#1891 A Time To Die (1982)

A Time To Die feels like a case of someone reading through the original book by Mario Puzo too many times over, and then explaining it to someone else who also knows the novel.

As for someone with none of this background information the movie and the way that it tells its story of an U.S. Intelligence agent on a revenge killing spree feels cryptic; you can kind of understand and follow what happens, but the movie never leads you close to the characters. It’s like well you can read this in the book if you want to dig deeper.

With A Time To Die doing such a poor job in basic story telling I cannot but view it purely as a plain stupid action thrilller – which is where it fails as well. The action is poor, with no real sense of tension or showmanship. What’s worst, the revenges lack the real sense of satisfaction many exploitative revenge movies double down on.

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 17%

#1890 Split Image (1982)

A cult exploitation movie at its heart, Split Image depicts a youngster lured into brainwashed by a religious cult. But ever more interestingly, it also depicts him getting kidnapped back and deprogrammed by his family.

But all this peeping Tommery is pretty much the only interesting part of the movie, and other drama falling behind. And even that is not too interesting.

There is a small foreshadowing from the cult, but perhaps the movie would have been more interesting if it tried to present itself less as a documentary movie (which it is not), and more just a thriller where the main character has to flee the cult at the risk of their live.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 26%

#1889 Slashdance aka Slash Dance (1989)

When it comes to B-movies, I often mention the padding, meaning trying to make the movie last more than an hour with insufficient footage and content by making each shot last too long and generally lingering on with one scene for much longer than necessary.

Slashdance takes this to the very extreme, with most of the movie just feeling like a filler.

There’s a theatre, young women dancing around and then getting killed one by one. And boy do they dance: endlessly, just improvising badly and trying to keep the film rolling.

80s-o-meter: 76%

Total: 3%

#1888 Hard Country (1981)

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jan-Michael Vincent in a movie I would care for, nor in role I that’d had me admiring his acting skills – but Hard Country could very well be an exception.

In this film, he stars alongside Kim Basinger as a young Texan couple. He aspires to be a blue-collar worker, enjoys getting drunk on weekends, dreams of marrying his teenage sweetheart, having kids, and staying in Texas. She, however, has bigger ambitions for herself.

Vincent’s portrayal is spot-on, embodying a stubborn, womanizing, traditional redneck with surprisingly likable, almost puppy like qualities to him. Their dynamic keeps viewers engaged, wondering if she will muster the courage to pursue her dreams.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 72%

#1887 Fast Forward (1985)

Fast Forward is a rare dance musical where the dancing is actually enjoyable to watch, and there’s not too much gringe here in the form of melodramatic teen agony that makes many of the movies in this genre typically hard to watch.

Coupled with pretty ok soundtrack this (at least to my eye a bit Michael Jackson inspired) dance movie is also generally quite enjoyable, and I found myself rooting for the small town ensemble trying to make it in the big city.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 74%

#1886 Two Moon Junction (1988)

A few of the most painful experiences during watching all these movies have been with those ”daring”, ”intimate” and ”passionate” erotic dramas that cause endless amount of cringe to watch through. Knowing this was going to be a case with Two Moon Junction as well, I honestly weren’t looking forward to this one.

To my surprise, not only is there kind of a movie and drama going on here, but the erotic tension of the movie is actually high on this one, thanks to great casting with Richard Tyson and Sherilyn Fenn, both on the very top of their game. Tyson as the rugged carnival odd-jobber with his piercing gaze wins over his love interest and the viewer alike at the first look, and has just the right amount of that free spirit and danger to sell the character with ease.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 77%

#1886 For Keeps? aka Maybe Baby (1988)

Two high school seniors get pregnant, decide on keeping the baby in For Keeps?, a drama movie riding heavily on clichés and predictable plot lines.

While the struggle that takes place as they have to both give up their youth, dreams and ultimately love for each other is likely what would happen to many, I kept on hoping the movie to take another, less wandered path.

Molly Ringwald was on top of Hollywood’s A-list at the time, and she is once again great (as in: sincere and believable) in her role, no doubt about it. She’s so good that For Keeps? ultimately feels just too small and insignificant for her.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 51%

#1885 A Stranger Is Watching (1982)

I’ve loved Rip Torn’s work from the 80s to date, so seeing him in this earlier role as a kidnapper in A Stranger Is Watching was a mixed bag for me.

Behind his grumpy facade for me there was always something endearing in Torn, but there’s nothing of that in this role. In fact, the role of a kidnapper feels like a side role that anyone could have played, and I kind of wished they had as seeing him in the role was more of a distraction than enjoyment.

Other than that A Stranger Is Watching is a bit outdated, but still gripping thriller worth watching. It plays out a bit differently from other similar movies, and the steamy bowels of New York metro tunnels serve well as the location that the camera and viewers alike love.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 63%

#1884 Dirty Dancing (1987)

Dirty Dancing I presume is a movie that everyone who lived on or are interested of the 80s know of. I definitely had been exposed to the concept, that it starred Patrick Swayze, and kind of put the dots together to know the movie was about dancing.

Expecting this to be a modern tale of ambitious young dancers trying to make it in a big city, what I did not know was that Dirty Dancing is a nostalgic period picture taking place in the summer of 1963 when a young girl nicknamed Baby travels to mountain resort with her parents to spend the summer holiday there. The upper middle class girl then gets involved with the dancers hired as staff to entertain the guests, and is shown a mambo like ”Dirty Dancing” the staff gets involved in their free time, after which Baby hits it up with the dance instructor Johnny.

In the end this was much lesser of a movie than I had anticipated. The dancing does not look that impressive, the two main leads seem to have zero chemistry between them and I also totally missed the point of the plot, especially how it all concludes at the end as they put on a show for a few campers. Is it Baby’s coming of age story, about her finding her own way and breaking social barriers? Or is it just about some nice nostalgic vibe of the movie, and watching the dreamy Patrick Swayze dance around?

Your guess is as good as mine.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 55%

#1883 Variety (1983)

An indie film depicting young woman working at the door of an adult movie theatre in Times Square who after awhile develops a tempting interest in the world of porn.

In a crossing plot line she accepts an invitation to join an older business man who visits the shows, and finds out he is involved in shady business that she stars to investigate.

Shot almost entirely during nights, the scenes of nocturnal New York work for the advantage of Variety and the atmosphere is the strongest fuel that keeps the movie running. Take the same concept to somewhere else and shoot it during the day, and there wouldn’t be much of a movie here.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 45%

#1882 Staying Together (1989)

In a small southern town a father of three brothers sells the family chicken restaurant, consequently triggering a chain of changes in the lives his sons.

Staying Together is built upon numerous conflicts, of which few feel relatable and many less so. This also goes with many of the intentions either the writer or the director had for the story or the main characters; Staying Together is a movie busy being dramatic, but more often than not that drama fails strike the right chord with the viewer.

Between the brothers the movie does have its moments – but much of the sentiment, feeling and intentions that might have been there in the storyboard quite unfortunately remain unfulfilled and unmet.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 48%

#1881 Teen Vamp (1989)

An unpopular nerd turns into a cool cat leather-jacketed vampire after getting bit by a vampire prostitute in a shoelace budgeted horror comedy Teen Vamp.

This one’s is a feeble, amateurish attempt if I ever saw one. Some of the similar hobby horror movies manage to turn the underdog setting to their advantage either by being over the top in either the concept or the gore, but Teen Vamp remains amazingly tame until the very end.

Teen Vamp is one of those amateur movies where I bet the the team enjoyed shooting it more than the viewers enjoy watching it.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 17%

#1880 Beverly Hills Brats (1989)

Right off the bat: is Beverly Hills Brats a good movie?

Well, it could be if you are 6-9 years old, but for myself I cannot really say. The movie is rated as PG-13 most likely due to some foul language, but really feels like targeted to kids. It is kind of a shame since the necessarily building blocks for a satire of filthy rich Beverly Hills family seems to be present, but put together in a very dull and predictable way. Again, as the movie was made for infants in mind.

Martin Sheen as the cosmetic surgeon does his best to keep the movie alive, while Peter Billingsley performs his trademark role straight out of Christmas Story. Probably the funniest side of the movie is seeing totally indifferent Burt Young sleepwalk through the entire movie.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 38%

#1879 Field of Dreams (1989)

A sports movie for those of us who dislike sports movies, Field of Dreams is a fairytale for both adults and kids alike.

No doubt about it; the story itself is totally unbelievable. But like the lead character played by Kevin Costner we find ourselves really wanting to believe in the same silly dream. This is in no way an easy feat from the director Phil Alden Robinson to pull through and the bold gamble put into this movie could have backfired in a horrible way.

Simply put: I loved Field of Dreams, and I especially loved the way way still found it in me to believe in such magic.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 90%

#1878 Matewan (1987)

Another quality historic drama here!

Matewan depicts events that took place in a small coal town in West-Virginia back in 1920 when the workers who unified by young union organizer go on a strike against exploitative mining company and their gun-wielding corporate henchmen.

The movie looks and feels fantastic, and with the modern transfer it could still pass in any theatre. The story is told with seemingly realistic historical detailing, and it manages to bring the viewer very close to the subjects and grasp the feeling of them sitting on a powder keg.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 83%

#1878 Mrs. Soffel (1984)

Here’s another thing that I really enjoy: a movie based on real life events I was not aware of before, but that prompt me to really dig deeper and read more.

With Mrs. Soffel these interesting events unraveled back in 1902 when Kate Soffel (Diane Keaton), the wife of the warden of Allegheny County Jail befriended Jack (Matthew Modine) and Ed (Mel Gibson) Biddle, and ultimately falls in love with Ed and helps them to escape the hanging.

The movie seems to document the events somewhat faithfully and interesting fashion, but what I felt like missing out was really getting to understand Mrs. Soffel; her thinking, motives, fears and hopes, as speculative as they might have been.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 70%

#1877 Violets Are Blue (1986)

A romantic drama starring Kevin Kline and Sissy Spacek, Violets Are Blue (title sometimes followed with extra ’…’) depicts a long lost young love coming into life again as the Gussie (Spacek) returns to her home town for a brief vacation. Time has passed and lives have takes much different turns since the couple last saw, but they soon find themselves in a situation where the relationship cut short continues right where they left it some 15 years ago.

I admittedly had difficulties adjusting myself seeing Spacek in such a different role from her usual range, but both Spacek and Kline managed to sell the relationship to me with ease, and it was a pleasure seeing the two working together on a silver screen. The movie’s overarching theme of hard choices we make in life resulting in consequences with live with was also fully delivered, and relating to the situation the lead characters found themselves in was very relatable.

The movie itself did not grasp me on the same level than its theme did, and there were certain aspects and scenes in the movie that for me dragged the overall experience down from great to OK.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 74%

#1876 Blue Vengeance (1989)

Underdog time! An (almost) one man project by J. Christian Ingvordsen, Blue Vengeance depicts a cat and mouse hunt between a rogue cop (Ingvordsen himself) and a psychopathic killer (Mark Trax) shot in a guerrilla style on the streets of New York.

And unlike many similar low budget movies, the team has really put some love in thought into this one and looks good, and also credible in a cool kind of way for which also the memorable antagonist played by Mark Trax contributes, and there is a certain similarity between the the character he creates here and Jackie Estacado, the main character of The Darkness comic series (without the mask, that is).

Blue Vengeance is an uneven ride – but also very refreshingly different from the main stream cinema and definitely one of those rare cases where a shoe lace budgeted action horror manages to better a sizeable portion of its multi million budgeted counterparts.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 82%

#1875 Spiker (1986)

If this was 80s, Spiker had been as massive success and I was the editor of Mad Magazine, I would have mischievously named the parody a ”Stinker”. But, in this reality it’s 2024, and nobody in this world has ever heard of Spiker.

I have to give it Spiker that at least it is a bit different than your basic sports movie. But in this case it means it’s bit of a mess of elements from beach comedies, weird plots of the team travelling around the globe, trying to make it the national Olympic team and helping people behind the iron curtain. And then some stock footage of real USA volleyball team competing.

And then it suddenly ends.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 28%

#1874 After School (1988)

This is not a movie review, but a PSA. I was fooled by the luscious poster of After School, that seems to promise a light-hearted high school drama or comedy and address this as a warning for others to steer as far away as possible.

What the movie offers instead is a high school student falling in love with a catholic priest, who then struggles between his faith and carnal desire. And boy is it a drab of a plot and presentation. There’s little credibility in the love affair itself, and most of the movie pictures the permed, curly haired priest wandering around in distress.

Additionally, the movie incorporates flashbacks to prehistoric times, presumably to draw parallels with the Garden of Eden. However, these scenes seem more like filler for the otherwise brief movie and a means to include gratuitous nudity.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 3%