Energetic Eighties
A smorgasbord of memorable 1980s sci-fi films


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Altered States
D: Ken Russell (1980) 102m


Paddy Chayefsky was so disgusted with the film version of his novel that he had his name removed from the credits, which many critics agreed was a good move. The story revolves around a scientist (William Hurt) who is able to devolve into an ape using a think tank. Defined the look and feel of a host of movies to follow.





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The Road Warrior
D: George Miller (1981) 96m


Australian action-fest with Mel Gibson reprising his role as post-apocalyptic tough guy Mad Max. The hero reluctantly helps a petrol-producing community fight off a gang of depraved nasties who want to swipe their stuff. Stunning visuals of a devastated future are the perfect backdrop for some of the wildest car stunts ever filmed.





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Outland
D: Peter Hyams (1981) 109m


High Noon goes sci-fi when Sean Connery plays the new marshall in town - in this case a mining colony on one of Jupiter's moons. When miners inexplicably start going suicidally beserk, Marshall O'Neil tracks the problem to an amphetamine-pushing mine boss. Some hired guns show up and O'Neil is left to take them on alone.





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Escape From New York
D: John Carpenter (1981) 99m


In a future where crime is out of control, Manhattan Island has been turned into a prison. After the President's plane is brought down by inmates, Kurt Russell tries his best to act like a nasty one-eyed convict tough-guy and reluctantly helps him to safety. Solid action flick that requires absolutely no deep thinking of any kind to enjoy.





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Back to the Future
D: Robert Zemeckis (1985) 116m


An eccentric scientist played by Christopher Lloyd sends '80s teenager Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) back to the 1950s in a time-travelling luxury sports car. Marty inadvertently alters the life-paths of his parents and then has to set things right. The film gives a wonderful 1980s take on 1950s ideological viewpoints. Good family fun.





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Enemy Mine
D: Wolfgang Petersen (1985) 108m


A human and a reptilian Drac (Lou Gossett Jr) from opposing sides at war are forced to rely on each other for survival when stranded on a hostile planet. We soon learn that Dracs are being used as slave labour in human mining operations. The hermaphroditic Drac needs a godfather, resulting in a potent anti-discrimination scenario.





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The Fly
D: David Cronenberg (1986) 100m


Gross-out master Cronenberg delivers a remarkably effective remake of the original 1958 classic. Affable but slightly off-beam scientist (Jeff Goldblum) tests a genetic matter transporter and ends up morphing into a human fly. Geena Davis plays his romantic interest and it becomes obvious that love doesn't always conquer all.





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The Abyss
D: James Cameron (1989) 145m


Oil-rig divers with the right equipment try to help a team rescue a sunken nuclear sub. What they find is a lot of floating corpses, then a huge other-worldly neon jellyfish shows up to complicate matters. Big-budget special effects extravaganza with plenty of good old-fashioned interpersonal drama to keep things moving along.


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