50 FURIOUS FILMS: THE 1980s

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With our new furious list we’ve chosen 50 films that we feel reflect the exciting variety of genre the “decade of decadence” had to offer. You’ll see both familiar mainstream hits along with smaller works all of which impacted us as film fans in a positive way. From action packed adventures to violent crime dramas to stimulating sci-fi/horror to hysterical screwball comedies, the 80s was a bounty of cinematic pleasure! FURIOUS EXTRA: Included with each mini film synopsis are some fun “easter eggs”, simply click the bold text.

Robert DeNiro as Jake LaMotta

1. Raging Bull (1980): Robert DeNiro plays real life middleweight boxing champion Jake LaMotta who rose to prominence in the 1940s. LaMotta is a man who is consumed with personal demons fighting opponents inside the ring and himself outside. It features an astounding performance by DeNiro who not only bares LaMotta’s tortured soul but also undergoes an extreme physical change moving from a lean mean athlete in LaMotta’s prime to sloppy overweight nightclub performer after his retirement from boxing. The supporting cast is equally wonderful, at the forefront is Joe Pesci as Jake’s brother and Cathy Moriarty as his wife Vickie.

 

Rambo

2. First Blood (1982): John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is a lonely Vietnam vet turned drifter. Rambo visits an old friend and finds he has died from the effects of Agent Orange. While looking for a place to eat, he’s picked up by Sheriff Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy) who lets Rambo know he doesn’t want drifters like him in his town. At the town line, feeling dejected and defiant, Rambo walks back into town and is promptly arrested by Teasle. This is where the trouble begins. While in jail, Rambo is mistreaten by the police officers, led by the sadistic Sgt. Art Gault (Jack Starrett). Suffering from PTS, Rambo mentally snaps and attacks the officers and breaks out. He makes it to the mountains outside of town where he hides. Using his survival skills, Rambo wages a one man war against Teasle and the witless National Guard who are out to capture him. It’s a classic tale of survival and revenge as Rambo, a forgotten soldier retaliates against the country that has done him wrong. The film had three sequels.

 

On the brink of destruction
3. Scarface (1983): In this remake of Howard Hawks’ 1932 noir gangster classic the story is transplanted to the neon saturated city of Miami where a Cuban criminal/refugee named Tony Montana (Al Pacino) starts a rapid rise to power in the booming drug dealing business. Tony quickly becomes a major cocaine kingpin but his lust for power and wreckless lifestyle lead him down a path to self destruction. Brian DePalma’s stylized direction along with Oliver Stone’s razor sharp script and Al Pacino’s iconic performance make this movie a furious masterpiece!

 

Shootin the works

4. Robocop (1987): Honorable Detroit cop Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is brutally murdered by a ruthless crime boss named Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) and his gang of cutthroats. Meanwhile, OCP, a new high-tech corporation is making plans to create the first robotic police officer as part of it’s city reviltalization program. After a failed first attempt, they decide to utilize Murphy’s mind to turn him into a cyborg policeman. Murphy not only battles the citie’s criminals but fights the memories of his family that haunt him. Robocop battles Boddicker and his gang who are secretly working for OCP’s evil vice president Dick Jones (Ronny Cox). Director Paul Verhoeven’s knack for mixing humor, action and satire are what make the film so entertaining.

 

The crime family

5. At Close Range (1986): Based on a true story about a Pennsylvania crime organization, Sean Penn stars as Brad Whitewood Jr., a petty thief who goes to work for his ruthless criminal father Brad Sr. (Christopher Walken) along with some of his friends. What begins as an exciting life on the edge soon turns deadly when Brad Jr. is arrested. Fearing Brad Jr. may give him up to police, father turns against son and Brad Jr. finds himself marked for death along with his cohorts. Christopher Walken gives a chilling performance as Brad Sr, a stone cold killer.

 

Bayou badasses

6. Southern Comfort (1981): During a weekend patrol in the bayou, a group of Louisiana National Guardsmen (Powers Boothe, Keith Carradine, Fred Ward, Franklyn Seales, Les Lannom, T.K. Carter) run into big trouble after one of the men plays a prank, shooting at a cajun hunter. The cajun man fires back killing squad leader Sgt. Poole (Peter Coyote). Soon after the other angry deranged Cajun hunters decide to attack the squad turning their standard weekend maneuver into a furious fight for survival as they try to get out of a deadly obstacle course alive. Part Deliverance, Part First Blood, this is one of Director Walter Hill’s best action-thrillers.

 

The Groovers

7. Fandango (1985): Five University of Texas college graduates nicknamed “The Groovers”: Gardner (Kevin Costner) Phil (Judd Nelson) Kenneth (Sam Robards) Lester (Brian Cesak) and Dorman (Chuck Bush) decide to take one last wild road trip together before they go their separate ways and become responsible adults. Gardner does his best to provide the furiously freewheelin, ‘anything goes’ attitude that fuels this rollicking adventure story.

 

Hey dude

8. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982): Screenwriter Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous) spent a year incognito as a high school student to write this furiously enthralling coming of age story about a group of 80s teens and their turbulent lives as they learn about life and love. The cast features a who’s who list of up and coming young actors including Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz, Phoebe Cates and Robert Romanus.

 

Look who's here

9. Uncle Buck (1988): A deadbeat named Buck Russell (John Candy) has to babysit his estranged nieces and nephew when a family emergency arises. Buck is a neer do well, but he’s also a good hearted guy who does his best to not screw up this unwanted responsibility. Buck finds himself learning to live a new kind of life while he goes on a personal adventure acting as both a security guard and parental substitute to the kids. Meanwhile, his girlfriend Shanice (Amy Madigan) wants him to settle down. It’s an endearing tale about what happens when the ultimate bachelor learns how to have a family. One of John Candy’s finest performances.

Surfin USA

10. Teen Wolf: (1985) Michael J. Fox, hot off the popularity of Back To The Future, stars as Scott Howard, a nebbish high school student who learns he is part lycanthrope. Scott’s shyster best friend Stiles (Jerry Levine) sees this as a business opportunity and turns Scott into a celebrity, buying a Wolf Mobile and selling t-shirts. While Scotts alter-ego is a hit with the kids, his school principal and the boyfriend of Scott’s ice princess crush don’t find him so lovable. The film is an 80s spin on I Was a Teenage Werewolf and it could have been a complete disaster but the well written, funny characters really turn it into a furiously charming experience.

 

Say hello to the night

11. The Lost Boys (1987): Sam (Corey Haim) and Mike (Jason Patric) have moved to Santa Carla, California from Arizona with their ditzy mother (Dianne Wiest). What they don’t know is that the town has a minor problem: vampires. David (Keifer Sutherland) and his gang are the bloodsuckers who induct Michael into their group after he falls in love with their female member Starr (Jamie Gertz).  Afraid for his life, his younger brother Sam goes to The Frog Brothers: Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander) the town’s resident vampire hunters for help. This is one of Joel Schumacher’s best films. The rockin’ soundtrack features Lou Gramm, INXS and Echo and The Bunnymen.

 

Playing hooky

12. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986): Writer-Director John Hughes spins another raucously entertaining story about a rebellious teenager named Ferris (Matthew Broderick) and his plan to play hooky from high school. While Ferris is admired by his classmates, he receives nothing but contempt from his vindictive school principal Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) who does his best thwart Ferris’ nicely laid out plans of having a fun day off with his girlfriend Sloan (Mia Sara) and his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck).

 

Bruce Willis as John McClane

13. Die Hard (1987): Officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) is invited to a Christmas Party in LA by his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia). After McClane arrives he soon finds himself in an all out hostage situation set in motion by the diabolical mastermind Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). It’s a game of high stakes, high rise, cat and mouse as McClain takes matters into his own hands fighting Hans and his men while keeping the police outside updated on whats going on by walkie talkie. One of the greatest action films ever made. There were 3 sequels made.

 

King Conan

14. Conan The Barbarian (1982): Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as the mythical hero in Writer-Director John Milius’ epic adaptation. As a young boy Conan is turned into a slave after his parents are murdered by the evil lord Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones). Conan finally is released many years later and becomes a furiously fierce warrior and adventurer . The movie is a thrilling mix of high adventure, action and humor. The film had one sequel: Conan The Destroyer. It is currently being remade in 2011 by Director Marcus Nispel.

 

Rick confronts Duncan

15. The Principal (1987): Rick Lattimer (Jim Belushi) is hired as principal to clean up a rough inner city high school. His main problem is a dangerous gang leader/drug dealer Victor Duncan (Michael Wright) who spreads violence in school and intimidates anyone who thinks of ratting him out. It becomes an updated version of High Noon with Lattimer playing the outsider lawman trying to keep order against the worst elements he’s ever had to deal with. Co-starring Louis Gossett Jr. and Rae Dawn Chong.

 

Gun blazing in the club
16. The Terminator (1984): A futuristic high-tech cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) the mother of one of the future resistance’s strongest leaders. Meanwhile, Connor’s son has sent one of his own men, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) back to save her from the terminator. It’s a race against time as the two battle each other to change the destiny of the world. This film marked James Cameron’s debut and was the beginning of Arnold’s popularity as a major action film star. The film was followed by three sequels and a TV series.

 

Remo and Chiun

17. Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1986): A tough NYC cop Samuel Macon (Fred Ward) is recruited into a new life as Remo Williams a secret agent/assassin for CURE, the U.S. governments last line of security. Remo is forced to train under an old Asian man named Chiun (Joel Grey) who is a master of the ancient art of Sinanju. Remo and Chiun start out disliking one another but soon form a strong friendship as Remo learns to be a furiously deadly killer with almost supernatural skills. The movie is as much of a comedy as it is an action-espionage film and Joel Grey stands out as the wisecracking old master Chiun. The film wasn’t a huge hit but it remains an 80s gem.

 

Radio Raheem

18. Do The Right Thing (1988): Summer temperatures and racial frustrations are at an all time high in Director Spike Lee’s controversial drama that focuses on a group of residents in the inner city Bedford-Stuyvesant section of New York. Lee gets to the essence of people’s true attitudes and feelings on race bringing it out in the open for everyone to see in an blunt, often humorous way. The movie may still offend some but there’s no denying how much of a furiously powerful work of film it is. Featuring an notable cast of actors that includes Danny Aiello, John Turturro, Ruby Dee, Giancarlo Esposito and Samuel L. Jackson.

 

Nico and Jacks

19. Above The Law (1987): In Steven Seagal’s debut film he plays Chicago police officer Nico Toscani a Vietnam vet/martial arts expert/ex CIA agent. Toscani’s latest case involves a group of drug dealers. After he and his partner Jax (Pam Grier) make a bust, Nico discovers plastic explosives on the scene. Soon everyone Nico arrested are let go and he comes under fire from his superiors. Nico and his fellow officers are asked to stand down. Nico angrily leaves the meeting and is wrongly arrested for drug possession at his house with his wife and mother looking on. Nico is freed and decides to investigate the unjust circumstances on his own and finds out that a corrupt CIA operative named Zagon (Henry Silva) that he met in Vietnam years earlier is the main criminal behind the drug operations and the death of a priest in Nico’s church. Nico then retaliates waging a furious one man war against Zagon and his thugs.

 

Princes of the universe

20. Highlander (1986): In 1536, Scottish warrior Connor McLeod (Christopher Lambert) is killed in battle but comes back to life. Believing he is a spawn of the devil, his clan casts him out of their village forever. McLeod later meets Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez (Sean Connery) who teaches him that he is in fact an immortal being and that he must fight his fellow immortals until only one survives in which they will be granted a supreme power over all of mankind. Connor’s main rival in his epic journey is the Kurgan (Clancy Brown) who is nearly decapitated in a fight but survives to try to kill him in the present day 1980s. The movie combines ancient fantasy themes with exciting modern action sequences and dark humor thanks to the stylized vision of Director Russell Mulcahy. Queen performs the score which just makes the film that much cooler.

 

Duvall and Penn

21. Colors (1988): A veteran police officer Bob Hodges (Robert Duvall) and his new hot headed rookie partner Danny McGavin (Sean Penn) try to clean up the mean streets of L.A. one gang member at a time. Director Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider) delves deep into what the gang lifestyle and mentality is all about examining the causes and effects it has on law enforcement and the surrounding community with this emotional, violent police procedural. The movie features a solid soundtrack with artists such as Ice-T and Los Lobos. Co-starring Maria Conchita Alonzo, Don Cheadle, Damon Wayans and Randy Brooks.

 

Ripley vs The Queen

22. Aliens (1986): In this furious follow up to visionary director Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi/horror film, the spaceship Nostromo’s lone survivor Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is recruited to help a group of Marines infiltrate a base which has been overrun by the aliens. James Cameron takes the franchise into a more high octane, gun blazing action territory creating a thrilling sequel with solid performances from the supporting cast which includes Terminator alum Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen.

 

Jeffrey spying

23. Blue Velvet (1986): In this twisted murder-mystery from the mind of auteur David Lynch (Dune), Kyle McLachlan stars as college student Jeffrey Beaumont who returns to his hometown on school break. While walking through a vacant lot one day, he discovers a severed ear. This is the catalyst which begins his personal investigation into the criminal underworld

Peter

Peter

Editor-In-Chief of The Deuce: Grindhouse Cinema Database/Furious Cinema contributor. Pete is a rabid movie geek who enjoys everything from wild n' crazy exploitation/cult flix to big budget mainstream classics. His other interests include: graphic design, cartooning and music.

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2 Responses

  1. Booga says:

    great! 

  1. June 20, 2011

    […] OF THE 1970s / FILMS OF THE 1980s / WAR FILMS / FILM FIENDS / FEMALES / ESSENTIAL BLU RAYS  VOLUME 1 – VOLUME  2 If you […]

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