We're going back to the 80s this week, as we work through our favourite films to have screened at EIFF over the past 75 years. There's a real mixed selection this week, with dystopian sci-fis, gritty British crime, French festival favourites, and iconic Italian love letters to cinema!

Check out ten of our favourites from the 1980s...


1980 // The Long Good Friday

A man and woman lay in bed and smoke cigarettes.

Director: John Mackenzie

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 2017 The Future Is History Retrospective

This gritty British gangster film screened at EIFF 2017 in a retrospective which explored identity in a world undergoing seismic political and cultural change. With impressive star turns from Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren, the film still stands up as one of the finest of its genre. Hoskins plays ruthless mobster Harold Shand, a character who is never happy to settle with what he's got. As he chases a lucrative deal with the American mafia, he becomes entangled with the IRA, who plot to put a hit on him. While Shand's world spirals out of control, the realism of Mackenzie's film still hits hard with its violent scenes and grimy locations.

Rent: Amazon Prime


1981 // Escape From New York

A man with an eyepatch.

Director: John Carpenter

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1981

Regular collaborators John Carpenter and Kurt Russell teamed up in 1981 with this action thriller, starring Russell as the excellently-named anti-hero Snake Plissken. Snake, a war hero turned criminal, is offered a pardon should he be able to break into a maximum-security prison to rescue the American president, who is being held hostage. The twist? That maximum-security prison is the entire island of Manhattan, set in a dystopian, crime-ridden future. Boasting a supporting cast of cult icons, including Lee Van Cleef and Harry Dean Stanton, the film still has a strong following today.

Rent: Amazon Prime


1982 // Blade Runner

A man stands in the rain and points a gun.

Director: Ridley Scott

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1982

Dystopian sci-fi films were all the rage in the early 80s apparently, and there are none more iconic than Ridley Scott's neon-soaked Blade Runner. Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard, a burnt-out cop tasked with tracking down and eliminating synthetic humans known as "replicants". The film expertly blends the genres of science fiction and film noir to create a future in which Deckard scours the streets of a decaying Los Angeles, brightly lit by fluorescent advertisements, and backed by a classic Vangelis soundtrack.

Stream: Amazon Prime


1983 // Videodrome

A man tries to adjust a TV set, which is displaying lips.

Director: David Cronenberg

Screened at EIFF: 2017 Brave New World: New Directions in Sci-Fi Cinema 1980-1985 Retrospective

No stranger to the concept of body horror, with films like Shivers and The Brood already under his belt, David Cronenberg's 1983 nightmarish Videodrome is now seen as one of the director's best. Despite bombing at the box office upon release, Videodrome has reached cult status with film fans thanks to its haunting visuals and provocative plot-lines.

Stream: Amazon Prime


1984 // Paris, Texas

A man wearing a suit and a red baseball hat stands in the desert.

Director: Wim Wenders

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1984

A haunting tale of loss and redemption, Paris, Texas is arguably the finest film made by German auteur, Wim Wenders. The critics certainly thought so, with the film taking home big prizes from both Cannes and the BAFTAs. Starring Harry Dean Stanton as an aimless drifter trying to reintegrate himself into society, the film is elevated by Wenders stark imagery and a memorable Ry Cooder score.

Rent: Apple TV


1985 // Back To The Future

A scientist and teenage look on in shock.

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1985

Great Scott! It has been 37 years since Marty and the Doc set off in their Delorean and caused chaos (and near catastrophe in Marty's case) in the past. Back To The Future still holds up as one of the best movies of the 80s though, thanks in part to its inventive, Oscar-nominated screenplay, which keeps the rules of time travel airtight, something so many other films of the genre fail to do! The film kickstarted one of cinema's most beloved franchises, with sequels following in 1986 and 1990!

Rent: Amazon Prime


1986 // Betty Blue

A woman in a red dress standing by the side of the road.

Director: Jean-Jacques Beineix

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1986

Opening the festival in 1986, Jean-Jacques Beineix's Betty Blue brought wider attention to the Cinéma Du Look movement, of which the director was a key player alongside other renowned French filmmakers, Luc Besson and Leos Carax. What begins as a passionate love story turns into a psychological study, as the titular character's descent into madness accelarates, expertly portrayed by Béatrice Dalle in what was her first ever acting role.

Stream: BFI Player


1987 // Withnail & I

Two men sit on a step and read a newspaper.

Director: Bruce Robinson

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1987

Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann star as the titular slackers with a taste for booze in the classic 1987 comedy. When the pair "accidentally" take a holiday to the countryside, everything from terrifying locals to some good old British rain causes their trip to be nothing short of a disaster! Hilarity ensues as the pals lumber from one catastrophe to another, and the result is one of the most quotable movies of all time!

Rent: BFI Player


1988  // Cinema Paradiso

A young boy looks up a cinema screen.

Director: Giueseppe Tornatore

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1988

Giuseppe Tornatore's beautiful ode to cinema is one of the most moving films about film ever made. Following the story of a young boy who wiles his way into his local theatre's projection booth, striking up a friendship with the wise projectionist, Cinema Paradiso is one of the most-loved films to ever come out of Italy. Filled with memorable scenes and references to cinematic classics, the film will leave you without a dry eye in the house, when it culminates in its iconic kissing montage.

Stream: BFI Player


1989  // The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

A group of people around a table in a fancy restaurant.

Director: Peter Greenaway

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1989

Split into three distinct acts, and famed for its lavish colour palettes, Peter Greenaway's gruesome tale of revenge continues to shock audiences to this day. Set entirely in a luxurious restaurant, the film reveals the secrets, desires and motives of its eponymous characters, as their decisions lead to a wicked climax.


Missed our previous posts in this series? Here you go...