Alright, with a year that sees Gen X'ers losing celebrity icons from their youth in near epidemic proportions, it sure is nice to have movies. Yes, some consider them just mere entertainment, but in their immortal form (which gets better and better every year due to 4K, 5K, and whatever other K somebody wants to transfer them to), these things will honestly never go away. They will live forever. When you realize that we have lost Lemmy, David Bowie, Glenn Fry, Vanity and lord knows who's next, the realization of our own mortality has never been more profound. Which is why the amount of movies turning 30 in 2016 is so crucial.
Yes, we at MovieWeb write a lot of lists. Why is this? Well, aside from the fact that you like lists, they serve a purpose. People inherently want to know that other people agree with them. The fact that this validation comes from somebody they don't know makes it all the better.
However, movie lists that put into perspective how long we've been on this earth are darn near priceless. I say that because almost everybody likes movies. Because of this, we are able to look back at our lives and see them in terms of celluloid. Often, we recall pivotal moments around when we saw a certain movie, or, we liken said moments to something that would happen in a seminal film.
It also doesn't hurt that the 1980s are back. When not racking my brain to come up with interesting stories for MovieWeb, I work in a high school. The students there LOVE the 1980s. They love the pop culture from that time. Even the current music they listen to is highly informed by the classic music of the 80s.
In fact, in writing this list I was given pause many times. I remember where I was, what I was doing, even what I was thinking when I saw these films. The fact that I can recall memories from 30 years without missing a beat, but I now walk into rooms and forget why I did so, makes me realize, like the films on this list, I am old. Honestly, I don't mind getting old because putting together a 30 Movies Turning 30 in 2016 list makes me realize, I have been around for some of the coolest, funniest and transforming times in cinema. Now, if I can just be around to write "30 Movies Turning 90 in 2106". Here are some of the best and most beloved movies celebrating their 30th Anniversary over the course of the next 12 months.
After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley's (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt. But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds of aliens that have invaded the colony. Yes, James Cameron's groundbreaking, sci-fi epic is hitting the big 3-0! And the good news is that the FX in this film still hold up. The story is just as solid as ever. Even more important? The character of Private Vasquez now seems even more prescient given how much our military has changed.
The Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School is where the best of the best train to refine their elite flying skills. When hotshot fighter pilot Maverick is sent to the school, his reckless attitude and cocky demeanor put him at odds with the other pilots, especially the cool and collected Iceman. But Maverick isn't only competing to be the top fighter pilot, he's also fighting for the attention of his beautiful flight instructor, Charlotte Blackwood. Alright, this one hurts a little bit. It literally seems like yesterday that I was watching jets fly across the screen, buff dudes play volleyball, and witnessing the shocking death of Goose. This film may be 30 years old but it honestly feels like only 10.
Ferris Bueller has an uncanny skill at cutting classes and getting away with it. Intending to make one last duck-out before graduation, Ferris calls in sick, "borrows" a Ferrari, and embarks on a one-day journey through the streets of Chicago. On Ferris' trail is high school principal Rooney, determined to catch him in the act. Well, it seems like the Peter Pan of the 1980s has finally seen father time catch up with them. This isn't to say that this fun romp, that at times turns darkly serious (which is what makes the John Hughes films of the 1980s so great of course), is showing its age. Rather, it has more to do with the fact of what Ferris Bueller represents to myself and fellow Gen-X'ers. We age, my faithful readers, but that doesn't mean we have to get old. Ferris Bueller taught me that.
Kurt Russell plays hard-boiled truck driver Jack Burton, who gets caught in a bizarre conflict within, and underneath, San Francisco's Chinatown. An ancient Chinese prince and Chinatown crime lord has kidnapped a beautiful green-eyed woman, who is the fiancee to Jack's best friend. Jack must help his friend rescue the girl before the evil Lo Pan uses her to break the ancient curse that keeps him a fleshless and immortal spirit. This quirky tale from multi-genre master is timeless. Sure, the dates may say that this movie is 30, but there is nothing old, or dated about it! This explosive tale of Jack Burton (who might be a more bumbling hero than Luke Skywalker), sees himself pulled into a long standing war in Chinatown. Everything about this movie shouldn't work and that is why we recall it 30 years later.
College student Jeffrey Beaumont returns home after his father has a stroke. When he discovers a severed ear in an abandoned field, Beaumont teams up with detective's daughter Sandy Williams to solve the mystery. They believe beautiful lounge singer Dorothy Vallens may be connected with the case, and Beaumont finds himself becoming drawn into her dark, twisted world, where he encounters sexually depraved psychopath Frank Booth. David Lynch's best film turns 30 and holds up even better now. Why? Could it be the amazing performances? The twisted (yet, accessible) storyline? Or, the fact that 1950s look even more messed up with a 66 year old lens pointed to it.
Andie is an outcast at her Chicago high school, hanging out either with her older boss, who owns the record store where she works, or her quirky classmate Duckie, who has a crush on her. When one of the rich and popular kids at school, Blane, asks Andie out, it seems too good to be true. As Andie starts falling for Blane, she begins to realizes that dating someone from a different social sphere is not easy. Yet another John Hughes movie and that fact (and this film being on this list) should surprise nobody. This tale of high school love is timeless. Part Romeo and Juliet, part La Traviata, all 80s... Pretty In Pink, at 30, has never looked or sounded better!
After learning that a stranger has been accidentally killed near their rural homes, four Oregon boys decide to go see the body. On the way, Gordie Lachance, Vern Tessio, Chris Chambers and Teddy Duchamp encounter a mean junk man and a marsh full of leeches, as they also learn more about one another and their very different home lives. Just a lark at first, the boys' adventure evolves into a defining event in their lives. Isn't it incredible how many great films, how many true coming of age tales came out in 1986? This story of 4 friends going to see a dead body is so much more than that. Watching this film is a rite of passage that needs to be handed down from generation to generation so people are talking about it 100 years from now.
When scientist Seth Brundle completes his teleportation device, he decides to test its abilities on himself. Unbeknownst to him, a housefly slips in during the process, leading to a merger of man and insect. Initially, Brundle appears to have undergone a successful teleportation, but the fly's cells begin to take over his body. As he becomes increasingly fly-like, Brundle's girlfriend is horrified as the person she once loved deteriorates into a monster. Remember how awesome this movie was? Like all great films, there's a lot of excitement when our mad scientist tests out his teleportation machine on himself. However, things go south very quickly and once he starts losing body parts and having to throw up on all his meals, that is just about the end of the joyride. Director David Cronenberg crafted one of the seminal scientific cautionary tales of the 1980s, and it is great to see it has aged so well.
Chris Taylor leaves his university studies to enlist in combat duty in Vietnam in 1967. Once he's on the ground in the middle of battle, his idealism fades. Infighting in his unit between Staff Sergeant Barnes, who believes nearby villagers are harboring Viet Cong soldiers, and Sergeant Elias, who has a more sympathetic view of the locals, ends up pitting the soldiers against each other as well as against the enemy. I recently watched this movie with some friends. They said it didn't hold up, I told them that it had never been better. This Vietnam story is your classic tale about the many casualties of war. That it still feels relevant to our geopolitical situation is even more incredible. My friends don't know what they're talking about.
After learning that his father is dying, karate master Mr. Miyagi returns home to Okinawa, bringing his protege, Daniel, with him. In Japan, Miyagi is surprised to discover that his old sweetheart, Yukie, has remained single. Meanwhile, Daniel is attracted to Yukie's niece, Kumiko. But romance must be put on hold while Daniel and Miyagi deal with local bullies and long-harbored grudges. Admittedly, I do not think this movie really holds a candle to its counterpart from 1984. That said, the villain (Yuji Okumoto) in this sequel is just as good AND it's great to see the story shift from Danielsan to Mr. Miyagi.
In this film based on the comic book character, Howard the Duck is suddenly beamed from Duckworld, a planet of intelligent ducks with arms and legs, to Earth, where he lands in Cleveland. There he saves rocker Beverly from thugs and forms a friendship with her. She introduces him to Phil, who works at a lab with scientist Dr. Jenning. When the doctor attempts to return Howard to his world, Jenning instead transfers an evil spirit into his own body.On what planet did the people making this movie think that a film about a duck saving earth was going to be a blockbuster? Why did George Lucas put his name on it? I could ask a lot more questions but, thirty years on, the fact that we're still discussing it probably says a lot more about the George Lucas's foresight than it does about our taste.
Meek flower shop assistant Seymour pines for co-worker Audrey. During a total eclipse, he discovers an unusual plant he names Audrey II, which feeds only on human flesh and blood. The growing plant attracts a great deal of business for the previously struggling store. After Seymour feeds Audrey's boyfriend, Orin, to the plant after Orin's accidental death, he must come up with more bodies for the increasingly bloodthirsty plant. Roger Corman made the original movie in two days. He shot it on used sets and figured it would be yet another film in his growing collection. Well, that was 1960. Twenty six years later we get this remake and thirty years later we are still celebrating this tale of Seymour, Mr. Mushnik and man-eating plant. Wow! Talk about a cult classic.
Living in exile on the planet Vulcan, the ragtag former crew of the USS Enterprise steal a starship after receiving a planetary distress call from Earth: a space probe has entered into orbit around Earth, disabled global power on the planet and evaporated the oceans. Captain Kirk, Spock and the rest of the officers travel back in time to retrieve now-extinct humpback whales, which Spock has deduced will communicate with the probe and send it away from Earth. This self referential installment in the Star Trek franchise was beloved by fans and casual movie goers alike. This was at a time when Comic-Con wasn't the juggernaut that it currently is. While it looks completely dated by today's standards, upon its release it truly mixed the past and the present in a very nostalgic and special way.
When the mystical Russell Nash kills a man in a sword fight in a New York City parking lot, he leaves a sliver of an ancient weapon lodged in a car in the process. After brilliant forensics specialist Brenda Wyatt recovers evidence of the mysterious weapon, she and her partner, Lt. Frank Moran, embark on an investigation Of Nash that will land them in the middle of a dangerous, centuries-old feud between powerful immortals. The only reason why this movie doesn't feel that old is because there have been so many sequels. This tale of a man confronting immortal opponents with a sword, is the kind of thing that is ripe for a redo in today's serialized world. Heck, that may already be happening...
Darkness seeks to create eternal night by destroying the last of the unicorns. Jack and his friends do everything possible to save the world and Princess Lili from the hands of Darkness. Enter a world of unicorns, magic swamps, dwarfs and rainbows. Ridley Scott's epic tale of good and evil sports Tom Cruise and still never found it's way to being a seminal film. This isn't to say that Legend is a bad movie. It is just one of those 30 year old pieces of celluloid, that seems to have hung on because of its genre.
Lucas is an unusually bright teenager whose nerdy looks and meek demeanor make him a favorite target for bullies. His life at school seems to improve when he befriends Maggie, a cute new girl whose love interest, Cappie, protects him from harassment. However, despite his friend Rina's clear affection for him, Lucas falls for Maggie, and in a final effort to impress her, joins the high school football team. Corey Haim is picture perfect in the title role of this underdog tale of unrequited love. Who hasn't loved someone only to see them love another? At 30 years of age, Lucas holds up because it never plays teenagers cheap. It felt that way then, it feels that way now, and it is honestly one of the most special films to come from the go-go 80s.
Failed college coach Norman Dale gets a chance at redemption when he is hired to direct the basketball program at a high school in a tiny Indiana town. After a teacher persuades star player Jimmy Chitwood to quit and focus on his long-neglected studies, Dale struggles to develop a winning team in the face of community criticism for his temper and his unconventional choice of assistant coach: Shooter, a notorious alcoholic. This simple, little film about a redemptive coach, driving a small town basketball team to greatness, already underscores a strong 1986. With incredible performances from even the smallest roles, Hoosiers is a tale of triumph and humanity.
A New York reporter heads to Australia to interview the living legend Mike Dundee. When she finally locates him, she is so taken with him that she brings him back with her to New York. In New York, Mike Dundee is amazed by the wonders of the city and the interesting people there. How great it is that Paul Hogan turned the words "another shrimp on the barbie" into a career? In today's instafamous age, a movie like this would be realized in such a fragmented way that it would quickly disappear. Crocodile Dundee benefitted from the fact that it had to be in theaters, it had to hit home video... and the money it made in those markets made it have to have sequels.
Teenage Sarah journeys through a maze to recover her baby brother from a goblin king. Many of the people reading this were the age (or close to it) of the 16 year old girl, who had her wish granted by the Goblin King to take her bratty little bro away. Now, 30 years later, that sibling rivarly is hopefully a thing of all of our pasts, yet, it would be hard not to feel nostalgic about this tale of rescue and family. Labyrinth is truly as layered as its title suggests.
Los Angeles policeman Lt. Marion "Cobra" Cobretti finds himself at the center of a spate of murders carried out by a secret society called New Order: killers who select "weak" members of society for extermination. As the murder rate rises, Cobra takes model Ingrid into protective custody after she witnesses New Order's leader in action. As Cobra falls for Ingrid, they find shelter in a small town, but must soon fight for survival. While not in the class of Rambo or even Tango & Cash, Cobra is a fine, fine addition to Sylvester Stallone's action ouvre. While the paint by numbers plot sees him going up against a band of people bent on taking down society, this film's 30th birthday couldn't be more timely. With Stallone currently experiencing a career resurgence (both at the box office and at the critics fingertips), it's nice to see that the man behind many of the best movies of the 80s is still going strong.
Following their breakout success in England, flagship punk rock band the Sex Pistols venture out on their first U.S. tour. Temperamental bassist Sid Vicious takes his troubled girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, along for the ride. Along the way, the couple's turbulent relationship strains the patience of bandmate Johnny Rotten and manager Malcolm McLaren, while plunging Sid and Nancy into the depths of drug addiction and co-dependency. Alex Cox's bleak cautionary tale of sex, drugs and rock n' roll is arguably his best film (however, Repo Man and Walker are both pretty darn great). Putting his unique lens on the life of Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman) and Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb), we see the downward spiral of two junkies set to music. Of course, there is a lot more to the story than that, which is why we're celebrating it 30 years later on lists like this!
After graduating from high school, art school hopeful Hoops McCann struggles to complete his application to the Rhode Island School of Design. Resigning himself to a summer of boredom, McCann agrees to go along with his best friend, George Calamari, on a family trip to Nantucket, Mass. But, after McCann and Calamari meet rocker-in-distress Cassandra, it suddenly looks like it's going to be "one crazy summer." This little gem of a John Cusack film doesn't get nearly as much play as Better Off Dead, but it is honestly just a good. Brought to us by the truly original mind of Savage Steve Holland (he seems to only do TV now), this film is the story of Hoops McCann (Cusack; the name, we believe, is lifted from the line of a Steely Dan song) and his desire to find love over the course of that special time known as summer. Filled with wildly quirky performances, One Crazy Summer makes one wonder what 30 years of Savage Steve Holland movies might have brought us.
Peggy Sue Bodell attends her 25-year high school reunion after separating from her cheating husband, Charlie. She regrets the decisions she has made in her life, such as getting pregnant by Charlie in high school. When she faints at the reunion, she awakens in 1960. Given the chance to relive her life, she changes many things. However, some choices are more complicated, as she begins to see young Charlie's charm and true feelings.. Yhis tale of a woman going back in time to when she was in high school in the 1960s, made people high nostalgic for that time in the 1980s. As young boy seeing it in the theater, the 1960s seemed light years away. Now, talking about this film 30 years since 1986, I want to travel back in time to when I was originally watching this film in the theater.
Former pool hustler "Fast Eddie" Felson decides he wants to return to the game by taking a pupil. He meets talented but green Vincent Lauria and proposes a partnership. As they tour pool halls, Eddie teaches Vincent the tricks of scamming, but he eventually grows frustrated with Vincent's showboat antics, leading to an argument and a falling-out. Eddie takes up playing again and soon crosses paths with Vincent as an opponent. Martin Scorsese's sequel to 1961's The Hustler, see's Paul Newman return as Fast Eddie Felson. He mentors the ambitious, if silly, Vincent (Tom Cruise) and together they both teach each other about new and old cons. This film is filled with stunning visuals, solid characters, and a timeless story no matter how old it is.
After a lightning bolt gives it human emotions and intelligence, a military robot escapes and finds refuge at the home of an animal-loving pacifist. This movie was directed by the guy who did Saturday Night Fever. It stars Steve Guttenberg and Fisher Stevens (who can be seen in the current Coen Bros. film Hail, Cesar). That sounds like the set up for a joke right? Well, this tale of /short-circuit-remake-to-offer-a-radical-new-take-on-johnny-5/Johnny 5, a robot who gets struck by lightning and runs away from the lab in which he was created, was actually a pretty entertaining film. At its heart is a movie that is very pro-humanity, all while being wrapped up in a sci-fi, family film.
After a Tibetan boy, the mystical Golden Child, is kidnapped by the evil Sardo Numspa, humankind's fate hangs in the balance. On the other side of the world in Los Angeles, the priestess Kee Nang seeks the Chosen One, who will save the boy from death. When Nang sees social worker Chandler Jarrell on television discussing his ability to find missing children, she solicits his expertise, despite his skepticism over being "chosen."Eddie Murphy has never been better as a child detective in this cross between Big Trouble in Little China meets Beverly Hills Cop. When Murphy's detective is on the hunt for a "special" boy who has some big time enemies, the formula of Murphy's detective seems to truly suit his persona. While it may not have the cachet of the Cop films or Raw... it grossed $80 million in the US in the 1980s. Add thirty years to those numbers and we're talking about a film that probably made more than Avatar.
Ultra Magnus and the Transformers fight planet Unicron and the Decepticons in 2005. Autobots. Decepticons. Orson Welles. What???? This animated tale had all that and more when it was released in 1986. While it might pale in comparison (from a production standpoint) to the Michael Bay films, there's something about the Transformers living in an animated world that just seems more appropriate.
Chainsaw-wielding maniac Leatherface is up to his cannibalistic ways once again, along with the rest of his twisted clan, including the equally disturbed Chop-Top. This time, the masked killer has set his sights on pretty disc jockey Vanita "Stretch" Brock, who teams up with Texas lawman Lefty Enright to battle the psychopath and his family deep within their lair, a macabre abandoned amusement park. What people loved about the first film from 1974 was how it's low budget nature really worked for it. That film was creepy and what it lacked in production values, it certainly made up for in thrills and chills. This sequel, about a radio host being victimized by "the family," and an officer of the law who's out to get them tried so hard to mix comedy with creeps that it ended up laughing at itself. Sure, the whole mock Breakfast Club cover thing was cool... but 30 years ago it didn't make this writer want to the see the movie anymore than it does today.
Thornton Melon is concerned that his son Jason is unsure whether to go to college, so the uneducated self-made millionaire encourages him by signing up as a student as well. As Jason tries to establish himself among his peers and make the diving team, Thornton falls for a pretty professor and gets others do his schoolwork for him. When the suspicious dean finds out, Thornton needs to show he can get by on his own. There's been talk of a Back to School reboot with Cedric the Entertainer. No offense to the #oscarssowhite campaign, and I happen to love Cedric... but Back to School should be left alone. It isn't because this movie is so special that it can't be touched, but Back to School is good as is. It has the villain from the Karate Kid being a villain. It has the nerd from Christine being a nerd. It has Robert Downey, Jr. being punk rock just like he was in Tuff Turf. I'm not even going to go into Burt Young essentially channeling the character he played in the Rocky films. This cannot be duplicated and nobody should even try. As for Rodney Dangerfield... we happen to love the guy.
Fraternity pledges pull a prank with a frozen body and let sluglike creatures loose on campus. Brain parasites, zombies, teenagers...The 80s movies were like blenders in which concepts were then thrown in and spit out on celluloid. There's probably not a lot of people celebrating that Night of the Creeps is turning 30. However, we feel that this is a wonderful film in Fred Dekker's oeuvre, and that is why we're talking about. Did we mention that the guy who played Russ Griswold in Vacation 2 is in it?
When strange fuzzy creatures from outer space arrive on a farm, the Brown family -- Jay (Billy Green Bush), Helen (Dee Wallace-Stone), their daughter, April (Nadine Van Der Velde), and their son, Brad (Scott Grimes) -- must fend off the malevolent little aliens. Two bounty hunters with superhuman abilities follow the aggressive beasts from beyond, but the warriors aren't terribly effective, leaving the Brown family to battle the fur balls and rescue April from their clutches all by themselves. Ok. So this makes it 31! But we just couldn't leave out this big bowl of nacho cheese dip masquerading as a movie. Though, if Dee Wallace Stone is in your horror movie that automatically makes it legit, right? This tale of furry monsters wreaking havoc on a small town is so 1986, they should put this movie in a time capsule for future generations who wanna know what things were like in the Reagan Era.
Alright... do you have the warm fuzzies, yet? Do you feel like you are back in the 1980s? Have you been exposed to films you've never heard about? Basically, did this article capture the spirit of why these 30 year old films are so great, so important... so 80s?