#1685 Halloween 2022: The Final Conflict aka Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)

A sequel to the two earlier Omen movies, released in 1976 and 1978 respectively, Omen III: The Final Conflict picks up the story when Damien, the satanic child, has now grown up and has gotten highly successful as a politician. It’s behind this facade that he works in shadows, running his own cult, eliminating those who stand in his way, attempting to find and kill a reborn Jesus baby, all while while trying to dodge the attacks of monk brotherhood trying to kill him using a set of sacred daggers.

The movie kicks off in a quite graphic and effective way with a scene of a politician resigning to make way for Damien to become the new American ambassador in UK. But it’s after this that movie defaults to quite average and uninspired depiction of good vs bad with a bits of bible as well as occultism thrown into the mix and does not grow nearly as menacing or intimidating that I’d hoped for.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 61%

#1666 Endless Love (1981)

Endless Love is one of those movies that you learn to appreciate much more after you realise it’s a pure work of fiction not even meant to resemble anything that might take place in real life.

It’s after this realisation that you might find yourself enjoying the movie, like myself. In fact the whole concept of a love story gone horribly wrong is a really interesting one, and one that I can’t find any resemblance from the movies I’ve seen.

It’s only the weak, open ended ending that felt to me keeping this movie from greatness; after creating such a bold plot twists I hoped the movie makers had the guts to ride the wave all the way to the ending.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 76%

#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%

#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%

#1626 Buddy Buddy (1981)

Whenever there’s a movie starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in a same movie, you know you’re in for a treat.

Buddy Buddy is in its cinematic style very 60s, but in a beautiful, and somehow comforting way; it’s like meeting an old friend, although you’re pretty sure you’ve never met before. It is also something of a testament to the extraordinary chemistry between Matthau and Lemmon: while there’s nothing exceptional about the movie and its script, its the seasoned actors that make the movie exceptional. With other actors in place Buddy Buddy wouldn’t have been much of a movie.

Even the fact that Matthau does not for a second pass for a vicious professional assassin does not take the fun out of the movie: you still want to go with the flow and accept it all – just to have these two fine gentlemen entertain you for the next 90 minutes.

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 78%

#1615 Soggy Bottom, U.S.A. (1981)

Soggy Bottom, U.S.A. manages to encompass pretty much everything I loathe about a movie: it takes all the lowest common denominators (swamp people are yokels but honest, city slickers are posh but deceptive), and does it all in as predictable and condescending way a Hollywood movie can.

Not only that, but the movie also manages to waste the time of actors like Anthony James and Brion James that could have been more useful in pretty much any other film imaginable.

Despite all this I was going to give the movie a fair trial, but in the end did not have any other options than to deduct ten points for every time the movie tries to pass a rotten fart of a dog as an actual humour.

I counted two occasions.

80s-o-meter: 25%

Total: 2%

#1587 Halloween 2021: Jaws of Satan aka King Cobra (1981)

Let’s start off with a piece of trivia: this movie was at first called King Cobra, but later changed to Jaws of Satan in an attempt to try and piggyback on the Jaws movie series’ success.

In the movie Satan has taken the form of a snake, and after a small killing spree starts tormenting Father Tom. In other words, this is one of those scary movies that relies leans heavily on the religious, supernatural themes.

There isn’t much good to be said about the movie itself as it’s really quite uninspired, other than that Fritz Weaver does a performs well as the flawed man of spirit. The fans of Christina Applegate might be also interesting to her debuting in the movie.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 33%

#1573 Halloween 2021: Bloody Birthday aka Hide and Go Kill (1981)

First movie of this Halloween with them creepy kids, Bloody Birthday presents us the concept of three kids being born during an evil solar eclipse that plants a seed if evil in them that activates ten years later, effectively turning them into little psychopaths who plot to act sweet and kill everybody in their path.

The concept works and all three actually make for pretty credible killers that seem to ooze evil, especially the sweet little Elizabeth Hoy in the role of Debbie. Typical shortcomings of slashers plague Bloody Birthday as well but I did like the way the kids weren’t staged as your typical unerring evil masterminds: they work their little brains to no end trying to find out how to kill people, often failing miserably.

Bloody Birthday should not be mixed up with Happy Birthday To Me, another similarly named (but very different) slasher from 1981.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 60%

#1568 Halloween 2021: Night Warning aka The Evil Protege aka Thrilled to Death aka Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1981)

Halloween 2021 kicks off with a movie with an awful lot of alternative titles, one worse and more confusing than another.

Much to my surprise Night Warning is actually one of the better horror thrillers that starts well, and antes up multiple times towards the end, eventually getting pretty weird and downright sick. Other than that, it’s hard to describe the movie more closely without giving something away.

Susan Tyrrell is a perfect fit for the weird ant, and Bo Svenson’s role as a ridiculously hard boiled detective is written smartly to play it away from the typical clichés; I for one did not see the ending turning out as it did. I also found the young Jimmy McNichol previously unknown to me due to his short-lived acting career a surprisingly radiant lead, with the boyish charm not unlike that of one Matthew Broderick.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 82%

#1531 Porky’s (1981)

A Canadian sex comedy about 1950s High School teenagers was a huge success upon its 1981 release – and interestingly perhaps more American than many of its similar USA releases.

Most of the elements typical to the sub genre are there, and don’t provide much more than what you’ve used to with other similar titles of the era. But where Porky’s gets interesting is when the boys travel across the border to a strip club owned by Porky (aptly named Porky’s), get conned, humiliated and driven out of the state. The plotting and eventual revenge against this tub of lard is by far the best aspect of the movie, making it interesting to watch until the end. Chuck Mitchell really makes on despicable antagonist here!

Porky’s would go on to spawn two sequels, Porky’s II: The Next Day and Porky’s Revenge, released in 1983 and 1985, respectively.

80s-o-meter: 51%

Total: 60%

#1530 Chu Chu and the Philly Flash (1981)

There is one good scene in Chu Chu and the Philly Flash that almost redeems it from its other shortcomings. It’s when the characters finally drop their masks and share the unfortunate life events that landed them where they are now; at the very end of the food chain. Their falling in love is perfectly clumsy and awkward – and perfectly in character.

The rest of the movie does not reach the same standards. Mostly shot in cheap looking studio set the silly story with silly goons going after a silly MacGuffin of a secret government plan.

Alan Arkin is always a pleasure to behold on the silver screen and the hobo character he creates here feels many ways more substantial and complex than the movie itself.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 58%

#1509 Raggedy Man (1981)

Raggedy Man almost feels like three movies blended into one. First of all you have a story of a single mother (Sissy Spacek) caught in a dead end job as a switchboard operator in a small rural town. Secondly there is a movie about a sailor (Eric Roberts) on a four-day furlough passing through the town, who grabs onto the chance of some day having a family of his own. And thirdly there is the thriller about times for Luke, the gossipy, sometimes violent bunch of people amongst whom is a mysterious old man everyone calls just a Raggedy Man, keeping mostly to himself.

The good news is that every single one of these stories is an interesting one, backed up with smart screen riding and skilled acting, and it was especially the story of the young soldier that stayed with me long after the end credits had rolled: what ever become of him? Did he ever find happiness, or a family of his own?

Such is the power of a good movie that I ended up caring for this totally fictive person.

80s-o-meter: 41%

Total: 85%

#1466 Stark Raving Mad aka Murder Run aka Rockaday Ritchie aka Execution (1981)

Another late 80s drawn to look cool to hide the fact that the movie itself is almost one decade old and made with a small budget, Stark Raving Mad is one of the movies I always thought to be a cult classic, but isn’t. The probable reason for this is the classic Simpsons episode from the season 3 (1991) that had a similar word play, Stark Raving Dad – but the two aren’t connected in any way.

Stark Raving Mad is an exploitation movie done in the vein of Bonnie and Clyde of a 19-year old greaser who starts dating a 14-year old and they end up starting a crime/murder spree. The official blurb of the movie states the following: while awaiting execution, a convicted serial killer relates the story of the circumstances that led to his present situation – but this kind of prologue was missing on my DVD copy. There is however a final sentencing closure present.

There isn’t much info nor reviews available for the film online, so it can be considered an actual movie lost in time. Plot and production wise it’s a pretty inept movie, but not a complete stinker. Knowing the downward spiral will end unfortunately for the duo, watching the proverbial noose tighten around them still makes for an interesting if not thrilling experience.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 52%

#1397 Halloween 2020: Galaxy of Terror aka Mindwarp: An Infinity of Terror (1981)

The vast success of the Star Wars opened floodgates for all sorts of space adventures in the early 80s, but with only a few exceptions they’re not much to look at. Galaxy of Terror is one of those exceptions that manage to stand out, thanks to fresh art direction by young James Cameron and atmospheric cinematography by Jacques Haitkin that make the movie look quite a bit better than the movie’s relatively modest budget would suggest.

The concept of the movie is a bit too high-flying to my preference and it fails to convey its idea as intented – the idea comes across and it’s interesting .. but it does not exactly blow one’s mind. A more straight forward story of space paranoia, mistrust and alien presence could have worked better here.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 80%

#1392 Halloween 2020: Don’t Go in the Woods (1981)

Don’t Go in the Woods is often dubbed the worst slasher of all times, which is a mouthful; I’ve seen worse slashers even this very Halloween. At least this one has some unintentional humor in it to make it a bit more interesting.

You know the drill; teens wander around in wilderness, have sex, get killed, nothing extraordinary here. The sleeping bag scene was actually a stroke of genius from someone, and the panic in that scene is very relatable and tangible, so there .. the movie actually does one better than most of the slasher trash.

The ending on the other hand is almost adorable in its clumsiness, and that alone warrants watching Don’t Go in the Woods .. if you really have to watch one slasher this year.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 27%

#1370 Halloween 2020: Fear No Evil aka Mark of the Beast (1981)

Remember that class weirdo that never spoke to anyone and was just concentrated on some eccentric hobby of his and kept to himself for the most of the time. In Fear No Evil, that guy turns out to be the reincarnation of Lucifer, who then releases his wrath by raising a group of dead from their graves to attack a Passion Play organised by the local church.

Although the plot is nothing get excited about, the actual problems with Fear No Evil are to do more in the overall execution. I can see the concept working with more of an over the top execution with tons of humour thrown into the mix, similarly to The Return of the Living Dead, but with the dry and dodgy approach seen here, Fear No Evil ends up one of the bigger disappointments of this particular Halloween.

80s-o-meter: 35%

Total: 22%

#1355 Force: Five (1981)

Force: Five is one of those early 80s action movies that you should pick up on VHS. I watched the movie from a pristine bluray copy and the movie seems to have lost a little something in translation.

I guess this goes with all of the ninja type of movies, although Force: Five technically isn’t one. Led by the legendary kickboxer Joe Lewis, the movie follows a oddball martial arts special force put together to get rid of a religious cult involved in shady business in a faraway island.

I did not fall in love with the movie, but it did get into that cozy feeling of picturing myself finding this movie on a dodgy rental tape sometime in the 80s – and having a not too bad movie night with it.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 62%

#1350 Fort Apache the Bronx (1981)

New York of the early 80s was a hostile place with crime and deaths on the rise year after another, homicides peaking at 2000s at worst – and Bronx had a notorious reputation even for New Yorkers.

Fort Apache the Bronx follows the everyday life of two cops, one veteran and and his younger partner in one particularly colorful precinct in Bronx. Officer Murphy – played by Paul Newman – is disillusioned and nihilistic on the surface, but always shows a great sense of discretion and ingenuity when defusing situations, with a confidence that only having a good understanding of (and affection for) the community for many years can bring.

Fans of Paul Newman will be at home with the movie as Fort Apache the Bronx showcases Newman at his very peak. The way the movie shows the life of a cop in a realistic fashion was new and fresh at the time (and it still holds up surprisingly well), but the 70s heritage of cinema is strong with the movie – especially in the way its actions scenes are shot.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 70%

#1342 Eyewitness aka The Janitor (1981)

Very interesting cast of super talented William Hurt, gorgeous Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Plummer, James Woods and Morgan Freeman star in little known early 80s murder thriller Eyewitness that was originally planned for release as The Janitor, but after lousy initial box office feedback the name was changed.

I’ve always mixed up this movie with the 1987 Broadcast News – William Hurt’s other movie involving TV reporters – and Eyewitness turned out to be completely different from what I was expecting – both in good and in bad.

The plotline has far too many coincidences to make it really believable, and Hurt’s poetic janitor character also seems quite far fetched and theatrical choice. The movie is quite watchable though and the end showdown is both thrilling and uniquely something I can’t remember seeing before.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 70%

#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%