Looking back, the 80s had it all. The music rocked, Dungeons and Dragons shocked, and the fashions would become something for future generations to gladly mock.
The 1980s would also gift us one of the greatest cinematic decades of all time. Defined by fast-paced, action-packed masterpieces with both operatic and techno scores delighting audiences across the globe, the 80s began the trend of franchise filmmaking and sequels that still continues today.
So, it’s no wonder why this golden age of iconic cinema is still such a big influence, with this being no more evident than this year’s comic book follow-up: Thor: Ragnarok.
Director Taika Waititi has described the film as a "70s/80s sci-fi fantasy", with everything from the costumes, sets and title card clearly draped in 80s neon colours and nostalgia. Think Star Wars crossed with Flash Gordon.
Ragnarok isn’t the only modern day movie to borrow from the beloved decade. Here are five unmissable movies that proudly immersed themselves in that 80s vibe...
The Guest (2014)
One of 2014’s overlooked gems, The Guest expertly harkens back to horror/thrillers that the 1980s was famous for.
Starring Dan Stevens in one of his first post-Downton Abbey roles, the actor slims down and unsettles as ‘David’, a soldier returning from war to deliver some bad news to a fallen comrade's family. Though he at first comes across as the perfect addition to this small town household, there is something sinister lurking behind those piercing blue eyes.
Full of the kind of typical vibrancy and bright colours so associated with the 80s, it’s really the soundtrack that cements The Guest in the 80s vibe. Leaning heavily on the synths and full of rich, euphoric tones, you’ll swear you’re watching a John Carpenter flick. The soundtrack, cinematography and The Guest’s flippant attitude towards violence all come together to create a retro delight.
Though it may seem a stretch to call 1996’s Eraser ‘unmissable’, it absolutely falls into that category for anyone looking to relive the golden age of no-nonsense action films.
Starring '80s musclebound poster boy Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eraser finds our accented hero as a witness protection agent who must defend one of his clients from, well, everybody.
Featuring the kind of ridiculous one-liners that helped make Arnie so famous (at one point proclaiming "you’re luggage" after shooting a crocodile in the head), Eraser is nothing short of an 80s action film out of time. The ludicrously over the top action sequences will convince you that the date on the film must be mislabelled.
If none of this screams ‘80s vibe’ loud enough for you, the absurdly over the top machine gun that Arnie wields in the final act will. If you’re still being stubborn, the presence of The Godfather's James Caan as the baddie should do it.
Super 8 (2011)
Super 8 may be set in 1979, but every single element of JJ Abrams' film is an unabashed 80s homage.
Following a group of young friends as they endeavour to make a film using the titular Super 8 camera, everything changes when they witness a train crash that will lead them on an adventure none of them will soon forget. Conjuring memories of 80s classics Stand By Me and E.T, Super 8 is a story of extraterrestrial mystery and childlike wonder that captures the 80s vibe perfectly.
This cast combined with an orchestral soundtrack reminiscent of 80s staple John Williams (composed by Michael Giacchino), along with the kind of awe-inspiring storytelling that made Spielberg such a cinematic legend, ensures that the 80s vibe is in every frame.
Abrams’ love letter to this bygone era is dripping with nostalgia, but rather than becoming a lesser copy, it is in fact a powerful, emotional film able to stand proudly beside the classics it strives to emulate.
Starring Ryan Gosling as a brooding stuntman, mechanic and moonlighting getaway driver, Drive was marketed as a Fast & Furious, adrenaline-fuelled actioner, when it is instead a mostly silent, sombre affair.
Frankly, it is much better for it. Gosling’s enigmatic driver sports a scorpion-emblazoned jacket that shot the character directly into iconic status. The garish jacket is just one of the elements that cements the film in the '80s style, standing as the centrepiece for which all the other '80s touches can rally around.
From the clothes and cars to the music featuring our old friend the synthesiser, Drive is coated in an 80s atmosphere from start to finish. Director Nicolas Winding Refn even went so far as to avoid shooting modern architecture, opting instead for cheap stucco and mirrored glass buildings as his backdrop. This attention to detail gives this neo-noir thriller an unmistakable 80s air.
Cold in July (2014)
Adapted from Joe R. Lansdale’s 1989 novel of the same name, Cold in July isn’t satisfied with just setting the film in the '80s. Instead it hearkens back to the period.
This Southern crime thriller introduces us to Michael C Hall’s Dane, a protective father thrust into a life of violence he never could have expected. After killing an intruder, Dane must face the father of the man he murdered, as both men are forced to confront their own psyches.
Director Jim Mickle’s film is nothing short of a modern masterpiece, and he pays homage to the thrillers of the 80s with the use of a synthesised score along with the beautifully moody cinematography.
As the men’s lives spiral into violence, the film delivers the brutal, blood-soaked action so associated with the 80s era, not to mention a scene-stealing supporting performance from '80s icon Don Johnson himself. Cold in July is perfect for anyone longing to immerse themselves in that distinctive '80s vibe.
Prepare for '80s overload: click here to book your tickets for Thor: Ragnarok, opening in Cineworld on 24th October.
Jon Fuge is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.