12 Movies From the 80s That Changed Your Life

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By Rob Leung

If there was ever a decade that produced remarkable movies that left a lasting impact on audiences, it was the 80s. From sci-fi blockbusters to teen comedies, the 80s had it all. In this article, we’ll take a look at 12 must-see movies of the 1980s that are still worth watching today.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

One of the most significant blockbusters of the 1980s was “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.” The second installment in the original Star Wars trilogy, it was released in 1980 to critical acclaim and massive commercial success. The film’s success helped cement the Star Wars franchise as a cultural phenomenon and set the stage for the many blockbuster sequels and spin-offs that followed.

Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Another iconic blockbuster of the 1980s was “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Released in 1981, the film starred Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, a swashbuckling archaeologist on a mission to find the Ark of the Covenant. The film was a huge success, spawning three sequels and a massive franchise that continues to this day.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

“E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” was another blockbuster hit of the 1980s. Directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 1982, the film tells the story of a young boy who befriends an alien stranded on Earth. The film was a critical and commercial success, becoming the highest-grossing film of the decade and winning four Academy Awards.

Blade Runner

Released in 1982, Blade Runner is a neo-noir science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott. The movie is set in a dystopian future where genetically engineered beings called replicants are used for dangerous and menial tasks. The story follows Rick Deckard, a retired Blade Runner tasked with hunting down a group of rogue replicants. The film’s stunning visuals and thought-provoking themes have made it a cult classic.

The Terminator

The Terminator, released in 1984, is a sci-fi action film directed by James Cameron. The movie stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a cyborg assassin sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor, the mother of the future resistance leader. The film’s iconic catchphrases and thrilling action scenes have made it a fan favorite.

Back to the Future

Released in 1985, Back to the Future is a time travel comedy directed by Robert Zemeckis. The movie stars Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, a teenager who travels back in time to the 1950s and accidentally interferes with his parents’ first meeting. The film’s humor and heartwarming story have made it a beloved classic.


Released in 1980, Airplane! was a parody of the disaster film genre that had dominated Hollywood in the 1970s. Directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker, the film starred Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty as a pair of unlikely heroes who must land a damaged airplane safely. With its rapid-fire jokes and absurd sight gags, Airplane! became an instant classic and set the tone for the decade’s irreverent comedies.

The Breakfast Club

Directed by John Hughes, The Breakfast Club was a coming-of-age comedy-drama released in 1985. The film followed a group of high school students from different social cliques who are forced to spend a Saturday together in detention. With its honest portrayal of teenage angst and its memorable characters, The Breakfast Club struck a chord with audiences and became a cultural touchstone for a generation.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Released in 1986, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was another John Hughes classic. The film starred Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller, a high school student who decides to skip school and spend the day in Chicago with his girlfriend and best friend. With its whimsical tone and memorable scenes, including Ferris lip-syncing to “Twist and Shout” during a parade, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off remains a beloved classic of 1980s cinema.

The Shining

One of the most iconic horror movies of all time, “The Shining” (1980) directed by Stanley Kubrick, is a masterpiece of psychological horror. Based on the novel by Stephen King, the film follows Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) as he takes his family to a remote hotel to serve as its caretaker during the winter. As the isolation and supernatural events take their toll on Jack, his sanity begins to unravel, leading to a terrifying climax.


“Poltergeist” (1982) directed by Tobe Hooper, is a classic tale of a haunted house that takes a dark turn. The film follows the Freeling family as they begin to experience strange events in their home, culminating in the abduction of their youngest daughter by malevolent spirits. With its iconic imagery and unforgettable scares, “Poltergeist” remains a beloved horror classic.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Wes Craven’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) introduced audiences to the iconic slasher villain Freddy Krueger. The film follows a group of teenagers who are terrorized in their dreams by Krueger, who has the power to kill them in reality. With its surreal dreamscapes and inventive kills, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” redefined the slasher genre and spawned a franchise that continues to this day.