#1000 Blade Runner (1982)

The poster on the left is from the Australian release of Blade Runner. A cinematic landmark of its time, it’s also one of the main drivers why this blog came out to be in the first place.

The director Ridley Scott had already demonstrated his prowess for crafting impressive sci-fi worlds oozing with atmosphere with the 1979 Alien, but it was Blade Runner that saw his craftmanship come to full fruition. Aided by the concept artist Syd Mead, cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth and an exceptionally talented team of FX artists, Blade Runner came into form in 1982 as a movie years ahead of its time, leaving its footprint in the history as the cinematic template for the dark dystopian future.

Equally impressive is Vangelis’ haunting synth track that at times is able to paint the film’s aesthetics on an even deeper level than the moving images can. Synonymous with the movie itself, Vangelis’ Blade Runner suite sets the mood right from the very first second of the movie and continues to do so until the end credits have stopped scrolling.

Harrison Ford who was on a winning streak at the time after starring in Star Wars and Indiana Jones movie series creates another character here that is very exclusively his. In a similar fashion Rutger Hauer crafts his portrayal of a replicant on the run to such perfection that it’s hard to fathom anyone else playing the role.

Essentially a futuristic film noir, the original Domestic Cut was compromised by the studio who after showing it to a test audience changed the ending and added a very unfortunate narrative voiceover. The 1992 Director’s Cut improved on the original theatrical cut by removing the aforementioned faux pas, and the movie finally saw its ultimate form in 2007 Final Cut, still the preferred version of the movie.

Blade Runner has established its status as a classic and arguably stood the test of time still feeling fresh almost 40 years since its initial release; every viewing of the movie seems to unfold just another layer of it, serving as a somewhat bittersweet reminder of how science fiction of this caliber does not come by often.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 200%

#999 The Retrievers aka Hot and Deadly (1982)

I’m still trying to wrap my head around what the alternative poster of The Retrievers on the right is all about. It certainly does not seem to be any way related to the movie I just plowed through. Given the setup and the title, my guess is that the movie performed badly initially and was released again with a more exploitation, revenge porn sounding title and the poster to go with it.

Either way The Retrievers is a remarkably insignificant movie with equally insignificant plot line and production values. There’s a limited amount of entertainment to the dodgy kung-fu aspect where everybody in the movie seems to be some kind of a karate champion, grabbing a pair on nunchukas that happen to be handy when the fight starts, and the choreographed fights really seem out of place given the setting, mood and the outfits. And on most parts the fighting is pretty much on par with the home movies you made as a kid, throwing a few roundhouse kicks that felt just about perfect in your mind, but looked much less impressive as you later viewed them on telly.

There isn’t much info available online about the movie to be shared. The director and the writer Elliott Hong would direct another movie in the same year, a martial arts comedy called They Call Me Bruce? that would end up his best known title by a long shot.

80s-o-meter: 59%

Total: 21%

#998 Harlem Nights (1989)

48 Hrs, Beverly Hills Cop, The Golden Child and Coming to America; for Eddie Murphy the 80s was a series of commercial and critical triumphs after another, and it was only his debut as the director and the writer of Harlem Nights that ended up that honeymoon with the critics.

But not with the broad audience, as Harlem Nights – Murphy’s last movie of the decade – was a box office success, even if not nearly as massive as his previous titles.

The movie itself is a pretty sloppy, Hollywood take on the 1930s gangster theme so clichéd it was obviously inspired by watching other movies rather than digging into the history books. If you get past the pastiche aspect as well as the somewhat uninspired periodical setting established only to justify the caricature-like characters, Harlem Nights becomes a somewhat tolerable scoundrel comedy, and even lands a rewarding feel good ending that succeeded to made the minutes put into watching the movie feel worth the while in the end.

80s-o-meter: 48%

Total: 63%

#997 The Journey of Natty Gann (1985)

The Journey of Natty Gann pictures the 2000-mile long pilgrimage of the young Natty through the depression era America to find her father.

For being a Disney family movie, it’s a movie painted with surprisingly dark tones, ultimately making it a movie I wouldn’t necessarily want to watch through with my kids. On the other hand being a Disney family movie it is a bit too much of a sugar coated family picture to really dig into the grim reality of being a homeless kid during the great depression, and I had this constant nagging feeling throughout the film that I wasn’t in the core audience the movie was made for in the first place.

But the movie is still a delight to look at; the cinematography is top notch and the time period feels a somewhat movie like, but well established and believable. Relationship of Natty and her wolf is a thing of beauty, as well as his friendship with the fellow vagabond Harry, played by John Cusack. It’s ultimately those small moments of carrying each other through the moments of despair that make the movie wholeheartedly recommendable – even if you’re not dead center in the target audience.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 62%

#996 Roadie (1980)

Roadie is a somewhat typical early 80s yippee-ki-yay comedy in the vein of Burt Reynolds, featuring some Texan backdrops, ten gallon hats, saloon fights and wacky car chases – luckily just one in this case.

By far the strongest aspect here is the young Meat Loaf whose natural and unforced screen presence is actually much more watchable than that of his many contemporary peers. It is there somewhat of a shame that Roadie remained his only leading role for the 80s.

There are a few notable cameos here as well with the likes of Alice Cooper, Blondie and Roy Orbison making an appearances, but their appeal is limited to how your fandom of them, and don’t alone warrant watching through the movie.

80s-o-meter: 76%

Total: 57%

#995 Less Than Zero (1987)

Andrew McCarthy, Robert Downey Jr and James Spader – the top talent of the era – join together in Less Than Zero, a somewhat plasticky, superficial take on the late 80s decadent lifestyle of the filthy rich.

The problem is that most of the movie’s runtime is used on just chasing after the main character on a drug hook, who just seems to get in a trouble time after another. The movie never has enough time to truly examine the ins and outs of being an addict, but offers a superficial, stylised take on the subject that has less depth than your average music video. Robert Downey Jr who is mostly irritating in most of his 80s roles is somewhat tiring also here, but already gives a glimpse into the future for the things to come with his raw portrayal of a remorseful addict on a withdrawal.

A pompous, melodramatic and wonderfully 80s take on the poor rich kids on cocaine, Less Than Zero is very recommendable as a study of the era, not so much as a serious drama film.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 61%

#994 Somewhere in Time (1980)

Christopher Reeve’s first movie since the hugely successful 1978 Superman, Somewhere in Time is a romantic drama with a time travel twist to it.

The movie relies heavily on its time travel bit and if that concept was stripped out of the movie, there just wouldn’t be much of a plot going on here: There’s the somewhat forbidden love between the two leads of different generations and the only real threat between the two lovers comes from the overprotective manager who just can’t provide much of a drama and the only real conflict between them is ultimately resolved with just a shrug of a shoulder.

The movie totally flopped at the box office, but has developed a cult following with the fans going as far as joining together to celebrate the historical dates presented in the movie.

80s-o-meter: 33%

Total: 51%