June 1, 2005

The third set of 20 films that if you haven’t seen you should see immediately or risk having protein wisdom sneer at you like certain embarrassingly snobby blue state gourmands sneer at salt water taffy and chili-cheese fries

1980s, group 3

  1. The Elephant Man (1980)
  2. Absence of Malice (1981)
  3. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
  4. Beau-père (1981)
  5. Blow Out (1981)
  6. Body Heat (1981)
  7. Das Boot (1981)
  8. Chariots of Fire (1981)
  9. The Chosen (1981)
  10. Christiane F (1981)
  11. Clash of the Titans (1981)
  12. Cutter’s Way (1981)
  13. Endless Love (1981)
  14. The Entity (1981)
  15. Escape from New York (1981)
  16. The Evil Dead (1981)
  17. Excalibur (1981)
  18. Eye of the Needle (1981)
  19. Fort Apache the Bronx (1981)
  20. Ghost Story (1981)


Lots of underappreciated films on this list, chief among them, Fort Apache the Bronx (with Paul Newman and Ken Wahl), and the terrifying The Entity, with Barbara Hershey and Ron Silver (an unnecessary remake is scheduled for 2006).  I put both Escape from New York and An American Werewolf in London on the list on the off chance somebody out there hasn’t seen or heard of these two great films.  Endless Love makes the list as one of the most watchable train wrecks of all time.  So bad it’s…well, still bad—but in a good bad way.  Both Christiane F. and Beau-pere are foreign films with something of a strong cult following; and Blow Out proves that Brian DePalma and John Travolta aren’t the hacks they’re often made out to be.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 6:24pm

Comments (25)

  1. Excalibur, with a “u”.

    My Turing word is “because”- please remove your armor before engaging the in the act of procreation, because serious chafing could result if you don’t.

  2. All these years, I thought that I was the only person who liked Escape from New York.

  3. Clash of the Titans? I guess I shouldn’t complain, I’ve finally seen more than 4 or 5 of the movies on one of your lists.

  4. Bill INDC had the same reaction.  One of the last great stop motion animation flicks.  I like Excalibur, The Sword and the Sorceress, and Beastmaster better (and the best of all is Flesh and Blood), but I think Clash has a charming campiness about it, and it did begin the eighties trend of revisiting Greek mythology.

  5. Frank Booth: “You picked that Freakin’ Elephant Man over Me ?!! (Sssshhh Sssssshh) Goddamn you’re one suave fucker! What kinda beer d’ya drink , neighbor ? Heineken? Fuck Heineken !!! PABST BLUE RIBBON !!! Here’s to your fuck!”

  6. I’m pretty sure these are in order chronologically and then alphabetically, Alpha.

  7. Clash of the Titans rocked.  On of our friend’s dad had the habit of walking around in his bathing suit with his ass-crack showing. 

    To our 12 year-old sensibilities, it was natural that henceforth he became known as “The Kraken.”

  8. Thats ok.. I just dig Frank’s lines… I admire people that can use the word ‘fuck’ five or six times in one sentence…

  9. I’m sure the full chronological list will include Bladerunner (1982) and Videodrome (1983).  No need to reassure me, the oversight would be unthinkable.

    And coming up very shortly in the alphabetical and chronological countdown with surely be the monumental Prince of the City (1981).

  10. On second thought, I guess Bladerunner doesn’t really qualify as “underappreciated”.  Substitute The Osterman Weekend (1983).

  11. Aha, the EVIL DEAD!

    Excellent, and made on a shoestring. 375K?

    EVIL DEAD II is better though, IMHO, and funnier besides.

    And then there’s ARMY OF DARKNESS…

    Spambuster: they

    you know…THEM.

  12. Roy Batty: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams … glitter in the dark near Tanhauser Gate. All those … moments will be lost … in time, like tears … in rain. Time … to die.”

    ..but it screams out to be mentioned..

  13. Just curious if you’ve ever taken the time to tally up the amount of money you spent on movie tickets, movie rentals, pay-per-view purchases and DVD/VHS purchases… only to realize that the amount would’ve paid for a college education for that son of yours.

    Good Lord, man.  Is there a movie out there you haven’t seen???

  14. I’m a Blue State Gourmand and I have never met a chili-cheese-fry that I didnt like.. or a chili-cheese-Frito boat.. or a chili-cheese omelette.. or anything else smothered in chili-cheese for that matter.. but I do sneer at salt water taffy..

    ..unless its chili-cheese flavor, of course.

  15. The Entity?

    Okay, I guess; since we’re talking about artificial animation.

    Turing = filled, as in I am not an animal!  I am a blog comment, who only wants to be filled with the love of common humanity?  Nrraaraarrrghhhh!

  16. One of my better jaunts through your lists: seen 14 of 20.  Completely agree about Blowout.

  17. I went back and looked at the ‘70’s lists and you didn’t mention Demon Seed.

    Which would be on my list because the exterior shots that they used for the bunker-like headquarters of the corporation that housed the evil supercomputer were actually of the Thousand Oaks, Calif city hall.  A building that was abandoned for a decade or two because of asbestos contamination … which makes the movie kinda prophetic … or not.

    At least I always knew there was evil in city hall.

  18. Ghost Story was indeed a fabulous movie. Scared the bejesus out of me. Now that I think about it, I think that a few narratice elements from Stir of Echoes owes a small debt to it.

  19. Hurray! I’ve seen all but the two foreign films (though Das Boot really was foreign as well, I think) – and agree that, for the most part, these are great early 80’s examples.

    I have to go with Body Heat as my fave in this list – Kathleen Turner was sizzlin’ – and William Hurt was terrific as well…

  20. 16 out of 20 – but I might get a bonus point because I saw the subtitled version of ‘Das Boot’.

    btw –

    Ken Wahl’s best film work in the 80s?

    ‘The Soldier’ , not ‘Fort Apache’

    Best Scene set in Philadelphia in the 80s?

    Opening Scene – The Soldier , not ‘Blowout’

    Best Scene to Get Michelle Malkin all Hotted Up over the issue of Border Control – “To See The Falls” scene – Klaus Kinski, ‘The Soldier’

    and, as an added bonus, the soundtrack is by Tangerine Dream …


    “The Soldier” – a thinking man’s “Red Dawn”

  21. Snake Pliskin!  I thought you were dead!

    Hey neighbor, how ‘bout a ride?

    You know what a love letter is?  It’s a bullet from a f*$&in’ gun…you get a love letter from me, you’re f*&$ed forever!

  22. Donald Sutherland in Eye of the Needle.

    Wasn’t much of a stretch for him was it?  I mean, collaborating with the bad guys and all.  I’m just sayin’…

  23. Give us back the eye!


    And Lithgow made a great bad guy in Blowout.

  24. There are people who don’t like chili-cheese fries?  If they ever get down to Southwest Virginia tell them to take 460 South till they get to Blacksburg DQ and take a right.  Keep going till they get to the bridge where the little albino boy is playing banjo.  We’ll be waiting.