Honey, recommend me some weird science movies back from the eighties
July 25, 2007 6:27 AM   Subscribe

Do you know of any movies with improbable technology as a plot device?

I really enjoy movies like Explorers, Weird Science, Back To The Future, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Innerspace. Their common ground is - of course - that they're all from the eighties and that they've all got improbable technology as a major plot device. Can you recommend any similar flicks, preferably made in the eighties? I'd really appreciate that.

And, yes, I've read this question, but I think mine is different enough to be warranted.
posted by soundofsuburbia to Media & Arts (42 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
2001.
posted by cellphone at 6:29 AM on July 25, 2007


Oops, should've probably added that I'm not looking for science fiction, the films should take place in the eighties as well. Therefore I suppose Back To The Future is pretty borderline (as well as the Bill & Ted movies, come to think of it).
posted by soundofsuburbia at 6:35 AM on July 25, 2007


SpaceCamp had that improbably-smart robot who wanted to send his friend into space.
posted by jozxyqk at 6:36 AM on July 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


To pick the obvious first - Short Circuit definitely goes with those movies.
posted by flashboy at 6:39 AM on July 25, 2007


Most James Bond movies. They may not all necessarily involve technology as a plot device, but many do. Diamonds are Forever, for example, has a killer laser satellite as the focal threat. Moonraker, same idea. Improbable gadgets at least play some part, as with the disappearing car in Die Another Day.

I just saw Live Free or Die Hard, and while the technology was supposed to be real-world, what they were doing with it was unrealistic. Is that the same category?
posted by adamrice at 6:40 AM on July 25, 2007


In Real Genius, the students exact their revenge by using a giant weapons-grade laser to pop a giant Jiffy-Pop the size of a house.
posted by puritycontrol at 6:45 AM on July 25, 2007


Ghostbusters? Come on, proton packs!
posted by Verdandi at 6:47 AM on July 25, 2007


Do you know Flight of the Navigator? It is science fiction, (in that much of the improbable science is from aliens, if I remember correctly), but it does take place firmly in the 1980s on earth. And NASA, like, experiments on his brain, which makes me think you might like it.

Also, Short Circuit and its sequel, of course. Robot learns to love. Soooooo 80s.
posted by lampoil at 6:48 AM on July 25, 2007


Wierd Science

There were a raft of body swop films in teh 80's too but I'm having trouble thinking of one that was technology based rather than 'ooo spooky artifact'.
posted by Ness at 6:49 AM on July 25, 2007


Explorers, Weird Science, Back To The Future, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Innerspace.

...

should've probably added that I'm not looking for science fiction

You do realize that all the movies you listed could be considered sci-fi?
posted by Afroblanco at 6:49 AM on July 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


There was that TV show "The Greatest American Hero".
posted by GuyZero at 6:50 AM on July 25, 2007


Oh wait, you already said Weird Science, I am daft, ignore me.
posted by Ness at 6:51 AM on July 25, 2007


Improbable technology as a plot device? Let's start with Frankenstein.
posted by chocolatetiara at 6:53 AM on July 25, 2007


Try My Science Project as well - not quite as popular as many of the ones already mentioned, but I seem to remember it was a fun movie.
posted by TommyH at 6:56 AM on July 25, 2007




The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The Eighth Dimension wouldn't exist if the titular hero hadn't decided to use the oscillation overthruster to drive his car through a mountain, causing the Red Lectroids to notice the device and proceed to attempt to steal it in order to wage war against the Black Lectroids.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 7:01 AM on July 25, 2007


All those movies--and what you're asking for--still fit one or more definitions of science fiction.

Wargames

Brainstorm

Videodrome, perhaps?
posted by Martin E. at 7:05 AM on July 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


In Real Genius, the students exact their revenge by using a giant weapons-grade laser to pop a giant Jiffy-Pop the size of a house.

The film doesn't rely on improbable technology, it relies on outdated technology (cutting edge circa 1930, apparently). Don't go and see it with a laser spectroscopist, is all I'm sayin'!
posted by methylsalicylate at 7:06 AM on July 25, 2007


Would the term 'Deus Ex Machina' apply to these sort of movies? If so, we could add a few Star Trek movies that seem to apply.
posted by oxford blue at 7:09 AM on July 25, 2007


Tron
posted by buriednexttoyou at 7:10 AM on July 25, 2007


The Fly

Altered States revolves around very real, uh, technology with fantastical results.
posted by Martin E. at 7:13 AM on July 25, 2007


I swear in the early 90s I saw this one movie dealing with a young woman getting her brain moved to a new body (donor is brain dead as a rock) after an accident that pretty much cut her in half. Can't find anything about it on Google or IMDb, darn it. Probably an obscure telefilm, no recognizable actors, genre would be "medical drama" if that makes sense? Anyone?
posted by Iosephus at 7:15 AM on July 25, 2007


Alien Nation.

Star Wars 2 and 3

Battle Beyond the Stars

Bladerunner

Aliens

Brazil

ET

The Terminator

Tron

My Science Project

Dune

Dreamscape?

Starman

D.A.R.Y.L.

Batteries Not Included

The Abyss (80s?)

Enemy Mine
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:16 AM on July 25, 2007


Not what Iosephus was probably thinking of, but it reminds me...The Man with Two Brains
posted by Martin E. at 7:18 AM on July 25, 2007


ReAnimator, and perhaps a number of the Living Dead movies.
posted by Gungho at 7:21 AM on July 25, 2007


All right, found it!

Who is Julia?
posted by Iosephus at 7:24 AM on July 25, 2007


Not from the 80s, but Fantastic Voyage.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:35 AM on July 25, 2007


Although that would be science fiction too.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:37 AM on July 25, 2007


Afroblanco: Yes, I know. I used the term "science fiction" to mean "set in the future" and I do realize that was wrong of me. Sorry.

Great answers so far! Keep 'em coming, if you will!
posted by soundofsuburbia at 7:49 AM on July 25, 2007


I just recalled another telefilm from that time (boy did I use to spend too much time in front of the cable TV or what): Chiller, about cryogenically frozen guy brought back to life. More of a thriller thing than medical drama, though.
posted by Iosephus at 7:58 AM on July 25, 2007


"The Core". They even went so far as to build their vehicle out of unobtanium.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:34 AM on July 25, 2007


Creator
posted by hydrophonic at 8:51 AM on July 25, 2007


The Manhattan Project -- Kid builds nuclear weapon from spare parts, and heists nuclear material from government lab with homebrew tools. Has a great ending where they're defusing the bomb.

Space Camp -- Kids get impromptu ride into orbit thanks to a robot named Jinx.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:04 AM on July 25, 2007


Almost forgot:

C.H.O.M.P.S.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:05 AM on July 25, 2007


Well, Deja Vu isn't from the 80s, but man does it use improbable technology as a major device!
posted by ORthey at 9:06 AM on July 25, 2007


Flatliners (1990)
posted by Mapes at 9:12 AM on July 25, 2007


You could exclude Diamonds are Forever, Moonraker, and Die Another Day because they weren't made or set in the 1980s (and they're all sucky, sucky movies, even for James Bond movies).

For made-in-the-'80s James Bond with improbable technology, 1985's A View to a Kill (one of the all-time worst James Bond movies, but at least it's from the '80s) has Christopher Walken and Grace Jones trying to set off a nuclear explosion that will cause an earthquake that will destroy Silicon Valley.

The Man with Two Brains

Are you suggesting that screw-top brain surgery is improbable?
posted by kirkaracha at 9:48 AM on July 25, 2007


The Nude Bomb
posted by Pollomacho at 10:15 AM on July 25, 2007


Didn't see The Last Starfighter on there... A video game used by an alien race to recruit fighter pilots is pretty improbable.

Or is it?

On preview -- hmmm, pretty sci-fi. Sorry!
posted by Pantengliopoli at 10:26 AM on July 25, 2007


Are you suggesting that screw-top brain surgery is improbable?

Well, it was pretty improbable in the 80's--though I understand medical science has come a long way since then.

oh, and The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981)
posted by Martin E. at 10:33 AM on July 25, 2007


Thanks you all for great suggestions! I've added a lot of these to my Lovefilm queue (ie the closest thing to Netflix here in Sweden) and I'll get to the "best answer" part as soon as I've seen them!

And now I've got movies to last me all through the autumn! Much appreciated!
posted by soundofsuburbia at 9:08 AM on July 26, 2007


Recent, '06 movie: The Prestige

(I've said too much!!)
posted by LordSludge at 11:01 AM on July 26, 2007


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