Top 10 Awesomely Bad 80’s Movies

I love 80’s movies.  They remind me of staying up late with my brother during the summers, eating Cool Ranch Doritos and drinking Cokes (the snack of champions).  He and I would act out the scenes while they were playing on the screen: sometimes we would use ourselves, and sometimes we would use a cast of characters culled from my Barbies and his G.I. Joes.  We were obviously very cool.

I love 80’s movies so much, in fact, that I decided to make a list of my favorites (because I am obviously still very cool).  Here are my all-time top 10 awesomely bad 80’s movies:

10. Mannequin

Andrew McCarthy and a young, less slutty Kim Cattrall; what could be better?   Andrew McCarthy plays Jonathan Switcher, an artist who sucks at everything besides making mannequins and window displays.  It turns out that his favorite mannequin is actually possessed by an ancient Egyptian with a passion for fashion.  Together they make astonishing window displays for Prince & Company, a department store, much to the dismay of their clothing competition, Illustra.  Drama ensues, with young Jonathan caught in all sorts of compromising positions with his plastic love.   Best part of the movie? Creepy James Spader.

9. No Retreat, No Surrender

Jean-Claude, back in the heigh-day!  I have NO idea what I loved this movie so much as a kid; I suspect that I was heavily influenced by my Bruce Lee-loving brother.   Jason Stillwell, a kid whose dad was beat up by a gang of numchuk-wielders, moves to a new town only to become an instant target for bullies.  He somehow summons the ghost of Bruce Lee to train  him in the arts of karate, eventually using his new skills to save Seattle from a crime wave, lead by Jean-Claude.  So bad.  So awesome.

8. Splash

No compilation of bad 80’s movies would be complete without “Splash”.  Tom Hanks falls for a mermaid, who flashes the visitors at the Statue of Liberty and names herself Madison.  Here’s a bit of trivia: this movie was nominated for a Golden Globe AND an Oscar.  Bonus points if anyone can tell me what categories they were (without Google!).


Big Business

Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin….AND Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin!  In the 1940’s, two sets of identical twins are born in the same hospital, on the same night.   The nurse on duty accidentally switches the twins (not noticing, I suppose, that one identical twin  is small with dark hair, and the other chubby with red hair).  One set goes to live in the country with a poor family, and one to a rich family in the big city.  Fast forward to the 1980’s, when both sets of twins collide in an attempt to save a factory.  There’s a scene where Bette Midler sees her twin and assumes that it’s a mirror, which my brother and I repeatedly acted out.  No, we are not identical twins.

6. Twins

Arnold, before he was governor, and Danny, when he was still able to get acting jobs.  A set of super twins is created in a lab but separated at birth find each other, and attempt to find their birth mother.  Enter a young Kelly Preston and you’ve got yourself box office gold!

5. Vice Versa

Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage play a father and son who magically switch bodies.  Not to be confused with “Like Father, Like Son“, starring Kirk Cameron, which is basically the same thing.   Confession? I always thought that Judge Reinhold was kind of hot.

4.  Walk Like a Man

My brother and I freaking LOVED this movie.  Howie Mandel as a boy raised by wolves is reunited with his fancy family (hello, Christopher Lloyd!).   Howie can’t keep his canine instincts in check, so he runs amok among his rich relatives, chewing on furniture and chasing fire trucks.  There’s a pretty sweet scene where he gives (ahem, steals) a Teddy Ruxpin doll for a little girl that can’t afford it. Don’t judge; dogs don’t understand monetary value.

3.  The Secret of My Success

Who can resist Michael J. Fox?    MJF plays Brantley (totally awesome 80’s name), a young kid from the country who moves to the big city to  make his fortune.   He cons his way into his uncle’s firm, sleeps with his aunt, and  falls for Helen Slater.  A little like Oedipus, but what 80’s movie doesn’t have a Greek tragedy underlining?

2. License to Drive

The two Coreys.  Need I say more?  If you haven’t seen this movie, slap yourself and get on Netflix RIGHT THIS MINUTE.  By the way, I just this minute realized that Heather Graham played Mercedes Lane.   Wow.

And the number one AWESOMELY BAD 80’s MOVE IS………….

1. The Legend of Billie Jean

There are so many reasons that this movie made the top of my list.   First, it takes place in Corpus Christi, TX, and frankly, there are not a lot of good movies set in Texas.  Second, young Christian Slater is YUMMY.  Third, it’s about a rebellious teenage GIRL, and frankly teenage girls don’t get a lot of street cred.  I loved Billie Jean and totally wanted to be her. Maybe that’s why I keep chopping off my hair and only wearing one earring…..

In case any of you noticed the glaring absence of John Huges and John Cusack movies (and who wouldn’t?), it’s because never, under any circumstances, could a movie by John Hughes or starring John Cusack be considered “bad”.  Ever.

Now tell me your favorite awesomely bad 80’s movies!


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