10 Most Overlooked Fantasy Films of the 1980s, Ranked
Hopefully, after this list you'll be feeling the nostalgia like a warm VHS tape just popped out of the VCR.
10. The Flight of Dragons (1982)
Rotten Tomatoes score: -/92%
The story follows Peter, a modern-day scientist, who's zapped into a magical realm where dragons are real and logic is... well, not. He's tasked with defeating an evil sorcerer who's as nasty as a troll with a hangover. Alongside a team that includes a knight with armor shinier than a disco ball, a wolf who's part sage, part sass, and a dragon who's got more wisdom than Yoda, Peter has to save this fantastical world from being consumed by dark forces. And he's turned into a dragon because, why not?
9. Krull (1983)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 35/52%
The planet Krull gets invaded by a baddie named the Beast and his army of Slayers who've got helmets weirder than a Devo music video. Our hero, Prince Colwyn, sets out to rescue his bride and save the planet with the help of a magical weapon, the Glaive, which is like a boomerang with knives. He gathers a ragtag band including a cyclops with timing issues and a group of escaped convicts with hearts of gold. They traverse through quicksand, spider webs, and a shape-shifting wizard who can't decide on a look.
8. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 66/69%
Buckaroo Banzai: part rock star, part brain surgeon, part race car driver. He's got more careers than Barbie. When his latest experiment to drive through solid matter accidentally taps into the 8th Dimension, he's suddenly got to deal with an alien invasion. These Red Lectroids from Planet 10 are as friendly as a cactus and it's up to Buckaroo and his motley crew to stop them.
7. Ladyhawke (1985)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 67/74%
Imagine the worst couple's curse ever: she's a hawk by day, he's a wolf by night, and they can't even Netflix and chill as humans because, well, they're never both human at the same time. Thanks to a jealous bishop and his love for the lady, our star-crossed lovers are in a real pickle. Enter a thief, played by a Ferris Bueller-era Matthew Broderick, who's got more quips than a late-night show host. He helps them to try and reverse the curse. The trio gallops through medieval landscapes, encounters with soldiers that give new meaning to "bad day at the office", and a love that's literally eternal.
6. Excalibur (1981)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 72/80%
King Arthur's legend gets a shiny '80s makeover, complete with gleaming armor and a soundtrack that screams epic. Arthur goes from boy to king by pulling a sword from a stone – classic rags-to-riches style – and builds a Camelot that's as drama-filled as a high school prom. There's Merlin the wizard, who's cryptic enough to make a Sphinx roll its eyes, a love triangle with Guinevere and Lancelot that's soap-opera worthy, and enough sibling rivalry to fuel a family reunion.
5. The Last Unicorn (1982)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 77/86%
It's a tale of the last unicorn on Earth (you guessed it) who sets out to find what happened to the rest of her kind. Along the way, she picks up a couple of oddball companions: a hapless magician with spells that flop more than succeed and a tough-talking woman who's got a soft spot for mythical creatures. They encounter red bull-run-ins (not the drink), a castle with a clock that's got more mood swings than a teenager, and a wicked king with a penchant for hoarding creatures.
4. The NeverEnding Story (1984)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 83/81%
When Bastian, a bullied bookworm, stumbles upon a tome in an old bookstore, he gets more than late fees. He reads about the fantasy land of Fantasia, which is being gobbled up by The Nothing – a force that makes vacuums look weak. There's Atreyu, a warrior kid on a quest with a horse that will make you cry more than chopping onions. They encounter creatures from a giant rock biter to a racing snail, all while Bastian gets sucked deeper into a story that blurs lines between fiction and reality.
3. Dragonslayer (1981)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 84/62%
Here be dragons, and they're not the cuddly kind. When a kingdom is terrorized by a dragon with a name that sounds like a sinus infection, Vermithrax Pejorative, they decide to sacrifice virgins to keep it happy. Enter our unlikely hero, an apprentice sorcerer named Galen. With a magic amulet and the guts of a... well, not a dragon, he sets off to slay the beast. With a king more slippery than a greased eel and a damsel who's as much in distress as a cat in a sunbeam, it's a fiery foray into dragon-fighting that'll have you cheering for the scaly underdog.
2. Time Bandits (1981)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 91/77%
What do you get when you mix a kid with time-traveling dwarves and throw in a map stolen from the Supreme Being? An absolute carnival of chaos across history. Young Kevin gets swept up in the dwarves' heist adventure, meeting everyone from Napoleon, who's got a complex about his height, to Robin Hood, who's more polite than your average thief. They're all on the run from the 'Evil Genius,' a villain with a god complex bigger than his actual powers.
1. The Secret of NIMH (1982)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 93/85%
Forget what you think about cute little mice – Mrs. Brisby is a widowed mouse with spunk, smarts, and a sick kid. She discovers a world underneath her field that's like "Mousehattan", where rodents have their own society because of some experiments gone awry at NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health). As Mrs. Brisby seeks a way to cure her son, she tangles with shifty rats, a wise old owl, and a power struggle that could rival any corporate boardroom.