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80s Fall Movies: 10 Classics Still Capture the Magic of the Season

When the leaves change color and the air grows crisp, what better way to keep warm than grabbing some popcorn and cuddling up on the couch to watch some classic 80s fall movies?

From spooky Halloween tales to heartwarming dramas, here are some of the best fall-flavored films the 80s had to offer.

Fame (1980)

This musical drama follows four years in the lives of students as they go through auditions to get accepted into New York City’s High School of Performing Arts. With the campus filled with autumn leaves as they navigate challenging courses, audition pressure, and teenage romance, we get wrapped up in the coming-of-age stories of these talented teens. Fall marks new beginnings in this feel-good portrayal of young artists discovering their true identities and what fame truly means to them.

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

Fall gets creepy in this Disney horror film based on a Ray Bradbury novel. Two boys encounter evil incarnate when the ghoulish carnival “Dark’s Pandemonium Carnival” blows into their small town right before Halloween. 

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

 Matthew Broderick stars as the charming Ferris Bueller, who decides to skip school on a beautiful autumn day in Chicago to embark on an epic day of freedom and adventure. As Ferris cleverly tricks teachers, administrators, and even his disapproving sister, director John Hughes takes us on a lively tour of downtown Chicago, complete with Ferris lip syncing at a fall parade and catching a fly ball at Wrigley Field surrounded by golden trees. This coming-of-age film perfectly encapsulates both the beauty of early fall and the youthful spirit of playing hooky.

Baby Boom (1987) 

Diane Keaton stars as J.C. Wiatt, an ambitious New York City management consultant whose life is turned upside down when she unexpectedly inherits a baby girl. After losing her job and boyfriend, she eventually settles in a quaint Vermont farmhouse in autumn, becoming entranced by the fall foliage and seasonal charm of small town life. As she adjusts to her new role as a mother amidst pumpkin patches and crisp fall air, this heartwarming fish-out-of-water tale reminds us that sometimes the best things in life are unplanned. 

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

This hilarious road trip comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy follows an uptight marketing executive and a lovable shower curtain ring salesman as they attempt to overcome one travel disaster after another to make it home for Thanksgiving dinner. With piles of autumn leaves covering the Midwest and chilly weather hampering their journey, the odd couple is forced to work together as they deal with snarky cab drivers, car rentals gone awry, and freezing cold motels. This John Hughes classic perfectly captures the frustration and togetherness brought on by the fall travel season. 

The Accused (1988)

Jodie Foster gives an Academy Award-winning performance as Sarah Tobias, a young woman who presses charges against a group of men who encouraged another man to sexually assault her in a bar. With the assault occurring in autumn and the gritty trial unfolding in winter, we witness Sarah’s resolve as she fights for justice against victim-blaming attitudes. Powerful acting and writing make this a memorable, thought-provoking courtroom drama. Not as fun as some of the other flicks on this list, but an important and powerful movie, nonetheless.

Beetlejuice (1988)

In this fantasy horror comedy directed by Tim Burton, a recently deceased couple finds their quaint farmhouse invaded by pretentious new homeowners. They subsequently try to scare them away by summoning a vulgar ghost named Beetlejuice, played by a manic Michael Keaton. With a perfect late October setting filled with jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, and fallen leaves, this creepy and kooky film became a cult classic. From the giant sandworm to the hilarious banister dance sequenced to “Day-O,” Beetlejuice brings the playful spookiness of Halloween delightfully to life.

Steel Magnolias (1989)

This emotional ensemble drama directed by Herbert Ross centers on a group of female friends and a mother-daughter relationship set in Natchitoches, Louisiana. With memorable autumnal scenes including football tailgates, harvest festivals, and chilly weather that prompts warm reunions, Steel Magnolias shows the abiding strength of women’s bonds even through hardships and tragedy. Excellent acting punctuates the bittersweet southern-ness of the changing seasons. 

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

This rom-com starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal follows a couple who meet and become friends over the course of many chance encounters one autumn in New York City. Iconic scenes like Harry and Sally taking a walk through Central Park with the colorful fall foliage make this essential fall viewing. 

Honorable mentions go to the Molly Ringwald high school movie Sixteen Candles (1984) for its autumn school dance scenes, and the classic Halloween flick Hocus Pocus (1993) – while it premiered in the 90s, ‘80s kids will remember eagerly awaiting it in the early fall of 1993!

From sweet nostalgia to funny pumpkins and paranormal scares, these movies are the perfect way to celebrate the spirit of autumn, 1980s style. Have a totally awesome movie marathon and don’t forget the popcorn!

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