If you had a dollar for all the forgotten '80s movies, you could comfortably retire. The way films were viewed during that decade changed dramatically. Cable TV went into more homes, which meant more people had access to premium channels like HBO, which aired movies uncut and uninterrupted by commercials. Videocassette recorders became a phenomenon, providing an additional way to consume movies. Such innovations created a demand for more movies to fill the airtime and to stock the shelves of video stores. With so much product out there, natural selection was bound to kick in. Not every film from the era would be remembered. The weak would falter.
Many '80s movies you forgot about are ones you probably watched repeatedly as a child. They were staples on cable and hot VHS rentals. Time has erased them from your memory banks because, quite frankly, they weren't very good. Even if you do remember them, recalling specifics is probably difficult. Sure, you remember watching them over and over as a kid, but the characters and plot points are hard to recall now.
These films, doomed to pop-culture oblivion, hark back to a time when new technologies created a strange kind of apathy. You watched whatever was on. You rented whatever was in. It was just cool to watch unedited movies at home. Let's reflect on a few of the most deservedly obscure.
Perhaps noting the success of 1978's Superman: The Movie and 1980's Superman II, Walt Disney Pictures, decades away from complete ownership of Marvel, took a crack at creating their own costumed hero. Their 1981 disaster Condorman stars Michael Crawford as a comic book artist who decides to become his signature creation. With his fancy - and ridiculously clumsy - condor suit, he helps a female KGB agent defect.
Thanks to stiff performances, a preposterous-looking costume, and special effects so unconvincing that they make you cringe, Condorman guaranteed it would become quickly forgotten, despite airing virtually every five minutes on HBO in the early '80s. Superheroes are supposed to be cool, not laughable. When you see the character flying despite barely flapping his wings, you can't help but laugh.
Actors: Oliver Reed, Barbara Carrera, Michael Crawford, Dana Elcar, James Hampton, + more
Directed by: Charles Jarrott
Bill Cosby starred in the spy spoof Leonard Part 6. Virtually everything about this production was misguided, from the blatant and distracting plugs for Coke to the confusing title. What rocket scientist thought it was wise to suggest it was the fifth sequel to a movie that doesn't exist?
Leonard Part 6 is so bad that Cosby himself disowned the picture, famously going on Larry King's CNN show and telling people not to go see it. The public listened to the star's advice, and has been following it ever since.
Actors: Jane Fonda, Bill Cosby, Tom Courtenay, Victoria Rowell, Moses Gunn, + more
Directed by: Paul Weiland
A great movie makes history come alive. A mediocre movie makes history seem dull. Revolution is the latter. On the surface, this 1985 film looked like a sure bet for the Oscars. Acting legend Al Pacino! Oscar-nominated Chariots of Fire director Hugh Hudson! Important historical subject matter!
In spite of an impressive pedigree, Revolution pales in comparison to dozens of other historical dramas. Even reading a high school textbook is more enthralling. And let's not forget Pacino's Brooklyn accent, which seems hilariously out of place in 1776.
Actors: Al Pacino, Annie Lennox, Donald Sutherland, Nastassja Kinski, Robbie Coltrane, + more
Directed by: Hugh Hudson
The Garbage Pail Kids Movie is based on a popular series of stickers that spoofed the Cabbage Patch Kids. A movie based on stickers? Has there ever been a flimsier inspiration for a feature-length film? ("Hold my beer," says The Emoji Movie.)
The Kids are designed to be gross and repugnant, which the film certainly follows up on. One has sores all over his face, one has a perpetually runny nose, and another repeatedly wets his pants. Hard to believe children were turned off by that, isn't it? Add in the creepy large-headed costumes, and you've got nightmare fuel for a month. Perhaps most perplexing of all is that the filmmakers hired Anthony Newley to star - because what child doesn't love that British singer and stage actor from the 1960s?
Actors: Jim Cummings, Anthony Newley, Phil Fondacaro, Arturo Gil, Mackenzie Astin, + more
Directed by: Rod Amateau