According to the dictionary, ‘cheesy’ is a term that can be used to define something banal, tripe or in bad taste. Now that’s according to the dictionary. For me it means something just a bit different. For me cheesy means a film that is fun, in spite of its flaws and its hard to swallow storyline. In spite of its bad acting and its bad effects. Sometimes cheesy films are just films that are silly to the max, but I love that about them! So on this post, I present you with only some, of many cheesy 80s films. There were a lot of movies from the 80s that fell in that category, the ones I mention here are only a small sample of the ample choice of cheesy films from the decade of decadence! Im only including American films, because if I was to include foreign films, especially films from Italy, this list would have to be a lot longer! Feel free to add any cheesy movie you might remember from your childhood!
#13 - Flash Gordon (1980) - Max Von Sydow plays Ming the Merciless, who plans on destroying Earth simply for his own amusement! Flash Gordon (Quarterback for the New York Jets!) goes up to Mongo to try and stop Ming from doing so. This movie is so cheesy, it has Flash Gordon playing football in Emperor Mings Imperial Courtroom! Its ultra campy, very retro, so much so that it feels like a science fiction film from the 50’s. To the films advantage, the Queen soundtrack makes the film even more watchable! Ming the Merciless is played by Max Von Sydow who has some of the best lines. Im talking about golden nuggets of wisdom like: “Pathetic Earthlings, hurling yourselves out into the void without the slightest inkling of who or what is out there. If you had known anything about the true nature of the universe, anything at all, you would’ve hidden from it in terror” Audiences back in the day didn’t get the retro vibe that this movie was going for, so it tanked at the box office, but across the years, its gathered some serious cult following. Its one of my favorites, I can watch it and rewatch it over and over again.
Favorite Cheesy Line: “Flash, Flash, I love you! But we only have fourteen hours to save the earth!”
#12 - Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983) - I must’ve watched this one a million times when it was first released! I remember loving the villain, played by Michael Ironside. The bad guy was half robotic, half human, and he moved around on this giant crane. I thought that was so cool back in the day, saw it recently and realized how unthreatening this villain was! I mean, the guy can’t even properly move on that thing! He is a sitting duck on that thing, why do people choose to follow him or fear him? I don’t know! The film stars a very young Molly Ringwald, in fact, I believe she was still a teenager when she starred on this film. But basically, the films plot is, this mercenary guy has to rescue these three hot chicks who are stranded on a dangerous planet. You see, the interstellar cruise ship they were vacationing on exploded, and they crash landed on this dangerous planet. So yeah, that’s how cheesy this movie is. The main jist of the film is the hero has to rescue three hot space tourists!
Favorite Cheesy Line: After being promised he would be set free if he passed a test, and he does, the villain replies: “I lied! Nobody goes free! Chemist, prepare the Fusion Tube!”
#11 - Howard the Duck (1986) - This movie is the one that George Lucas doesn’t want you to know about. It was a huge disappointment at the box office! People didn’t know if this movie was for kids or for adults, the ensuing confusion was what shot this movie down before it could fly. It is an extremely cheesy film; for starters, Lea Thompson gets romantically entangled with a duck from outer space! I mean, he is a midget duck lady! At one point in the film, it is implied that they are going to have sex! Howard the Duck even has a condom in his wallet! Still, I enjoy it because it’s just so freaking 80s! Lea Thompsons character (Beverly) is part of a hair band that plays the cheesiest synth rock, the movie ends with a “Howard the Duck” theme song in a big ass concert with everybody singing along! Fireworks and all! I always enjoyed the stop motion animation on this one, its one of the last films to use stop motion animation, before CGI started to take over. I also enjoy Jeffrey Jones performance as one of the Dark Overlords of the universe, a truly over the top performance. The visual fx on this film are pretty cool as well. On the downside, Tim Robbins is a bit annoying on this one, still, not as bad as some might lead you to believe, to me this film is highly enjoyable.
Favorite Cheesy Line: “No one laughs, at a master of….QUACK FU!”
"They call him Howard the Duck! Ugh!"
#10 Terrorvision (1986) - This movie is so freaking awesome! Storyline is about this alien creature that has traveled from another planet and transported itself to earth via one of those giant TV antennas that people use to have on their houses back in the 80s. You remember that? When the coolest thing in the world was to have this big ass Antenna in your backyard, cause it meant you had 500 movie channels to watch! Anyhows, this movie is so entertaining, the make up effects are awesome! The characters are so freaking 80s! There’s a teenage girl who dresses like Madonna, her crazy stoner boyfriend who is obviously a metal head! Then there's the crazy war veteran grandpa, and the little kid who has to save the day! I also love this show that the kid watches that is hosted by a lady who looks like Medussa! The kids parents are swingers! The grandpa eats lizards tails because he thinks they are nutritional! This movie is pure insanity, but its so much fun! Highly recommend you check it out in whatever way you can!
Favorite Cheesy Line: “People of Earth, you must heed my warning! Destroy your satellite receivers, dismantle your communications systems, render your TV sets inoperable for the next 200 earth years!”
#9 Killer Klowns from Outerspace (1988) - Killer Klowns from Outerspace have landed here on earth! Their main goal? To harvest humans and feed on their blood! Yup! These alien killer klowns, are actually space vampires! The funniest thing in this movie are the gags the Klowns use to kill people with, they drown people in pies! They use toy guns to capture humans! Their spaceship is shaped like a big circus tent! They have killer pop corn that transforms into little creatures that bite! This movie is all kinds of fun, thanks to the Chiodo Bros. and their cool make up effects work and their crazy ideas! In the end the good guys confront a giant Killer Klown dubbed Klownzilla! Its all kinds of crazy, but all kinds of fun as well. The silly dialog really gets me sometimes!
Favorite Cheesy Line: When a concerned citizen calls the local police station for help because the clowns took his wife, the chief of police says “They took your wife away in a balloon? Well, you don’t need the police pal! You need a psychiatrist!”
#8 Ice Pirates (1984) - You know a movie is cheesy when the tagline for the film is: “Bad Taste in outer space”. This movie is all sorts of hilarious. Basically, water is precious in this universe, and there’s not enough of it to go around. So the hero and his crew do what anyone in their right mind would do, they steal ice and sell it to the highest bidder! Cheesy factor on this movie is extremely high! The main characters are almost castrated in this machine that castrates men and turns them into sexless slaves! Ron Perlman plays himself on this one, like he does on most of his films. Angelica Houston must really hate this movie, because she is in it! She is this swashbuckler character, and actually kicks some ass in the movie! There’s this hilarious scene in which time is moving forward, because they are traveling so fast through space, and everybody on the ship starts getting super old, it’s hilarious! Robots actually crap on this one! They crap nuts and bolts! In one particular scene, the good guys are infiltrating the bad guys spaceship, and they walk in on an alien taking a dump! The special effects aren’t all that special, but the movies tongue in cheek spirit is what keeps me revisiting it.
#7 The Last Dragon (1985) - This movie has one Bruce Leeroy (that’s right, sign #1 of the cheesy nature of this film is the main characters name!) who has to protect his families restaurant against a gang of martial artist who are also thugs! Somehow, a vj figures into the plotline, which means you'll see and hear a bunch of cheesy 80s songs. The movie tries to pay tribute to Bruce Lee, but in a strangely funny way. When characters start using their martial arts, they start glowing with a special neon aura thing around their bodies! They can catch bullets with their teeth! The villain looks like Busta Rhymes on crack! This movie was made during that time in the 80s when people carried boomboxes on their shoulders! There’s actually a scene in which kids are watching a Bruce Lee movie in a theater, and they get so into it that they start break dancing with their boombox in the middle of the movie theater! This kung fu movie has to be seen to be believed!
Favorite Cheesy Line: “I am sick of hearing these bullshit Superman stories about the -wassah!- legendary Bruce Leroy catching bullets with his teeth. Catches bullets with his teeth. Nigga please!”
#6 My Demon Lover (1987) - This movie is about a guy who is cursed. Whenever he gets it on with a girl, he transforms into a demon! I remember loving the gooey make up effects, which were all the rave during the 80s. Every movie had to have some sort of transformation sequence, cool thing about this one was that every time the guy started messing around with his girlfriend, he would go through some crazy ass transformation! This is the kind of movie where the villain turns into an evil demon/warlock spewing powers out of his hands! The effects were very gory and gooey, a good example of the kind of horror effects we'd see during the 80's with lots of latex and slime.
Favorite Cheesy Line: Can't remember any!
#5 Eliminators (1986) - On this one we have a dude who rides around in a tank, he is half man half robotic tank. Its hilariously cheesy. All you have to know is that the good guys are made up of an android, a mercenary (Indiana Jones type) , a lady scientist and a ninja. That’s right, I said ninja! The bad guy is a mad scientist looking to use time travel to conquer the world. He wants to travel back in time to the Roman Empire, to try and conquer the world in the past, but instead, he gets stranded in prehistoric times! Its fun times because it’s so freaking silly. Too bad it isn’t out on DVD either!
Favorite Cheesy Line: “What is this? Some kind of comic book? We got robots, we got cavemen! We got Kung Fu!”
#4 Rock and Roll Nightmare (1987) - You know how everyone thinks Troll II is like the worst film ever made? That’s because they haven’t seen Rock and Roll Nightmare! This movie is so bad it defies description! First off, wanna know how cheesy this movie is? The films director is a guy named Thor! And he stars in his own movie! In it he plays a heavy metal singer named John Triton who takes his band to a secluded house in the middle of nowhere so they can record their demo. Little by little the band members get killed, until only John Triton is alive to face off against the devil! Funny thing is, the devil is the stupidest freaking puppet they could have ever conceived! And John Triton ends up wearing spiked leather thongs, boots, wristbands and a cape! And whats the best thing that the devil can do to battle John Triton? Hurl squids at him! This movie was all sorts of funny, precisely because it’s so bad. I say again, it rivals Troll II! Take that for what its worth!
#3 Troll (1986) - When anybody mentions the Troll movies, Troll II gets most of the attention because its such a bad film. But people forget, the first one, the original was actually not a bad horror/fantasy film, and its actually quite cheesy. The story is about this little girl who’s possessed by an evil Troll who wants to try and open a portal to his dimension. The troll's plan is to turn every human in the apartment building into a Troll. Then, open up a portal for the rest of the Troll’s to come through and take over earth. What’s cheesy about this movie? Well, Sonny Bono plays one of the neighbors; he is this sex fiend always looking to get laid, he has some of the cheesiest dialog on the whole movie. The Trolls themselves are such cheesy looking monsters. They don’t really move all that much, and quite honestly, are simply hand puppets! The one cool thing about the movie is the main Troll, played by Phil Fondacaro. The make up effects work on the main Troll are cool, everything else is lackluster. But still, the film retains a certain amount of charm to it. It’s a fantasy tale, with a bit of horror sprinkled for good measure.
Favorite Cheesy Line: “Honey, did you do a lot of drugs before you were married?”
#2 Alan Quartermain and The Lost City of Gold (1986) - This is the sequel to King Solomon’s Mines, an Indiana Jones wannabe from the 80s. This movie is pretty cheesy! Its tries to imitate Spielberg’s films, but falls short, mainly because the budget was so low! We get a bunch of campy sets that are suppose to be in the middle of the jungle somewhere. Basically, Alan Quartermain has to go get his brother who has been trapped by the evil ruler of the “Lost City of Gold’, where everything is made of Gold! Sharon Stone and James Earl Jones must hate the fact that these films are out on DVD! They both suck ass in them! James Earl Jones plays a good guy, tagging along with Quartermain. Stone plays the annoying girl who is suppose to nag nag nag every step of the way, just like Kate Capshaw’s Willie was in Temple of Doom. If you want to see a low budget version of Indiana Jones, check this one out!
#1 Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo - Wow, this could quite possibly one of the cheesiest most non sensical movies ever made! At times, it is completely incomprehensible! One scene has one of the characters, who has just broken his leg, resting in a hospital bed, when suddenly, in comes the break dancers and give him some break dancing holy spirit and he freaking walks out of the hospital! Miraculously cured! What? It’s the kind of film that makes you think “what the hell were they thinking?” One scene has Ozone, the main character in the film, break dancing on top of a building, for no reason whatsoever! Not to mention that Turbo, another one of the films characters starts dancing on the ceiling (ala Lionel Ritchie) for no reason either! Simply to fill time, simply to show the “magic of dancing”. It has that typical storyline where the big corporations are trying to make a mall, and they want to tear down their community shelter, so they stand in front of the tractors and trucks, so they cant tear it down? This has to be one of the most overused plot lines in the 80s! A reflection of how things were back in those days? Or simply a bad script? You be the judge! Whenever the Shabba Doo guy walks around with all these chains hanging from his pants, I just bust a gut laughing! The film has a couple of homosexual undertones hidden within. Theres something weird going on between Turbo and Ozone, was I alone in noticing that? Also the dialog has many homosexual undertones to it, with the guys saying things like “Girls are whack man!” Ice T appears in the movie as well, Guaranteed laughs.
"Quick! Somebody call an ambulance, we got a couple of fashion victims over here!"
Other Cheesy films I had no time to write about:
Over the Top (1987)
The Stuff (1985)
The Dungeon Master (1984)
The Beast Master (1982)