We’re Ranking Our Way Through ’80s Movies in 80 Words!
As quarantine hit during the year of our chaos, 2020, I wanted to look for fun way to fill my time that could be shared. Realizing there were a ton of 80’s classics I had not seen, I asked everyone for their favorite movies from the decade of Spielberg and cocaine.
Everyone’s responses were collected into a spreadshee. Many of the obvious ones I’d seen (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Goonies, Dirty Dancing, etc.). Now I’m making my way through the ones I haven’t and ranking the new entries as I see them for the first time.
I draw a new movie at random from the list of the ones I haven’t seen every week on my Instagram channel @thomasafowler. If you want to see what movies are on the list, visit that spreadsheet here. Don’t see an Eighties classic I’ve missed? Feel free to send me a message on social media or in the comments.
Let’s Get Ranking!
1. ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK
Damn, this movie is cool. It’s filled with so many cliches that it probably helped create in film: (i.e. save the President, he’s the only one who’s escaped the inescapable location, etc.) Wish some side characters got more development (hello, random girl who needs help from Snake, you’re making a real connection quite fast, and…you’re dead). Did Snake Plissken inspire Vin Diesel’s mumble-talk? But the style is deliciously early eighties. John Carpenter is amazing, so many great classics.
2. FRIDAY THE 13TH
Saw this years ago but didn’t remember it, so it was “new to me.” Really love the narrative of this all, it makes sense and therefore creates a villain where you don’t agree with their actions in the slightest; however, you get what drove them there. Definitely a horror game changer. Want to watch the rest of the series to see how it evolves since I think most people’s perception (my own included) of Jason Vorhees evolves through the series.
This movie is equal parts eighties insanity and relatively coherent storytelling. It makes complete sense that the director of this was the guy who directed Bubba Ho-Tep. Some problematic approach to romance: when our hero said the words, “I’m not a threat to you” to the heroine, I didn’t believe, or agree with that statement. Also wonder if this movie is responsible for additional legal rules regarding animal treatment in film. Really enjoyable movie, especially with a drink in hand.
4. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD
Simple 80’s horror fun. Played with zombie tropes really well, messing with the Romero norms. Would work as a remake today playing with Walking Dead and modern day zombie pop-culture. The blend of comedy and horror was well done. The justification for why zombies eat brains was inventive. “Simple” may not be the right word because it knew exactly what it was doing and aiming to achieve. Zombie movie fans should absolutely watch this one if you haven’t seen it.
A cult classic, the movie included a ton of upfront storytelling and build to a bonkers, blast of an ending. The task of getting there does wear thin after a while, relying on the charisma of the incredible cast to carry it until it all pays off. A phenomenal closure helps cover for what was an enjoyable, but not overly remarkable, first two acts. The last line of the movie is legendary, throwing one last wrench into the audience’s expectations.
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