Earlier this month, Tim from the YouTube channel Tim Talks Talkies put out the request for the community’s Top 25 ‘80s Movies List. Ranking them from 1 to 25, he and his team will compile the lists, giving points for which numbers the films land. The deadline for submission is Midnight on July 31st, with two streams detailing the assembled lists to follow, so be sure to submit a list. Tim has received my list already, so here are the films I picked and the order in which they landed, along with an explanation as to how I first fell in love with them or why they loom so large in my legend. I also included any copies of the films that I own.


Gremlins (1984)

“Gremlins” is an iconic movie I often watched around Christmastime as a kid. The practical effects grabbed my attention, with the adorable mogwai that became a gremlin after its owner broke the three rules, and I just loved the mayhem that broke out. I’m also a big fan of Phoebe Cates

Directed by Joe Dante
Original Release Date: June 8, 1984
Warner Bros. Pictures + Amblin Entertainment

The Goonies (1985)

You’ll find Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment involved in many films I love from the eighties. Not only with “Gremlins,” but also “The Goonies.” As a boy growing up in the eighties and nineties, it was hard to avoid “The Goonies” and not having your adventurous side piqued. The perils these young characters found themselves in were thrilling for younger me, and the distinct personalities of each boy were unforgettable.

Directed by Richard Donner
Original Release Date: June 7, 1985
Warner Bros. Pictures + Amblin Entertainment

The Land Before Time (1988)

“The Land Before Time” is a film I probably haven’t watched in a couple of decades, yet there are still parts of the film that I remember, like the character name of “Petrie” and the image of the leaves that the characters constantly try to eat. Again, produced by Amblin Entertainment, the animation was captivating at the time of its release, and although I never watched any of the sequels that followed, the characters’ camaraderie was a highlight in my childhood.

Directed by Don Bluth
Original Release Date: November 18, 1988
Universal Pictures + Amblin Entertainment

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Granted, I didn’t know what film noir was as a kid; the gritty nature of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” was riveting to me. The mixing of real-life elements with the animated world was precisely what I craved as a kid. Add in the voluptuous Jessica Rabbit and it had more than enough to capture my attention as a burgeoning young boy.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Original Release Date: June 22, 1988
Touchstone Pictures + Amblin Entertainment

The Thing (1982)

The first time I saw “The Thing” was in a horror film class in college. We would analyze horror films and flesh out the “other” in each of them. Between this film and “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” I finally started to grasp the concept with specific clarity, and I’ve appreciated this film for that ever since. There are also great performances, especially from Kurt Russell, and the practical effects live on as some of the scariest and most grotesque.

Directed by John Carpenter
Original Release Date: June 25, 1982
Universal Pictures

Blade Runner (1982)

Growing up, we all knew Harrison Ford as Han Solo or Indiana Jones. But seeing Ford in the darker, grittier “Blade Runner” was much more memorable. It was one of the first times I realized that actors could play many different roles. As most of the concepts were over my head when I first saw this, I didn’t fully appreciate the film until I was older. And even more so when “Blade Runner 2049” came out. The sci-fi elements helped me fall in love with the genre.

Directed by Ridley Scott
Original Release Date: June 25, 1982
Warner Bros. Pictures

Aliens (1986)

The first “Alien” movie is one of my all-time favorite films and set the bar high regarding the genre. And even though the sequel loses much about the original that I love, “Aliens” is still an incredible film and helped spawn the franchise that is still ongoing today. I wouldn’t call myself a massive fan of James Cameron’s work, despite a few of the films on this list having his name attached, but overall, he does a decent job with this.

Directed by James Cameron
Original Release Date: July 18, 1986
20th Century Fox

Rocky III (1982)

When it comes to “Rocky” films, they’re all remembered, more or less, for their villains. “Rocky III” has Mr. T playing “Clubber” Lang, bringing a dangerousness and coolness to the role that’s never really pulled off by anyone else in the franchise, ultimately making him my favorite of Rocky’s opponents. This third entry also starts the friendship between Rocky and Apollo Creed, differing from their rivalry in the first two.

Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Original Release Date: May 28, 1982
United Artists + Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The Terminator (1984)

I adore the “Terminator” franchise, but James Cameron’s original isn’t the most accessible. However, it sets the stage for what’s to come with a groundbreaking screenplay and some impressive visual effects. I prefer “Judgment Day,” but you’ve got to give credit where credit is due and honor the original accordingly.

Directed by James Cameron
Original Release Date: October 26, 1984
Orion Pictures

Porky’s (1982)

“Porky’s” was shown to me at a much-too-young age, but I attribute it to my sense of humor and enjoyment of R-rated comedies still to this day. Viewing the film was more or less a similar act to the boys using a peephole in the girl’s locker room shower to spy on naked girls. At the time of my first viewing, I knew very little of the mechanics of sex, yet it all landed funny to me, and I enjoyed the comedy all the same.

Directed by Bob Clark
Original Release Date: March 19, 1982
20th Century Fox

Batman (1989)

When listing favorite ‘80s movies, it’s hard to pass up 1989’s “Batman.” Michael Keaton was a great Batman, Jack Nicholson brought a unique flair to the Joker, and Kim Basinger proved to be a scene-stealer. As a kid, Batman was not my first choice in superheroes, and Tim Burton’s style was slightly over my head. Still, elements like the Batmobile and the Danny Elfman score kept my interest in this film intact until I was old enough to appreciate it genuinely.

Directed by Tim Burton
Original Release Date: June 23, 1989
Warner Bros. Pictures

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

You couldn’t grow up in the eighties and nineties without experiencing “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” Steven Spielberg was at the height of his powers, adding heart and humility to the alien tale. Everything clicks, from the practical effects of E.T. to the family dynamic of the siblings, including the incredible debut of Drew Barrymore. With so many unforgettable scenes, like the bikes flying past the moon or the “E.T. phone home” dialogue, this is the ‘80s at its finest, and the VHS played constantly in our household.

Directed by Steven Spielberg
Original Release Date: June 11, 1982
Universal Pictures + Amblin Entertainment

Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird (1985)

Sesame Street was a large part of my childhood, so it was an instant favorite when I discovered a feature-length film, “Follow That Bird,” where Big Bird goes to live with a new family away from his nest on Sesame Street. Much in the same vein as another favorite of mine, “The Muppet Movie,” some of its themes and homages were over my head as a kid but have landed as I’ve grown and revisited the films.

Directed by Ken Kwapis
Original Release Date: August 2, 1985
Warner Bros. Pictures

The Little Mermaid (1989)

Besides maybe “The Fox and the Hound,” 1989’s “The Little Mermaid” is one of the only Walt Disney animated films from the 80s that struck a chord with me. One of the first to nail the musical aspect, the songs were omnipresent in my childhood. Marketed more for little girls, I still enjoyed the film, especially the characters of Flounder and Sebastian. Ursula is voiced perfectly by Pat Carroll, offering an incredible villain, and Samuel E. Wright, as the voice of Sebastian, has to land as some of the best voice casting ever.

Directed by John Musker and Ron Clements
Original Release Date: November 17, 1989
Walt Disney Pictures

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

I have distinct memories of watching “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” with my family and bonding over our enjoyment of the comedy. My parents often compared our family dynamic to the Griswolds, and the “shitters full” line from Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) was a staple in our household. With so many memorable jokes and situations, it remains one of my favorite Christmas movies ever and at the top of my favorite National Lampoon films.

Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik
Original Release Date: December 1, 1989
Warner Bros. Pictures

Honey I Shrunk The Kids (1989)

The idea of shrinking and getting lost in your backyard, where ants are the size of dinosaurs and raindrops could drown you, captivated my imagination at the highest level as a kid. Delivering “Honey I Shrunk The Kids” in live action with practical effects under the Walt Disney name with a Roger Rabbit short attached to the front of it was everything I could have wanted at that age, with the bonus of being my introduction to the incredible Rick Moranis.

Directed by Joe Johnston
Original Release Date: June 23, 1989
Walt Disney Pictures

Return of the Jedi (1983)

As a kid, I disliked the Ewoks in “Return of the Jedi.” Thank goodness, there were so many other elements that I loved, including the non-CGI version of Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett. I didn’t have the toys, but my closest friend at the time did, so we spent countless hours in his parent’s garden pitting Luke against Vader.

Directed by Richard Marquand
Original Release Date: May 25, 1983
20th Century Fox

Poltergeist (1982)

“Poltergeist” terrified me as a kid and is still unsettling to watch even to this day. Craig T. Nelson, Zelda Rubinstein, and Heather O’Rourke (“Carol Anne”) deliver instant classic performances. Whether it’s the scenes with the static on the television, the murderous clowns, the maggot-infested meat, or the skeletons surfacing in the pool, there are scenes in this movie that are perpetually unforgettable.

Directed by Tobe Hooper
Original Release Date: June 4, 1982
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer + Amblin Productions

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Indiana Jones made archeology look awesome, and I’m surprised I wasn’t somewhat inclined to follow that as a profession as I grew up. Harrison Ford was the pinnacle of cool in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and the adventures often carried over into many playtimes in my youth.

Directed by Steven Spielberg
Original Release Date: June 12, 1981
Paramount Pictures

Ghostbusters (1984)

Everything about 1984’s “Ghostbusters” is incredible, from the fantastic ensemble cast (Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, Hudson, Weaver, Moranis, and Potts) to the special effects and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in the final boss battle. It holds up and has yet to be topped.

Directed by Ivan Reitman
Original Release Date: June 8, 1984
Columbia Pictures

Stand By Me (1986)

Shortly after discovering Stephen King’s novels, the film “Stand By Me” landed on my radar. Hitting me at just the right age, the four boys journeying to find a dead body is just the amount of sincerity and darkness that I found intriguing at that age and still holds up. Capturing what works best from adapting King’s work, the characters are front-and-center, with the macabre supporting the characters rather than the other way around.

Directed by Rob Reiner
Original Release Date: August 22, 1986
Columbia Pictures

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

One of the best sequels of all time, “The Empire Strikes Back,” takes everything you like about the original “Star Wars” and takes it to another level. As shocked as everyone was when “Infinity War” ended on a cliffhanger, “The Empire Strikes Back” left several storylines hanging off a cliff, metaphorically and literally. The set pieces are some of the most memorable, the stakes get elevated, and Luke is a much more enjoyable character than in the original.

Directed by Irvin Kershner
Original Release Date: May 21, 1980
20th Century Fox

Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Apart from the original, which sets the stage for the sequels, “Back to the Future Part II” has most of the iconic elements we know and love from the franchise, including the Hover Board and Biff’s sports almanac. The costumes are great, Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd continue to play the roles perfectly, and it’s so interesting to see where the filmmakers thought we’d be by 2015.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Original Release Date: November 22, 1989
Universal Pictures + Amblin Entertainment

Back to the Future (1985)

As enjoyable as the sequels are, the original “Back to the Future” will always be my favorite. The concept of a time-traveling DeLorean was wholly original, Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd set the bar for on-screen duos, and the overall film feels untouchable, where I hope they never remake it. It’s a beautiful balance of sci-fi, comedy, and drama, allowing for suspense when the characters are racing against time. It’s a classic and one of my favorite movies of all time.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Original Release Date: July 3, 1985
Universal Pictures + Amblin Entertainment

The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” is my favorite Stephen King adaptation, my favorite film of the 80s and any year. Despite King not liking the liberties that Kubrick took with his story, the acting, production design, and film’s overall eerie feel make it stick out above all the other King adaptations. Kubrick finds a way to focus on the characters and their pathos while also making every hallway corner suspenseful.

Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Original Release Date: May 23, 1980
Warner Bros. Pictures

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