Sci-Fi Cinema in the 1980s

by mike_sean | created - 06 Mar 2011 | updated - 24 Mar 2015 | Public

Science fiction movies from the eighties (1980-1989), including TV movies as well as stand-alone mini-series. This list uses a fairly strict definition of science fiction, and therefore does not include most films that deal with fantasy, the supernatural, or super heroes. Films that fall more under the umbrella of horror (like a lot of zombie and pandemic films) have also been omitted.

See also: Sci-Fi Cinema in the 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s

Related sci-fi list: Sci-Fi Television in the 1980s

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1. Blade Runner (1982)

R | 117 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

89 Metascore

A blade runner must pursue and terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space and have returned to Earth to find their creator.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos

Votes: 584,589 | Gross: $27.00M

2. Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)

PG | 104 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

A young farmer sets out to recruit mercenaries to defend his peaceful planet, which is under threat of invasion by the evil tyrant Sador and his armada of aggressors.

Directors: Jimmy T. Murakami, Roger Corman | Stars: George Peppard, Robert Vaughn, Richard Thomas, John Saxon

Votes: 6,279

3. Contamination (1980)

R | 95 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

A former astronaut helps a government agent and a police detective track the source of mysterious alien pod spores, filled with lethal flesh-dissolving acid, to a South American coffee plantation controlled by alien pod clones.

Director: Luigi Cozzi | Stars: Ian McCulloch, Louise Marleau, Marino Masé, Siegfried Rauch

Votes: 2,922

4. Day of Resurrection (1980)

PG | 108 min | Adventure, Drama, Horror

After a virus devastates the global human population, survivors in Antarctica desperately try to find a cure and save the human race.

Director: Kinji Fukasaku | Stars: Masao Kusakari, Tsunehiko Watase, Isao Natsuyagi, Shin'ichi Chiba

Votes: 1,723

5. Flash Gordon (1980)

PG | 111 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

58 Metascore

A football player and his friends travel to the planet Mongo and find themselves fighting the tyranny of Ming the Merciless to save Earth.

Director: Mike Hodges | Stars: Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Max von Sydow, Topol

Votes: 42,847

6. Galaxina (1980)

R | 95 min | Comedy, Sci-Fi

The crew of the police cruiser Infinity is finally heading home after a long stay in deep space. Just when they think they are about to get some much needed rest and relaxation, the crew is... See full summary »

Director: William Sachs | Stars: Stephen Macht, Avery Schreiber, J.D. Hinton, Dorothy Stratten

Votes: 2,264

7. Golem (1980)

92 min | Sci-Fi

The film is set in a terrorizing world of the future, where technology commands the movements of individuals, supervised by the doctors, carrying out a program to improve the human race. ... See full summary »

Director: Piotr Szulkin | Stars: Marek Walczewski, Krystyna Janda, Joanna Zólkowska, Anna Jaraczówna

Votes: 384

8. Hangar 18 (1980)

PG | 97 min | Action, Biography, Sci-Fi

Shortly after the launch of a satellite from a space shuttle the satellite collides with an UFO in front of the crew's eyes. Because of an election campaign some politicians try to hide the... See full summary »

Director: James L. Conway | Stars: Darren McGavin, Robert Vaughn, Gary Collins, James Hampton

Votes: 1,820 | Gross: $6.00M

9. Saturn 3 (1980)

R | 96 min | Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi

9 Metascore

Two lovers stationed at a remote base in the asteroid fields of Saturn are intruded upon by a retentive technocrat from Earth and his charge: a malevolent eight foot robot.

Directors: Stanley Donen, John Barry | Stars: Farrah Fawcett, Kirk Douglas, Harvey Keitel, Ed Bishop

Votes: 7,016

10. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

PG | 124 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

82 Metascore

After the rebels are brutally overpowered by the Empire on the ice planet Hoth, Luke Skywalker begins Jedi training with Yoda, while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader.

Director: Irvin Kershner | Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams

Votes: 983,515 | Gross: $290.48M

11. Escape from New York (1981)

R | 99 min | Action, Sci-Fi

76 Metascore

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.

Director: John Carpenter | Stars: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence

Votes: 104,834 | Gross: $25.24M

12. Galaxy of Terror (1981)

R | 81 min | Action, Adventure, Horror

Science fiction suspense thriller, in which a rescue space ship crew meets up with horrors projected by their own imaginations.

Director: Bruce D. Clark | Stars: Edward Albert, Erin Moran, Ray Walston, Bernard Behrens

Votes: 4,853

13. Heartbeeps (1981)

PG | 78 min | Sci-Fi, Comedy

Two household robots run away and try to start a family.

Director: Allan Arkush | Stars: Andy Kaufman, Bernadette Peters, Randy Quaid, Kenneth McMillan

Votes: 1,145 | Gross: $2.15M

14. The Last Chase (1981)

PG | 101 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

In a future United States, the only transport available to an individual is public transportation. Predicated on an assertion that "the oil has run out", an increasingly totalitarian ... See full summary »

Director: Martyn Burke | Stars: Lee Majors, Burgess Meredith, Chris Makepeace, Alexandra Stewart

Votes: 798

15. Lifepod (1981)

90 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

The first interplanetary cruise ship malfunctions halfway to Jupiter, forcing most of the crew and passengers to abandon ship. A handful of people are trapped onboard.

Director: Bruce Bryant | Stars: Joe Penny, Kristine DeBell, Carl Lumbly, Sandy Kenyon

Votes: 170

16. Looker (1981)

PG | 93 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Plastic surgeon Larry Roberts performs a series of minor alterations on a group of models who are seeking perfection. The operations are a resounding success. But when someone starts ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Crichton | Stars: Albert Finney, James Coburn, Susan Dey, Leigh Taylor-Young

Votes: 3,754 | Gross: $3.28M

17. The Road Warrior (1981)

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

76 Metascore

In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline rich, community escape a band of bandits.

Director: George Miller | Stars: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michael Preston, Max Phipps

Votes: 148,304 | Gross: $12.47M

18. Outland (1981)

R | 112 min | Action, Crime, Sci-Fi

In the distant future, a police marshal stationed at a remote mining colony on the Jupiter moon of Io uncovers a drug-smuggling conspiracy, and gets no help from the populace when he later finds himself marked for murder.

Director: Peter Hyams | Stars: Sean Connery, Frances Sternhagen, Peter Boyle, James Sikking

Votes: 23,776 | Gross: $17.37M

19. Scanners (1981)

R | 103 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

60 Metascore

A scientist sends a man with extraordinary psychic powers to hunt others like him.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Jennifer O'Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane

Votes: 40,283 | Gross: $14.23M

20. Time Bandits (1981)

PG | 110 min | Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

79 Metascore

A young boy accidentally joins a band of time travelling dwarves, as they jump from era to era looking for treasure to steal.

Director: Terry Gilliam | Stars: Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, John Cleese, Katherine Helmond

Votes: 50,597 | Gross: $42.37M

21. To the Stars by Hard Ways (1981)

148 min | Sci-Fi

A female creature created in space tries to live on earth and has special (and sometimes dangerous) powers.

Directors: Richard Viktorov, Nikolay Viktorov | Stars: Yelena Metyolkina, Vadim Ledogorov, Uldis Lieldidz, Yelena Fadeyeva

Votes: 971

22. Wojna swiatów - nastepne stulecie (1981)

96 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller, War

Film opens on December 28, 1999, three days before the dawn of the new century. A local reporter, Iron Idem, announces that the Martians have landed. Shortly after that his program loses ... See full summary »

Director: Piotr Szulkin | Stars: Roman Wilhelmi, Krystyna Janda, Mariusz Dmochowski, Jerzy Stuhr

Votes: 360

23. Warp Speed (1981 TV Movie)

92 min | Sci-Fi

A ship is found adrift in space with no trace of its crew, or any signs of life at all. A psychic is brought into to try to "join" her mind with the memories lingering in the spacecraft so ... See full summary »

Director: Allan Sandler | Stars: David Chandler, Camille Mitchell, Adam West, Joanne Nail

Votes: 92

24. Android (1983)

PG | 80 min | Sci-Fi

A strange doctor secretly experiments with androids on his space station. His assistant is Max, a curious android who wants to see the world and meet a girl. Criminals hide on their station and soon violence erupts.

Director: Aaron Lipstadt | Stars: Klaus Kinski, Don Keith Opper, Brie Howard, Norbert Weisser

Votes: 2,079

25. Battletruck (1982)

PG | 91 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Post World War III futuristic tale of collapsed governments & bankrupt countries heralding a new lawless age.

Director: Harley Cokeliss | Stars: Michael Beck, Annie McEnroe, James Wainwright, Bruno Lawrence

Votes: 879

26. Endangered Species (1982)

R | 97 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

About a retired New York cop on Vacation in America's West who is drawn into a female sheriff's investigation of a mysterious series of cattle killings.

Director: Alan Rudolph | Stars: Robert Urich, JoBeth Williams, Paul Dooley, Hoyt Axton

Votes: 783 | Gross: $1.47M

27. Turkey Shoot (1982)

R | 80 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

Deviants are held at a rehabilitation fortress until they're set into a deadly game of survival, in the hopes of returning to world society.

Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith | Stars: Steve Railsback, Olivia Hussey, Michael Craig, Carmen Duncan

Votes: 2,382

28. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

PG | 115 min | Family, Sci-Fi

91 Metascore

A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home world.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote, Dee Wallace

Votes: 318,100 | Gross: $435.11M

29. Forbidden World (1982)

R | 77 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

In the distant future, a federation marshal arrives at a research lab on a remote planet where a genetic experiment has gotten loose and begins feeding on the dwindling scientific group.

Director: Allan Holzman | Stars: Jesse Vint, Dawn Dunlap, June Chadwick, Linden Chiles

Votes: 2,621

30. Kamikaze 89 (1982)

Not Rated | 106 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

In a totalitarian society of the future, in which the government controls all facets of the media, a homicide detective investigates a string of bombings, and finds out more than he bargained for.

Director: Wolf Gremm | Stars: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Günther Kaufmann, Boy Gobert, Arnold Marquis

Votes: 461 | Gross: $0.02M

31. 1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982)

R | 89 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

In a post-apocalyptic New York City, a policeman infiltrates the Bronx, which has become a battleground for several murderous street gangs.

Director: Enzo G. Castellari | Stars: Mark Gregory, Fred Williamson, Vic Morrow, Chuck Zito

Votes: 2,314

32. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

PG | 113 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

71 Metascore

With the assistance of the Enterprise crew, Admiral Kirk must stop an old nemesis, Khan Noonien Singh, from using the life-generating Genesis Device as the ultimate weapon.

Director: Nicholas Meyer | Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan

Votes: 100,490 | Gross: $78.91M

33. The Thing (1982)

R | 109 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

57 Metascore

A crew in Antarctica finds a neighboring camp destroyed and its crew dead. Whatever killed them is nowhere to be found, unless it's hidden in plain sight.

Director: John Carpenter | Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, Richard Masur

Votes: 307,307 | Gross: $13.78M

34. 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: 1,703

35. TRON (1982)

PG | 96 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

58 Metascore

A computer hacker is abducted into the digital world and forced to participate in gladiatorial games where his only chance of escape is with the help of a heroic security program.

Director: Steven Lisberger | Stars: Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan

Votes: 102,132 | Gross: $33.00M

36. The Aerodrome (1983 TV Movie)

91 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

In the future England is ruled by a fascist government, and one day the leaders begin the construction of a heavily guarded, mysterious airport.

Director: Giles Foster | Stars: Peter Firth, Richard Johnson, Richard Briers, Dominic Jephcott

Votes: 24

37. Animales racionales (1983)

91 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

Two men and one woman are the last people on Earth. They are reduced to savagery, mate with the woman, and they learn to survive on a deserted island. They discover a dog living on the ... See full summary »

Director: Eligio Herrero | Stars: Carole Kirkham, Geir Indvard, José Yepes

Votes: 55

38. Anna to the Infinite Power (1983)

Not Rated | 101 min | Sci-Fi

Anna Hart was always an odd child, a genius, a shoplifter, desperately afraid of flickering lights, with strange prophetic dreams. Simultaneously, several strange things begin to happen. A ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Wiemer | Stars: Dina Merrill, Martha Byrne, Mark Patton, Donna Mitchell

Votes: 368

39. Born in Flames (1983)

Not Rated | 80 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

Set ten years after the most peaceful revolution in United States history, a revolution in which a socialist government gains power, this films presents a dystopia in which the issues of ... See full summary »

Director: Lizzie Borden | Stars: Honey, Adele Bertei, Jean Satterfield, Florynce Kennedy

Votes: 646

40. Brainstorm (1983)

PG | 106 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

Brilliant researchers Lillian Reynolds and Michael Brace have developed a system of recording and playing back actual experiences of people. Once the capability of tapping into "higher ... See full summary »

Director: Douglas Trumbull | Stars: Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood, Louise Fletcher, Cliff Robertson

Votes: 9,472 | Gross: $8.90M

41. Le Dernier Combat (The Last Battle) (1983)

R | 92 min | Sci-Fi

In a post-apocalyptic future where no one is able to speak, the few remaining humans fight over resources in order to survive.

Director: Luc Besson | Stars: Pierre Jolivet, Jean Bouise, Jean Reno, Fritz Wepper

Votes: 4,867

42. Space Raiders (1983)

PG | 84 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

A futuristic, sensitive tale of adventure and confrontation when a 10 year old boy is accidentally kidnapped by a spaceship filled with a motley crew of space pirates.

Director: Howard R. Cohen | Stars: Vince Edwards, David Mendenhall, Patsy Pease, Thom Christopher

Votes: 811

43. Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983)

PG | 90 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Three women make an emergency landing on a planet plagued with a fatal disease, but are captured by dictator Overdog. Adventurer Wolff goes there to rescue them and meets Niki, the only ... See full summary »

Director: Lamont Johnson | Stars: Peter Strauss, Molly Ringwald, Ernie Hudson, Andrea Marcovicci

Votes: 4,342 | Gross: $16.48M

44. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)

PG | 131 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

58 Metascore

After a daring mission to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, the rebels dispatch to Endor to destroy a more powerful Death Star. Meanwhile, Luke struggles to help Vader back from the dark side without falling into the Emperor's trap.

Director: Richard Marquand | Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams

Votes: 808,406 | Gross: $309.13M

45. Strange Invaders (1983)

PG | 92 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Charlie's ex-wife disappears, and he travels to where she grew up--a rural town in the Midwest--to look for her. But, surprisingly, nobody knows about her or any of her many relatives, the ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Laughlin | Stars: Paul Le Mat, Nancy Allen, Diana Scarwid, Michael Lerner

Votes: 2,194 | Gross: $1.36M

46. Videodrome (1983)

R | 87 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

60 Metascore

When he acquires a different kind of show for his station, a sleazy cable-TV programmer begins to see his life and the future of media spin out of control in a terrifying new reality.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: James Woods, Debbie Harry, Sonja Smits, Peter Dvorsky

Votes: 69,778 | Gross: $2.12M

47. Warriors of the Wasteland (1983)

R | 91 min | Action, Romance, Sci-Fi

Two mercenaries help wandering caravans fight off an evil and aimless band of white-clad bikers after the nuclear holocuast.

Director: Enzo G. Castellari | Stars: Giancarlo Prete, Fred Williamson, George Eastman, Anna Kanakis

Votes: 1,891

48. Wavelength (1983)

PG | 87 min | Biography, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Two young lovers learn that a small group of child-like space aliens are marooned on Earth and are being held prisoner at a top secret military facility. The couple then decide to liberate ... See full summary »

Director: Mike Gray | Stars: Robert Carradine, Cherie Currie, Keenan Wynn, Cal Bowman

Votes: 601

49. Xtro (1982)

R | 84 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

A man who was abducted by aliens returns to his family three years later, but his presence affects them negatively.

Director: Harry Bromley Davenport | Stars: Philip Sayer, Bernice Stegers, Danny Brainin, Maryam d'Abo

Votes: 4,621

50. The Brother from Another Planet (1984)

R | 108 min | Comedy, Sci-Fi

6.8