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21 Best '80s Movies On Amazon Prime

On the whole, the 1980s was a wonderful period in filmmaking. Some of the most innovative, iconic, and beloved movies Hollywood would ever produce hit theaters during the decade, bending genres, delighting audiences, and making A-list stars out of likable actors. And beyond just the quality and content of the movies, the 1980s witnessed several great leaps forward in technology that allowed for easier and more convenient viewing. The rapid spread of cable TV and the widespread adoption of the VCR made watching movies at home (and rewatching them over and over again) very simple and relatively cheap.

The next evolution in content dissemination, after cable and home video, was streaming services. And Amazon's Prime Video portal offers the retail giant's customers thousands of movies at the push of a button, all included in the price of a site-wide subscription. Lots of those offerings date to the go-go 1980s, and here are the best, most memorable, and most '80s of those '80s movies currently available on Amazon Prime Video.

Updated on January 5, 2022: Amazon regularly changes up its streaming catalog, and each month, many movies disappear from the site while plenty more arrive. With that in mind, we'll keep this list up to date, so check back each and every month for the most totally radical and wicked awesome '80s movies on Amazon Prime.

Bagdad Cafe

Warm, low-key, and very light on plot, "Bagdad Cafe" is a meandering, slow-moving character study about a developing friendship set at a tiny truck stop in the middle of the California desert. During an argument on a road trip with her husband, German tourist Jasmin runs away and finds respite at a diner-motel combo operated by no-nonsense Brenda. Jasmin rents a room, and the pair become friends, hosting a revolving assemblage of quirky characters, like an old Hollywood craftsman and a tattoo artist, whom Jasmin entertains with her wonderful magic tricks.

  • Starring: Marianne Sagebrecht, CCH Pounder, Jack Palance
  • Director: Percy Adlon
  • Year: 1987
  • Runtime: 91 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

The Beastmaster

A classic and gloriously cheesy B-movie that seemed to air constantly on burgeoning cable TV systems in the 1980s, "The Beastmaster" is a medieval swordplay-and-sorcery film featuring live-action He-Man action figure Marc Singer. Here, he plays the musclebound Dar, son of King Zed, sent into hiding after nearly being murdered by a witch, who in turn was sent by the evil, crown-seeking Maax. When he grows up, Dar learns of his true identity and destiny to protect his father's kingdom and vanquish Maax, which he's fully capable of thanks to his Doctor Doolittle-like powers of being able to communicate with and command the many beasts of nature.

  • Starring: Marc Singer, Tanya Roberts, Rip Torn
  • Director: Don Coscarelli
  • Year: 1982
  • Runtime: 114 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 50%

Blue Thunder

Is there anything more quintessentially '80s than a high-octane action vehicle literally about a vehicle — a technologically sophisticated, state-of-the-art, crime-fighting vehicle? Joining the ranks of such fun and maybe a bit silly era delights like "Knight Rider" and "Airwolf" is the 1983 movie "Blue Thunder," starring old-fashioned tough-guy actor Roy Scheider as Frank Murphy, a brave and noble LAPD officer selected to pilot an experimental police vehicle — a cutting-edge attack chopper. While "Blue Thunder" features plenty of sequences of the titular helicopter engaging in cool stunts and physics-defying missions, it turns dark, scary, and thoughtful when Murphy uncovers evidence that shady government figures intend to use his new vehicle for illegal and insidious surveillance purposes.

  • Starring: Roy Scheider, Malcolm McDowell, Candy Clark
  • Director: John Badham
  • Year: 1983
  • Runtime: 109 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%

A Chorus Line

"A Chorus Line" was the longest-running Broadway show in the early 1980s, so of course Hollywood would adapt it. The 1985 movie is much like the stage version in that it's sparse and takes the musical away from panoramic song-and-dance-numbers into intimate, emotional, and raw territory, examining the struggle and hardships faced by the people who choose to pursue fame and fortune as performers in those very productions. 

The movie takes place mostly at a mass dancer audition for a Broadway show. Cynical director Zach weeds the crowd down to 16, and the audience is privy to their various, affecting personal stories about what drives them to make art. Things get tough and awkward for Zach when he has to decide if she could cast a former lover and faded star or go with the objectively best performer. It's not all monologues and tough choices — "A Chorus Line" ends with the lucky chosen few singing and dancing, Broadway-style, to the show's signature song, "One."

Dead Ringers

From David Cronenberg, the pioneer and chief practitioner of body horror in films like "Videodrome" and "The Fly," comes "Dead Ringers," a movie comprised of suspense and horror of the psychological variety. Jeremy Irons plays two roles in the film, twin gynecologists Elliot and Beverly. Elliot frequently romances and seduces his patients, growing bored after his conquests, and then has Beverly, much kinder and soft-hearted, step in — the women none the wiser. But the plan, the practice, and Beverly's sanity all start to crack when one of those tricked patients, Claire — whom Beverly's fallen in love with — does him wrong. Now, he's off on a mind-bending descent into chaos and madness.

Die Hard

"Die Hard" is widely regarded as one of the best action movies ever made, if not one of the most perfect and most satisfying films of the last few decades. That's in part because so many latter movies cribbed elements of the novel formula that made "Die Hard" so entertaining. It's relatable, in that it's about a regular, flawed guy — police officer John McClane — cracking jokes to himself as an expression of self-doubt and fear as he single-handedly tries to foil a terrorist plot inside Los Angeles' skyscraper Nakatomi Plaza during a Christmas party attended by his wife. The audience is treated to McClane (played by "Moonlighting" comic relief Bruce Willis in a role that would propel him onto Hollywood's A-list) crawling through air ducts, making impossible jumps, and using his wits to defeat well-armed goons and their boss, the soothingly evil Hans Gruber, played to the hilt by the late Alan Rickman.

  • Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia
  • Director: John McTiernan
  • Year: 1988
  • Runtime: 131 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Do the Right Thing

Spike Lee's masterpiece is a stunning, incendiary work of extra-modern art, and "Do the Right Thing" is as much a celebration of New York's multiculturalism as it is a repudiation of the racial hostility endemic to the city, which boils over on one of the hottest days of the year. In the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn, Italian-American Sal runs a pizza joint, which features a "Wall of Fame" consisting only of people of Italian descent. This upsets Buggin' Out, a Black man who lives in the area, who feels that the Wall should more accurately represent Brooklyn's African-American population. Sal won't change it, and that becomes the inciting incident for the emotionally harrowing, deadly, and tragic events that follow.

  • Starring: Giancarlo Esposito, Ossie Davis, Danny Aiello
  • Director: Spike Lee
  • Year: 1989
  • Runtime: 120 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%


Attending an American high school — particularly in the superficial and socially stratified 1980s — can be a brutal, destructive thing, and "Heathers" amplifies that idea, along with calling out the relentless marketing of anything and everything to impressionable teenagers. 

A showcase for two of the era's most captivating and left-of-center talents in Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, "Heathers" is set at Westerburg High, ruled over by a popular clique consisting of three cruel and self-absorbed girls named Heather. Highly intelligent Veronica (Ryder) abandons her nerdy friends to live amongst the Heathers but realizes they kill her soul, and so she willingly takes up with the cool, wisecracking, new misanthrope in town, Jason Dean (Slater), in his series of pranks that quickly turn deadly. Their romance becomes even more complicated as the body count grows and as Westerburg High becomes ground central in a nationwide exploitation of teen angst and grief.


Horror in the '80s was all about iconic villains, as long-running franchises built themselves around strangely charismatic agents of chaos, evil, and unspeakably gory violence. Joining the ranks of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees came the master of a race of ghoulish monsters called the Cenobites, referred to as "Pinhead" for his shocking appearance that included a ghostly, pale, hairless head with a bunch of needles sticking into it. 

In the first of many "Hellraiser" films, Pinhead and the rest of the Cenobites are inadvertently set loose on the human realm after a man named Frank buys a Pandora's Box-type device and opens a gateway to the underworld. The Cenobites kill Frank quickly and thoroughly, but then he comes back to life — only he's evil — and convinces his ex-girlfriend to bring him the blood of strangers to rebuild himself, fully and horribly. Making things more complicated, Frank's innocent niece, Kirsty, finds herself drawn into the tale when she accidentally discovers all the nasty happenings going down in Frank's home.

  • Starring: Andrew Robinson, Ashley Laurence, Doug Bradley
  • Director: Clive Barker
  • Year: 1987
  • Runtime: 93 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%


A rollicking tale of adventure, mythology, and swashbuckling fight sequences, "Highlander" started a whole fun franchise about a seemingly unkillable, mystical warriors. In the 16th-century Scottish highlands, the mighty Connor MacLeod recovers from an otherwise fatal battle wound and then teams up with a rogue sword fighter named Ramirez, who tells him how he recovered so easily — like him, he's immortal and can only be killed by decapitation. Apparently these immortals all roam around the world fighting each other over the centuries, but ultimately, "there can be only one," and that isn't decided until "the Gathering" in New York City in the mid-1980s, where MacLeod will finally go head to head with his rival, the wicked Kurgan.


"House" works as a straightforward horror movie, but it differentiates itself from other '80s scary flicks with an undercurrent of humor, as the screenwriters clearly want the audience to laugh at the absurd circumstances of the characters, in addition to being terrified. 

As for the plot, Roger Cobb is a successful horror novelist looking forward to a new project — a memoir of his time as a soldier fighting in the Vietnam War. Those plans get put aside when his son disappears, his celebrity actress wife divorces him, and he goes to live at the beautiful and stately home he's just inherited from his aunt, who also died in the house ... which is also very clearly haunted. That's a standard haunted house movie setup, sure, but the titular house also just might harbor a secret gateway to an evil dimension, which only serves to interrupt Roger from his work even more.

  • Starring: William Katt, George Wendt, Kay Lenz
  • Director: Steve Miner
  • Year: 1985
  • Runtime: 92 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 57%

Dead Poets Society

"Dead Poets Society" is arguably the definitive inspirational teacher movie, as well as one of the best prep school films ever made. Robin Williams, primarily known as a frenetic stand-up comedian when this film was released, demonstrates his gifts for layered dramatic performance as John Keating, a rebellious, passionate, and instantly controversial English teacher. He uses new and exciting techniques to make the great authors and poets come alive for his students, spurring them to try new things, live their lives for themselves, and otherwise fulfill his motto, "carpe diem," or "seize the day."

  • Starring: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke
  • Director: Peter Weir
  • Year: 1989
  • Runtime: 128 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

No Way Out

Kevin Costner was on fire in the late 1980s, and "No Way Out" would make him an even bigger sex symbol and a viable dramatic leading man. In this labyrinthine, paranoid military thriller, Costner plays naval officer Tom Farrell, and at an inauguration ball, he meets the alluring Susan Atwell, with whom he starts up a steamy affair. It all ends badly in a number of ways: Susan is discovered murdered, and Farrell learns that she was also carrying on an affair with David Brice, his direct superior and the powerful secretary of defense. Farrell winds up leading the internal murder investigation and seemingly becomes a target of a conspiracy related to a deeply embedded cover-up of the crime.

On Golden Pond

A touching, gut-punch of a drama about marriage, icy familial relationships, and the humanity-robbing effects of aging, "On Golden Pond" was one of the last films to star two Hollywood legends, Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda, both of whom won Oscars for their work as the long-married Thayers. 

Each summer, the Thayers retreat to their lake house adjacent to Golden Pond. Norman is a stubborn grump interested in little more than solitary pursuits while Ethel is vivacious and outgoing. However, they're both thrown for a loop when their adult daughter — from whom Norman is mostly estranged (played by Fonda's real-life daughter, Jane Fonda) — pays a visit with her fiancé and stepson-to-be. Relatives try with all their hearts to connect and mend broken relationships before dementia and death creep in forever.

  • Starring: Peter Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, Jane Fonda
  • Director: Mark Rydell
  • Year: 1981
  • Runtime: 109 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%


"Predator" is set in a dangerous, imposing jungle, and viewers can almost feel the oppressive heat — just one of the ways the film conveys the intensity and high stakes facing an elite military squad that's hunting and being hunted. In one of his signature '80s action hero roles, Arnold Schwarzenegger portrays Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer, leading a small battalion in search of hostages kidnapped by revolutionary rebels in a fictional Central American republic. That's a compelling enough plot for a military movie, but "Predator" is also a sci-fi-horror flick as Dutch and the guys unwittingly become the prey of a gigantic, seemingly unkillable alien menace stalking them for fun.

Prom Night

Solidifying her status as an all-time "scream queen," Jamie Lee Curtis took a break between the first two "Halloween" installments to make "Prom Night," a movie very much in the vein of that classic horror franchise. The premise is as dark as the violence that will soon play out. High school teacher Mr. Fenton grows romantically obsessed with Donna (Curtis), one of his students, and in the throes of obsession, he kills the girl's entire family. He's sent to prison but resurfaces years later at the end of Donna's childhood, on her high school prom night. The rampant killing of innocents begins anew, and only Donna can stop it.

  • Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Leslie Nielsen, Casey Stevens
  • Director: Paul Lynch
  • Year: 1980
  • Runtime: 92 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 50%

Something Wild

"Something Wild" is very much a product of its time in that it's got a premise that would only make sense in, and be created by, the culture of the 1980s. Charles is the typical movie yuppie of the era — a buttoned-up, serious, wealthy investment banker, but he doesn't know what he really wants to do with his life. A vivacious, punk-adjacent kook named Lulu picks him up after he skips out on a meal without paying, bringing him into her cool downtown world of slightly risqué adventures. Charles starts to lighten up thanks to cool Lulu's influence, but his gifts of being serious and uptight come in handy when he and Lulu have to flee the latter's unhinged husband, heretofore unknown to Charles.

  • Starring: Jeff Daniels, Melanie Griffith, Ray Liotta
  • Director: Jonathan Demme
  • Year: 1986
  • Runtime: 113 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Still of the Night

Meryl Streep gave so many terrific performances in so many good movies in the 1980s that a couple are bound to get overlooked in the long run, such as "Still of the Night," a compelling, twisty murder mystery. Roy Scheider co-stars as Dr. Sam Rice, a psychiatrist pulled into a world of crime and carnality after one of his patients is murdered. Police want Sam to help in their investigation, but he won't say a word, and his ethics are challenged once more when he becomes romantically and physically involved with Brooke Reynolds, the deceased's mistress and a prime suspect in the murder. The only way out of his mess of his own making, Sam realizes, is to solve the mystery himself — and avoid getting murdered.

  • Starring: Roy Scheider, Meryl Streep, Jessica Tandy
  • Director: Robert Benton
  • Year: 1982
  • Runtime: 90 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%

Stop Making Sense

Talking Heads were one of the most popular and acclaimed bands of the '80s, but they were more of a brainy, artsy performance art troupe than a straightforward rock n' roll operation. "Stop Making Sense" captures the band at its commercial and creative peaks. It's a patient, casual, and unflinchingly shot documentary of a Talking Heads concert — or rather elaborately choreographed (and very comic and dramatic) stage show. Some of the group's greatest hits, musically and visually, show up in "Stop Making Sense." Frontman David Byrne starts the show with a drum machine and acoustic guitar performance of "Psycho Killer" on a bare stage that leaves him pantomiming a gunshot death, after which more and more band members join him for bigger and bolder renditions of stuff like "Burning Down the House" and "Girlfriend Is Better."

The Terminator

The 1991 blockbuster "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" is a slick, expensive-looking action flick that features both state-of-the-art special effects and a confusing time-travel plot. Contrast that with the original "The Terminator" from 1984 — a raw, grimy, rollicking chase of an action movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger became a star playing an unstoppable killing machine, a human-looking superpower cyborg sent back from the year 2029 to kill Sarah Connor because her unborn son, John, will grow up and become the leader of the humans who resist the robot revolution. And so, Sarah and guardian Kyle Reese spend the length of the running time excitingly and narrowly avoiding death at the hands of the Terminator.

  • Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn
  • Director: James Cameron
  • Year: 1984
  • Runtime: 106 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Violets Are Blue

Most romance movies follow a trajectory about a relationship that develops after two people meet for the first time. "Violets Are Blue" takes a more interesting approach that allows for a lot of drama, tension, and discomfort. It's about reconnecting with an old flame, or the proverbial "one who got away," and shows that when it comes to the heart, one can't always go home again. 

Gussie and Henry were high school sweethearts who could've stayed together forever, but Gussie wanted to leave their tiny Maryland beach community, explore the world, and earn a living as a photographer. Henry stayed behind to edit the town newspaper and settled into a comfortable marriage and fathered a son. He never quite got Ruth out of his mind, however, and a tricky, ill-advised (and likely doomed) romance gets rekindled when Gussie returns home.

  • Starring: Kevin Kline, Sissy Spacek, Bonnie Bedelia
  • Director: Jack Fisk
  • Year: 1986
  • Runtime: 90 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 57%