Best 80s movies: 17 classics to stream this weekend | Real Homes

Best 80s movies: 17 classics to stream this weekend

Need some escapism? These are the best 80s movies to explore a decade of imaginative genius (and gigantic hair)

Best 80s movies
(Image credit: Netflix)

The best 80s movies could be the best way to escape modern life for a while and look back nostalgically at the good ol' days when we could, you know, go out and do things. 

At the risk of sounding 100 years old, they just don't make movies like this anymore. The 80s was a decade of true filmic imaginative genius. The introduction of new special-effect CGI techniques meant that sci-fi adventure films were aplenty. And while they may have been amazingly realistic at the time, they now hold an endearing charm that can't and won't ever be replaced. 

Watch on Disney+ or Amazon Prime for FREE

Make the most of these trials to watch some of these movies for free this weekend:

Disney +: 7 day free trial (then £5.99/month)
Amazon Prime: 30-day free trial (then £7.99/month)

So let's take a trip down memory lane this weekend. From heart-throb dance instructors to robot killers and Egyptian adventures, to evil little creatures, they're featured in the best 80s movies, and there's something for everyone in the family. 

To save you searching the loft for your collection of long lost videos (does anyone even have a video player anymore?), we're also revealing where you can stream these 80s classics. From Netflix to Amazon Prime and Now TV, the variety of 80s movies available is amazing. So forget your 'new releases' for now, and give some time to some proper icons. 

Head over to best streaming service page for more on what to watch, where. From Disney+ to Amazon Prime and Netflix...

1. Dirty Dancing (obv)

  • Rating: 12
  • Genre: Rom com 
  • Streaming service: Amazon Prime

If 'I carried a watermelon' is a quote you've heard of but you don't actually know where it's from...1) Who even are you?  and 2) You must stop reading and watch Dirty Dancing right this minute. It's an absolute timeless classic that seems to get better every time you watch it. The main character Baby isn't too happy about spending her summer at a resort with her family, that is, until she meets Johnny, the beautiful dance instructor played by Patrick Swayze. It's a story of a first love involving problem parents, testing friendships and tons of raunchy dancing from beginning to end. The moves are pretty impressive, and the iconic songs such as 'Time of my Life' and 'Hungry Eyes' to name just two, will have you swaying on your sofa. 

2. Back to the Future 

  • Rating: PG
  • Genre: Sci-fi
  • Streaming service: Amazon Prime

Ever wish you could just go back in time? That's what happens when protagonist Marty helps his friend with a science experiment, and it goes wrong. Being able to see your parents in their youth would be quite cool, but the slightest changes in their lives could mean they never meet each other, and so, you will never actually exist. Woah. In a bid to ensure his parents fall in love so he can get back to the future as he knows it, Marty sets to creating history just as it should be. A sci-fi feel good film that's all about family, friends and a touch of romance too.

3. E.T.

  • Rating: U
  • Genre: Sci-fi
  • Streaming service: Amazon Prime

A story of childhood friendship, unquestioning acceptance and sibling adventures, all with a friendly little lost alien in tow. When an extraterrestrial (E.T) is stranded on Earth, Elliot finds him and decides to keep him safe in his Californian family home. With fear that the adults will take his new friend away and hurt him, he decides to only tell his brother and his littlest sister (Drew Barrymore) his new secret. But when E.T falls ill, things change. It's one for all ages making it a great family watch, filled with magical iconic scenes that'll pull at your heart strings. Next time you call your parents, you'll be saying, 'E.T, phone home...'

4. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

  • Rating: 15
  • Genre: Teen comedy
  • Streaming service: Amazon Prime

John Hughes ruled teen aimed comedies in the 80s, and this tale of ‘righteous dude’ Ferris Bueller’s decision to bunk off high school is one of his finest, and most quotable. Full of boyish charm, Ferris, deciding that ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it’ cheerily manipulates his best friend and girlfriend into stealing his best friend’s dad’s Ferrari and enjoying a day going wild in Chicago. Meanwhile, his principal nearly suffers an aneurysm trying to catch the school’s most popular pupil come accomplished con artist in the truanting act. Jennifer (Dirty Dancing) Grey plays Ferris’ angry sister, seething that her lucky-at-everything sibling might get away with his antics.

5. Uncle Buck

  • Rating: 12
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Streaming service: Amazon Prime

Protagonist John Candy was the ‘80s unexpected crush. Disreputable Uncle Buck, a cigar chain-smoker and gambler, is called in as an emergency last resort to babysit his nieces and nephew, and at first, no one is happy about it. The cuddly Canadian has to fight off his brother’s cougar-ish neighbour (Laurie Metcalf). Uncle Buck successfully keeps the younger two kids in check, (including a pre-Home Alone Macaulay Culkin – so cute) by being as juvenile as they are. But, he butts heads with teenage Tia over her unsuitable choice of boyfriend – good ole Buck gives him a lesson in manners with some duct tape and a golf club. Every uncle should be like this, or at least in charge of making pancakes so big you need a snow shovel to flip them.

6. Ghost Busters

  • Rating: PG
  • Genre: Comedy action and adventure
  • Streaming service: Netflix

Who you gonna call?! An amazing blend of comedy, action and horror, the ghostbusters have become a household name, even if you haven't seen the film. When three scientists lose their jobs at a university in New York, they decide to club together to fight off the supernatural for money.  After a bleak start, soon business is booming and all is well, until all their supernatural monsters are released at once, putting new York City in serious danger. It's a classic family watch and the iconic theme tune will have you all singing and dancing to around the house for sure. 

7. The Terminator 

  • Rating: 15
  • Genre: Dystopian sci-fi adventure
  • Streaming service: Netflix

What Arnold Schwarzenegger may have had in muscles, he lacked in range as an actor – perfect casting then to play a cyborg assassin from the future in James Cameron’s The Terminator. After machines turn against man, Arnie’s indestructible monosyllabic killer is sent back in time to murder Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the mother of the not-yet-born man who’ll one day lead the rebellion against them. A leather-clad irresistible force with a knack for a pithy line – ‘I’ll be back’ being one – he’s an 80s icon that you need to know about.

8. Die Hard

  • Rating: 18
  • Genre: Action
  • Streaming service: Amazon Prime and Now TV

John McClane (Bruce Willis) is a NY police detective who's just trying to visit his children over Christmas when events take an unexpected turn. After landing in Los Angeles he swings by the Nakatomi Plaza building his estranged wife works in, but its been taken hostage by German terrorists, the leader of which is Hans Gruber (played by the brilliant Alan Rickman) and it's down to Bruce to save the day, single handedly and with bare feet... obvs. An absolute belter of a film that manages to be dateless but still as enjoyable today as it's ever been.  

9. When Harry Met Sally

  • Rating: 15
  • Genre: Rom com
  • Streaming service: Netflix

Do you think men and women can really be just purely platonic friends? Harry doesn't think so, and this is a source of contention on Harry and Sally's long car journey from Chicago to New York. After miles of bickering, they go their separate ways with a casual, 'Have a nice life!' But it seems that fate is determined to bring them back together. A story with some hilarious scenes that test the boundary of friendship and romance. It's a classic tale and a firm favourite among the Real Homes team. That scene in the diner, oh my...

10. The Shining

  • Rating: 18
  • Genre: Horro
  • Streaming service: Amazon Prime

Imagine being trapped in an isolated location, unable to leave, and suspecting the person there with you is becoming increasingly unhinged. Not too difficult now, is it? In Stanley Kubrick’s chilling adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, Jack Nicholson stars as the alcoholic author with writer’s block who takes a job as a caretaker at an empty, snow-bound hotel riddled with malevolent spirits. Possessed by the hotel and its ghostly occupants, Jack menaces his terrified wife and telepathic young son as they try to escape before he can take an axe to her. The film that spawned a fear of long hotel corridors and an urge to yell ‘Heeere’s Johnny’ through gaps in doors (don't deny having done it) in a generation. It's a classic, but not one to watch alone. 

11. Planes, Trains and Automobiles

  • Rating: 15
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Streaming service: Amazon Prime

In a story that will strike a chord with, well, everyone at the moment, this John Hughes comedy is all about the importance of family and being together. Steve Martin is Neal, a high-strung executive, constantly frustrated by John Candy’s talkative salesman, Del, after they’re thrown together in a calamitous cross-country journey to get home for Thanksgiving. Their various attempts at securing any and all modes of transportation end in theft, traffic near-misses and, finally, flames, before Neal realises that sometimes it is the journey that matters as much as the destination. 

12. The Goonies

  • Rating: PG
  • Genre: Adventure comedy
  • Streaming service: Amazon Prime and Now TV

Want to put something on for the kids that you'll enjoy too? Whether or not The Goonies brings a warm feeling of nostalgia, it's a happy adventure film that sees a group of misfits (self-named 'The Goonies', no one knows why) finding a lost lost map, and going on a hunt in search of pirate's treasure. Each character is endearingly likable in this hilarious film with multiple layers of good vs evil. 

13. Aliens

  • Rating: 18
  • Genre: Sci-fi action
  • Streaming service: Amazon Prime and Now TV

A gory movie that'll have you hiding behind a cushion, for sure. A sequel equal and possibly superior to the first Alien film, James Cameron’s Aliens reintroduces us to Sigourney Weaver’s kick-ass space heroine, Ripley. After surviving the discovery and attack of the face-hugging, chest-ripping aliens in the original movie, she has to save another crew, and a traumatised young girl, before they are used as human incubators by ET’s less friendly cousins. Sigourney’s balls-to-the-wall performance earned her one of the seven Oscar nominations given to a film that drips with tension and explosive violence.

14. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark 

  • Rating: PG
  • Genre: Action and adventure
  • Streaming service: Amazon Prime and Now TV

If you haven't watched any of the Indiana Jones films, now's the perfect time to start! The first ten minutes are quite possibly the best ten minutes of any film, ever, and will certainly have you hooked. Number one of the four iconic movies, The Raiders of the Lost Ark sees Indiana Jones, played by heartthrob and legend Harrison Ford, on a quest to find the mystical lost Arc of the covenant before the Nazi's get their hands on it. Set mainly in Egypt, it's an action packed race against time with the perfect amount of romance to ensure it's a film that anyone can enjoy. We guarantee you'll be streaming, The Temple of Doom (the next in the saga) as soon as this one has finished.  

15. The Empire Strikes Back 

  • Rating: U
  • Genre: Sci-fi adventure
  • Streaming service: Amazon Prime and Now TV

Arguably the best of the Star Wars saga, this one takes a darker turn (the fourth chronologically of nine). Though the alliance has destroyed the Death Star, the evil Empire has them on the back foot, attacking their hideout on the ice planet Hoth and attempting to hunt down the heroes who torpedoed the DS’s exhaust port. Idealistic Luke Skywalker is learning how to be a Jedi, while cynical space pirate and reluctant rebel Han Solo’s plans to leave are held up by falling for a princess. It all ends in betrayal, a date with a carbon freezer, a royal declaration of love, ‘I know’, and one of cinema’s biggest surprise twists (spoilers). Mercifully, this was untainted by anything as cute as Ewoks or nerve-shreddingly annoying as Jar Jar Binks.

16. Gremlins

  • Rating: 15
  • Genre: Comedy horror
  • Streaming service: Amazon Prime

If you've ever seen a picture of a gremlin and you think it's cute, boy oh boy do you need to think again. Billy's Dad goes in search of the perfect Christmas present, and stumbles across a little creature in Chinatown. The owner is reluctant to sell him at first, but by sharing the three very important rules: 1) Don't let it get wet; 2) Don't let it see bright light; and 3) Don't feed it after midnight, he agrees to the sale. Inevitably, the rules get broken, and the cute creatures turn positively terrifying, reaping havoc over the town on Christmas Eve. It's a classic but it is actually more scary than you might imagine. Definitely not one to watch with young kids, or if you've just got a new pet...

17. The Breakfast Club

  • Rating: 15
  • Genre: Teen comedy
  • Streaming service: Amazon Prime / Now TV

Another John Hughes teen classic, this follows five of them from disparate social groups (played by actors dubbed the Brat Pack in the 1980s) as they serve an early morning detention for various school transgressions. Molly Ringwald’s princess clashes with Judd Nelson’s criminal while Ally Sheedy’s basket case weirds everyone out. Eventually they unite over their antipathy towards the pompous teacher detaining them and their disappointment in their parents. Dope is smoked, secrets shared, the emo loner gets a makeover and they realise they’re not that different after all – but will they still speak to each other in class on Monday? Also features one of the best closing credits sequences; the song Don’t You Forget About Me broke Simple Minds in America.

After more home entertainment: