#886 Suspect (1987)

Suspect, a dime a dozen courthouse drama on the surface has many positive surprises to offer.

I never thought much of Cher, thanks to her horribad europop tracks of the early 2000s. Much to my surprise she turned out a radiant actress in many of her 80s movies, often stealing the spotlight and making the movie hers.

This is true as well with Suspect and Cher’s effortless presence on screen definitely makes watching the movie a breeze. Equally surprising is the unlikely chemistry between Cher and Dennis Quaid, who on paper mix together pretty much like water and oil. Quaid provides a perfectly lovable, smirky scoundrel of a juror who doesn’t seem to be able help himself poking his nose in the investigation.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 81%

#885 Starflight: The Plane That Couldn’t Land (1983)

All the way from the movie Airport, continuing through Airport 1975, Airport ’77 and The Concorde, 70s was a decade of dodgy disaster movies that got rightfully ridiculed in the early 80s Airplane and in Airplane II: The Sequel, with the latter taking place in a commercial space shuttle. Given this background it’s hard to fathom what exactly went through the minds of the executive producers that green lighted Starflight: The Plane That Couldn’t Land after the genre already done to death and even worse, ridiculed.

To add insult to the injury this movie, released in 1983, plays a lot like the Airport parodies, but with a lesser production quality and totally sans humour.

Starflight is a product of the past that offered very little mileage when it was released back in 1983, and much less today.

80s-o-meter: 42%

Total: 24%

#884 The Nude Bomb (1980)

An exercise in unfunny, Nude Bomb follows the many mishaps of Agent 86 – Maxwell Smart – from the 1960s TV series Get Smart.

The humour consists either of catch phrases like ’Would you believe it’ and ’Missed it by that much’ that totally escape those not familiar with the series, or slapstick comedy of Maxwell tumbling around the room, breaking various objects along the way.

The Nude Bomb is devoid of laughter, and an endless stream of failed attempts for humour. Get Smart, Again!, a weak but still much more preferable sequel was released in 1989.

80s-o-meter: 38%

Total: 17%

#883 Bad Medicine (1985)

Steve Guttenberg, Julie Hagerty and a cast full of ’Hey, it’s that guy from the other movie’ supporting actors, Bad Medicine sure seems like a sure hit 80s comedy. But, there’s unfortunately something more or less off throughout the comedy.

This is not so say that Bad Medicine is a total dud. The cast keeps the show running and the movie even has multiple laugh out loud moments.

Done very much in the vein of Guttenberg’s Police Academy box office hit movie series, you could easily confuse this movie as a spinoff, especially if G.W.Bailey was seen as the dean or the school. Speaking of which, Alan Arkin does a wonderfully fine acting work as the love sick founder and dean of the school, mixing in just the right doses of desperation and foolish pride.

Bad Medicine has a lot of good things going for it and could’ve potentially been one of the definite comedies of the 80s, but woefully ends up much less than the sum of its parts.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 62%

#882 Still of the Night (1982)

A homage to Alfred Hitchcock, Still of the Night accomplishes in what it sets out to do: There’s plenty of 50s style of suspension and atmosphere to be enjoyed here.

Faithful to the classics of the genre, the director Robert Benton skillfully leads the viewer through dark laundry hallways and abandoned houses, creating constant mistrust and tension that keeps on building up.

The movie had such a strong buildup that I was excepting a trilling plot twist towards the end. Given this the wrap-up of the movie did feel more unimaginative and unsatisfying than I’d hoped for.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 76%

#881 Ordinary People (1980)

I’ve grown suspicious of Oscar winners over the years. If the level of expectation isn’t set too high, the sheer grandeur of the movie just doesn’t come across. Awarded for best picture, actor in a supporting role, director and writing in the 1981 Academy Awards, Ordinary People is luckily an exception to the rule.

It’s a story about a family torn apart by the accidental death of the older one of the two brothers, followed by the other boy’s attempted suicide. Since then the family is pretending to have move on, but the rooms are full of elephants and unspoken issues that are never addressed in order to avoid shattering what little there is left of the unit. It’s only after Conrad – played to perfection by the young Timothy Hutton – comes to accept the fact that her mother doesn’t love him anymore that the scars are finally torn open and ready to heal.

Starting slow and small, Ordinary People grows to be one of the most mesmerising and heartbreaking stories I’ve seen in a while, and one of those rare movies that make one feel like giving a standing ovation as the end credits start rolling.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 96%

#880 Runaway (1984)

Taking place in a near future (that looks remarkably like the year 1984 with some clunky gadgets, flashing gizmos and robots on wheels added on) Runaway is a piss poor sci-fi movie with a surprisingly high entertainment value.

A criminal mastermind called Luthor – played to a high comedic value by none other than Gene Simmons – is turning robot servants to killer machines. Jack Ramsay, a cop played by Tom Selleck with a remarkably straight poker while having to deliver a number of inane lines while chatting with some bread box on wheels, is out to get him. G.W. Bailey of the Police Academy fame is a delight like always as the police chief.

For a movie that leans to much to robots, most of the gizmos in Runaway are poorly made and driven by fishing lines that are clearly visible in the fresh high resolution prints. On the other hand there are a few notably well executed scenes here: The chase with the target seeking droids and the sky high elevator duel against the spider bots are both disarmingly clumsy but still have tons of good kind of adventurous video game like vibe to them.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 67%

#879 Jack’s Back (1988)

Awkwardly named Jack’s Back is a weak horror thriller following a manhunt for a Jack the Ripper copycat killer.

The movie does not shy away from throwing totally unconvincing elements in the viewer’s face: Long lost missing twins, psychic abilities, shoe salesman subplots and a killer who gets caught by walking into a trap and totally breaking his earlier patterns that kept him safe, only because the movie needed a closure. Even if Jack the Ripper never was that intriguing persona to me there are tons of better movies out there that get a better mileage out of the subject.

Most reviews of the movie seem favorable, which I did find surprising. Many dub this to the lead James Spader’s magnetic performance, but personally I found his acting work here mostly corny and a long shot from his authentic and chilling performance in The New Kids.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 41%

#878 Fear City (1984)

An exotic dancers’ manager – a pimp – goes after a serial killer wasting his strippers in Fear City, an atmospheric but otherwise disappointing thriller.

Tom Berenger in the lead role is a charismatic actor well capable of carrying through a film, but the two dimensional toughie characterisation Fear City gives him leaves very little to like or care for, and the flashbacks picturing his former career as boxer feel glued on. Instead of going for a strong antagonist, the director Abel Ferrara has decided to make the killer nameless and easy to forget, with equally artificial martial arts theme forced in.

There are some mesmerising shots of the nocturnal New York here, with all of its neon lights and vices pictured in a beautifully poetic way. This aspect remains the strongest suit of Fear City.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 58%

#877 Dangerous Curves (1988)

Dangerous Curves is an insignificant buddy comedy taking place in the sunny California that never makes an attempt for originality, and has that straight to video vibe written all over it.

Grant Heslov is totally lost in his role as the party animal side kick dragging his friend into troubles of various sorts; instead of pulling off that lovable rogue schtick the character is without any lovable traits and ends up plain annoying. Tate Donovan’s screen presence has always been terrific – reminding that of Robert Webb – taking the movie up a notch or two. Last but possibly least, Leslie Nielsen does a pretty uninspired visit as a crime lord inevitably getting his due.

The movie is a prime example of a pastiche where the team has succeeded in borrowing a lot of proven concepts, but totally dropping the ball when it comes to putting them all back together, making Dangerous Curves effectively more fun in still pictures and VHS trailers than as an actual movie.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 48%

#876 The New Kids (1985)

We’ve seen our fair share of movies based on the payback / revenge aspect as well as portrayals of bullies who terrorise an entire school and community around it. But The New Kids makes for a original and enjoyable stab at the genre by gracefully steering around most of the clichés of the genre.

Not only do the leads manage to stand up for themselves, but the antagonists also fail to spin the public opinion and blame against the new kids. The leads Shannon Presby and Lori Loughlin perform well as the clean cut all american kids while James Spader steals the show as a truly chilling juvenile delinquent with borderline psychopathic traits.

The New kids took me positively by surprise by mixing in some old and some new to an interesting and entertaining 90 minuter.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 81%

#875 Running Scared (1986)

Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines as the lead actors in an 80s buddy cop movie? What at first seems like a somewhat bland combination actually works out much better than anticipated.

Although a picture book of the genre clichés and not as famous as its other counterparts of the era, Running Scared still manages stands firmly on its own. It’s the kind of a movie where the plot is secondary and most attention has been put into showing the two cops have a good time and battle against the authority. Every event in the movie is layered with constant stream of wisecracking; even when getting shot with an uzi Crystal and Hines make sure to first stop to exchange some puns before diving to safety.

The jesting does get tiresome at times, but it’s all done with such a good – if not exactly funny – humor that most viewers that will let it slip and just go with the flow.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 72%

#874 Lucas (1986)

I’ve never seen a movie capture a teenage crush in such a honest, pure way.

Lucas is a movie about a boy of the same name whose peculiar life revolving around his peculiar hobbies changes the moment she meets Maggie who’s just moved in to the neighbourhood. They find themselves sharing the last days of the summer together before the start of a new school year and form an unlikely friendship that soon turns to a one-sided, hopeless love.

Corey Haim has never actually wowed me, but here he captures the essence of the misfit character in a magnificently three dimensional way, managing to make Lucas a tangible and often contradictory person by never sugar coating his shortcomings nor underlining his virtues.

The movie wanders too far into fiction towards its last minutes, but even that can’t diminish its accomplishments as one of the most heart warming portrayals of the high school life and of coming to age. Lucas reminds us of what was it like once to be hopelessly, head over heels in love, and in that sense it’s a truly a triumph.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 90%

#873 True Confessions (1981)

True Confessions is a interesting experience of having wide range elements mixed in (the catholic church and its game of power and money, a murder mystery, drama between the brothers and their personal redemption to name a few) but still ending up a slow and unsatisfying experience.

The movie can’t seem to make up its mind whether it’s a murder thriller, a whodunnit, a conspiracy drama, character study or a religious statement. Especially the themes of catholic corruption and quilt failed to grab me and I can’t help but to think that if those elements were tuned down quite a bit, this could’ve been a somewhat decent crime movie.

The movie also misses one of those ’big’ scenes towards the culmination point that usually help to make these kind of movies memorable.

True Confessions features the talent of Robert Duvall and Robert DeNiro who both manage to make the very best out of their roles and remind us what an Oscar quality acting work looks like.

80s-o-meter: 23%

Total: 52%