150 of the Best Lesser-Known 1980s Movies

by jaimie-k | created - 15 Sep 2010 | updated - 11 Aug 2011 | Public

I still own every one of these on VHS (along with dozens of other obscure titles). Many are not available on DVD. You just can't beat dodgy 80s movies :-D

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1. The Zero Boys (1986)

R | 89 min | Action, Thriller, Horror

A group of friends travel to a wilderness area to play a survival game. Soon they unexpectedly find themselves in a real-life survival situation.

Director: Nico Mastorakis | Stars: Daniel Hirsch, Kelli Maroney, Nicole Rio, Tom Shell

Votes: 993

2. Young Warriors (1983)

R | 105 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A young woman is gang raped and murdered in a California college town, sparking her brother Kevin to take up arms by night with a gang of like-minded vigilantes from his fraternity, ... See full summary »

Director: Lawrence David Foldes | Stars: Ernest Borgnine, Richard Roundtree, Lynda Day George, James Van Patten

Votes: 399 | Gross: $0.24M

3. Born American (1986)

R | 95 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

35 Metascore

Three American students vacationing in Finland, cross the border into Russia for fun of it. When they are spotted by the Russian soldiers who are shooting to kill, it's not fun anymore. ... See full summary »

Director: Renny Harlin | Stars: Mike Norris, Steve Durham, David Coburn, Thalmus Rasulala

Votes: 1,577 | Gross: $3.39M

aka Arctic Heat

4. Invaders from Mars (1986)

PG | 100 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

A boy tries to stop aliens who have taken over his town and are attempting to brainwash its inhabitants.

Director: Tobe Hooper | Stars: Karen Black, Hunter Carson, Timothy Bottoms, Laraine Newman

Votes: 6,614 | Gross: $4.88M

5. Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)

R | 86 min | Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi

After a nuclear war, the survivors are divided between horribly mutated beings who live on desolate reservations and fertile women who are searching for scarce virile men in order to multiply and start a new human society.

Directors: Donald G. Jackson, R.J. Kizer | Stars: Julius LeFlore, RCB, Roddy Piper, William Smith

Votes: 3,978

6. Let's Get Harry (1986)

R | 102 min | Action, Adventure

When Columbian revolutionaries kidnap an American engineer, his brother and friends, faced with official inaction, hire a mercenary and mount the rescue operation themselves.

Director: Stuart Rosenberg | Stars: Michael Schoeffling, Thomas F. Wilson, Fidel Abrego, Jere Burns

Votes: 1,042 | Gross: $0.14M

7. April Fool's Day (1986)

R | 89 min | Horror, Mystery

Nine college students staying at a friend's remote island mansion begin to fall victim to an unseen murderer over the April Fool's Day weekend.

Director: Fred Walton | Stars: Deborah Foreman, Griffin O'Neal, Clayton Rohner, Jay Baker

Votes: 12,299 | Gross: $12.95M

8. Turk 182! (1985)

PG-13 | 102 min | Action, Comedy, Drama

Jimmy Lynch is angry because his older brother, who was injured as a result of an off duty fire rescue, is denied benefits by the city. At the same time, Mayor Tyler is embroiled in a ... See full summary »

Director: Bob Clark | Stars: Timothy Hutton, Robert Urich, Kim Cattrall, Robert Culp

Votes: 3,333 | Gross: $3.59M

9. Iceman (1984)

PG | 100 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

A prehistoric Neanderthal man found frozen in ice is revived by an arctic exploration team, who then attempt to use him for their own scientific means.

Director: Fred Schepisi | Stars: Timothy Hutton, Lindsay Crouse, John Lone, Josef Sommer

Votes: 4,631 | Gross: $7.34M

10. The Hidden (1987)

R | 97 min | Action, Crime, Horror

Law abiding people suddenly become violent criminals. A cop and an FBI agent race for answers in this sci-fi thriller.

Director: Jack Sholder | Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Nouri, Claudia Christian, Clarence Felder

Votes: 14,966 | Gross: $9.75M

11. Dolls (1987)

R | 77 min | Fantasy, Horror

A group of people stop by a mansion during a storm and discover two magical toy makers and their haunted collection of dolls.

Director: Stuart Gordon | Stars: Ian Patrick Williams, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, Carrie Lorraine, Guy Rolfe

Votes: 7,781

12. My Science Project (1985)

PG | 94 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

38 Metascore

A high school student and his friend find a strange, orb-like piece of equipment to use as a science project, but must stop it when it begins to threaten mankind.

Director: Jonathan R. Betuel | Stars: John Stockwell, Danielle von Zerneck, Fisher Stevens, Raphael Sbarge

Votes: 4,682 | Gross: $4.12M

13. Death Before Dishonor (1987)

R | 91 min | Action, Drama

Gunnery Sergeant Burns reports for duty to an American Embassy in the Middle East. However due to the 'enlightened' views of the Ambassador, the marine security detachment he is in charge ... See full summary »

Director: Terry Leonard | Stars: Fred Dryer, Brian Keith, Joseph Gian, Sasha Mitchell

Votes: 704 | Gross: $4.55M

14. Hider in the House (1989)

R | 104 min | Thriller

A deranged man hides in the attic of a new house and becomes obsessed with the unsuspecting family that moves in.

Director: Matthew Patrick | Stars: Gary Busey, Mimi Rogers, Michael McKean, Kurt Christopher Kinder

Votes: 1,014

15. Bulletproof (1988)

R | 93 min | Action

A group of dangerous terrorists succeeds to get hold of a tank of the army and all its crew.

Director: Steve Carver | Stars: Gary Busey, Darlanne Fluegel, Henry Silva, Thalmus Rasulala

Votes: 1,134 | Gross: $0.81M

16. No Safe Haven (1987)

R | 95 min | Action

When his family is murdered by members of a drug gang, an undercover CIA agent tracks them down, but they escape and flee to their hideout, a fortress in South America. Knowing he can't ... See full summary »

Director: Ronnie Rondell Jr. | Stars: Wings Hauser, Robert Tessier, Branscombe Richmond, Robert Ahola

Votes: 90

17. Fortress (1985)

TV-MA | 88 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

An Australian school teacher and her students are kidnapped. She and the children fight for their lives and try to escape from their captors.

Director: Arch Nicholson | Stars: Sean Garlick, Rachel Ward, Elaine Cusick, Laurie Moran

Votes: 2,276

18. The Rescue (1988)

PG | 97 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

A group of kids venture into enemy territory in an ambitious attempt to rescue their Navy Seal fathers who were captured during a failed mission in North Korea.

Director: Ferdinand Fairfax | Stars: Kevin Dillon, Christine Harnos, Edward Albert, Ellen Barber

Votes: 1,006 | Gross: $5.86M

19. Russkies (1987)

PG | 99 min | Drama

A group of American boys and a shipwrecked Russian sailor become friends in the midst of the Cold War.

Director: Rick Rosenthal | Stars: Whip Hubley, Joaquin Phoenix, Peter Billingsley, Stefan DeSalle

Votes: 1,183 | Gross: $2.19M

20. Jack's Back (1988)

R | 97 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery

A serial killer in Los Angeles celebrates Jack the Ripper's 100th birthday by committing similar murders and only one has a chance of stopping him.

Director: Rowdy Herrington | Stars: James Spader, Cynthia Gibb, Jim Haynie, Robert Picardo

Votes: 2,164 | Gross: $0.49M

21. Final Jeopardy (1985 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 100 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A small-town couple find themselves stranded in an unfamiliar, and unfriendly, big city. Weaving in and out of the proceedings are a bunch of murderous criminals with names like DOA, Ice ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Pressman | Stars: Richard Thomas, Mary Crosby, Jeff Corey, Jonathan Goldsmith

Votes: 192

22. Bad Dreams (1988)

R | 80 min | Horror, Thriller

The lone survivor of a suicide cult wakes from a thirteen-year coma in a psychiatric ward, where other patients suddenly start dying under mysterious and gruesome circumstances.

Director: Andrew Fleming | Stars: Jennifer Rubin, Bruce Abbott, Richard Lynch, Dean Cameron

Votes: 2,814 | Gross: $9.80M

23. The Wraith (1986)

PG-13 | 93 min | Action, Horror, Romance

39 Metascore

After a young man is murdered by a road-racing gang of motor-heads, a mysterious fast-driving spirit descends from the sky to take revenge.

Director: Mike Marvin | Stars: Charlie Sheen, Nick Cassavetes, Sherilyn Fenn, Randy Quaid

Votes: 12,560 | Gross: $3.50M

24. Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1982)

PG | 94 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

A maverick motorbike racer wanders into a top-secret time-travel research test site which unintentionally teleports him to the mid-1800s and ends up having to fight violent outlaws for his survival.

Director: William Dear | Stars: Fred Ward, Belinda Bauer, Peter Coyote, Richard Masur

Votes: 1,746

25. Rampage (1987)

R | 97 min | Drama, Thriller

Liberal district attorney decides to seek the death penalty for a man who slaughtered a family at Christmastime, then drank their blood. He escapes, though, and starts killing again.

Director: William Friedkin | Stars: Michael Biehn, Alex McArthur, Nicholas Campbell, Deborah Van Valkenburgh

Votes: 1,741 | Gross: $0.80M

26. Gymkata (1985)

R | 90 min | Action, Thriller

An American gymnast travels to a foreign country to compete in a deadly game not won by anyone other than a native in more than 900 years.

Director: Robert Clouse | Stars: Kurt Thomas, Tetchie Agbayani, Richard Norton, Edward Bell

Votes: 3,394 | Gross: $5.73M

27. The New Kids (1985)

R | 110 min | Drama, Thriller

A brother and sister arrive in a small town to help their relatives run an amusement park, and they find the town is terrorized by a local street gang.

Director: Sean S. Cunningham | Stars: Shannon Presby, Lori Loughlin, James Spader, John Philbin

Votes: 1,969 | Gross: $0.20M

aka Striking Back

28. The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)

PG | 100 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family

Dodger must confront the struggles of life as he is visited by the Garbage Pail Kids and intimidated by some older bullies.

Director: Rod Amateau | Stars: Anthony Newley, Mackenzie Astin, Phil Fondacaro, Katie Barberi

Votes: 6,729 | Gross: $1.58M

29. Thrillkill (1984)

96 min | Crime, Thriller

Karlie Kendall's job is to write computer games - but in her spare time she hacks bank accounts. With 5 million dollars gathered, she wants to retire to Brazil - unaware that her secret ... See full summary »

Directors: Anthony D'Andrea, Anthony Kramreither | Stars: Robin Ward, Gina Massey, Laura Robinson, Diana Reis

Votes: 80

30. The Park Is Mine (1985 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 102 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

A Vietnam vet takes forceful control of Central Park to remember those who served and died in the Vietnam War.

Director: Steven Hilliard Stern | Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Helen Shaver, Yaphet Kotto, Lawrence Dane

Votes: 1,624

31. Trial by Terror (1983)

90 min | Thriller

A couple moves into a new home and find success and happiness, but soon their dream becomes a nightmare when they hear chilling voices in the night, vandalous attacks and a faceless, ... See full summary »

Director: Hildy Brooks | Stars: Colleen Camp, Wayne Crawford, Allen Garfield, Nadejda Klein

Votes: 22

33. Chiller (1985 TV Movie)

PG-13 | 94 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Corporate exec Miles Creighton dies, and is cryogenically frozen in the hopes that he can be revived. 10 years later, the procedure is a success, and Miles returns--without his soul.

Director: Wes Craven | Stars: Michael Beck, Beatrice Straight, Laura Johnson, Dick O'Neill

Votes: 1,101

34. The Highest Honor (1982)

R | 144 min | War, Drama

The true story of a daring raid on Japanese-occupied Singapore Harbour by Australian and British troops during WWII.

Directors: Peter Maxwell, Seiji Maruyama | Stars: Michael Aitkens, Vincent Ball, Craig Ballard, James Belton

Votes: 100

35. The Buddy System (1984)

PG | 110 min | Drama, Comedy, Romance

A quiet school truant officer, Joe, uncovers a young boy's attempt to fake a residential address, and subsequently gets involved romantically with the boy's mother. The truant officer ... See full summary »

Director: Glenn Jordan | Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon, Nancy Allen, Jean Stapleton

Votes: 743 | Gross: $1.82M

36. Limit Up (1989)

PG-13 | 88 min | Fantasy, Comedy

Casey Falls is the assistant of commodity trader Peter Oak, but wants to get a license herself. When the diabolic Nike appears and promises to make her successful by use of her supernatural... See full summary »

Director: Richard Martini | Stars: Nancy Allen, Dean Stockwell, Brad Hall, Danitra Vance

Votes: 195

37. Ghost Warrior (1984)

R | 81 min | Action, Sci-Fi

A deep-frozen 400-year-old samurai is shipped to Los Angeles, where he comes back to life. Dazed and confused, he goes on a rampage. Can the female scientist and her colleague who revived him stop him before it's too late?

Director: J. Larry Carroll | Stars: Hiroshi Fujioka, John Calvin, Janet Julian, Charles Lampkin

Votes: 508

aka Swordkill

38. How I Got Into College (1989)

PG-13 | 86 min | Comedy, Romance

The simple story of two young Michigan high school students, Jessica, Class President, Local Smart Girl, and object of Marlon's affections attempt to get into a small Pennsylvania college. ... See full summary »

Director: Savage Steve Holland | Stars: Anthony Edwards, Corey Parker, Lara Flynn Boyle, Finn Carter

Votes: 1,888 | Gross: $1.64M

39. One Police Plaza (1986 TV Movie)

92 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A veteran New York City Police Lieutenant's investigation of a woman's murder uncovers corruption in high places.

Director: Jerry Jameson | Stars: Robert Conrad, George Dzundza, James Olson, Jamey Sheridan

Votes: 42

40. Of Unknown Origin (1983)

R | 88 min | Horror

51 Metascore

A man who recently completed rebuilding a townhouse becomes obsessed with a rat infestation until it becomes an interspecies duel.

Director: George P. Cosmatos | Stars: Peter Weller, Jennifer Dale, Lawrence Dane, Kenneth Welsh

Votes: 2,328 | Gross: $1.08M

41. Date with an Angel (1987)

PG | 105 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

Jim is soon to be married to Patty, but when he wakes up after a bachelor party thrown by his friends, he finds an injured angel in his pool. When Patty sees her, she thinks he's seeing ... See full summary »

Director: Tom McLoughlin | Stars: Michael E. Knight, Phoebe Cates, Emmanuelle Béart, David Dukes

Votes: 2,275 | Gross: $1.99M

42. The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1987 TV Movie)

100 min | Mystery

Sherlock Holmes is brought back to life by Watson's female descendant after being cryogenically frozen for eighty years.

Director: Kevin Connor | Stars: Margaret Colin, Michael Pennington, Barry Morse, Olivier Pierre

Votes: 293

43. Witchboard (1986)

R | 98 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Friends playing with an Ouija board at a late-night party unleash a demonic spirit who begins hunting them.

Director: Kevin Tenney | Stars: Todd Allen, Tawny Kitaen, Stephen Nichols, Kathleen Wilhoite

Votes: 5,177 | Gross: $7.37M

44. Vanishing Act (1986 TV Movie)

PG | 95 min | Mystery

In the Rocky Mountains, Harry Kenyon seeks out his missing wife Chris in the Winter Parade. Harry meets Lieutenant Rudameyer and tells that him he is from San Francisco and has just married... See full summary »

Director: David Greene | Stars: Mike Farrell, Margot Kidder, Fred Gwynne, Graham Jarvis

Votes: 450

45. Modern Girls (1986)

PG-13 | 84 min | Comedy

A pair of women decide to prank their roommate's nerdy blind date after she stands him up, but end up developing a friendship with him after their practical joke sends them on an all-night odyssey through the 1980s club scene.

Director: Jerry Kramer | Stars: Daphne Zuniga, Virginia Madsen, Cynthia Gibb, Clayton Rohner

Votes: 1,117 | Gross: $0.60M

46. Stranded (1987)

PG-13 | 80 min | Sci-Fi

A young woman and her grandmother living in an isolated farmhouse are kidnapped by aliens.

Director: Fleming B. Fuller | Stars: Ione Skye, Maureen O'Sullivan, Joe Morton, Susan Barnes

Votes: 332

47. Spellbinder (1988)

R | 99 min | Drama, Horror, Romance

A young lawyer, after falling in love with a beautiful woman, finds that she has an extremely mysterious past.

Director: Janet Greek | Stars: Tim Daly, Kelly Preston, Rick Rossovich, Audra Lindley

Votes: 1,786 | Gross: $1.94M

48. Starcrossed (1985 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 90 min | Romance, Sci-Fi

An alien woman is running from a deadly enemy and tries to hide on Earth where she meets a young mechanic, who helps her to get back home and to fight for the freedom of her people.

Director: Jeffrey Bloom | Stars: James Spader, Belinda Bauer, Peter Kowanko, Clark Johnson

Votes: 455

49. Amazing Grace and Chuck (1987)

PG | 114 min | Drama, Sport