Journey to the Past: 14 Fantasy Movie Classics That Defined the 80s

The 80s can't be beat when it comes to epic movies in the fantasy genre. Someone in an online entertainment forum asked for a list of 80s fantasy films they could introduce to their young child. Here are 14 top picks for 80s fantasy films that are still entertaining today.

1. Willow (1988)

Image Credit: MGM/UA Distribution Co.

Willow is a 1988 fantasy/adventure film starring Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, and Joanne Whalley. Directed by Ron Howard, this fun family-friendly flick is a solid choice for your next movie night. The film features great performances, high production value, and plenty of adventure. Many people love the nostalgia factor, too.

2. Labyrinth (1986)

Image Credit: Tri-Star Pictures.

Labyrinth is a musical fantasy film directed by Jim Henson which stars Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie. Fans of the film still rave about it, all these years later. One movie fan said they watched it so much when they were young, they had the entire script memorized. They passed their love of the film down to their kids.

3. Ghostbusters (1984)

Image from the movie Ghostbusters
Image Credit: Sony Pictures.

When a group of misfit scientists in New York City discover that ghosts are real and wreaking havoc on the city, they band together to form a ghost-catching business, calling themselves the Ghostbusters. Their services are in high demand as they battle a demon named Zuul and prevent the end of the world. Starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Sigourney Weaver, Ghostbusters became an instant classic with its comedic and spooky tone, memorable characters, and iconic theme song.

4. The Goonies (1985)

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

A group of young misfits embark on a thrilling adventure to find a pirate's treasure and save their beloved neighborhood from being demolished. Along the way, they encounter booby traps, a family of criminals, and the legendary One-Eyed Willie. Starring Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, and Corey Feldman, The Goonies is a beloved coming-of-age tale that has entertained generations with its fun-loving spirit and unforgettable characters.

5. Beetlejuice (1988)

Image from the movie Beetlejuice
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

When a couple dies and becomes trapped in their home, they enlist the help of a crude and mischievous ghost named Beetlejuice to scare off the new living occupants. But when Beetlejuice gets out of control, chaos ensues. Starring Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, and Alec Baldwin, Beetlejuice is a darkly comedic and visually stunning film that has become a cult classic with its quirky characters and bizarre sense of humor.

6. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Image Credit: Universal Studios.

A young boy named Elliott befriends a stranded alien and helps him evade government agents to return home. Along the way, Elliott learns valuable lessons about friendship, courage, and the importance of love. Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Henry Thomas, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a heartwarming and timeless classic that has touched the hearts of millions.

7. Back to the Future (1985)

back to the future
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

When teenager Marty McFly accidentally travels back in time to 1955 in a DeLorean time machine created by his eccentric friend Doc Brown, he must find a way back to the present while ensuring his parents fall in love and avoiding changing the course of history. Starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, Back to the Future is a sci-fi adventure film that has become a cultural phenomenon with its iconic DeLorean, quotable dialogue, and memorable soundtrack.

8. Back to the Future Part II (1989)

back to the future part ii 1989
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

In the sequel to Back to the Future, Marty and Doc travel to the future to prevent Marty's future son from making a terrible mistake. However, their mission becomes more complicated when they discover Biff Tannen has stolen the time machine and created an alternate timeline where he is the wealthy and powerful ruler of Hill Valley. Starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, Back to the Future Part II is a thrilling and entertaining continuation of the first film exploring time travel's consequences.

9. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures.

When a scientist accidentally shrinks his kids and their two friends to the size of insects, they must navigate their way through the backyard to find a way to reverse the effects and return to normal size. Starring Rick Moranis and Marcia Strassman, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is a family-friendly adventure film that captures the imagination with its inventive special effects and sense of wonder.

10. Splash (1984)

splash 1984
Image Credit: Buena Vista Distribution.

When a man falls in love with a mysterious woman who turns out to be a mermaid, he must find a way to help her return to the ocean before the government captures her for scientific study. Starring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah, Splash is a romantic comedy that blends fantasy and reality in a way that captures the imagination. As Allen and Madison's relationship deepens, they must navigate the challenges of love and the complications that arise from Madison's aquatic nature.

11. The NeverEnding Story (1984)

Image Credit: 1984 Warner Bros. Ent.

When a young boy named Bastian discovers a magical book that transports him to the land of Fantasia, he becomes embroiled in an epic adventure to save the land from a darkness that threatens to consume it. Starring Barret Oliver and Noah Hathaway, The NeverEnding Story is a visually stunning film that explores the power of imagination and the importance of courage.

12. The Princess Bride (1987)

the princess bride
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

When a young woman named Buttercup is kidnapped and held for ransom by a group of bandits, her true love Westley sets out to rescue her, encountering a cast of quirky characters along the way. Starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, and Mandy Patinkin, The Princess Bride is a beloved romantic comedy that appeals to audiences of all ages with its witty dialogue, memorable characters, and timeless message of true love.

13. Gremlins (1984)

gremlins caroling
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

When a young man receives a mysterious creature called a Mogwai as a Christmas gift, he inadvertently breaks the rules for caring for it and unleashes a horde of mischievous and malevolent gremlins on his town. Starring Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates, Gremlins is a darkly comedic horror film that has become a classic with its iconic creatures, unique sense of humor, and holiday setting.

14. Explorers (1985)

explorers 1985
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

When three teenage boys build a homemade spacecraft, they embark on a journey into space and encounter a group of friendly extraterrestrials. Starring Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix, Explorers is a coming-of-age adventure film that celebrates the power of friendship, imagination, and the wonders of the universe.

Source: Reddit.

Jaimee Marshall is a writer who hails from the suburbs of Philadelphia but has spent the past few years living abroad in Australia. She considers herself a bit of a movie buff with a knack for horror and clever sci-fi flicks. When she isn't watching or writing about movies, she's probably either posting political memes, cooking vegan food, or being active. She covers entertainment news, and reviews films and television for Wealth of Geeks. You can also catch her deep dives on sociopolitical issues at Evie Magazine, Katie Couric Media, and Her Campus or watch her appearance on Popcorned Planet, where she discusses heated issues like due process in our current social climate.