By BRUCE HARDT
There is an odd timelessness about films from the 1980s, a bygone era when movies just seemed to be a hell of a lot more fun.
Love and care went into these adventures. The stories often pit normalcy against the supernatural, or loners finding their way in fantasy. Quotable, kitschy and wondrous, films like these haven’t come around lately, so let us bow our heads and geek out.
10. “The Gate”
It’s not every day that you find the gate to hell in your backyard. “The Gate” is not the cheese fest it sounds like, either. The film enacts its horror through visual flair, offering some of the best special effects of its time. It also marked the screen debut of Stephen Dorff.
9. “The Goonies”
Likely the kingpin of childhood memory movies, “The Goonies” defines adventure. If you haven’t heard of the “Truffle Shuffle” or One-eyed Willy’s treasure, then you didn’t have much of a childhood. Since you’re reading this paper, I’ll assume you leave the house occasionally and need no explanation for how cool this movie is.
Fantasy and reality meld in Jim Henson’s “Labyrinth,” a puppet-centric masterpiece led by an uber-whiney Jennifer Connelly and devious David Bowie. As the Goblin King, Bowie fills “Labyrinth” with cliché, catchy tunes. Feel no shame about breaking into a random “Dance Magic, Dance” rendition. I know I don’t.
7. “The Monster Squad”
It’s “The Goonies” with monsters, pitting a horror-obsessed gang of suburban preteens against Dracula and his assembly of classic fiends. Complete with PTA-riling violence, “Monster Squad” boasts impressive gore for the family-friendly romp it pretends to be. Don’t be fooled. Give this film a swift kick to discover that it’s got some big nards.
6. “The Neverending Story”
Take all the magic and imagination of half the movies on this list, mix them up and you get the “The Neverending Story.” The film succeeds by making its world, Fantasia, believable. It does so through brilliant effects, storytelling and music. All the better, it stresses the importance of reading. Considering what you’re doing right now, it seems to work.
Simple title, not-so-simple movie. Director Ridley Scott brings to life a classic fantasy unlike any other. “Legend” takes the form to dizzyingly beautiful heights as Scott moves this painting through spectrums of blinding light and swelling darkness. Despite an unsurprisingly bland performance from a young Tom Cruise, “Legend” is redeemed with its folkish story, atmosphere and a devilish performance by Tim Curry.
4. “Return of the Living Dead”
A crown gem of not only cheesy ‘80s horror but also zombie films in general, “Return” blends gore and camp with jaw-dropping ease. The “other sequel” to 1968’s classic “Night of the Living Dead,” it is the source of the brain-craving undead cliché. “Return” laughs when you shoot it, and requires an endless buffet of paramedics. It is one of hell of a dead time.
3. “The Lost Boys”
The king of all vampire movies. “Lost Boys” turns vampire traditions on their head in the most entertaining fashion. As an ‘80s relic, this film shines. Jason Patric’s Michael is new to the fictional beachside California town of Santa Carla and quickly learns that it is overrun with vampire biker gangs led by the demonic, charming Kiefer Sutherland. “The Lost Boys” has everything: a memorable soundtrack, the “two Coreys” and vampires’ pre-late 2000s neutering.
2. “The Terminator”
If you don’t know about this movie, please move on and stop wasting my time. James Cameron’s first successful foray into science-fiction is arguably his best film. Very few movies accomplish what “The Terminator” does, wrapping edge-of-your-seat action, a poignant story and gripping performances in one neat package. Ah-nuld is an obvious highlight, but the tender love story, time paradox craziness and synthesized score make it a force-to-be-reckoned with.
1. “Blade Runner”
Director Ridley Scott does sci-fi better than anyone. “Alien” was terrifying, “Prometheus” ambitious, but “Blade Runner” is all that and so much more. It presents a thoroughly realized vision of the future and a mind-twisting breach of human law. Bleak and hopeful, dark and shining, “Blade Runner” is the definition of film as art. Rutger Hauer’s performance as an android seeking salvation and humanity is electrifying. Sporting a densely layered narrative, “Blade Runner” has much to say and even more to show.