While some films from the 80s have become iconic, etching themselves into our collective memories, a treasure trove of lesser-known films has gradually faded into obscurity. Not to worry, we’ve compiled a list of 25 gems, based on IMDb, that graced our screens with their offbeat charm, eccentric characters, and captivating narratives that defy convention.
1. My Bodyguard (1980)
My Bodyguard is a quirky high school tale with more laughs than your grandpa’s dad jokes. It’s a coming-of-age story of a boy who discovers the ultimate weapon against mean-spirited bullies — a bodyguard!
2. Vanishing Act (1986)
The film follows a bride of one week who mysteriously disappears, leaving a trail of bewilderment for her husband, who desperately searches for answers. It’s a classic gem that pulled a vanishing act on itself.
3. Right to Kill? (1985)
You probably think Right to Kill is some intense action flick or a legal drama. Well, it’s a bit of both and throws in a healthy dose of 80s cheese for good measure. It’s like taking Lethal Weapon and sprinkling in a pinch of Legally Blonde. Intrigued yet? I thought so.
4. The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)
She’s a legend because she’s no ordinary girl next door. When Billie Jean’s brother’s scooter gets trashed by a sleazy rich dude, she demands justice. But here’s the catch, instead of being hailed as a hero, she’s labeled a fugitive.
5. Fortress (1985)
Based on the book by Gabrielle Lord, this film follows a schoolteacher and her students who find themselves in a series of unfortunate events when a criminal band kidnaps them.
The kidnappers plan to hold them until their ransom is met, but the school teacher, Jones, proves that not all heroes wear capes as she fights to rescue them all.
6. The Hidden (1987)
The Hidden is an alien frat party gone wrong, except there are no keg stands, just a lot of chaos. An extraterrestrial parasite goes on a crime spree, inhabiting human bodies and indulging in all sorts of shenanigans.
Kyle MacLachlan, the alien law enforcement officer sent to Earth, must end this intergalactic crime wave.
7. I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)
I’m Gonna Git You Sucka is a comedy extravaganza that parodies the blaxploitation films of the 70s. It’s like a love letter to the golden age of over-the-top action flicks, but with a wink and a nod that says, “Hey, we’re in on it, too.”
8. Just One of the Guys (1985)
Who needs gender stereotypes when you can rock a fake mustache and infiltrate the boys’ club? Terry Griffiths decides to go undercover as a boy to prove she’s as talented as the guys in journalism.
Nonetheless, underneath the comedy and gender-swapping routines, there’s a message about breaking misconceptions and finding your true self.
9. Flashpoint (1984)
Flashpoint should be your pick for a caffeine binge. It’s a classic tale of mystery and intrigue, where the lines between good and evil are as blurry as a low-budget VHS tape.
We won’t spoil the plot for you, but let’s say it involves a border patrol agent, a seedy motel, and a trunk full of secrets.
10. Final Jeopardy (1985)
In this heart-pounding thriller, a group of brilliant contestants go head to head in the ultimate game of wits. It takes the iconic trivia show theme to a whole new level, as the competitors vie for the title, they realize the game goes from challenging to a life-or-death struggle.
11. Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)
In a town like any other, everything seems normal until a spaceship shaped like a circus tent crash-lands nearby, bringing with it an invasion of extraterrestrial clowns. These clowns don’t look like your average party entertainers.
They are Killer Klowns armed with popcorn guns, cotton candy cocoons, and killer balloon animals. They just want to turn the town into their twisted carnival.
12. License to Drive (1988)
Les Anderson just turned sixteen and is determined to pass his driving test and embark on a life of automotive freedom. But as fate would have it, his dreams come to a screeching halt when he fails the driving exam by a hair’s breadth.
13. It’s My Turn (1980)
Sometimes, we find love in a hopeless place. Love can jump on you in the most unlikely places when you’re not even looking and ignite sparks when you have learned to believe the barest minimum is best. It’s My Turn will have you all up in your feelings at every turn.
14. Knightriders (1981)
Sometimes, knights don’t wield swords and ride on horseback; they ride on motorcycles, travel in groups, attend tournaments, and answer to a leader. Knightriders chronicles the chaos as they struggle to live up to their ideals.
15. Uncommon Valor (1983)
All it takes is one person’s steadfast faith in a cause to inspire others. When several soldiers have been declared missing, a group of veterans plus a loving father stop at nothing to find them and bring them home.
16. 10 to Midnight (1983)
Join the crime-solving duo in 10 to Midnight in exploring the thought patterns of a serial killer as they try to outsmart and catch him before he attacks again.
Will they beat him at his own game saving thousands of women from assault and death, or will he continue to outsmart them?
17. American Dreamer (1984)
Follow the American Dreamer as she suffers a head-bump accident, transforms into her version of Jekyll and Hyde, and enters a world where she lives out all her crime-solving daydreams.
Will she successfully uncover any mysteries that will change her real life forever? Grab your popcorn, press play, and find out.
18. Hostage Flight (1985)
After a plane filled with passengers is hijacked, several lives hang on the line, and everyone wonders who gets to die next. Let’s just say that you would need to brace yourself because you’d never be prepared for how the hostages respond in a bid to earn their freedom. The film is also based on actual life events.
19. Better Off Dead (1985)
Remember when you were so in love with one person and thought you couldn’t survive without them? Here’s one movie that might remind you of those dreadful times.
Better Off Dead is the perfect rom-com for a night in with the girls. It’s incredibly corny and mushy, and the protagonist has a death wish after a heartbreak.
20. Extremities (1986)
Extremities is a story of strength, showing the sheer force of strong will when you face situations that threaten your survival. Brace yourself up for 89 minutes of an adrenaline rush as you watch a victim switch the game up on her captor.
21. Dolls (1986)
You never know what to expect when you are suddenly placed in a mansion filled with exquisite dolls — definitely not a rollercoaster of activities where your survival depends on whether you have been naughty or nice. But that’s precisely what a dysfunctional family of three experiences in this thrilling film.
22. The Bedroom Window (1987)
Looking out of the window is the perfect pastime until you look out the bedroom window, and it becomes the reason you might die. Combine that with an affair, and maybe even the police and Sherlock Holmes won’t be able to save you. Step into a world where harmless lies have fatal consequences.
23. The Principal (1987)
Everyone dreads the principal’s office. No one is prepared for a situation where the coins are flipped. The Principal shows a world where students are king and a law unto themselves.
24. Getting It Right (1989)
Getting It Right was one of the best releases to crown the epic run of 80s Hollywood movies. Prepare for a thrilling ride where the 31-year-old socially awkward virgin finds the courage to create a new path for himself.
Boloere Divine Seibidor, fondly called B.S., is a Nigerian-based writer and poet. Her favorite topics include music, especially Hip-Hop, film, lifestyle, and fashion. She’s been published by Feral Journal, Fantasy Magazine, The Temz Review, and most notably, Wealth of Geeks. She enjoys romantic dinners, movie nights, and touring new sights. When she’s not writing, she’s delving back in time to the underground world of Hip-Hop, watching TikTok, or visiting the cinema.