A Decade of Classics: What Characterizes Movies From the 80s?

What comes to mind immediately when you hear cinema or films made in the 1980s? Do you think they’re good or just bad because they don’t have much technology?

Well, here are some people’s thoughts about 80s cinema!

1. Bar-Setting Action Movies

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Somebody shared, “I think the ’80s set the bar for straight-up action (and, frankly, violent [but awesome]) Rated R movies: The Road Warrior, Escape From New York, First Blood, Sudden Impact, The Terminator, Commando, Robocop, Aliens, Die Hard, Total Recall, the list goes on. To me that’s the stand-out feature of ’80s cinema. I don’t think any other decade has mastered the violent (but awesome) straight-up action Rated R movie to the same degree.”

2. Intellect and Drama

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A second person replied, “The John Hughes films were massive, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Uncle Buck, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

3. Artistic, Fringe Movies

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“I feel oppositely actually. When I mention it as one of the lesser decades for me, I talk about most of the popular films, but it’s rife with quality artsy stuff. Vagabond, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, My Dinner With Andre, Wings of Desire, Angel’s Egg. There are exceptions the other way, I do love Back to the Future, and ET, but most of the super beloved 80s movies do little for me,” one Redditor commented.

4. A Pivot From the 70’s

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Another commenter added “While there are lots of great sophisticated American movies from the 80s, most of those examples are from the burgeoning independent world, which itself is a movement probably accelerated by studio’s pivoting away from the deeper, more thoughtful stuff they let run wild in the 70s.

“Part of the general narrative is that the financial disaster of Heaven’s Gate marked an end to the era of big studios throwing all their resources at the passion projects of auteur directors, and it does line up that almost all the big major studio movies from the 80s are very mainstream/low-to-middlebrow stuff.”

5. Blend of Passion and Intrigue

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One user commented, “My absolute favorite genre of cinema is the late 80s / early 90s erotic thrillers. Movies like Angel Heart, Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, 9 1/2 Weeks are the perfect blend of sexiness and intrigue. They don’t make me like this anymore!”

Another commenter replied, “The 80’s had some nice erotic thrillers, and the 90’s kept them coming. The Color of Night comes to mind, and Wild Things.”

6. Hollywood Blockbusters

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“The 80s is pretty much defined by Hollywood blockbuster movies before age ratings and censorship put a limit on things. It’s not a decade of artsy movies but it certainly is a big decade for cinema,” said one person.

7. First Era to Watch and Rewatch Movies

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Someone commented, “The impact of video rental and cable TV can’t be overstated. In the 70s, you saw a movie once or maybe twice in a theater, and a few years later, you might see it on TV. We couldn’t ‘study’ movies like we do now. Movies from the 80s were the first ones to be watched, paused, rewound and watched again.

“Sequels and franchises became more popular because you could go back and watch the earlier ones. I think the overall quality of movies definitely boomed in the 80s, but the volume of crap available did too.”

8. 1989 Brought Some Good Films

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One person shared, “I do love Stakeout, Black Rain, and Southern Comfort. There’s also this great action comedy called Shakedown. Peter Weller / Sam Elliot. A fight on a runaway roller coaster, but it’s also a great time capsule for NY at the time. The rubbish piled up, and Times Square doesn’t look [too] good lol. It’s on Amazon Prime. We also [got] The Abyss, Leviathan, and Deepstar Six all in the same year.”

9. A Burgeoning Indie Scene

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One Redditor commented “The 80s in terms of Hollywood studio movies, was definitely defined by a hard pivot away from big budget auteur-driven passion projects, which a lot of people blame on the financial disaster of Heaven’s Gate, which effectively bankrupted United Artists.

“Most positively, it’s notable for the birth of the indie movement, with directors like The Coens, Spike Lee, and Soderbergh making highly acclaimed movies outside of traditional studio systems, but that in and of itself could be easily tied to the increasing reluctance of studios to back ambitious projects without easily noticeable mainstream appeal.”

10. Plenty of highbrow movies

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Somebody commented, “There were plenty of highbrow movies in the 1980s, Gandhi, Chariots of Fire, Dead Poets Society. It’s just that most people remember all the movies they watched on their VCRs. Honestly, the introduction of VCRs changed everything.

“My friend’s parents had the first video shop, and they would have people around theirs. I come from a poor area, so no one else had VCR players, but there would be 20/30 kids sitting in his living room, and we watched everything from the warriors to aliens to horror.”

11. A (Mediocre) Reflection of the Decade

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One person said, “Art always reflects life. At least in America, the 70s were a time of hardship and mistrust. Watergate, Vietnam, recession, crime. This was the palette from which all those 1970s classics were created (IMO, the greatest decade for film).

“The 1980s, at least from the middle to the latter part of the decade, were very different times. Some of the grittiness was still there, but this was really the ramp-up of consumerism (shopping malls, yuppies, DINKs). The war was over. The baby boomers had disposable income. Coming off Star Wars, etc., blockbusters were the name of the game. Don’t get me wrong, there are some standout films from the 1980s, but films are always the product of their times.”


Do you agree with some of the people’s thoughts about the 1980 films? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Reddit.

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