8 essential Eighties movies every gay person must see.

8 essential Eighties movies every gay person must see.
NINE TO FIVE, (aka 9 TO 5), Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, 1980, TM and Copyright (c)20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.
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As the gay community falls in love with Russell T. Davies’ now seminal piece of television making, It’s A Sin (Channel 4/4OD), the flawless eighties setting is one aspect that’s garnering a lot of praise. To a younger audience, the eighties must seem somewhat horrific, but it was a haven for movie classics that are referenced so much in gay culture today but many will have no idea where they originated from. Luckily, we’re here for a quick crash course in eighties movies you simply HAVE to see.



Working Girl (1988) – The epitome of power deals, bitchy comments and New York City style. Starring the legend Sigourney Weaver in full blown bitch mode with star turns from Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford and Joan Cusack who was nominated for an Oscar for her role. Pure 80s excellence, a love letter to NYC and a killer soundtrack from Carly Simon. Watch it now.


Overboard (1987) – Remade in 2018 with Anna Faris, there’s only one version of this fishing town amnesia rom com that’s worth its salt. With Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell in their prime (hello Kurt’s fit bod), the script is so sharp with wicked singers and has a heart of gold. Sure, the plot device might seem a little creepy in today’s society but hey, it was the eighties!

Big hair and they don't care. Mel Griffiths & Joan Cusack in Working Girl
Big hair and they don’t care. Mel Griffiths & Joan Cusack in Working Girl

Big Business (1988)– One of the comedy classics of the eighties with two legends playing two sets of identical twins separated at birth. Lily Tomlin (Grace & Frankie) and Bette Midler star in this fish out of water comedy that’s double the fun with them both playing two parts. With New York again a feature juxtaposed with back water America, it’s comedy gold with oodles of heart.


Labyrinth (1986) – anyone who’s seen this Jim Henson classic will have one takeaway, David Bowie’s bulge. A young Jennifer Connolly takes on Bowie’s Goblin King who’s kidnapped her baby brother, all set to his music and some killer tunes. How this hasn’t been turned into a west end musical we shall never know.


Fame (1980) – So many films and TV series’ refence this classic which started as a movie and then spawned a TV show. Set in New York (again!) centring around the  80s dance scene, it’s an atmospheric classic that needs to be seen.

Big hair, Bowie, balls... it's Labyrinth
Big hair, Bowie, balls… it’s Labyrinth

Lost Boys (1987) – Vampire movies have always had varying degrees of quality over the years but this is up there with the best. Starring a young Kiefer Sutherland, this small-town-infested-by-vampires is a coming of age essential watch with a soundtrack to die for.


Return to Oz (1985) – With Fairuza Balk (The Craft) starring as a Dorothy Gale, this is a much darker sequel to the MGM classic with Judy Garland. Not a song or a Munchkin in sight, this is about mental health issues, triumph over adversity and finding friends in the strangest of places. Witches with exchangeable heads, a desert that turns you to sand and creatures with wheels for arms and legs, it’s a spooky ride that deserves your attention.


9 To 5 (1980) – The original and the best, starring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda (who would later team up again for Netflix’s Grace & Frankie) and the one and only Dolly Parton. Office politics were a lot different in the eighties and this highlights that with precision, tunes and perfect script writing.

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