1. A Nightmare on Elm Street - Most horror franchises are fairly thin on plot, heavy on mayhem. This one, by Wes Craven, started strong, at least as strong as the original Halloween in style and impact. It remains one of my favorite films from that year, or any year. Plus: Johnny Depp!
2. Ghostbusters - The silly theme song sticks with you (even if it was a ripoff of a Huey Lewis number), but the movie is timeless. Oh, sure, it's clearly an 80s flick, but the humor is transcendent. It's one of Bill Murray's (and Harold Ramis' and Rick Moranis') best.
3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - Yes, everyone thought this one was a weaker installment than Raiders of the Lost Ark. But they didn't know what was coming with Curse of the Crystal Skull, now, did they? I worked at a theater for this movie's entire run. I know every line. Harrison Ford is fantastic in it, and I don't care what anyone says, so was Kate Capshaw.
4. Supergirl - A flop, but a charming flop. Without it, we may not have had Helen Slater to kick around (and she was great in Ruthless People a couple of years later). Plus, you've got Faye Dunaway chewing the (cardboard) scenery, and dreamy Hart Bochner! It's time to revisit Kara Zor-El.
5. Gremlins - This is a very cute film, with a very cute puppet creature, and very cute leading actors of both sexes. Hard to top that. Plus, it's funny/gory. Maybe a first for that. My brother told me the story, line by line, and ruined it for me. But I won't do that to you, because I'm not a douche nozzle.
6. Top Secret! - By the same guys who did Airplane! and Police Squad!, this one spoofs cold war spy movies, war movies, Elvis movies, beach movies and The Blue Lagoon. Yes, it's kind of scattershot, but it's hilarious. It's in my top five all-time favorite comedies. And Val Kilmer was really great with his own singing and dancing. If you've never seen it, check it out.
7. The Terminator - Not nearly as slick and shiny as its immediate sequel, this one managed to grab you by the throat on a budget. Arnold Schwarzenegger found a role that he embodied perfectly.
8. Sixteen Candles - I came late to this one, which is odd, since I was part of the target audience. But when I finally got around to it, I did see the charm. And finally understood what "Long Duk Dong" was.
9. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter - It was far from the final chapter. But it was--at the time--the best of the series, and the biggest money-maker as well. A notch above the rest of the sequels, but still just mindless fun. And hey, Crispin Glover!
10. Beverly Hills Cop - Eddie Murphy was only a smidge behind Michael Jackson in popularity in the early 80s. This film (with an assist from a very funny Bronson Pinchot) put Murphy further into orbit.
And that'll do it for the week, and for the topic for a while. Here's hoping this is a better week than last. Happy Monday!