Film & TV

Staff Scrapbook: 80s Movies

Hollywood has recently taken to remaking the films that defined the 80s. Whatever you think of the new versions, the originals were undeniably great films. Here are four of our favourites.                                 

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Freddie Krueger – the man you’ve seen in almost every horror parody; burnt face, creepy smile and gloves with kitchen knives for fingernails. This early slasher is truly sinister, hunting teenage girls in see-through nightgowns around their neighbourhood and whispering sweet death-threats into their ears. A fear of being killed in your nightmares is timeless, alongside the age-old disbelieving-parents-who are-more-concerned-about- teenage-sex-than-a-killer-on-the-loose stereotype. Plus, it’s hilarious. Brought to you by the man who directed all four Scream films, the balance of tongue-in-cheek comedy and grizzly murders means it’s gory enough to make you wince but not so much you’ll lose sleep over it. Johnny Depp makes his debut as a baby-faced jock, appearing in twenty-five more films before his first appearance as Captain Jack Sparrow. Seeing such an acclaimed actor in his first film complete with eighties hairstyle and a two-dimensional character is brilliant fun. The retro feel and cheesy acting is what early horrors are all about.

Katherine Dixon


In 1984, a film about teenagers fighting the censorship of music and dancing in a town called Bomont, emerged. It shot Kevin Bacon to fame and the soundtrack knocked Michael Jackson’s Thriller off the top of the charts. While the initial reception was mixed, it became the film of a dance generation, getting just about everyone to “kick off their Sunday shoes”. Joining 1983’s Flashdance and ushering in 1987’s Dirty Dancing, it was among the first proper teen flicks and one of the original modern dance films. Close to three decades later, it’s being remade. The film that defined music and dancing for a stifled generation, reproduced in an era with virtually no barriers to break. The generation gap was core to the story of Footloose; will the same gap between its original audience and its new audience ironically be its un-doing?

Samantha Driscoll

The Karate Kid

“Wax on! Wax off!” If these four words are alien to you, then you must have been in a coma for the last 30 years. The Karate Kid starred Ralph Macchio as Daniel ‘Daniel-san’ LaRusso, and Pat Morita as his Yoda-esque mentor, Mr. Miyagi. The Karate Kid’s popularity stems from the film’s thematic range: part martial art, part drama and part love story. The development of Daniel’s rise from zero to hero provided the model for countless future against-the-odds films; from winning over Elizabeth Shue (who seems to be the love interest in just about every film of that decade) to his final clash with William Zabka’s brutal Johnny Lawrence in the film’s tense conclusion. However, the titular hero might just be overshadowed by Morita, whose phenomenal turn as the unassuming karate master is surely deserving of the top spot in cinema’s greatest paternal figures. His Oscar-nominated performance manages to incorporate a comic, affable demeanour whilst commanding a formidable presence. The Karate Kid quite simply has everything you could want from a film; its enduring popularity still proving evident, as today you will still be able to find children in playgrounds trying to imitate that infamous crane kick (I know I certainly did).

Malcom Remedios

The Thing

Released in 1982, it takes place in an Arctic research station, where The Thing, a bloodthirsty, parasitic, shape-shifting alien, attacks Kurt Russell and his team of doomed researchers. Upon release the film was a financial disappointment, but has recently been elevated to the status of cult film, now cited as one of the greatest horror films ever made. Persistently placing in top 100-horror film or scariest moment lists, it was also selected in 2008 as one of Empire’s 500 greatest movies. So what is it that made The Thing, like a whole host of 80s films, become such a hit more than 2 decades after its release? For me The Thing remains one of the scariest films I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t watched many horror films, or perhaps have only seen Paranormal Activity, this film is a must-see as one of the defining works in the gory-body-horror genre. It’s most definitely a horror classic; I can see no reason why it should disappear from our late-night TV screens any time soon.

David Smith

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