1981 Was Fun: 12 Movies That Made That Year Exciting

The year 1981 was a treasure trove for movies, with a wide range of films that left a lasting mark on the world of movies. From action-packed adventures to thought-provoking comedies and films that broke the rules of their genres, 1981 was an excellent year for movies. Let’s go back in time to look at the twelve great movies that made that exciting year what it was. 

1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring Harrison Ford as the iconic Indiana Jones, this adventurous treasure hunt takes viewers on a thrilling ride worldwide in search of the Ark of the Covenant. With its heart-pounding action sequences and unforgettable moments, this film kicked off a beloved franchise that continues to captivate audiences.

2. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior
Image Credit: Roadshow Film Distributors.

This post-apocalyptic action masterpiece, directed by George Miller and starring Mel Gibson, showcases a desolate world where survival is a constant battle. The picture, which featured violent vehicle action and a gritty atmosphere, cemented Mad Max’s place as a cult classic and set a new bar for dystopian fiction.

3. Escape From New York (1981)

Escape From New York 1981
Image Credit: AVCO Embassy Pictures.

John Carpenter’s futuristic action-thriller envisions Manhattan as a maximum-security prison. When the President crash-lands in this urban wasteland, it’s up to Kurt Russell’s iconic Snake Plissken to rescue him. With its dystopian setting and Russell’s charismatic performance, the film delivers a mix of suspense, humor, and inventive world-building.

4. The Evil Dead (1981)

The Evil Dead 1981
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

Sam Raimi’s low-budget horror masterpiece introduces audiences to the terrifying world of demonic possession. With its inventive camera work, practical effects, and a young Bruce Campbell in the lead role, the film became a cult sensation, setting the stage for a beloved franchise and influencing the horror genre for years to come.

5. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

An American Werewolf in London 1981
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

John Landis’s horror-comedy combines supernatural elements with humor and heart. When a werewolf attacks two American backpackers in the English countryside, the survivor’s transformation and subsequent chaos make for a unique blend of scares and laughs, along with groundbreaking practical effects.

6. Excalibur (1981)

Excalibur 1981
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

This visually stunning epic directed by John Boorman brings the Arthurian legend to life with its captivating portrayal of King Arthur, Merlin, and the Knights of the Round Table. The film creates a vivid and fascinating universe by blending myth, magic, and medieval battle, making it a notable entry into fantasy.

7. Body Heat (1981)

Body Heat 1981
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Lawrence Kasdan’s neo-noir thriller, starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner, sizzles with passion and intrigue. Set in a sweltering Florida town, the film weaves a tale of lust, deception, and murder. With its steamy atmosphere and clever plot twists, Body Heat reinvigorated the film noir genre for a new generation.

8. Scanners (1981)

Scanners 1981
Image Credit: Manson International.

Directed by David Cronenberg, Scanners delves into the world of telepathy and psychic warfare. When a nefarious corporation pursues a group of individuals with powerful mental abilities, the results are mind-bending. The film’s iconic exploding head scene became a horror classic, showcasing Cronenberg’s knack for blending the unsettling with the surreal.

9. Thief (1981)

Thief 1981
Image Credit: United Artists.

Michael Mann’s crime drama follows a skilled thief, played by James Caan, as he navigates the criminal underworld while seeking a chance at a legitimate life. With its stylish visuals, gripping heist sequences, and moody synth-driven soundtrack, Thief set the tone for Mann’s signature cinematic style and became a cult favorite among crime film enthusiasts.

10. Stripes (1981)

Stripes 1981
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

Ivan Reitman’s comedy stars Bill Murray and Harold Ramis as unlikely soldiers who join the U.S. Army. By combining humor with military actions, the movie provides a satirical perspective on the experiences of military life and the concept of patriotism. Murray’s irreverent performance and memorable one-liners made Stripes a comedic hit that continues to entertain audiences.

11. On Golden Pond (1981)

On Golden Pond 1981
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Marking the legendary Katharine Hepburn’s return to the big screen, On Golden Pond revolves around the complexities of family dynamics and aging. With Hepburn and Henry Fonda in their final film roles and Jane Fonda completing the family trio, the movie poignantly explores themes of reconciliation and love, leaving a lasting emotional impact.

12. Time Bandits (1981)

Time Bandits 1981
Image Credit: Avco Embassy Pictures.

Terry Gilliam’s fantastical adventure takes audiences on a wild journey through time and history as a young boy joins a group of time-traveling dwarves. Mixing humor, fantasy, and philosophical themes, the film offers a unique and imaginative narrative. With its whimsical characters and creative visuals, Time Bandits remains a beloved cult classic that sparks the imagination.

12 Worst Movies From the 70s According To IMDb — Do You Agree?

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Return to the revolutionary cinema of the 1970s, where risk-taking experimentation and bold concepts frequently produced unforgettable and forgettable moments. Here is a look at the not-so-great 70s films that didn’t garner high ratings on IMDb.

15 Forgotten Movies From the 90s To Tickle Your Nostalgia Bone

Only You
Image Credit: TriStar Pictures.

Are you searching for a little 90s nostalgia that is not on every list? Then, we got you covered. These are several of my favorite forgotten films from the 90s. Do you remember?

22 Popular Films That Completely Traumatized 80s Children, What About You?

Jaws Steven Spielberg
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Was there a film(s) that completely traumatized you as a child? I’ll go first, Cujo. I have no idea what my mother was thinking, allowing that film to play in the background of her chores, but I watched it and had nightmares for months. After someone polled an entertainment forum for other traumatic experiences, here is what scared the youth.

25 Memorable Movies That Are So Totally 80s, Do You Remember?

Trading Places
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

The 1980s was an iconic decade for film, delivering many unforgettable movies that have stood the test of time. The 80s film scene left an indelible mark on popular culture, from heartwarming comedies to thrilling adventures and rebellious teenage tales. Recently people shared some memorable movies that epitomize the spirit of the 80s.

20 Comedies From the 90s That Are Way Funnier Than Anything Coming Out Today

What About Bob 1991
Image Credit: Tombstone Pictures.

The nineties were an incredible decade in film, including several classic comedies. Here are some of my favorites that are guaranteed to tickle your funny bone. Have you seen them?