Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Like the Harrison Ford classic Blade Runner? Then check out these 3 great 1980s sci-fi movies

Harrison Ford in Blade Runner.
Warner Bros. Pictures

In the realm of sci-fi films, there are movies that were made before Blade Runner and movies that were made after it. Ridley Scott’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick‘s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was so influential that almost everything that came after Blade Runner was inspired by it in some way. This was especially apparent in the ’80s, although the Blade Runner imitators couldn’t match the artistry on display in Scott’s film.

Regardless, there are a handful of contemporary ’80s sci-fi movies that carried on the themes, the tone, and even some of the big ideas behind Blade Runner. Unfortunately, they aren’t readily available on streaming services, and they’ve been largely forgotten for the past four decades. That’s why we’re focusing on three great 1980s sci-fi movies that carried the spirit of Blade Runner. And you won’t even have to hunt them down in a dusky old video store to find them.

Runaway (1984)

Tom Selleck and Kirstie Alley in Runaway.
Tri-Star Pictures

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who remembers Runaway who didn’t live through the ’80s. This movie wears its Blade Runner influence on its sleeve, although it’s nowhere near as good as that film despite being directed and written by Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton. Although Magnum P.I. made Tom Selleck a TV star, he always seems to come across as a bargain basement Harrison Ford in his ’80s movies.

Much like Blade Runner‘s lead character, Selleck’s Sergeant Jack R. Ramsay is assigned to track down and neutralize rogue robots. Of course, no one would confuse the crude robots that Ramsay deals with for Blade Runner‘s replicants. That’s why everyone is shocked when a mad scientist, Charles Luther, finds a way to turn ordinary robots into killer machines. It should also be mentioned that Luther is played by KISS frontman Gene Simmons, which only adds to this movie’s bizarre mystique. The best thing about this film is an early performance by the late Kirstie Alley as Jackie Rogers, a former lover of Luther’s whose life is in jeopardy after she double-crosses him.

Rent or buy Runaway on Prime Video or other digital outlets.

The Hidden (1987)

Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Nouri in The Hidden.
New Line Cinema

Unlike Blade Runner or Runaway, The Hidden takes place firmly in the present as Tom Beck (Michael Nouri) and the LAPD encounter a criminal they simply can’t deal with: an alien thrill killer who can transfer itself from body to body. That’s where Lloyd Gallagher comes in, as played by future Twin Peaks star Kyle MacLachlan. The real Gallagher is dead, and his identity has been assumed by a heroic alien who wants to stop the rampage.

The enemy alien possesses several bodies throughout the film, including a stripper named Brenda (Babylon 5‘s Claudia Christian). But what makes this movie work is the uneasy bond between Gallagher and Beck and the escalating chaos that the alien leaves in its wake.

Rent or buy The Hidden on Prime Video and other digital outlets. 

Alien Nation (1988)

James Caan and Mandy Patinkin in Alien Nation.
20th Century Studios

Decades before District 9 (which still needs a proper sequel)Alien Nation pulled off an even more ambitious story in the aftermath of the arrival of alien refugees called Newcomers, who quickly find a place in modern society. James Caan plays Matthew Sykes, a human cop partnered with Sam Francisco (Mandy Patinkin), one of the first Newcomers in the LAPD.

Sam is very earnest about making a new life for himself and his family, and he even overcomes Matthew’s initial hostility by befriending him. But just because there are plenty of good Newcomers doesn’t mean that they don’t have criminals as well. Case in point: the Newcomer businessman William Harcourt (Terence Stamp) has a plan to reintroduce a drug that can turn Newcomers into docile slaves. This not only horrifies and enrages Sam, but it also threatens to expose secrets that the Newcomers desperately want to hide from humans.

Rent or buy Alien Nation on Prime Video and other digital outlets.

Editors' Recommendations

Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
3 sci-fi movies on Amazon Prime Video you need to watch in March
A young Donald Sutherland, mouth agape pointing a finger in a scene from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Many sci-fi films focus on a future or alternate world. Sometimes they involve aliens, mysticism, or mythical creatures. Others are more psychologically disturbing and cerebral. There are so many different types of sci-fi movies that even those who aren’t into traditional sci-fi can find one they like.

This month, the three sci-fi movies on Amazon Prime Video you need to watch in March come from three different decades: the 1970s, 1990s, and 2000s. They are all very different from one another as well, so you’re sure to find something that fits your interest. In each case, they’re movies worth rewatching too.
Vanilla Sky (2001)
Vanilla Sky (2001) Official Trailer # 1 - Tom Cruise HD

Read more
Want more awesome sci-fi like Dune 2? Then watch these 3 great sci-fi shows in March
A man puts on his space helmet in a scene from The Ark.

The first weekend in March saw the release of Dune: Part Two, Denis Villeneuve's epic sci-fi adventure film and the sequel to 2021's Dune. We pick up with Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), who have been assimilating into Fremen culture. While contemplating his messianic destiny, Paul seeks revenge against House Harkonnen for killing his father and destroying House Atreides. Only Paul can unite the Fremens and wage war on the Harkonnen. Yet, will he choose to do it?

Dune: Part Two deserves to be seen on the biggest screen to appreciate its greatness. After seeing Dune: Part Two in theaters, come home and watch a TV series to ride the sci-fi wave. Three great sci-fi shows to watch include a peculiar series by Alex Garland, an intergalactic saga based on a famous book, and a recent space-traveling show.
Devs (2020)

Read more
Like Dune 2? Then watch these 3 great sci-movies for free right now
David Walks through a robot factory in AI Artificial Intelligence.

Dune: Part Two is set to dominate theaters this weekend as hordes of moviegoers (who've endured the worst two months of movies in recent memory) eagerly return to the dusty world of Arrakis to catch up with Paul, Chani, Lady J(essica), and the rest of the gang. And who can blame them? The movie is already critically acclaimed and will surely be the blockbuster to watch in coming weeks.

Denis Villeneuve's big-budget sequel isn't the only sci-fi game in town, though. Streamers like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video have tons of sci-fi movies, but you have to pay for a subscription to access them. Do you want to watch great sci-fi movies that are just as good as Dune: Part Two for free? Digital Trends has compiled a list of three exceptional sci-fi films that are currently streaming on Tubi and YouTube. So sit back, tune in, and prepare to have your mind expanded beyond all comprehension.
Logan's Run (1976)

Read more