The Horror Honeys: It Came From the 80s: Sci-Fi of 1984

It Came From the 80s: Sci-Fi of 1984

A Sci-Fi Honey Retro Top Five by Katie

Hey Space Cadets, wanna hop in my DeLorean and take a trip back in time? In honor of my birthday and the totally radical decade that was the 1980s, every Sci-Friday in the month of August will feature a retro review of a primo 80s sci-fi flick. The 80s gave us a little bit of everything out of this world, and in the weeks to come I’ll be covering doomsday-heralding comets, space vampires, decapitations by basketball, and vomit-spewing, trash-talking aliens. Righteous!

Kicking off #ItCameFromThe80s month is a look at the year of our Xenu nineteen hundred and eighty-four: the year I beamed down to this Earth, and a particularly bitchin’ year for the genre of sci-fi. From big-budget eye candy (2010, Star Trek III, Dune), to nostalgic sci-fantasy (The Last Starfighter, The NeverEnding Story) to killer cult classics (The Toxic Avenger, Firestarter, C.H.U.D.), 1984 was loaded with boss sci-fi that you couldn’t wait to check out on VHS or Betamax. Below are my top five favorites from the spaced-out stuff that melted our minds in ’84.

5. Starman, released December 14, 1984

If you watched this in the 80s and you didn’t feel tingly things for Jeff Bridges, WHO ARE YOU?! Granted, the story is a little bit creepy: Bridges plays a man from the stars (a Starman – get it?) who crash-lands on Earth and takes human form as the clone of Karen Allen’s recently deceased husband. While this understandably conjures some confusing feelings in Allen’s character, she eventually helps him out when the Starman reveals that will die within 72 hours if he cannot return to his home planet. A rather surprising directorial choice for horror master John Carpenter, Starman is an engaging intergalactic love story anchored by heartfelt performances by Bridges and Allen – and after all this time, it’ll still make you swoon.

4. Nineteen Eighty-Four, released October 10, 1984

What list about 1984 would be complete without an ode to a timely adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian tale? Starring sci-fi legend John Hurt, Nineteen Eighty-Four is an appropriately bleak interpretation of Orwell’s book, centered on a future where every element of our daily lives is monitored and controlled through fear and propaganda. In an age where this subject feels less and less like a work of fiction, the film maintains its relevance and utilizes a minimalist style that keeps it from looking like a product of its era. Many have tried (and failed) to adapt Orwell’s unique tone and sardonic form of social commentary, but writer/director Michael Radford gets this one right.

3. Repo Man, released March 2, 1984

If you looked up “cult classic” in an encyclopedia (or now, I guess it would be the Wikipedia), this poster would be prominently featured, Emilio Estevez and his punk-rock attitude radiating off the page in all its glory. The film is the perfect recipe for achieving cult status: an offbeat visual style, a wacked-out plot, and memorable characters played by some of the most beloved oddball actors (Harry Dean Stanton, I’m talking to you). An hour or so of tracking down dead aliens in the trunk of a Chevy Malibu, and you’ll be hooked on this weirdly wonderful mindtrip of a movie. The life of a repo man is always intense.

2. Ghostbusters, released June 8, 1984

What do I even need to say right here to convince you? Ghostbusters is not only one of the greatest sci-fi movies of 1984; it’s one of the greatest movies, period. Try as they may to replicate some of the magic in the newest reboot effort, the original Ghostbusters captured comedic lightning in a bottle and transformed it into something iconic for the decade, for the genre, and for all the talent involved both on-camera and behind the scenes. A staple in the childhood of every burgeoning paranormal enthusiast, this movie can be watched and quoted ad nauseam without ever feeling trite or stale. In fact, as we remember ingenious artists like the late, great Harold Ramis, Ghostbusters only gets more endearing as time wears on.

1. The Terminator, released October 26, 1984

Schwarzenegger. Cameron. “I’ll be back.” There’s no other film from 1984 that could take the top spot on my favorites list than the one that spawned countless imitators in the realm of sci-fi action. It’s got everything – well-paced conflict, suspense, gore, thought-provoking philosophy, and even a little romance. Key images, ideas, and characters from the film have achieved immortality within the lexicon of cinematic history, and rightly so – despite my personal disdain for James Cameron (don’t get me started), I’m glad this is the film that propelled his career into the stratosphere. While today’s ongoing franchise may have lost some creative steam, The Terminator holds up remarkably well despite a few dated effects because of the strength of the story and powerhouse performances from Arnie, Linda Hamilton (who really gets to shine in the sequel), and Michael Biehn. The continued influence of the original is immeasurable, and repeat viewings prove that the T-800 can still kick some serious ass in any decade.

Do YOU have a sci-fi favorite from 1984?
Let's discuss on Twitter: @moonrisesister