Best Films Of 1981by TheAnimalMother | created - 07 Jan 2011 | updated - 5 days ago | Public
Every list of this nature is obviously a work in progress...
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1. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)
R | 96 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline rich community escape a horde of bandits.
Votes: 157,982 | Gross: $12.47M
One of the best chase scenes ever, and flat out one of the most interesting action films ever. 9/10
2. Thief (1981)
R | 123 min | Action, Crime, Drama
Coming closer to his dream of leading a normal life, a professional safecracker agrees to do a job for the Mafia, who has other plans for him.
Votes: 22,536 | Gross: $11.49M
One of the best heist films around. 8/10
See my list - 'Let's Rob A Bank'
3. Body Heat (1981)
R | 113 min | Crime, Drama, Romance
In the midst of a searing Florida heat wave, a woman persuades her lover, a small-town lawyer, to murder her rich husband.
Votes: 28,765 | Gross: $24.06M
4. Beau Pere (1981)
123 min | Comedy, Drama
After her mother dies, fourteen-year-old Marion falls in love with her stepfather, Remy.
Basically a reversion of Lolita, and a pretty decent one at that. Definitely not as good as Kubrick's film or Nabokov's original work, but a good bit better than the 1997 film version in my view. The story is well written as to pull you into it. The acting doesn't let down the script either. 7.5/10
5. Prince of the City (1981)
R | 167 min | Crime, Drama
A New York City narcotics detective reluctantly agrees to cooperate with a special commission investigating police corruption. However, he soon discovers that he's in over his head, and nobody can be trusted.
Votes: 6,622 | Gross: $8.12M
6. Christiane F. (1981)
R | 138 min | Biography, Drama
A teen girl in 1970's Berlin becomes addicted to heroin. Everything in her life slowly begins to distort and disappear as she befriends a small crew of junkies and falls in love with a drug-abusing male prostitute.
A great film to show 13 year old kids to be honest, (Depending upon their maturity level that is.). If you get them to watch this, that'll almost guarantee that they never touch hard drugs. Raw and gritty, this film shows young drug abuse as it really is, (Or at least was in the late 70's, which isn't too much different from today in terms of hard drugs use.).
7. The Hand (1981)
R | 104 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller
A comic book artist loses his hand, which in turn takes on a murderous life of its own.
Votes: 5,247 | Gross: $2.45M
This film starring Michael Caine seems like it might be ridiculously dumb due to its name and cover art, however it is actually quite thought provoking, and very entertaining. 7.5/10
8. Stripes (1981)
R | 106 min | Comedy, War
Two friends who are dissatisfied with their jobs decide to join the army for a bit of fun.
Votes: 60,770 | Gross: $85.30M
The best comedy of the year. 7.5/10
9. Blow Out (1981)
R | 108 min | Mystery, Thriller
A movie sound recordist accidentally records the evidence that proves that a car accident was actually murder and consequently finds himself in danger.
Votes: 39,374 | Gross: $13.75M
10. Southern Comfort (1981)
R | 106 min | Action, Thriller
During a routine exercise, a team of National Guards are threatened by angry and violent locals.
Votes: 14,969 | Gross: $5.00M
A pretty cool flick that I've loved since I was a little kid. 7.5/10
11. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
PG | 115 min | Action, Adventure
In 1936, archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before Adolf Hitler's Nazis can obtain its deadly powers.
Votes: 832,915 | Gross: $248.16M
The beginning of a franchise from George and Steven. 7.5/10
12. Halloween II (1981)
R | 92 min | Horror
While Sheriff Brackett and Dr. Loomis hunt for Michael Myers, a traumatized Laurie is rushed to hospital, and the serial killer is not far behind her.
Votes: 69,515 | Gross: $25.53M
In my estimation this is one of the very best horror sequels ever. Sure, the ending is not as good as the original film, but here the overall pace is faster, the kills are more creatively done, and there's a decent dose of humor in the film as well. 7.5/10
13. The Four Seasons (1981)
PG | 107 min | Comedy, Drama
Three middle-aged wealthy couples take vacations together in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Along the way we are treated to mid-life, marital, parental and other crises.
Votes: 3,773 | Gross: $50.43M
14. No Mercy, No Future (1981)
110 min | Drama
Doctors say that Veronika, a woman in her 20s, is schizophrenic. She is compliant, which makes her an easy target for men. She's religious, believing she is God's favorite child; she ... See full summary »
A pretty challenging film, definitely not for most people. I did however find it to be a very effective film. A gritty and uncompromising look at schizophrenia, far from pretty. 7/10
15. Taps (I) (1981)
PG | 126 min | Drama
Military cadets take extreme measures to insure the future of their academy when its existence is threatened by local condo developers.
Votes: 15,753 | Gross: $35.86M
A tense situation and some good performances gives Taps its life. 7/10
16. The Great Muppet Caper (1981)
G | 97 min | Adventure, Comedy, Crime
Kermit the Frog, The Great Gonzo, and Fozzie Bear are reporters who travel to Britain to interview a rich victim of jewel thieves and help her along with her secretary, Miss Piggy.
Votes: 12,540 | Gross: $31.21M
One of the best Muppet movies. 7/10
17. Fort Apache the Bronx (1981)
R | 125 min | Crime, Drama
In New York, South Bronx's main police precinct is nicknamed Fort Apache by its employees who feel like troopers surrounded by hostiles in a wild west isolated outpost.
Votes: 5,271 | Gross: $29.20M
Some great performances highlight this flick. 7/10
18. Arthur (1981)
PG | 97 min | Comedy, Romance
Arthur spends his time with booze and whores. His dad has a wife lined up for him that he keeps rejecting - until it's her or being cut off from $750,000,000. Then he goes shopping where he falls in love with a shoplifter.
Votes: 24,400 | Gross: $95.46M
The best of the series is the original. 7/10
19. Escape from New York (1981)
R | 99 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
In 1997, when the U.S. president crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in to rescue him.
Votes: 115,625 | Gross: $25.24M
Carpenter's futuristic action fantasy. 7/10
20. Bloody Birthday (1981)
R | 85 min | Horror, Thriller
Three children are born at the height of an eclipse of the sun. Ten years later, they begin to murder the people around them - even their family members.
A bizarre but good horror film. 7/10
21. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)
R | 122 min | Crime, Drama, Romance
The sensuous wife of a lunch wagon proprietor and a rootless drifter begin a sordidly steamy affair and conspire to murder her Greek husband.
Votes: 20,315 | Gross: $12.38M
Jack and Jessica! 7/10
22. Hell Night (1981)
R | 101 min | Horror, Thriller
Four college pledges are forced to spend the night in a deserted old mansion, where they are stalked by the monstrous survivor of a family massacre years earlier.
One of the more underrated 80's horror films in my view. 6.5/10
23. Ms .45 (1981)
R | 80 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A timid and mute seamstress goes insane after being attacked and raped twice in one day, in which she takes to the streets of New York City after dark and randomly shoots men with a .45 caliber pistol.
24. Heavy Metal (1981)
R | 86 min | Animation, Adventure, Fantasy
A glowing green orb - which embodies ultimate evil - terrorizes a young girl with an anthology of bizarre and fantastic stories of dark fantasy, eroticism and horror.
Directors: Gerald Potterton, John Bruno, John Halas, Julian Harris, Jimmy T. Murakami, Barrie Nelson, Paul Sabella, Jack Stokes, Pino Van Lamsweerde, Harold Whitaker | Stars: Richard Romanus, John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Don Francks
A unique piece of animation in it's time mixed with some killer tunes. 6.5/10
25. Victory (1981)
PG | 116 min | Drama, Sport, War
As allied P.O.W.s prepare for a soccer game against the German National Team to be played in Nazi-occupied Paris, the French Resistance and British officers are making plans for the team's escape.
Votes: 25,723 | Gross: $10.85M
A pretty enjoyable sports war drama. 6.5/10
26. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
R | 97 min | Comedy, Horror
Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.
Votes: 85,204 | Gross: $30.57M
One of the very best werewolf films ever made, easily in the top 5 in my view. 6.5/10
27. The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper (1981)
PG | 100 min | Adventure, Crime, Thriller
A speculation on the fate of the famous hijacker who parachuted with his ransom and disappeared in the mountains, has Cooper following a meticulous plan to disappear into anonymity despite ... See full summary »
Votes: 990 | Gross: $3.70M
A pretty fun look at a fictionalized blending of the real and somewhat unknown true story. 6.5/10
28. Mommie Dearest (1981)
R | 129 min | Biography, Drama
Votes: 13,416 | Gross: $19.03M
Mean people suck. 6.5/10
29. Bustin' Loose (1981)
R | 94 min | Comedy, Drama
Joe Braxton is an ex-con who has been given a second chance to freedom after violating his probation. He has been hired by a school teacher named Vivian Perry to repair and drive an old ... See full summary »
Votes: 2,557 | Gross: $31.26M
Pryor rocks! 6.10
30. The Funhouse (1981)
R | 96 min | Horror
Four teenage friends spend the night in a carnival funhouse and are stalked by a deformed man in a Frankenstein mask.
Votes: 11,336 | Gross: $7.89M
A pretty solid 80's creeper. 6/10