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20 of the Best Movies From 1984 — Celebrating Their 40th Anniversary This Year!

A guide to the blockbusters that grabbed viewers' imaginations and still haven't let go!

The year 1984 brought us some of the best entertainment of the golden ‘80s — wait, was that really 40 years ago? Many movies from 1984 are now classics, so we can overlook the passage of four decades because the appeal of a classic movie is timeless. We can still giggle, swoon, gasp or hide under a blanket when we re-watch them — or maybe, for some of us, watch ones we missed the first time around.

Here are 20 of our favorite movies from 1984, in chronological order based on release date. Get ready for a trip down memory lane!

Footloose: Movies from 1984

In February of 1984, we fell in love with Kevin Bacon as Ren McCormack in Footloose, and the phenomenal soundtrack has remained a beloved staple in our music collections ever since.

Footloose captures the fighting spirit of adolescence and the beauty and freedom of dance, which an ultra-conservative town bans due to strict religion. We cheer on Ren as they fight, and our hearts melt when the teens finally get their prom at the end of the movie.

MUST-READ: See the 1984 Cast of Footloose Then and Now

Against All Odds

In Against All Odds, a garden-variety jealous ex has nothing on the ruthless gangster who hires an ex-football player to find his girlfriend. But when Terry (Jeff Bridges) finds Jessie (Rachel Ward), he falls in love with her and things get rather complicated, suspenseful and heartbreaking.

Film critic Roger Ebert said this about Against All Odds: “There have been too many sweet girls in thrillers. What we need are more no-good, double-dealing broads who can cross their legs and break your heart. Against All Odds has a woman like that, and it makes for one of the most intriguing movie relationships in a long time.”

Splash: Movies from 1984

In Splash, a romantic comedy with an element of fantasy, a man (Allen, played by Tom Hanks) falls in love with a mermaid (Madison, played by Daryl Hannah). After numerous challenges, including said mermaid getting captured and trapped in an aquarium like a clownfish, Allen comes around and realizes that, extreme complications aside, he wants to be with his part-fish lady love. So, he jumps after her into the New York Harbor at the end of the movie, and the two presumably go on to live happily ever after among coral reefs underwater.

MUST-READ: Splash — Catch Up with the Cast of the 1984 Magical Mermaid Rom-Com

Police Academy

It may not be high-brow cinema, but Police Academy has a cult following and spawned six sequels precisely because of its crass, screwball nature. Steve Guttenberg stars as the vulgar but funny Carey Mahoney, ringleader of a group of incompetents who enroll in training to become cops, with mayhem inevitably ensuing.

MUST-READ: Police Academy Turns 40 — See the Cast Then and Now

Romancing the Stone: Movies from 1984

Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner star as a very odd couple matched during a dangerous jungle adventure in the delightful Romancing the Stone. The ‘80s were big on adventure movies like this one and, while some have accused Romancing the Stone of being a ripoff of Raiders of the Lost Ark, the script predates Indiana Jones, so it is original.

MUST-READ: Romancing the Stone Is Turning 40! Read 10 Little-Known Facts About The 80s Adventure

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Despite the obviously erroneous title — the never-ending hockey-masked slasher series has gone way beyond this supposed ending — Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is still terrific ‘80s horror with just the right amount of scares, campiness and special effects. As a preteen boy, Corey Feldman plays Tommy Jarvis, the kid who finally kills Jason with a machete in the head and stops his reign of terror. Well, temporarily anyway. Tommy undoes his good deed as a foolish adult two sequels later, but that’s another story.

Sixteen Candles: Movies from 1984

One of John Hughes’ best movies, capturing the angst and comedy of adolescence in Generation X, is Sixteen Candles, a movie that was so relatable — beyond the fact that not many teens have had their parents and grandparents forget their birthday.

And while this is exactly what happens to Samantha (Molly Ringwald), most of us can relate to having a crush on an unattainable classmate like Jake (Michael Schoeffling), and dealing with the annoying freshman geek (Anthony Michael Hall). Did many of us have a happy ending when said crush, senior to our sophomore, showed up at our houses in a sports car on our forgotten birthday, and shared a kiss over a lit cake? Nah, but we young gals could dream when watching Sixteen Candles.

MUST-READ: 16 Fascinating Facts About the Sixteen Candles Cast

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Many of us saw Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when we were in elementary school, and we got spooked by some gruesome images. That’s why this movie — along with the same year’s Gremlins — was the impetus for the future PG-13 rating, because it was too violent for a PG rating, but not violent enough for an R rating.

That historic fact aside, the sophomore movie of what was for a long time the Indiana Jones trilogy is the blast we expect from our Indy. In this adventure, the archaeologist’s adrenaline-filled adventure takes place in India. Rather than a temple full of snakes like in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones has to pass through a chamber of giant, creepy insects in this sequel (among many other challenges).

Ghostbusters: Movies from 1984

Who you gonna call? Oh, that catchphrase was unforgettable, and Ray Parker Jr.’s megahit theme song to match the movie Ghostbusters is just so catchy. (Forgive us for the earworm.) Ghostbusters – with stars including Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Sigourney Weaver, and Ernie Hudson – was the No. 1 movie of 1984, raking in some $229 million at the box office and spawning several sequels and a remake.

The parapsychologists who start the ghost-removal service in New York City, as Parker sang, “ain’t afraid of no ghost.” In this movie, we ain’t too scared either, as the ghosts are more funny than scary (who could forget the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man?) All around, Ghostbusters is rip-roaring fun and fully earned its No. 1 status.

MUST-READ: Who Ya Gonna Call? See the Ghostbusters 1984 Cast Then and Now


Steven Spielberg’s mildly scary but cute Gremlins came out in June of 1984, but the movie takes place at Christmas time, and the opening scene features the song Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Darlene Love.

So, think about watching this one in December with hot cocoa by your Christmas tree. But these malevolent, mischievous monsters unleashed on a small town after an exotic pet owner inadvertently breaks rules are entertaining any time.

MUST-READ: Cast of Gremlins — See the Stars of the Madcap ’80s Horror-Comedy Then and Now

The Karate Kid: Movies from 1984

Ralph Macchio became a teen heartthrob when The Karate Kid came out, and kicked off a beloved franchise that includes several sequels and the TV series Cobra Kai. We root for Daniel LaRusso the entire movie as the transplanted kid facing bullies in his new school in Los Angeles.

A martial arts master — Mr. Miyagi, played by Pat Morita, who died in 2005 — teaches karate to Daniel. The boy’s training culminates in the goosebump-inducing karate match backed by the motivating song “You’re the Best Around” by Joe Esposito. And oh, indeed, that scene is the best.

MUST-READ: The Karate Kid Turns 40 This Year — See the Cast Then and Now

Bachelor Party

Just three months after Tom Hanks’ starring role in Splash, the wholesome actor appears in a role seemingly out of character for him: party animal Rick Gassko in Bachelor Party, a very R-rated, risqué flick featuring Rick as the groom-to-be.

His friends throw him an outrageous bachelor party with ladies of the night, which jeopardizes Rick’s relationship with anxious fiance Debbie (Tawny Kitaen), to say the least. Will this marriage happen? Bachelor Party, while raunchy, can be both entertaining and a warning to engaged women about these pre-wedding male rituals.

The Muppets Take Manhattan: Movies from 1984

Jim Henson’s Muppets on the big screen started with The Muppet Movie in 1979, followed by The Great Muppet Caper in 1981. In 1984, we got the third entry in the series with The Muppets Take Manhattan.

Always a hoot, the gang — including beloved key characters like Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, and Gonzo — graduates from college and heads to the Big Apple to break into show business. After numerous mishaps, they finally sell their show to a producer willing to take a chance on this wacky crew. Outside of the Muppets, the human cast includes stars Liza Minnelli, Brooke Shields, and Joan Rivers.

Purple Rain

Prince starred in the musical drama Purple Rain, which found an instant audience from fans of his music. He plays a young guy simply known as The Kid, a Minneapolis musician trying to escape an abusive home life through music. The film, semi-autobiographical, is sensual, and poignant. Purple Rain won a well-deserved Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song Score.

MUST-READ: Purple Rain — 18 Surprising Behind-the-Scenes Facts About the Hit Movie

The NeverEnding Story: Movies from 1984

The bizarre but enchanting fantasy of The NeverEnding Story brought us to a mythical place where a young boy — Bastian, played by Barret Oliver — enters this fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book with the German title Die Unendliche Geschichte, interacting with odd people and weird creatures. The NeverEnding Story is based on the bestselling book of the same name by German author Michael Ende, who died in 1995.

Revenge of the Nerds

Don’t pick on geeks — it will come back to bite you! That’s the message of Revenge of the Nerds, a rowdy comedy that is full of cartoonish satire that is nonetheless entertaining. Dorky college freshmen Gilbert (a young Anthony Edwards, a decade before his debut as Dr. Mark Greene in ER) and Lewis (Robert Carradine) get bullied by the jock fraternity when they arrive at Adams College. But the jerky jocks don’t have the last laugh here, as the nerds form their own fraternity and fight back. The movie’s title says it all.

Amadeus: Movies from 1984

The life of Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is one of the most profound in music history. While the movie Amadeus contained many fictionalized elements, it still captured the essence and tragedy of this musical genius, vivaciously played by Tom Hulce.

As the tagline says, “The Man … The Music … The Madness … The Murder … The Motion Picture …” The classical music is spectacular, and the still-available Amadeus original soundtrack recording is a great buy for fans seeking a core Mozart collection.

The Terminator

Arnold Schwarzenegger gets his big break in The Terminator, which kicks off another franchise. In this sci-fi/action film, Schwarzenegger plays the title character, a cyborg assassin from the year 2029 disguised as a man.

The Terminator is sent to 1984 to kill the woman carrying a baby who will someday save mankind from extinction. Wait, 2029? The movie doesn’t seem quite so futuristic and sci-fi now, does it?

A Nightmare on Elm Street: Movies from 1984

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you; three, four, better lock your door … Aye. As if locking our doors would do any good in battling the literal man of our dreams, Freddy Krueger. The second stanza of this chilling nursery rhyme from A Nightmare on Elm Street is such a moot point, isn’t it?

While the numerous sequels in the late ‘80s and ‘90s got campier and Freddy became more of a joke-cracking ghoul like the Crypt Keeper on Tales from the Crypt, Freddy (Robert Englund) in the original Nightmare is terrifying. Wes Craven’s creation became one of the most iconic horror series in all filmdom.

MUST-READ: The Best Classic Horror Movies from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, Ranked

Beverly Hills Cop

Tough, foulmouthed Detroit cop Axel Foley, completely out of place in ritzy Southern California, meets us in Beverly Hills Cop, a wild comedy-adventure with the instrumental theme song “Axel F” by Harold Faltermeyer playing constantly (there’s another earworm for you.)

Eddie Murphy is hysterical as Foley with his wacky laugh, and Judge Reinhold is endearing as Detective Billy Rosewood. Besides being a hit movie followed by two sequels, Beverly Hills Cop offers one of the best movie soundtracks from the ‘80s. As Glenn Frey sang: The heat is on!

MUST-READ: Beverly Hills Cop 1984 — See the Stars Then and Now, Plus Insider Info on the Fourth Movie

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