Sci fi movies are our absolute favorites here! And what’s better than some 80s classic sci fi movies? With explorations of space and alien beings, the sci fi movies of the 80s still give us endless entertainment even 40 years later. So, get ready to travel back in time to the 80s and enjoy these iconic sci fi movies!
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Sci Fi Movies Of The 80s List
In the year 10191, a spice called melange is the most valuable substance known in the universe. And its only source is the desert planet Arrakis. A royal decree awards Arrakis to Duke Leto Atreides and ousts his bitter enemies, the Harkonnens. However, when they violently seize back their fiefdom, it is up to Paul – Leto’s son – to lead the Fremen in a battle for control of the planet.
Based on Frank Herbert’s masterpiece of the same name and there has recently been a remake starring Jason Momoa and Zendeya. You should still make a point of watching this original if you haven’t already done so!
In 1988 the Japanese government drops an atomic bomb on Tokyo after ESP experiments on children go awry. In 2019, 31 years later, Kaneda – a bike gang leader – tries to save his friend Tetsuo from a secret government project. Kaneda battles anti-government activists, politicians, scientists and a military leader. Until Tetsuo’s supernatural powers suddenly manifest.
This Japanese animated cyberpunk action film has received heavy critical praise and is regarded as one of the greatest animated and science fiction films ever made. So if you haven’t managed to catch this one yet make it a priority!
The Thing (1982)
In remote Antarctica, a group of American research scientists are disturbed at their base camp by a helicopter shooting at a sled dog. When they take in the dog, it brutally attacks both humans and canines in the camp. And they discover that the beast can assume the shape of its victims. Now, a helicopter pilot and the camp doctor lead the camp crew in a desperate battle against the vicious creature.
This is a sci fi horror movie directed by John Carpenter and stars Kurt Russell. On its theatrical release the movie was subject to mostly negative reviews but upon release to home video everything changed. The movie found a more appreciative audience and began to go down as a cult classic. It is now regarded as being on of the best science fiction and horror films ever made.
2010 The Year We Make Contact (1984)
Brave explorers are headed for the far reaches of the galaxy in the continuation of the story that began with 2001: A Space Odyssey. Their destination is Jupiter. The Russian and American astronauts will conduct their investigation on what led to the disaster for the deceased astronauts who preceded them.
This movie is the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey and is based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke 2010: Odyssey Two. The movie was a hit both at the box office and critics upon its release. This is a must see movie!
The Dead Zone (1984)
When Johnny Smith awakens from a coma caused by a car accident, he finds that years have passed and he now has psychic abilities. Heartbroken that his girlfriend has moved on with her life, Johnny also must contend with his unsettling powers, which allow him to see a person’s future with a mere touch. And after seeing danger in the future of an aspiring politician, Johnny resolves to kill him.
This sci fi thriller is based on the book of the same name from Stephen King. The movie was a hit with critics and Christopher Walken’s performance was particularly well received. At the time it was said to be one of the best big screen adaptions of a Stephen King book.
A man loses his identity while living under a repressive regime. Winston Smith is a government employee whose job involves the rewriting of history in a manner that casts his fictional country’s leaders in a charitable light. His trysts with Julia provide his only measure of enjoyment, but lawmakers frown on the relationship. And in this closely monitored society, there is no escape from Big Brother.
This dystopian sci fi based on the classic book of the same name by George Orwell features Richard Burton’s last on screen appearance. The movie captures the darkness of Orwell’s book and isn’t an easy watch but it is well worth it.
Flight Of The Navigator (1986)
This Disney adventure tells the story of 12-year-old David who lives with his family in Fort Lauderdale. When he awakens from being accidentally knocked out in the forest near his home, he finds that eight years have passed. His family is overjoyed to have him back. But are just as perplexed as he is by the fact that he hasn’t aged. When a NASA scientist discovers a UFO nearby, David gets the chance to unravel the mystery and recover the life he lost.
This sci fi adventure film is one of the first movies to extensively use CGI. Since it’s release it has become a cult classic with a large sci fi cult following. There is a reboot in the making, it will be a huge task to match the awesomeness of the original. But give this a watch while we wait to find out!.
E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
After a gentle alien becomes stranded on Earth, the being is discovered and befriended by a young boy named Elliott. Bringing the extra-terrestrial into his suburban California house, Elliott introduces the alien as E.T., to his brother and his little sister, Gertie. So the children decide to keep its existence a secret. Soon, however, E.T. falls ill. This results in government intervention and a dire situation for both Elliott and the alien.
This alien sci fi classic directed by Steven Spielberg is one of the biggest movies of the 80s. It has received very positive critical acclaim and it is well deserved. If you somehow haven’t seen this movie yet then don’t miss out. Keep the tissues handy though (or is that just us?)!
The Running Man (1987)
In the year 2019, America is a totalitarian state where the favorite television program is The Running Man. It’s a game show in which prisoners must run to freedom to avoid a brutal death. Having been made a scapegoat by the government, an imprisoned Ben Richards has the opportunity to make it back to the outside again by being a contestant on the deadly show. Although the twisted host, Damon Killian, has no intention of letting him escape.
The second movie on this list that is an adaption of a Stephen King book (again of the same title). There is also a new adaption of this movie in the works (being written by Edgar Wright). So catch this classic now before the new version hits!
Dutch is a soldier of fortune and is hired by the U.S. government to secretly rescue a group of politicians trapped in Guatemala. But when Dutch and his team, which includes weapons expert Blain and CIA agent George, land in Central America, something is gravely wrong. After finding a string of dead bodies, the crew discovers they are being hunted by a brutal creature with superhuman strength and the ability to disappear into its surroundings.
This sci fi action horror was a huge success and spawned a franchise of Predator films, books, toys and games. It was directed by John McTiernan and starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was the second highest box office taker in the year of its release and was hugely praised. Definitely one to watch!
After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt. But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds of aliens that have invaded the colony.
This sci fi horror action film from James Cameron is the sequel to 1979’s classic Alien. Regarded as being a worthy successor to the original Alien movie this is absolutely a must watch movie!
When a space mission involving American and British astronauts encounters an alien craft, the humanoids within are brought aboard the shuttle. Back on Earth, one of the extra-terrestrials, who appears to be a gorgeous woman, proceeds to suck the life force out of various Londoners, turning the town into a city of roaming half-dead people. When Tom Carlsen, a surviving astronaut, realizes what is happening, he sets out to stop the ruthless alien presence.
This sci fi horror is based on Colin Wilson’s book The Space Vampires. Unfortunately the movie received mostly negative reviews and was a bit of a bomb at the box office. But since then this movie has achieved cult status and isn’t one to miss!
The Last Starfighter (1984)
After finally achieving the high score on Starfighter, his favorite arcade game, Alex Rogan meets the game’s designer. Centauri reveals that he created Starfighter as a training ground for developing and recruiting actual pilots to help fight a war in space. Whisked away from the banality of his trailer park life to a distant alien planet, Alex struggles to use his video game-playing skills to pilot a real ship, with real lives at stake.
This space opera is one of the first movies to use extensive CGI. Though the plot isn’t too heavy or original this movie has been praised for the cast’s performance and is definitely still worth a watch!
Short Circuit (1986)
When one of an experimental range of military robots is hit by lightning, it is given consciousness. It escapes from the military and befriends a young woman, Stephanie Speck. Its creator, Newton Crosby, is desperate to find it, or his entire project may be scrapped.
This sci fi comedy starring the lovable robot with human like intelligence is a fun watch so if comedy with AI robots is your thing then check this out!
Flash Gordon (1980)
Although NASA scientists are claiming the unexpected eclipse and strange “hot hail” are nothing to worry about, Dr. Hans Zarkov knows better. So he takes football star Flash Gordon and travel agent Dale Arden with him into space to rectify things. They land on planet Mongo, where the despot Ming the Merciless is attacking Earth out of pure boredom. With the help of a race of Hawkmen, Flash and the gang struggle to save their home planet.
This space opera is based on the comic strip of the same name created by Alex Raymond. It wasn’t a hit at the box office but has since become a cult classic so catch this one for sure!
Repo Man (1984)
After being fired from his job, Los Angeles slacker and punk rocker Otto lands a gig working for an eccentric repossession agent named Bud. At first, Otto is reluctant to work as a repo man, but he grows to love the fast-paced job. After learning of a Chevy Malibu that has been given a $20,000 price tag, Otto embarks on a quest to find the car with the beautiful Leila, who claims the trunk’s contents are otherworldly.
This science fiction black comedy had a troubled release as it wasn’t deemed as being marketable. However the movie received critical acclaim and has since become a cult classic. This is a must watch!
Blade Runner (1982)
Deckard is forced by the police Boss to continue his old job as Replicant Hunter. His assignment: eliminate four escaped Replicants from the colonies who have returned to Earth. Before starting the job, Deckard goes to the Tyrell Corporation and he meets Rachel, a Replicant girl he falls in love with.
This sci fi dystopian classic is an adaptation of of Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and has since become an acclaimed cult classic. It was directed by Ridley Scott and starred Harrison Ford. The film has also influenced many other movies, tv shows, anime and video games. The sequel Blade Runner 2049 was released in 2017 but is not regarded as highly as this original.
Back To The Future (1985)
Small-town California teen Marty McFly is thrown back into the ’50s when an experiment by his eccentric scientist friend Doc Brown goes awry. Traveling through time in a modified DeLorean car, Marty encounters young versions of his parents. And must make sure that they fall in love or he’ll cease to exist. Even more dauntingly, Marty has to return to his own time and save the life of Doc Brown.
This time travelling film is another that was so successful that it spawned a whole Back To The Future franchise. A Blockbuster box office hit the movie was released to huge critical acclaim and it is well deserved. If you have never seen this movie then you don’t know what you have missed!
In a violent, near-apocalyptic Detroit, evil corporation Omni Consumer Products wins a contract from the city government to privatize the police force. To test their crime-eradicating cyborgs, the company leads street cop Alex Murphy into an armed confrontation with crime lord Boddicker. So they can use his body to support their untested RoboCop prototype. But when RoboCop learns of the company’s nefarious plans, he turns on his masters.
This sci fi action film was such a huge success that it generated a whole Robocop franchise with sequels, TV shows, video games, toys and other merch. Audiences and critics alike rated the movie well. The movie is on the violent side but is a must watch 80s movie!
Talented computer engineer Kevin Flynn finds out that Ed Dillinger, an executive at his company, has been stealing his work. So he tries to hack into the system. However, Flynn is transported into the digital world. There, he has to face off against Dillinger’s computerized likeness and the imposing Master Control Program. Aided by Tron and Yori, Flynn becomes a freedom fighter for the oppressed programs of the grid.
This is a sci fi action adventure 80s classic! Along with Tron this is one of the first movies to use extensive CGI. Upon release this wasn’t the biggest box office success but did receive a large amount of critical praise. The movie also generated huge Cult status and has inspired many other forms of art.
Weird Science (1985)
Teen misfits Gary and Wyatt design their ideal woman on a computer. And a freak electrical accident brings her to life in the form of the lovely, superhuman Lisa. She outfits Gary and Wyatt in cool clothes, surprises them with a Porsche and helps them stand up to jerks Ian and Max. But, all the while, the boys must hide Lisa’s existence from Wyatt’s nightmare of a big brother.
This is a science fiction comedy from John Hughes. This was a fan favorite in the 80s and if you are looking for something more light hearted then this movie may be your thing!
The Fly (1986)
When scientist Seth Brundle completes his teleportation device, he decides to test its abilities on himself. Unbeknownst to him, a housefly slips in during the process, leading to a merger of man and insect. Initially, Brundle appears to have undergone a successful teleportation. But the fly’s cells begin to take over his body. As he becomes increasingly fly-like, Brundle’s girlfriend is horrified as the person she once loved deteriorates into a monster.
This sci fi horror is a remake of the 1958 film of the same name. Starting Jeff Goldblum it was released to massive praise from critics and audiences alike. With Goldblum’s performance and the special effects/ visual effects receiving specific praise. If you have never seen this gem then don’t miss out!
Return of the Jedi (1983)
Luke Skywalker battles horrible Jabba the Hut and cruel Darth Vader to save his comrades in the Rebel Alliance and triumph over the Galactic Empire. Han Solo and Princess Leia reaffirm their love and team with Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, the Ewoks and the androids C-3PO and R2-D2 to aid in the disruption of the Dark Side and the defeat of the evil emperor.
The last movie in the Star Wars Space opera series, the movie was well received all around and is regarded as a fitting ending to the Star Wars trilogy. Watch the whole trilogy now!
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The adventure continues in this Star Wars sequel. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca face attack by the Imperial forces and its AT-AT walkers on the ice planet Hoth. While Han and Leia escape in the Millennium Falcon, Luke travels to Dagobah in search of Yoda. Only with the Jedi master’s help will Luke survive when the dark side of the Force beckons him into the ultimate duel with Darth Vader.
This epic space opera is the follow up to the first movie, Star Wars (A New Hope). Reception was initially mixed to this movie due to the change in tone from the first film but it has grown to be as beloved as the original Star Wars.
In a distant galaxy, planet Spaceball has depleted its air supply, leaving its citizens reliant on a product called Perri-Air. In desperation, Spaceball’s leader President Skroob orders the evil Dark Helmet to kidnap Princess Vespa of oxygen-rich Druidia. And hold her hostage in exchange for air. But help arrives for the Princess in the form of renegade space pilot Lone Starr and his half-man, half-dog partner, Barf.
This is a space opera parody from Mel Brooks starring John Candy. This is a fun sci fi romp that is definitely a must watch!
They Live (1988)
Nada, a wanderer without meaning in his life, discovers a pair of sunglasses capable of showing the world the way it truly is. As he walks the streets of Los Angeles, Nada notices that both the media and the government are comprised of subliminal messages meant to keep the population subdued, and that most of the social elite are skull-faced aliens bent on world domination. With this shocking discovery, Nada fights to free humanity from the mind-controlling aliens.
This sci fi action film is based on Ray Nelson’s short story Eight O’Clock in the Morning. It was directed by John Carpenter and starred WWE star Roddy Piper. This movie was a minor success upon release but has since become a must watch cult classic!
Answering a NASA message intended for aliens, a space being tries to contact mankind, but an American missile grounds his ship. Scrambling, the so-called Starman inhabits the body of a late Wisconsinite and kidnaps the dead man’s widow, Jenny Hayden. Determined to reunite with a vessel from his home planet at a predetermined site, Starman and Jenny travel to Arizona. Pursued by military officials trying to kill him, Starman forges a lasting bond with Jenny.
This sci fi romance drama was directed by John Carpenter and starred Jeff Bridges. Although not a box office hit the movie was a hit with critics and audiences alike and Bridges was nominated for an Oscar for his role. So if you like a little romance with your sci fi then this is the title for you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Was sci-fi popular in the 80s?
Yes, sci-fi was popular in the 80s, there were plenty of sci-fi books and movies released. It was the decade that saw the Star Wars and Back To The Future franchises take off, amongst many other sci-fi classics.
What outer space movie came out in the 1980s?
Here is a list of the outer space movies that came out in the 1980s:
- 2010 The Year We Make Contact (1984)
- E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
- Aliens (1986)
- Lifeforce (1985)
- The Last Starfighter (1984)
- The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
- Return of the Jedi (1983)
- Spaceballs (1987)
- They Live (1988)
- Starman (1984)
Was there an old Dune movie?
Yes there is an old Dune movie. The original Dune movie based on Frank Herbert’s masterpiece book series was released in 1984. It was written and directed by David Lynch and starred Kyle MacLachlan.