5 great sci-fi movies of the 80s that still retain their charm

Science fiction is one of the oldest film genres, going back to the early days of the silent era. While the genre’s popularity has risen and fallen in the decades since, there’s usually at least a few very solid sci-fi films in any given decade. The 1980s were an era of great innovation when it came to filmmaking, and their excursions into the realm of science fiction were no different. There are a lot of sci-fi movies from the era that may not be as well known today, but they are still very noticeable.

The 1980s were a period of cinematic history rife with changes. Released in the late 1970s, movies are experiencing a renaissance with Rise of Hollywood blockbusters. High-concept films, films that can be described in just a few short sentences, were all the rage and set the stage for many early films that focused on simple ideas rather than anything too technical. Science fiction has been no stranger to this, however, the very nature of the genre has made even their high-concept films have some more convoluted plots.


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Escape from New York poster

Escape from New York tells the story of Snake Plissken, the initiator nearly every hero acts gruff to follow. After the President’s plane crashed into the island’s maximum security prison that is Manhattan, New York. This ostensibly simple plot doesn’t sound too sci-fi, but the world built for this story is purely out of date science fiction. Injected devices that can kill you in 22 hours, tracking bracelets and a deserted city with the deadliest criminals perfectly encapsulate a near-obstructed futuristic world by technological advances rather than by them.

Scientist Reanimator looking at his head on his desk

Re-animator is based on an HP Lovecraft story from 1922 and tells the story of Herbert West, a college student convinced that he could bring the dead back to life. This movie was originally rated “X” for gore and subject matter but was later revised down to an “R” rating for rental video. This story is at times horrifying and at times funny is definitely science fiction. West works throughout the film on refining his recipe and process so he can bring the dead back to life. He often succeeds, at least in part, but knows the dangers of such unnatural pursuits. This movie tells a funny, scary, and engaging story, especially given its place in the modern era of more tech-focused sci-fi horror stories.

Fly is a remake of the 1958 film of the same name. It tells the story of a haunted scientist who accidentally fuses himself with a fly while testing a teleportation pod. This sci-fi horror is a Jeff Goldblum’s first film and ranks himself in one of his best performances. The film was particularly commended for its realistic effects, as Goldblum’s transformation into a human-fly hybrid was expertly performed. Pieces of his human form get warped as the transformation progresses, and the movie does a great job of making the whole thing seem rather gross. It is a good time for all.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Running Man

Running Man comes from the classic era of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s action movies. This film tells the story of a cop who is framed for a massacre. Since the totalitarian police state is this world, he was brought in a game show called Running Man. In this program, convicts try to run faster and survive armed mercenaries in pursuit of amnesty from the state. While this may seem like a live action movie from the outside, the world is built in a way that has a lot of sci-fi elements. The entire premise of the game feels like a near-future sci-fi movie, facing the dangers of how technology and media can control and subdue the populace. These themes are oddly present these days, especially with shows like Squid fishing game became popular with very similar themes.

Akira anime screenshots

Akira is an animated film based on a comic book series from 1982. This animated film depicts a futuristic cyberpunk world in which bike gangs rule the streets and the government conducts dangerous experiments to serve their own needs. The story can be a bit complicated at times and is worth revisiting for full understanding. This movie completely stands out from the high-concept films that ended the rest of the 1980s, and it’s because of this complexity that the story becomes so memorable. Every part of this story is covered in a sci-fi layer, all the way down to the bikes the gangs ride on. The popularity of this movie has been lead to many remodels, meaning someone doesn’t even have to watch the old, grainy footage to enjoy the story.

The 1980s were a fun time Become a fan of sci-fi movies, beyond the norm. While there are certainly big names like Aliens, Terminators, and CarnivoresEven the slightly off-the-beaten-path movies are worth watching. Sci-fi is a genre that often stands the test of time, whether you’re laughing at the way they got things wrong or wincing at how scary these directors really are. If there’s time to spare in the near future, these sci-fi classics from the 1980s are definitely worth a look.

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