1980s High School Movies

Teens and 1980s HS movies go hand in hand

The 1980s high school movies are often looked upon as some of the most popular cult movies out there. Cult films are movies that have developed a passionate group of devoted fans, despite how much money the movie earned in theaters or its cinematic greatness.

Why 1980s High School Flicks Were Great

Many of the popular 1980s high school movies out there have a lot of the same characteristics. These features include:

  • An attractive lead character. Whether the film starred a young Winona Ryder or a budding John Cusack, much of the appeal of 80s high school films are their swoon-worthy lead characters.
  • An outcast or 'dork.' In some movies, these characters are the star who finally wins. In other features, 'nerds' are in the background. However, this type of character is a general archetype for 80s film.
  • The popular kid. Whether Molly Ringwald has an unattainable crush on the hottest guy in school or he's trapped in detention, there's always that one guy or gal who everyone wants to be like.
  • Romance. Without a special love plot, most 80s high school movies would fail.

Best of 1980s High School Movies

Some of the best known 1980's high school films include:

  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Written by now-famous Cameron Crowe and directed by now-famous director Amy Heckerling, this film features four main characters trying to educate one another on the ways of the world. From the younger Stacy and Mark to the older Linda and Mike, the plot lines cover everything from teen jobs to sex to relationships and car crashes. The film is a can't miss for its cast of now-famous characters including Sean Penn and Nicholas Cage.
  • Pretty in Pink: One of the many Molly Ringwold films from the 1980s, Pretty in Pink features her as unpopular with a crush on the most popular guy in school. He's a rich jock, and she's not even on his radar. Someone on her radar, however is her best friend Duckie who has a neverending crush on her. Who will end up with whom?
  • Weird Science: Two guys who are 'geeks' bring a doll to life by using their computer. Gary and Wyatt deal with what happens next.
  • Sixteen Candles: Forgotten birthdays, popular boys, geeks and freaks are all a significant part of what makes Sixteen Candles another Molly Ringwold classic.
  • The Breakfast Club: Couple a session in detention for five differing misfits with the group coming together as one to create this film's massive star power. The students are initially left to write essays about who they are. In the process, they discover their fear of becoming adults, mutual secrets and stereotypes. While they may have gone in as the brain, athlete, basket case, princess and criminal, they came out one step closer to adulthood in this fun and inspiring comedy.
  • Heathers: One of the best known "black" or dark comedies from the time period, Heathers features Veronica Sawyer as the leader of the Heathers. The clique is popular, mean and hated. The film follows death by drain cleaner, rumors of sex, and murder.
  • Fame: A dark movie, the film features more than enough adult plots for an R rating. However, what the film does well is expose many of the things that do go on in modern day high schools (as well as high schools of the 1980s) in a real and relatable manner.

A Final Thought

Any 1980s movie fan is bound to have their own idea of which high school movies of the period are their favorite. Whether it is the controversy over leaving Duckie at the prom or the creation of the Breakfast Club itself, we all have our own places in our hearts for at least one 1980s film.

1980s High School Movies