It’s no secret that the ‘80s seem to have some of the best movies. Between classic B-horror movies and epic montages, the ‘80s are filled with gold. Thankfully, there are a ton of them available on Netflix, with new 80s films cycling in and out all the time. If you’re in the mood for a montage with upbeat music, coming-of-age films, gratuitous sex scenes, and ending on a freezeframe, give one of these classics a try.
The Karate Kid (1984)
Runtime: 127 minutes
Director: John G. Avildsen
Cast: Ralph Macchio, Noriyuki Morita, Elisabeth Shue, William Zabka, Randee Heller, Martin Kove
A classic martial arts/sports movie, The Karate Kid centers on Daniel LaRusso (Macchio) and his widowed mother (Heller). Daniel is lost after they move to LA, especially after befriending a fellow classmate on the beach, drawing the attention of her jealous ex-boyfriend.
Daniel is relentlessly harassed by him and his friends until Mr. Miyagi (Morita) steps in and begins teaching him karate with the hopes of helping Daniel beat him in a karate championship. This movie is so ‘80s; it’s even got a montage.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Runtime: 97 minutes
Director: John Hughes
Cast: Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Micahel Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy
Talk about nostalgia, The Breakfast Club is a timeless classic. Five high schoolers from completely different walks of life are forced to spend a Saturday detention together that will change their lives.
The athlete, the brain, the bully, the princess, and the loner are forced to break down the social barriers between them if they plan on getting through detention without dying from boredom. The Breakfast Club was so highly praised that it was even added to the United States National Film Registry after being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
Road House (1989)
Runtime: 114 minutes
Director: Rowdy Herrington
Cast: Patrick Swayze, Ben Gazzara, Sam Elliott, Kelly Lynch, Kevin Tighe
How Rowdy Herrington and Patrick Swayze managed to make a film about a small-town bouncer so interesting is beyond anyone’s understanding. Road House follows James Dalton (Swayze), a New York City bouncer who moves to quiet Jasper, Missouri, to take over security for a club.
Unfortunately for Dalton and the owner of the club, local businessman Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara) isn’t too happy after they fire his nephew, leading to an escalating war between him and Dalton. What starts as a simple story about a bouncer moving to Missouri becomes an ‘80s movie filled with action that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
The Land Before Time (1988)
Runtime: 69 minutes
Director: Don Bluth
Voice Actors: Gabriel Damon, Candace Huston, Judith Barsi, Will Ryan, Helen Shaver
The fact that a children’s movie managed to traumatize entire generations with just one scene speaks volumes about the quality of the story and its ability to still be entertaining decades later. We’re, of course, speaking about the death of Littlefoot’s mother in the first portion of the film, leaving him to fend for himself.
Luckily, he has four great friends, Cera, Ducky, Petrie, and Spike, to help him as they search for greener pastures during the famine plaguing the land. The film also has a great message about prejudice and making friends. If you haven’t seen this film since your childhood, give it a watch—you won’t regret it. It’s arguably one of the best dinosaur movies that isn’t Jurassic Park.
Rocky III (1982)
Runtime: 100 minutes
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Mr. T
Rocky kickstarted Stallone’s career, and the third installment is a fan favorite. “Eye of the Tiger” is the theme song and is synonymous with montages, getting amped up, and the ‘80s. Rocky III has the titular character facing off against the infamous Clubber Lang, who is Rocky’s toughest battle yet.
In order to beat his new adversary, he’ll have to turn to his old trainer, Mickey, and friend, Apollo Creed. Rocky as a series dominated the ‘70s and ‘80s, making it a no-brainer to include on our list of the best ‘80s films on Netflix you need to watch.
Back to the Future (1985)
Runtime: 116 minutes
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson
An ‘80s movie that takes place in the ‘50s, Back to the Future is the perfect film to watch if you’re in the mood for an ‘80s flick. Michael J. Fox plays Marty McFly, a teenager who inadvertently goes to 1955 in a time-traveling DeLorean after his eccentric scientist friend (Christopher Lloyd) is gunned down.
Now he has to team up with past-Doc to get to the future, all while avoiding his parents. Unfortunately for Marty, his mother begins falling for him, jeopardizing his existence in the future. Whether you’ve seen it or not, give Back to the Future a watch if you’re in an ‘80s mood.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Runtime: 103 minutes
Director: John Hughes
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jennifer Gray, Jeffrey Jones
Just about everyone tried playing hooky as kids, but no one was as daring as Ferris Bueller (Broderick). After faking being ill, Ferris decides to recruit his best friend, Cameron (Ruck), and his girlfriend, Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara), to join him in his antics. This also includes stealing Cameron’s dad’s 1961 Ferrari on a day trip to Chicago.
Meanwhile, the dean, Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), is doing everything he can to catch Ferris playing hooky. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a well-written, hilarious film that captures the ‘80s (and being a high school slacker) perfectly.
Runtime: 170 minutes
Director: Brian De Palma
Cast: Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert Loggia
Easily one of the best gangster movies, Scarface also happens to be a great ‘80s movie you can stream on Netflix. Starring Al Pacino as Tony Montana, Scarface is about a Cuban refugee who slowly but surely begins rising to the top, eventually becoming a Miami crime lord.
Watching Tony come from nothing to a rich and extravagant lifestyle is extremely entertaining, and his eventual downfall is all but certain as he begins getting high on his own supply. If you’re into action, crime, and great storytelling, give Scarface a try.