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Journey Through the Magic of 80s Cinema – Spring Edition

We’re taking a trip down memory lane to the greatest decade ever, the 80s! Let the memories come flooding back as we recall some of the memorable (and not-so-memorable) movies the 80s had to offer. Here are six that we remember, for better or for worse. 

Where the Boys Are ’84 (1984)

You know how mad ’80s fans get when movies from our decade are remade? This movie is a remake of the 1960 classic that starred George Hamilton and Connie Francis. It lacks the star power of the original – it does feature Lynn-Holly Johnson from “Ice Castles”  – and the cast would later admit that they enjoyed the party scene of Fort Lauderdale a little too much during production. Famed film critic Roger Ebert would proclaim: “It isn’t a sequel and isn’t a remake and isn’t, in fact, much of anything.”

Back to the Beach (1987)

This campy but pleasant throwback to beach movies of the 1960s starred Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, thus probably ensuring that our parents wanted to see it more than we did. The rest of the cast is full of surprises with Bob Denver, Barbara Billingsley, Stevie Ray Vaughan, O.J. Simpson, and Pee-wee Herman all making odd, random appearances. One noteworthy piece of trivia: Frankie Avalon’s character is only called “The Big Kahuna” and is listed as “Annette’s Husband” in the credits. The name “Frankie” could not legally be used because it was legally tied to the different studios that made the 1960s movies.

April Fool’s Day (1986)

College friends spend a spring weekend at a creepy island mansion in this dark comedy/slasher flick. “Valley Girl” star Debbie Foreman plays sisters “Muffy” and “Buffy” in this tale where not everything is not as it first seems. Keep an eye out for actor Thomas Wilson (“Biff” in “Back to the Future”) in this beloved cult classic.

Revenge of the Nerds 2: Nerds in Paradise (1987)

The boys from Tri-Lamb head to Fort Lauderdale – the spiritual headquarters of Spring Break – for a national fraternity conference. The script wasn’t up to par for both Anthony Edwards (who reluctantly only appeared in a few scenes) and Julia Montgomery (“Betty”) who also opted out when she learned her character would cheat on lovable Lewis. Like the original flick, a signature musical number by the Tri-Lambs – “No On 15” – saves the day for our heroes. The theme song – “Back to Paradise” – was performed by 80s cruise alums 38 Special, who rocked it on this year’s voyage. 

Shag (1989)

We bet you forgot – or didn’t see – this tale of four teenage girlfriends who vacation in Myrtle Beach in the spring of 1963. Bridget Fonda, Phoebe Cates, and Annabeth Gish are the big names here in a movie that spotlights the shag dance phenomenon of South Carolina. What is shag? Think swing dancing with a little more twisting.

Spring Break (1983)

Sometimes the best way to honor the institution of Spring Break is to keep it simple: Just cast a group of unknowns and let them loose in Fort Lauderdale and hope for an R rating. David Knell and Perry Lang play our heroes as two college friends headed to Florida for their first Spring Break. Yes, they’ll encounter wet T-shirt contests, plenty of chances to drink beer, and more tomfoolery. Producer-director Sean S. Cunningham based the movie on his own memorable visits to Florida while attending college at Stanford. Cheap Trick sang the title track on the soundtrack, but alas it didn’t break the Top 40.

Written by Steve Spears, creator and host of Stuck in the ’80s Podcast. Find out more about the show, celebrating its 19th year in 2024, at sit80s.com.