80s Movies That Don't Get Enough Love

Just as good as anything else from the decade, just without the love from fans.

The 1980s were a special decade for movies. It established franchises like the Indiana Jones movies, and saw the continued rise of now-legendary filmmakers like Steven Spielberg. There were a lot movies made, and there are many underrated '80s movies that film lovers should see, so here is our list of films that just don’t get enough love from the go-go decade. 

(20th Century Fox)
Top Secret! (1984)

The production team of the Zucker brothers (David and Jerry) and Jim Abrams had huge hits in the '80s with Airplane! and Naked Gun. In between, they made a movie with the same surrealist comedic vibe called Top Secret! which, somehow, despite being just as funny as the others, flies much further under the radar. It also happened to be Val Kilmer’s film debut and he’s outstanding in the lead. 

(Paramount Pictures)
UHF (1989)

You can’t talk about surrealist '80s humor without talking about “Weird Al” Yankovic. After landing a bunch of MTV hits, he was ready for his silver screen close-up. In true Yankovic fashion, he co-wrote and starred in UHF, a bizarre, yet lovable flick about a persistent loser who finds his calling as the manager of a local UHF TV station, something that only people alive in the ‘80s would even be able to understand. Watching it again will make you yearn for the days of low-budget local TV. 

Stakeout (1987)

The buddy cop genre reached it’s zenith in the 1980s with movies like Lethal Weapon and 48 Hrs., so it’s not surprising that another great one would be overshadowed. In this case, the film is Stakeout, which sees Emilio Estevez team up with Richard Dreyfuss on, you guessed it, a stakeout. A funnier moment is during a game of trivia, when Estevez’s character is quizzing Dreyfuss’ on movie quotes and asks him who said “This is no boating accident,” to which Dreyfuss answers he doesn’t know. If you don’t know – it was Dreyfuss in Jaws

(Touchstone Pictures)
Gotcha! (1985)

Truly one of the most underappreciated movies of the 1980s is Gotcha!, starring Anthony Edwards and Linda Fiorentino, about a hapless college student (Edwards) who gets caught up in a spy ring in East Germany. It’s peak Cold War entertainment, when we all thought of East Berlin as some kind of exotic other-world filled with Commie villains and devoid of Burger Kings. It’s so unfairly unloved that it’s almost impossible to find anywhere. 

(Universal Pictures)
No Way Out (1987)

No Way Out was a moderate hit at the box office in 1987, and considering just how popular Kevin Costner is, and just how good the movie is, it’s amazing it wasn’t one of the biggest hits of the year. This is a movie that holds a 91% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and yet hardly gets talked about on most lists of great action flicks. That’s a shame. 

(Orion Pictures)
Eight Men Out (1988)

There are certain movies you just have to stop and watch when you’re flipping around looking for something on TV. The Right Stuff and The Hunt for Red October spring to mind, and so should Eight Men Out. With a stellar cast including Charlie Sheen, John Cusak, and D.B. Sweeney, it tells the true story of the 1919 “Black Sox” Scandal and it’s one of the greatest baseball movies of all time. 

(Orion Pictures Corporation)
Eddie And The Cruisers (1983)

The success of Eddie and the Cruisers is one that could have only happened in the ‘80s. The movie was panned by critics and bombed at the box office. But, a song from the film, “On The Darkside” played by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, became a hit on the radio, then the movie gained popularity on cable TV. It eventually even lead to a sequel, Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!, though that one definitely doesn’t qualify for this list. 

(Embassy Pictures)
Harlem Nights (1989)

Eddie Murphy was one of the kings of the box office in the ‘80s with hits like Coming To America and Beverly Hills Cop, two films that are still so popular they’ve seen revivals in this decade. On its surface, Harlem Nights seems like a rare misstep for Murphy, but when you watch, you realize that maybe it was just ahead of its time. The movie, with a cast of legends like Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, and Della Reese, is hysterical and deserves way more love. 

(Paramount Pictures)
Gallipoli (1981)

Gallipoli assembled a fantastic core of talent early in their careers, like Mel Gibson and director Peter Wier, to make something very rare, an exciting and intriguing World War I movie (which is difficult, because the war was so static). It’s rare for a filmmaker to figure it out, so to speak, like Sam Mendes did brilliantly in 1917. Gallipoli is equally anxiety-inducing. 

(Paramount Pictures)
Explorers (1985)

Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix both made their film debuts in 1985’s Explorers, and while the movie bombed, it found a loving audience after its VHS release. That’s about as ‘80s as you can get. Sure, it’s partly Gen X nostalgia to remember a movie about what it could be like if you built a spaceship in your backyard as a kid, but the movie’s heart is in the right place and it’s impossible not to appreciate that. 

The Last Starfighter (1984)

Ok, the graphics have not really held up over the years, but The Last Starfighter is still an important movie that should get more love. It was one of the very first films that used extensive CGI in its production and while Tron is far better remembered and has had a greater legacy (no pun intended), this was just as big a deal back in the day. 

(Universal Pictures)
Bachelor Party (1984)

If you’ve never seen those zany comedies of Tom Hanks' early career, Bachelor Party is the one you should start with. It's a quintessential ‘80s comedy that should be ranked with Caddyshack and Animal House, yet somehow it’s been mostly forgotten. Maybe that’s the price it had to pay for Hanks’ decades of later success. 

(20th Century Fox)
Innerspace (1987)

Dennis Quaid, Martin Short, and Meg Ryan all star in a film that won an Oscar and yet is barely remembered today. 1987’s Innerspace is the perfect example of what this list is all about. Short is at his physical comedy best, Quaid was born to play a serious, by-the-book naval aviator, and Ryan knows a thing or two about playing the significant other of one, even if she wasn’t in Top Gun: Maverick. It even won an Academy Award for best special effects. 

(Warner Bros.)
Spies Like Us (1985)

The Cold War was omnipresent in the 1980s, and even the comedies mined it for great content. Take, for example, Spies Like Us. Directed by John Landis and starring Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd, it was guaranteed to be a hit, and was, but was then promptly forgotten by many. It’s overshadowed by Fletch, Vacation, and Ghostbusters, but it’s every bit as funny and far more politically biting. If you've never seen it and you love ‘80s comedy, put this at the top of your list. 

(Warner Bros.)
The Cannonball Run (1981)

This comedy is on this list for one reason. Somehow, despite being a huge hit, and having some of the biggest stars of all time in it, including Burt Reynolds, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Farrah Fawcett, Roger Moore, and Jackie Chan, this movie is nowhere to be found on any streaming service! Not even to buy or rent! It’s a travesty! 

(20th Century Fox)
Less Than Zero (1987)

The first Bret Easton Ellis book made into a movie, Less Than Zero doesn’t quite have the re-watchability of American Psycho, but it's just as disturbing. In one of the more upsetting scenes, Robert Downey Jr.’s character dies from drug abuse in a car on his way to get sober. It’s something that could’ve been imitating real life, given the Iron Man star’s struggles at the time. Thankfully, Downey survived, just as this film should in the hearts of more people. 

(20th Century Fox)
Empire Of The Sun (1987)

You wouldn’t think a Steven Spielberg movie would be an ‘80s film that doesn’t get enough love, but Empire of the Sun, starring John Makovich and a very young Christian Bale, fits that bill. It’s a beautiful film less dependent on action and more on character growth. That may be why it doesn’t seem have the same cache as Jaws or Indiana Jones, and it’s not as culturally important as The Color Purple, but it’s easily just as good as any of Spielberg's films and deserves far more love. 

(Warner Bros.)

The '80s were filled with classic movies, so it's understandable some get overlooked. Here are some that shouldn't.