#1117 Never Cry Wolf (1983)

Never Cry Wolf, based on the Farley Mowat’s controversial book of the same name marks for the first ever film for the Walt Disney Pictures label, established in 1983 to diversify film subjects and seek for broader audiences for Disney movies.

I enjoyed the vast landscapes of the subarctic Canada and the love the movie has for its canid subjects. The movie plays out pretty much as expected, so Never Cry Wolf is not about the destination, but more about enjoying the way there. The books tend to encompass these kind of personal journeys in a more intimate, thorough way, so I suspect that the original novel gives a better mileage for those really interested in the theme.

Charles Martin Smith does solid work as the lead and makes following his transformation from a city slicker into a man of the wilderness truly engaging.

80s-o-meter: 42%

Total: 61%

#1116 The Executioner, Part II (1984)

A confusing vigilante romp, The Executioner, Part II is one of those amateur, shot on the cheap film end movies that kind of pass as a real movies at quick glance, but where the total lack of film making competency quickly shines through after just a few minutes to the film.

While there are basically no redeeming qualities to the movie, it’s the shoddy directing and camera work that make the watching experience lousy. Still, the biggest shortcoming here – as in many other amateur movies – is the total lack of that certain movie magic that the more seasoned directors so manage to establish in their movies.

In the end perhaps the most interesting aspect of The Executioner is that the suggested prequel does not actually exist at all. While there’s no official reasoning available for this unorthodox naming, the theories on the net suggest that the aim was to either hint the moviegoing audience that there’d been a part one so successful that it’d warranted a sequel, or that the game was a blunt attempt to pose the movie as a sequel to similarly named The Exterminator, which received its sequel the same year.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 12%

#1115 Beyond Therapy (1987)

Robert Altman was an interesting director who managed to create awful duds like Popeye as well as masterpieces that combine the best traits of both indie and Hollywood movies, like Streamers.

Beyond Therapy falls somewhere between these two. It is an artsy film that makes some annoyingly artsy and trivial choices just for the sake of it. A drama comedy about self-centred and neurotic New Yorkers struggling with relationships begs to be hated, but for one reason or another I did find the oddly off mood somewhat enchanting. And yet, I did hate the artsy move where Altman choose to locate the movie to Paris. And yet, I didn’t care for the plot at all.

Whatever there’s good about Beyond Therapy happens in small quirky moments when a dialogue leads the viewer on, only to take a sudden, unexpected 180 degree turn. Those did manage to make me smile every now and then.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 42%

#1114 Saturday the 14th (1981)

The title Saturday the 14th already gives one good overview what to expect here: a horror parody where the title is the most witty aspect of it. And the title isn’t very witty.

On paper it all sounds pretty good: a clean cut nuclear family inherit a cursed house, after which their son accidentally unleashes a horde of monsters by opening a forbidden book. But before you get excited, there’s really not much to be loved here as the movie isn’t anywhere near the best monster adventure comedies of the era. Despite its name, the movie does not poke fun of the Friday the 13th series at all. In fact, it doesn’t seem to parodize any horror movie that I know of.

But that all is really beside the point since no matter what the movie aims for, it ends up a failure that won’t provide the scares nor the laughs. Also, the piss poor production quality crushes any hopes for at least getting to witness any cool movie monsters on screen.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 23%

#1113 Remote Control (1988)

Aliens attack the earthlings with a cheesy VHS tape programmed to watch its viewer into a homicidal monster in Remote Control, a glorious 80s homage to the 50s scifi that despite its name does not have anything to do with actual remote controls.

By far the best aspect of the movies is its pseudo futuristic 80s styling: most of the TV sets are masqueraded to look like flat screen TVs (roughly about 15 years before they were available) and all the teenagers are wearing some bitching gear straight from the 21st century with makeup and hairdos straight out of Patrick Nagel painting.

Despite the visual style being the most prominent feature here, the movie itself is not bad at all. It’s OK – not as brilliant as it could’ve been – but still very much a recommendable experience and great time capsule to the late 80s.

80s-o-meter: 98%

Total: 71%

#1112 Star Slammer aka Prison Ship (1986)

I’ve expressed my deep hatred for the woman prison exploitation flicks that peaked in their popularity during the 70s, and unfortunately continued to some extend to the 80s, always recycling the same concept and rarely bringing anything new to the equation.

Well, Star Slammer kind of does by placing the penitentiary somewhere out in space, but only to repeat the same tired clichés. Yes – even the compulsory prison cantina fight is here.

Star Slammer is useless garbage made only to showcase some T&A, and manages to waste relatively nice (in comparison to the rest of the movie) set design.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 1%

#1111 Ruthless People (1986)

From the director team of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, Ruthless People is a triumph of a kidnapping comedy with a truly clever manuscript by Dale Launer the man behind Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, one of my favourite comedies of all time.

Known mostly from their crazy parodies full of visual gags and verbal puns, Ruthless People is quite a different undertaking for the directing trio and they get to demonstrate how they master all aspects of comedy with ease. Equally impressive is to witness how the distinctive comedy styles of Danny DeVito, Bette Midler and Judge Reinhold work seamlessly together with the right kind of writing.

Ruthless People became an unexpected comedy hit of the year, ending up among the top ten grossing movies of 1986.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 94%

#1110 Moving (1988)

Moving takes a humorous, borderline crazy comedy look into the imaginative array of stress factors a family is put through when they are forced to relocate from coast to coast.

The movie was criticized of its whitewashed portrayal of the urban African American family and it presents the main cast as this Cosby-esque clean cut nuclear family. Personally I didn’t mind the setup at all. On the contrary – it felt kind of a fresh approach compared to the lowest common denominator roles the African Americans usually land in various Hollywood comedies.

To my surprise Moving was a blast. Randy Quaid’s portrayal of a neighbour from hell is side splitting funny, especially during the moments where it becomes clear that he is not just a random jerk, but more of a mastermind that has set out to make his tormenting a true form of art. Moving is also one of the three more enjoyable comedies of the 80s for Richard Pryor, along with Brewster’s Millions and See No Evil, Hear No Evil.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 86%

#1109 The Dungeonmaster aka Ragewar: The Challenges of Excalibrate and Digital Knights (1984)

The Dungeonmaster is an adventure movie depicting a modern computer programmer that gets transferred to a fantasy lair run by ancient sorcerer who challenges him to tasks of defeating enemies in various modern and historical scenarios.

The Dungeonmaster is actually an anthology: Each one of the seven segments is written and directed by different people, and then tied together with interludes of the lair where the programmer returns victorious after each task. The movie would be totally banal if it didn’t have two distinctive modern 80s segments in it; one involving a serial killer and another, hilariously over the top scenario featuring W.A.S.P.

The movie remains the best known for the wide public as the origin of the like ’I reject your reality and substitute my own’, as quoted by Adam Savage in one of the episodes of the MythBusters. The movie is not worth your time for the quote alone, but you might still find it interesting fast forwarding to check it out, as well as watching through the two aforementioned segments.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 52%

#1108 To Be or Not to Be (1983)

A remake of the 1942 film of the same name, To Be or Not to Be is a delightful little WWII satire.

Taking place in nazi occupied Poland, the movie follows the crew of Warsaw theater company as they put up a show of their lifetime as they try to retrieve the leaked list containing the names of the members of the Polish resistance from the clutches of the third reich. The movie pokes delightfully fun of the quirky nazi officers who like to act grand but turn into shaky poodles when confronted by persons of higher rank.

To Be or Not to Be is the most well rounded up comedy ever to come out of Mel Brooks’ film factory. It provides the trademark zany visual comedy Brooks is so well known for, but manages to couple it with some very entertaining elements of drama, thriller, human interest and musical.

80s-o-meter: 42%

Total: 90%

#1107 Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

The first Star Trek movie to be directed by William Shatner, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier has the unfortunate honour of being the least exciting one in the series.

Most of the elements that made the previous three movies interesting are gone. There aren’t any memorable antagonists here, no pushing visual boundaries and no humour that made the previous instalments stand out. Perhaps most disappointingly, the human (or: Vulcan) interest aspect that probed deep into the weird and interesting chemistry between the lead characters is nowhere to be found this time around.

While the movie is no stinker, it lacks the grandeur expected from a movie launched to be the 1989 summer blockbuster, feeling much more like a prolonged episode of the original series, shot with modern cameras and slightly superior effects.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 60%

#1106 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

The Star Trek movie perhaps the most applauded by the critics, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home takes the adventure to the then-present day earth.

While many viewers seem to be fascinated by the contemporary setting, I found myself missing the vast space and distant worlds showcased in other Star Trek films, especially after the humour of the crew wandering around the streets of 1986 San Francisco sticking out like a sore thumb has worn out.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is a very different Star Trek movie – to the extend that one could argue that it really isn’t a Star Trek movie at all, but more of a humoristic, eco-warrior themed spinoff of the original series. On the positive note the humour presented here is genuinely funny, and the movie wraps up nicely the three episode saga that started with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 71%