Readers’ Poll: The 25 Greatest Movies of the 1980s – Rolling Stone
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Readers’ Poll: The 25 Greatest Movies of the 1980s

From ‘The Goonies’ to ‘The Lost Boys’ to ‘The Shining’

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Columbia/courtesy Everett Collection

Picking the greatest movies of the 1980s is no easy task. It was a decade that gave the world everything from The Shining to The Goonies to three Indiana Jones movies and no less than five Nightmare on Elm Street flicks. The final two chapters from the original Star Wars trilogy hit and "Weird Al" Yankovic made a little movie called UHF. Film purists might argue that the 1970s and 1990s were better periods for film, but how many great movies did the Corey Haim and Corey Feldman make together in those decades? We asked our readers to vote for their favorite movies of the Eighties. Click through to see the results. 

Weird Science

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

25. ‘Weird Science’

Two nerds make the girl of their dreams on their computer. This film paved the way for Mannequin, Mannequin Two: On The Move and the mid-1990s television show Weird Science, starring Vansesa Angel. 

Big Trouble in Little China

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

24. ‘Big Trouble in Little China’

Kurt Russell rescues a damsel in distress from a bunch of goons in San Francisco's Chinatown. Paved the way for Overboard and Captain Ron

St. Elmo's Fire

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

23. ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’

The Brat Pack graduates college and faces an uncertain future. Paved the way for Singles and Reality Bites

Pretty in Pink

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

22. ‘Pretty in Pink’

Working-class high schooler Molly Ringwald falls in love with a rich guy and doesn't realize her dorky best friend is madly in love with her. Paved the way for She's All That and many of the funniest scenes in Not Another Teen Movie

Scarface

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

21. ‘Scarface’

Cuban refugee Tony Montana emigrates to Miami and becomes an incredibly wealthy drug lord. Paved the way for Blow, countless rap songs and a particularly amazing episode of South Park where Cartman peddled outlawed KFC chicken like cocaine. 

Full Metal Jacket

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

20. ‘Full Metal Jacket’

Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece about the Vietnam war shows a U.S. Marine go through a particularly hellish boot camp before shipping off to an even more hellish war. Paved the way for a million sketch comedy bits about abusive drill sergeants. 

Die Hard

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

19. ‘Die Hard’

New York City cop John McClane has a pretty tough night when terrorists take over a Los Angeles skyscraper where his wife works. Paved the way for Speed, Under Siege, increasingly unwatchable sequels and just about every other action movie to hit theaters in the last quarter century. 

The Shining

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

18. ‘The Shining’

In this highly disturbing adaptation of the Stephen King classic, a father goes completely insane when he's trapped in a Colorado hotel for the winter with his family. Paved the way for countless crackpot theories about what the film really means and the drastically inferior six hour 1997 miniseries starring Stephen Weber. 

The Outsiders

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

17. ‘The Outsiders’

The Brat Pack was born in this 1983 coming-of-age drama starring Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze and Ralph Macchio. Paved the way for Risky Business, The Karate Kid and The Breakfast Club

The Lost Boys

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

15. ‘The Lost Boys’

Corey Haim and Corey Feldman team up to fight a gang of teenage vampires in California. Paved the way for License to Drive, horrid straight-to-DVD sequels and a whole lotta cocaine. 

Purple Rain

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

14. ‘Purple Rain’

Prince plays a fictionalized version of himself in this 1984 cult classic that forever proves he's a much better singer than actor. Paved the way for Under the Cherry Moon and the mostly-forgotten Graffiti Bridge, a 1990 sequel to Purple Rain

Goonies

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

13. ‘The Goonies’

A group of adolescent friends find themselves on a quest for 17th-century pirate's gold as struggle to save their town from greedy developers. Paved the way for Super 8 and endless fanboy dreams about a sequel that's never going to happen. 

Sixteen Candles

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

12. ‘Sixteen Candles’

Eighties teen queen Molly Ringwald endures a horrible 16th birthday, a crush on a hunk and an Asian foreign exchange student named Long Duk Dong straight out of an old Jerry Lewis routine. Paved the way for The Breakfast Club, Clueless and racism. 

Repo Man

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

11. ‘Repo Man’

Michael Nesmith (the Monkee in the green wool hat) produced this shockingly great science fiction comedy starring Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez. Paved the way for Repo Chick, a disastrous straight to DVD quasi-sequel in 2009 and the Monkees reunion tour.

Amadeus

Courtesy of Orion Pictures

10. ‘Amadeus’

18th century Vienna never seemed more like 1980s Los Angeles than in this supremely bizarre 1984 Milos Forman movie about Mozart and Salieri. Paved the way for Rock Me Dr. Zaius, perhaps the greatest parody song in the history of The Simpsons

Ghostbusters

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

9. ‘Ghostbusters’

Four men wage war against an increasingly haunted New York City. Paved the way for Ghostbusters II and more Internet articles about a possible third movie than just about any other topic in the history of mankind. 

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Courtesy of Universal Studios

8. ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’

Rolling Stone's Cameron Crowe wrote this 1982 classic about a bunch of high school seniors enduring endless humiliations in San Diego. Paved the way for a short-lived TV spinoff, the entire career of Sean Penn and millions of teenage boys rewinding the famous Phoebe Cates pool scene over and over until the tape burst into flames. 

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

7. ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’

The most popular kid in the history of the world takes a day off school with his girlfriend and his emotionally fragile best friend. Paved the way for Parker Lewis Can't Lose and a recent Honda commercial that's the closest thing to a sequel we're ever going to get.

Raiders of the Lost Arc

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

6. ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’

An archaeology professor travels the world in 1936 and battles Nazis as he peruse the mythical Ark of the Covenant. Paved the way for one awesome sequel, one sequel we loved as kids and another one we'd rather forget. 

Stand By Me

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

5. ‘Stand By Me’

Rob Reiner adapted this Stephen King novella about four friends who discover a dead body while going on a long hike. Paved the way for Shawshank Redemption and Apt Pupil, which were also adapted from King's 1982 novella collection Different Seasons

Blade Runner

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

4. ‘Blade Runner’

Harrison Ford hunts down human-like robots in a dystopian Los Angeles in the distant year of 2019. Paved the way for Johnny Mnemonic, The Matrix and The Terminator and endless debate about whether or not Ford himself was a robot. (Most people think he was.)

The Empire Strikes Back

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

3. ‘Star Wars Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back’

Many fanboys consider this Star Wars sequel to be the single best movie of the franchise. Paved the way for Spaceballs and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Back To the Future

Courtesy of Universal Studios

2. ‘Back to the Future’

A teenager from 1985 travels back to 1955 and fights off aggressive advances from his mother as he tries to return to his own time without distorting the timeline. Paved the way for one great sequel, an unfairly maligned third movie, a cartoon series, a pretty sweet ride at Universal Studios and a hundred billion late-night dorm room discussions about time travel. 

The Breakfast Club

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1. ‘The Breakfast Club’

A mismatched group of high schoolers are forced to deal with each other when they're locked in the school for a Saturday detention. Paved the way for Simple Minds to play shows in America to this day.

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