#1925 Blue Velvet (1986)

I hovered around Blue Velvet for a long time, aware of its stature as a seminal David Lynch piece, and being a fan of Twin Peaks. And speaking of which, there’s certainly similar tones in both. Both taking place in a small towns that seem ordinary until the veil is lifted, revealing a dark, intricate mystery underneath, and Lynch’s fascination with the darker sides of human nature is apparent also here.

Both also star Kyle MacLachlan, navigating through layers of surreal and often disturbing realities acting as audience surrogate through whose eyes we get a front-row seat to the unsettling, surreal events that unfold on the screen. The transitions between what’s peaceful and normal, to scenes of insanity and nightmare are well done and seem to come almost too near to the viewer.

Blue Velvet took me to places and to this bizarre world where you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen next, and I appreciated it more as an experience rather than your traditional movie. It’s one of those films that takes you to places and stirs up feelings very few movies can.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 85%

#1924 Chattanooga Choo Choo (1984)

Chattanooga Choo Choo is one of those happy-go-lucky titles you might have found if you dug deeper into the shelters of your local video rental store. You know, the row where all the movies are ordered like books, with only the spines of the movie visible.

A road movie taking place in a train, there’s heritages, race to be won, cheating tycoons, football team wearing lavender outfits, near deaf and blind locomotive engineers, an amazingly acrobatic waiter who never spills a drink, laxative pranks, cheerleaders, and some peeping tommer. And it’s all quite tame: never raunchy nor edgy – but never side splitting funny neither.

Watching the movie fell to a good spot for me as a Sunday matinee to watch before napping. And for that purpose it does it’s part very well. It’s not the most original comedy out there, but the few well known actors – George Kennedy amongst them – and gorgeous actresses keep the show rolling steadily to the end.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 72%

#1923 Fear, Anxiety & Depression (1989)

A curly haired, nerdy and nervous jewish boy who is a failing playwright in New York, pushing off women who cling onto him, while clinging on to women way above his league in a socially conscious drama comedy with snappy writing and quirky characters, written, directed and starred by the one and same person.

It’s easy to draw parallels between Fear, Anxiety & Depression and the works of Woody Allen. But where Allen was had already gotten into more mature themes towards the late 80s, Todd Solondz movie and it’s humour is a bit more anarchistic, featuring punk rockers and a bit of the NY alternative scene as well.

I found Fear, Anxiety & Depression very entertaining and its quirky humour and characters worked for me well. It is also a movie that marks the last lead role for Solondz, which is a shame since he performs well both in the front of the camera, as well as behind it.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 81%

#1922 Flesh Eaters from Outer Space (1989)

After seeing a few dozen of these straight to video scifi monster comedies, here’s my advice to any aspiring film maker out there wishing to do the same: find an original angle, or go beautifully overboard with at least some aspect of the movie, be it wild plot twists, humour, gory effects or some similar out of the box thinking.

Or, you will end up like Flesh Eaters from Outer Space: a movie that nobody knows, nobody likes and nobody cares about.

The movie is a repetitive mess that fails to press any of the right buttons. It’s not interesting, not funny, and not scary. New people are introduced not to make the movie more interesting, but to repeat one more killing scene already seen multiple times before.

80s-o-meter: 31%

Total: 3%

#1921 White Dog (1982)

After almost 2000 movies, you’d think you would not at this point come across a movie that has an unique concept. But, White Dog surely boasts one.

Here a young woman accidentally runs over a mountain of a dog who then turns out to be a perfect body guard and a guard dog, until he starts to attacking people who all to her shock are African-Americans. Based on true events Romain Gary’s 1970 novel of the same title, the movie was met with protesting from citizen groups and was canned until finally getting a DVD release in 2008. This is a something of a crime as White Dog is one of the most thought provoking movies of the era, presenting the viewer with multiple tough questions.

White Dog is one of those movies that is extremely taxing to watch due to the difficult topic, but it will reward you by sticking with you long after.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 80%

#1920 Cleo/Leo (1989)

Knowing that Cleo/Leo is a movie put together by a team mostly known of their work in the Adult movies, that I always assumed painfully bad – and so it has waited for a good moment on the shelf for me to finally have the courage to press play.

And sure enough, the movie starts as expected as what feels your typical low budget sex rump of the era, with a pig of a man suddenly turning into a woman and then continuing to act as if she was still a man as the only source from which the movie could draw its comedy. But going forward the movie takes actually quite daring moves with Leo exploring some newly found feminine sides of her world and thinking, finally extending all the way to relationships.

It is these aspects of the movie that actually make it stand out and make it somewhat interesting approach to the often worn out man-turned-woman antics and Veronica Hart in the lead role quite successfully driving the movie forward with her performance.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 67%

#1919 Lifepod (1981)

I have to admire the courage so many film makers or the 80s had when having no budget at all, but still trying to come up with a believable scifi movie – which typically requires expensive FX work, costumes and set design. And more so in the case of Lifepod that has taken the concept of a central computer taking control of a space ship – a concept pretty much perfected in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: Space Odyssey – and puts it into a much more modest wrapper.

The made-at-home feeling here is even a bit sympathetic at times, and could have been easily forgiven if the movie was kosher otherwise. But alas – it’s nothing but as Lifepod is a lifeless, slow, repetitive show without any real feel of suspense. A wide range of characters is introduced but none of them ever seem to add much to the plot.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 26%