Top 10 film characters of the 1980s
The 1980s: an in-your-face fusion of flamboyant fashion, catchy beats and face painting (spanning male make-up lovers from Adam And The Ants to Kiss).
Of course, it also lays claim to arguably the greatest era of cheesy cinema ever seen. Action favourites such as Terminator and Robocop, doughy-eyed high school dramas like The Breakfast Club, and cult kids classics like adventure hit The Goonies and fantasy flick Labyrinth – where David Bowie scoops the award for both biggest bonce and biggest bulge.
Following the revelation that Goonies 2 is now officially on the way, and with ’80s classics being remade and rebooted all over the shop, Alice Burnett pays homage to the most memorable characters to grace that decade’s screens, from the notoriously nutty to the sexy, sublime, and downright ridiculous.
The Hunk: Jake Ryan
(Sixteen Candles, 1984)
Brooding, mysterious, and a man of few words. Although perhaps not the most obvious choice, he notches up major points by ditching his tall, blonde and perfectly sculpted girlfriend for the geeky ginger girl with a fantasy crush. Score!
The Techie: Johnny Five
(Short Circuit, 1986)
Granted, he’s not the most menacing and impressive machine in sci-fi history, but he’s both super-intelligent and supremely funny. A rarity – even in human form.
The Mr Snake Hips: Johnny Castle
(Dirty Dancing, 1987)
We all love a reformed fella from the wrong side of the tracks, and with moves that make us weak at the knees he’s got it all going on. He’s the holiday romance, the hero, the first love; the guy that’ll lift you up, won’t put you in the corner, and really is as great as your dad.
The Cool Teen: Ferris Bueller
(Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986)
Master of school skiving and lil’ white lies, I think we all learned a few handy hints from this fella. Ferris epitomises teen rebellion and has all the ingredients of a likable teen hero; angst with just the right amount of cheek, sarcastic humour, and – for the most part – good intentions.
The Betty: Lisa
(Weird Science, 1985)
Designed and modeled to aesthetic perfection by two adolescent geeks, she’s basically flawless. A sort of femmebot meets Barbie bodyguard, she’s certainly no air-head, with a witty tongue, love of skimpy aerobic fashions and zero tolerance to chauvinism.
The Weird And Wonderful: E.T
Wacky and peculiar was a common theme in the eighties, particularly in children’s films – most of which were quite frankly bloody frightening. This category was hotly contended by the Skesis from The Dark Crystal, MAC of Mac and Me and most of the creations in Jim Henson’s masterpiece Labyrinth.
But it is the magic of Spielberg’s E.T which captured the imagination and hearts of millions, with the heart-warming story of a young boy who discovers an abandoned terrestrial being, and the tender surrogate-esque friendship and bond which ensues. Ahh.
The Mr Kick Ass: Jack Burton
(Big Trouble In Little China, 1986)
Many a great action hero performance dazzled us in the ’80s: Sylvester Stallone’s portrayal of Rocky Ballboa, Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid movies, and Jean-Claude Van Damme’s unforgettable performance in the classic martial arts flick Bloodsport.
While other contenders offered the discipline, physical presence and classical aspects of an action hero we have come to expect, the slightly dirty, beer guzzling Burton – master of knife throwing and driving trucks – may seem a controversial choice. Perhaps I’ve spent too much time down the local boozer.
The Mrs Kick-Ass: Tess McGill
(Working Girl, 1988)
She’s the career-driven diva determined to ditch her small time existence for bigger and better things. With success in her sights she chucks her cheating fella to the curb and heads for the Big Apple, where she screws her scheming bosses over in her very own shoulder padded power suits – and makes it in the hard hitting world of finance and investments. Yay!
The Plain Bizarre: Howard The Duck
(Howard The Duck, 1986)
He’s the anthropomorphic cigar-smoking bird that has more sex appeal than George Clooney and wears denim better than Calvin Klein himself. His womanising ways alone ensured a life-long fear of men in duck suits. Incidentally, after first watching this at just seven years old, I skipped the queue for Donald Duck at Disneyland and I never ate the stuff again.
The Cult Daddy: Sloth
(The Goonies, 1985)
He’s the real life BFG you just can’t help but love. Dropped and disfigured by his mafia mamma and chained in the basement most of his life (clearly an epic fail by social services here), he one day encounters a fellow captive, a rather clumsy chubby kid called Chunk. They bond over Baby Ruths and pirate movies before breaking out to rescue Chunk’s fellow Goonie adventurers.
When the Fratellis are finally arrested, naturally Sloth is taken home for a lifetime of happiness, Dominos Pizza, and Chocolate Eruption ice cream. Awww.
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