8. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
Peter Weller plays Dr. Buckaroo Banzai a rock star, neurosurgeon, physicist, samurai hero who teams up with his band mates to save the world from the Red Lectroids from Planet 10. John Lithgow is Italian physicist Dr. Emilio Lizardo who has been imprisoned in a mental institution for the last 50 years. He was one of the original creators of the overthruster, which makes it possible for Buckaroo Banzai to travel through solid matter into the 8th dimension, inadvertantly bringing an alien lifeform back with him. It seems a bit scatterbrained at times, but it’s actually a lot of fun. With loads of overacting, 80’s rock music, and ridiculous shootouts it’s hard to go wrong.
7. Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)
A race of aliens that look like messed up clowns land their circus spaceship in the small town of Crescent Cove. They make their way through town shooting the residents with a gun that makes cotton candy cocoons around the people so that the clowns can later drink their liquid remains. Young couple Mike and Debbie band together with Officer Hanson to fight off the freaky funnymen, whose only weakness seems to be their big read noses. Creative effects, a decent amount of gore, and some great humor make this one a riot.
6. Flash Gordon (1980)
Bad actors reading bad dialogue on bad sets in bad costumes but to a kick ass soundtrack. Of course the bad acting excludes the great Max von Sydow who is oddly perfect as the villain Emperor Ming. Flash Gordon is the star quarterback for the NY Jets and Earth’s only hope when it comes under attack from the evil Ming. Along with journalist Dale and scientist Dr. Zarkov they travel to the planet mongo to face off with Ming. It’s silly and it knows it so it works.
5. Critters (1986)
An alien species known as the Crites crash their ship outside of a rural Kansas town. These critters are mean little bastards with an insatiable appetite. They’re followed by two bounty hunters who molded their appearance to look like two rock stars. These guys along with teenager Brad try to destroy the angry furballs before they eat everything in their path. Clever humor, funny gore, and solid production values make this one of my favorite horror movies from the 80’s.
4. Conan the Barbarian (1982)
John Milius is a great director of testosterone charged B-movie goodness. Schwarzenegger is delightfully sincere in this violent fantasy romp which also stars James Earl Jones as the over the top villain Thulsa doom. The rousing score from Basil Poledouris and the enthusiastic direction from Milius help to make this a fun adventure film. I’m wary at the thought of a remake, there was a time and place for Conan and that was the 80’s.
3. Time Bandits (1981)
Terry Gilliams deliciously quirky tale about a group of time travelling midgets who steal the map of time from the Supreme Being and use it to steal treasures from various times throughout history. On this adventure they pick up Kevin, a young boy living a mundane life in the suburbs. Together they meet Napoleon (Ian Holm), Robin Hood (John Cleese), kings (Sean Connery) and giants and they even catch a ride on the Titanic. David Warner plays the Evil Genius who is pursuing the bandits through their adventures trying to get his hands on the stolen map. The cast is great in this unique and darkly fun fantasy tale.
2. Blood Simple (1984)
Blood Simple is a low budget neo-noir that is exactly what you’d expect from the Coen Brothers on their first film. Seedy bar, sleazy private detective, steamy love affair, blackmail, murder…it’s all here. Add in some genuinely scary and suspenseful moments and you’ve got quite the thriller. Frances McDormand and M. Emmett Walsh, both of who go on to become Coen regulars, are great in their respective roles. The Coens do a good job of establishing their signature style right from the start and they create a gritty, dark, atmospheric film that manages to be unsettling but enjoyable.
1. Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
It’s almost hard to find the words to describe the absolute blast that is Big Trouble in Little China. Kurt Russell stars as the truck driver hero Jack Burton who must help is friend rescue his girlfriend from the ancient sorcerer Lo Pan who is the leader of a chinese gang that rules the Chinatown underground. Tongue firmly in cheek our hero teams up with lawyer Gracie Law (Kim Catrall) and bus driving sorcerer Egg Shen (Victor Wong) to fight the forces of Lo Pan. There’s loads of great action, hilariously witty dialogue, and plenty of adrenaline fueled antics.