The 1980s saw the release of some of the most iconic movies in the collective cultural lexicon, such as The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and many, many others. Those films are large pieces of pop culture in their own right and have been spoofed, replicated, and even remade many times. The 80s also produced many great movie musicals, or musical movies if you will, as not all of them are exactly ‘musicals’ in the sense of people speaking in song.
Not only do these films have great soundtracks from the ’80s, but they also have some great original music made specifically for the films. These films have defined an entire era of music and musical films, and have also stood the test of time in pop culture history. They are not only a large part of media history but also happen to be great films in their own right. Everything on this list is perfect for your next watch, or rewatch, so get ready to sing and dance along.
Flashdance is constantly mentioned as one of the most iconic films from the 1980s. But why? Is it the great music? The amazing dancing? Or the all-around 80s nostalgia the film seems to have? It is every single one of those things and more. Flashdance is a perfect movie musical from the 80s, as it covers every base and tells a great story at the end of the day. The film is made for audiences who love dance and audiences who don’t, audiences who love romantic stories and audiences who don’t; just about everyone can enjoy this feel-good movie.
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On one level and to some extent, it does tell a typical romance story, but Flashdance is more about class struggle and the inner working of a dancer’s life and how dance affects every piece of their being. Flashdance is so much more than just another 80s dance movies in that way, as dance is turned into liberation here. So if you haven’t seen Flashdance in a while, or have never seen it, maybe give it a watch on your next movie night.
4 Little Shop of Horrors
Little Shop of Horrors is the only “classical” musical on this list; many may not consider Little Shop of Horror a classic (it is a horror musical comedy), but it is a very well known production that has been revived many times, in which characters sing their feelings and dialogue turns to song. The original Little Shop of Horrors film was released in 1960 and is certainly dated but delightful; however, the 1986 remake takes the story to a whole new level.
The Little Shop of Horrors remake brought a whole new generation of audiences to the story in a way that appealed to fans of other 80s movie musicals. It was done in a way that was modern and unique for new viewers, with updated comedy, a little more darkness, and some cool horror sequences. Little Shop of Horrors was such a hit with this film in particular, that it brought new life to the stage production (which is still performed today) and possibly created the space for a remake with Chris Evans that was pitched before the pandemic. Who knows what may be next for this story, but fans can only hope to see Chris Evans as Dentist! and maybe a few more celebrity cameos.
Do you remember their name? If you didn’t watch Fame the movie, maybe you watched Fame the show, or maybe even the stage adaptation of the film. In other words, Fame has transcended all boundaries and has fully reached the point of infamy, because how can you not remember their name?
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The film showed a whole new side to the arts high schools that many New Yorkers had heard of. Most people thought arts schools were easy because the students were able to just focus on making their art and not grades. Not only is it quite the opposite, but Fame showed audiences that these schools were much more cutthroat than anyone could have ever expected. Fame laid the groundwork for many 80s movie musicals and also showed audiences the inner workings of arts schools, giving people a newfound respect for the ambitions and aspirations of young people.
2 Dirty Dancing
Dirty Dancing has already reached classic status, and no one can dispute that. The film was released in 1987 and has cemented itself as a massive piece of pop culture since then, having been spoofed, adapted, and referenced in many other forms of media since its release. The iconic lift from the final dance scene of the film has been replicated by many a dancer and ordinary duo of people alike, some to great success, and others not so much. However, the film has stood the test of time, no matter how many people fail the lift. In fact, a sequel is being produced with Jennifer Gray reprising her role as “Baby.” Fans can only hope the sequel will honor the first in the best way it can. So fingers crossed they don’t mess up the iconic lift in the sequel, because it would be a shocker if they didn’t include it.
Now, who doesn’t love footloose, Released in 1984, the film became an instant hit among the movie watchers of that time. However, footloose has also stood the test of time and has stayed a classic film and classic musical as well. To be honest, it has everything you could want in a movie: popular music, original songs, great acting, dancing, and romance.
There is nothing that footloose is missing; In fact, the film itself is an interesting statement of intent for musicals in the ’80s, after a solid decade without many massively successful musical films. footloose essentially declared, “No, you won’t outlaw dancing, we can still make great musicals that people want to see,” and as such has remained so popular that it even spawned a remake in 2011, though the original is the must-watch . So, sit back, relax, maybe relive some of your youth, and get footloose,