Retrocon 2024

Rank 'Em: Best Movies of 1984

Rank 'Em is back! I had such a great time collaborating with '80s bloggers and fans last year that I decided it was time for more Top 5 lists of the '80s. Each Friday in February I'll be debuting a new Rank 'Em post with new guests! It seems the 30th anniversary of 1984 has been a hot topic on the web lately, so I thought ranking the top 5 TV shows, movies, cartoons, and music albums released in '84 year would be fun.

We're starting out with movies! 1984 featured Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom atop the box office while Amadeus dominated the Oscars. It was also our introduction to Daniel LaRusso, Gizmo, Freddy Krueger, Atreyu, the Terminator, and a mermaid named Madison. Check out this compilation of the best of 1984...

For the best movies of 1984, I've brought along Chad E. Young from The Horror Movie Barbeque Blog! Chad is obviously a fan of all things horror, wrestling, G.I. Joe and '80s pop culture in general. He is also a fellow contributor to the UnderScoopFire! website. Please take a minute to check out his blog and also like the Horror Movie BBQ Facebook page.

I've listed the top 30 movies at the 1984 box office below, but feel free to include any of your favorites that I might not have been that popular (we did.) You can also view the Top 100 at Box Office Mojo for a larger list. Let's Rank 'Em!!!

Top 5 Movies Released in 1984
Beverly Hills Cop
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Gremlins The Karate Kid Police Academy Footloose
Romancing the Stone
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Purple Rain
The Natural 
Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes 
Revenge of the Nerds 
2010: The Year We Make Contact 
Bachelor Party 
Red Dawn 
The Terminator
City Heat
All of Me
Places in the Heart
The Killing Fields
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Conan the Destroyer
The Gods Must Be Crazy

Chad's List
  1. Nightmare On Elm Street
  2. Gremlins
  3. Karate Kid
  4. Ghostbusters
  5. Silent Night Deadly Night
1984 was an amazing year not just for movies, but across the pop culture board. Between music, toys and wrestling, 1984 was definitely a pinnacle year of the decade that we all still remember fondly. I wish I could do a top 10 list, but five was hard enough. My top 5 may be a little bit different from others because my favorite genres are horror and comedy. I'd say a good mixture of both are represented. Silent Night Deadly Night was a movie so infamous that it started protests across the country. I suppose a mad, serial killer dressed as Santa Claus just wasn't meant to be enjoyed by the whole family. But the silly, corny kills in the movie proved to be a hit and lead to a...well...kinda known series of 4 sequels and a remake. But nothing beats the original. If you were a boy in the 80s, Ghostbusters was the movie that you and your friends would all act out. I won't go into deep detail, but you KNOW you always played this with your friends. And EVERYONE ended up being Winston at some point...admit it! Karate Kid was a huge family favorite in my household. Whether it was Daniel going through insurmountable odds or just the enjoyable antics of Mr. Miyagi, this movie won everyone in my family over. I even dressed as Daniel for one of my first Halloweens! While I'm more of a Gremlins 2 guy, Gizmo and Gremlins were absolutely EVERYWHERE. My brother (who was 8 years older and gave me all his stuff when he was done with it. Score!) and I had pajamas, books and records, coloring book, whatever they made we had. And why not! Gremlins was such an imaginative movie with such fun characters. And plus...Phoebe Cates! Surprise, Surprise. Freddy Krueger will always be, in my mind, the (burnt) face of the slasher genre. Between his kills, his amazing yet creepy look, the glove, and his obsession with Nancy Thompson, Freddy sliced his way into pop culture in such a short amount of time. While Nightmare on Elm Street wasn't the first horror movie I saw, Freddy definitely catapulted me into the genre head first and I'm still a fan all these years later. So there you have it, a fun list. It wasn't easy to make it, as I said at the beginning. And despite Terminator, FireStarter, Sixteen Candles and so many others being fantastic and truly deserving to be in this list, I had to break down the ones that mean the most to me since seeing them as a child in the '80s. And when it comes right down to it, the movies you hold the closest to your heart are the most important...that and Freddy's claw is just so awesome.

Jason's List
  1. Ghostbusters
  2. The Karate Kid
  3. Neverending Story
  4. Gremlins
  5. Police Academy
Many honorable mentions like The Terminator, The Last Starfighter, The Natural, Red Dawn, This Is Spinal Tap, and Beverly Hills Cop. The movies I choose were ones I connected with on some level as a kid and revere to this day. I was a little young to connect with Police Academy as a kid, but do remember enjoying the PG and PG-13 sequels in the latter part of the '80s. The characters like Tackleberry, Hightower, and Jones were always good for a laugh throughout the series and the original is easily one of my favorites from '84. Gremlins was one of my favorites as a kid. As an 8 year old, I don't remember ever really being scared of Spike, maybe because I was obsessed with Gizmo. I still have a Gremlins belt I wore as a kid with Gizmo on the magnetic buckle. I remember watching The Neverending Story for the first time at a friend's sleepover birthday party. I didn't get much sleep that night and was frightened for weeks after seeing the wolf in the movie. So much imagery from the film has stuck with me these past 30 years. The Karate Kid definitely impacted me as a kid. I do remember having action figures and pretty sure I saw all three movies in the theater. I also still refuse to watch the remake mainly because I hold the original in such high regard. Ghostbusters definitely has had the greatest impact on me out of all the movies released this year. I don't specifically remember seeing it in the theater, but I must have based on my memories of playing musical chairs to the Ghostbusters theme that November at my birthday party. It was still on my mind the following year as I received a Ghostbusters sweatshirt for Christmas. It was just cool to put in simplistic terms. It scared you, made you laugh, had a cool car, and was just overall unique to anything released in '84 which is why it became such a phenomenon. Plus everyone still knows the catchphrase "Who Ya Gonna Call?"

Now it's your turn! What's your top 5 movies released in 1984? Post your list to the comments below and if you would like to be a future guest ranker, leave your Twitter handle or link to your website. While you may think that you will be able to catch all the movies that we have listed in the article on streaming platforms, that is not the case. Even the best ones like Netflix and Prime do not have the titles. A better way to check out all the movies would be to log onto Pirate Bay and download it directly from the platform.

If you want to catch up on previous Rank 'Em lists, visit the Rank 'Em Archive. Never too late to post your list!

Post a Comment


  1. Man that's a good list but I have to say my list goes as follows:

    1. Bachelor Party
    2. Revenge of the Nerds
    3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
    4. Breakin
    5. All of Me

    As you can see my list is really all about having fun. Bachelor Party was the epitome of having fun. So much so that the bride's side of the party ended up at the party. It was a cheesy way to show their love but it was the fun they had that just embodied the 80s. Same for Revenge of the Nerds. The epitome of having fun and using your brain to show the big guy that we can whoop your ass, too, in an intelligent manner without having to put hands on you.

    The last 3 movies.... what can I say? These are movies I can watch over and over again for numerous reasons but mainly because they were just good.

    1. Great list.

      Was difficult for me not to mention Indiana Jones, but #2 is probably my least favorite of the trilogy...yes I said trilogy. Bachelor Party and Nerds are just plain fun movies.

    2. I know Nerds was a Trilogy but if I'm not mistaken there was a fourth movie in the installment.

  2. So many great movies, it's hard to whittle it down to just five. Ask me tomorrow and I'd probably give a different ranking!

    Red Dawn
    Temple of Doom
    Romancing the Stone

    1. I didn't see Red Dawn until at least the 90s so I haven't connected with it as much as the others. Still a great movie. I really need to watch Romancing the Stone again, been forever. I remember it being a fun movie.

  3. Mine have definitely changed a lot now than what it would've been back then and (as usual) it is difficult to narrow down to 5, but here I go:

    1. The Karate Kid
    2. Ghostbusters
    3. Revenge of the Nerds
    4. Sixteen Candles
    5. Beverly Hills Cop

    Surprised you didn't even have Sixteen Candles on your choices above. Have to include a few honorable mentions that I still enjoy:
    Breakin', Temple of Doom, Police Academy, Romancing the Stone, ok I better stop there

    1. Yeah, was strange 16 Candles wasn't in the top 30 of 1984 as much as it gets quoted today. I didn't connect with it as much as some of the other Hughes films. Could be because I was still in middle school when they were released and didn't watch most of them until the 90s.

  4. This is really difficult, and my choices now are very different than they would have been in 1984, although Footloose still tops the list.
    5. Terminator (I thought this was great then and still enjoy it on occasion now.)
    4. Revenge of the Nerds (I remember watching this at a sleepover with friends (so fond memories), now I don't care for this movie or this kind of humor.)
    3. Romancing the Stone (I still love this movie.)
    2. Beverly Hills Cop (one of the best, still watch it)
    1. Footloose (MY FAVORITE 80s movie!!!!!)

    1. Footloose was another I didn't see until the 90s, but do enjoy it. Did you watch the remake?

  5. 1. Ghostbusters – Totally iconic movie. I remember as if it was yesterday sitting there in the cinema with the whole audience signing the theme tune before the film started. Classic theme tune. Classic logo.
    2. Beverly Hills Cop – This is just such a good movie. Eddie Murphy totally owns. And he was only 22 years old when they filmed it!! Some classic lines and moments from a classic film.
    3. Police Academy – This is total 80s humour for me. Great characters. Great jokes. Many… many… quotable lines and scenes!
    4. The Last Starfighter – I loved this film. Something about it just totally transported me to another place. Maybe it was my ideal dream of playing an arcade game and then that game becoming real. And it’s still surprisingly watchable today.
    5. Temple of Doom – I’m a sucker for an Indy film. Spielberg’s Indy movies just encapsulate the 80s for me. Good old fashioned family viewing. And I also remember watching a famous documentary on the making of the effects such as the mine shaft scene, which started my love of special effects.

    1. Thanks for sharing! Great list! I really need to watch Starfighter again soon, been too long.

  6. Here's my list

    1. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
    2. Ghostbusters
    3. Romancing the Stone/Beverly Hills Cop
    4. A Nightmare on Elm Street
    5. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

    My list is really comprised more of re-watch value than anything else. While there are strong contenders with Gremlins, The Never Ending Story, Conan: The Destroyer, and others - when it comes down to what makes a movie memorable for me, it's about the character and the memorable dialogue I find myself quoting today.

    When it comes to action, music, charisma, special effects, and downright memorable sequences in my opinion it is very difficult to discount the importance and longevity of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom which tops my list. Ghostbusters is also a perfect mix of these things - especially with memorable dialogue and a stellar comedic cast that sells the idea paranormal investigating could be a real thing not to mention the iconic introduction of the proton pack and ghost trap.

    I guess it would be unfair to quality two movies for the #3 spot but honestly I can't decide which is better, I consider Romancing the Stone and Beverly Hills Cop dead even on entertainment value, set production, memorable dialogue, and re-watch value. Axel Foley is arguably one of the most prolific smart-ass comedic cop characters to ever come out of Hollywood second maybe to Riggs in Lethal Weapon which came later. Michael Douglas as a Indiana Jones tough guy type and Kathleen Turner as a romantic novelist had a rough romantic "odd couple" magic that would not be captured again until much later in The War of the Roses. Their back and forth followed up by the comedic presence of Danny DeVito amidst the jungle terrain made for a movie which was more about the journey than its final destination, keeping you engaged to find out what would happen next.

    A Nightmare on Elm Street makes the list based on sheer imagination and fright factor alone. Never before had we experienced a villain who hit so close to home - in our dreams and nightmares with a unique signature weapon that would make Freddy Krueger the icon he is today - a crudely constructed but nevertheless effective razor sharp bladed glove with would become as recognized with the franchise as Freddy's sweater and fedora itself - surpassing the iconic role of Jason's machete or Michael Meyer's butcher knife.

    As for my last choice, with its perfect balance of action and heart - Star Trek III: The Search for Spock was the perfect sequel to a movie we felt could never be topped. After Spock's death left us feeling a void in the blackness of space, the unique way in which Spock returned offered sensible closure and Christopher Lloyd's performance as Kruge, a unrelenting Klingon deserves to be recognized for the power performance it was. Kruge managed to hurt Kirk on a level that no other villain could achieve - he ordered his son killed and that emotional scar never managed to heal as the series progressed. Last but not least the final destruction of the beloved Enterprise capped off one of the most epic finales of original Star Trek movie history.

    So this is my personal list of the greatness that was 1984.

  7. Hard to whittle it down to just 5:
    Karate Kid
    Red Dawn
    Revenge of the Nerds

    `84 was such a good year for movies, I didn't see everything on the list right away, but thanks to HBO I got to see most of these movies (even the ones a 10 year old shouldn't) in short order, banner year, many of these have even held up pretty well

  8. Agreed on the watchability of 84's movies. Many do still hold up.

  9. My top 5 movies of 84 are:

    1) Gremlins - I ♥ Phoebe Cates, def a childhood crush

    2) Ghostbusters - epic, even though "" (yeah I know that's from GB2 but whatever!) ;-)

    3) The NeverEnding Story - I remember watching this with my dad when I was real young and he said "What the fuck is that thing?" and I repeated him saying "Yeah What the fuck is that thing?" and got in trouble for it. lol!

    4) The Terminator - Big time Ahnold fan!

    5) This is Spinal Tap - Still have my "Break like the Wind" CD #MajestyOfRock

    Lots of honorable mentions. Beverly Hills Cop for the soundtrack alone. Killer stuff!


Close Menu