American indie cinema of the 80s

by LittleBelarus | created - 27 Mar 2018 | updated - 17 May 2018 | Public

https://web.archive.org/web/20170225145711/http://www.cinefamily.org/films/underground-usa-indie-cinema-of-the-80s/

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1. Slacker (1990)

R | 97 min | Comedy, Drama

69 Metascore

A day in the life of Austin, Texas as the camera roams from place to place and provides a brief look at the overeducated, the social misfits, the outcasts and the oddballs.

Director: Richard Linklater | Stars: Richard Linklater, Rudy Basquez, Jean Caffeine, Jan Hockey

Votes: 18,256 | Gross: $1.23M

2. Last Night at the Alamo (1983)

Unrated | 81 min | Comedy, Drama

Cowboy, and assorted blue collar buddies, inneffectually try to save a true Texas Honky Tonk from closing for good.

Director: Eagle Pennell | Stars: Sonny Carl Davis, Lou Perryman, Steven Mattila, Tina-Bess Hubbard

Votes: 231

3. Combat Shock (1984)

R | 91 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A dangerously disturbed Vietnam veteran struggles with life 15 years after his return home, and slowly falls into insanity from his gritty urban lifestyle.

Director: Buddy Giovinazzo | Stars: Rick Giovinazzo, Veronica Stork, Mitch Maglio, Asaph Livni

Votes: 2,415

4. Repo Man (1984)

R | 92 min | Comedy, Crime, Sci-Fi

75 Metascore

Young punk Otto becomes a repo man after helping to steal a car, and stumbles into a world of wackiness as a result.

Director: Alex Cox | Stars: Harry Dean Stanton, Emilio Estevez, Tracey Walter, Olivia Barash

Votes: 30,916 | Gross: $3.57M

5. Paydirt (1981)

Not Rated | 95 min | Crime, Thriller

In this low-key thriller, a community of Oregon winegrowers in need of revenue grow marijuana in order to finance their vineyards.

Director: Penny Allen | Stars: Eric Silverstein, Lola Desmond, Daniel Odell, Melody Bates

Votes: 18

6. Deadbeat at Dawn (1988)

Not Rated | 80 min | Action, Crime

After one too many encounters with The Spiders (a rival gang), The Ravens' leader's girlfriend tells him to quit the gang or it's Splitsville. He does so, but the leader of The Spiders is ... See full summary »

Director: Jim Van Bebber | Stars: Paul Harper, Jim Van Bebber, Megan Murphy, Ric Walker

Votes: 1,380

7. Diary of a Deadbeat: The Story of Jim Vanbebber (2015)

107 min | Documentary, Action, Drama

A documentary of uncompromising, outlaw, cult underground filmmaker Jim Vanbebber, covering his life from 2010-2015 while he tries to make a comeback and make a new exploitation film after years of struggling to work.

Director: Victor Bonacore | Stars: Jim Van Bebber, Vic Noto, Kevin 'ohGr' Ogilvie, Phil Anselmo

Votes: 24

8. The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988)

R | 93 min | Documentary, Music

58 Metascore

Documentary showcase, what life was like for the music artists living during the Los Angeles Heavy Metal scene in the mid and late 1980s.

Director: Penelope Spheeris | Stars: Joe Perry, Steven Tyler, Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper

Votes: 2,979 | Gross: $0.37M

9. Forbidden Zone (1980)

R | 74 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Musical

The bizarre and musical tale of a girl who travels to another dimension through the gateway found in her family's basement.

Director: Richard Elfman | Stars: Gene Cunningham, Marie-Pascale Elfman, Virginia Rose, Phil Gordon

Votes: 4,247

10. Suburbia (1983)

R | 94 min | Drama, Thriller

When household tensions and a sense of worthlessness overcome Evan, he finds escape when he clings with the orphans of a throw-away society.

Director: Penelope Spheeris | Stars: Chris Pedersen, Bill Coyne, Jennifer Clay, Timothy O'Brien

Votes: 3,847

11. Liquid Sky (1982)

R | 112 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

Invisible aliens in a tiny flying saucer come to Earth looking for heroin. They land on top of a New York apartment inhabited by a drug dealer and her female, androgynous, bisexual ... See full summary »

Director: Slava Tsukerman | Stars: Anne Carlisle, Paula E. Sheppard, Susan Doukas, Otto von Wernherr

Votes: 5,108

12. Chicken Ranch (1983)

Unrated | 74 min | Documentary

Documentary on the "Chicken Ranch," a legal Nevada brothel.

Directors: Nick Broomfield, Sandi Sissel | Stars: Fran, Walter Plankinton, Connie, Claudia

Votes: 283

13. You Are Not I (1981)

50 min | Drama

A young woman escapes from a mental hospital during the chaos of a nearby multiple-car accident. She is mistaken for a shock victim and is driven to her sister's house by a rescue volunteer... See full summary »

Director: Sara Driver | Stars: Suzanne Fletcher, Evelyn Smith, Luc Sante, Michael Abbruzzio

Votes: 149

14. Sleepwalk (1986)

R | 78 min | Drama, Fantasy

A woman is hired to transcribe an ancient Chinese manuscript. She finds that little by little, the manuscript has powers that begin to take over her life.

Director: Sara Driver | Stars: Suzanne Fletcher, Ann Magnuson, Dexter Lee, Stephen Chen

Votes: 172

15. Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

R | 89 min | Comedy, Drama

86 Metascore

A New Yorker's life is thrown into a tailspin when his younger cousin surprise visits him, starting a strange, unpredictable adventure.

Director: Jim Jarmusch | Stars: John Lurie, Eszter Balint, Richard Edson, Cecillia Stark

Votes: 31,484 | Gross: $2.44M

16. The Thin Blue Line (1988)

Not Rated | 101 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama

79 Metascore

A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas.

Director: Errol Morris | Stars: Randall Adams, David Ray Harris, Gus Rose, Jackie Johnson

Votes: 19,996 | Gross: $1.21M

17. Eating Raoul (1982)

R | 90 min | Comedy, Crime

69 Metascore

A relatively boring Los Angeles couple discovers a bizarre, if not murderous, way to get funding for opening a restaurant.

Director: Paul Bartel | Stars: Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel, Robert Beltran, Susan Saiger

Votes: 6,271

18. Born in Flames (1983)

Not Rated | 79 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

Set ten years after the most peaceful revolution in United States history, a revolution in which a socialist government gains power, this films presents a dystopia in which the issues of ... See full summary »

Director: Lizzie Borden | Stars: Honey, Adele Bertei, Jean Satterfield, Florynce Kennedy

Votes: 742

19. Vortex (1982)

Not Rated | 90 min | Thriller

A film noirish atmosphere is created to show detective Lunch (a popular underground musician and poet) plow her way through the plans of a corporate businessman who seeks government defense... See full summary »

Directors: Beth B, Scott B | Stars: James Russo, Lydia Lunch, William Rice, Ann Magnuson

Votes: 74

20. Hollywood Shuffle (1987)

R | 78 min | Comedy

74 Metascore

An actor limited to stereotypical roles because of his ethnicity, dreams of making it big as a highly respected performer. As he makes his rounds, the film takes a satiric look at African American actors in Hollywood.

Director: Robert Townsend | Stars: Robert Townsend, Craigus R. Johnson, Helen Martin, Starletta DuPois

Votes: 4,416 | Gross: $5.23M

21. Talking to Strangers (1988)

90 min

It consists of only nine ten minute segments. Each shot/sequence was filmed only once in 35mm film with direct sound. The complexity and ground breaking originality of these shots has obtained widespread international acclaim.

Director: Rob Tregenza | Stars: Ken Gruz, Marvin Hunter, Dennis Jordan, Caron Tate

Votes: 70

22. My Brother's Wedding (1983)

Not Rated | 115 min | Drama

A man who has struggled personally has conflicts with his upwardly mobile lawyer brother and well to-do fiance and is reluctantly to be the best man at their wedding.

Director: Charles Burnett | Stars: Everett Silas, Jessie Holmes, Gaye Shannon-Burnett, Ronnie Bell

Votes: 597 | Gross: $0.01M

23. Bless Their Little Hearts (1983)

80 min | Drama

A dramatic look into the life of a family in Watts.

Director: Billy Woodberry | Stars: Nate Hardman, Kaycee Moore, Angela Burnett, Ronald Burnett

Votes: 94

24. Walker (1987)

R | 94 min | Biography, Drama, History

An unconventional retelling of the life of William Walker, a 19th century American mercenary leader who became the president of Nicaragua.

Director: Alex Cox | Stars: Ed Harris, Richard Masur, Rene Auberjonois, Keith Szarabajka

Votes: 2,995 | Gross: $0.26M

25. Border Radio (1987)

R | 87 min | Drama

Two musicians and a roadie take money that is owed to them from a job. One flees to Mexico, and everyone has questions.

Directors: Allison Anders, Dean Lent, Kurt Voss | Stars: Chris D., Chris Shearer, Dave Alvin, Devon Anders

Votes: 569

26. Sherman's March (1985)

Not Rated | 157 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy

Documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee sets out to make a movie about Union General Sherman's March to the Sea towards the end of the American Civil War, but keeps getting sidetracked by his own love life.

Director: Ross McElwee | Stars: Ross McElwee, Dede McElwee, Ross McElwee Jr., Patricia Rendleman

Votes: 2,186

27. Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)

PG-13 | 104 min | Comedy, Drama

71 Metascore

A bored suburban housewife, seeking escape from her life, suffers amnesia after an accident, wakes up, and is mistaken for a free-spirited New York City drifter named Susan.

Director: Susan Seidelman | Stars: Rosanna Arquette, Madonna, Aidan Quinn, Mark Blum

Votes: 19,372 | Gross: $27.40M

28. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Unrated | 83 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

80 Metascore

Henry, a drifter, commits a series of brutal murders, supposedly operating with impunity.

Director: John McNaughton | Stars: Michael Rooker, Tracy Arnold, Tom Towles, Mary Demas

Votes: 28,734 | Gross: $0.61M

29. Smithereens (1982)

R | 93 min | Drama, Music

A narcissistic runaway engages in a number of parasitic relationships amongst members of New York's waning punk scene.

Director: Susan Seidelman | Stars: Susan Berman, Brad Rijn, Richard Hell, Nada Despotovich

Votes: 1,299

30. Blood Simple (1984)

R | 99 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

81 Metascore

A rich but jealous man hires a private investigator to kill his cheating wife and her new man. But, when blood is involved, nothing is simple.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen | Stars: John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya, M. Emmet Walsh

Votes: 80,506 | Gross: $2.15M

31. The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary, Biography, History

A documentary of the successful career and assassination of San Francisco's first elected gay city supervisor.

Director: Rob Epstein | Stars: Harvey Fierstein, Harvey Milk, Anne Kronenberg, Tory Hartmann

Votes: 5,261 | Gross: $0.01M

32. Eyes of Fire (1983)

R | 90 min | Horror, Western

A preacher is accused of adultery, and he and his followers are chased out of town. They become stranded in an isolated forest, which is haunted by the spirits of long dead Native Americans.

Director: Avery Crounse | Stars: Dennis Lipscomb, Guy Boyd, Rebecca Stanley, Sally Klein

Votes: 656

33. Roger & Me (1989)

R | 91 min | Documentary

70 Metascore

Director Michael Moore pursues GM CEO Roger B. Smith to confront him about the harm he did to Flint, Michigan with his massive downsizing.

Director: Michael Moore | Stars: Michael Moore, Roger B. Smith, Rhonda Britton, Fred Ross

Votes: 24,887 | Gross: $6.71M

34. Mala Noche (1986)

Not Rated | 78 min | Drama

A story of amour fou. Walt is madly in love/lust with a young illegal Mexican immigrant. However, the object of his unrequited affection doesn't even speak any English and finds Walt really... See full summary »

Director: Gus Van Sant | Stars: Tim Streeter, Doug Cooeyate, Ray Monge, Nyla McCarthy

Votes: 3,426

35. The Evil Dead (1981)

NC-17 | 85 min | Horror

71 Metascore

Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.

Director: Sam Raimi | Stars: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Betsy Baker

Votes: 171,559 | Gross: $2.40M

36. She's Gotta Have It (1986)

R | 84 min | Comedy, Romance

79 Metascore

Story of a woman and her three lovers.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Tracy Camilla Johns, Tommy Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell, Spike Lee

Votes: 8,226 | Gross: $7.14M

37. Seventeen (1983)

Not Rated | 120 min | Documentary

In their final year at Muncie's Southside High School, a group of seniors hurtles toward maturity with a combination of joy, despair, and an aggravated sense of urgency. They are also ... See full summary »

Directors: Joel DeMott, Jeff Kreines

Votes: 152



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