25 Great 80s Cult Movies You Might Not Have Seen

18. Dangerous Game (1987)

Dangerous Game (1987)

This is an ozploitation film that was billed as being Die Hard set inside a department store. That may be somewhat correct if the John McClane character was a psychopathic murdering cop, out to get revenge against some teens that got him suspended.

There is enough action and tension in this low budget thriller to keep most 1980’s film fans entertained, including a couple of wild stunts. This was Stephen Hopkins first directing job; he would go on to make a Nightmare on Elm Street 5, Predator 2, Judgment Night, and Blown Away.


19. Monster Squad (1987)

the monster squad

“You know who to call when you have ghosts but who do you call when you have monsters?” [12]. This is basically the Goonies meets Universal monsters, as a group of kids in a monster club are the only ones capable of taking on Dracula and his group of monsters.

This is an excellent horror comedy from the 1980’s that was sadly forgotten by most until its release on DVD in 2008. Up until then, it was only available on VHS and bootleg DVD’s. It is a fun movie that does an excellent job mixing horror and comedy in much of the same way that Goonies was able to do; there is comedic dialogue, good acting, memorable characters, true scares, and excellent make up and special effects.

It was co-written by Fred Dekker and Shane Black. Dekker also directed the cult film Night of the Creeps. Black wrote Lethal Weapon, the Last Boy Scout, and Iron Man 3. The special effects were done by legendary special effects man Stan Winston and his studio of artists.

This is truly a must see for fans of the Universal monsters, horror comedy, and films from the 1980’s.


20. Straight to Hell (1987)

Straight to Hell (1987)

“A story of blood, money, guns, coffee, and sexual tension” [13]. A surreal spaghetti western spoof directed by Alex Cox (Repo Man) and was meant to be an adaptation of the Italian spaghetti western Django, Kill (1967). A trio of hitmen and a pregnant woman end up stranded in a strange desert town after robbing a bank and trying to escape their boss because of a failed job. In the town, they encounter a series of unusual coffee addicted killers.

The main reason that the film has a cult status is because of the cast, consisting largely of Alex Cox regulars, some directors, and various members of punk rock bands. The cast includes Sy Richardson, Joe Strummer (lead singer of The Clash), Dick Rude, Courtney Love, Dennis Hopper, director Jim Jarmusch, Elvis Costello, and members of The Pogues, Amazulu, and The Circle Jerks.

This is viewed as a precursor to the Tarantino violence infused criminal worlds of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, with the Norwood character being very similar to Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Pulp Fiction. The over the top gore and violence in this film represents both the future crime films that would come around in the 1990’s and the bloody spaghetti westerns from the 1960’s and 1970’s.

There really is no middle ground on this film, you’ll either love it or totally hate it.


21. Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)

Hell Comes To Frogtown

“A new breed of enemy has taken over the world… Sam Hell has come to take it back.” [14]. Its Mad Max meets Planet of the Apes, as a nuclear war has ravaged the world and there are mutated frog men running a city called Frogtown.

The human race is in danger of becoming extinct because most of the women are infertile, except for a group that’s being held captive in Frogtown. Two women force Sam (Roddy Piper) to go with them to rescue the girls and impregnate them, since he is the most fertile male they have ever seen.

This film is total low budget B grade cheesy movie fare that used to regularly play on the USA Network in the 1980’s, when they used to show cool movies on USA Up All Night from 1989 to 1998. Sure its cheep and silly, but who cares. It stars professional wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and that’s the only reason needed to want to watch this one. This may not be as great as They Live, but it’s still light and entertaining and Piper is funny in it.


22. The Firm (1988)

The Firm (1988)

Another British production from Alan Clarke, which like his other films, displays the gritty and realistic side of England, this time delving into the world of soccer hooliganism.

It shows that there is more to this world than pure violence and that organized crime has become an additional element. The story involves a group of “firms” of soccer team supporters; one man played by Gary Oldman wants to bring them together to compete for the European championships.

There are two reasons to see this film. First, it gives a very accurate portrayal of this group of people that would use soccer as an excuse to be violent and criminal. Second, is to see a great performance from Gary Oldman. He is at his best here, playing the middle class husband and father who has a bad temper and craves the violence and power of being in control of one main firm in England.


23. Tiger on the Beat (1988)

Tiger on the Beat (1988)

This is a Hong Kong buddy action comedy in the style of Lethal Weapon but at times much wackier, which sees Conan Lee and Chow Yun-Fat team up to face a gang of bad guys dealing heroin. It also features several former Shaw Brother film regulars in David Chiang, Ti Lung, and Gordon Liu. This was a major change for Liu, who had grown his hair back and was now playing one of the major villains instead of the good guy Shaolin monk characters he had been known for.

This film would be considered fairly average if it weren’t for the final fight scenes, which provide us with some of the most inventive and unseen fight scenes we had seen up to this point. It’s not often that you are going to see a chainsaw incorporated into a fight, unless you’re named Ash or Leatherface.

The main final martial arts sequence of the movie involves a totally insane chainsaw fight between Liu and Lee, it is simply bad ass and automatically makes this film a must see. Not to be outdone, buy Yun-fat manages to create an imaginative way to use a shotgun that I doubt had been done before. If you do nothing else, you have to watch the last twenty or so minutes of this film.


24. Penn & Teller Get Killed (1989)

Penn & Teller Get Killed (1989)

“I started a Joke” by the Bee Gees is essentially the theme of this dark comedy film noir spoof starring the comedic magic team of Penn & Teller, as the jokes that they play on each other escalate until they get into a dark and unforeseen territory.

The film includes a mix of magic tricks that they would normally perform and then gags that they are pulling on each other whenever they aren’t on stage, including one involving a metal detector at an airport and an angry psychic surgeon out to get Penn for exposing him as a fraud.

If you’re a fan of Penn & Teller, then odds are that you will love this movie. You may also like it if you have an interest in film noir and want to see a different take on the genre. This was the last film directed by Arthur Penn, who did Bonnie and Clyde and Alice’s Restaurant.


25. Meet the Feebles (1989)

Meet The Feebles

“Hell hath no fury like a hippo with a machine gun” [15]. This is one of the few movies that may forever change you, and you’ll either be thoroughly pissed and haunted by it or will absolutely love it. Basically it is what life would be for the Muppets in the real world; full of sex, drug use, drug dealing, rape, porno, STD’s, extortion, robbery, and murder.

This is not a puppet movie for kids, it pushes every boundary and there are absolutely no limits to how far it will go. That being said, it is totally awesome! But only if you love totally depraved and sick humor, otherwise stay far away from this.

This was one of the first films from Peter Jackson, who happens to be the man that brought the Lord of the Rings Trilogy to life. Before that, he was creating some totally bat shit insane and crazy awesome films. The other two that are out there and worth viewing are Bad Taste and Dead Alive. So if you have seen any of those three and liked them, then you need to check out the others.

All the works cited can be found here.

Author Bio: Raul J. Vantassle is a jazz musician whose key strokes move about the page creating an explosion of formlessness to form, or just total bullshit. His heroes include John Waters, Robert Crumb, Charles Bukowski, and the Cobra Commander. His Knowledge of film goes across the board but he specializes in Asian and cult cinema. He may be the filthiest person alive. You can visit his blog here.