80’s Fantasy Movies: 20 Legendary Classics

Get ready for a legendary journey back to the past with these fantasy movies 80s! With beautiful princesses and enchanting stories that are still as wonderful as they were back in the 80s, these are some movies that you need to watch again. Better yet – introduce these movies to the younger generation. Who doesn’t love Gremlins? So, check out the best fantasy movies 80s now!

Fantasy Movies 80s: willow
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Willow (1988)

Enter the world of “Willow.” Journey to the far corners of your imagination, to a land of myth and magic, where dream and reality live side by side … to a place that never existed, a time that never was. It is a world where a young man named Willow lives out an adventure that explodes beyond the boundaries of his own hopes and fears.

Willow is a dark fantasy drama directed by Ron Howard. Whilst this movie wasn’t the expected box office blockbuster it still ended up turning a profit when released to home video and has become something of a cult classic.

Fantasy Movies 80s: labyrinth
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Labyrinth (1986)

A young girl, who enters a world of her own creation, experiences her first awareness of love, responsibility and danger. Sixteen-year-old Sarah is given thirteen hours to solve a labyrinth and rescue her baby brother Toby when her wish for him to be taken away is granted by the Goblin King Jareth.

Labyrinth is a musical fantasy drama directed by Jim Henson and starring David Bowie as the Goblin King. The movie was a surprise box office flop and it is definitely a little on the strange side! But since its release in 1986 this film has achieved cult status and is now a must watch classic!

Fantasy Movies 80s: legend
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Legend (1986)

Darkness seeks to create eternal night by destroying the last of the unicorns. Jack and his friends do everything possible to save the world and Princess Lili from the hands of Darkness. Enter a world of unicorns, magic swamps, dwarfs and rainbows.

This is a dark fantasy adventure movie directed by Ridley Scott and starring a young Tom Cruise. It wasn’t a big commercial success upon its release but the movie did garner multiple award nominations. It is also another movie on this list that has become regarded as a cult classic.

Fantasy Movies 80s: the never ending story
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The Neverending Story (1984)

To escape from his dull life and bullies at school, Bastain takes refuge in an old book store. There, he begins reading an old storybook and finds himself drawn into the mythical world of Fantasia.

If you were a child in the 80s then there is no way you haven’t seen this movie! Based on the novel of the same name from German author Michael Ende, this movie only covers the first half of the book. The sequels then cover the rest of the book. The movie was a huge success at both the box office and critically. If somehow you haven’t seen this then be sure to catch it now!

Fantasy Movies 80s: beetlejuice
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Beetlejuice (1988)

When the deceased couple Adam and Barbara are unsuccessful in scaring away a family that has moved into their old home, they seek the help of bio-exorcist Betelgeuse.

Beetlejuice, beetlejuice, beetlejuice. Yes, that’s how we summon the not so helpful bio-exorcist. This is a fantasy comedy directed by Tim Burton. The big name cast includes Micheal Keaton, Gina Davis, Alec Baldwin and Winona Ryder. Another commercial and critical success this movie also won several Oscars. This is definitely a fun jape of a movie and an 80s classic not to miss!

Fantasy Movies 80s: gremlins
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Gremlins (1984)

Billy’s father gets him a pet from China with three very specific instructions. However, when Billy does not follow them, it unleashes a horde of monsters.

We all remember the Mogwai ownership rules right? Well Billy didn’t take enough care and it’s fair to say mayhem ensued on Christmas Eve. This black horror comedy was a huge success despite being criticised for its violent themes. A sequel was also released and a third film is in the works currently. So if you have never caught up with the adorable Gizmo and the havoc the gremlins cause then don’t miss out!

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The Dark Crystal (1982)

On a fictional planet, the damaged Dark Crystal marks the onset of the age of chaos. If the crystal is not healed during the great conjunction of the three suns, the evil Skekses will rule forever.

This is a dark fantasy film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. Although it was marketed as a family film the tone is quite dark. Not a huge success on its release although it was praised for its story, characters and aesthetic. It is another film worthy of it’s achieved cult status.

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Splash (1984)

Allen is rescued from drowning by a mermaid. Years later, he returns to the same location, and manages to fall into the sea, and is rescued by the mermaid.

This is a fantasy romance movie directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah. The movie was the tenth highest grossing movie of 1984 and is widely considered to be one of the best movies of the year. So if you have missed out on this gem then the time to watch is now!

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Krull (1983)

On the planet of Krull, an evil creature called the Beast decimates the world’s army and kidnaps the lovely Princess Lyssa, who is destined to become queen. Her brave beau, Prince Colwyn, leads a motley band of warriors, including Ergo and Kegan, to rescue his beloved. However, before he can face the Beast, Colwyn must locate a mystical weapon known as the Glaive, which he can use to slay the hideous villain.

This is a science fantasy film directed by Peter Yates and featuring an ensemble cast. Although the movie was a box office bomb and it was criticised for the plot being derivative and nonsensical. But bear with us as this film has since become regarded as being a cult classic and should be on any 80s movie watchlist.

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My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

This acclaimed animated tale by director Hayao Miyazaki follows schoolgirl Satsuke and her younger sister, Mei, as they settle into an old country house with their father and wait for their mother to recover from an illness in an area hospital. As the sisters explore their new home, they encounter and befriend playful spirits in their house and the nearby forest, most notably the massive cuddly creature known as Totoro.

This animated fantasy film from the acclaimed Studio Ghibli is written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. My Neighbor Totoro received universal acclaim and has garnered a worldwide cult following since its release. The film and the character Totoro have become cultural icons. The movie is often listed in the prestigious best films lists and has amassed over 1 billion in revenue since its release. Exploring themes such as animism, Shinto symbology, environmentalism and the joys of rural living this is an anime movie you shouldn’t miss out on.

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Big (1988)


After a wish turns 12-year-old Josh Baskin into a 30-year-old man, he heads to New York City and gets a low-level job at MacMillen Toy Company. A chance encounter with the owner of the company leads to a promotion testing new toys. Soon a fellow employee, Susan Lawrence, takes a romantic interest in Josh. However, the pressure of living as an adult begins to overwhelm him, and he longs to return to his simple, former life as a boy.

This is a fantasy comedy directed by Penny Marshall and starring Tom Hanks. The film was met with critical positivity, particularly for Hanks performance. It was also a huge commercial success. This is one of the more light hearted films on this list so if you prefer things a little less dark then this may be the movie for you!

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Batteries Not Included (1988)

Aliens help a feisty old New York couple in their battle against the ruthless land developer who’s out to evict them. Aliens help a feisty old New York couple in their battle against the ruthless land developer who’s out to evict them.

This is a comic science fiction film directed by Matthew Robbins. This movie did well at the box office and although reviews were a little mixed for some lighthearted fun this movie has good character.

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The Witches Of Eastwick (1987)

Three small-town friends, Alexandra, Jane and Sukie, each having lost the man in their lives, are feeling unfulfilled — until a furtive stranger, Daryl Van Horne, arrives and begins courting each of them in turn. Eventually, Daryl tells them that they are witches. But as the three friends spend more time at his mansion, enjoying themselves and learning about their powers, they begin to worry about Daryl’s ultimate intentions.

This is a dark fantasy-comedy film directed by George Miller. It stars Jack Nicholson, Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon. This movie was met with mostly positive critical response, with Nicholson’s performance particularly being praised. This is another fun 80s fantasy movie that is definitely worth your time!

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The Princess Bride (1987)

A fairy tale adventure about a beautiful young woman and her one true love. He must find her after a long separation and save her. They must battle the evils of the mythical kingdom of Florin to be reunited with each other. Based on the William Goldman novel “The Princess Bride” which earned its own loyal audience.

This is a fantasy romance movie based on the novel of the same name from William Goldman. It did moderately well at the box office and was mostly praised but it snowballed into the cult classic it is known as today.

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Castle In The Sky (1986)

Young orphan Sheeta and her kidnapper, Col. Muska, are flying to a military prison when their plane is attacked by a gang of air pirates led by the matronly Dola. Escaping from a mid-air collision via a magic crystal around her neck, Sheeta meets fellow orphan Pazu and the pair join forces to discover the mystical floating city of Laputa while pursued by both Muska and the pirates, who lust for the city’s myriad treasures.

Another Studio Ghibli classic, directed and written by Hayao Miyazaki this is an animated fantasy adventure movie. Both a box office and critical success this movie is towards the top of a lot of polls for best animated movie. It also has a strong influence on Japanese popular culture and has inspired many films, media and games. This is a must watch!

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Highlander (1986)

When the mystical Russell Nash kills a man in a sword fight in a New York City parking lot, he leaves a sliver of an ancient weapon lodged in a car in the process. After brilliant forensics specialist Brenda Wyatt recovers evidence of the mysterious weapon, she and her partner, Lt. Frank Moran, embark on an investigation Of Nash that will land them in the middle of a dangerous, centuries-old feud between powerful immortals.

This is a fantasy action-adventure film directed by Russell Mulcahy. It is based on a story by Gregory Widen and stars Christopher Lambert, Roxanne Hart, Clancy Brown, and Sean Connery. This was neither a box office nor critical success but again went on to achieve cult status. This then inspired sequel movies and a television spin off. And of course the infamous tagline, “There can be only one”.

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NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

Far in the future, after an apocalyptic conflict has devastated much of the world’s ecosystem, the few surviving humans live in scattered semi-hospitable environments within what has become a “toxic jungle.” Young NausicaƤ lives in the arid Valley of the Wind and can communicate with the massive insects that populate the dangerous jungle. Under the guidance of the pensive veteran warrior, Lord Yupa, NausicaƤ works to bring peace back to the ravaged planet.

This Japanese Anime film is written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and is based on his 1982 manga. Upon its release the movie received critical acclaim and in 2007 it was ranked as the best Japanese anime in a survey by the Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs. The movie is seen as being a heavy influence on the future of anime. So whether or not you are an anime fan then be sure to check this film out.

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The Last Unicorn (1982)


In this animated musical, the villainous King Haggard plots to destroy all the world’s unicorns. When a young unicorn learns that she’s in danger and that she may soon be the last of her kind, she leaves the safety of her protected forest and enlists the help of Schmendrick, a gentle, albeit clumsy, sorcerer. Together, they embark on a long and dangerous journey with one goal: to defeat Haggard and save the unicorns from extinction.

This animated fantasy is based on the novel of the same name from Peter S. Beagle. The movie was largely reviewed positively and is yet another movie on this list to have gained legendary cult status.

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The Black Cauldron (1985)

In the land of Prydain, lowly pig herder Taran dreams of becoming a gallant knight. Young Taran receives his heroic calling when the evil Horned King kidnaps Hen-Wren, a prophesying pig that had been entrusted to Taran. Now, with help from his furry sidekick Gurgi and Princess Eilonwy, Taran must locate the magical black cauldron before the Horned King is able to use its mystical powers to summon an army of the undead.

This is an animated dark fantasy movie from Disney. It was the first Disney movie to receive a PG rating and it was a box office bomb, partly due to critics disapproving of its dark nature. Despite the negativity the movie has been praised for its score and many critics have praised the characters and the involving story. This is definitely still worth a watch!

Which of these fantasy movies 80s is your fave? Let us know!

80’s Fantasy Movies: 20 Legendary Classics
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