#26 Howard The Duck (1986)

With a massive financial investment and top notch production team including one George Lucas, Howard the Duck was destined to be the biggest blockbuster of the hot summer of 1986. You guessed it: It bombed bad. The movie barely covered its production cost, got panned by the critics and earned the dubious honor of winning the Razzie Award for the worst picture of the year.

The biggest problem here is the title character who can barely carry through a trailer, much less a full length feature film. Howard, the extra terrestrial talking duck is one of the biggest misses in character design in the recorded cinema history; a visually off-putting anthropomorphistic freak of the nature who is constantly sarcastic, but never actually witty, always a bit of a jerk, but very rarely a loveable one.

If you can overlook the minute detail of the main character sucking some hairy balls, the rest of the movie is not actually that bad. Production quality is top of the line and the stop-motion special effects in the film’s final sequences are pretty amazingly well executed.

It’s hard to make drastic changes when a huge production is already underway – but this is surely a case where they should’ve cut their losses at some point, ditched the duck and replaced him with something else.

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 58%

#24 Stakeout (1987)

80s produced a huge amount of buddy cop movies (Beverly Hills Cop, Lethal Weapon, Tango & Cash) where two conflicting personalities are put together cracking a case and we watch them clash for the next 90 minutes. Despite this subgenre usually being a parade of clichés I’ll be the first to admit they’re definitely my guilty pleasure.

In Stakeout, the toothbrush-moustached middle-class cops Chris Leave (Richard Dreyfuss) and Bill Reymens (Emilio Estevez) are assigned to a Stakeout case to monitor the house of former girlfriend of a dangerous criminal who has just busted out of prison, to see if he shows up. They quickly discover the subject is very attractive and the Seattle sleuths turn unwittingly into a pair of peeping Toms – until one of them becomes romantically involved with her.

Buddy cop movies rely highly on chemistry between the leading characters and Stakeout doesn’t let you down here. While the characters aren’t like oil and water and actually get along fairly well, their clashing emerges from either one stepping out of line resulting with some hilarious talk back.

Director John Badham, the dude behind Saturday Night Fever, Wargames, Short Circuit and The Hard Way – one of my favourite 90s comedies – does a very solid work here and the scenes where the undercover cops are one inch away from blowing their covers are masterfully timed.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 93%

#23 Hollywood Vice Squad (1986)

In short: Hollywood Vice Squad is a pretty weird mix of elements and characters that work individually but the overall movie is really patchy and uneven, a confusing mix of multiple story lines that eventually falls flat as whole.

I watched this one for the great Ronny Cox, who made the movies such as Beverly Hills Cop, RoboCop and Total Recall that much more amazing.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 49%

#21 Big Shots (1987)

Take a look at these two 11-year olds with their high-top pumps, Raybans and stonewashed jeans, posing in front of a Mercedes. Here’s a spoiler for you: You will never be this cool.

I’ll let that sink in.

Meanwhile, let me tell you that during Big Shots these small dudes wander around notorious ghetto, get robbed by a thugs, steal a car with a body in its trunk, rob a pawn shop at gunpoint, attack a police officer and evade from them with the stolen car and drive it to another state whilst being targeted by two hit men. Plus, remember what I said about the clothes?

See, told you wouldn’t ever be this cool.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 71%

#19 Continental Divide (1981)

When an investigating journalist Ernie Souchak (John Belushi) gets beaten up and is sent to hospital for writing a too revealing story about a corrupted councilman, he is sent away from the city to Rocky mountains to do a story of a Dr. Nell Porter (Blair Brown), an eagle researcher living in solitude. While back in the city Souchak is a tough cookie and somewhat a celebrity, in the wilderness he is completely unknown, useless and inept, but tries to cling onto every bit of masculinity he still has left, often with a comical outcome.

Continental Divide is a movie that grows on you. All of a sudden you find yourself sympathizing the grumpy Souchak, and being the fly on the wall sharing the small cabin up in the mountains with the two and watching their worlds collide. The dialogue is witty and Belushi delivers every line like a pro that he is.

While I didn’t pick up this movie for John Belushi, and the male lead on this one could’ve been anyone as far as I was concerned, after seeing the movie he obviously was the right choice for the role for this (romantic) comedy.

There was much more to John Belushi than a SNL comedian or a Blues Brother. Too bad we didn’t get to see more of him.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 81%

#18 Casualties of War (1989)

Casualties of War deals with peer pressure and loyalty and is in its own category probably the hardest and most nauseating war movie to watch.

Sean Penn and Michael J. Fox are a surprise casts for the movie, but both come out with flying colors in their emotionally taxing performances making this one of the 80s Vietnam films that everyone should see.

80s-o-meter: 45%

Total: 87%

#17 Cat’s Eye (1985)

While he’s still a bestseller, Stephen King’s popularity really peeked in the eighties resulting in many movie adaptations of his books and short stories.

Enter Cat’s Eye, a collection of three individual horror comedy novels linked together very loosely by a cat that wanders around the city between the stories. If you are familiar with Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, there certainly is the same vibe here.

First one of the stories stars James Woods who signs up to a clinic to quit smoking, to find soon their methods to keep to clean are pretty drastic. Second story features Robert Hays who is unvoluntarily put as a centerpiece of a sadistic wager. These two stories, especially the the one with Hays work well.

Then there’s the third one with Drew Barrymore that would be kind of cool if you are an eight year old. Although featured in the poster and ending the anthology and tying the cat theme together, this is the odd one out with a pocket size goblin breaking havoc inside a little girl’s room. I was expecting a grand finale but it really falls flat in the end.

Still, the two first ones are very entertaining.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 65%

#13 The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)

Here’s a movie that could’ve been done only in the eighties. That’s a compliment right there.

The Legend of Billie Jean tells a story of a teenage girl who finds himself at large from police after trying to stand up for his younger brother. It’s a story of injustice, friendship, coming of age and making right what has been done wrong.

It surprising how badly this one was received when it first came out as it is heads and shoulders above other most of the other teen movies of the era with its strong woman character, feminist undertone and suggestions about how media manipulates people. It also deals with how being a teen, woman and from the wrong side of the track subjects you to prejudice that is hard to shake off.

It does all but while being also entertaining and beautiful to watch. Misunderstood at its time, it has later gained a strong cult following, as it damn well should!

Young Christian Slater plays Binx, Billies younger brother in his film debut. Notable of the other characters is foul-mouthed Putter, played by Yeardley Smith who would later go on to perform over 20 years as Lisa Simpson. And yes, she sounds just like Lisa here as well.

The soundtrack is top notch too, featuring Pat Benatar, Divinyls and Billy Idol and fits the movie perfectly.

80s-o-meter: 100%

Total: 98%

#12 Off Beat (1986)

Don’t you just love it when something you somehow looked forward but were afraid that might fail. And then the whole thing turns out to be much better than you anticipated? This is what happened here. I was kind of hoping for Off Beat to be a nice little silly comedy with one or two laughs, but it turned out to be so good it’s now one of my favourite comedies of the 80’s.

Judge Reinhold’ plays Joe Gower, an under achieving librarian so low in the food chain he even gets bullied by the library’s nerdy staff. After totally unbelievable and silly events he finds himself imposing a cop in a dance show, in a love triangle between two cops and in danger of being thrown in jail for impersonating a police officer.

Reinhold was often typecasted as a goofy manchild in the eighties and this movie is no exception. Think Billy Rosewood in Beverly Hills Cop and you get the picture. Here his naive and overly optimistic do-gooder attitude works perfectly again. Other notable actors here include Harvey Keitel as a bank robber and Penn Jillette in one of his small eighties roles with his awkward eighties hairdo.

An fairly underrated and forgotten comedy that provides a few laughs and has its heart in the right place. What more could you want?

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 90%

#11 Die Hard (1988)

Look, I’m not a professional critic so I still have a conscience. After bashing Blind Date (1987) yesterday I felt kinda bad and decided to make it up to Bruce by watching this one once again.

This is one movie that’s executed in such a perfect way that I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Scenario in a sky scraper, lead character, just the right kind of baddies, overall pacing and so on. In its genre, there’s no better action movie than this.

It’s a role Willis was born to play or then he just really soaks the character up perfectly.

Top blockbuster action movies at the time, starring the likes of Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Chuck Norris relied greatly on heavy weapons, oiled pecs and an almost invincible lead characters. John McClane is balding, normally build New York cop going through nasty divorce. It’s in this character where the genius of this movie lies. Instead of marching around the skyscraper room to room armed with two machine guns, McClane hides, he struggles and ultimately just barely survives by last minute thinking.

90 minutes of pure awesomeness, a tight action thriller and truly one of the best movies 80’s has to offer.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 100%