#48 Nightmare Beach (1989)

I usually shy away from the eighties films that aren’t at least partly produced in USA, but this is one of those rare occasions where I make an exception. Nightmare Beach, directed by Umberto Lenzi, has its country of origin marked as Italy, but is filmed in Florida with american actors. And as whole it’s totally passable for a Hollywood film of the era.

Plus; it’s just far too good to pass up in this blog.

Eighties-wise the movie presses almost all the right buttons, taking place at a coastal beach town during the spring break and featuring killers, a great soundtrack gruesome kills, motorcycle gangs and bad cops. It’s a shameless entertainment that gives you exactly what you’d expect in a very nice package.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 83%

#45 Absence of Malice (1981)

Absence of Malice is a term thrown around in the journalistic world, meaning the journalists’ unaccountability for the harm done for an individual when reporting is done accurately to the best knowledge at the time and without bad intent – even if further evidence will proof that person innocent.

The story of press finding out a police investigation concerning a person of interest, which it then prints out causing a lot of collateral damage to an entrepreneur who then fights back to clear his name, is an unique and interesting one. As the network and news site competition has gotten a heck of a lot more fierce the issue is probably even more topical today than it was back in 1981.

The execution of the concept is professional with Sydney Pollack’s solid – albeit without surprises – directorial work. I’ve never been a fan of Sally Field’s timid screen presence, but her performance here is acceptable as a careerist reporter struggling to keep in balance with her identity as an objective journalist. The real treat here is Paul Newman whose screen presence is unparalleled, and who manages to steal every scene he stars in even with a very subtle performance seen here.

Lastly, Wilford Brimley makes one of his most prolific appearances as the Attorney General who comes to set the record straight in his own quirky fashion in maybe the most memorable scene of the movie.

80s-o-meter: 73%

Total: 72%

#42 Creepshow 2 (1987)

The sequel to the 1982 original kicks off with ’Old Chief Wood’nhead’, a tale of and old wooden statue waking up to have a revenge. Concept and scares wise it’s the weakest short story of the bunch, but it’s sure good to see George Kennedy getting back to higher quality productions after his weak start to the 80s.

Following up is ’The Raft’, which is a treat. It’s exactly the kind of horror story that would’ve failed as a whole movie, but works perfectly as a short story in an anthology like this.

The last one, ’The Hitchhiker’ is what the nightmares are made of, and I have to applaud the way the whole gore puppetry thing has been taken to comedic levels towards the end. Good stuff!

Overall, Creepshow 2 bests its predecessor and as an horror anthology, it’s the very best that 80s has to offer.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 86%

#41 Creepshow (1982)

Creepshow an anthology of short horror stories written by Stephen King, tied together by a comic book theme and consisting of five individual stories.

It all starts very weakly with ”Father’s Day”, a total mess that Ed Harris in his minor role cannot save. Luckily the pace soon picks up with ’The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill’ featuring Stephen King himself as a redneck farmer who comes in touch with a meteor with a catastrophic outcome.

Third story, ’Something To Tide You Over’ featuring Leslie Nielsen is the strongest one of the bunch and manages to be dark, agonising and panic inducing, while the fourth segment ’The Crate’ comes very close to tie and is easily the funniest short story here.

It all ends with ’They’re Creeping Up On You’ – a kind of decent short, but the one that fails to offer any surprises.

Compared to the later Cat’s Eye, this one is much more solid and convincing package out of the two with tons of black humour and a wide selection of phobias to cater to most tastes. Recommended!

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 82%

#40 Dolls (1987)

Dolls is a horror title I had no former knowledge about. Like you guessed, it’s about these little Dolls coming alive and starting to kill folks. So, not really my favourite type of movie on the paper.

Where Dolls wins you over is the overall mood, its setting and the characters ripped right out of ”What was the 80s like?” -book. It’s not a too scary movie per se, but it does get pretty gory, considering its overall faery tale like mood. The stop motion parts involving the Dolls feel really outdated, but luckily there aren’t too many of them.

In the end it feels like a prolonged episode of Twilight Zone, but that’s not a bad thing at all. The team has captured that perfect eerie feeling and it makes a decent and fun watch for those dark late autumn nights. It’s a gory, entertaining bed time story for adults that somehow manages to be better than the synopsis would suggest.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 65%

#37 Fatal Beauty (1987)

There’s a new branded drug – Fatal Beauty – on the streets killing kids and junkies alike and a former junkie, present day cop Rita Rizzoli (Whoopi Goldberg) is on the case. Goldberg has always been a mixed bag for me. When first renting out her movies back in the days I never recall thinking, wow – Whoopi is in this movie, gotta see it now!

But, she has that ability to grow on you and when the end credits roll I found myself thinking that movie could’ve possibly fallen into oblivion without her giving to it that special edge.

There’s a lot of action and witty little incidents showing Rizzolli tightroping between being a no-nonsense cop and a woman in a male dominated profession. And to balance out that wittiness, there’s also a parade of absolutely inane one-liners and non-witty remarks. Tying baddies inside restaurant frigerators, breaking into Bel Aire mansions and kick yuppie bitch ass at tennis clubs – it’s all in a days work when you are a Hollywood Cop! Mind you, these remarks can be equally entertaining if you find the tacky value in them – and you should.

The movie is full of plot holes and inaccuracies, but if you are the kind of person to mind such things, you won’t probably find much to like here anyway.

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 76%