untouchables (1987)
In Brian De Palma’s crime drama where Kevin Costner’s FBI Agent Ness goes after Robert De Niro’s Al Capone, thrills are a-plenty. The Untouchables was a film I convinced my parents to let me watch years ago as I told them that it would help me with my history lessons, and I was very glad my little bit of cunning trickery went a long way. It’s a very slick piece of work with an all-star cast which really captured the struggles the Law had with bringing down the original Scarface during the Prohibition Era.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
Just qualifying for my list is The Blues Brothers – the action-packed crime-comedy that as confirmed itself as a cult classic. In it, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi make an excellent comedy pairing as the title characters as they set off on a mission from God to save the Catholic orphanage they were raised in. It’s another all-star ensemble that’s backed up by music royalty, meaning that it’s worth watching just for the music (which, by the way, is fabulous).
The Shining (1980)
Here’s Johnny! Also just scraping in is The Shining – Stanley Kubrick’s tremendous adaptation of Stephen King’s novel where a family suffers at the hands of a spiritual presence during their winter holiday. Jack Nicholson absolutely kicks ass in this one, and who can forget him beating his way through those door panels into the bathroom where his terrified wife stood, screaming hysterically, with nothing but a kitchen knife in her hand? It was proof again of Kubrick’s directorial talent, and of how well King’s novels translate into film.
Beverly Hills cop (1984)
Well, if you want a good laugh, look no further than Eddie Murphy’s freewheeling Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop. I’d love to know how many tears have been shed throughout all three films, but I’d have a guess and say that at least half of them resulted from this one. It’s the original, and in my eyes, it’s the best, and showed the world how the field of police work is flooded with comedic material.
Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
Robin Williams had us in stitches as the unorthodox and irreverent DJ who shakes things up when he’s assigned to the US Armed Services Radio station in Vietnam. The film, which was largely improvised by Williams, also has hints of a winning buddy movie as Forest Whitaker co-stars as the serviceman given the job of showing Williams’ Adrian Cronauer the ropes. Good Morning, Vietnam takes a slightly lighter look at the war America would rather forget about, and I think that’s why audiences loved it so much.
The Evil Dead (1981)
The thought of watching this one terrified me, but over the summer I finally got the guts to see it. I really enjoyed The Evil Dead, which told the story of five friends who travel to a cabin in the woods for a few days where they unwittingly release flesh-possessing demons. It’s a film that was ahead of its time when it came to make-up and special effects and whilst it might be a bit of a fright-fest, it’s also a wonderful bit of fun.
Lethal Weapon (1987)
There’s not a fat lot not to like about the first instalment of the smash-hit franchise starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as the mismatched detectives we all know and love by now. Lethal Weapon was the original buddy movie that set the standard that a lot of films have since tried (and many failed) to meet. It’s a hard one not to love and it’s probably an epitome of the 80s; Gibson’s mullet, Maverick cops and major political incorrectness.
Sooner or later, I was always going to crow-bar a bit of Al Pacino onto this list and , of course, it had to be with Scarface that I did this. It’s near-on three hours long and full of raucous fun and endlessly quotable lines that I absolutely love, and whilst Pacino’s Tony Montana isn’t a character with the highest morals, you can’t help but feel slightly sorrowful when he meets his end and the credits start rolling. You’ll be hooked, you’ll laugh, but most importantly, you won’t be able to stop saying that line (and let’s face it, you’re doing it right now).
Die Hard (1988)
As we reach number one, I admit to you that there was never going to be anything else other than Die Hard that was going to be in the top spot. However, Bruce Willis’ tour-de-force is there not only because it is a great film and one of my all-time favourites, but because it’s probably the reason I love film so much. Plus, it broke new ground in the action genre and is full of witty lines that, again, you’ll be saying for weeks after watching. Yippee ki-yay!
There you have it – my ten best 80s films. There’s certainly a bit of variety there, but the general gist of things suggest that, for me, film in the 80s was all about action and quick-witted lines. What about you? Do you agree with any of the films on my list? Or would you stick something else on there?