25 Hidden Gem 80s Teen Movies


The 1980s were a golden era for teen movies. We have unearthed 25 hidden gem 80s teen movies that deserve more recognition and appreciation. Perfect for a family movie night of bonding!

Hidden Gem 80s Teen Movies

The 1980s were a golden era for teen movies, with classics like The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Sixteen Candles. But beyond the popular hits, there were also many hidden gems that deserve more recognition and appreciation.

If you’re a teen or young adult now, you can appreciate these movies still today. If you’re looking to checkout some 80s teen movie nostalgia, these 25 hidden gem 80s teen movies are perfect. You’re parents are sure to remember these gems, which make these movies a go to for a family movie night of bonding! Also great for a friends sleepover movie night.

Whether you are looking for a nostalgic trip down memory lane, or a fresh discovery of some underrated films, here are 25 lesser known 80s teen movies that you might have forgotten about.

list of hidden gem 80s movies

Hidden Gem 80s Teen Movies Perfect for Family Movie Night

1. Secret Admirer (1985)

  • Director: David Greenwalt
  • Actors: C. Thomas Howell, Lori Loughlin, Kelly Preston, Dee Wallace, Cliff De Young, Fred Ward
  • Genre: Comedy, Romance
  • Rating: PG-13
  • ‘Secret Admirer’ on IMDb

This movie is about a teenage boy who receives an anonymous love letter in his locker and thinks it is from his crush. He writes a reply and asks his best friend, who actually wrote the letter, to deliver it. She rewrites it and makes the girl fall in love with him. Meanwhile, their parents find the letters and think their spouses are cheating on them.

Secret Admirer is streaming FREE on Tubi.

2. One Crazy Summer (1986)

  • Director: Savage Steve Holland
  • Actors: John Cusack, Demi Moore, Curtis Armstrong, Bobcat Goldthwait, Joel Murray
  • Genre: Comedy, Adventure
  • Rating: PG
  • ‘One Crazy Summer’ on IMDb

This movie is about a high school graduate who wants to be a cartoonist and goes to Nantucket for the summer with his friends. He meets a singer who needs to save her grandfather’s house from a greedy developer. He also has to deal with a rival and his girlfriend, who is attracted to him. The movie features cool animation and music.

3. Summer School (1987)

  • Director: Carl Reiner
  • Actors: Mark Harmon, Kirstie Alley, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Dean Cameron, Gary Riley
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Rating: PG-13
  • ‘Summer School’ on IMDb

This movie is about a gym teacher who is forced to teach a remedial English class during the summer. He tries to motivate his students, who are mostly slackers and misfits, by making the lessons fun and rewarding them with favors. He also falls in love with another teacher, who helps him prepare the students for the final test.

4. My Best Friend Is a Vampire (1987)

  • Director: Jimmy Huston
  • Actors: Robert Sean Leonard, Evan Mirand, LeeAnne Locken, Cheryl Pollak, Cecilia Peck, Rene Auberjonois
  • Genre: Comedy, Horror, Romance
  • Rating: PG
  • ‘My Best Friend Is a Vampire’ on IMDb

This movie is about a teenage boy who becomes a vampire after a night with a mysterious woman. He gets help from a 300 year old vampire mentor, who gives him a handbook on how to live as a vampire. He tries to keep his secret from his parents, his friends, and his crush, while avoiding a vampire hunter who is after him.

5. Real Genius (1985)

  • Director: Martha Coolidge
  • Actors: Val Kilmer, Gabriel Jarret, Michelle Meyrink, William Atherton
  • Genre: Comedy, Sci-Fi
  • Rating: PG
  • ‘Real Genius’ on IMDb

This movie is about a young prodigy and his roommate who plot to sabotage a laser project in a top engineering college, where they face a professor who aims to turn it into a weapon. They use their intelligence and creativity to pull off pranks, make friends, and have fun, while also discovering the true meaning of genius.

6. Three O’Clock High (1987)

  • Director: Phil Joanou
  • Actors: Casey Siemaszko, Anne Ryan, Richard Tyson, Jeffrey Tambor, Philip Baker Hall
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Rating: PG-13
  • ‘Three O’Clock High’ on IMDb

This movie is about a nerdy high school student named Jerry who is forced to fight an unstable new transfer student named Buddy at 3:00 P.M. after accidentally touching him in the bathroom. Jerry tries various ways to avoid the confrontation, but none of them work. He finally decides to face Buddy and discovers his own courage and self respect.

7. The Sure Thing (1985)

  • Director: Rob Reiner
  • Actors: John Cusack, Daphne Zuniga, Anthony Edwards, Nicollette Sheridan
  • Genre: Comedy, Romance
  • Rating: PG-13
  • ‘The Sure Thing’ on IMDb

This movie is about a college freshman named Walter who goes on a cross country road trip with a girl named Alison, who is the opposite of his ideal woman, to meet a “sure thing” in California arranged by his friend Lance. Along the way, they encounter various obstacles and mishaps, and gradually develop feelings for each other.

8. The Night Before (1988)

  • Director: Thom Eberhardt
  • Actors: Keanu Reeves, Lori Loughlin, Theresa Saldana, Trinidad Silva
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Rating: PG-13
  • ‘The Night Before’ on IMDb

This movie is about a high school nerd named Winston who loses his virginity to a prostitute named Rhonda in a limousine on prom night. The next morning, he wakes up with no memory of what happened and finds out that the limo belongs to a drug lord named Tito. He has to find Rhonda and the limo before Tito kills him.

The Night Before is streaming FREE on Tubi.

9. My Science Project (1985)

  • Director: Jonathan R. Betuel
  • Actors: John Stockwell, Danielle von Zerneck, Fisher Stevens, Dennis Hopper
  • Genre: Comedy, Sci-Fi
  • Rating: PG
  • ‘My Science Project’ on IMDb

This movie is about a high school student named Michael who finds a strange device in a military junkyard and uses it as his science project. The device turns out to be a portal to another dimension that can alter time and space. Michael and his friends have to stop the device from destroying the world.

10. The Heavenly Kid (1985)

  • Director: Cary Medoway
  • Actors: Lewis Smith, Jason Gedrick, Jane Kaczmarek, Richard Mulligan
  • Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
  • Rating: PG-13
  • ‘The Heavenly Kid’ on IMDb

This movie is about a rebellious teenager named Bobby who dies in a car race and becomes a guardian angel for his son Lenny, whom he never knew. Bobby helps Lenny become more confident and popular, but also learns that Lenny is in danger of repeating his fatal mistake. Bobby sacrifices his chance to go to heaven to save Lenny’s life.

The Heavenly Kid is streaming FREE on Tubi.

11. Lucas (1986)

  • Director: David Seltzer
  • Actors: Corey Haim, Kerri Green, Charlie Sheen, Winona Ryder
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Rating: PG-13
  • ‘Lucas’ on IMDb

Lucas is a nerdy 14 year old boy who falls in love with a 16 year old girl who joins the cheerleading squad. He tries to impress her by joining the football team, but faces ridicule and rejection. He also befriends an older jock who becomes his protector and mentor.

12. Vision Quest (1985)

  • Director: Harold Becker
  • Actors: Matthew Modine, Linda Fiorentino, Michael Schoeffling, Ronny Cox
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Rating: R
  • ‘Vision Quest’ on IMDb

Vision Quest is about a high school wrestler who decides to drop two weight classes to challenge the best wrestler in the state. He meets an older woman who rents a room in his house and falls in love with her. He also struggles with his grades, his coach, and his father.

Vision Quest is streaming FREE on Tubi.

13. Cutting Class (1989)

  • Director: Rospo Pallenberg
  • Actors: Donovan Leitch Jr., Jill Schoelen, Brad Pitt, Roddy McDowall
  • Genre: Comedy, Horror, Mystery
  • Rating: R
  • ‘Cutting Class’ on IMDb

This movie is about a series of murders that occur in a high school. The main suspects are a rebellious student, a disturbed student who has just been released from a mental institution, and the school principal. The heroine is a girl who is torn between the two students.

14. Vice Versa (1988)

  • Director: Brian Gilbert
  • Actors: Judge Reinhold, Fred Savage, Swoosie Kurtz, Corinne Bohrer
  • Genre: Comedy, Fantasy
  • Rating: PG
  • ‘Vice Versa’ on IMDb

This movie is about a father and son who switch bodies after touching a magical skull. They have to cope with each other’s lives and problems, such as work, school, romance, and bullies. They also have to avoid the thieves who want to get the skull back.

Vice Versa is streaming FREE on Tubi.

15. Pump Up the Volume (1990)

  • Director: Allan Moyle
  • Actors: Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis, Scott Paulin, Ellen Greene
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music
  • Rating: R
  • ‘Pump Up the Volume’ on IMDb

This movie is about a shy teenager who runs a pirate radio station under the alias of Hard Harry. He uses his voice to challenge the authority, corruption and conformity of his school and society, and inspires his listeners to rebel and express themselves. He also falls in love with a fellow student who discovers his identity.

16. Adventures in Babysitting (1987)

  • Director: Chris Columbus
  • Actors: Elisabeth Shue, Maia Brewton, Keith Coogan, Anthony Rapp, Vincent D’Onofrio
  • Genre: Comedy, Adventure, Crime
  • Rating: PG-13
  • ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ on IMDb

This movie is about a babysitter who has to take the kids she is watching on a wild ride through Chicago, after her friend calls her for help from a bus station. Along the way, they encounter car thieves, gangsters, blues musicians, and a runaway bride.

17. Just One of the Guys (1985)

  • Director: Lisa Gottlieb
  • Actors: Joyce Hyser, Clayton Rohner, Billy Jayne, Toni Hudson, William Zabka
  • Genre: Comedy, Romance
  • Rating: PG-13
  • ‘Just One of the Guys’ on IMDb

This movie is about a teenage girl who disguises herself as a boy to enroll in a rival high school, after she thinks her journalism teacher rejected her article because of her gender. She tries to prove herself as a writer, while also dealing with the challenges of being a boy and falling in love with her new friend.

Just One of the Guys is streaming FREE on Tubi.

18. Zapped (1982)

  • Director: Robert J. Rosenthal
  • Actors: Scott Baio, Willie Aames, Robert Mandan, Felice Schachter, Heather Thomas
  • Genre: Comedy, Sci-Fi
  • Rating: R
  • ‘Zapped!’ on IMDb

Zapped is about a high school nerd who gains telekinetic powers after a laboratory accident. He uses his abilities to get revenge on bullies, impress girls, and have fun, but he also attracts the attention of a greedy principal who wants to exploit him.

19. The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)

This movie is about a teenage girl who becomes a fugitive and a folk hero, after she shoots a man who tried to rape her and refused to pay for her brother’s damaged scooter. She and her friends travel across Texas, while being pursued by the police and the media, and inspiring other young people to stand up for their rights.

20. The Wizard (1989)

  • Director: Todd Holland
  • Actors: Fred Savage, Luke Edwards, Jenny Lewis, Beau Bridges, Christian Slater
  • Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama
  • Rating: PG
  • ‘The Wizard’ on IMDb

The Wizard is about a boy who runs away from home with his younger brother, who is a video game prodigy, and a girl they meet along the way. They head to California to compete in a video game tournament, while avoiding the adults who are trying to take the boy back. The movie also features the debut of Super Mario Bros. 3 in North America.

21. Top Secret! (1984)

  • Director: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
  • Actors: Val Kilmer, Lucy Gutteridge, Omar Sharif, Peter Cushing, Michael Gough
  • Genre: Comedy, Action, Spoof
  • Rating: PG
  • ‘Top Secret!’ on IMDb

This movie is a parody of Elvis films and WWII spy movies, with songs by Val Kilmer and a cameo by Omar Sharif. Val Kilmer stars as a rock singer who becomes involved in a resistance plot to rescue a scientist in East Germany. The film is full of absurd humor, visual gags, and reverse footage.

22. License to Drive (1988)

  • Director: Greg Beeman
  • Actors: Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Heather Graham, Carol Kane
  • Genre: Comedy, Teen
  • Rating: PG-13
  • ‘License to Drive’ on IMDb

This movie is about a teenager who fails his driver’s test, but decides to take his grandfather’s Cadillac for a night out with his crush. He faces various troubles, such as getting her drunk, damaging the car, and dealing with the police. 

23. For Keeps (1988)

  • Director: John G. Avildsen
  • Actors: Molly Ringwald, Randall Batinkoff, Kenneth Mars, Miriam Flynn
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Rating: PG-13
  • ‘For Keeps?’ on IMDb

This movie is about a high school couple who become pregnant and decide to keep their baby, despite the opposition of their parents and the pressure of their peers. They face the challenges of marriage, parenthood, education, and finances. 

24. My Bodyguard (1980)

  • Director: Tony Bill
  • Actors: Chris Makepeace, Adam Baldwin, Matt Dillon, Martin Mull, Ruth Gordon
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family
  • Rating: PG
  • ‘My Bodyguard’ on IMDb

My Bodyguard is about a boy who hires a former gang leader as his bodyguard to protect him from a school bully who terrorizes him. The film explores themes of friendship, loyalty, and redemption, and features a young Adam Baldwin, Joan Cusack, and Matt Dillon.

25. Johnny Be Good (1988)

Johnny Be Good Comp A Revision 5 Typeface: Opti Binder Style
  • Director: Bud S. Smith
  • Actors: Anthony Michael Hall, Robert Downey Jr., Paul Gleason, Uma Thurman
  • Genre: Comedy, Sport
  • Rating: R
  • ‘Johnny Be Good’ on IMDb

This movie is about a high school football star who is pursued by many colleges who offer him various incentives and temptations to sign with them. He struggles to make the right choice, while his girlfriend, coach, and best friend have their own agendas.

Johnny Be Good is streaming FREE on Tubi.

BONUS: MORE 1980s Teen Movies Streaming FREE on Tubi

Teen Witch
High School USA
Modern Girls
Dangerous Curves
Catch Me if You Can
Illegally Yours

These are just some of the 80s teen movies that deserve more attention and love. They may not be as famous or acclaimed as the mainstream hits, but they have their own charm, style, and message. They reflect the spirit and diversity of the 80s, and they can still entertain and inspire us today.

So, if you are looking for something different and fun to watch, check out these hidden gems 80s teen movies.

list of hidden gem 80s movies

Free Movie Checklist

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So, what are your thoughts on the movies included in this list? What additional movies would you have included? What movies would you have left off?

We encourage all comments and discussion!

Everyone is welcome!





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