6 Must See Movies from 1985

January 7, 2011

by Joel G. Robertson

1985. Ah, the magical year that gave us cinematic memories like Back to the Future, Cocoon, The Breakfast Club, Day of the Dead, Rambo 2, Rocky IV, Witness, Spies Like Us, The Color Purple, The Goonies, St. Elmo’s Fire, Fletch, Re-animator, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Prizzi’s Honor, Brazil, Commando, Crimewave, Ghoulies, and The Heavenly Kid… just to name a few.

But since this list only allows 6 titles, I went for the ones I thought needed a little extra light sent their way. The horror and comedy picks were by far the hardest. My first response for horror was Re-animator, duh! But then, I thought about the amazing cult fan base that film enjoys.

Next, I remembered Dario Argento’s Phenomena (aka Creepers), starring Donald Pleasance and a very young Jennifer Connelly. At the time I saw it, the film was Creepers and it was the first “gore” film I ever saw. I was around 9 years old and I thought my cousin said he’d just rented Critters, the Gremlins knock-off I’d been dying to see (this was early ’86 and Creepers was new on video).

Needless to say, I was a wee bit traumatized and the twitching still kicks in from time to time…

And while Phenomena/Creepers is certainly a movie remembered by only a devoted few, it still wasn’t quite right. So, I went with another movie my cousin rented around that time and it’s one receiving the remake treatment later this year.

The choice for comedy was even harder. I could have easily gone with Real Genius starring Val Kilmer or Top Secret starring… yep, you guessed it, Val Kilmer. Another choice was Better Off Dead, a classic that still holds up really well.

But my personal favorite from that year is a film that helped jump start me into puberty. It’s also the movie that inspired me and a friend to hook one of his kid sister’s Barbie dolls up to a Commodore 64 using roach clips we found in his mom’s, er, uhm,  “junk” drawer…

Be sure to tell us in the comments section what your must see movies are from 1985!


Fright Night – Dir. Tom Holland; Starring William Ragsdale, Chris Sarandon, Roddy McDowall, and Amanda Bearse. A horror lovin’ teen realizes his new neighbor is a bloodsucking vampire, but no one believes him so he enlists the help of legendary horror actor cum horror host Peter Vincent to best the night creature.

Fright Night Trailer

Movie Trivia: Amanda Bearse who plays Charlie’s girlfriend, Amy, went on to star in the hit sitcom Married With Children; Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) was named after horror movie legends Peter Cushing and Vincent Price; Chris Sarandon (Jerry Dandrige) and director Tom Holland worked together again in 1988’s Child’s Play.


Weird Science – Dir. John Hughes; Starring Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, and Kelly LeBrock. Two high school nerds create the woman of their dreams using a computer, but they get way more than they expected.

Weird Science Trailer

Movie Trivia: Weird Science was the last of three movies Anthony Michael Hall made with John Hughes, the other two were, of course, Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club; Actress Suzanne Snyder, who played Deb in Weird Science, also starred in 80s flicks like Return of the Living Dead 2, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and Night of the Creeps. Actor Vernon Wells portrays a character very similar to one he played in The Road Warrior a few years earlier.


Enemy Mine – Dir. Wolfgang Peterson; Starring Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr. Two mortal enemies, a human and a drac (walk into a bar…) crash land on an alien world and must join forces to survive.

Enemy Mine Trailer

Movie Trivia: Terry Gilliam was the original choice to direct Enemy Mine, but he went on to make Brazil instead; The Drac language was Russian spoken backward. Chris Walas worked on makeup effects for this film. Walas also created the gremlins for Gremlins the year before and worked on features like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Scanners, The Fly (1 and 2), Arachnophobia, Deepstar Six, and Naked Lunch.


To Live and Die in L.A – Dir. William Friedkin; Starring: William Petersen and Willem Dafoe. A Secret Service agent (Petersen) goes after the counterfeiter (Dafoe) responsible for the death of his partner.

To Live and Die in L.A Trailer

Movie Trivia: Friedkin also directed the The Exorcist and the classic crime drama The French Connection; To Live and Die in L.A. was Petersen’s first starring role in a feature film (he had a small role in Michael Mann’s Thief [1981]), he would later go on to star in the original CSI television series as Gil Grissom.


Silverado.– Dir. Lawrence Kasdan; Starring Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover, Scott Glenn. Four men meet up and travel to the small town of Silverado where they run afoul of a rancher and a lawman.

Silverado Trailer

Movie Trivia: Writer/director Lawrence Kasdan was the screenwriter of The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark; Kasdan offered Costner his role to make up for cutting his part in The Big Chill. Costner played a corpse. Some debate it was his finest role.


Explorers – Dir. Joe Dante; Starring Ethan Hawke, River Pheonix, and Bobby Fite. After Ben Crandall (Hawke) experiences strange dreams about a circuit board, he and two friends realize the dream was a message sent by aliens giving them the plans to build a spaceship.

Explorers Trailer

Movie Trivia: Explorers was the feature debut of both Ethan Hawke and River Pheonix; Ben Crandall (Hawke) is obsessed with sci-fi, much like director Dante; A regular in Joe Dante films, Robert Picardo played the alien father, Wak.

Movie Trivia Challenge News

Since the blog and everything we’re doing is all so new, there’s a definite learning curve to it. That said, I’m going to try something a little different with next week’s trivia quiz. I want to make it as easy as possible for the participants to send in their guesses.

So, starting on Monday 01/10 I’ll post the new quiz word courtesy of your and my favorite movie quiz maestro, Dale Lloyd. Then, you’ll have until 6 PM (EST) Monday night to submit your answers.

You can send your answers via Twitter to @forgottenflix using the hashtag #movietrivia, or just leave your answers in the comments section. ANYONE who submits a correct answer is a winner and will get entered into the next prize drawing (at the end of March).

It’s as simple as that.

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

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25 comments on “6 Must See Movies from 1985

  1. Some of my all-time favorites came out in 1985. You covered many of them one way or the other.

    A couple movies that you did not mention in your intro or your other 6 that at least deserve note:
    Better Off Dead
    Real Genius (even ranks ahead of Weird Science for me)
    The Last Dragon (a total guilty pleasure movie for me!)
    The Sure Thing
    Vision Quest
    Teen Wolf

    Always enjoy your take on this. Take care.

    • Old School– You’re right and it’s hilarious that I forgot to mention Better Off Dead and Real Genius. Why? Well, because those (along with The Heavenly Kid and Just One of the Guys) were my top picks and it was a pretty big mental struggle for me (of course, most things are) to finally choose one. In fact, I was going with Better Off Dead until last night when I changed my mind yet again and went with Weird Science.

      And then I go and forget to mention it in the opening!

      You’re picks are great too, but the way. As always, thanks for stopping by. 🙂

    • Hi Pizza Girl! I completely understand why so many good folks (such as yourself) love The Goonies, but I gotta be honest, I was always more partial to another movie very similar (arguably more than just “similar”) to The Goonies and that was 1987’s The Monster Squad! Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  2. Yes, I second the Goonies as well but like you said, there are other more forgotten films out there. Like Enemy Mine and The Explorers! Two of my sci-fi favs growing up. I saw Enemy Mine a couple years back and still enjoyed it a lot. Haven’t seen Explorers in a very long time. I always kind of hated the last act of that movie and I don’t think time will be kind to it. The building of the spaceship set to that wonderful score is enough to make up for it though.

    • Will! How’s it going man? Interesting, your point about The Explorer’s final act having problems. I was just listening to an interview with Joe Dante on the Movie Geeks United podcast and he said that the studio was in such a rush to get the movie into theaters he wasn’t able to actually finish it. The movie we’ve seen is more like a “rough cut” than a completed picture, according to Dante. But The Explorers really does provide some great mid-80s movie memories, warts and all! 🙂

      • Yeah it’s totally worth watching and I’ve been wanting to revisit it for a long time. That’s interesting about the rough cut nature of it. I’d be curious to know what they would have done with it given enough time/money.

        • Will– Dante said there would have been more character development. For example, I believe he said that Dana Ivey, who played Mrs. Muller (Wolfgang’s [River Phoenix] mom], had a subplot rather than only appearing in one scene. Here’s a link to the Movie Geeks United podcast archive: http://www.moviegeeksunited.net/archive.htm They have Dante listed under “Gremlins,” but it may be the show where he talked about “Explorers” too. If that’s not the one, check them out on iTunes and it’s the Summer of 1985 series episode about “Explorers”. Hope that helps! 🙂

  3. Hey Joel. Great list as always, although I have not seen To Live and Die in LA or Silverado. They look like my kinda films though so I will check them out. My somewhat “girlie” list also included The Last Dragon, The Heavenly Kid, Secret Admirer, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, and finally The New Kids (just because I love James Spader and apparently Lori Loughlin). Plus The New Kids is set in rural Florida so there’s that. Keep it up movie twin!

    • Hi RedKQueen, thanks for your awesome movie picks! I love all of them, especially The Heavenly Kid and Secret Admirer, but I have a confession, never saw The New Kids! I remember the VHS box (and Ms. Lori Loughlin on the cover, purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) at the video store and I always wanted to rent it, but never did. Thanks to you though, I’m going immediately from this comment to my Netflix queue where it will get bumped to the #1 spot for asap viewing! Thanks!

      P.S. As my movie twin, you of course know on a profound psychic level how much I love me some Lori Loughlin movies. If you’ve never seen it, check out The Night Before (also starring Keanu Reeves). It was directed by Thom Eberhardt who also made Night of the Comet!

  4. I can’t believe I forgot to mention Just One of the Guys.

    Another of my guilty pleasure favorites!

    • Old School– Nothing to feel guilty about for liking “Just One of the Guys”. Hell, I can’t believe I forgot to mention it in the post as it’s one of my faves as well!

  5. No problem. It seems I also have some catching up to do with Night of the Comet and The Night Before. To borrow a phrase from the sorely missed Dharmalars podcast I will gladly “stick em’ in my queue.” I’m very much looking forward to your picks for 1986.

    • RedKQueen–Holy Schnikies! You’re a LOSTie too!?! I know we were separated at birth, but if you tell me you also listened to Jay and Jack and/or The Transmission, well, I’ll eat my Dharma-issued Peanut Butter covered hat! 🙂

  6. Nice choices there, and some pretty good ones listed in the comments as well. I’m a big fan of TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A., FRIGHT NIGHT and WEIRD SCIENCE.

    I’ll have yo give ENEMY MINE another chance…I wasn’t all that impressed first time around, but “first time around” was 25 years ago when I was in High School. I’m hoping my tastes have changed since then!

    And yes…GOONIES is a must-see.

    • Hi Dave, Thanks for stopping by! Yeah, you should definitely give ENEMY MINE another try. I always think it’s a great idea to revisit films (both ones you loved and hated) years later and view them through the lens of increased life experience.

  7. Peter Nielsen Jan 15, 2011

    Hi Joel
    This is a great list. Lots of very good choices here. “Fright Night” is one of my favorite horror movies. “Weird Science”… yup, seen it numerous times.
    “Enemy Mine” and “To Live and Die in L.A.” are, I think, more forgotten than the rest on the list. And come to think of it, so is “Silverado”.
    In the comedy section I think it’s only fair to mention “Mischief”. A sweet little teen comedy you just can’t help loving.
    RedKQueen mentioned “The Last Dragon” above… YES YES YES!! I friggin’ love this movie. I first saw it at a midnight screening in Copenhagen, Denmark. OH MY GOD! I had SUCH a crush on Vanity after this. It can’t be more than 3 months ago since I watched it again for the umptieth time and it’s still friggin’ awesome!! — Who’s the master? — SHO’NUFF!!

    • Howdy Peter– I agree (although, since we’re about to get a FRIGHT NIGHT remake, it too is in danger of slipping out of the fuzzy netherworld of the public unconscious). And I almost went with THE LAST DRAGON for my family pick, by the way! SHO’NUFF, indeed!

  8. Peter Nielsen Jan 15, 2011

    BTW… Ask Dale what he thinks about “The Last Dragon” 🙂

  9. I don’t know how but I left MOVING VIOLATIONS (with Bill Murray’s brother) off my list! Gotta see if I can find this one, haven’t seen it in years!

    • RedKQueen– I remember watching MOVING VIOLATIONS at summer camp. S&M and pre-teens, now that was one helluva mix! 🙂

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