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Top 5 movies of the '80s that shaped popular culture forever

Top 5 movies of the '80s that shaped popular culture forever

By Branden Hurst, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Sep. 29, 2011 at 3:07 p.m.


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Few people who have lived through the '80s can look back on them without fond memories. Americans wanted entertainment and a means to escape ordinary life and were not disappointed. We were given big-hair bands, hundreds of beloved TV sitcoms, personal computing and 10 years of unforgettable movies.

While there are well over a hundred movies worth mentioning, five movies stand out to this writer as those rare gems that really captured the essence of the decade and helped to foster a generation's imagination and shape the future of a nation.

5. "Back to the Future," 1985; domestic box office receipts to date: $210,609,762

Robert Zemeckis' film about a dissatisfied teenager (Michael J. Fox) who cannot seem to escape his dead-end life in a small California town teams up with his scientist friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) as they spin a new twist to the classic "It's a Wonderful Life" theme. Aside from many catch phrases that endure to this day, and the DeLorean's iconic popularity, this movie dared audiences to believe we can make our futures brighter. Ronald Reagan, a fan of the film, referred to the movie in his 1986 State of the Union address when he said, "Never has there been a more exciting time to be alive, a time of rousing wonder and heroic achievement. As they said in the film 'Back to the Future,' 'Where we're going, we don't need roads.'"

4. "Ghostbusters," 1984; $229,242,989

Written by actors Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, this supernatural romp through New York brought us the talents of Bill Murray, Rick Moranis, Sigourney Weaver and a superb supporting cast. Although the movie prompted many spinoffs, including a newly announced "Ghostbusters III, which according to Aykroyd will start production in 2012, none of them have yet compared to the original. Almost as impressive in this case was the soundtrack. The title song, sung by Ray Parker Jr., can still be heard at almost any Halloween party across the country to this day.

3. "Raiders of the Lost Ark," 1981; $209,562,121

Set in the 1920s, Henry "Indiana" Jones led us on a worldwide chase for the mythical Lost Ark and foiled the plots of the Nazi regime along the way. He taught us fedoras were stylish, the good guys don't always have to rely on guns and archeology wasn't just for the science buffs. It's hard to decide which became more popular, the story itself or the props that found their way into popular culture.

2. "Return of the Jedi," 1983; $252,583,617

It's difficult to mention one of the "Star Wars" trilogy and not the others. While episode four, "A New Hope," was technically released in 1977, "The Empire Strikes Back" and "The Return of the Jedi" were both major influences in moviemaking and popular culture during the '80s. "The Empire Strikes Back" gave us new worlds to explore in stunning realism, and Lucas pushed those limits further with the last installment of this trilogy, signaling the end of the epic tale and the redemption and death of one of the most recognized villains of Hollywood, Darth Vader. The movies have since been re-released multiple times on every media format and have evolved into an immense and dedicated universe of fan fiction and loyal followers, including our local garrison of storm troopers, the Alpine Garrison of the 501st Legion (http://alpinegarrison.com/).

1. "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," 1982; $359,197,037

No list of '80s movies would be complete without Steven Spielberg's "E.T." It is a timeless story of friendship that transcends our own universe. It is the reason many children of that era owned Speak and Spells and caused the cultural assimilation of Reese's Pieces. "E.T." set the bar for what moviegoers expected out of a science fiction film, and to this day, it still tops many charts as one of the best sci-fi movies of all time.

Branden Hurst is a proud father of four who grew up outside of Utah - and the LDS faith. He has worked in the IT industry for over 14 years, but in his free time enjoys sharing in wholesome activities with his family.

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