We'll Give You the Plotline, You Tell Us the '80s Movie Title


By: Ian Fortey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Phoenix Pictures/Indie Prod Company Productions/Paramount Pictures

About This Quiz

Ahh, the '80s. What a cinematic decade.  We had everything from "Howard the Duck" to "Platoon" to "Fatal Attraction." The '80s was the decade Hollywood amped up the idea of blockbuster cinema and started cranking out some of the biggest spectacles you could imagine.  It also had its fair share of clunkers but hey, nobody's perfect.

From the amazing collected works of John Hughes to a solid decade of Schwarzenegger and Stallone manliness to Scarface and his little friend, there was definitely something for everyone.  Many of these movies became instant classics while a few others probably grew on you over time. Whatever your taste in film, there's got to be a ton you loved that came out of the '80s.  The question is, did you pay attention?  Are you a hardcore '80s cinephile? Do you know your Critters from your Ghoulies from your Gremlins? Your Sheens from you Estevez's? Your "16 Candles" from your "Pretty in Pink?"  And all based on the plotline alone?  It's time to dust off that old VCR, head back to the past (as opposed to Back to the Future) and try your hand at the quiz!

A diverse group of high school kids comes into school on the weekend to serve detention and wind up becoming friends.

"The Breakfast Club" is a classic high school drama/comedy directed by John Hughes and featuring '80s powerhouses Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall and Emilio Estevez. It convinced a generation that no matter what clique we're a part of, we're all the same underneath.


A kid from New Jersey moves to Los Angeles and learns martial arts to defend himself from bullies.

"The Karate Kid" was a huge hit and spawned an awful lot of sequels. Not only that, it got a cartoon adaptation, a remake in the year 2010 and then a spin-off show on Netflix called "Cobra Kai" in 2018.


Unable to fit in elsewhere, a group of social outcasts from their own fraternity at college to take on the jock-filled frat full of bullies.

"Revenge of the Nerds" is a classic college comedy underdog story. It managed to find a way to showcase all the various kinds of geek, weirdo and outcast stereotypes and still make you cheer for them.


After getting an unusual little creature as a pet, a young man has to deal with the army of monsters it accidentally spawns.

"Gremlins" is a Christmas classic that managed to mix a little comedy and a little horror with great results. It also featured a great cute little creature in Gizmo and then a whole army of gross little creeps with the rest of the Gremlins.


With the help of an eccentric scientist, a high school kid travels to 1955 and has to ensure his parents fall in love or else he'll never exist.

"Back to the Future" is an iconic '80s sci-fi/comedy that featured Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, a high school kid who for reasons no one ever explains is best friends with a very old man who turned a DeLorean into a time machine.


A New York cop finds himself in a high-rise office building taken over by terrorists at Christmas.

"Die Hard" is the movie that basically made Bruce Willis an action star. Prior to "Die Hard" he was mostly just known as that guy from the TV show "Moonlighting," which you probably never saw unless you were big on comedy-dramas in the mid-'80s.


A private detective has to help a cartoon character clear his name after he's been accused of murder.

"Who Framed Roger Rabbit" was a groundbreaking mix of live action and animation that merged countless classic cartoon characters and also a foul-mouthed baby who smokes cigars.


In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a nomadic loner helps a small community of survivors fight a savage gang of bandits.

The first "Mad Max" came out in the '70s and was a cult classic, but "Mad Max 2" really made the franchise and also made Mel Gibson a household name. The movie also featured Vernon Wells as a Mohawk-sporting madman, a role which he more or less reprised in the John Hughes movie "Weird Science."


A federal agent comes to Prohibition-era Chicago to take on Al Capone.

Kevin Costner starred in "The Untouchables" as Eliot Ness, taking on Robert DeNiro as Al Capone. As far as gangster movies go, this one was pretty popular.


A city kid rebels against the powers-that-be in a small town that forbids dancing.

Kevin Bacon became famous for his role in "Footloose," about an ultra-conservative town that just couldn't handle his incredible '80s dance moves.


In futuristic Detroit, a police officer gunned down in the line of duty is resurrected as part man, part machine and all cop.

"Robocop" has endured as one of the best sci-fi films of the '80s, and also a biting satire. Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the original choices for the role of Robocop, but Peter Weller got the role in part because it ensured the Robocop suit wouldn't be too bulky.


Four men use science to save New York City from the paranormal.

"Ghostbusters" was without a doubt one of the biggest movies of the '80s and is still one of the most popular movies of all time. Eddie Murphy was the first choice to play Winston in the movie but he was busy making "Beverly Hills Cop."


An artificial intelligence sends a robotic killing machine from the future on a mission to kill the mother of the human resistance before he's born.

"The Terminator" is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's most iconic roles and he wasn't even the studio's first choice. Schwarzenegger wasn't as big a deal back in the early '80s and the studio wanted O.J. Simpson to play the part.


A teenager's family forgets her birthday just before her sister's wedding as she struggles to gain the attention of the boy she likes while avoiding the one she doesn't.

"Sixteen Candles" was one of John Hughes' classic teen comedies and one of three to feature both Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall in lead roles.


A gentle alien lost on Earth befriends a young boy who must help the creature avoid the government and return home.

"E.T." is one of Steven Spielberg's most famous films. If you watch closely you'll notice that for most of the movie, the camera shoots the action from a low-angle, much the way a child would see the world.


A teenage girl wishes the Goblin King would take her little brother away, and then must track the baby through a maze full of incredible creatures.

"Labyrinth" is a family favorite that mixes live-action with Jim Henson Muppet creations and also David Bowie. The baby in the movie, played by Toby Froud, grew up to be a puppet maker.


A hot shot Navy pilot must prove his skill at an elite training school against the best pilots in the military.

"Top Gun" is one of Tom Cruise's most memorable films and features some great dogfighting action in the sky. The cost of using all those fighter jets was extremely high. Fuel was about $7,800 an hour.


A group of kids go on an adventure to find a long-lost treasure while being pursued by a family of criminals.

One of the most famous teen comedy movies of the '80s, "The Goonies" is known for its fun ensemble cast. "The Goonies" also had a fairly confusing history for some viewers as depending on where and when you saw the film, you may or may not be aware there's a scene with a giant octopus near the end of the movie. The theatrical release didn't have it, but some TV airings did.


Teens at a summer camp on the lake are stalked by a masked killer.

"Friday the 13th" is one of the most enduring franchises in horror history. It has 12 feature-length films and there have been TV and video game adaptations. Over the course of the franchise, Jason has killed over 160 people.


Two geeky friends making the perfect woman.

"Weird Science" featured Kelly LeBrock as Lisa, the woman that friends Wyatt and Gary made with their home computer because a computer in the '80s could do literally anything.


A computer programmer finds himself trapped in the software world he created.

The movie "Tron" has become a cult classic over the years. The director of the film, aware of the effect movies have on children, made a choice that there be no guns in the movie, which is why the characters fight with discs.


A special forces team on a secret mission in a Central American jungle is stalked by an alien hunter.

Predator was another of Arnold Schwarzenegger's greatest hits. The iconic, invisible alien was almost not a part of the film. The original alien was a kind of giant insect design, and the actor in the suit was Jean-Claude Van Damme.


A street-smart Detroit cop makes his way to California to solve the murder of a childhood friend.

"Beverly Hills Cop" was the movie that made Eddie Murphy a superstar. Prior to Murphy's involvement, both Mickey Rourke and then Sylvester Stallone were on board to play the lead.


A heroic archaeologist battles against a cult in India to save the children of a local village.

The second Indiana Jones film after "Raiders of the Lost Ark" cemented Jones as an iconic character. In a famous scene in the third movie, Indiana's father says the dog's name was Indiana. In real life, the name really did come from a dog - it was producer George Lucas' Alaskan Malamute.


The spirits of a husband and wife who are trapped in their former house enlist the help of an unpredictable spirit to haunt the family that has moved in.

Tim Burton's "Beetlejuice" is a great example of Tim Burton's aesthetic on film. His original choice to play Beetlejuice wasn't Michael Keaton but was actually Sammy Davis Jr.


Millionaire brothers make a bet that they can ruin one of their yuppie employees and replace him with a street-hustler they train to do his job in a nature-vs-nurture experiment.

"Trading Places" featured Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Lee Curtis in one of the few movies that made playing the stock exchange seem funny.


A group of space marines join forces with the survivor of an extra-terrestrial encounter to investigate a group of colonists that vanished on a distant planet.

The "Alien" franchise proved that a female action hero can be just as awesome as a male one. Sigourney Weaver made only $35,000 for her part in the first film but got $1 million for the sequel.


A charismatic and mischievous teen skips school for the day with his girlfriend and uptight best friend.

"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" was another John Hughes hit and much of its success comes from the chemistry between the lead and his friends. Alan Ruck, who plays Ferris' best friend Cameron, was almost 30 years old when he made the movie.


When their mom moves them to a small town, two teen brothers have to deal with the local gang of vampires.

"The Lost Boys" was the first film that featured "the Coreys," Corey Feldman and Corey Haim. The two would go on to make over a half dozen movies together and were '80s teens icons.


A strait-laced cop nearing retirement is forced to partner with a loose cannon as they get wrapped up in a murder investigation.

The "Lethal Weapon" franchise has been hugely popular. Four films and a TV show have kept the franchise running and the show "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" famously had not one but two episodes about the characters making their own sequels to the films.


A boy's wish that he was no longer a small child comes true.

Tom Hanks began his career as a comedic actor before transitioning into drama. "Big" was one of his most popular comedies with a bit of a dramatic flair. Hanks originally turned down the role because of scheduling, and the studio tried to get actors like Kevin Costner and Warren Beatty.


Four boys go on an adventure to discover a dead body.

"Stand By Me" is a classic coming-of-age movie that featured many actors who would go on to become much bigger stars. It was also adapted from a short story by horror master Stephen King.


When a man returns home after his father's death, he ends up taking care of his autistic older brother.

"Rain Man" paired Tom Cruise with Dustin Hoffman. The movie was extremely popular and went on to become the highest grossing film of 1988.


A filmmaker documents the reunion tour of a fake rock band.

"This is Spinal Tap" is presented entirely as a documentary, even though the film is fiction and stands as one of the best examples of the "mockumentary" style. Even though Spinal Tap was a fictional band in the film, the trio actually recorded and released albums later on, so technically they are a real band.


A macho truck driver tries to stop a 3,000-year-old sorcerer and his supernatural gang of thugs from sacrificing a green-eyed woman to release him from a curse.

Directed by John Carpenter, "Big Trouble in Little China" is one of those curious genre-bending movies that's a little action, a little comedy and maybe a little sci-fi and horror as well. It also features Kurt Russell as one of the most bumbling heroes ever.


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