6 Must See Movies From 1980

November 26, 2010

by Joel G. Robertson

UPDATE: And the winners of this week’s Insanely Difficult, Damn-Near-Impossible Movie Trivia Challenge are…

Trivia (Beast) Master: Peter (who managed to win this “coveted” role every week since this game started on Forgotten Flix!)

Trivia Warriors:  Maggie, Kylie, and Leon!

And the answers to this week’s game are:

F  = Inferno

L  = Something Wild

A  = After Hours

S  = Radio Days

H =  C. H. U. D.

This week’s winners will have their names submitted in the prize drawing. If anyone has won from previous weeks (Peter, Kylie and Leon!), then they’ll have their name submitted into the drawing for each win. I’ll announce the winner of the prize drawing on Tuesday, November 30, so stay tuned…


Ah, here we are at last… 1980.

And as we creep our way through the 80s it’s gonna get a helluva lot harder for me to pick “one” flick for each category. Nay, it will be next to impossible with the horror films… but since I’ve forced myself to stick with this arbitrary (and ridiculously restrictive) rule, I’m going to do my best.

Just like last week, I’m going to keep these suckers (relatively) short and sweet. I want to hear from you. Tell me your six “must sees” in the comments section below!


The Shining

A man slowly goes mad while he and his family spend the winter in an isolated and haunted hotel. Based on the novel by Stephen King, this Stanley Kubrick-directed picture is like so many other Kubrick pictures–cold and emotionally distant. However, Kubrick’s distaste for capturing spontaneous, “natural” moments (he was notorious for getting dozens of takes for even the most mundane shots) really works in The Shining’s favor. It’s creepy, atmospheric and, like all Kubrick films, beautifully shot and edited.

But if you’re a fan of King’s book, you should check out Mick Garris’s television adaptation too. While not as chilling, it gets the source material way better than the theatrical version.



Classic comedy spoof of disaster movies. This was the Zucker Bros. follow up to the Kentucky Fried Movie (which they co-wrote and starred in with Jim Abrahams– I mentioned it here). If you’ve never seen this movie, you owe it to your funny bone.

And if your only exposure to movie spoofs is the recent onslaught of the Date Movie, Epic Movie-variety, please, for the love of all that is good and funny, don’t use those as a measuring stick of what makes a good movie spoof. Airplane! has better jokes in its first five minutes than all the recent “spoof” movies have in their entire running times–combined!

Poster of "The Final Countdown" (1980)


The Final Countdown

While out at sea, the U.S.S. Nimitz, a nuclear-armed aircraft carrier, passes through a time vortex and finds itself shifted back to 1941. Specifically, December 7, 1941, the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. With an opportunity to end World War II before it starts, the crew must decide whether they will alter history.

The Final Countdown isn’t just a kick-ass power rock song from Swedish rockers Europe. No, it’s also a kick-ass time travel movie starring Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen. It’s been years since I watched this one, but I recall it being quite tense. Personally, I love “what if” sci-fi stories with that “Twilight Zone“-feel to them and The Final Countdown certainly fits that description.

Somewhere In Time PosterDrama:

Somewhere in Time

A playwright wills his consciousness back to 1910 where he falls in love with a beautiful theater star. You could argue this one is sci-fi due to the time travel angle, but the conceit of moving through time is more metaphysical that science based.

Based on the novel Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson (I Am Legend, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Duel), who is one of my favorite authors, Somewhere in Time has a great high-concept story and “twist” ending, both trademarks of many great Matheson works. The film stars Christopher Reeve (he made this movie after starring in Superman), Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer with one of the first on-screen appearances from future great William H. Macy!

The Blues Brothers PosterAction:

The Blues Brothers

Jake and Elwood Blues are on a mission from God. They set out to put together their old band and raise the money needed to save their childhood home. So, why have I listed this as an action movie and not a comedy? While it’s funny and light hearted, this thing is action packed. From the great car chases, to Carrie Fisher toting heavy artillery.

It’s the follow-up for both director John Landis (and it’s the movie he made just before An American Werewolf in London) and John Belushi to the iconic Animal House. It also features an all-star cast: Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, the aforementioned Carrie Fisher, and music legends like Cab Calloway, James Brown, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin!

The Watcher In The Woods PosterFamily:

The Watcher In the Woods

A mysterious disappearance in the English countryside years earlier, leads a teenage girl to suspect that something supernatural is going on in the woods near the home her family’s rental home. Okay, let me just say up front that the acting in this movie is pretty bad, in some moments VERY bad. And the final reveal of “The Watcher” is a special effects let down, even by the standards of the day, but there’s an atmospheric charm about the film that makes it appealing. This is Disney, but it’s a bit darker than you’d expect, and like most classic Disney movies, there’s a legitimate sense of danger for the main characters.

So, those are my picks for the 6 movies from 1980. Do you agree with my choices? Hell, I”m not even sure I do (especially the family pick)! So, if you have a favorite from 1980 you think everyone should see at least once, please tell us about it in the comments section.

Until next time, remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!

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