We didn’t realise it then, but the winter of 1987 was an all-timer, at least at the movies. Over three cold months, Hollywood released several films we still hold near and dear to our hearts today, whether we consider them timeless classics or beloved shlock.
Now, not all of those would fall under our usual umbrella. (Films such as Full Metal Jacket, The Untouchables and Dirty Dancing are great, but really not our speed.) However, as the 30th anniversary of this amazing season of movies comes to a close, we decided to rank the best sci-fi, fantasy and other genre films released during June, July and August of 1987 (according to their US release dates).
Image: Orion Pictures
What else can you say? Paul Verhoeven’s incredible film about a man on the brink of death reincarnated as a cyborg police office remains as shocking and entertaining now as it was 30 years ago. The violence is still scary, and the social commentary still crisp. It just has it all. (17 July 1987)
On the eve of a new incarnation, it’s easy to forget just how earth-shattering this blend of war and science fiction was in 1987. You had Arnold Schwarzenegger in peak hero mode, an iconic monster in the making with unstoppable powers, and more crazy fun one-liners than bullets fired. Get to the choppa! (12 June 1987)
Image: Warner Bros.
3) The Lost Boys
One of the coolest vampire movies ever made, The Lost Boys is the story of two brothers struggling with acceptance in a new town — which just so happens to be populated with vampires. The film combines a stellar cast and tight script, creating memorable characters and unique settings that all together take a perfect snapshot of late ’80s counter-culture. (31 July 1987)
Image: Warner Bros.
An underrated comedy classic about a pilot miniaturised and injected into an unsuspecting passer-by, Innerspace puts a fun spin on the shrinking genre. It also stars a who’s who of ’80s comedy, including Dennis Quaid, Martin Short and Meg Ryan, and has an agreeably kitschy feel thanks to director Joe Dante. (3 June 1987)
Admittedly, Spaceballs is not Mel Brooks’ finest film, but that’s a very high bar. Instead, it’s simply one of his most on-point and timeless. A spoof of Star Wars in an era when Star Wars was a cultural thing of the past, the film lampooned the genre in ways that still ring true today. (26 June 1987)
6) The Monster Squad
Underappreciated in its time, The Monster Squad is about young kids forced to band together and battle the Universal Monsters. In many ways, it was a precursor to the team-up films of today, and it did so with a politically incorrect edge. You don’t watch The Monster Squad today and forget it’s a movie from 1987, but that’s part of why it’s great. (14 August 1987)
Image: Warner Bros.
7) The Witches of Eastwick
This star-studded (Nicholson! Pfeiffer! Sarandon! Cher!) dark comedy about three witches competing for, and eventually banding together against, a mysterious newcomer combines sex, witchcraft and charisma in a way that makes it wholly unique. Its success is rolled up mostly in that alchemy but, for the most part, that’s enough. (12 June 1987)
Roxanne is totally unapologetic about how it adapts Cyrano de Bergerac. A man with a very big nose (Steve Martin, who also scripted) woos the woman of his dreams by feeding words to a better-looking man. The material is predictable, but thanks to Martin, it’s also full of heart. (19 June 1987)
9) The Living Daylights
Obviously, not one of the best Bond films, but not one of the worst either. There’s some great stuff in it, though to try and explain the plot about KGB defectors, spies, and all that stuff would just make it sounds silly. Plus, say what you want about Timothy Dalton, but any time you get a new Bond, it’s a memorable occasion. (31 July 1987)
10) The Brave Little Toaster
Even if you don’t remember seeing The Brave Little Toaster, you’ve heard of it, and recognise that it was the start of a familiar family-friendly franchise. Also, the story of these appliances loving their owner and setting off to find him was kind of Toy Story before Toy Story. (10 July 1987)
11) Harry and the Hendersons
A family coming back from a holiday hits a Bigfoot. They think he’s dead and bring him home, but guess what? He’s alive, and he gets into all kinds of hijinks. This is a movie that if you grew up with it, you probably love it. If you didn’t, you probably hate it. But somehow, everyone has an opinion on it one way or the other. (5 June 1987)
12) Back to the Beach
Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon star as an older married couple going on holiday who are forced to reclaim their former beach-bound glory. It’s terrible, cheesy ’50s throwback nostalgia but, growing up, I loved it. Probably in large part because of the cameos, including Pee-Wee Herman. (7 August 1987)
13) Masters of the Universe
One of the biggest wasted opportunities ever came when right around the peak of He-Man popularity, Hollywood released a Masters of the Universe movie. And, by the power of Grayskull, the casting was great, with Dolph Lundgren as He-Man and Frank Langella as Skeletor. But a low budget and terrible script turned what could have been awesome into nothing much more than a punchline. (7 August 1987)
Image: Buena Vista
14) Benji the Hunted
Generally considered one of the better Benji movies, Benji the Hunted is about the dog trying to rescue a litter of orphaned cougars. For real. The film gets by with its sense of adventure and undeniable cuteness, but have you really thought about it in 30 years? Me neither. (19 June 1987)
15) Jaws: The Revenge
It’s the Jaws movie you always wanted. The one where Sheriff Brody is dead and his wife shares a psychic connection with a killer shark that, apparently, is still seeking revenge against her family. But, at least it co-stars Michael Caine. (17 July 1987)
Image: Warner Bros.
16) Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
More like the quest to end a franchise. It was always great to see Christopher Reeve as Superman, Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, and all that. But this sequel, which took shots at tabloid journalism and featured Nuclear Man, maybe the lamest villain ever, is just almost wholly terrible. (24 July 1987)
Image: New World
17) House 2: The Second Story
One of those sequels that’s a sequel only in name, House 2 features a whole new set of characters in an uninspired and slightly annoying horror comedy about a bunch of kids who go to a house, do stupid stuff, and meet stupider people. (28 August 1987)
18) The Garbage Pail Kids Movie
Bad, bad, bad, bad. Even as a collector of the cards back in the day, I remember eventually seeing this movie and thinking, “What the hell am I watching?” It has an obviously Gremlins-inspired plot, but without the cool or cute characters. Everything about it just feels dirty and scary, but not in a good way. (21 August 1987)
As we hinted at above — and since we’re being nostalgic — the following non-genre movies were also released in the winter of 1987. So despite quite a few stinkers, it was overall a very memorable season:
Beverly Hills Cop 2, Ishtar, Ernest Goes to Camp, The Untouchables, Dragnet, Adventures in Babysitting, Full Metal Jacket, Revenge of the Nerds 2, White Water Summer, Summer School, La Bamba, Stakeout, Who’s That Girl, Can’t Buy Me Love, Disorderlies, No Way Out, North Shore, Dirty Dancing