The Most Influential Movies Of The 1980s

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The Most Influential Movies of the 1980s

When we look back over the decades, there are few eras that carry such strong cultural connotations as the 1980s. Even for those who weren’t alive during the period, any mention of the 80s instantly conjures up images of feathered hair, leg warmers, electro-pop, and the neon-drenched, sunny optimism.

Arguably, the 80s left its most enduring mark on film. So many cinematic releases from the decade are endlessly re-watched, re-made, and re-quoted to this day. Here’s our roundup of the most culturally influential films of the 1980s. 



Nightmare On Elm Street

The 80s was truly the era where the blockbuster horror flick came into its own. No film is more emblematic of this cultural shift than Nightmare On Elm Street, in which the blade-fingered Freddy Kreuger terrorizes suburban America in its sleep. The terrifying antagonist has since reappeared in more than a dozen films, as well as countless video games and TV parodies. If you have even a passing interest in horror, you’ll know all about Nightmare On Elm Street. 

The Goonies

The classic adventure comedy is about as 80s as it could get, complete with the hair, fashion, and music that made the era so culturally distinct. The film chronicles the adventures of a gang of friends who are about to be turfed out of their working-class neighbourhood called “the Goon Docks” to make way for a country club, that other symbol of 1980s excess and opulence. Spielberg’s classic was an instant cult hit and has gone on to become one of the most culturally reproduced films of the era.

In fact, fans of The Goonies today can even play an official online slot version of the game – The Goonies Slot. Featuring all the original cast, soundtrack, and catchphrases, The Goonies is ranked as one of the most popular online casino games at William Hill, a leading international gambling site. If that’s not a testament to the cultural impact of the film, we don’t know what is.

Die Hard

This was the film that launched the stratospheric career of the lead, Bruce Willis, and for good reason. Set inside a luxury hotel and office complex on Christmas Eve, Die Hard depicts the efforts of a wisecracking NYPD cop who must foil a heist attempt by a gang of German terrorists with fabulous facial hair.

This is an 80s film that has probably generated more quotes than any other, not least the protagonist’s iconic catchphrase. Fans of the original can even relive the action via a range of video games, with the most popular probably being the 2002 PC release Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza, an absolute classic of the genre. 

The Terminator

“I’ll be back”. Three words that almost anyone alive today will instantly associate with the critically acclaimed James Cameron sci-fi that remains one of the highest-grossing releases ever of this genre. The film follows an evil humanlike cyborg from the 2020s who has been sent back in time to the 1980s to assassinate the mother of John Connor, a general in the future who is on the verge of foiling a robotic takeover of Earth.

The film perfectly walks the lines between terrifying, thought-provoking, hilarious, and high-camp in a way that only the 80s really could. Since the original release, the franchise has spawned a number of box office smash hits, as well as more than a dozen video games. 

For us, these are the 80s movies that have had an outsized impact on popular culture that is still felt to this day. Whether any films from our current decade will match up remains to be seen. 

The Most Influential Movies of the 1980s


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