A Totally Rad Roundup of 80s Flicks in Honor of Vice City

Posted on January 9 2013, 12:11pm | Author: R* A | Filed Under: Rockstar, Games

Looking back on Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on the occasion of its recent mobile release is a pretty powerful double-hit of nostalgia for us. Not only are we here at Rockstar taken back to that wild year of 2002 when we labored to take the groundbreaking 3D GTA experience pioneered in the previous fall's Grand Theft Auto III into a direction that no one at the time expected - but it's also a time to revisit the fascination with 1980s pop culture that inspired Vice City in the first place. From coked-out debutantes, suave and in-control hit men, hot-blooded drug kingpins, egomaniacal movie directors... the larger than life attitudes of that "me" decade as served up in the films of the era served as perfect inspiration for the stories, characters and scenery that drove the world and vibe of Vice City...

Scarface (1983)

But of course. Largely dismissed at the time as an overblown, needlessly and gratuitously violent and profane remake of Howard Hawks' 1932 gangster classic - it has now, of course, transcended all of that and become one of the biggest and most enduring cult hits of all time - defining what a modern crime epic should be. An absolute top favorite of ours, we started paying homage to the film's legacy in GTAIII with Flashback 95.6's Scarface soundtrack heavy playlist and the casting of Robert Loggia as the sciatica-plagued Ray Machowski - but it goes without saying that Vice City owes much of its inspiration to the vivid characters, style, scenery and music of De Palma and Pacino's 1980s Miami gangster masterpiece.

Less Than Zero (1987)

Hands down the darkest movie of the 'brat pack' genre, this Robert Downey Jr. and Andrew McCarthy-starring movie is a stylish adaptation of the disturbing Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho) novel. A morality tale of excess following rich Beverly Hills yuppie kids caught up with living life in the coke-fueled fast lane of the 1980s social scene. Incredible style, music and oddly prophetic to the drug troubles that would plague Downey himself in the years to come.

The Long Good Friday (1980)

The Long Good Friday was released at the dawn of the decade - a great crime drama that is now listed as one of the top 100 British films of the 20th century by the British Film Institute. An intense Bob Hoskins portrays a local British kingpin trying to close a landmark deal, working the angles between American mafia investors, crooked politicians, and his own questionably loyal ranks - whilst thwarted by an unknown enemy. Also starring a young, blonde Helen Mirren as Hoskins' moll.

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)

Directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist), this is an awesome crime film from the era with Los Angeles based agents after a notorious counterfeiter and thief - played by Willem Defoe as your archetypical 1980s villain sociopath. Side note - the film's soundtrack was composed entirely by 80s wunderkinds (and Flash FM favorites) Wang Chung.

Manhunter (1986)

Michael Mann is almost singlehandedly responsible for defining what 1980s action ‘looked’ like thanks to his work as Executive Producer of Miami Vice, and for his direction of Manhunter - the first film adaptation of Thomas Harris’ series of books about serial killer Hannibal Lecter. Drenched in 80s style, this one takes neo-noir into neon-noir with suspense set to synths.

First Blood (1982)

A more taut and psychological thriller than the cavalcade of action films from the 1980s about lone good-guy American soldiers prevailing against seemingly endless parades of gun-toting baddies with poor aim, Stallone's 1982 turn as a distressed Vietnam War veteran turned one-man-army undoubtedly inspired the decade's later work of Arnold Schwarzenegger, modern folk hero Chuck Norris, Michael Dudikoff - and of course the legendary Jack Howitzer of Evacuator and Exploder fame.

The Road Warrior (1981) & Aliens (1986)

1980s Hollywood seemed to have one basic approach to sequels - take a somewhat understated, successful suspense film and blow the doors off it with a follow-up that ups the ante to all-out-balls-to-the-wall action. Both of these however turned out to be awesomely amplified blockbusters that did good justice to their progenitors. A hammy, young Bill Paxton playing his brash space marine character in Aliens almost exactly as his Chet from Weird Science - is a particular 80s treat.

Sudden Impact (1983)

We've previously featured Eastwood's Dirty Harry in our Rockstar Recommends chronology of favorite shootout sequences which highlighted "The Enforcer" as a standout - but this is the key 1980s installment in the long-running Dirty Harry franchise. Sudden Impact is most notable of all as being the movie that introduced the mega catchphrase and meme "Go ahead, make my day". In the years that followed, countless movies and sitcoms were able to mine parody gold out of that single line.

Top Gun (1986)

Not necessarily ‘totally violent’ unless you were particularly jarred by (spoiler alert) the death of Goose – but certainly totally rad. Jerry Bruckheimer and the late Don Simpson and Tony Scott at the height of their powers. THE blockbuster action epic of summer ’86... 

Body Double (1984)

Somewhere in between Brian DePalma’s flashes of brilliance that were Scarface (1983) and The Untouchables (1987) came this very underrated Hitchcock homage/rip-off (depending on your opinion) that took the DNA of Vertigo and Rear Window into a totally 80s Los-Angeles-set suspense thriller complete with an awesome extended Frankie Goes to Hollywood music video / porn sequence, starring a young Melanie Griffith as Holly Body.

Rocky IV (1985) & Over the Top (1987)

Vice City probably wouldn’t have had Jack Howitzer’s Push Up: The Movie – the story of a washed up ex- push up champion who trains to defeat a Russian nemesis in an international push-up contest held in “Tokyo, China” – if it weren’t for this special pair of mid-80s Stallone ‘classics’. In Rocky IV, Sly's Balboa fights a machine but in Over the Top, his Lincoln Hawk becomes one (well, once he turns his ball cap backwards). "You can't win!"

Rockstar Recommends: A Chronology of Favorite Movie Shootouts and Standoffs
Rockstar Recommends: A Film Noir Round Up Part Two – The Neo Noirs

  • scoateson March 25 2016, 2:36amReplyFlag
    Rockstar need to make an official scarface game not just one influenced by the film if any game maker can make one that does the film justice it's rockstar
    • D.E.L.Bon March 11 2016, 10:04pmReplyFlag
      This needs to come back Rockstar!
      • paoan013on February 3 2016, 10:54amReplyFlag
        R*, the "Recommendations" section is one of the best of the newswire, so i feel it is a pity that there has been no update for the last three years. I believe that you should recommend the movies that have been an influence for every past game that you haven't mentioned yet(i.e., San Andreas, V, III, etc.) and every future game. There are amazing movies that many of us haven't watched. I personally enjoy watching them even more, knowing that they influenced my favorite games!
        • K-manTHon January 28 2013, 2:42amReplyFlag
          R* you have good taste for movies
          • The-Dark-Nighton January 22 2013, 7:58amReplyFlag
            picked Scarface up on limited edition steelbook blu-ray today, n upgrade on my DVD version lol.
            • bad_fur_dayon January 21 2013, 12:36amReplyFlag
              Watched manhunter on the weekend, awesome film, thx for pointing that one out R*.
            • GoryMasheron January 13 2013, 3:59pmReplyFlag
              Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!

              Nice f**king movie 'HONK HONK'.
              • MichaelKnight96on January 13 2013, 12:10pmReplyFlag
                I love the 80's!!
                • BlackLightningon January 13 2013, 1:32amReplyFlag
                  And I must say, Scarface is the most overrated movie in the history of movies. Thanks for that, MTV Cribs.
                  • BlackLightningon January 13 2013, 1:30amReplyFlag
                    How dare you put classic in quotations? As if Rocky 4 isn't a classic, which it damned well is. In fact, it's quite possibly the quintessential 80s movie. So you take that back, Rockstar. You take it back right now! The Eye of the Tiger commands it.
                  • Redemption_670on January 13 2013, 1:00amReplyFlag
                    Rest In Peace Tony Scott (Director of Top Gun)
                  • simsdanielon January 12 2013, 11:08pmReplyFlag
                    I remember watching Scarface for the first time and thinking, "No way! That's the same mansion from Vice City" and right after I watched it I went and played Vice City and went to the Mansion. I have the best memories with Vice City. Such a great game.
                    • Redemption_670on January 12 2013, 5:17pmReplyFlag
                      "SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND" i freaken love that line by Tony Montana in the "Scarface" Movie.
                      • EricoBon January 11 2013, 10:54amReplyFlag
                        I've seen most of these great movies except 3 of them. I will try to watch them real soon. What 80's TV-series have been an inspiration for Vice City besides (obviously) Miami Vice? ;-)
                        • MCRakimon January 12 2013, 5:48amReplyFlag
                          @EricoB Eric B, go to record new album.
                        • EricoBon January 12 2013, 10:58amReplyFlag
                          @MCRakim Yo, MCRakim! :-) I actually did not know there was an Eric B rapper! My R* Social Club name is just something I thought up quickly based on my real name. I've heard about the MC Rakim before though. Nice to meet you ;-D
                        • R* Aon January 14 2013, 7:09pmReplyFlag
                          @EricoB Awesome to see Erico B & MC Rakim hooking up here in comments. It's really like the 80s again
                      • MetalMofo-Billon January 11 2013, 2:06amReplyFlag
                        Casino is a must as well as everyone's modern favorite GoodFellas, outside of the 80s, but in line with the suggestions. I did feel Scarface got the most influence in the game overall. Miami Vice of course, following that. GTA IV and V will be moving away from direct influence as Dan Houser voiced recently. Rockstar, if you DO read my comment, I wonder your thoughts on the ongoing GUN shooting fallout in America right now?? Another school shooting took place the other day in fact!! It's hard to even fathom but right up GTA satire alley. News here (CNN) report that the video game industry will be Under The Gun on Friday with some sort of report which I'm not clear on, hope there's a sound off here perhaps on how the fallout effects gaming, ratings, M title access, etc.
                        • Tommy_Spaghettion January 10 2013, 9:05pmReplyFlag
                          Rockstar please can you put a scale figurine of Tommy Vercetti in the warehouse. Name your price I'll buy one.
                          • Sonny_Red_84on January 21 2013, 12:13amReplyFlag
                            @Tommy_Spaghetti I agree. also with the figure a commemorative Tommy Vercetti shirt. seriously. This is the quintessential game to 80's and gangster lovers
                        • Dziadek.WPon January 10 2013, 4:24pmReplyFlag
                          Damn, if only my VOD provider had half of those in their video library... Apart from listed I've got to see Risky Business... I think TCM broadcasted it several times, but I never had real opportunity to see it...

                          As for Scarface it is amazing, I remember watching it for the first time... I was 16 or so, and it started around 11:30 p.m. - it was hard not to fall asleep (with commercials it lasted over 3.5 hours), but I was very pleased with the movie. Since then gangser films is my favourite, by far, genere.

                          Other films worth watching: A Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Casino (1995), Boogie Nights (1997). I know they were not filmed in 80's (and are not exactly set in the timeline), nonetheless they're still must-see classics. As for 80's - Once Upon a Time in America (that one is tough - almost 4 hours, still excellent) and The Untouchables. A hell lot better than that commercial crap we're being fed with at present... Well, there's still hope that Martin Scorcese and Brian DePalma get to work over the next bloody and violent, but also influential masterpieces.
                          • SovProductionson January 11 2013, 2:23pmReplyFlag
                            @Dziadek.WP DAAAAAAAMN...

                            You just saved my mind blowing up, I just couldn't remember what that film was called. Epic film, thanks again!
                          • SovProductionson January 11 2013, 2:25pmReplyFlag
                            @Dziadek.WP I was talking about Risky Business. Also Scarface was great, I was 14 when I watched it. My mind was blow,, I watched it so many times, gotta love Al Pacino's epic Cuban accent, even though he's Italian. The good ol' times.
                        • TheFifthBeatleon January 10 2013, 3:56pmReplyFlag
                          What about Carlito's Way? Wasn't Ken Rosenberg inspired by Sean Penn's character?
                          • R* Lon January 10 2013, 4:52pmReplyFlag
                            @TheFifthBeatle No doubt a classic flick but we focused just on films from the 80s - Carlito's Way didn't come out until 1993
                        • andriese92on January 10 2013, 2:20pmReplyFlag
                          scarface '-'
                          • RapiT7on January 10 2013, 1:59pmReplyFlag
                            good series
                            LOAD ALL COMMENTS

                            Leave a Comment

                            Rockstar Warehouse

                            Rockstar on Instagram

                            Follow us on Instagram (rockstargames) to see original photos including events, sneak peeks of collectibles and much more.