10 Awesome '80s Movies With Seriously Disturbing Plots

by Jackie Linder Olson
Originally Published: 

Sometimes I wonder why my sense of humor is warped, but then I made this list of movies that I loved and admired during my developmental years. I watched these movies religiously, at least a hundred times each, until they were ingrained in my brain and a part of my personality. I thought each and every one of these movies was absolutely brilliant. Still do. And I’m still twisted. Here they are in chronological order along with how they distorted my burgeoning view of life. Can you relate?

1. The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981)

Due to a chemical reaction to her ad-exec husband’s toxic perfume, a suburban mom of two starts shrinking until she’s less than a foot tall. After almost dying in the kitchen garbage disposal, she’s kidnapped by a crazy scientist and befriends a gorilla. I never looked at Barbie’s Dream House the same way again.

2. Tootsie (1982)

When a difficult actor can’t land any acting gigs, he transforms himself into an mature woman to gain employment. Because older women in Hollywood have such a surplus of juicy roles, right? Good thing a feisty man in a wig swooped in to fill that award-winning part. Women over 50 don’t like to wave on the red carpet anyway—you know, arm flab and all.

3. The Man With Two Brains (1983)

A widowed neurosurgeon who invented “cranial screw-top” brain surgery marries a gold-digging femme fatale, but then falls in love with a brain he can talk to telepathically. His wife then tries to kill this brain-in-a-jar that he’s carrying around and talking to because she hates the other woman, even if she doesn’t have a vagina. Totally normal view of the world.

4. Flashdance (1983)

A stripper by night, welder by day, dreams of being a ballerina at the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance. She’s courted by the owner of the steel mill where she welds after he patronizes the strip joint, taking her to eat lobster with her hands. She’s admitted into the conservatory after the stuffy board members learn that she can rock leg warmers and shake her ass like a maniac. Can anyone say role model?

5. Electric Dreams (1984)

A romantic love triangle between a man, a woman and a personal computer, because there’s nothing like an overheated computer up in your business. As they compete for the lady love, the computer takes over the man’s house and torments him through his appliances. Spoiler Alert: The computer commits suicide. Not at all mentally scarring.

6. Ruthless People (1986)

A fashion designer and her goofy boyfriend kidnap their ex-boss’s wife to extort money from him, except he doesn’t want the wife back and encourages them to kill her so he can run off with his mistress. His wife becomes besties with the female kidnapper because of her fashion designs and loses a ton of weight. Once skinny, her husband wants her back, and bam, my eating disorder blossomed.

7. Overboard (1987)

A carpenter gets revenge on a spoiled heiress with amnesia, convincing her she’s the mother of his unruly children in his dilapidated house, using her as a maid and nanny to work off what she owes him for building her a revolving shoe rack. Of course, they fall in love while she designs a miniature golf course for him and teaches his illiterate kid to read, regardless of that pesky kidnapping, lying and degrading treatment for months. #lovewins

8. Raising Arizona (1987)

When a criminal and ex-police officer marry and learn that she’s infertile, they decide to kidnap one of the local famous quintuplets, because “they have more babies than they can handle.” Wanting to score the reward money for returning the baby, escaped convicts join the fun as well as bank robbers who kidnap the baby from the original kidnappers. And you want to root for the kidnappers.

9. Mannequin (1987)

An unemployed slacker gets a job as a department store window dresser. He falls in love with one of the mannequins he dresses who only comes to life for him. This soft-porn male fantasy somehow appealed to tween girls, making it a box office success and normalizing men riding motorcycles tandem with their sex dolls, and nobody questioned this?

10. Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)

Two insurance company employees think they’re getting a weekend at a beach mansion with their boss, only he’s been murdered, and they have to keep up the charade that he’s alive while figuring out who is trying to kill them. Luckily, the boss dies with a woody and their cover isn’t blown when a local woman has sex with him. Also, the corpse is smiling, so the weekend escapades continued. Phew! Party on.

And then came the ’90s…

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