#852 Body Heat (1981)

A lawyer falling for a femme fatale plots to kill her husband in Body Heat, a critic acclaimed thriller that launched the career of the director Lawrence Kasdan, Kathleen Turner and one Mickey Rourke.

I admittedly hated the movie title that reeks of a cheap erotic thriller and the first half of the movie seemed to confirm this presumption. But it was after the murder that the movie really took off, turning out to be one of the best neo-noir movies of the era. Kasdan not only manages to have a good time with the genre and its clichés without the movie ending clichéd itself, but also successfully translates the elements of film noir to the present day.

I always admire the unexpected and mysterious qualities William Hurt manages to bring to his character, and in Body Heat he perfectly captures the timidness and uneasiness of a man who often goes over his head. Mickey Rourke greatly understays his welcome in the movie, appearing briefly as an arsonist.

80s-o-meter: 51%

Total: 84%

#851 Voyage of the Rock Aliens (1984)

Voyage of the Rock Aliens is made to spoof the swinging beach movies of the 60s with an element of extra terrestrial synth pop band traveling to study earth.

Wanting to be one of those crazy comedies, Voyage of the Rock Aliens makes an endless number of desperate attempts for humor. The most amount of wittiness you will see though is a convict attacking a cop with an electric can opener, and the cop then defending himself with a can of tomatoes, or a robot transformed to a fire hydrant then getting peed on by a dog. And both of these gags sound funnier in writing than they come out in the movie.

Much of the humor is built upon the fish out of water aspect of it all that grows stale already during the first minutes into the movie. There are also a lot of lengthy pop songs along the way, all of which have a strong vibe of if the soviet union had produced some music videos, and tried to pass them as the real thing.

Voyage of the Rock Aliens is one of those movies that is shoddy by design, and approach which sometimes works, but here the end result is just one cringeworthy mess.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 3%

#850 The Color of Money (1986)

For a movie that I really didn’t care that much for, Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money gets quite a lot of praise from me — first and foremost for not going for the formulaic master and apprentice struggling against the odds to reach the ultimate victory by a hair approach. Instead, it offers an interesting look into an aging hustler who has to start putting his life back together piece by piece to redefine himself and to find his long lost love for the game.

I’m torn with this picture. By avoiding the temptation to press most of the obvious feel good and jear jerking buttons along the way, Scorsese has made an excellent, uncompromising film, but also one that lacked closure and that never managed to grasp me or to keep me on the edge of my seat. In short, the movie often just isn’t very entertaining.

The movie handles all of its 9-ball scenes with TLC, and they are beautifully choreographed and recorded in a one continuous, breathtaking shot. Paul Newman and Tom Cruise are on top of their game here and perform their moves and shots with such confidence, you’d swear they’re both regular pool sharks in real life.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 70%

#849 Roadhouse 66 (1984)

A poster can sometimes say a lot about a movie. In Roadhouse 66’s case the poster is unimaginative, totally forgettable and executed in an uninspired way – and all this goes for the movie as well.

Marketed as a action comedy, Roadhouse 66 is short on both. Counting out a few gunshots along the way, the most action we see is the Burt Reynolds style car race towards the end of the movie, which also ends up the weakest part of the already so-and-so movie.

It’s only one year later that Judge Reinhold and Willem Dafoe both became household names with their box office hits Beverly Hills Cop and To Live and Die in L.A., respectively, and as such the movie is an interesting look into their earlier career. Although neither of the lead actors do a particularly good or memorable work here, they’re still very much the glue that holds the movie together and save it from being a complete failure.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 58%

#848 Fat Man and Little Boy aka Shadow Makers (1989)

An awkwardly named Fat Man and Little Boy tells the story of the WW2 era scientists working in Manhattan Project, initialised to realise and build the world’s first atomic bomb.

It’s a tremendously well made movie with elements of the world’s brightest men working towards the common goal while battling against the tight schedule, technical breakthroughs, issues of personal life and perhaps the most interestingly, their conscience. It does make a few liberties with some historical details, but all for the benefit to the story and the end result is an interesting and suspenseful glimpse behind the events that changed the world as we know it overnight and kept me glued to the screen until the end credits rolled.

Despite the A-list actors, the big audience failed to discover Fat Man and Little Boy, which ended up a box office flop and led to the movie to be later introduced to other markets as Shadow Makers.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 93%

#847 The Hitcher (1986)

’My mother told me never to do this’, utters the youngster transporting a car through the desert as he opens his car door for the serial killer, inviting him in on the front seat. Thus begins The Hitcher, a notorious cult classic that is probably to blame for the end of the hitchhiking culture.

Rutger Hauer makes for one of the most chilling villains ever and does it all in such an effortless yet effective fashion it’s downright impossible to fathom The Hitcher without him. Mostly likeable but often hit and miss C. Thomas Howell also fares well here as the young kid who gets more than he bargained for by just happening to pick up the wrong guy.

Underrated and a box office flop The Hitcher later rightfully gained a cult status and shouldn’t be confused with its subpar 2007 remake of the same name.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 92%

#846 The Cotton Club (1984)

Directed by the legendary Francis Ford Coppola and made with the top talent of the era and a budget the size of the GDP of a small nation, I should’ve liked The Cotton Club. But, this wasn’t a movie for me.

The Cotton Club is a mobster movie with some jazz and dance thrown in. It lifts all of its imagery from the prohibition era cliché book and the end result is very movie like, and detached from reality. I would’ve kind of applauded the effect if it was restricted to the scenes inside the Cotton Club, underlining how it is a wonderful world of its own, outside the harsh day to day life.

Counting out the few nice musical numbers there are, the narrative in The Cotton Club falls flat and I found myself indifferent about the events and the people involved.

It feels like Coppola never quite knew what he wanted to accomplish with this project.

80s-o-meter: 27%

Total: 52%

#845 Zone Troopers (1985)

A troop of American WWII soldiers wander off behind the nazi enemy lines to discover a crashed spaceship in Zone Troopers, a movie that has gained something of a cult following over the years.

I enjoyed the unique concept but neither the plot nor the execution live up to it — this is a movie with poor, made for TV like production quality to it. It’s not unintentionally funny kind of shoddiness either, but of the kind that always seems to just flatten the overall experience: The aliens look dodgy, nazi soldiers never quite pass as the real thing and camera cuts seem to be the only special effect used here.

Zone Troopers hasn’t been listed as a comedy, there are certainly some genuine attempts for humour – some of which aren’t even too bad.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 56%

#844 It Takes Two (1988)

A young man on the verge of getting married departs from his ranch to the big city to buy a sports car of his dreams and runs into all kinds of trouble in It Takes Two, a lightweight romantic comedy with a somewhat patchy script.

Biggest problem with the movie is the lack of meaningful content and the resulting, obvious padding to make it meet the 75 minute mark. The movie does find its tone during the end, and even manages to have some elements of entertainment and coherency.

It takes two is an insignificant, fluffy movie that is impossible to recommend to anyone – but it’s not horrid either. In other words, if you happen to watch this movie from a cable tv without planning, chances are you won’t hate it.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 60%

#843 Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! (1989)

An idea to do a continuum for the original movie like a miscalculation at first and seems just like another unmotivated sequel that will end up devaluing both of the movies. But as the events start to evolve Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives actually makes sense and feels like a good continuum for the events left without closure in the first movie.

The thing is, I somehow like the second story better. Living true to his mantra of wanting to be remembered by the music or not at all, Eddie has gone incognito, working as a blue collar construction worker. As the events unravel he soon finds himself as an unwilling lead of a rock band headed for fame.

Like the first time around, much of the charm of the movie is built around Michael Paré’s, who mimics the songs with such credibility and intensity, one’d wish Eddie was an actual, living rock star.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 82%

#842 Eddie and the Cruisers (1983)

A tale of a reporter investigating steps that lead to the tragic disappearance of the leader of an iconic 60s rock band, Eddie and the Cruisers is told through numerous flashbacks – an approach that sort of works, but does make the end result a somewhat patchy.

But, when it comes to music, the movie more than delivers. Michael Paré possesses a true rock star quality as the head of the band and mouths all the heartland rock songs with a convincing intensity. Purely as a musical the movie is among the best, void of the cringeworthiness often associated with the genre.

This poetic and enigmatic journey to unravel the mystery of a lost rock’n’roll star earned a cult status already in the 80s, and spawned a follow-up, released in 1989.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 80%