Movies from the 80s We Love to Watch Ironically

Children of the ‘80s with a sense of humor all had a favorite ‘80s movie recorded on VHS tape. For guys, it might be Arnie fighting an invisible space demon in Predator; for ladies, it might be Patrick Swayze pulling Baby from her corner in Dirty Dancing. However, some of us have several awfully great turkeys we watch for laughs. Awkward acting, absurd one-liners, or just shocking set design — it didn’t matter: the ‘80s had some truly cringe-inducing flicks.

1. Roadhouse (1989)

Road House (1989) Patrick Swayze
Image Credit: United Artists.

Unsurprisingly, Hollywood has rejuvenated the late-decade Patrick Swayze’s classic Roadhouse into a Jake Gyllenhaal and Conor McGregor action movie. However, newcomers to this film should first enjoy Swayze’s New York martial arts expert and cooler James Dalton versus ‘80s villain-at-arms Ben Gazzara in their duel over a redneck nightclub.

2. Over The Top (1987)

Over the Top (1987) Sylvester Stallone
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Over The Top’s premise is the stuff of ‘80s legend — when lone wolf trucker Lincoln Hawk’s ex-wife reveals she has cancer, Hawk takes his estranged son on a road trip to Colorado, where Hawk’s quest is to win the World Arm Wrestling Championship. Oh, and did I mention Sylvester Stallone plays Lincoln Hawk? Picture the hero’s journey narrative, the spiteful son, and the freeze-frame victory shot at the end — Over The Top is pure ‘80s canon.

3. Lone Wolf McQuade (1983)

Lone Wolf McQuade (1983) Barbara Carrera, David Carradine, Chuck Norris
Image Credit: Orion Pictures.

The ‘70s was the golden age for kung fu movies, though the early ‘80s still had some demand. Thankfully, Chuck Norris was happy to oblige, bringing us Lone Wolf McQuade. The summary: Norris plays an aging Texas ranger (and martial arts expert) who lives with his wolf in the Texas desert. This loner gets into some strife on the Texas border before heading to El Paso and getting into more strife with local heavy and other martial arts expert David Carradine. If that premise doesn’t sell this movie, I don’t know what will.

4. Thrashing (1986)

Thrashin' (1986) Sherilyn Fenn, Pamela Gidley
Image Credit: Fries Entertainment.

The year after The Goonies was released, Josh Brolin followed the box office smash-up with the far superior skateboard film Thrashing. Of course, I am joking — Thrashing is the movie equivalent of a fish skateboard, replaced by a better-shaped deck at the end of the ‘80s. The decade’s serious skateboard movie was the later Gleaming the Cube, starring Christian Slater. I am not sure which aspect of Thrashing is the best: the fashion design, the one-liners, or the unironic skateboarding joust scene.

5. Caravan of Courage (1984)

The Ewok Adventure (1984)
Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

Before seeing the Disney-fication of the Star Wars franchise, many fans could agree that Caravan of Courage was the worst episode set in the George Lucas galaxy. Clearly, the movie was aimed at kids who loved Ewoks, namely Return of the Jedi’s cutest creature, Wicket. However, the spell was broken when the Ewoks started speaking in perfect English.

6. Above The Law (1988)

Above The Law
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Steven Seagal somehow emerged from the ‘80s as a bankable star. Maybe it was his mumbled voice; maybe it was his dry charm, but for the love of all things good, it wasn’t his fighting skills. Seagal’s Aikido retribution in Above the Law is nothing short of hilarious — he could have five men charging at him, but five flicks of the wrist and one sidestep later, they are in a heap behind him. Let’s give the man his due — Seagal won Hollywood.

7. Rhinestone (1984)

Rhinestone (1984) Sylvester Stallone, Dolly Parton
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing a friend’s face the first time they watch Rhinestone due to the sheer audacity of this movie. Whoever thought to put Sylvester Stallone in a fish-out-of-water tale about a grumpy cab driver turned country music singer is either a fool or a genius. If seeing the worst-fitting country singer isn’t cringe enough, Dolly Parton is the Gandalf to Stallone’s Frodo in this unwatchable must-see comedy.

8. Scarface (1983)

Scarface (1983) Al Pacino
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Brian De Palma’s classic Scarface is a great movie in itself, but the final third is pure comedy gold, featuring Al Pacino at his insane finest. Kids who weren’t old enough to watch Tony Montana introduce his “little friend” to the Feds in the early ‘80s feasted on this movie through the next decade — and the one after. Any film that created a trope is one to cherish.

9. Commando (1985)

Commando (1985) Arnold Schwarzenegger
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

We all knew Arnie would make an appearance somewhere; the question would always be, “Which Arnie movie?” Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the one-liner-rich Commando takes the top spot. Of course, Conan the Barbarian comes a close second, but Commando’s amazing dialogue (“Don’t disturb my friend; he’s dead tired.”) and action set pieces win the award: “Let off some steam, Bennett.”

10. Revenge of the Nerds (1984)

Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Behold the slacker comedy Revenge of the Nerds, an underrated comedy with some of the era’s goofiest characters. A group of freshmen nerds struggle to pledge for any fraternity, so they start their own. However, the poor group is thwarted by the inevitable jock antagonists, who burn their frat house down. If anything, the discerning comedy fan should watch this classic for the talent show scene alone — it will not disappoint.


The Fugutive
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.


+ posts