9. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979) – Terry Jones
Brian is born at the same time as Jesus in an adjacent stable. He grows up resentful of the Roman regime in Judea and joins the People’s Front of Judea after falling in love with a rebel, Judith.
After being put on the spot while running away from Roman guards, Brian inadvertently gathers an audience who become his followers. They declare that he is their new Messiah and follow him around everywhere. He attempts to hide from the followers, but ends up being captured and sentenced to be crucified.
The film was edited and outright banned by a variety of television companies and town councils in the UK due to allegations of blasphemy. It was also banned and screenings picketed by angry members of various religious organisations in the US, Ireland, and Norway.
10. Airplane! (1980) – Jim Abrahams, David & Jerry Zucker
Ted Striker is an ex-fighter pilot suffering from a traumatic war experience that causes him to be terrified of flying. In the hopes of winning his old girlfriend back – who has left him and is now a flight attendant – Ted boards a flight from Los Angeles to Chicago.
After most of the passengers and both pilots contract food poisoning from some fish, Ted has to overcome his fear and take control of the plane.
A lot of the actors, including Leslie Nielsen, had never done comedy until they were cast in Airplane!. Despite being exceptionally silly and at certain times outright juvenile, this movie is universally accepted as one of the funniest of all time.
11. This Is Spinal Tap (1984) – Rob Reiner
Marty Di Bergi, played by Rob Reiner, is a director who is filming a documentary about a fictional British heavy metal group “Spinal Tap”. The mockumentary is meant to follow the band during their 1982 tour of the US, conducting interviews with the members along the way.
Some complications arise during the tour with low ticket sales, due to controversy over a sexist album cover. As the group attempts to resolve differences and stay together during a difficult time in their career, one of the member’s girlfriends’ involvement causes more tension.
A lot of the musicians whom the mockumentary clearly satirises, like Ozzy Osbourne and Glenn Danzig, have stated that some of the content was very close to reality. Despite cameos by some well-known actors like Billy Crystal, audiences were still somewhat confused about whether Spinal Tap was a real band.
12. Top Secret! (1984) – Jim Abrahams, David & Jerry Zucker
Nick Rivers is a famous American rock star, who is scheduled to perform at a cultural festival in East Germany. There, he spots a young rebel named Hillary, who is a member of the resistance movement. He later sees her at a ballet, where she is trying to meet a resistance contact, and is subsequently found out by the police.
Nick saves Hillary from capture by turning himself in, and ends up being tortured but reveals nothing. Hillary rescues Nick from the East Germans and they join forces with the French Resistance.
The ZAZ team (the directors’ collective name) wanted to combine Elvis Presley musicals with a Cold War theme, and found that the task was quite difficult. After a fourth writer was brought in, the idea was able to be realised.
13. The Princess Bride (1987) – Rob Reiner
An old man reads one of his favourite books to a sick grandson. The tale is about a woman named Buttercup, who becomes the wife of the mean Prince Humperdinck in the country of Florin. She is secretly in love with a farm boy named Westley with whom she used to work.
Buttercup is kidnapped by three criminals, who attempt to take her away, but are not able to lose a man in black who is following them. When the mysterious man’s identity is revealed, both him and Buttercup attempt to run away together and encounter many obstacles along the way.
The Princess Bride has been quoted countless times and remains a cult favourite.
16. Spaceballs (1987) – Mel Brooks
Planet Spaceball’s President Skroob sends Lord Dark Helmet to planet Druidia in order to steal clean air. Dark Helmet devises a plan to kidnap Princess Vespa and demand all of Druidia’s air as ransom. Vespa’s father, King Roland offers a travelling rogue named Lone Starr a hefty reward to get his daughter back.
Spaceballs features an abundance of references to the Star Wars trilogy, Alien, Planet of the Apes, and Star Trek.
14. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
The first instalment in The Naked Gun series of films, this movie follows Lieutenant Frank Drebin as he battles crime and corruption in Los Angeles.
A drug bust gone wrong lands one of the Police Squad officers in hospital and Frank takes it upon himself to find the criminals. With the approaching royal visit from Queen Elizabeth II, he is getting dangerously close to the truth.
The main protagonist of the film is based on Leslie Nielsen’s bumbling detective Frank Drebin from the TV series Police Squad!
15. Hot Shots! (1991) – Jim Abrahams
Topper Harley is a U.S. Navy fighter pilot who has been asked to come back for one more mission. Against the advice of his therapist and lover, Ramada, Topper returns for the secret mission.
This movie is a direct spoof of the 80s Tom Cruise action film Top Gun, but also references other popular films like Rocky.
17. Last Action Hero (1993) – John McTiernan
Danny Madigan is obsessed with movies, and in particular his favourite Jack Slater series featuring a heroic LAPD detective Jack Slater, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
After receiving Harry Houdini’s golden ticket from his friend Nick, Danny is magically transported into Jack Slater IV, the latest instalment in the series. There, he teams up with Jack Slater, and together they attempt to take down a powerful crime syndicate.
Last Action Hero pokes fun at an abundance of action movie characters and tropes and uses the “films within a film” technique. There are a number of tongue-in-cheek jokes in this movie, such as Sylvester Stallone playing the role of the Terminator.