#1655 Beyond the Stars (1989)

It’s hard to fathom a bad movie and bad acting from Martin Sheen – yet here it is in the shape of Beyond the Stars.

The manuscript my the director David Saperstein is nothing short of idiotic and unconvincing, and it is painful to watch Sheen struggling through portraying a retired astronaut troubled with his extraterrestrial conflicts. It is especially the idiotic conclusion that still wants me to facepalm, almost two weeks after finishing the movie.

The fans of Christian Slater will probably find something to like here as Slater gives one of his cookie cutter performances of the 80s, but others should probably steer away.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 37%

#1651 Underground Aces (1981)

An early 80s revamp of the 70s success comedy Car Wash, Underground Aces takes the same sort of concept to inside the parking hall of a high class hotel, the own kingdom of the parking assistants.

The movie works out pretty much as expected without much surprises along the way; the characters, including a selection of zany parking assistants, a rich middle-eastern sheik and sex crazed youngsters after the female guests of the hotel all feel straight out of mediocre early 80s VHS guidebook.

The movie is likely most notable for starring Melanie Griffith and Michael Winslow, for both of whom the rest of 80s luckily had better things in mind.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 54%

#1650 Gremloids aka Hyperspace (1984)

Spaceballs may be the best known scifi parody of the 80s, but three years prior to it came out Gremloids, a low budget space comedy with a Dark Lord with a silly gigantic helmet.

Instead of being a Star Wars parody like Spaceballs, the premise in Gremloids is actually quite darn hilarious: because of a navigation mistake Lord Buckethead and his gang of minions land on a small village on earth instead of ”galaxy far, far away”, and proceeds to find the princess and the secret transmissions no matter how much the town folk try to tell him he is sorely mistaken.

After the strong start Gremloids never quite takes the full advantage of its unique premise and the latter half of the movie is pretty much spent on an endless trench warfare between Buckethead and local army, making the movie at this time feel like a short film prolonged to feature film length. The ending of the movie still wraps up quite nicely, making Hyperspace easily worth watching through.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 72%

#1649 The Aurora Encounter (1986)

Sometimes the story behind a movie is more interesting than the movie itself. I was at first put off by the fact how The Aurora Encounter had cast one Mickey Hays based on his appearance caused by progeria to portray the role of an alien out of space, until I learned that it was actually Make-A-Wish Foundation that had made Mickey’s dream come true to get to act in a Hollywood movie.

Now, for the movie itself, it’s another prime example how much further ahead the marketing and art departments ofter were to the movie crew itself. The poster art is absolutely stunning, with a great promise of an engaging scifi adventure.

What you actually get is haphazardly made western where a space ship quite obviously held by crane and often visible wires lands and takes off, with the alien stepping out, visiting and scaring a few people. It’s tediously boring thing to sit through, with no real engaging plot going for it.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 7%

#1648 Under the Rainbow (1981)

It’s fun to watch one of those dreaded really bad movies of 80s, only to find out that it’s fame as one is highly exaggerated. It needs to be said though that Under the Rainbow is a dud. It’s a mess of a movie that mostly consists of scenes of little people acting and goofing off like they were circus clowns. But, the plot itself is easy to follow and seems to make at least some sense, and there’s something entertaining about all the hectic action similar to what’s seen in Get Crazy.

Under the Rainbow isn’t a Chevy Chase show and he never carries the movie, as he did with his forthcoming hits of the 80s. Although he is playing the lead here, it really feels as if he was playing a distant support role.

80s-o-meter: 5%

Total: 41%

#1647 Die Laughing (1980)

A horribly disconnected effort, Die Laughing throws in a little bit of everything into the mix without ever finding its own tone of voice.

How disconnected? It genuinely felt like watching an episode of some random late 70s afternoon TV series that just keeps aimlessly going on, and on, and one. The boring action is padded with even more boring sections of the main character performing songs in auditions – another aspect of the movie that felt totally artificial and plastered on.

Die Laughing can really only be recommended to those who want to relive the worst of the 70s television.

80s-o-meter: 12%

Total: 2%

#1646 Patti Rocks (1988)

You know that screw up of a friend you don’t want anything to do with, but who for one reason or another manages to get you involved in his affairs, ”just for this one more time”.

In Patti Rocks that guy is Billy, played by Chris Mulkey. Billy is unlikely many other lovable bastards often seen in movies in a way that he at times manages to hover over likeable, but more often than not comes across just obnoxious. He is the kind of a guy with his sexist jokes that would make me want to switch tables at bar, and kind of a guy who would accuse anyone doing so of not having a sense of humour.

But his friend Eddie seems to be able to stomach him, and drives him on a long road trip filled with sexist jokes to settle the score with a girl – Patti Rocks – he got pregnant.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 40%

#1645 Atlantic City aka Atlantic City, USA (1980)

Atlantic City is a movie about transition periods and change. Sally is learning the ropes to be a dealer to be able to leave to Monaco to work on a casino. His former husband, now with Sally’s sister has arrived at the city to makes some money selling drugs, and they run into Lou, a small time old crook looking forward to finally becoming the big shot gangster with the money and a woman he could show off to his Florida pals.

And all this is taking place in Atlantic City that is going through sizeable changes where hotels and casinos of the old glory days are demolished to make room for new buildings.

The real gem in Atlantic City is the interesting array of characters with real yet a bit childish and silly aspirations, and in this sense the movie manages to positively surprise time after time: we don’t have to relate or even like the characters to be able to sympathise with their dreams.

80s-o-meter: 63%

Total: 87%

#1644 Runaway Nightmare (1982)

There’s only one thing wrong with being a renaissance man, and that is if you aren’t that talented.

This Mike Cartel’s movie, directed by Mike Cartel, written by Mike Cartel and starring Mike Cartel is one of these cases. It’s a messy, messy movie with no real focus what it really wants to be. The movie tries out quite a bit of different things, but fails on each and every one of them.

Runaway Nightmare makes me wish I had the will power to exclude all these kinds of exercises in movie making from my to-do list, but I’m still hoping there’s a gem to be found from that pile. Runaway Nightmare was not that gem, no by a long shot.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 11%

#1643 Cross Creek (1983)

I’ve a strange kind of romantic longing for the Everglades, and similar wetlands located in the southernmost states of the eastern USA. Strange because I could likely not stand the weather or humidity, or the isolation. But I guess its the quite unique, secret and hidden world of these parts that manage to catch my imagination.

80s offerings in this area has been something of a hit and miss. Starting from a-ok Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing to pretty nice The River Rat to complete stinkers like Shy People and Soggy Bottom, U.S.A there hasn’t been one definite movie that has been able to provide me the swamp experience what I’ve been looking for – until I came across Cross Creek.

On paper Cross Creek is a movie that was likely to be one of those slow, pompous, utterly boring period pictures, but this director Martin Ritt’s depiction of the author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings pushes all right buttons, managing to capture an array of greatly interesting and multi-dimensional characters. I was eager to get back to the movie’s world every time I had to pause the movie, and I felt the movie inviting me already to revisit it some time in the future.

80s-o-meter: 11%

Total: 96%

#1642 King Kong Lives (1986)

King Kong got a pretty ok reboot in the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis remake starring Jeff Bridges, Jessica Lange and Charles Grodin, and ten years later King Kong Lives tried to pick up where the previous movie left by introducing a female counterpart for the colossal gorilla, but without the star power of the previous installation.

Well, almost. Linda Hamilton plays the female lead and John Ashton (of the Beverly Hills Cop fame) the army dude trying to blow up the big ape.

Movie fails to utilise neither one, and the apes themselves could be passable for late 80s, early 80s release, but by 1986 the audience had been already spoiled with the next wave of special FX and King Kong Lives absolutely can’t keep up in this race, and feels like a relic from the past with absolutely no value for the viewers of today.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 28%

#1641 Gleaming the Cube (1989)

What do you get when you put 80s up and coming skating legends like Mike McGillMark ”Gator” RogowskiRodney MullenLance MountainMike VallelyNatas Kaupas, Tony Hawk and Tommy Guerrero into the same movie with young Christian Slater on the top of his game, mix it up with a kick ass soundtrack and Californian scenery?

A totally rad 80s action adventure movie – that’s what.

Gleaming the Cube is enjoyable on most of its aspects and a movie that offers tons of aspects that make it worth revisiting time and time again.

80s-o-meter: 100%

Total: 92%

#1640 Illegally Yours (1988)

Something feels amiss or disconnected throughout Illegally Yours. Perhaps its the nagging feeling of the movie being miscast on most parts, or Peter Bogdanovich’s direction not delivering the story in a convincing way or maybe its the story of a young handsome college dropout nerd stalking his old school love and getting tangled in a trial and murder mystery that just does not click.

There’s a lot to be loved about the movie, and various events and characters have a certain charm, but in the end it’s just somehow much less than the sum of its parts.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 61%

#1639 Blades (1989)

Blades – a silly movie about a killer lawnmower loose in a golf course sounds 100% like a Troma Entertainment production.

Or does it? Compared to the zany Troma movies of the earlier 80s, Blades feels almost playing it safe and trying to cater for some big enough niche audience: the creative anarchy is missing, but on the other hand Blades is actually quite well-rounded movie with some real budget and effort put into it. Even so that the silly machine antagonist feels like a faux pas, and the movie could have fared much better if it didn’t want to be so much tongue in cheek.

While the lack of a good baddie makes Blades a disappointment, it’s still an easy to watch and enjoyable disappointment for the most parts – especially if you are a golf aficionado. It was especially the shaky golf pro lead who was written as a counterweight for typical movie male characters that made Blades feel interesting and fresh.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 65%

#1638 Assault of the Killer Bimbos (1988)

Ok, so the name here sounds much worse than what the movie actually is.

Assault of the Killer Bimbos is more like an early, rough version of Thelma & Louise. Actually, to them actually contemplating to sue its production team. Truth be told, Assault of the Killer Bimbos is no Thelma & Louise, but some of the similarities here are uncanny.

But Assault of the Killer Bimbos is really a feel good comedy, and actually not a bad one at that.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 75%

#1637 Big Man on Campus (1989)

Big Man on Campus is one of those movies with a super annoying character that you genuinely hope would start growing on you so that watching through the movie would not turn into complete torture. Here that character is a degenerated hunchback living in a bell tower in a campus where he gets discovered by two students and their professor, played by Tom Skerritt.

Ok so it does take quite awhile, but when the wild man starts to take his first clumsy steps into the civilised world the movie stopped rubbing me the wrong way, and I found myself finally rooting for the character.

Big Man on Campus has multiple weak moments that should have ended in the cutting room floor, but luckily the crudest and most boorish humour is absent, making it actually quite tolerable comedy.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 70%