Real Men (1987) | Dennis Feldman



James Belushi stars as Nick Pirandello, a crude smart-ass that just so happens to be one of the country’s top CIA agents, who is ordered to recruit a mild-mannered suburban insurance salesman father, Bob Wilson (John Ritter), a lookalike for a recently iced agent, to join him on a secret mission that may have interplanetary implications that may result in the end of the world as we know it. But Bob is such a sweet-natured man, he needs a crash course in toughening up to the task, which Nick must do in order to achieve the mission’s success.  Meanwhile, Bob thinks Nick is off his rocker, particularly when he begins talking like the case involves aliens from outer space. Dennis Feldman writes and directs this zany off-the-wall buddy comedy.


Spies Like Us (1985) | John Landis



The plot of Spies Like Us involves the two most inept, low-level U.S. intelligence agents they could find to go on a mission as expendable decoys for the real agents. Emmett Fitz-Hume (Chevy Chase) and Austin Millbarge (Dan Aykroyd) were scouted by the CIA after cheating on their advanced placement exams, with a mission that sees them parachuting into Pakistan. From there, the bumbling duo ends up in Afghanistan, where they’re mistaken for doctors there on a humanitarian mission for the United Nations, followed by run-ins with the Russians during an effort to draw out the identities of Soviet spies in the area so that the real American spies can complete their mission to check out a news style of Soviet missile launcher. With this launcher, they can send up a Soviet missile in order to test the U.S. anti-missile satellite defenses in order to convince the Soviet Union that they have an edge in technology. John Landis directs this silly slapstick comedy.


Rambo III (1988) | Peter MacDonald



This time it’s a bit more personal for John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), as his former Vietnam commander and friend, Colonel Trautman (Richard Crenna), has been captured by Russian forces as he tries to rally the Afghan rebels who have been winning the resistance.  The Afghani people are too suspicious of the American to willingly join his crusade to spring Trautman from his prison cell, leaving him to go it mostly alone, with one or two friends he has made in his short introduction to their ranks.  He faces formidable odds, as the prison is surrounded by landmines, tanks, and hundreds of Russians, and the Russkie leadership is as corrupt and uncaring as the worst of them. John MacDonald directs this ultra-patriotic action-war effort from a script co-written by Stallone himself.


Rambo: First Blood Part 2 (1985) | George P. Cosmatos



The story follows First Blood, where John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is in prison for his one-man army heroics against law enforcement in the first film.  Here, Colonel Trautman (Richard Crenna) approaches Rambo to undergo a covert operation that will presumably save the lives of thousands of POWs still in Southeast Asia, if he can find evidence that they are still being held captive.  Rambo is hired only to take pictures, but that doesn’t sit well with the disgruntled vet, who uses the opportunity to get them out while he can.  However, corrupt government officials don’t want Rambo to find any POWs, as this would complicate American relations in the area, and when irrefutable evidence is given, the mission is aborted, leaving Rambo all by himself — one man against an army of sadistic Vietnamese and Soviet military advisors, merging America’s former fight with the Cold War enemy of today..


First Blood (1982) | Ted Kotcheff



Sylvester Stallon stars as John Rambo, who has spent years trying to track down the only family he ever really knew — the soldiers who fought alongside him in the war.  To Rambo’s dismay, he finds he is all alone, as all of the rest were killed in action, or died from cancerous war-related exposure to chemicals, leaving him but to drift along the roads in search of new meaning to his life.  In the small town of Hope, the local sheriff (Brian Dennehy) named Will Teasle tags Rambo as a vagrant drifter and quickly ushers him out of town.  However, Rambo defiantly tries to return, whereupon he is arrested for vagrancy. When he doesn’t quite understand why he is being incarcerated, he resists their strong-arm tactics to get him to comply, triggering flashbacks of his days as a tortured prisoner of war.  Rambo, an ex-Green Beret, perhaps the most lethal of them all, muscles his way out of the station and into the nearby woods, where the police are in hot pursuit.  What they don’t realize is that Rambo is a one-man killing machine, with raw instincts for guerrilla warfare and very little to hold his fragile mentality together.  He just wants to be left alone, but the police are going to see to it that he never gets his wish.


The Delta Force (1986)



Cannon Films and Golan-Globus productions push out this ultra-patriotic film in the middle of the 1980s whereby American elite commandos kick major butt when trying to secure the freedom of a plane full of hostages hijacked by a group of Lebanese terrorists. Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin head the super-soldiers to action on the hope of saving not only as many lives as they can, but their own reputation after a botched mission sees them go down in disgrace, they feel, due to bureaucratic missteps. Menahem Golan directs this quintessentially jingoistic but gloriously unabashed entry in the Chuck Norris filmography.


Commando (1985) | Mark L. Lester



In this onscreen persona-defining movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Col. John Matrix, a highly-trained military special-ops expert whose unit was disbanded and now live under secret identities in retirement.  Matrix spends his days as a single father taking care of his spirited young daughter, Jenny (Alyssa Milano), to whom he has promised not to go out on any more special missions.  However, John’s hand is forced when Jenny is abducted by a displaced South American dictator (Dan Hedaya) of a banana republic named Val Verde who wants his old gig back, planning to use her for ransom as John puts out an assassination on the current leader.  Thinking that Jenny will be killed even if he fulfills the demands, Matrix sets about dismantling the small army the dictator has around him, with the help of an airline attendant named Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong), in the hope that he can rescue his daughter before she is offed. Mark L. Lester directs this humorously over-the-top actioner from a Steven E. de Souza script.


Predator (1987) | John McTiernan



Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Major “Dutch” Schaeffer, who, along with his crew of elite special ops commandos, is sent to the jungle of a hostile Latin American country on a covert hostage rescue mission.  However, he soon finds out there’s more to the mission than he had originally been told by his old friend, Major George Dillon (Weathers), leaving them in a firefight with other military factions in a country they aren’t supposed to be in.  Worse, they discover that some of the soldiers in the area have been killed in a most disturbing manner, skinned, disemboweled, and left for vultures to feast on.  And worst of all, Dutch’s crew appear to be the next on the prey list. John McTiernan direct this classic action/adventure/sci-fi/horror/war hybrid.


Aliens (1986) | James Cameron



Aliens starts where the first one leaves off, with Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in hypersleep drifting in the escape shuttle. What Ripley doesn’t know until after she is rescued is that she has been that way for 57 years.  When she gets back, the company that owned her ship is very interested in why she decided to blow it to smithereens, and are not too impressed with her implausible “alien on board” story, since they have recently inhabited the newly terraformed world Ripley claims to have encountered the alien on, and have found nothing to indicate there is any danger there.  That is, until the company loses all signal from the far-off settlement, and offers Ripley full reinstatement if she will act as an advisor to a squad of Marines sent to investigate the affair. Features Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn, Lance Henriksen, and Bill Paxton in support. Written and directed by James Cameron.


Alien (1979) | Ridley Scott



The story begins in the year 2122, onboard the commercial towing vessel, the Nostromo. Its mostly blue-collar crew, five men and two women, are awakened prematurely while still in deep space from their cryogenic slumber en route back to Earth.  The reason for their early disturbance has to do with the company’s policy to investigate potential alien life forms, so when what appears to be an SOS signal is being transmitted from a moon in their relative vicinity, their overriding primary mission is changed to checking out the situation.  Upon landing on the desolate planet, the scientists discover what appears to be eggs containing another form of life, one of which hatches and latches itself to one of the crew.  Unable to remove the creature, it is brought back on board the Nostromo, where it grows at a rapid pace to become one of the deadliest killing machines humankind has ever faced. Alien would make a star out of Sigourney Weaver, and Ridley Scott one f the most sought-after directors in Hollywood.


Lifeforce (1985) | Tobe Hooper



In Cannon Films’ Lifeforce, we find a space shuttle mission co-funded by American and British space agencies traveling to explore Halley’s Comet up close. They soon make a discovery of an alien ship hiding in the comet’s coma, so they go on board to investigate, only to find desiccated bat-like creatures and three naked humanoid beings, a woman and two men, seemingly in a perpetual state of sleep in their individual glass sarcophagus-like pods. They bring the pods aboard to bring to study, but things go awry in ways that we don’t quite learn about until the pods are brought down to the European Space Research Centre in London. The shuttle mission’s sole human survivor, Colonel Tom Carlsen (Steve Railsback) also makes his way to Earth to spin a crazy tale, and to help with the mission to track down the space vampires trying to make their escape and wreak havoc on an unsuspecting planet. Tobe Hooper directs this big-budget oddity from 1985.


Fright Night Part 2 (1989) | Tommy Lee Wallace



Fright Night Part 2 is a follow-up to the 1985 cult hit, Fright Night (naturally), where we find the same protagonist, Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale), as a college student no longer believing in the existence of vampires after three years of therapy. Also helping him overcome his supposed fantasies is his new girlfriend and fellow student at the college, Alex (Traci Lind). However, things get dicey in their relationship when Charley gets seduced through his dreams by a sexy vampire posing as a performance artist named Regine Dandridge (Julie Carmen), the sister of the vampire that Jerry defeated in the first film. Regine wants revenge in the form of turning Charley into her wicked vampire servant until the end of time. Knowing he’s in trouble if he doesn’t get help, he again goes to the only source who will believe him, b-movie horror host and vampire slayer, Peter Vincent. However, Regine is cunning and powerful, and she’s brought along a gang of fellow vampires to protect her. Tommy Lee Wallace directs this lesser-known and seen sequel that has garnered a minor cult following of its own.


Fright Night (1985) | Tom Holland



Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is a typical suburban teenager with a special interest in old-time horror b-movies, the kind seen on the local creep-fest TV showcase, “Fright Night”, hosted by the self-proclaimed king of vampire hunting films, Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall).  It’s all fantasy to Charley until he spies on his new neighbors in the house next door to discover that there is a man there that is, in fact, a vampire himself (Chris Sarandon).  As bodies end up dead throughout the town, no one will listen to Charley’s assertions. 

Trouble brews when his tenaciousness draws the ire of Jerry, the vampire himself, who threatens that he’s going to take down Charley and everyone he loves before Charley can take him down first.  Knowing he needs help, Charley turns to the only man he knows known to kill vampires, Peter Vincent himself, though he’s no killer — he just plays one on TV.  When Jerry has his sights set on Charley’s girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse), the war is on between the men for love and continued life.

Tom Holland writes and directs this beloved 80s horror-comedy.


The Lost Boys (1987) | Joel Schumacher



Lucy Emerson (Dianne Wiest) is a divorced mother of two teenage sons, Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Coey Haim), who relocates to the strange oceanside California town of Santa Carla, which is filled with a mix of punk and hippie cultures.  The residents of Santa Carla have taken to calling it the “murder capital of the world”, with deaths and disappearances occurring on an increasingly frequent basis.  Kiefer Sutherland plays David, the leader of a motorcycle gang that has been terrorizing the community, and one of the members, a sexy female named Star (Jami Gertz), has taken a mutual liking to Michael.  Michael wants to get closer to Star, but this proves to be a risk, as David makes him a member of the gang through a blood ritual that ends up turning Michael into a half-vampire (not full until he makes his first kill).   With Star’s help, along with his brother Sam and a couple of comic book geeks with vampire knowledge named Edgar and Allen, aka the Frog Brothers, Michael has to find a way to reverse the curse. Joel Schumacher directs this 80s horror-comedy vampire favorite.


Near Dark (1987) | Kathryn Bigelow



Adrian Pasdar stars as Caleb Colton, a young and somewhat passive small-town guy in Oklahoma who has his eye set on a visiting mysterious boyish beauty named Mae (Jenny Wright).  Caleb and Mae spend the night talking and flirting, but Mae has to make it home before the sun comes up, for reasons that aren’t too clear for Caleb.  Before the end of the evening, Mae bites Caleb on the neck, although she doesn’t really drink his blood, setting forth a reaction in his body that makes him very strong and agile, fry up in direct sunlight, and crave human blood himself.  Before Caleb can get home, he is “adopted” by his new family, a clan of immortals with the same condition he is in, although they aren’t taking too kindly to Mae’s decision to “turn” Caleb into one of them, especially since she must feed him from her own blood.  Caleb doesn’t want to kill other humans like the others, but to be part of them, he finds he must, because he can’t survive on his own.  Tensions flare in the group, as well as within Caleb himself, as to what the proper thing to do is. Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein, and Tim Thomerson, and Bill Paxton get supporting roles. Kathryn Bigelow’s debut as a solo director.