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The Top 20 Gratuitous Nude Scenes Of The 1980s

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What exactly is gratuitous nudity?  If you have to struggle to come up with a rational explanation for why  a person is getting naked in a film, that’s gratuitous.  It’s not necessarily unwanted, but it definitely is unnecessary.

Cinema in the Seventies was basically one long nude scene; it would be easier to list films without nudity than with.  The enormity of the task of picking the Top 20 from that decade is too great; so, we’ll stick to the Eighties where the gratuitous shedding of clothes was still plentiful but not approaching infinity.

 

 

20. Hot Dog… the Movie (1984)

 

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There’s a scene where a couple check into a hotel room, and the desk attendant is stark naked for no particular reason whatsoever.  She had just gotten out of a hot tub, and evidently didn’t want to trouble herself by wrapping up in a towel.  The scene is itself isn’t anything to write home about; but the utter randomness of the nudity is the stuff of legend.

 

 

 

19. Trading Places (1983)

 

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One of the first movies I ever watched on VHS, and I watched it with dear ol’ mom and dad.  Suffice it to say, Jamie Lee Curtis’ sweater removal was painfully uncomfortable.

 

 

 

18. Saturn 3 (1980)

 

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You’ve got to understand that Farrah was larger than life in 1980.  To learn that she was topless for even a microsecond was epic news from sea to shining sea.  The movie itself was only so-so, but did it really matter?

 

 

 

17. Weird Science (1985)

 

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A girl is innocently playing piano, when a cosmic vortex sucks the clothing off her body and catapults her naked from a chimney.  Need I say more?

 

 

 

16. Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988)

 

On the right in the picture below is Rene Estevez, the daughter of Martin Sheen. In the center is Bruce Springsteen’s sister, Pamela Springsteen.  But who cares about those two celeb relatives when at left is Valerie Hartman.  Gratuitous Nudity, Thy Name Is Valerie Hartman.

 

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Valerie Hartman plays “Ally”, the designated bad girl of the movie.  I lost count how many times this girl removes her top throughout the course of this film.  I literally began to wonder if the girl had a medical condition where her breasts were allergic to fabric; hence the constant shedding of clothing.

 

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In one incomprehensibly gratuitous scene Esteves is having a poolside conversation with her boyfriend when Hartman inexplicably rises up from the water with a wet t-shirt.  Not complaining. Just wow.

Valerie would go on to do a single scene in “Cheers”, a straight to video erotic thriller, and then she called it quits.  I don’t know what became of her after that, but she will forever hold the honor of delivering one of the top ten gratuitous nude scenes of the Eighties, and that’s accomplishment enough.

 

 

 

15. Cat People (1982)

 

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Nasstassja Kinski wandering naked in the night.  A scene designed for no other reason than to show Nasstassja Kinski wandering naked in the night.

 

 

 

14. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

 

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The Phoebe Cates pool scene is often cited as a prime example of gratuitous nudity.  However, it somehow seems justified (non-gratuitous) in a movie about teen hormones in hyperdrive – Judge Reinhold is most certainly going to fantasize about his sister’s hot friend.

The real gratuitousness comes every single time “Somebody’s Baby” is played.  When you hear Jackson Browne, you are going to see Jennifer Jason Leigh nude, guaranteed.

 

 

 

13. Lifeforce (1985)

 

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Mathilda May is a space vampire that is naked for the entirety of the film.  I mean, her wardrobe budget was exactly zero dollars and zero cents.  Truly a landmark moment in cinematic nudity.

 

 

 

12. Return to Horror High (1987)

 

This lousy slasher film has the distinction of killing George Clooney off in the first ten minutes of the movie.  It also features a bloody Marcia Brady (Maureen McCormick) feeling herself up…

 

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But, obviously, neither of those distinctions, as awesome as they are, will earn you a place on this list.  For that honor, Return to Horror High brings to the table one of the most random examples of nudity I’ve ever seen.

 

 

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The girls’ locker room was an oft-visited locale in Eighties films and Return to Horror High delivers this scene with aplomb.  Philip McKeon – the son on “Alice” and real life brother of Jo on “The Facts of Life” plays the William Zabka-esque douche of the film.   The incredible example of gratuitousness comes in the locker room where McKeon is having a having an intense discussion with his girlfriend.  Then for absolutely no reason, a girl drops her towel… …and he carries her naked over his shoulder.  What in the ever-lovin’ f**k?!?

 

 

 

11. Mischief (1985)

 

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In which John Travolta’s wife, Kelly Preston, unexpectedly takes every stitch of clothing off.  You can almost hear the cheers in the background of every male on earth as it happens.

 

 

 

10. Galaxy of Terror (1981)

 

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One of the most over-the-top moments in sci-fi cinema history has to be Taaffe O’Connell’s rape by a giant amorous space slug.  Note: This film also stars Joanie from “Happy Days”.  Thankfully she isn’t raped by a space slug – that would’ve been too much for my fragile psyche to handle.

 

 

 

9. Sixteen Candles (1984)

 

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Molly Ringwald spies Miss Popularity in the shower.  She’s envious of her well-developed body; male audiences are slack jawed.  Completely unexpected, unnecessary, but well appreciated.

 

 

 

8. Return of the Living Dead (1985)

 

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Linnea Quigley plays a punk rock girl who strips for no reason whatsoever in a cemetery.  Admittedly,  creative disrobing has become a ritual in all of Quigley’s film, so it’s not exactly a surprise.

Interestingly, Linnea refuses to appear completely nude in her films. “To me, it doesn’t look good on screen,” she explained. “It looks less silly. Usually if I’m nude, there’s not a sex scene-it’s just silly stuff going on. Full frontal nudity takes away from that. When you’re watching a movie and you see a pubic hair, it’s not fun anymore.”

Many would beg to differ.

 

 

 

7. Joysticks (1983)

 

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Two girls are playing video games topless… what’s the big deal?  The big deal is not so much the quality of the scene, but rather the insane groundlessness of it all.  Every entry on this list can be somewhat justified, albeit by the flimsiest of excuses.  This one has no excuse whatsoever.

 

 

 

6. Stripes (1981)

 

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Yes, there’s an incredibly gratuitous shower scene, but the prize here goes to P.J. Soles, instead.  Even though her onscreen nudity in Stripes makes sense (she’s having sex will Bill Murray), she still makes this list. Why are we giving her such a handout?  Quite simply, P.J. Soles is the Patron Saint of Gratuitous Nudity, a title she earned in the Seventies via her memorably gratuitous nude scenes in Carrie (1976) and Halloween (1978).

 

 

 

5. Porky’s (1982)

 

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The hole in the girl’s locker room scene needs to description.  Truly an iconic example of gratuitous nudity.  It has been copied many times (ex. Revenge of the Nerds), but this is the gold standard.

 

 

 

4. Private School (1983)

 

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This film is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to gratuitous nudity.  Which to choose? There’s a shower scene, a topless chick on a horse, and a girl gets champagne on her outfit and naturally must immediately strip to get out of those uncomfortable wet clothes.

If you’ve seen the film, then you know the winner.  Betsy Russell on horseback is one of the most senseless acts of nudity ever put to celluloid…. yet, oh so very memorable.

 

 

 

3. Re-Animator (1985)

 

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Re-Animator is actually a great movie. It’s over the top and quite graphic at times, but it doesn’t take itself seriously; so, you’re more inclined to view it as campy fun than nihilistic gore like a Saw film, for example. That being said, the movie does contain a rather shocking scene – the kind that will have you asking: “What did I just see?  That didn’t just happen, did it?”

The scene I’m referring to is where a headless mad doctor kidnaps Barbara Crampton, rips her clothes off, then takes his still animated severed head  and puts it between her legs to…. well, I think you can guess the rest.

How in the world did the director get Barbara (who was currently starring on a popular soap, Santa Barbara) to agree to this? Incredible.

 

 

 

2. Just One of the Guys (1985)

 

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This is gratuitousness in its purest, most pristine form.  Terry has been pretending to be a boy for most of the film.  Then, in the climactic scene, she decides to convince the guy she’s in love with that she is really a girl.  How does she go about doing this?

I suppose the logical thing to do would have been to show him her driver’s license.  Or perhaps shown up to his house not dressed as a boy, and maybe just told him.  Instead, she shows him her breasts (!)

Why does this rank so high on the list?  For one, it’s so senseless that it’s textbook gratuitousness.   For another, it was 100 percent unexpected for everyone first seeing it back in ’85.  The closest comparison would be the spit-take inducing nude scene in Michael J. Fox’s Doc Hollywood – but that film was released in the 1990s, and thereby ineligible to make today’s list.

 

 

 

1. Screwballs (1983)

 

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One of the most memorable scenes of the movie involves a student of T&A High (Taft and Adams High School – what did you think it stood for?) dressing up as a doctor and administering breast exams to the Freshman girls. Amazingly, the girls disrobe and don’t suspect a thing. I guess that’s just how the world works in Eighties teen comedies – a willing suspension of disbelief to see a little boob.

As fine a demonstration of gratuitous disrobing as this is, it isn’t enough to rank as the number on this list.

 

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What about the scene everyone was talking about in ’83? Okay, not everyone – just horny American teenagers: The infamous Strip Bowling scene.  The five main characters of the film challenge the cheerleaders to a game of bowling, where an item of clothing is removed when a player does not throw a strike (essentially every throw).  Unfortunately, before any gratuitous anatomy is revealed, one of the guys gets his penis stuck in a bowling ball, and the game is aborted.

That won’t do.   The ultimate in cinematic 1980s gratuitous nudity is the magnetic disrobing of Miss Liberty.

 

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Purity is Miss Liberty, and will sing the national anthem in front of the assembly. The plan of the five main characters is to magnetize the two basketball poles at either end of the gymnasium. Purity’s dress has been painstakingly embedded with metal, and designed to pull off toward the basketball poles when the magnets are engaged.

Other than the side effect of attracting every metallic object in the entire gym, the plan comes together perfectly.  Persistence has paid off – the boys finally see her topless.  A singular focus and steadfast determination wins in the end – a good lesson to all you boys and girls, and the ultimate gratuitous nude scene of the decade.

  • Hey most cool retro Dude – please stop with the photo tags – they are ugly and Nobody wants to link to them

  • albruno3

    This post brought a nostalgic and pervy tear to my eye!

  • Lawzlo

    Pretty good list, although I might throw in the climactic prom scene from Zapped! It’s like Carrie, but with boobs instead of slaughter.

  • The Professor

    I feel your pain with awkward parental involvement during gratuitous nude scenes. As a young teenager, the first movie I ever watched on a VCR (Beta-Max that is) was your #14 – Fast Times at Ridgemont High. It was with the entire extended family and It just happened to be on Christmas morn!

    • angry

      This screenshot isn’t relevant to your post.

  • Krunchy

    I would say that the most gratuitous nude “scene” would be during the crash scene in Airplane. People in the plane are panicking, and then a set of naked boobs pop straight into the camera view and bounce, then the scene cuts away. Can’t get much more gratuitous than that!

  • anono

    Any list of “Top “Whatever” will never be conclusive. A couple of these I agree with, but “gratuitous” is hardly the correct word for many of these very brief exposures.

  • angry

    The sad part is gratuitous nudity STILL happens–even in PG 13 rating; it is of course of men now in some attempt to balance the scales through revenge. Examples: The Wolverine (2013) and X-Men Days of Future Past, and in R rated featuring full frontal nudity: some of the newest examples of the trash come from Unfinished Business (2015) EXCESSIVE frontal nudity on males and none of females and Equalizer (2014) saving the ‘money shot’ right until the end of the film, further illustrating its lack of necessity for the plot whatsoever and just to sell the movie to horny women or gay men.
    You can justify with the same bullshit excuses all you want saying the nude males are valid for some reason, but if you can’t use that same justification to justify female nudity of a few decades ago then you just might be full of shit. No, you ARE full of shit and you need to clue the fuck in.
    This isn’t the path to equality, its a cycle of self destruction and the way to stop it is to abandon the ideals altogether, stop labeling yourself a ‘feminist’ and mistaking that for someone that believes in equal rights or doing the right thing, when calling yourself a ‘Muslim’ or a ‘Christian’ for the same reason (ideals) is taboo. The idea here, is ditch LABELS not ‘pick a better fitting one’

  • angry

    For all that ‘parental involvement’ you alleged parents have when it comes to ‘gratuitous’ nudity… I question whether your attitude applies to gratuitous violence in similarly mpaa rated content. Violence is censored far less than nudity; so why is blood and guts welcomed but a little T and A suddenly is SO WRONG? If you really want to consider the facade of rape culture being a real thing: the result of bombarding a developing male population with violent images instead of sexual images, is far more likely to induce violent acts stemming from sexual frustration than offering more sexual images instead of violent ones would be. You don’t need to be an expert in human behavior to understand that.

    Perhaps you should question why you can’t decide for yourselves what is and isn’t gratuitous involving nudity, language, and violence when it comes to choosing age appropriate content for your children; and ask when you decided you were okay with surrendering your responsibilities as a parent, to the government bodies available for relieving you of that responsibility. Maybe ask WHY you surrendered it as well; if you can get past your ego’s excuse of not having enough time (which in factual reality is you choosing not to take the time)

  • J F

    There was another movie from the 80’s that opened up with a closeup shot of a girl’s breast. She was looking at a poster of some teen heartthrob and trying to achieve orgasm by just looking at it. Don’t remember anything else about the movie but it sure started with a bang. Anybody remember the name?

  • fred miller

    What movie did the scene shown below come from?