14 Best 80s Movies on HBO Max (June 2024)

It’s time to stroll down amnesia lane as we take you back to the 1980s. Curated with care, we bring you a list of 13 iconic movies from the 80s available on HBO Max that are still as fresh as they were when they were released. From horror to science fiction to fantasy and more, each of these is unique in its execution, more so because the 80s was when graphics were starting to develop, and makers were constantly experimenting with them to give the audience new experiences. And this is what makes the movies so fascinating to watch.

14. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

Directed by Stephen Herek, ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ follows Alex Winter as Bill and Keanu Reeves as Ted, two high school buffoons who are subjected to time travel by a person named Rufus (George Carlin) from the future. Bill and Ted are supposed to establish a utopian society in the future, but for that, they have to pass an upcoming history exam. To ensure that they pass, Rufus takes them back in time, and they meet many historical figures, including Napoleon Bonaparte, Billy the Kid, Beethoven, Sigmund Freud, and Abraham Lincoln, among others. Goofy, charming, adventurous, and funny, ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ is a quintessential 80s comedy that is a must-watch. You can watch it here.

13. Red Dawn (1984)

Directed by John Milius, ‘Red Dawn’ is an action flick set in 1980s Colorado and showcases World War III, wherein the Soviet Union invades America in the aftermath of NATO dissolution. With troops marching into Calumet, Colorado, and taking control of the country, brothers Jed (Patrick Swayze) and Matt Eckert (Charlie Sheen) and their friends form the “Wolverines” to fight back. They team up with USAF pilot Andrew Tanner, who helps them navigate the war and the situations they find themselves in. Considered the most violent film by the Guinness Book of Records during its time of release, ‘Red Dawn’ offers a realistic take on a war that is thankfully devoid of special effects, something that adds to the film’s organic nature. You can watch it here.

12. Wings of Desire (1988)

A film for the senses and the spirit, ‘Wings of Desire’ is a German movie directed by Wim Wenders. A visual wonder, especially during those times, the movie tells the story of an angel named Damiel who has been observing Earth and its humans. He is bored with helping them by offering comfort as much as possible, but he wants more. He finally decides that he wants to become human and feel human emotions after falling in love with a woman named Marion, a trapeze artist.

But becoming a human means he cannot become an angel again, and there is also no certainty that his feelings will be reciprocated. Will he take the risk? The cast of ‘Wings of Desire’ includes Bruno Ganz as Damiel, Solveig Dommartin as Marion, and Otto Sander as Cassiel, who is another angel, along with Peter Falk and Peter Falk. The movie was one of the competitors for the Palme d’Or (the highest prize given at the Cannes Film Festival) and won the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival of 1987. You can stream it here.

11. Scanners (1981)

‘Scanners,’ directed by David Cronenberg, is a sci-fi horror movie that offers a graphic take on the concept of telepathy. ‘Scanners’ are people who have the power of telepathy and telekinesis. While many scanners use their power for the good of mankind, Darryl Revok, a very powerful scanner, is building an underground ring of malevolent scanners, which shall rise to replace humans and become the dominant species on Earth.

To stop Revok from giving shape to his plans, Paul Ruth, a doctor, recruits Cameron Vale (a scanner) to infiltrate Revok’s ring and bring it down. The cast of the movie includes Michael Ironside as Darryl Revok, Patrick McGoohan as Paul Ruth, and Stephen Lack as Cameron Vale, along with Jennifer O’Neill, Lawrence Dane, and Louis Del Grande. You may stream the movie here.

10. The Last Emperor (1987)

Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, this historical drama is based on the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China who reigned from 1908 to 1912. He became the emperor at the age of two and was made to step down in 1912 at age 6, which was a result of the Xinhai Revolution, which ended with the establishment of the Republic of China. We get to hear and see Puyi’s life from his very perspective, including his exile, his time as a prisoner of the Communist Party of China, and his want to lead a regular life. Puyi is played by Richard Vuu, Wu Tao, Tijger Tsou, and John Lone, based on his age. The cast also includes Joan Chen and Peter O’Toole. ‘The Last Emperor’ can be streamed here.

9. Aliens (1986)

Starring Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, and Michael Biehn, ‘Aliens’ is directed by James Cameron. The story takes place 57 years after the events of ‘Alien’ (1979), and we have Lt. Ellen Ripley, who wakes up from cryo-sleep in a ship only to be subjected to a war against aliens on a moon space colony. And in the middle of this war is a young girl whom Ripley has to protect at all costs. If you are up for sci-fi, this is a classic that you cannot miss. You can stream it here.

8. A Room with a View (1985)

A British romance directed by James Ivory and based on E. M. Forster’s 1908 novel, ‘A Room with a View’ explores the high society of Edwardian England from the POV of a young woman named Lucy Honeychurch. Lucy struggles to cope with the surface-level niceties of the elite class she belongs to and finds an escape route in George Emerson (Julian Sands), a free-spirited young lad. However, she is soon married to Cecil Vyse, who belongs to a socially reputed and wealthy family and, despite loving Lucy, believes that she is inferior. Will Lucy’s inability to take a stand for herself become the shackles that will have her chained to a life she didn’t want? Or will she accept what’s in her heart and do what’s necessary? Winner of three Academy Awards out of nine total nominations, ‘A Room with a View’ constitutes a highly talented cast that includes Helena Bonham Carter, Julian Sands, Daniel Day-Lewis, Maggie Smith, Denholm Elliott, Simon Callow, and Rosemary Leach. You can watch the film here.

7. WarGames (1983)

An underrated sci-fi movie ahead of its time, ‘WarGames’ centers on David Lightman (Matthew Broderick), who inadvertently hacks into an artificially intelligent US military response system while looking for a video game he can play. When he starts playing the Wargame, becoming the Soviet Union attacking America, the system alerts NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) of real threats, pointing at a potential World War III scenario. Only David can stop the U.S. military from launching a defense attack that will, in turn, kickstart a real war. But time is running out, and he has to hurry. To find out whether he is successful, you can watch ‘WarGames,’ directed by John Badham, right here.

6. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

A highly acclaimed animated fantasy flick directed by Hayao Miyazaki (‘Spirited Away’), ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ tells the story of 2 little sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who move into their new country house with their father so that they can be nearer to their mother is admitted in a hospital due to tuberculosis. As the girls explore the new place, they discover that the nearby forest is home to magical creatures called Totoros.

How they befriend the creatures and the experiences and adventures they have together is what the movie thus chronicles. The voice cast includes Noriko Hidaka (Japanese) and Lisa Michelson (English) for Satsuki, Chika Sakamoto (Japanese), and Cheryl Chase (English) for Mei. The 2005 English dub had Dakota Fanning and her younger sister Elle Fanning voiced Satsuki and Mei, respectively. You can experience this movie here.

5. Superman II (1980)

Directed by Richard Lester, ‘Superman II’ is the sequel to ‘Superman’ (1978). Starring Christopher Reeve as the titular character, the story shows Superman preventing a nuclear blast by hurling the device into space. Unfortunately, the detonation in space sets free the villainous trio of Zod, Ursa, and Non from their prison and arrive at Earth. Meanwhile, Clark Kent has decided to give up his powers so that he can spend his life with Louis Lane like a normal human being. Moreover, Lex Luthor escapes prison and shakes hands with the trio with the motive of killing Superman. Will they be able to do that? Alongside Reeve, the cast includes Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman, Terence Stamp, Sarah Douglas and Jack O’Halloran. You may stream the movie here.

4. Castle in the Sky (1986)

This Hayao Miyazaki directorial is a Japanese animated fantasy flick (also known as ‘Laputa: Castle in the Sky’) that centers on two 13-year-olds, namely Sheeta and Pazu. Sheeta comes across Pazu while fleeing from the army, pirates, and others who want their hands on Sheeta’s necklace. The two then begin their journey to the mysterious sky-castle Laputa, which is seemingly connected to Sheeta and her necklace. What follows is an enthralling adventure that makes the film a must-watch and is considered one of the greatest animated films of all time. Even Laputa has achieved cult states. To experience this magical film, you can stream it here.

3. Friday the 13th (1980)

The cult classic slasher flick that took the world by storm despite being an independent project, ‘Friday the 13th’ is directed by Sean S. Cunningham and surrounds a group of teens trying to set up a summer camp in Crystal Lake. They are warned against it by the locals, citing the place’s history of murder, but the teenagers pay no heed to such stories. However, very soon, they find themselves being hunted by a ruthless serial killer. The movie kickstarted its franchise, which is still active. The cast of the film includes Betsy Palmer, Kevin Bacon, Adrienne King, Robbi Morgan, Laurie Bartram, Jeannine Taylor, and Harry Crosby. You can check out the movie here.

2. Pet Sematary (1989)

Directed by Mary Lambert, the movie is based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. It stars Dale Midkiff, Miko Hughes, Fred Gwynne, and Denise Crosby. This movie raises the question: should we even bury the dead? Surely, Doctor Louis Creed didn’t think of this when he buried his dead cat in the ancient graveyard in their new hometown in Ludlow, Maine. When the cat returns home, it appears different and evil. Then, when the youngest Creed, toddler Gage, dies in a tragic accident, he too is buried in the same graveyard. Is that a good decision? To find the answer, you can stream the movie here.

1. Batman (1989)

This Tim Burton directorial revolutionized and revamped superhero movies as we know them today. Michael Keaton immortalized the live-action dark titular character whose nemesis is Jack Nicholson’s Joker, another iconic role. How Batman is able to defeat the ruthless mastermind psychotic criminal is what we find out in the movie. In today’s terms, we get to know what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. Besides Keaton and Nicholson, the cast also includes Kim Basinger, Jack Palance, Michael Gough, Billy Dee Williams, and Jerry Hall. To be a part of history, you can stream the movie here.

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