The 80s was a great time in popular culture: the hair, the spandex, the music…and the movies. The mood of films changed over the course of the decade; 70s movies were more gritty and complex, whereas in the 80s films started becoming more simplistic and easier to understand: it was more about fun. Concepts aimed to please crowds; big summer blockbusters becoming a regular thing.
In fact, 1985 was when the first ‘Blockbuster’ video store opened, a store where families could go pick out a few movies to rent, grab some popcorn and snacks, and watch a movie from the comfort of their own home.
There was something about seeing that blue and yellow logo: the smell of the store, going with your family (or a date, if you were lucky) to pick out a movie, having to remember to return it on time or pay the late fee.
It was a simpler time compared to today’s generation, where now we have everything at a touch of a button. And the movies in the 80s being churned out were worth staying in on a Friday night to watch, which is not necessarily the case today (at least we think so anyway).
The beginning of the decade started strong, with some classics that are still quoted to this day. In 1980, Stanley Kubrick released ‘The Shining’, starring Jack Nicholas and Shelley Duvall (whom Kubrick tormented relentlessly to get a brilliant performance out of). To this day, she’s never been the same.
And who could forget that classic scene of Nicholson chopping through a door with an ax and peeking his deranged face through and saying: “Here’s Johnny!”.
Then there was ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ — one of Spielberg’s masterpieces — introduced the world to Indiana Jones in 1981. It was followed up with two Sequels: one in 1984 and one in 1989.
Spielberg, who previously worked with Harrison Ford in ‘Star wars’, saw his talent and knew he could be a leading man when he cast him as the soon to be iconic character.
Speaking of Star wars, the 80s saw the release of two Star Wars sequels: ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, and ‘The Return of the Jedi’. James Earl Jones saying: “No, I am your father”, in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ is still remembered as one of the biggest reveals in movie history.
The 80s also saw the beginning of teen films: movies about high school that kids could relate to. ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’, ‘The Breakfast Club’, ‘Pretty in Pink’ ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’; movies that saw Molly Ringwald become a star, and that launched Sean Penn’s career after playing the hilarious Jeff Spicoli.
And who could forget that ending scene in ‘The Breakfast Club’, as ‘Don’t you forget about me’ plays, Judd Nelson walking across the football field and raising his arm in triumph.
Action Movies were becoming large than life, with improved special effects and better choreographed fight and car chase scenes. There was ‘The Terminator’, the ultra violent ‘Robocop’ and of course ‘Batman’, Tim Burton’s take on the character that took batman from campy and turned him into something much darker and mysterious. Audiences ate it up as Michael Keaton — who many were skeptical of, but proved his worth as the caped crusader — battled against Jack Nicholson’s Joker.
There’s no doubt the 80s will live in our hearts forever. Whether or not you lived through it, the distinct style and taste will never be forgotten. As long as there are kids still listening to Guns ‘n’ Roses or re-watching ‘The Terminator’ for the 10th time, the heart of the 80s will never be lost.