Top 5: 80s Fantasy Films


I submit that it doesn’t get any better than 80s fantasy movies. I’m thrilled that we have adaptations of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. They’re beautiful and breathtaking. But that 80s fantasy is something I always go back to. I grew up on it and love each one unconditionally. Now I have the unenviable task of ranking my favorites. Here we go!

5. Legend. This film is gorgeous, like a fairy tale come to life. Ridley Scott managed to capture the essence of magic unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I know the arguments about practical effects versus CG have gotten downright obnoxious by this point, but Legend illustrates perfectly the reason practical effects fans are so passionate. Tim Curry as Darkness is inspired. The only reason it isn’t higher on the list is the story is fairy-tale-simple, and the movie is more visually compelling than anything else. I still highly recommend it.

4. The Neverending Story. A childhood classic. If you’re a book lover, a bit of a loner, enjoy immersion in your stories, you’ll relate heavily with Bastian. He’s the every-kid who would rather be locked away with a book than face his problems. Then the story turns around, stares him right in the eye, and makes him deal with himself. It’s beautifully done, as well, with a vast, unique landscape to traverse. It fires the imagination. After seeing this, who didn’t want their own luck dragon? The reason it’s number four is because it’s more of a children’s movie. It does have crossover appeal, but I do think this has the best impact if you watch it when you’re young.

3. The Dark Crystal. This is another of those movies that proves you don’t need CG if you have ingenuity. The cast of characters consists entirely of puppets, and because it’s Jim Henson, they are fantastic puppets. One of the most interesting things about this movie that sets it apart for me is the lack of humans. I love the idea of a fantasy world where we’re simply not included. Jen the Gelfling, our main hero, does work as an audience surrogate, but he’s not human. I think audiences deserve to have their imaginations stretched as far as this movie takes us.

2. Labyrinth. Here’s Jim Henson again, with another deeply unique fantasy tale. Like The Neverending Story, if you’re the outsider who loves LARPing in the park, Sarah is the girl for you. She’s growing from a girl into a young woman, and the process is painful, frustrating, downright maddening. Like a child, she throws a tantrum that summons the Goblin King Jareth, and to face him, she must overcome her immaturity. It’s the perfect movie for women anywhere and everywhere in their walk in life, and not just because David Bowie as Jareth is gorgeously inspired.

1. The Princess Bride. I think Peter Falk as the storytelling grandfather put it best when he listed every conceivable thing that could be in a good story in regards to The Princess Bride. It’s adventurous, exciting, tense, hilarious, sad, romantic, and beautiful. There is simply no competing with a story that has everything. It’s perfect. If you’re like me and grew up with it, you probably have it memorized and quote it daily. If you haven’t seen it yet, what are you doing? Go watch it! And have fun storming the castle!

Thank you for reading. I hope that if there are any of these you haven’t seen, you’ve just been convinced. And as always, happy geeking!

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