Best Movies of 1981

This page is updated regularly. Subscribe, so you don't miss new recommendations. The list of "Best Movies of 1981" contains films with the following parameters. Style: talky, cult film, suspense, intense, serious and interesting. Plot: dialogue, storytelling, mentor, runaway, suprisingly clever, catastrophe, chase, death, culture clash and brutality. Genre: Drama, Adventure and Thriller. Country: USA, UK and Canada.
Best Movies of 1981
Best Movies of 1981
TOP Movies: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Chariots of Fire (1981), On Golden Pond (1981), The Evil Dead (1981), An American Werewolf in London (1981), Arthur (1981), The Fox and the Hound (1981), Reds (1981), Excalibur (1981), Escape from New York (1981), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Scanners (1981), Thief (1981), My Dinner with Andre (1981), Halloween II (1981), Time Bandits (1981), History of the World: Part I (1981), Blow Out (1981), Stripes (1981), The Howling (1981).
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List of Best Movies

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Genre: Action, Adventure
Country: USA
Duration: 115 min.
Story: When Dr. Indiana Jones – the tweed-suited professor who just happens to be a celebrated archaeologist – is hired by the government to locate the legendary Ark of the Covenant, he finds himself up against the entire Nazi regime.
Style: exciting, semi serious, breathtaking, humorous, entertaining ...
Audience: family outing, boys' night, teens, kids
Plot: adventurer, archaeologist, adventure, treasure hunt, artifact, escapades, journey, ancient, courage, archaeology, treasure, secret place ...
Time: 1930s, 20th century, 30s, year 1936
Place: egypt, cairo egypt, nepal, himalaya, peru ...
Is relevant ?
Chariots of Fire (1981)
Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport
Country: UK
Duration: 125 min.
Story: The true story of British athletes preparing for and competing in the 1924 Summer Olympics.
Style: sentimental, thought provoking, realistic, serious, sincere ...
Plot: underdog, ambition, friendship, olympics, olympic athlete, cambridge university, missionary, track and field, sport, prejudice, social differences, human spirit ...
Time: 1920s, 1910s, 20th century, 20s, post world war one ...
Place: scotland, paris france, england, europe, france ...
Is relevant ?
On Golden Pond (1981)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 109 min.
Story: For Norman and Ethel Thayer, this summer on golden pond is filled with conflict and resolution. When their daughter Chelsea arrives, the family is forced to renew the bonds of love and overcome the generational friction that has existed for years. ...
Style: touching, emotional, realistic, witty, semi serious ...
Audience: girls' night
Plot: family relations, elderly, reconciliation, alienation, lake, aging, bittersweet, old age, couples, resentment, retired, golden years ...
Time: 80s, 20th century
Place: new england, maine
Is relevant ?
The Evil Dead (1981)
Genre: Horror
Country: USA
Duration: 85 min.
Story: When a group of college students finds a mysterious book and recording in the old wilderness cabin they've rented for the weekend, they unwittingly unleash a demonic force from the surrounding forest.
Style: cult film, splatter, rough, macabre, scary ...
Audience: boys' night
Plot: evil, zombie, monster, supernatural horror, dark humor, strong violent content, survival, demonic possession, supernatural, extreme violence, gory, danger ...
Time: 80s, 20th century, 70s
Place: usa, tennessee, michigan
Is relevant ?
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An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Country: UK, USA
Duration: 97 min.
Story: Two American tourists in England are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.
Style: atmospheric, humorous, cult film, suspenseful, scary ...
Audience: teens
Plot: werewolf, monster, beast, transformation, dark humor, supernatural, countryside, nurse, curses spells and rituals, race against time, danger, nightmare ...
Time: 80s, 20th century
Place: england, london, europe, yorkshire, northern england ...
Is relevant ?
Arthur (1981)
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Country: USA
Duration: 97 min.
Story: Arthur is the most quotable drunk millionaire that is likely to ever steal your heart. Dudley Moore portrays Arthur, a thirty year old child who will inherit 750 million dollars if he complies with his family's demands and marries the woman of ...
Style: humorous, witty, sentimental, clever, feel good ...
Audience: date night
Plot: butler, screwball, culture clash, opposites attract, alcohol abuse, waitress, cinderella story, bittersweet, fall in love, true love, power relations, profanity ...
Time: 80s
Place: new york, usa, california
Is relevant ?
The Fox and the Hound (1981)
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Drama, Family
Country: USA
Duration: 83 min.
Story: When a feisty little fox named Tod is adopted into a farm family, he quickly becomes friends with a fun and adorable hound puppy named Copper. Life is full of hilarious adventures until Copper is expected to take on his role as a hunting dog -- and ...
Style: touching, emotional, sentimental, semi serious, feel good ...
Audience: kids, family outing, pre-teens, girls' night
Plot: friendship, dog, disney, animal life, fox, animals, adventure, rescue, reconciliation, best friends, friends, danger ...
Time: 80s, 20th century, 1960s, 60s
Place: canada
Is relevant ?
Reds (1981)
Genre: Biography, Drama, History, Romance
Country: USA, UK, Canada
Duration: 195 min.
Story: A radical American journalist becomes involved with the Communist revolution in Russia and hopes to bring its spirit and idealism to the United States.
Style: serious, sentimental, captivating, tense, atmospheric ...
Plot: russian revolution, world war one, love triangle, journalism, politics, romance, political unrest, writer's life, couple relations, love affair, infidelity, rebelliousness ...
Time: 1910s, 1920s, 20s, 20th century, year 1918 ...
Place: russia, new york, usa, ussr, washington d.c. ...
Is relevant ?
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Excalibur (1981)
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Country: UK
Duration: 140 min.
Story: A surreal adaptation of Sir Thomas Malory's "Le Morte d'Arthur", chronicling Arthur Pendragon's conception, his rise to the throne, the search by his Knights of the Round Table for the Holy Grail, and ultimately his death.
Style: serious, stylized, exciting, epic, captivating ...
Plot: knight, mythology, king arthur, witch, arthurian legend, adventure, good versus evil, holy grail, legends and myths, folk hero, sword fight, magic ...
Time: middle ages, 5th century, future
Place: england, europe, britain
Is relevant ?
Escape from New York (1981)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Country: USA
Duration: 99 min.
Story: In 1997, the island of Manhattan has been walled off and turned into a giant maximum security prison within which the country's worst criminals are left to form their own anarchic society. However, when the President of the United States crash ...
Style: futuristic, exciting, serious, rough, cult film ...
Audience: boys' night
Plot: future dystopia, cyberpunk, distopia, hostage, post apocalypse, anti heroes, prison, kidnapping, rescue, race against time, anti hero, prison escape ...
Time: future, 20th century, 90s, 80s, 1990s ...
Place: new york, usa, manhattan new york city, brooklyn new york city, new jersey ...
Is relevant ?
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
Country: UK
Duration: 127 min.
Story: A British spy ship has sunk and on board was a hi-tech encryption device. James Bond is sent to find the device that holds British launching instructions before the enemy Soviets get to it first.
Style: exciting, twists and turns, stylized, suspenseful, serious ...
Audience: boys' night
Plot: undercover, espionage, kgb, cold war, british secret service, gadget, secret agents, secret service, adventure, 007, vengeance, danger ...
Time: 80s, 20th century, future
Place: greece, europe, england, italy, albania ...
Is relevant ?
Scanners (1981)
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Country: Canada
Duration: 103 min.
Story: Darryl Revok is the most powerful of all the scanners, and is the head of the underground scanner movement for world domination. Scanners have great psychic power, strong enough to control minds; they can inflict enormous pain/damage on their ...
Style: disturbing, tense, suspenseful, intense, scary ...
Plot: mind control, telekinesis, scientist, world domination, murder, mind reading, supernatural ability, misfit, social misfits, violence, conspiracy, exploitation ...
Time: 80s, 20th century
Is relevant ?
Thief (1981)
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Country: USA
Duration: 123 min.
Story: Frank is an expert professional safecracker, specialized in high-profile diamond heists. He plans to use his ill-gotten income to retire from crime and build a nice life for himself complete with a home, wife and kids. To accelerate the process, he ...
Style: neo noir, stylized, tense, atmospheric, realistic ...
Audience: boys' night
Plot: safecracker, heist, betrayal, one last job, storage unit, car dealer, convict, car salesman, safe, thief, crime, crimes ...
Time: 80s, 20th century, 70s
Place: chicago illinois, illinois, usa, los angeles, new jersey
Is relevant ?
My Dinner with Andre (1981)
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 110 min.
Story: Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, apparently playing themselves, share their lives over the course of an evening meal at a restaurant.
Style: talky, thought provoking, clever, contemplative, realistic ...
Plot: restaurant, hopes, storytelling, starting over, introspection, lifestyle, artists and showbiz, buddies, writer's life, friends, haunted by the past, conversation ...
Time: 80s, 20th century
Place: new york, usa, manhattan new york city, manhattan, new york city, sahara ...
Is relevant ?
Halloween II (1981)
Genre: Horror
Country: USA
Duration: 92 min.
Story: After failing to kill stubborn survivor Laurie and taking a bullet or six from former psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis, Michael Myers has followed Laurie to the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, where she's been admitted for Myers' attempt on her ...
Style: slasher, psycho film, suspenseful, scary, rough ...
Audience: teens
Plot: halloween, mask, serial killer, murder, nudity (full frontal - brief), psychopath, graphic violence, stalking, small town, obsession, sheriff, knife murder ...
Time: 70s, 20th century, year 1978, 80s
Place: usa, illinois, midwest
Is relevant ?
Time Bandits (1981)
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Country: UK
Duration: 110 min.
Story: Young history buff Kevin can scarcely believe it when six dwarfs emerge from his closet one night. Former employees of the Supreme Being, they've purloined a map charting all of the holes in the fabric of time and are using it to steal ...
Style: humorous, semi serious, stylized, absurd, cult film ...
Audience: pre-teens, kids
Plot: time travel, treasure, alternate dimension, adventurer, adventure, map, good versus evil, magic, giant, burglary, heroic mission, dwarf ...
Time: 80s
Place: london, ancient greece, england, europe
Is relevant ?
History of the World: Part I (1981)
Genre: Comedy, History, Musical
Country: USA
Duration: 92 min.
Story: An uproarious version of history that proves nothing is sacred – not even the Roman Empire, the French Revolution and the Spanish Inquisition.
Style: humorous, parody, anthology, witty, realistic ...
Audience: teens
Plot: roman empire, spanish inquisition, masturbation, revolution, farce, french revolution, life is a bitch, state affairs, lifestyle, anti heroes, emperor, disorder ...
Time: 18th century, 15th century, stone age, future, 16th century ...
Place: france, europe, rome italy, spain
Is relevant ?
Blow Out (1981)
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Country: USA
Duration: 108 min.
Story: Jack Terry is a master sound recordist who works on grade-B horror movies. Late one evening, he is recording sounds for use in his movies when he hears something unexpected through his sound equipment and records it. Curiosity gets the better of him ...
Style: neo noir, suspenseful, twists and turns, psycho film, serious ...
Plot: political conspiracy, conspiracy, assassination, politics, crimes, witnessing a crime, state affairs, amateur detective, hitman, life turned upside down, nobody believes, anti hero ...
Time: 80s, 20th century
Place: philadelphia, pennsylvania, california
Is relevant ?
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Stripes (1981)
Genre: Comedy, War
Country: USA
Duration: 106 min.
Story: John Winger, an indolent sad sack in his 30s, impulsively joins the U.S. Army after losing his job, his girlfriend and his apartment.
Style: humorous, feel good, not serious, funny, intense ...
Audience: teens
Plot: boot camp, u.s. army, friendship, soldier, basic training, military life, disorder, military, sergeant, obstacle course, flirting, taxi driver ...
Time: 80s, 20th century, 70s
Place: west germany, czechoslovakia, italy, kentucky, milan italy ...
Is relevant ?
The Howling (1981)
Genre: Horror
Country: USA
Duration: 91 min.
Story: After a bizarre and near fatal encounter with a serial killer, a newswoman is sent to a rehabilitation center whose inhabitants may not be what they seem.
Style: tense, suspenseful, scary, gothic, serious ...
Audience: teens
Plot: werewolf, serial killer, female werewolf, murder, dangerous animal, adultery, danger, psychiatrist, hunting, secret society, couples, transformation ...
Time: 80s
Place: california, los angeles
Is relevant ?
Body Heat (1981)
Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance, Thriller
Country: USA
Duration: 113 min.
Story: In the midst of a searing Florida heat wave, a woman convinces her lover, a small-town lawyer, to murder her rich husband.
Style: sexy, sexual, neo noir, atmospheric, suspenseful ...
Plot: femme fatale, murder, adultery, neo-noir, lust, betrayal, crimes, crime, crimes of passion, dangerous attraction, small town, protagonist as suspect ...
Time: 80s, 20th century
Place: florida, usa, miami
Is relevant ?
The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Country: UK
Duration: 124 min.
Story: In this story-within-a-story, Anna is an actress starring opposite Mike in a period piece about the forbidden love between their respective characters, Sarah and Charles. Both actors are involved in serious relationships, but the passionate nature ...
Style: stylized, atmospheric, emotional, scenic, clever ...
Plot: adultery, lieutenant, romance, love, love affair, tragedy, society, destructive relationship, infidelity, social differences, love triangle, film within a film ...
Time: victorian era, 19th century, victorian, 20th century, 80s ...
Place: england, europe, london
Is relevant ?
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Country: Australia
Duration: 96 min.
Story: Max Rockatansky returns as the heroic loner who drives the dusty roads of a postapocalyptic Australian Outback in an unending search for gasoline. Arrayed against him and the other scraggly defendants of a fuel-depot encampment are the bizarre ...
Style: cult film, bleak, stylized, exciting, rough ...
Audience: boys' night
Plot: post apocalypse, apocalypse, survivor, good versus evil, truck, gang, chases and races, survival, boomerang, anti hero, anti heroes, chase ...
Time: future, 80s
Place: australia, middle east
Is relevant ?
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Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Country: USA
Duration: 87 min.
Story: Five years after the horrible bloodbath at Camp Crystal Lake, it seems Jason Voorhees and his demented mother are in the past. Paul opens up a new camp close to the infamous site, ignoring warnings to stay away, and a sexually-charged group of ...
Style: slasher, scary, suspenseful, serious, rough ...
Audience: teens
Plot: serial killer, psychopath, serial murder, murder, stalking, summer camp, crimes, mystery, psycho murderer, crazy, psycho, maniac ...
Time: 80s, 20th century, year 1984, year 1980
Place: new jersey
Is relevant ?
Mommie Dearest (1981)
Genre: Biography, Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 129 min.
Story: In this biographical film, glamorous yet lonely star Joan Crawford takes in two orphans, and at first their unconventional family seems happy. But after Joan's attempts at romantic fulfillment go sour and she is fired from her contract with MGM ...
Style: disturbing, tense, serious, realistic, emotional ...
Audience: teens
Plot: adoption, abusive mother, mansion, rebelliousness, family relations, family problems, single parent, life is a bitch, parents and children, youth, juvenile delinquency, mentally unstable ...
Time: 20th century, 1930s, 1940s, 60s, 50s ...
Place: usa, new york, los angeles
Is relevant ?
Prince of the City (1981)
Genre: Crime, Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 167 min.
Story: New York City detective Daniel Ciello agrees to help the United States Department of Justice help eliminate corruption in the police department, as long as he will not have to turn in any close friends. In doing so, Ciello uncovers a conspiracy ...
Style: realistic, tense, bleak, serious, captivating ...
Plot: police corruption, corruption, police, police detective, testimony, bribery, friendship, district attorney, crimes, crime, redemption, betrayal ...
Time: 70s, 80s, 20th century
Place: new york, usa, washington d.c., virginia, new jersey
Is relevant ?
Porky's (1981)
Genre: Comedy
Country: Canada
Duration: 94 min.
Story: Set in 1954, a group of Florida high schoolers seek out to lose their virginity which leads them to seek revenge on a sleazy nightclub owner and his redneck sheriff brother for harassing them.
Style: humorous, sexy, teen sex comedy, sex comedy, realistic ...
Audience: teens, teen comedy
Plot: virginity, loss of virginity, looking for sex, high school, prank, nudity (full frontal - brief), first sex, redneck, virgin, teenager, first sexual experience, male virgin ...
Time: 50s, 1950s, 20th century, year 1954, 80s
Place: florida, usa, miami, everglades
Is relevant ?
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Country: UK, USA
Duration: 118 min.
Story: To win the right to marry his love, the beautiful princess Andromeda, and fulfil his destiny, Perseus must complete various tasks including taming Pegasus, capturing Medusa's head, and battling the Kraken monster.
Style: exciting, stylized, intense, captivating, serious ...
Audience: boys' night, teens
Plot: mythology, greek mythology, legends and myths, adventure, sea monster, good versus evil, heroic mission, fight for supremacy, god, witch, soldier, punishment ...
Time: ancient history, future, 80s
Place: greece, ancient greece, europe
Is relevant ?
Ragtime (1981)
Genre: Drama
Country: USA
Duration: 155 min.
Story: A young black pianist becomes embroiled in the lives of an upper-class white family set among the racial tensions, infidelity, violence, and other nostalgic events in early 1900s New York City.
Style: clever, controversial, captivating, serious, realistic ...
Audience: kids
Plot: racism, american dream, vandalism, siege, piano, pianist, racial injustice, jazz, firefighter, nudity (full frontal - brief), fighting the system, character on the edge ...
Time: 1910s, 1900s, 20th century, 90s, 1930s ...
Place: harlem, new york, usa, harlem manhattan new york city, manhattan new york city ...
Is relevant ?
Absence of Malice (1981)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Thriller
Country: USA
Duration: 116 min.
Story: A prosecutor leaks a false story that liquor warehouse owner Michael Gallagher is involved in the murder of a union head, and as newspaper reporter Megan Carter picks up the story and attempts to find the real truth, Gallagher's life begins to ...
Style: serious, realistic, suspense, talky, clever ...
Plot: journalism, murder, newspaper reporter, investigation, crimes, politics, rivalry, dishonesty, legal, manipulation, media, legal action ...
Time: 80s, 20th century, 70s
Place: usa, miami
Is relevant ?
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