Let’s face it, the eighties were a grand time for the fantasy genre. Surely, comedy and horror had their days, but fantasy is what I mostly remember. As a kid my parents kept me from watching the more hardcore horror films until I was old enough to handle them, so most of the time I retreated to fantasy. They had distant lands, monsters, demons, and ghosts just the same. And often they were as violent as horror films were. My time spent watching movies were mainly spent with films from the 1980’s, and it’s no surprise that most of my fantasy favorites are from that fun decade. Here are five of my favorite fantasy films of the 80’s. And no, they haven’t aged a bit.
5. Clash of the Titans (1981)
Ever since I was a kid, I loved the Greek and Roman myths about Gods, Goddess and the Gorgons. I also had a very passionate love for Ray Harryhausen’s special effects. It’s no surprise that “Clash of the Titans” holds a special place in my heart as a fun, exciting, and incredible epic fantasy that has barely aged. Centered on Perseus, he is forced to evade evade the sea goddess Thetis’ forces while working with his father, the almighty Zeus, to find and save the Queen Andromeda. While “Clash” apes some of the George Lucas style with a mechanical side kick in the form of the owl Bubo, it also garners some excellent variations on the classic monsters, including the Kraken, and the still menacing snake haired Medusa.
4. Ghostbusters (1984)
One of the many classic films with various labels, “Ghostbusters” is a childhood favorite that hasn’t lost a bit of its luster. Many decades later, it’s a fun, funny, and creepy look at four underdog heroes that taken on two enormous forces of evil to save New York City. The high pedigree of writing and comedic talent make “Ghostbusters” that multi-faceted film that’s suitable for all audiences, but never feels broad, or touted to the low brow. Four scientists and paranormal investigators decide to take their practice in public by building nuclear operated weapons that can catch demons and ghosts. But when an evil demon is unearthed, it’s up to them to stop it from consuming New York. Incredibly quotable, funny, and filled with iconic moments, this is a timeless film that also drips with eighties nostalgia.
3. Gremlins (1984)
It’s mainly identified as a horror movie by most movie fans, but it was a genuinely great fantasy film when I was growing up. It’s a horror comedy, no doubt, but it can be branded for all kinds of occasions. Maybe it’s a Christmas movie, maybe it’s a family film, maybe it’s a horror comedy. Either way, it’s a great film with a ton of mythos behind it. After Billy is given a mysterious creature named a Mogwai by his father, he’s tasked with caring for the cute creature. Given a specific set of rules, he accidentally gets it wet, spawning clones of the cute creature. Sadly, they begin souring over time and turn in to violent gremlins that wreak havoc all over Billy’s town. Now Billy and his Mogwai (nicknamed “Gizmo”) must find out how to stop the hordes of evil demons. It’s a cute, menacing, and fun gem from Joe Dante, who creates an instantly iconic movie villain and underdog hero.
2. Flash Gordon (1980)
Call it what you want, but this is one of my favorite fantasy films ever made, and one of my favorite action films of all time. Surely, it’s acknowledged mainly for its excellent score from Queen, and its camp, but for me, it was a bonafide good time.From the time I was a kid all through my adult hood, “Flash Gordon” hasn’t lost a bit of its punch. From the charismatic Sam Jones as the titular Flash, Max Von Sydow as Ming, to Ornella Muti as the insanely lusty Princess Aura, the adaptation of the serial is still filled with fun action, great performances, and should act as a template for a reboot. The eighties flair is optional, but the camp, and whimsical adventure in space should be used in full force.
1. The Neverending Story (1984)
It’s a movie that influences viewers to read books and go on their own adventures, and it’s a great look at traveling in to a world that’s horrifying, harrowing, and yet awe inspiring. “The Neverending Story” always hooked me in from the moment we met Bastian, he’s a sad and lonely boy, tormented by bullies. After stealing a book from his local shop, he locks himself in to a hideaway in his school and loses himself in the book. “The Neverending Story” is still a magical and incredible tale of Atreyu, who is tasked with fighting the “nothingness” from taking over the land of Fantasia. Filled with amazing side characters, “The Neverending Story” always left me smiling in pure giddiness as Bastian and Falcor rode away on another adventure. I always wanted my own Falcor.