The 1980’s was a decade where Hollywood produced a lot of great films that were aimed at a teenage audience. These teen movies resonated with most of us because our teenage years were the most angst-ridden and formative years of our lives.
The teen movies of the 1980’s vary in genre but they are all equally fascinating. It is also the decade that created a lot of iconic stars such as John Cusack, Molly Ringwald, Matthew Broderick, and more. Most of these iconic stars have had successful careers in film as they grew older. Aside from that, some of the teen movies of the ’80’s have also contributed big hits in the music industry. To know more about them, we’re giving you a list of the top 20 teen movies of the 1980’s.
1. The Lost Boys
This movie featured 1980’s promising artists including Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, Haim Corey, and Feldman Corey. The movie’s soundtrack also has songs by popular artists like INXS, Lou Gramm, and many more. The most popular song from this movie was “Good Times” by INXS. The Lost Boys is about two brothers who recently moved to a small beach town in Santa Carla, California but they found out that the local cool kids there are really a pack of vampires.
This movie gives you the 80’s feels, from the cast, soundtrack, fashion, and cinematography. It’s like a horror movie that has a MTV music video vibe. This movie shows us how entertainment in the 80’s was smoothly packaged for the teen audiences.
2. Better Off Dead
John Cusack stars this film as Lane Meyer, a teenage boy who made numerous funny and unsuccessful suicide attempts after the love of his life dumped him for the captain of the ski team. In an effort to take her girlfriend back, he challenges the guy to a ski race even if he did not know how to ski. The movie is known for its amusingly twisted world. Its soundtrack includes Neil Sedaka’s “Breaking Up is Hard to Do”, Hall and Oates’ “She’s Gone.”, and Paul Simon’s “Leave Your Lover.”
3. Sixteen Candles
Sixteen Candles is John Hughe’s first ever film. This movie is about a girl named Samantha Baker who is suffering from existential crisis because of what’s happening in her life. She has a crush on a popular, hot, and dashingly handsome senior, and the loser geek has a crush on her. Her family forgot that it is her sixteen birthday because they were all excited about her sister’s marriage. She also has embarrassing grandparents that has to stay over at their house because of her sister’s wedding. On top of that, they brought along a weird Chinese foreign exchange student with them and force Samantha to take him along with her on their senior dance night. Add this all up and you have the recipe for a hilarious ride to womanhood.
4. Can’t Buy Me Love
This movie is about a high school outcast boy named Ronald Miller who is struggling to get his way to the top of the school’s social ladder. One day, he had an idea to pay the school’s most popular girl, Cindy Mancini, a thousand dollars to pretend to be his girlfriend for one month. The plan worked and he instantly became popular but later on he realized that becoming popular has its negative side too. This movie will make you realize that it is important to be true to yourself and not let other people’s standards to have an effect on you. The film features The Beatle’s song of the same title “Can’t Buy Me Love” and Atlantic Starr’s “One Lover at a Time.”
This film stars Winona Rider who plays Veronica who is a member of the most popular girl group in school where all of them are named Heather except from her. She became tired of her clique’s snobbish, and stuck-up acts where they belittle and bully the less popular kids. That’s why she decided to get out of the group and team up with the school’s bad boy who is played by Christian Slater. Together, they set out to get vengeance for all the students that the Heather’s bullied. But things did not go as planned because they accidentally poisoned and killed one Heather and they staged the crime to make it look like it was a suicide.
This film features the song “Que Sera Sera” by Syd Straw and the song “Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It)” by the fictional band the Big Fun was written and produced especially for this movie.
6. Rumble Fish
This movie features Matt Dillion who plays as Rusty James, a young street hooligan that is taking care of his alcoholic dad and keeping up with his relationship with a high school girl played by Diane Lane. Rusty fears that he may never live up to be like his tough, well-respected older brother, Motorcycle Boy. On the other hand, Motorcycle Boy is dreaming to living a peaceful life. This movie features the song “Don’t Box Me In” which was composed by Stewart Copeland, the drummer of the band The Police.
7. My Bodyguard
My Bodyguard is a movie about a new kid in a Chicago high school named Clifford Peache who is played by Chris Makepeace. A cliché in all movies, the new kid is the subject of all the bullies. That’s why in this movie, Melvin Moody who is played by Matt Dillon, is out to give Clifford Peache the hardest school year of his life. And the fact that Clifford arrived for his first day at school in his dad’s company limousine doesn’t impress any of his classmates. After a few episode of bullying, Clifford asked Ricky Linderman, a large, tough, and said to be dangerous, class black sheep to be his bodyguard. Clifford and Ricky made a friendship that changed their lives. They both learned how to stand up for themselves and have a self and overcome their problems together.
8. Pretty in Pink
This movie gave people the perspective that going to the prom or a school dance is the biggest, hardest decision a teenager could ever make. Molly Ringwald stars as Andie a girl who came from a poverty-stricken home who has a best-friend named Duckie, a nerd who is not so secretly in love with her. Rich kid, Blane, asked Andie, a girl who has a crush on him to the prom. However, his best friend suggested that he take back his invitation because he thinks Andie is not good enough for their circle. This movie popularized the song “If You Leave” by the British Group Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.
9. Permanent Record
This movie features Keanu Reeves as Chris, a high school student whose best friend committed suicide. He is feeling guilty because he was not able to see the signs that his best friend is going through something. To give tribute to his best friend, he connived with his other friends to gave him a eulogy during a school production. Permanent Record was dubbed as one of the best films in 1988. It features songs from Joe Strummer such as “Trash City”, “Baby the Trans” and “Nothin ‘Bout Nothin’.”
10. The Karate Kid
This light, feel-good movie tells the story of Daniel, a bullied teenager who is learning martial arts with the help of their apartment building’s maintenance man named Mr. Miyagi. Daniel then competed and won against his rival in a karate championship. The movie’s soundtrack features songs like “The Moment of Truth” by Survivor and “Young Hearts” by Commuter.
11. Risky Business
Risky Business made the world sit down and notice Tom Cruise’s amazing talent. In this movie, he plays Joel, a teenager in Chicago who was left all alone in the house by his parents to go away on a trip. He got to excited about the fact that he will be left alone, he first raided his dad’s liquor cabinet and started dancing in the living room in his underwear. Joel decided to hire a call girl named Lana they went around town in his dad’s Porsche which ended up being driven down into a lake. He made love with Lana on a train car with Phil Collin’s song “In the Air Tonight” playing in the background.
12. Dirty Dancing
This movie is about a sweet daddy’s girl named Frances “Baby” Houseman who fell in love with a dance instructor named Johnny Castle while spending a holiday with her family in Upstate New York’s Catskill Mountains. Johnny’s partner accidentally got pregnant that’s why Baby fills in her part as Johnny’s partner and while practicing their dance routines, they fell in love.
This movie features songs such as “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes, “Some Kind of Wonderful” by The Drifters, and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.
13. Dead Poets Society
This movie is about a boy named Todd Anderson who has been sent to school where his older brother was the popular class valedictorian. He has a friend named Neil Perry who was smart and popular. They soon met the new English teacher, Professor Keating, who inspired them to go against the status quo and enlightens them about the Dead Poets Society. Each of them learned to spread their wings, chase their dreams, and more importantly, they learned how to seize the day.
14. Back to The Future 2
This movie picked up where Back to The Future ended which was after Marty, Doc, and Jennifer helped the future Marty and Jennifer with their children. But when the trio returned to 1985, they discovered that Biff Tanned transformed Hill Valley in to a mess. The only way to get things back to how they used to be is for them to go back to 1955.
15. Say Anything
Dubbed as one of the best teen romantic comedy in the 1980s, this movie features John Cusack playing the role of Lloyd Dobler, a freeloader who only has interest in kickboxing and Ione Skye who plays Diane Court, a class valedictorian. Together, they support each other in following their dreams despite of what everybody is saying against them. It popularized the song “All for Love” by Nancy Wilson.
16. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
This movie tells the story of Ferris Bueller wanting to take a day off from school. He established an incredible plan to achieve it. The connived with his best friend and girlfriend and went to Chicago. Together they try to be one step ahead of their obsessive school principal who is determined to catch them.
17. Weird Science
This movie is about two unpopular teenagers named Gary Wallace and Wyatt Donnefelly who is having a hard time being accepted by their peers. Desperate to be part of the clique, they created a living, breathing woman named Lisa through their computer. This boosted their confidence level and they pretended to act like men. On their way to becoming socially accepted they come across many funny circumstances. The movie’s soundtrack includes the song “Weird Science”.
18. Teen Wolf
Teen Wolf is about a struggling high school student named Scott Howard. He is having a hard time getting noticed by the pretty and popular girl in school, Pamela Wells. But something weird happens to him, he started to feel like a dog. He itches everywhere, his nails suddenly turned longer and sharper, and he feels alert whenever he hears a whistle. He discovered that he is half-human and half-wolf. He tried to keep it a secret at first but everything came out during a basketball game. This movie’s soundtrack features James House’s “Flesh on Fire” and “Big Bad Wolf” by The Wolf Sisters.
19. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
This movie follows the story of two teenagers who dreams to start their own rock and roll band. But unfortunately, they are on the verge of failing out of their high school if they don’t pass their history report. A mysterious man from the future came to help them with their report. So they set out on an adventure to gather historical things that they need to pass their report.
20. The Breakfast Club
This is probably one of the most popular movies from the 80s. This film tells the story of five teenagers who were forced to spend a Saturday in detention together. At first, they try to be what they are, a jock, a princess, a know it all, a rebel, and an outcast. But at the end of the day, they get to know who they really are and realized they have plenty of things in common. This movie features the songs “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by The Simple Minds, “Waiting” by Elizabeth Daily and “Fire in The Twilight” by Wang Chung.
These are the top 20 teen movies of the 80’s that will not just entertain you but also give you a glimpse of Hollywood’s view of life in the 1980s. So, which one of these movies would you like to see?