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What's Streaming from 1985?

by Nathaniel R

Most streaming platforms don't have great search capabilities. As we've long complained, they're much better for casual viewers who'll watch whatever is curated for them than devoted cinephiles who often give themselves projects (I know I'm not the only one!) to watch a certain set of films of some ilk, year, awards race of yesteryear or from some filmography. Since 1985 is our "year of the month" -- the Smackdown is just one week away! (have you voted yet?) -- I thought we'd play our streaming screengrab roulette game (wherever the scroll bar lands we take that photo - no searching for cool images or key scenes) with film titles from 1985 that are streaming currently on one of the major services. These weren't super easy to look up but here's what I found on Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. 

Will any of these random screengrabs inspire you to watch a movie? Please do speak out about anything related to any of these movies in the comments. It's more fun when you we're not just typing into the abyss.

Okay, ready here we go...


I have just been fired because nobody wants to see vampire killers anymore. Or vampires either. Apparently all they want are demented madmen running around in ski masks hacking up young virgins!

Fright Night (1985)
I didn't remember that this film critiqued the rise of 1980s slasher flicks! Jason was all the rage at the time and Freddy was right around the corner. 

Roddy McDowall! God what a long career that man had from child actor superstardom (How Green Was My Valley, Lassie, etcetera) through several classics, one long running franchise(Planet of the Apes), a Golden Globe nomination for Cleopatra, a ton of tv shows (nearly 300 credits across film & tv) all the way up until voice work on Pixar's A Bug Life (1998). McDowall won an NBR award for How Green was My Valley in the 1940s, one random Emmy award for an anthology showcase in the 1960s, and a Saturn Award for Fright Night in the 80s but that was it for awards, one minor showbiz prize every other decade. Curiously he was never Oscar nominated or put up for an Honorary. Was it Hollywood's pesky homophobia?

I don't get it coach, what's their problem?

Teen Wolf
Their problem, Michael J, is that a) you're a werewolf basketball star who is hogging the spotlight and b) somehow MTV used your brand name for a hit series that ran for many seasons that had absolutely nothing to do with your brand but for werewolfs in high school... oh, and also locker rooms. 

1985 was Michael J Fox's supernova year. He was nominated for his first Emmy for his hit sitcom Family Ties third season (he'd lose but win at the next three consecutive Emmys) and had already parlayed his tv superstardom to movie opportunities. This one was a modest hit and the other one was a colossal blockbuster called Back to the Future

P.S. The 80s were a weird weird time. Remember when male stars didn't have superhero physiques but just looked like normal people, albeit really handsome versions of them?

Also streaming on Hulu
The board game turned initial flop-later beloved movie with three endings Clue and the Jim Carrey/Lauren Hutton vampire comedy Once Bitten


This box contains over 217 bits and pieces of information -- evidence! 

Pee Wee's Big Adventure
I love this movie so much. Why don't you marry it then? Easily the most adorable and funniest movie Tim Burton ever made if not quite his best. This scene is the most amazing scene in the movie. Until the one after it. And the one after that. And so on and so on and so on.

[Excitable film score playing while a group of people sneak into a building]

The Man With One Red Shoe
Ohmygod, it's LORI SINGER, then at the peak of her fame. Only people who experienced the 80s remember her. This is one of the few Tom Hanks movies from that time period that I never saw.

That's it from Netflix. They have pretty much purged their inventory pre 2000 at this point. 



Desperately Seeking Susan
It's okay that you're not a screengrab of Madonna, Rosanna Arquette. It really is. You're also fab in this movie. Everyone is. I took the New York chapter of The Film Experience team to this a couple years ago at The Metrograph. It holds up so spectacularly well. Such a great time capsule in the way it's aged but it's still so much fun, fresh, with great punk screwball energy. And Laurie Metcalf, who I'd forgotten about since I hadn't seen it in years is absolutely hilarious as Rosanna Arquette's nosey sister-in-law.

Also streaming on Prime:
Prime has mostly a sea of cheap B movies and foreign films when it comes to 1985 though even their foreign film selections are heavy on the B movie side. 

Teen Wolf
My Lucky Stars
Heart of the Dragon
(Jackie Chan movie)
Holcroft Covenant (Michael Caine & Victoria Tennant star)
What Comes Around
Disciples of the 36th Chamber
Star Worms 2: Attack of the Pleasure Pods
The Young Vagabond
Pulgasari - Kim Jong-Il apparently produced this one. Yikes.
Flesh and Bullets
Scandal Sheet
Crime Wave
Winter Evening in Gagry
Zone Troopers
Teacher Somsri
18 Golden Destroyers
Sacred Hearts
When Nature Calls
Black Fire
Cease Fire
Butterfly and Flowers
Mesmerized (also known as My Letter to George) - An old Jodie Foster film apparently?
Igor and the Lunatics
Reel Horror
Hitler's SS: Portrait of Evil -
TV movie with Bill Nighy

So where's the acclaimed stuff? That's at Film Struck's Criterion Channel which I just realized I hadn't set up properly with my credit card so no screengrabs but there are some real goodies there if you haven't joined...


Kiss of the Spider Woman (Best actor win for William Hurt)
Insignificance (Nicolas Roeg's strange memorable fictional movie about four people who are basically Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, and Joseph McCarthy. Teresa Russell is pretty wonderful as the Marilyn figure if I recall correctly)
Come and See (The Soviet Union's Oscar submission that year though it wasn't nominated)
Vagabond (Agnes Varda's acclaimed drama with a César winning Sandrine Bonnaire. The film would go on to win both Best Actress and Best Foreign Film the following year at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards)
Rendez-Vous (winner of Best Director at Cannes starring a very young Juliette Binoche)
Taipei Story (Edward Yang)
Tampopo (Popular Japanese comedy)

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Reader Comments (10)

I love Tampopo!!!

And Clue has to be my fave film from 1985 along with The Color Purple. And the most rewatchable.

September 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso


Yes, Pee-Wee's is the best!
Re: Lori Singer... Only people who experienced the '80s or were obsessed with Robert Altman's Short Cuts, like me.
Re: Desperately Seeking... Aidan Quinn is such a deep crush for me in that, just one blurry screengrab of him is a turn-on.

Have you seen Tampopo?

September 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Maybe Fright night could have been Roddy's nomination,did he really have a chance though.

September 25, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Witness is currently available on Showtime Anytime.

September 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDrG

Teresa Russell is fantastic in Insignificance. Was she a “respected” actress in the 80s? Like, did people take her seriously? I wonder the same thing about Sean Young, though I’m well aware of her antics, I’ve never been able to pin down what people felt about her actual work.

September 25, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

Clue is one of my favorite comedies of all time.

September 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

I think I saw Pee Wee's Big Adventure in the theater around 6-7 times. I can thank my very patient and generous grandma, who saw it with me several of those times and paid for all of them.

I saw Vagabond earlier this year on Filmstruck when they had their tribute to Varda and it is well worth streaming.

September 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Since you mention Roddy McDowall and we're interested in all things Oscar, I'll tell you that he had a very good buzz for Supporting Actor in 1963 for his role in Cleopatra, but at the time the studios had to submit the names of which performers were Lead and which were Supporting. Due to a clerical error at 20th Century Fox, the studio submitted the whole cast as Lead. So there was no way for McDowall to be nominated. Particularly because of this, it is really an outrage that he never received a Special Oscar. Well, actually I can't think of a single supporting actor who's been awarded a Special Oscar. Can you?

And while we're at it, one of these years should be named the Year of the Supporting Players at the Oscars, and posthumous Special Oscars or Plaques should be given in honor of Thelma Ritter, Agnes Moorehead, Arthur Kennedy and Claude Rains, to be later kept and exhibited at the Academy's Museum. And they should be "presented" by important supporting players of this era. Just imagine... Patricia Clarkson honors Thelma Ritter, Catherine Keener presents Agnes Moorehead, Chris Cooper fetes Arthur Kennedy and Michael Shannon remembers Claude Rains. What a treat!

September 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

"Fright Night" has aged into a true horror classic- and yes Roddy should have won an Oscar. He never wrote the juiciest tell all of them all- he kept all their secret and took them to his grave

September 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Star Worms 2: Attack of the Pleasure Pods sounds like a porn movie. Hehe.

September 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

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