#1103 Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend (1985)

Sporting one of the most cryptic movie names ever, Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend is a dinosaur movie, and something of an unrelated 80s predecessor to the now iconic Jurassic Park.

Done in the time before CGI, some of the action effects shown in the wider shots have surprisingly fared adequately, and it’s only when we get to the static closeups that the illusion of actual, living jurassic creatures is completely shattered.

Much bigger problem than the effects is where the movie tries to position itself audience wise: on the other hand there’s tons of family movie elements here – like that cutesy little Brontosaurus baby – and on the other some surprisingly graphic gun violence as well as borderline sex scenes. Although the movie does definitely have its strong points, namely the dinos and its overall sense of an adventure, on the whole the movies just isn’t well balanced at all.

It’s a shame since on paper the movie seems like an easy win that could’ve ended up another E.T. of the era.

80s-o-meter: 73%

Total: 51%

#1102 Liquid Sky (1982)

Invisible aliens in search for heroin land in New York end up harvesting the endorphin that forms in the brain as people orgasm, consequently killing them.

Liquid Sky is one of those purposely weird independent films – and apparently something of a cult classic at that. Directed by the USSR born Slava Tsukerman, the movie is really nothing to celebrate about but more of a disjointed collection of scenes than a solid movie experience. It’s characters and neon lit scenes are stylish, but very much style over substance, and the movie feels like it’s mostly designed just to impress those who associate themselves with New York’s early 80s Warholian hipster art scene.

The main problem with Liquid Sky is that it’s just plain weird – but never quite wonderfully nor charmingly so.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 23%

#1101 Rustlers’ Rhapsody (1985)

A comedy that lampoons the cowboy movies of the 30s and 40s Rustlers’ Rhapsody is a delightful little western adventure – as long as you mostly forget about the lampooning part. Why? Well, it’s not very topical subject pick fun of. The film makers were apparently aware of this so they’ve chosen to carefully point out and underline what they’ve parodied, which helps for the frame of reference, but also robs the viewer the joy of making any connections themselves.

Also, what little I know of those movies, the parody here seems something of a hit and miss.

Luckily Rustlers’ Rhapsody is a movie that’s enjoyable even without the frame of reference: It’s a likeable little fairytale like good vs bad story where the good still wins, always.

80s-o-meter: 41%

Total: 65%

#1100 Piranha II: The Spawning (1981)

The sequel for the original 1977 Piranha movie, which was kind of a bastard child of the widely popular Jaws, Piranha II: The Spawning actual fares better than most of the idiotic Jaws sequels we saw in the 80s. It seems like your normal run-of-the-mill nature horror film, until we learn that the Piranhas have actually grown wings, after which the movie turns into a hilarious, bloody train wreck.

Piranha II is a prime example of A-grade B-grade movies: the overall production quality is good and the actors play their respective roles well, so that the outrageously ridiculous plot seems even more ridiculous, given the obvious competence elsewhere in the movie.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 67%

#1099 Heathers (1989)

Remember being 15 and hating someone someone so bad you’d wished they were dead? I didn’t, but Heathers totally reminded me going through the same kind of emotional rollercoaster – and that was the first glimpse of its above your average teenage flick virtues.

Three popular Heathers run a high school clique who cruel rule the entire school belittling, subduing and terrorising anyone foolish enough to cross path with them. After just 15 minutes to the film it’s really clear they’re not out to bruise, but to scar. Veronica is one of the students who’s saved from the harassment by being a quiet compliance who never quite stomachs all the wickedness and wishes for the demise of all the three. What seems like a materialisation of her secret wishes, appears mysterious J.D. who quickly makes all of Veronicas subconscious wishes come true.

A black comedy about bullying, revenge, mass murder and teenage suicides, Heathers’ cruel satire still finds its target so well that a movie like this wouldn’t likely be made by any of the major studios today.

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 91%

#1098 Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 (1983)

If the first sequel for Smokey and the Bandit didn’t need to be made, this holds especially true for Smokey and the Bandit Part 3.

Losing most of its better known stars, part 3 concentrates on pursue between Sheriff Buford T. Justice from previous iterations and The Bandit, played by the stuntman turned actor, turned director, Jerry Reed. While he can perform and direct nice stunts, the comedic attempts constantly fall short.

Chases and the stunts are better than previously, so if those are your thing you might find something to like here. For the rest of us, the final Smokey movie is just a deadweight piece of celluloid.

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 4%

#1097 Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again (1980)

Here’s the part of this project that doesn’t interest me much: Watching subpar sequels to 70s movies I have any interest whatsoever to start with.

The original 1977 Smokey and the Bandit was something of a movie equivalent of an Indy cars race that targets precisely that same audience, and Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again continues on that same track. Both movies star Burt Reynolds as the macho male lead, but one could argue that the actual biggest role as well as the top billing should belong to the cars and the stunts they’re involved in.

Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again was not a movie for me, and my guess is that its appeal was already gone in the 90s, let alone today. On the positive side the movie does have a lighthearted tone to it and it even manages to provide few chuckles, thanks to Dom DeLuise’s great comedic improvisation skills.

80s-o-meter: 23%

Total: 21%

#1096 Serial (1980)

Serial turned out to be one hard movie to review.

On the other hand I enjoyed the snappy writing and dialogue, as well as the characters that have an exceptionally low amount of irritating personal traits for a comedy about middle aged adults wrestling with their relationship problems. But as the movie pokes fun on late 70s new age spiritualism, sexual liberation and self-help movements, I realise that I’m missing most of the points of reference to really understand and have a laugh at them.

Most of the reviews of the movie by people who were there seem to agree that this is a collection of jabs that actually find their target. So, if a satirical look into the bay area post hippie, pre yuppie lifestyle interests you, Serial is probably your best bet for it.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 55%

#1095 Disorganized Crime (1989)

Four criminals come together to prepare for the bank robbery of their lifetime, only to find out that Frank – the mastermind behind the heist – is nowhere to be found.

Disorganized Crime is one of those unknown 80s comedies that would’ve deserved more recognition and popularity upon its release. It’s no masterpiece by any way, but one of those comedies where most parts just seem to click and come together in a very satisfying way. Ed O’Neill of the Married With Kids fame provides a solid backbone for the comedy, but it’s Rubén Blades – who was formerly unknown to me – that provides by far the best laughs of the show.

As mentioned, it all comes together in a very satisfying way for everyone in the end: the gang, the two detectives, the viewer – and possibly even Frank.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 84%

#1094 Doom Asylum (1988)

Most of Doom Asylum should’ve ended up on the cutting room floor.

An amateurish, low budget horror comedy shot in one location does have its moments with a few one liners and gruesome kills, but on the whole it’s just too darn long, considering how little happens here. On top of overshooting and undercutting the scenes, much of the running time of the movie is padded with old black & white clips of classic B-horror movies.

Doom Asylum would’ve ended a somewhat positive, better than its budget B-movie if it was a smarly cut 30-minute short story. But then, it wouldn’t had ended up as a direct to video release – and consequently would never had made it to this blog.

80s-o-meter: 76%

Total: 12%

#1093 Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981)

So, apparently Charlie Chan is some kind of mysterious detective that starred in various movies starting already in the 1920s. There was a 1973 movie release starring Chan, but the character really was passé already by the end of 1950s.

Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen kicks off with the assumption that the viewer is somehow aware of the existence and greatness of this character so much that it doesn’t bother to make any kind of introductions. Charlie Chan seems to be the somewhat of a comedic sidekick in his own film as the story concentrates more on his clumsy grandson, his fiancee, mother and the wacky servants of the giant mansion. Really, if you had to go through the trouble of making a yellowface movie, the least you could do is to make him the actual star of the show, right?

The movie was badly outdated as it came out in early 80s, and it’s production was attempted to put on hold by the Chinese-American protesters.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 17%

#1092 Dream a Little Dream (1989)

If you do a body switching movie – like so many film makers deemed necessary towards the end of the 80s – you’re going to have to deal with having to sell that outrageous idea to the viewers. Unlike its wacky comedy compadres, Dream a Little Dream has a setback of being a drama, and has to keep a relatively straight face while trying to convince the viewer to go along with the nonsense. And for the most part, it fails.

Dream a Little Dream is the last movie of the 80s for the two teen superstar Coreys – Feldman and Haim – and it also marks end of an era as both soon vanished from top grossing feature films. While it’s no bull’s eye, it’s not at all a bad swansong for either one, although it’s Feldman who gets to lead here. The high school / coming to age drama is typically to the era quite overdramatic, but not everything about it is that far fetched. I’ve seen characters like Joel – played with just the right kind of temper and fire by William McNamara – who are psychotic enough to just snap and pick up a gun.

I wish the creative team behind the movie had introduced both parties of the body switching as just real life characters that happen to meet and find mutual grounds despite the obvious generation gap. Surely it would’ve allowed the same story about growth without all the mumbo jumbo and the excessive explaining and justifying that always follows.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 62%