Are you an 80s movie expert?

By: Weston Whitener

Are you an 80s movie expert?
Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.

About This Quiz

The plots of 35 iconic movies made from 1980 to 1989 are condensed into one sentence. Can you pick the correct title for each story of dweebs, aliens or adventurers? As if!
Marty McFly rides Doc Brown's time-traveling DeLorean to 1955 and helps his parents fall in love.
"The Time Traveler's Wife"
"The Nutty Professor"
"Back to the Future"
"Back to the Future" may be one of the most iconic titles from the 1980s, but did you know the film was almost called "Spaceman from Pluto?" The head of Universal studios suggested the title change, but executive producer Steven Spielberg treated the suggestion as a joke and "Back to the Future" stuck.
"A Bridge Too Far"

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A killer cyborg from the future fails to kill Sarah Conner, but he'll be back.
"The Terminator"
Arnold Swarzenegger's "Terminator" says a total of 58 words in the film. His three most famous words, "I'll be back," were almost cut from the script at Swarzenegger's request, as he struggled to say "I'll" with his Austrian accent.
"The Punisher"
"The Aviator"
"A River Runs Through It"

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A whip-wielding and fedora-wearing archaeologist battles Nazis for possession of a dangerous artifact.
"Star Wars"
"Jaws"
"The Maltese Falcon"
"Raiders of the Lost Ark"
The first of four Indiana Jones films, "Raiders of the Lost Ark," helped launch Harrison Ford into stardom.

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German terrorists just can't kill a barefoot cop in an L.A. high-rise at Christmastime.
"L.A. Confidential"
"Die Hard"
Despite the fact that "Die Hard" doesn't fixate on its Christmas-season setting, the hard-hitting action film has often been ranked as one of the best Christmas movies of all time!
"21 Jump Street"
"Jingle All the Way"

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Five diverse high school students learn from each other when they spend their morning in detention together.
"Breakfast at Tiffany's"
"Good Morning, Vietnam"
"High School Musical"
"The Breakfast Club"
John Hughes wrote the iconic 80s story in two days. Studio executives were confused by the title, as the teenagers never eat breakfast in the film.

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Ghosts plague a family's house and abduct their youngest daughter.
"Ghost"
"The Taking of Deborah Logan"
"Poltergeist"
There are many spooky rumors surrounding "Poltergeist" and its sequels -- that the cast was actually haunted or cursed, that real skeletons were used in the making of the film. But the real horror must have been for Steven Spielberg, who wrote and produced "Poltergeist" and directed "E.T." at the same time! "Poltergeist" went on to be nominated for three Oscars, only to lose in all three categories to "E.T."
"The Exorcist"

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Mr. Miyagi trains the new kid in town to wax a car, paint a fence and win a martial arts tournament.
"The Karate Kid"
"The Karate Kid" featured Pat Morita as Miyagi, a career-defining role for Morita which he almost didn't get. His comedic experience on the show "Happy Days" concerned producer Jerry Weintraub, who was finally convinced after Morita auditioned five times. Morita didn't disappoint; his performance was nominated for an Academy Award!
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"
"Kung Fu Panda"
"Enter the Dragon"

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Jack gets bad cabin fever caring for the haunted Overlook Hotel and tries to kill his wife and son with an axe.
"The Shining"
"The Shining," directed by Stanley Kubrick, holds a world record for the most retakes of a scene: 127 takes of Shelley Duvall, who played Wendy, backing up the Overlook Hotel's lobby stairs swinging a baseball bat. Duvall said that working with Kubrick was extremely difficult, but that she was better for the experience.
"Halloween"
"Who's That Knocking at My Door?"
"Amityville Horror"

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Oregon kids band together to dodge crooks and find One-Eyed Willy's pirate gold.
"Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"
"Good Will Hunting"
"The Elephant Man"
"The Goonies"
"The Goonies" debuted the childhood talents of Sean Astin, who played Mikey, and Josh Brolin, who played Brand. Both Astin and Brolin went on to be Academy Award-nominated actors!

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Faking sick and borrowing a Ferarri, three friends skip school to have fun in Chicago while their principal doggedly pursues them.
"Chicago"
"Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
John Hughes, the writer and director of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," pitched the idea to the head of Paramount Studios in one sentence: "I want to do this movie about a kid who takes a day off from school and . . . that's all I know so far." His idea was approved, and he wrote the script in four days.
"Gone in 60 Seconds"
"Home Alone"

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A city teen leads a little town to kick off their Sunday shoes and dance at the senior prom.
"Grease"
"Flashdance"
"Prom Night"
"Footloose"
Kevin Bacon, who played Ren McCormack, was launched into stardom by "Footloose." The film's popularity has persisted, and now Bacon says he will pay DJs to not play the titular song when he attends weddings because he's expected to do the final dance number.

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Stranded on Earth, an alien befriends a boy and flies a bicycle to get back home.
"E.T. the Extra Terrestrial"
"E.T. the Extra Terrestrial" was a box office smash, showing in theaters for a full year and seeing an increase in ticket sales after its highly successful $11.8 million opening weekend. It took the highest-grossing record from "Star Wars," directed by George Lucas, which had taken the record from "Jaws," directed by Steven Spielberg.
"Predator vs. Alien"
"A Fault in Our Stars"
"Escape to Witch Mountain"

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Four boys hike down railroad tracks to find a dead body.
"My Girl"
"Stand By Me"
Based on Stephen King's short story "The Body," "Stand by Me" was the first film adaptation of King's writing to receive his approval. The title was changed to avoid marketing confusion, as some thought "The Body" sounded like either a horror or erotic film.
"To Kill a Mockingbird"
"Kings of Summer"

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Former professors open a paranormal pest control service.
"Spectre"
"Ghostbusters"
Who ya gonna call? In the theatrical trailer for the film, a 1-800 number was listed that had a recording of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. The number received constant calls for six weeks!
"Men in Black"
"R.I.P.D."

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The Caped Crusader fights the Joker in a very gothic Gotham City.
"Green Hornet"
"Superman"
"Batman"
Tim Burton's "Batman" was the highest-grossing film in 1989, but did you know that comic book fans were initially upset that Michael Keaton had been cast as the Caped Crusader? 50,000 protest letters flooded Warner Brothers, but the studio stuck with Keaton.
"Spiderman"

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Samantha's parents forget her birthday, but she kisses the boy of her dreams over a cake.
"Sixteen Candles"
"Sixteen Candles" was John Hughes' first film as a director. He went on to direct a string of movies which would define high school in the 1980s, from "The Breakfast Club" to "Pretty in Pink" to "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
"13 Going on 30"
"The Seven Year Itch"
"17 Again"

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Grandpa reads a story where Wesley will do anything Buttercup wishes.
"The Princess Bride"
"The Princess Bride" tells a story of true love, but did you know that the actors who played Wesley and Buttercup were smitten with each other? Carey Elwes, who played Wesley, said that he "couldn't concentrate on much of anything after that first encounter" with Robin Wright, who played Buttercup.
"Robin Hood"
"The Mask of Zorro"
"The Queen"

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Recently graduated college students lose and find love and embrace adulthood around their favorite bar.
"Tiny Furniture"
"St. Elmo's Fire"
Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson starred in both "St. Elmo's Fire" and "The Breakfast Club" in 1985, playing college students and high school students in each film respectively.
"A Room with a View"
"Going My Way"

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Andie falls for the rich boy Blane, but her best friend Duckie has loved her since childhood.
"Toy Story"
"Howard the Duck"
"Pretty in Pink"
Andie, the main character of "Pretty in Pink," was written specifically for Molly Ringwald. The character's costumes were even based on Ringwald's style!
"It Happened One Night"

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Four replicants become a hazard, and Rick Deckard has to "retire" them.
"Equilibrium"
"Blade Runner"
"Blade Runner" was not favored by critics or audiences when it was released in 1982, but it has come to be recognized as one of the best science fiction films ever crafted. It is one of the last analog science fiction films, made without digital effects.
"The Matrix"
"I, Robot"

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Maverick flies his F-14 Tomcat into the danger zone while wooing his civilian instructor.
"Top Gun"
"Top Gun" became the No. 1 movie in 1986 and played in some theaters year-round. It also became a big recruitment tool for the Navy, with recruiters stationing themselves outside of movie theaters to reel in viewers who had the need for speed.
"Thunderball"
"Twelve O'Clock High"
"Firefox"

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A young G.I. loses his innocence in Vietnam, while two commanders vie for control of their unit.
"Black Hawk Down"
"Saving Private Ryan"
"Platoon"
"Platoon" became one of the most realistic war films ever made, largely due to director Oliver Stone's actual experience in the Vietnam War. Stone subjected his actors to intensive military training and became the first Vietnam veteran to make a significant film about the Vietnam War.
"We Were Soldiers"

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A former Green Beret wages guerrilla war on a small-town sheriff in the Pacific Northwest.
"The Deer Hunter"
"Apocalypse Now"
"Full Metal Jacket"
"First Blood"
"First Blood," based on the 1972 book by David Morrell, launched a franchise of John Rambo films starring Sylvester Stallone. Though its sequels feature extremely high death tolls, you may not have realized that only one character dies in "First Blood." Officer Galt falls to his death from a helicopter by accident.

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Freddy Krueger tries to murder four teenagers in their dreams.
"Chucky"
"Friday the 13th"
"Halloween"
"A Nightmare on Elm Street"
Though Freddy terrorizes teenagers throughout "A Nightmare on Elm Street," the knife-gloved killer only has seven minutes of screen time! One of those terrorized teenagers was Johnny Depp, in his first feature-length film.

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Three girls with the same name rule high school, until they start getting killed by their friend Veronica.
"Mean Girls"
"Heathers"
"Heathers" became a controversy and a cult classic upon its release. The film paved the way for films like "Clueless" and "Mean Girls" and helped propel Winona Ryder's fledgling career.
"Very Bad Things"
"The Ladykillers"

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A little boy wishes he could be an adult, and the next morning his wish comes true.
"Big"
The director of "Big," Penny Marshall, had the F.A.O. Schwartz walking piano specially made so that Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia could play "Heart & Soul" and "Chopsticks" together. Marshall became the first female director to gross $100 million at the box office!
"Boyhood"
"Dazed and Confused"
"Big Fish"

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Things get out of hand when a teenager must start a brothel to pay his debts while his parents are away.
"Boogie Nights"
"Risky Business"
Perhaps the most famous scene from the film, in which Tom Cruise's character dances in a pink shirt and underwear to "Old Time Rock and Roll," was completely improvised!
"All that Jazz"
"An Indecent Proposal"

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American commandos either get to the chopper or are killed by an alien hunting them for sport.
"Alien"
"Predator"
"Predator," originally titled "Hunter," was pitched to studio executives as "'Rocky' meets 'Alien.'" In fact, the Predator suit's design was inspired by James Cameron's "Alien." By the way, the green glow-in-the-dark blood that the otherworldly hunter leaks all over the jungle was made from glow sticks!
"Commando"
"Killing Season"

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Ralphie wants nothing more than a Red Rider B.B. gun from Santa.
"Christmas with the Kranks"
"A Christmas Story"
"A Christmas Story" is a holiday classic for many. The house used in the film was bought by a fan in 2005 and made into a tourist attraction, complete with a museum next door!
"National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"
"It's a Wonderful Life"

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Geeks unite to form their own fraternity and combat the college jocks who oppress them.
"Neighbors"
"Animal House"
"Superbad"
"Revenge of the Nerds"
Timothy Busfield, who plays Poindexter in "Revenge of the Nerds," couldn't see through his thick glasses! In scenes where he walks, he's often accompanied by a guide.

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While the Rebel Alliance races to destroy Death Star II, Luke Skywalker must face his father and his destiny.
"Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi"
"Return of the Jedi" almost led to the departure of Han Solo. Harrison Ford wanted his character to sacrifice himself for his friends, but George Lucas decided to keep the character alive; some drafts of the script concluded with Han and Princess Leia's wedding ceremony.
"Star Trek: Wrath of Khan"
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
"Guardians of the Galaxy"

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Polar researchers battle a murderous shape-shifting creature in desolate Antarctica.
"The Conjuring"
"The Thing"
The gory special effects in "The Thing" are still nauseating after 35 years. Did you know that special makeup effects creator and designer Rob Bottin was only 22 years old when he worked on the film? He worked seven days a week and checked himself into a hospital after shooting completed to recover from exhaustion.
"The Haunting"
"The Man from Snowy River"

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After criminals shoot up a regular Old Detroit policeman beyond healing, a corporation turns him into a cyborg crime fighter.
"Judge Dredd"
"Inspector Gadget"
"Robocop"
The "Robocop" suit may be one of the coolest costumes in cinema, but did you know that it couldn't fit in the police cruiser? All shots of Robocop driving in the film avoid showing the character's legs, as actor Peter Weller is not wearing any pants so that he could fit in the car!
"End of Watch"

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A Detroit cop tracks his friend's killers to L.A.'s neighborhood of the rich and famous, and he's in for a culture shock.
"Beverly Hills Cop"
"Beverly Hills Cop" was originally written to be an action-packed Sylvester Stallone revenge film. But Stallone dropped out, and Eddie Murphy was brought in to make a box office sensation and one of AFI's 100 Funniest Movies of All Time.
"Fargo"
"Chinatown"
"Let's Be Cops"

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Nobody puts Baby in the corner while she falls in love with her summer vacation dance instructor.
"The Great Outdoors"
"Wet Hot American Summer"
"Dirty Dancing"
Many of the beloved moments in "Dirty Dancing" were not rehearsed. The final lift, perhaps the most famous visual moment in the film, was not rehearsed by Jennifer Grey because she found it too scary; she did the move in one take and has not done it since.
"Spring Breakers"

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