Home > Films, Opinion > Films of the 80s.

Films of the 80s.

Recently, I have watched a lot of films from the 1980s that have made me think, for the first time, “They don’t make ’em like they used to.” Films like The Lost Boys, Stand By Me and Back To The Future could not have been made in any other decade.  The tone of these films is oddly grown-up for what are otherwise kids’ movies. Stand By Me is about a group of young teenagers, but is peppered with shits and fucks, and is about going to find a dead body. The Lost Boys would be a perfect kids’ movie if it wasn’t about vampires. Having not seen it as a child, I don’t know if it scares kids, but I think it would have terrified me if I had seen it when I was younger – check out Kiefer Sutherland’s vampiric face. That’s a scary dude. Speaking of which, Kiefer defines these 80s movies for me. He was the perfect age, and had the perfect look, to be a dick; as he was in Stand By Me and The Lost Boys. Now he plays Jack Bauer on 24, and is completely unrecognisable from playing David, the most charismatic, evil bastard I’ve ever seen in a (sort of) kids’ movie, in The Lost Boys. Even Back To The Future was fucked up – it was essentially about a kid trying not to stop his own existence by keeping his teenage mother at arm’s length. Dark.

I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of weeks, since Stand By Me was on TV, and for the life of me I can’t work out why the 80s was responsible for so many great grown-up kids’ movies. Having not been born until 1988, I suppose I don’t have the greatest knowledge of the decade, and perhaps the secret lies in the vast ocean of information I don’t have about the 1980s. What I do have a knowledge of, however, is the 1990s and 2000s; 20 years in which we didn’t get any films that can compare to the likes of The Lost Boys or Back To The Future. I would perhaps put Groundhog Day in the same sort of bracket, but that was nowhere near as dark as its 1980s counterparts.

Despite my thinking about it and taking the time to write a blog post about it, I really have no conclusion that I can draw. All I can say is that I hope Hollywood rediscovers whatever it was that influenced these classics, because I would like more of them. And when I say more of them I don’t mean Lost Boys: The Tribe or Lost Boys: The Thirst. No amount of Corey Feldman can make me want to watch either of them.

  1. 13/09/2010 at 19:26

    I too long for the “old” days of movie making. The 80’s really did give us so many awesome movies and it is rather mysterious why. So much of the 80’s was cheesy, garish, and obnoxious in a way that has yet to be beat. And yet there was a vibrance, and a feeling of wonderment about so much of it. In films especially I think that this was partly because they were thinking big, but technologically they still had to do things on a small scale (relatively), by which I mean that they still had to do things ground level and couldn’t rely on computer generated images to do all the work. This resulted in a lot of hard work from effects people, set directors, art directors, and make up people. It also meant that things like acting, plot, story arch, character development, etc, were still hugely important in creating the universe of these films. Today I believe we are seeing (most of the time) the result of the laziness that too much technology has lead to. Because we can create settings and other effects with what amount to a few keystrokes so much gets left behind, and so much is taken for granted (for instance, the idea that if your film looks good, then it is good – a premise that is inherently wrong). The hard work, attention to detail, the somehow realistic feeling of many of the classic 80’s movies (your examples of The Lost Boys, and Back to the Future, along with many others including Teen Wolf, The Goonies, E.T., Ghostbusters, etc.) is gone now, and what we are left with too often are great looking, vacuous semblances of stories that are chronically uncompelling, and hugely unsatisfying.

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