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15 Best '80s Movies On Hulu [December 2021]

There's just something about '80s movies that makes them special. An era defined by recklessness, cockiness, and sheen, it's when some of the most important filmmakers of the 20th century came into their own or turned out some of their best work. It's also the time that spawned numerous, major A-list actors, many of whom are still sitting on top of the Hollywood hill.

Until the '80s, a film fan's options were fairly limited — if a movie looked interesting, they'd better have seen it in the theater, or they'd miss it forever, hoping it would run as a "movie of the week" on a broadcast network years later. Of course, these days, streaming services like Hulu offer all kinds of entertainment — including vintage '80s films — for not much money and for a few clicks. Here are the best '80s movies currently available on Hulu.

Updated on November 29, 2021: Hulu regularly adds and drops movies to its catalog, so we'll keep this list updated to reflect those changes. Be sure to check back each month for the most radical and excellent '80s films on Hulu.

All the Right Moves

"All the Right Moves" captures the feeling of early 1980s America at a crossroads moment. It's set in a Pennsylvania steel mining town that's fallen into steep decline, like so many other similar communities at the time. And that's the backdrop and motivation for Stefan, a local varsity football star on track to get a scholarship that will get him out of his hometown and save his future. But the world of high-stakes, high-level, high school football can be a tenuous situation, and his willfulness gets the best of Stefan (Tom Cruise, in one of his first big roles) when a fight with his demanding coach loses him his spot on the team and potentially his chance to play college ball.

  • Starring: Tom Cruise, Craig T. Nelson, Lea Thompson
  • Director: Michael Chapman
  • Year: 1983
  • Runtime: 91 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 61%

Back to School

The incomparable and singular Rodney Dangerfield, after decades of plying his trade as a stand-up comedian whose schtick was muttering self-deprecating one-liners about how he got "no respect" from anybody, became one of the most popular comics of the 1980s. And Hollywood capitalized on the public's goodwill by placing him at the center of films like where he basically got to do his crackling, rapid-fire act for 90 minutes within the context of a fictional situation. 

In "Back to School," Dangerfield plays Thornton Melon, the gregarious, rough-around-the-edges, millionaire owner of a chain of big-and-tall stores who's also putting his beloved son, Jason, through college. But when Jason doesn't fit in at school and hates it, his father decides to encourage him by enrolling in the same college and finally getting his degree. In the meantime, he becomes the most popular student on campus and its wildest party animal. When watching, be sure to keep an eye out for a young Robert Downey Jr. and William Zabka.

  • Starring: Rodney Dangerfield, Keith Gordon, Sally Kellerman
  • Director: Alan Metter
  • Year: 1986
  • Runtime: 96 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Children of the Corn

Frequently remade and sequelized, no film bearing the title "Children of the Corn" is as freaky or as haunting as the original movie, adapted from a short story by the master of literary horror, Stephen King. Perhaps it's because "Children of the Corn" trades heavily in doom and dread while also utilizing several tried-and-true scary movie tropes. For example, it all gets underway with a happy and oblivious couple, a doctor named Burt and his partner, Vicky, driving to a new home when they're waylaid in the middle of nowhere by alarming events. After discovering a small dead body on the road, they find themselves trapped in a spooky little burg populated entirely by children. Even spookier, they're all affirmed acolytes of Isaac, an evil minister and a child himself, who commands his followers to sacrifice Burt and Vicky to their unholy object of worship.

  • Starring: Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, John Franklin
  • Director: Fritz Kiersch
  • Year: 1984
  • Runtime: 92 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 33%

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark

Cassandra Peterson was among the most famous women in America in the 1980s, portraying on-screen and off Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. As Elvira, a parody of 1950s horror movie TV show hosts, Peterson hosted scary flicks on television herself, but she was so funny and charming that her character has popped up in all kinds of TV shows, commercials, and in 1988, her very own feature film, which grew into a cult comedy classic. 

In "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark," Elvira quits her job as a horror movie host following some unwelcome advances by a new station owner. She plans to raise money to take her act to Las Vegas, and as luck would have it, it's right then that she finds out she's set to inherit a fortune — and a poodle and sprawling mansion — from a dead aunt in Massachusetts. So Elvira heads back east, where the uptight locals don't care for the new arrival's low-cut dresses and progressive attitudes. Meanwhile, she's also got to deal with a disgruntled uncle, a secret warlock who means to kill Elvira and take over the world.

The Fly

Filmmaker David Cronenberg is a pioneer in the deeply unsettling but captivating subgenre of body horror, in which the menace, chaos, and destruction comes from within, with the protagonist's body usually turning on itself and transforming into a monster of some kind. That's the case with the creepy and intimate sci-fi horror "The Fly." 

A remake of a B-movie from the '50s, this version features Jeff Goldblum as brilliant, driven scientist Seth Brundle, who experiences the negative biological effects of technology when he uses himself as a test subject for his teleportation machine. In the process, a common fly enters the device, and the unproven tech melds the two living things together. Eventually, and through the eyes of audience surrogate and Brundle's girlfriend, Veronica (Geena Davis), he quickly evolves into a disgusting human-fly hybrid abomination.

  • Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz
  • Director: David Cronenberg
  • Year: 1986
  • Runtime: 96 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Friday the 13th

It's the film that began a nearly endless and often-imitated franchise of formulaic slasher movies, but "Friday the 13th" bears little resemblance to the horror entries it inspired. For example, Jason Voorhees, the machete-wielding undead monster in a hockey goalie mask, isn't the villain in the first "Friday the 13th." Plus, the film is the original source of a number of horror movie tropes. For example, it takes place at a remote summer camp in the woods that locals say is haunted because of all the deaths that occur there, but the teenage counselors, hormonally driven to get into each other's bunks, don't much care for all that nonsense. But then they start getting brutally and graphically murdered by an unstoppable killing force, one driven by a deep-seated sense of vengeance.

  • Starring: Kevin Bacon, Adrienne King, Betsy Palmer
  • Director: Sean S. Cunningham
  • Year: 1980
  • Runtime: 95 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

The two young stars of this old '80s slumber party favorite grew up to be entertainment icons. Sarah Jessica Parker starred on "Sex and the City," and Helen Hunt won an Oscar and a slew of Emmys. But back in the day, they anchored "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," a giddy, free-spirited buddy movie and an ode to friendship. Parker plays Janey, a budding gymnast living under the strict rules and structure of her Army colonel dad. But when she moves to a new town and new school, where she's quickly befriended by wild child Lynne (Hunt), she rebels and signs up for a TV dance show. Here, she'll deal with challenges tougher than her father, like navigating a crush on her dance partner and dealing with the other dancer who will stop at nothing to get Janey kicked off the show.

  • Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Helen Hunt, Jonathan Silverman
  • Director: Alan Metter
  • Year: 1985
  • Runtime: 87 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 38%

Heathers

It's one of the most devastating and vicious comedies ever made, a satire of the brutal social hierarchy of high school as well as a takedown of the commodification of the suffering of young people. But "Heathers" is also a showcase for two of the most charismatic, dynamic, and talented performers of the 1980s in Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. 

Here, Ryder plays Veronica, a teenager of above-average intelligence who dumbs herself down and means herself up to hang out with Westerberg High's most popular clique — three girls, all named Heather, all cruel. Then brooding, wisecracking, troubled Jason Dean moves to town and convinces Veronica to help him liberate the school by killing off the Heathers. As her guilt grows, the deaths are exploited for profits and attention, but Veronica will have to stop Jason from an even more chilling act of violence.

Jagged Edge

Harkening back to classic film noir, a new genre called the "erotic thriller" emerged from Hollywood in the 1980s. These films combined twist-filled, high-stakes mysteries involving wealthy people, secret murderers, and artful — if not explicit — scenes of an adult nature featuring individuals who should be involved with one another getting extremely personal. 

Released in 1985, "Jagged Edge" bears some similarities to more famous erotic thrillers like "Body Heat" or "Basic Instinct," but it features a big courtroom drama element. California socialite Paige Forrester is stabbed to death in her beach house, and her husband, rich publisher Jack Forrester, is arrested for the crime. So, he hires high-powered defense attorney Teddy Barnes to prove his supposed innocence, in spite of (or because of) their powerful attraction to one another, which will only complicate things as the shocking and sordid details of the case unfold.

  • Starring: Glenn Close, Jeff Bridges, Peter Coyote
  • Director: Richard Marquand
  • Year: 1985
  • Runtime: 108 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

Racing with the Moon

"Racing with the Moon" is a bittersweet period piece about small-town California teenagers preparing to ship off with the Marines to fight in World War II, but this drama also served as a showcase for some of the most promising actors of the '80s generation, namely Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage, and Elizabeth McGovern. 

Best friends Henry (Penn) and Nicky (Cage) are trying to enjoy their final weeks before deployment, and with it comes adulthood. Nash sets his seduction sights on new-in-town Caddie (McGovern), mistakenly believing her to be wealthy because she lives in a fancy manor, only to genuinely fall in love with her anyway. Nicky also learns that his girlfriend is pregnant, and in raising needed funds for that situation, he drags Henry and Caddie into making regretful decisions.

  • Starring: Sean Penn, Elizabeth McGovern, Nicolas Cage
  • Director: Richard Benjamin
  • Year: 1984
  • Runtime: 108 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 60%

Silverado

"Silverado" is rough-and-tumble Western that walks a fine line between violent drama and fun adventure, and it features an ensemble cast of recognizable and reliable character actors and movie stars, all of whom are clearly having a wonderful time making an old-fashioned John Wayne/Clint Eastwood movie like they all grew up watching. 

Set in the 1880s, the story follows a group of maverick cowboys and outcasts who join forces as they head to the town of Silverado, where they hope to start new lives. However, once they arrive, these do-gooders have to contend with a crooked sheriff and a nefarious land baron, both of whom have tangled with our heroes before. The result is a film that Roger Ebert described as having "some of the same reckless brilliance" as "Raiders of the Lost Ark." After all, it's directed by Lawrence Kasdan, the same guy who wrote the script for Indiana Jones' most famous film.

  • Starring: Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner
  • Director: Lawrence Kasdan
  • Year: 1985
  • Runtime: 132 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%

Some Kind of Wonderful

John Hughes ruled the '80s with films like "The Breakfast Club" and "Pretty in Pink" — movies made for teens that took their characters and audiences seriously and sensitively while also pointing out and exploring the economic and class divides of the era. "Some Kind of Wonderful" isn't as well known or beloved as most of Hughes' other '80s teen dramedies, but all the elements for greatness and memorability are present. 

Keith is an overly mature, working-class high schooler in love with Amanda, a popular rich kid. He enlists his best friend, a cool drummer named Watts, to win her heart, much to the chagrin of pretty much everyone. And that only gets worse when Watts realizes she has feelings beyond friendship for Keith and when Keith blows his college savings on jewelry for the aloof Amanda.

  • Starring: Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, Lea Thompson
  • Director: Howard Deutsch
  • Year: 1987
  • Runtime: 95 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

With the first "Star Trek" movie brushing off any doubts that a cerebral, initially unpopular, dated-looking sci-fi show could make it as a film franchise a decade after the fact, the big-budget adventures of the U.S.S. Enterprise kicked into hyper-speed with "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." In this chapter of the ongoing saga, Admiral Kirk and Captain Spock teach future explorers at Starfleet Academy, but they're pressed back into deep-space service after two officers are kidnapped by Khan, a frightening villain and Kirk's oldest nemesis. One member of the old "Star Trek" cast in particular will feel the wrath of Khan.

  • Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Ricardo Montalban
  • Director: Nicholas Meyer
  • Year: 1982
  • Runtime: 113 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

The Untouchables

Why did 1990s Hollywood churn out so many big-screen remakes of mid-20th century TV shows? Because 1987's "The Untouchables" was an impeccable action film. An elevated version of its 1950s-era predecessor of the same name, this blockbuster was brought to life by acclaimed filmmaker Brian De Palma, with a script from Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet. 

Based on real-life events, "The Untouchables" is a deadly, high-stakes, cat-and-mouse game between authorities and organized crime bosses in Chicago during the 1930s. Al Capone's enterprise keeps the city stocked with illegal alcohol during Prohibition while federal agent Eliot Ness obsessively undertakes whatever methods he needs to eliminate Capone, including recruiting an all-star team of honest lawmen.

Young Guns

"Young Guns" is an old-fashioned, dusty, shoot-'em-up Western like Hollywood churned out with voluminous regularity in the 1940s and 1950s. However, this film has a definitive '80s flair and sheen, as all the characters are as young, cocky, quippy, and casually adversarial as they would be in an '80s high school comedy (which many actors here previously starred in). 

Set in picturesque New Mexico in the 1870s, a kindly British rancher hires a bunch of wayward young men with nowhere to go and gives them a new lease on life as helpers on his property. But when he's shot and killed by his rival, the young hands become young guns, led by Billy the Kid as they ride out on a mission to deliver frontier justice to avenge the death of their father figure.

  • Starring: Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips
  • Director: Christopher Cain
  • Year: 1988
  • Runtime: 102 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 41%