#1318 Alien Predator aka Alien Predators (1986)

Alien Predator is a promising underdog of a horror movie that does other things with admirable ingenuity while totally failing elsewhere.

I liked the atmosphere in the movie and the overall science-gone-wrong in a small town kind of setup, and could I bet the writer / director Deran Sarafian has seen the classic 1971 scifi thriller Andromeda Strain a few times before preparing the manuscript for the Alien Predator. Being a horror movie, jump scares are expected, but are so well paced that they manage to surprise from time to time.

The ghost car seemed like a totally unnecessary element in the movie, and Dennis Christopher who plays the other lead struggles throughout the movie to make his lovable rogue / class clown character work, ending up merely with one of the most tiresome characters ever seen on the silver screen.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 73%

#1317 Sixteen Candles aka 16 Candles (1984)

Sixteen Candles is the first teen comedy led by Molly Ringwald, and begun a series of movies that would make her the household name in the 80s cinema.

Written with Ringwald specifically, writer / director John Hughes’ (making his directorial debut here) way of finding multiple surprising but well fleshed out and believable aspects of the characters that sets the movie ahead of the competition. But the script is not perfect, nor has it aged too well and contains multiple aspects that I did not find that funny any more, including many lazily written and worn out stereotypes.

It’s still an entertaining teen movie, leaps and bounds ahead of the competition, but just beware that it might not have the same impact it did back in the day.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 79%

#1316 Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989)

Bloodhounds of Broadway is an ensemble comedy based on four Damon Runyon stories: ”The Bloodhounds of Broadway”, ”A Very Honorable Guy”, ”The Brain Goes Home” and ”Social Error”, written in the 1930s.

I’ve often criticised period pictures for having their historical settings without any point but to provide nostalgia, but as Bloodhounds of Broadway is more of an adult fairytale, the setting actually works here. I liked quite a lot in the way that the various personas and their stories intertwined during the movie, and the screenplay and direction of Howard Brookner works exceptionally well.

The casting also works well with Matt Dillon, Jennifer Grey, Esai Morales, Steve Buscemi, Randy Quaid, Rutger Hauer and Madonna seen in atypical roles.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 89%

#1315 Naked Vengeance (1985)

Deborah Tranelli – Apparently known the pain most due to her role in the Dallas TV series – gets mishandled first by a crook that kills her husband and then by the womanising and chauvinistic pack of hoodlums in her hometown, after which she releases her wrathful vengeance on all of them.

Naked Vengeance repeats the familiar rape and revenge formula popularised by I Spit on Your Grave on 1978 and joins ranks with movies like Ms .45, Extremeties and The Ladies Club.

The protagonist’s transformation to a cold blooded killer that plans and executes imaginative kills on her wrongdoers is highly inplausible – she could’ve much more easily just shoot them all one by one – but I did like the way she always did not succeed in her plans so easily, and actually ended up in a tight spot, hunted by the townsfolk.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 58%

#1314 Miracles (1986)

Jim Kouf, the writer behind many of the top notch comedies of the 80s like Class, Secret Admirer, Stakeout and Up the Creek steps up for the first time also to the director’s seat to direct Miracles that he also manuscripted.

And, it’s a quality comedy one again, written with undeniable wit and great comedic pacing. Tom Conti and Teri Garr have never been in my radar as the great comedic pair, but here their performance as the couple going through divorce until thrown back together in an adventure against their will is perfect and I can’t see anyone else playing the roles better.

Paul Rodriguez fares as the sympathetic crook much better here than in his other 1986 comedy The Whoopee Boys, which still is one of the lousiest comedies I’ve seen, and Christopher Lloyd is as delightful as always as the depth-perception impaired half of the criminal duo.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 87%

#1313 Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama aka The Imp (1988)

More is more, but Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama would have fared better with less elements.

In particular, it’s the Imp – the antagonist that lives in a trophy in the bowling alley and causes all sorts of havoc as he gets out – that is very much an unnecessary element in the movie and never manages to feel anything but the rubber hand puppet it is.

If the team would’ve only realised the weak link in the movie, cut their losses and come up with a different kind of approach, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama could have lived up to its outrageous name. As it is now, it makes for a surprisingly solid movie visually (excluding the imp) despite being filmed in one location outside its business hours.

What is lacking completely though are the kills, which usually lend for easy chuckles in similar horror spoofs. Here they are disappointingly skipped, probably due to budget constraints.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 60%

#1312 Savage Dawn (1985)

A motorcycle gang terrorises a small town in Savage Dawn, a missed opportunity of a cult movie.

Out of the strong cast of George Kennedy, Richard Lynch and Lance Henriksen it’s suprisingly William Forsythe that really shines as the leader of the gang (that otherwise resembles Black Widows, the comical motorcycle gang seen in Clint Eastwood’s Every Which Way but Loose).

Savage Dawn looks great for a B-movie, boasts a nice poster, has a strong cast, and silly enough plot, and thus sets the viewer’s expectations sky high. But somehow it just does not add up as expected; the action just isn’t there and the movie unfortunately looks much more fun in still pictures than it does as a movie.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 51%

#1311 Hellbent (1988)

A modern twist of the classic Faust story, Hellbent presents a story of a punk trash band who make a management deal with a person who promises them success in exchange to their mortal souls.

I love a good underdog movie, and Hellbent with its weird story, eccentric characters and ominous cinematography definitely counts as one. The movie does lose its sharpest edge as it changes from relying purely on suspension to more of an action movie, and as an action movie it does not fare that well even though the shooting and violence is depicted in a way that makes it feel very impactful, much more so than in the Hollywood A-list movies.

While not the long lost gem of the decade, Hellbent is definitely interesting enough experiment to earn a recommendation.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 79%

#1310 Kiss Me Goodbye (1982)

This is the miracle I had to live to see: James Caan in a uncomfortable role in a very average movie.

To make things worse, Jeff Bridges and Sally Field also waste their time with this romantic comedy that has one of the most annoying premises ever: a late hustler of a husband coming back from the dead to haunt (and annoy) the widow and his new husband to be.

It’s been reported that James Caan – seen performing a cheap Gene Kelly imitation here – hated working in this movie so much that he decided took a five year break from Hollywood to recover and find a suitable script to work with.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 23%

#1309 Cattle Annie and Little Britches (1981)

Now, it’s true that Anna Emmaline McDoulet – known as Cattle Annie – and Jennie Stevenson aka Little Britches were two teenage girls that toured around in Oklahoma, following the Doolin-Dalton gang and earning their living stealing horses and selling booze to the native American tribes.

But the movie gets wrong pretty much everything else, and Cattle Annie and Little Britches is a very typical western that demonises the law enforcers, celebrates their death, glorifies the criminals and draws a romantic and a mind-numbingly naive picture of the life of the outlaws.

The only upside of the movie is the Cattle Annie character, played by Amanda Plummer (of the later Pulp Fiction fame) with the look and feel of a human tumbleweed.

80s-o-meter: 10%

Total: 8%

#1308 Do the Right Thing (1989)

Many things make Do the Right Thing worth watching right now, but here are the top two.

First of all it’s a great imaginary time capsule to the late 80s – early 90s hiphop influenced lifestyle of a one neighbourhood in the big apple, delivered through caricatures of characters in a visually rich way that reminds me of cartoony music videos and artists like De La Soul.

Secondly, despite being a sign of its time, Do the Right Thing is just as topical right now as it was 31 years ago. The scene of police attacking Radio Raheem feels chilling and very topical due to the huge black lives matter movement and riots this year following the killing of George Floyd.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 87%

#1307 Polyester (1981)

Divine (Harris Glenn Milstead), one of 80s most famous drag acts plays an overweight housewife married to a pig of a man, gets tortured by every member of her family, and then her life gets worse, and worse and worse and worse .. until the the end credits roll.

Everything in the movie is targeted to be kitsch, which it pulls off, especially visually. Equally kitsch is the inclusion of Odorama, a card included in the theatrical showings of the movie that people get prompted to scratch and smell to get different smells to match with what’s seen on the screen.

Similarly to the Lust in the Dust – another comedy starring Divine – the humour in Polyester completely escapes me, although here I can see and kind of appreciate what they were trying to achieve with the approach. While I usually appreciate weirdness and trash in a movie, I still expect it to evoke some kind of feeling, be it repulsion, curiosity, joy or sadness.

Polyester did none of this for me.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 27%

#1306 Sitting Ducks (1980)

There’s an aspect to the story telling in Sitting Ducks that works and another one that lacks a bit. What works is the improvisation of the dialogue between the characters, something very typical for Henry Jaglom’s films.

Where Sitting Ducks falls short is the plot that is just plain silly, and frankly, I expected much more out of the ’big surprise’ in the act 3.

Zack Norman and Michael Emil make for a good anti-heroes in the lead roles, with surprising traits to them, not least of which being having the appearance of a middle aged losers while being pretty ripped (for the time) as they strip to show off their physique at the hotel pool.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 55%

#1305 Bronco Billy (1980)

Bronco Billy is in many ways very similar to Clint Eastwood’s other films of the era, like Every Which Way but Loose or Any Which Way You Can in depicting himself as an everyday dude who road trips around and gets into occasional classes with the locals, or the authorities.

Made purely to entertain, the plot itself feels secondary in Bronco Billy, and the movie mostly concentrates on showcasing Eastwood and his captivating screen presence. Compared to some other films he’s made at the time, what makes Bronco Billy interesting is the way that Eastwood reveals personal flaws in the main character, depicting him as the despotic leader of the western show, but also subjects him to some humiliating encounters with the local law.

For anyone viewing it for the first time, Bronco Billy Makes for a very easy movie to watch, but is less likely to leave any lasting impression.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 61%

#1304 Vice Academy (1989)

Rick Sloane’s Vice Academy series (they go all the way up to part 6, released in 2008) derives its basic setup from the Police Academy series by changing the interesting set of various odd-ball characters with curvy ladies who aren’t afraid to reveal their mammaries in order to catch the criminals.

I honestly liked the start of the movie as it reminded me of the Police Academy movies, but as soon as the girls leave the academy to do the undercover work, the movie turns kind of stale. Maybe Sloane should have gone all the way in copying more directly and not experimenting with his writing.

The overall mood of Vice Academy is good, Linnea Quigley is likeable as always and visually the movie does fare well for a comedy of its era. Only if the writing was more snappier, Vice Academy could have stood a chance to become an actually recommendable comedy to watch.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 59%

#1303 Wacko (1982)

A part of a sub genre called crazy comedy (at least here in northern Europe) Wacko features the same kind of comedy seen in ZAZ and Mel Brooks’ movies – meaning it’s full of visual gags and an endless stream of humour is derived from pretty much everything that can be parodized.

It’s a difficult area of comedy to master, and the script here just isn’t snappy enough to make Wacko a laugh riot.

Sure, few of the jokes find their target in this horror movie sport, but more than often the humour just completely misses its mark for me.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 42%

#1302 True Stories (1986)

Directed and acting as the narrator of the movie, David Byrne of Talking Heads surprised me positively with True Stories and his knack for story telling.

The musical bits were the least favorite bits of the movie for me and I found them really distracting filler kind of material in an otherwise extremely interesting concept.

John Goodman is totally lovable in his role of a kind hearted bachelor looking for love with real intention, and his well built up performance in the local talent show towards the end had me on the edge of the seat, which to me was a totally rare experience for me, and another proof of Byrne’s story telling chops.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 90%

#1301 The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood aka Hollywood Blue (1980)

The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood is a soulless production that makes an endless list of disappointing design choices, starting from assuming the viewer has any knowledge of the Happy Hooker character first seen in the 1975 movie of the same name.

The movie tries to sell itself as a raunchy sexploitation comedy with a promise to see a few glimpses of mammaries, but really, you would be better off obtaining any of the porn movies of the era with a plot if humour and naked skin is what you’re after.

Adam West (of the campy 60s Batman fame) can be seen suffering in one of the lead roles, contemplating on the number of bad career moves that ended him with this movie.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 0%

#1300 Society (1989)

It’s hard to write anything about Society without spoiling it for those who are yet to see it.

All I can reveal about the plot without giving too much away is that a high society teen begins to notice some oddities in people around him that then turn out even more odd, and more, and more .. and more.

Society is more of an experience than a movie, but as such it is totally a riot, only held back with some scenes that feel unnecessarily elongated. If you are a fan of home video classics such as Bad Taste, The Blob, Basket Case, Brain Damage or The Evil Dead, you will be very much at home with Society.

80s-o-meter: 96%

Total: 92%

#1299 Zoot Suit (1981)

Zoot Suit is the lavish and showy outfit with high-waist, wide-legged trousers and a ridilously long coat with wide, padded shoulders, coupled with a overlong watch chain dangling below the knee, and worn mostly by the youngsters of African-American, Latino, Italian American, and Filipino descent in the 1940s. What makes Zoot Suit interesting is its rebellious statement of self expression and the showiness of it by using excessive amount of materials, making them a luxury items and the way to show the neighbourhood (and the ladies) how much of a cool cat you were.

This is where the interesting part of Zoot Suit ends. The movie itself is an adaptation of a 1979 musical of the same name with possibly the worst music I’ve heard and the movie itself is shot with theatrical setting as if it was a play, likely to underline the fairy tale like nature of the movie, but to me it just did not work, give a take a few scenes. What worked though was the narrator and the ’Zoot Suit Spirit’ played by Edward James Olmos.

Like most of the musicals, Zoot Suit has a limited, but die hard fan base that rates it up there with the actual musical timeless classics.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 18%