#1670 Doin’ Time (1985)

Truth be told, when starting this project I thought I was in for a lot of mediocre but passable comedies (true), but also hidden laugh out loud gems nobody has heard of – but the latter ones have kind of been hard to find as the really fun ones are typically more well known.

Enter Doin’ Time, a prison comedy for which I had absolutely no expectations for, and what a positive surprise it turned out to be! It’s one of those comedies where the plot is secondary, and only there to carry the movie from a joke to another. But in this case, much of the humor is actually quite fresh and genuinely funny in its stupidity, delivered in numerous word plays and dead pan comedy style not unlike Naked Gun series.

To make things even better Richard Mulligan and John Vernon are there to deliver the humor in style, and Jeff Altman – of whom I hadn’t former memories although I’ve seen him in some roles before – also performs the lead role with surprisingly solid comedic craftsmanship.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 87%

#1669 Apprentice to Murder (1988)

A US-Norwegian-Canadian co-production Apprentice to Murder portrays of Pennsylvanian folk healer and his apprentice getting far too deep into dark powers of their craft in a story that very successfully blurs the line between real and make-belief, wrong and right, and good and bad.

I was surprised to learn the movie was shot entirely in Norway, so my hat is off to the production team who very skilfully concealed this fact, and totally sold me the location of 1920s Pennsylvania.

Although shot in mainstream Hollywood fashion, Apprentice to Murder (apparently based on a real historic event) is a very untypical movie but in a good way. It boldly goes quite deep into religious fanaticism, dark sides of human psyche and superstition.

80s-o-meter: 11%

Total: 72%

#1668 Agnes of God (1985)

Agnes of God presents us with an enigma of a young, eccentric nun giving a birth, insisting the now dead infant was a result of virgin conception, but it never really gives a solid answer to the actual events, or who was the culprit behind it all.

It’s an interesting concept, but the movie never manages to tell it in an interesting way. The same dullness continues in the cinematography and the locations, and the movie is never quite entertaining to watch.

The most prominent feature of the movie is seeing the 80s fitness idol Jane Fonda smoking a truckload of (fake, as it turns out) cigarettes, lighting one up in pretty much every scene she is in.

80s-o-meter: 15%

Total: 31%

#1667 The Bostonians (1984)

I sigh audibly every time I’m to sit down and watch another period picture set in 19th century, especially one with a romantic theme to it.

The Bostonians wasn’t as bad costume drama as I feared, though. Its manuscript based on Henry James’ novel of the same name has some interesting aspects to it, like women’s rights movement and the implied one sided love story between the female leads, but as with many similar movies the end result is just plain dull, and the plot is stuck in the same place pretty much throughout the movie.

I was surprised by the ending, though.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 32%

#1666 Endless Love (1981)

Endless Love is one of those movies that you learn to appreciate much more after you realise it’s a pure work of fiction not even meant to resemble anything that might take place in real life.

It’s after this realisation that you might find yourself enjoying the movie, like myself. In fact the whole concept of a love story gone horribly wrong is a really interesting one, and one that I can’t find any resemblance from the movies I’ve seen.

It’s only the weak, open ended ending that felt to me keeping this movie from greatness; after creating such a bold plot twists I hoped the movie makers had the guts to ride the wave all the way to the ending.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 76%

#1665 The Seduction (1982)

The Seduction takes a tone inspired by the late 80s TV and series like Dallas, marching to the stage one ridiculously good looking character after another, leading a picture perfect life. Now, I don’t have any problem with beautiful people, but having even the antagonist look and dress like a model just makes everything feel a bit plasticky.

Talking of good looking people, The Seduction stars Morgan Fairchild, of Dallas fame herself.

As far as thrillers go, The Seduction may not be anything special, but luckily it’s quite easy and effortless to watch. The traits of the antagonist (gets into fights, but gets his ass easily handed over to him) are quite odd, but at least they made the experience just a little bit more memorable.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 60%

#1664 The Killing Fields (1984)

A  biographical drama film about the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, based on the experiences of journalists Dith Pran and Sydney Schanberg, The Killing Fields may a British film taking place in Asia, but there are numerous things that make it interesting, and very much worth your time.

First of a all, it was nominated in seven categories in the 1985 Academy Awards, taking home awards for Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Actor in Supporting Role for Haing S. Ngor, for whom this was amazingly his first acting experience ever.

Secondly, it’s a good movie about an interesting historical events, told in a realistic – even nihilistic – way, but spiced up with interesting supporting characters we learn about, and soon learn to care for. Its story about journalistic integrity, human rights and inequality is every bit as relevant today as it was 40 years ago.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 87%

#1663 Six Weeks (1982)

Ho hum. It’s Dudley Moore once more playing Dudley Moore, this time not only falling in love with beautiful woman, but also with her daughter who is terminally ill.

It’s not the most original concept as far as tear jerker dramas go, and for the Six Weeks felt really, really calculated effort that never managed to move me. Call me cynical, but this one did not feel like coming from the heart at all.

There are some good moments between Moore and the daughter, and the odd love triangle between the three is something that keeps the interest somewhat up in an otherwise snoozefest of a movie.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 29%

#1662 Prime Risk (1985)

The poster for Prime Risk makes a bold comparison to War Games, stating this movie will make it look like ’kid stuff’.

The reference is not unfound as prime risk successfully draws from its paragon, presenting us a similar setup where youngsters’ mostly innocent tomfoolery turns out something much more than they originally bargained for. In Prime Risk, it’s hacking credit cards that leads to a plot of a hostile nation aiming to crash the U.S. monetary system.

What it comes to hacking and peeping behind curtains of state secrecy and international politics, Prime Risk is an excellent contender to War Games, only taking a few missteps towards the end by turning more into an action packed agent movie rather than what War Games ingeniously pulled off. Still, anyone who enjoyed War Games will find a lot to be loved here.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 84%

#1661 Mata Hari (1985)

After starring in Emmanuelle, Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel got typecast to movies of the similar nature, ie a sexually liberated young woman in seek of erotic moments, tied together by a very loose plot.

The value of these erotic movies in these days and times are close to zero, and Mata Hari is no exception. It is a shame since some real effort was done to put the movie together, and the locations, costume design and war scenes are pretty well done, considering how weak the movie is otherwise.

80s-o-meter: 13%

Total: 11%

#1660 Lisa (1989)

And interesting twist on similar thrillers where the main character gets into telephone conversations with a mysterious stranger, here that main character is Lisa, a 14-year old girl who can’t wait but to be grown up and not treated like the kid any longer.

This setup creates an extra layer of suspension as she is not only in the danger of being exposed to the main antagonist, but also trying not to get caught by her protective mother – although in this case we root for the mother to find out and stop the calling before things escalate any further.

Lisa makes for one of the better thrillers of the era while being a true time capsule of its era.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 83%

#1659 Hitcher in the Dark aka Fear in the Dark aka Return of the Hitcher (1989)

An Italian horror movie directed by Umberto Lenzi leveraging off the success of The Hitcher (1986), Hitcher in the Dark is very different from its paragon, but for the good: it delivers the uttermost tension seen in the original Hitcher, but manages to successfully stand on its own.

Hitcher in the Dark would not have worked if it was tame, and it acknowledges this by making some very dark moves along the way that really work for the movie’s advantage. It leaves the viewer with an uneasy feeling, with no wish to ever engage into hitching a ride from a stranger.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 79%

#1658 Crossing Delancey (1988)

A few good tiles excluded, romantic comedies were never quite my thing, but I’ve grown a bit more understanding for them along the years, and willing to give them a fair chance. That being said, Crossing Delancey seemed on the paper something that I would not enjoy at all: a film with a pretentious title, New York self-centered and someone neurotic characters, and a setting in the people engaged in the literary arts, and embracing that lifestyle.

Not that I don’t like any of that, but I’ve been scarred with so many Henry Jaglom’s movies, or by writer/directors who wish to be the next Jaglom or Woody Allen that I had al the warning signs up. But despite its theme Crossing Delancey does not come across too pretentious, and it’s especially the pickle seller Peter Riegert’s very likeable character that seems to get the most honest, most touching lines in the movie.

Fans of Frasier might be delighted to find David Hyde Pierce in a role of a bookstore clerk, pretty much 1:1 to Niles.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 61%

#1657 Ratboy (1986)

Even before I started to watch Ratboy, I had a feeling that it was going to be something exceptional. But little I knew that it was going to be exceptionally bad.

And bad it is, oh boy. I would go as far as to say that out of the 1657 80s movies I’ve watched so far this one is the worst. Sondra Locke is apparently the primus motor behind this train wreck of a movie, starring in the lead role and sitting on the director’s chair, and for both parts she fails miserably putting on one of the least likeable characters ever and acting like it was a chore for her, and not being able to find any gold nuggets from Rob Thompson’s script. Maybe there was nothing there to be found – I don’t know – but at that point it could’ve been a better call to go for another script instead.

If there is anything good about the movie is the way it never manages to show its main character favourably like these kinds of movies usually do; having a heart of gold, or some other supernatural skill that makes him exceptional for the viewer. He is just a small man with glued on rat like features who enjoys living in dirt, is not that bright, farts, panics and gets angry easily (resorting to even beating up two women with a stick).

Ratboy is one of those movies that just leaves one scratching their head wondering what kind of reasoning got this project greenlighted, funded and cast with a relatively well known actors. Was there never anyone in the project team with the guts to stand up to say what we are doing here might ultimately be a just a huge waste of celluloid?

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: -10%

#1656 Screwball Hotel (1988)

Third and last in the series of screwball comedies directed by Rafal Zielinski, Screwball Hotel shows the fun, carefree comedy style 80s is known for, but that already feels forced and tired attempt that just copies and pastes all the clichés seen elsewhere.

Screwball Hotel is obviously targeted for VHS rack as just another dumb comedy with gratuitous nudity to pick up if you’ve already rented out Police Academy 4 too many times, and as such it works out as planned.

Sure, the movie would’ve given anyone renting it 90 minutes of brainless action, but without much laughs along the way.

80s-o-meter: 96%

Total: 41%