Sunday, June 16
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The Best ’80s Movies You Can Stream Right Now


Imagine, if you will, a time of wild economic inequality, global conflict, and Donald Trump every time you turn on your TV. But all of that in neon, and with a way cooler soundtrack. I’m talking, of course, about the ‘80s: the decade that gave us Spike Lee, Hayao Miyazaki, Tim Burton, John Hughes, and serious-actress Cher. Arnold blew up a whole bunch of stuff; Michael J. Fox went back in time to avoid sleeping with his mom; Eddie Murphy made cops seem fun and approachable; and people went around asking “Where’s the beef?” for reasons that remain unclear. It was quite a time.

It was also an era when beloved blockbusters could come in all shapes and sizes, and there were nearly 100% fewer Marvel movies. The massive hits of the decade include action movies, but also romantic comedies, horror movies, and family dramas. It doesn’t have the reputation of the 1970s as a cinematic golden age, but there’s something to be said for the sheer volume of enduring classics that the decade’s filmmakers produced. Here are some of the very best, and where to find them.


MOONSTRUCK (1987) | Love Don’t Make Things Nice | MGM

Cher won an Academy Award for her performance as an Italian-American widow Loretta Castorini, deciding whether to settle into comfortable middle age with the man her parents want for her—or` go wild with his brother, played by Nicolas Cage.

Where to stream: Paramount+, Showtime


Do the Right Thing (4/10) Movie CLIP – Your Jordans Are F***ed Up! (1989) HD

Director Spike Lee had his greatest triumph with this funny, quotable, and ultimately explosive film about the racial tensions percolating in a Brooklyn neighborhood on a hot summer day.

Where to stream: The Criterion Channel


Beverly Hills Cop (1984) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

Eddie Murphy was never hotter than in the first film of this action comedy that rocketed him from comic genius to international superstar. If you grew up in the 1980s, try listening to anything on the soundtrack without being transported.

Where to stream: Paramount+, Showtime


Beetlejuice (1988) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

Tim Burton was at his weirdest and wildest in this tribute to the afterlife, in which the ghosts Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin team up with Michael Keaton’s raunchy poltergeist to scare a living family out of their home.

Where to stream: Max


Volley Ball Scene – Top Gun (1986) [HD]

Tom Cruise feels the need for speed in this fast-paced movie about sweaty jock pilots who are definitely into girls. Definitely.

Where to stream: Paramount+


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Ghibli Fest 2023 | My Neighbor Totoro 35th Anniversary Trailer

This gorgeously animated Hayao Miyazaki favorite follows sisters Satsuke and Mei as they move to an old country house with their father to await their mother’s hoped-for recovery from an illness. What they find in the house are playful spirits who lead them on an adventure.

Where to stream: Max


The Fly Collection – The Fly (1986) – Official Trailer

David Cronenberg’s gooey body-horror classic stars Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis as a scientist and journalist at the center of a teleportation project that goes very wrong. The film cannily blends gory thrills with themes that were particularly relatable at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis.

Where to stream: Max


Desert Hearts – Trailer

An about-to-be-divorced professor, Vivian (Helen Shaver) goes to stay on a cattle ranch where she meets Cay (Patricia Charbonneau), the ranch owner’s daughter who helps to bring Vivian out of her shell. A charming romance, it’s also, refreshingly, one of the few LGBTQ+ movies from the era that doesn’t lean to tragedy.

Where to stream: Max, The Criterion Channel


Back to the Future | The Very First DeLorean Time Travel Scene

Great Scott! Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd are brilliantly paired in this time-travel comedy that sees Marty McFly visiting the ‘50s and exploring the lives of his parents when they were in high school. And finding that his mom has a crush on him. Heavy.

Where to stream: Peacock


Fast Times at Ridgemont High Official Trailer #1 – (1982) HD

In a sea of teen slacker comedies that were popular in the early 1980s, Fast Times is something different: Director Amy Heckerling and writer Cameron Crowe’s capture the dumb minutiae of high-school life. There’s plenty of raunchy humor, but, at its heart, it’s a coming-of-age movie about the awkwardness of budding sexuality.

Where to stream: Netflix


Dirty Dancing (1987) Official Trailer – Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey Movie HD

Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze are on fire here in what is, without a doubt, the sexiest movie ever to be set at a family vacation resort in the Catskills. But also still heartwarming, somehow?

Where to stream: Freevee


Conan the Barbarian | Arnold Schwarzenegger Takes On James Earl Jones’ Warriors

Probably the purest example of the lamentably lost genre of ‘80s fantasy films, most of which involve glistening, muscular bodybuilders battling magical villains using only fists and swords. This one made Arnold Schwarzenegger a star, and James Earl Jones is a lot of fun as nemesis Thulsa Doom.

Where to stream: Netflix


Raiders of the Lost Ark (1/10) Movie CLIP – The Boulder Chase (1981) HD

I’m sure nobody way back at the beginning of the 1980s thought that we’d still be going to Indiana Jones movies—but Raiders of the Lost Ark is just that good. Sequels might have diluted its power a bit, but this one is pure adventure.

Where to stream: Disney+, Paramount+, Pluto


Lean On Me: “There’s Only One Boss In This Place, And That’s Me. The HNIC.” | Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman plays the real-life Joe Louis Clark, principal of Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey. The true story might have been a bit more complicated, but Freeman’s Clark is electric: a tough, no-nonsense educator willing to do whatever it takes to bring his students to the movie’s rousing finale.

Where to stream: Max


The Return of the Living Dead Official Trailer #1 – James Karen Movie (1985) HD

This horror comedy with punk style is both a knowing parody of zombie movies while also managing to be an impressively gory thriller in its own right that moves the whole genre forward. Plus, it’s got a great death-rock soundtrack.

Where to stream: Tubi, MGM+


I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988) – Cherry Surprise Scene (7/12) | Movieclips

Prior to creating the iconic In Living Color in the 1990s, Keenan Ivory Wayans directed this deeply goofy, but frequently hilarious, spoof of blaxploitation films of the previous generation. The cast includes not only up-and-coming (at the time) actors like Chris Rock and Dawn Lewis, but many of the stars of the movies that it parodies (Bernie Casey, Isaac Hayes, etc.)

Where to stream: Tubi, MGM+, Pluto


9 to 5 (1980) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda are one of the screen’s all-time power trios in this fast-moving comedy about women working for a sexist, egotistical, lying hypocritical bigot (the always-great Dabney Coleman), and who manage to take their revenge after accidentally almost killing him.

Where to stream: Max


Hollywood Shuffle (10/12) Movie CLIP – I Can’t Do This (1987) HD

Robert Townsend directs himself as Bobby Taylor, a satire about the perils of navigating the Hollywood system for an actor simultaneously too black and not black enough for the tastes of studio bosses. Through elaborate fantasy sequences and parodies of popular movies, Townsend creates a sharp and often extremely funny sendup that’s sadly still relevant.

Where to stream: Tubi, Pluto


Train! – Stand by Me (2/8) Movie CLIP (1986) HD

One of the best Stephen King adaptations doesn’t qualify as horror at all, instead being a coming-of-age drama set in the 1950s about four best friends setting out on a quest to see a dead body. The movie captures both the real and imagined trials of growing up.

Where to stream: Netflix


THE KARATE KID [1984] – Official Trailer (HD)

The movie that kicked off not only a mania for karate in the 1980s, but also a franchise that’s had a surprisingly long life, this one has everything you need in a rousing underdog sports movie: Nerdy loser Daniel (Ralph Macchio) comes to a new town where he’s the immediate target of bullies (including William Zabka’s Johnny)—until he meets up with mentor Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). It all builds to a cheer-worthy finale with some rousing ‘80s tunes.

Where to stream: Netflix


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off | Twist and Shout (Parade Scene) | Paramount Movies

One of John Hughes funniest (and—bonus—least problematic) movies is a joyous tribute to the power of blowing off whatever you’re supposed to be doing in favor of much cooler stuff. There’s no way that the movie’s core trio (Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, and Alan Ruck) would have learned nearly as much if they’d gone to school.

Where to stream: Netflix


Elvira Mistress of the Dark Original Trailer (James Signorelli, 1988)

The beloved horror host stepped onto the big screen for the first time with this gloriously silly movie involving Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) traveling to the small, conservative town of Fallwell, Massachusetts, where her revealing clothes and sassy attitude quickly turn most of the town against her. It’s like Footloose with black magic and boobs.

Where to stream: Prime Video, Tubi, The Roku Channel, Hoopla, Plex


Steel Magnolias (3/8) Movie CLIP – A Very Bad Mood for 40 Years (1989) HD

Mention this movie in the right crowd and watch the tears start to well up in eyes—but it’s also very funny, thoroughly quotable, and full of great performances from the all-star team of Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Julia Roberts, and Daryl Hannah.

Where to stream: Netflix, Fubo


The Thing (1982) | Death by Defibrillation in 4K HDR

John Carpenter’s very loose take on the 1950s classic is more faithful to the original novella “Who Goes There?” on which they’re both based, but far gloopier than either. It’s a masterpiece, not just for its creature effects, but for its building sense of claustrophobic terror and its firm conviction that other people will always far more terrifying than threats from beyond.

Where to stream: Peacock


Highlander (1986) Official Trailer | Throwback Trailer

Immortal beings wander the earth, forced to fight each other to the death with swords—because there can be only one. Or something. The goofy premise is played with absolute seriousness by Christopher Lambert as the title’s highlander. As a result, the film works both as a sci-fi action epic as well as pure camp, ably assisted by Sean Connery’s Ramirez, an Egyptian immortal from Spain who, for some reason, sounds entirely Scottish. The Queen theme song, “Princes of the Universe,” kicks ass.

Where to stream: Peacock


The Stairway Shootout – The Untouchables (8/10) Movie CLIP (1987) HD

Brian De Palma’s very loose history lesson on Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner) as he forms the title’s team (with help from Sean Connery) to bring down Al Capone (Robert de Niro). It’s a crowd-pleasing crime thriller that also offers up some brilliant performances and artful, smart direction.

Where to stream: Prime Video, Hoopla, Pluto


COMING TO AMERICA | Official Trailer | Paramount Movies

In the wealthy (and fictional) African nation of Zamunda, crown prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is getting tired of his lavish lifestyle and hopes to meet an independent-minded woman who’ll care for him, not his status. What else to do but set off for Queens? It’s a blend of slapstick and rom-com that Murphy somehow pulls off.

Where to stream: Netflix


A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Official Trailer – Wes Craven, Johnny Depp Horror Movie HD

Subsequent sequels made Freddy (Robert England) the star, but Wes Craven’s original is about Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), a high schooler whose friends are tormented in their dreams by the man their parents killed. Freddy was never quite this scary again, nor was he ever so evenly matched with an adversary.

Where to stream: Max


Harlem Nights (4/8) Movie CLIP – Come on Sucka, Let’s Get It On (1989) HD

Eddie Murphy directed and stars in this period piece set in a Prohibition-era speakeasy full of gangsters and gamblers. It doesn’t entirely work, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime cast that includes Murphy, Richard Pryor, Red Foxx, Della Reese, Jasmine Guy, Arsenio Hall, etc., and it’s a lot of fun to see them all share the screen together.

Where to stream: Paramount+


Ray Parker Jr. – Ghostbusters (Official Video)

There was a craft to ‘80s comedies that I’m not sure still exists: Take something like Ghostbusters, or Back to the Future, sci-fi comedies that don’t feel excessively bombastic, and with jokes that land at least as often as they don’t. There’s a reason why we’re still watching them.

Where to stream: Peacock


“The Little Mermaid” Trailer

As much as there is to love about the recent live-action remake, it’s unlikely to entirely replace the original, gorgeously animated Disney classic. With its subtly subversive themes and massive box office, it’s also the movie that almost singlehandedly revived a then-flagging Disney and made it the company it is today (with all the good and bad that implies).

Where to stream: Disney+


E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial | E.T. Phone Home in 4K HDR

Awkward title notwithstanding, Steven Spielberg’s charming, big-hearted sci-fi story about a boy (Henry Thomas) who protects his alien friend from over-zealous government agents was a mega-blockbuster that charmed the world, and also briefly convinced us that Reese’s Pieces were the superior oblate spheroid candy.

Where to stream: Peacock


Blue Velvet – Opening Sequence

David Lynch’s neo-noir starts with a college student finding a severed human ear in a field and leads to a world of weird sex and violence. It introduces several of the director’s major themes, particularly the idea of a small town that seems completely normal until you pull back the curtain, at which point it looks like, well, a David Lynch movie. Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern, and Dean Stockwell lead the impressive cast.

Where to stream: Max


Akira (1988) Legendary Trailer

Set in a dystopian 2019, this beautiful cyberpunk classic finds biker Kaneda forced to face down his friend Tetsuo after he gains telekinetic abilities in an accident. The wildly kinetic movie and its highly detailed world set a new standard for anime—we’re still living in the animation world that Akira gave birth to.

Where to stream: Hulu


THEY LIVE Clip – Obey (1988)

The metaphor isn’t particularly subtle in this John Carpenter classic, but that’s all for the better. Roddy Piper plays a nameless drifter who comes to understand that there are secret subliminal messages everywhere: telling us to shop more, to stick to the status quo—in other words, never question American-style capitalism. It all comes under threat when our lead gets a pair of glasses that allow him to see the truth all around him.

Where to stream: Peacock, Tubi


Clue (1985) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

An all-star comedy murder mystery? Clue was doing the Knives Out thing before that movie was even a glimmer in Rian Johnson’s eye, and it’s delightfully silly. It wasn’t terribly popular upon its initial release, but it’s become a cult classic in the years since.

Where to stream: Prime Video, Paramount+


The Running Man (1987) – Let’s Start Running! Scene (1/10) | Movieclips

It’s the future as visualized in the 1980s and, well, it’s not all that far off, actually. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a framed criminal forced to compete in a competition program, the movie foresaw our reality-driven television culture, the use of AI and other technologies to alter perceived reality, as well as our ever-increasing willingness to let entertainment distract us from what’s really going on around us. This fun little action movie feels almost prophetic.

Where to stream: Paramount+, MGM+, Fubo


The Princess Bride – 30th Anniversary Trailer – In Cinemas Oct 23

A flawlessly entertaining fantasy, The Princess Bride works on almost every level: as a quotable comedy, a soaring romance, and a Robin Hood-style action movie that has fun with the tropes of those kinds of movies. Just a delight.

Where to stream: Disney+


Raising Arizona (4/5) Movie CLIP – Picking up Diapers (1987) HD

It’s not always the first movie that comes to mind when we talk about the Coen brothers, but this deliriously over-the-top crime comedy about a kidnapping (by Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter) is, as deranged as it is, ultimately, pretty sweet.

Where to stream: Hulu


Die Hard | 30th Anniversary Trailer | 20th Century FOX

It’s the Christmas movie that came along and kicked It’s a Wonderful Life right off the 35th floor of Nakatomi Plaza tower. A brilliantly entertaining action classic.

Where to stream: Hulu, Starz



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