Geek Guide to 80’s Movies (1985-1989)!

Jondee here in the Labyrinth,

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The 80’s were reaching their heights with John Hughes chronicling most of it with Sixteen Candles (1984), The Breakfast Club the following year, and then Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in 1986. The Cold War was reaching it’s apex, this was seen in the tv movie, The Day After (1983), War Games in that same year, and the defend America film, Red Dawn (1984). The end of the Star Wars trilogy started a search for the next hit films. Would it rest in Star Trek with Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)? The 80’s films continue. 1985 brought us another Spielberg produced film, The Goonies, directed by Richard Donner, and featured a cast of young talent, Sean Astin, who would grow into Samwise’s feet, it was a fun group thrown into a wild adventure. Young Sherlock Holmes gave us a glimpse of CG technology with a nightmare vision of a stained glass knight come to life. The film was a first meeting between a young Sherlock and Watson. Fantasy turned into surreal beauty and nightmare in Ridley Scott’s Legend. Donner also directed the beautiful Ladyhawke that had Matthew Broderick’s thief caught in the story of two cursed lovers, Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer. One of the interesting sci fi entries was Enemy Mine from Wolfgang Petersen. It had a human pilot facing his alien enemy and forced to understand each other to survive.

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Speaking of which, in 1986, the crew of the Enterprise returned in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home which set Kirk and friends in our world. We also had James Cameron continuing the xenomorph threat with Aliens, he brought in the military to take down the aliens and the Queen Alien, giving it the feel of Robert Heinlein’s novel, Starship Troopers. In fantasy, we have the vision of Jim Henson in Labyrinth, David Bowie’s performance as Jareth the Goblin King has the right amount of charisma, fun, and threat. “Dance magic, dance!” We tapped into genetic manipulation with The Fly, not a remake of the 50’s horror film, but of the loss of humanity on Kafka Metamorphosis levels as seen in Jeff Goldblum’s scientist. The life of an immortal was seen in Christopher Lambert’s Connor MacLeod, The Highlander, which led to several sequels and spinoff tv series. John Carpenter struck a mixture of fantasy and kung fu in Big Trouble in Little China. Two notes for animation, there is Hayao Miyazki’s Castle in the Sky and also The Transformers: The Movie, which moved the cartoon to film, “You got the touch, you got the power!” 1987 brought the Predator hunting Arnold Schwarzenegger in the jungle. We also got the cyborg enforcement of Robocop and Joe Dante shrunk Dennis Quaid into clerk Martin Short in Innerspace. Christopher Reeve donned Superman’s uniform in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. What was stunning was seeing the vampires with the distorted forehead (first time?) in The Lost Boys, a clever turn on horror movies dipping into a mythology. Still, the movie of the year was the modest hit, Princess Bride, featuring William Goldman’s clever script, “As you wish.”

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1988 had a wide range of films with the Lucas produced Willow bringing morphing effects into popularity and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen gave an esoteric vision of Terry Gilliam. Even wilder fantasy brought cartoons into our world with Robert Zemeckis’ Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It gave nostalgia for classic cartoons, gave us a new wacky character, and also the sexiest cartoon in Mrs. Jessica Rabbit. We had the immigration problems magnified in Alien Nation with a script by Rockne S. O’Bannon. More fun was Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice which had Michael Keaton, more on him later, as the trickster supernatural figure. Hayao Miyazaki created his masterpiece, My Neighbor Totoro, easily out rivaling anything produced by Disney. We also had the anime brilliance of Akira, a post-apocalyptic future created by Katsuhiro Otomo. Returning to Burton and Keaton, there was Batman, this was the first blockbuster comic book movie even stronger than Donner’s Superman, a dark vision that was more about the Joker than the Dark Knight. Indiana Jones rode off into the sunset in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Zemeckis continued Marty and Doc’s adventures in Back to the Future Part II and we also had a time traveling phone booth in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. James Cameron went to The Abyss and found the CG created NTIs. The close of the 80’s brought the next renaissance in animation. We had the anime/western hybrid, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland and an animated film called The BFG, reminds me of a film about a giant that is coming in July. We had another Miyazaki classic in Kiki’s Delivery Service. Still, tails off, to Disney returning to the animated shores with The Little Mermaid. Here are the top 5 80’s films; 5 The Abyss, 4 The Highlander, 3 Labyrinth, 2 The Little Mermaid, 1 The Princess Bride. 

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