#1440 Black Rainbow (1989)

If you’re going to introduce supernatural nonsense into your movie, you better back it up some how.

I was waiting for Black Rainbow to come up with a good explanation how Rosanna Arquette as a medium with a great showmanship suddenly begins channeling grim predictions of the future and foreseeing deaths to the tiniest detail, but the movie provides none of that. As the movie closes it manages to leave one confused, with less clear picture of the character and her powers one had just 30 minutes ago.

Black Rainbow is a mishmash of a movie that had a nice premise for a movie, but would’ve needed much, much snappier writing in order to pull it off.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 59%

#1439 Out of Control (1985)

Out of Control takes a bad turn right after an a-ok beginning as it moves from a nice title music and a high school graduation party to some remote island somewhere in former Yugoslavia.

Getting stranded on a remote island is an interesting premise by itself, but instead of concentrating on long term survival and group dynamics, Out of Control puts them into an adult version of The Famous Five kind of adventure where they discover a stash of drug smugglers, get loaded on the booze they find, strip, make out and finally engage in a fight.

I did not have to check out if the movie’s running time was well under 90 minutes; the obvious padding was a straight giveaway, which makes many of the scenes drag on for ages.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 38%

#1438 The Morning After (1986)

Not to be mixed up with The Day After, a 1983 made for TV movie about nuclear war (I know I keep mixing these up all the time), The Morning After is a thriller about a has been actress who keeps on drowning her sorrow to the wine and finds herself blacking out often, only to one day wake up and find herself laying next to a man, stabbed to death.

After the interesting start The Morning After does not provide anything substantial and plays until the end without much surprises. The chemistry and eventual relationship between the leads Jane Fonda and Jeff Bridges is a hard sell, and it’s mostly Bridges’ typical enjoyable screen presence that carries the movie until the finish.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 60%

#1437 Sorceress (1982)

Anyone reading the blog will know I’m not too big on the sword & sorcery genre as I find the movies not only utter nonsense, but also pompous and extremely cringe inducing.

Sorceress definitely has all the warning marks of a stupid fantasy movie written all over it, and to for a period of time most of my low expectations were met. A story about two fighter sisters, wizards and other mythical creatures is plagued with bad effects and other disappointing choices, and it was especially the badly masqueraded faun that really rubbed me the wrong way.

But it was towards the end of the film as the fighting started that Sorceress redeemed itself in an unexpected way: the movie has a very strong video game look and feel to it, and I’m willing to bet that it served as an archetype for a number of 80s video games, and despite the overall clumsiness I did find myself entertained in the final boss fight. Some good looking shots there as well!

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 62%

#1436 Farewell to the King (1989)

An American army squad shipwrecks on the shores of Japanese occupied Borneo and gets wiped out by the enemy, except for the soldier who flees the confrontation and befriends with a local tribe. When two British soldiers paratroop into the jungle, they meet up with the tribe and the American, now dubbed as the king of the tribe.

If this sounds familiar, you might be interested to hear that John Milius, the writer behind Farewell to the King is the same guy who wrote Apocalypse Now some ten years earlier.

What made Farewell to the King the most interesting to me was not the battle against the enemy, but the perseverance the allies show about bringing him back to be trialed as a deserter. The noose tightens and Farewell to the King keeps the viewer well in its grasp until the very end.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 70%

#1435 Grunt! The Wrestling Movie (1985)

Grunt! The Wrestling Movie and its poster has a good 80s Mad Magazine parody written all over it, but it turns out to be quite a tame take on the show wrestling that really peaked during the mid 80s.

The movie is shot in a mocumentary style with lots of shaky footage and interviews to reveal if the new wrestling star called The Mask is in fact a guy called Mad Dog that disappeared from the face of the earth a few years earlier. These mocumentary bits are then cut into actual matches with the movie’s stars battling against each other.

Thing is, show wrestling is already so entertaining and over the edge that in comparison everything seen here pales in comparison. For my entertainment I’d much rather watch some actual 80s WWE WrestleMania matches.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 36%

#1434 Cookie (1989)

An organised crime racketeer Dino (Peter Falk) is released from prison and goes out to claim his ill earned money from his former partners of crime who don’t want to give that money to them. At the same time his daughter Cookie (Emily Lloyd) who has had to live without a father turns out not loving him, but hating instead. Now Dino has to get his money and the love of his daughter back and also choose between his mistress and his wife.

This is once again a mob movie that begs the movie to side with the main character against the authorities and for this needs a lead that the viewer can feel that sympathy for, and Falk definitely fits the bill: there’s nothing so vicious he could not do and to get away with it by doing his trademark underdog Columbo schtick.

Falk remains the only strong point in the movie and I found most aspects of the movie very unoriginal, as if the Susan Seidelman had traced over a caricature that has been traced over countless times before, and failing to add anything of her own there.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 41%

#1433 Joy of Sex (1984)

Young horny high school seniors are at it again, trying to get laid before the end of the school year. Joy of Sex resembles so many other similar movies I was sure at times I’d seen the movie before.

What adds to this feeling is the inconsistency throughout the movie; compared to other similar films that find their theme in a spring break, ski trip, working in a fast food restaurant or prom dance, Joy of Sex mixes in a bit of everything and does not find to really follow through most of its many threads.

Same applies with its roster of characters; a militant principle, a non-compromising coach way past his hay day, a bashful female teacher having to teach the kids about reproductive organs, a jock, an underdog and so on. Despite all this Joy of Sex is kind of a watchable teen comedy that has its few moments as well that make it worth a watch through.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 60%

#1432 The Great Outdoors (1988)

The Great Outdoors is one of the movies I saw before starting this web site and I’ve been saving it for a rainy day. Well, that rainy day finally came, and I found The Great Outdoors entertaining – but not quite the laugh riot as I’d hoped for.

There are a few overarching themes like summer romance, dealing with obnoxious relatives and father-son bonding, which of then are carried through various episodes with kind of a generic comedy bits; everything here works but nothing exactly stands out.

The Great Outdoors is not a bad movie or a bad comedy, but it is less than the sum of its parts – especially considering the level of top notch comedy hammer provided by John Candy and Dan Aykroyd who end up carrying this movie 100%. Replace them and you end with The Passable Outdoors, at best.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 76%

#1429-31 The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission, The Deadly Mission & The Fatal Mission (1985, 1987, 1988)

A trilogy of made for tv movies released almost 20 years after the original 1967 Dirty Dozen movie, Next Mission, The Deadly Mission and The Fatal Mission take the same premise of the original movie and serve it in a surprisingly different packages, while maintaining some of the cast of the original movie.

Next Mission’s main asset is Lee Marvin, who led the original bunch of misfits rescued from death sentence to carry out a suicide mission in the occupied Europe. It is made somewhat interesting by the aspect of not trying to kill Hitler, but to prevent his assassination due to the assumption that it will be Hitler himself that will lead Germany to defeat with his megalomaniac plans. Other than that, nothing much here to write to home about. In The Deadly Mission Marvin was replaced by Telly Savalas (of the Kojak fame) and this was the movie that resonated with me the most, being almost an Indiana Jones like adventure in a Nazi occupied castle. I was also impressed the amount of destruction and havoc they put the castle through, especially considering this is a made for TV movie that usually are very bland in the effects department.

The Fatal Mission feels tired to start with, introducing lots of elements (including a female lead and a love story) that all feel like degenerative and not to the core of the franchise. On top of the uneven trilogy, a TV series of the same name aired on Fox on 1988, but was discontinued after the first season.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: Next Mission 60% | The Deadly Mission 79% | The Fatal Mission 45%

#1428 The Star Chamber (1983)

The second movie of this angry relative of a homicide victim vs the judge who has to deal with the consequences -mini feature is The Star Chamber where Michael Douglas plays a judge who carries the burden of having to release violent criminals without consequences due to technicalities in the investigation.

It’s a different kind of beast compared to Seven Hours to Judgment and goes much, much deeper into the dark depts of the human mind and asks the viewer questions about ethics and taking the law into one’s own hands.

Due to not offering simple solutions to any of theses questions The Star Chamber did leave an impression that still lasts for me, a few days after viewing the movie.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 89%

#1427 Seven Hours to Judgment (1988)

By a pure coincidence I now have the smallest mini feature ever: angry relative of a homicide victim vs the judge who has to deal with the consequences.

In Seven Hours to Judgment Beau Bridges plays the honourable judge whose wife is kidnapped by the disgruntled husband played by Ron Leibman. The whole story is highly implausible and gets more so as the story progresses; out of nowhere the husband has managed to get a van, add all sorts of gizmos in it, rent a warehouse and booby trap four floors of it with CCTV, remote controleld guns, PA, cardboard cuts of himself wearing a superman suit and a colour computer graphic live game view of the events to mention just a few. At the same time he manages to be just in the right time and the right place, and to transmit his images to various TV screens – and all this just to get even with the judge.

Like, wow.

For anyone looking forward to watching this movie, if you shy away from all the ridiculousness the movie will become hard to watch, but if you fully lean into the nonsense, you might still find Seven Hours to Judgment a somewhat entertaining piece of a long forgotten 80s cinema.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 70%

#1426 Sweet Lies (1987)

Yet another for the steaming pile of those wild and crazy Americans in Paris engaged in an adventure, Sweet Lies follows an insurance investigator visiting the old continent, who then gets chased around by three women.

Sweet Lies makes an attempt in romantic comedy, but lacks laughs and real romance and is a movie that the time forgot almost immediately upon its release.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 18%

#1425 Penitentiary II (1982)

Another collection of bad design choices, Penitentiary II is a followup to the 1979 blaxploitation movie, both directed by Jamaa Fanaka and starring Leon Isaac Kennedy.

The plot is a mess that makes only little sense as it tries so provide the main character Martel ”Too Sweet” Gordone a motivation to get to the fighting ring. Martel trains for awhile, gets into the ring with some old hack, gets defeated and thus becomes the sensation of the nation everyone roots for. He then goes on to participate in a few fights, which are often cut to a gambling midget trying to get on with some hookers.

The plot makes as much sense as having Mr.T in the movie and reducing his role to a mere trainer that gets very little screen time although he possesses ten times the magnetism compared to the weak screen presence of the Kennedy in the lead role.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 2%

#1423 Alien from L.A. (1988)

What would you do if you’d get Kathy Ireland, the hottest swimsuit model of the 80s to star in your movie, and you’d have the chance to shoot in L.A.? Well, the director Albert Pyun and his team decided it was a good idea to make her an annoying mock of a nerd, give her a squeky voice and clothe her in unbecoming rags. I for one would have come up with one or two different options.

A bastardisation of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, Alien from L.A. follows Ireland as he ventures below the earth surface to find his lost father. What follows is scifi equal to a TV-series / made for TV movie that looks like it was done for the demography of under 10 year olds. Plot is both nonexistent and hard to follow at the same time. Basically everyone wants to capture her and a few strangers wish to help her.

Perhaps the most depressing thing about Alien from L.A. is seeing how much effort was wasted with the sets, matte paintings and wardrobes to create this turd that never had any chance of success whatsoever.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 1%

#1422 Hard to Hold (1984)

Back in 1983 Rick Springfield made a horrific career move: instead of taking part in the landmark movie The Right Stuff he opted for Hard to Hold.

Rick plays the world’s biggest rock star who is chased by the crowds and lust after by the all the women in the world, so he finds the only one that doesn’t like him and wants to make her his girlfriend no matter what it takes. I know that musicians can sometime ego trip a little, but Hard to Hold is one horrible, egomanical project so bad that it single handedly ended Springfield’s film career for a good decade.

It’s a painful thing to watch. All the drama in the movie feels super theatric as well as artificial, and Rick Springfield and Janet Eilber (seen licking Springfield’s throat on the movie poster) make together the least interesting couple I’ve seen to date.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 2%

#1421 From the Hip (1987)

I’d previously skipped From the Hip as I mistook it for a British movie thanks to its poster – and I still insist that its style reminds more of the British cinema than what Hollywood usually produces.

But make no mistake, the movie itself is as American as it can be: a courtroom comedy featuring Judd Nelson in one of his best roles of all times. The over acted part of a young hotshot lawyer climbing the corporate ladder could have easily turned super annoying, but the movie manages to be genuinely funny at times.

In fact, laugh out loud funny.

From the Hip has its serious side as well as the horseplay comes to a sudden halt when the wizkid is assigned to defending an intellectual sociopath aristocrat – chillingly convincingly portrayed by John Hurt – in a grim murder case impossible to win.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 87%

#1420 Xmas 2020: Roots The Gift (1988)

Roots was a TV historical miniseries written by Alex Haley depicting the story of his family as they were brought as slaves to America from Africa, originally released in 1977 and a continuum in 1979 as another miniseries.

Almost a decade later a made for TV Christmas special entitled Roots: The Gift was made and premiered on ABC on December 11, 1988. Here we see young Kunta Kinte taking his first rebellious steps as a slave, not accepting the western name and his new status, and starts plotting on escape.

Although labeled as one, the movie does not rate high as a Christmas movie – many ordinary movies not titled as Christmas movies have a much bigger amount of the festivities present. But it does fare fairly well as a movie dealing with themes of empowering slaves who have never experienced freedom, as well as depicting the inner conflicts of the slave owners, some of who have started question of the ethics of enslaving men.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 38%

#1419 Xmas 2020: Christmas Eve (1986)

An elder aristocrat woman looks forward to uniting her family for the Christmas while fighting his son on the court over the control of the family company and assets in Christmas Eve, a made for TV movie that premiered on NBC on December 22, 1986.

Christmas Eve is everything you’d expect a made for TV movie to be; you would not be happy to go to the cinemas to watch this one, but would probably not mind having stuck in front of a telly during the Holidays to spend the 90 minutes with it while sipping some eggnog.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 56%