#1468 The Concrete Jungle (1982)

I definitely was not looking forward to seeing The Concrete Jungle after suffering through various similar prison exploitation movies.

Luckily The Concrete Jungle manages to surpass most of similar women’s prison exploitation movies by staying low in exploitation and putting more emphasis on the script. Make no mistake about it still, the movie prison world is very much there; the prisoners are well groomed, look like models, sleep in their pyjamas in a dorm and get into cat fights.

But, there is an actual plot and the movie manages to generate empathy towards the main character thrown in the slammer for protecting her drug trafficking boyfriend. Tracey E. Bregman performs well in her role as Liz and overall the movie looks much more fresh than its release year would suggest, and the 70s style movie poster does not represent the look and feel of the movie at all.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 62%

#1459 One from the Heart (1982)

A well known misstep in the career of Francis Ford Coppola, One from the Heart – a drama, romance and a musical – does not work on a paper, much less as a movie.

While the initial conflict between the leads in relatable, even interesting, everything that follows is implausible and very unrelatable, and it’s especially the ending that feels very unfulfilling. Some of the choreography is nice, and songs by Tom Waits are nice, but wasted with the movie.

What works though is the whole Las Vegas set including downtown, street view and a desert scene meticulously build inside a studio, and helps to create that surreal, movie like look and feel that I love.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 51%

#1457 Kill Squad (1982)

An action b-movie, Kill Squad presents us with a motley crew of Vietnam vets who get together to revenge the murdering and raping the wife of their former platoon leader.

This is one of those movies where every encounter with even the car salesmen turns out as a martial arts fight with all of the clichés that go with the genre – including those over the top whack, yap and ki-yah sound effects!

The movie rinses and repeats the same scenario of a fist fight ending up with a sniper doing away one of the squad members over and over again, and there’s only little charm to it after the third time. Still, the concept is something I’ve never seen before and there’s certainly something enchanting about the whole movie that raises it above similar brawler movies.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 70%

#1437 Sorceress (1982)

Anyone reading the blog will know I’m not too big on the sword & sorcery genre as I find the movies not only utter nonsense, but also pompous and extremely cringe inducing.

Sorceress definitely has all the warning marks of a stupid fantasy movie written all over it, and to for a period of time most of my low expectations were met. A story about two fighter sisters, wizards and other mythical creatures is plagued with bad effects and other disappointing choices, and it was especially the badly masqueraded faun that really rubbed me the wrong way.

But it was towards the end of the film as the fighting started that Sorceress redeemed itself in an unexpected way: the movie has a very strong video game look and feel to it, and I’m willing to bet that it served as an archetype for a number of 80s video games, and despite the overall clumsiness I did find myself entertained in the final boss fight. Some good looking shots there as well!

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 62%

#1425 Penitentiary II (1982)

Another collection of bad design choices, Penitentiary II is a followup to the 1979 blaxploitation movie, both directed by Jamaa Fanaka and starring Leon Isaac Kennedy.

The plot is a mess that makes only little sense as it tries so provide the main character Martel ”Too Sweet” Gordone a motivation to get to the fighting ring. Martel trains for awhile, gets into the ring with some old hack, gets defeated and thus becomes the sensation of the nation everyone roots for. He then goes on to participate in a few fights, which are often cut to a gambling midget trying to get on with some hookers.

The plot makes as much sense as having Mr.T in the movie and reducing his role to a mere trainer that gets very little screen time although he possesses ten times the magnetism compared to the weak screen presence of the Kennedy in the lead role.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 2%

#1416 Human Highway (1982)

I like my movies weird, but weirdness is a bit like scifi in movies; if it’s done right, I love it, and if not it can be truly painful to watch. And much more often, it isn’t.

Enter Human Highway, a co-op between Dean Stockwell and Neil Young, with Devo (the band) playing a few parts, and performing a few songs. This movie depicting a defunct diner with its defunct staff, located near a leaking nuclear plant is wonderfully quirky one for the most parts, but it should’ve really relied on solid base story it already established. Now Human Highway starts venturing into music video like dream sequences that feel totally out of place and frankly, aren’t very good at all.

For me, Human Highway turned out a total surprise – and mostly positive one at that.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 81%

#1408 Halloween 2020: The House on Sorority Row aka House of Evil (1982)

Widely dubbed as ”one of the better slashers” out there, The House on Sorority Row follows a pack of sorority girls who clash with their sorority house mother over arranging a party and end up killing her by accident. The party does go on as planned, but guests start to go missing one by one in a true slasher fashion.

I applaud the team in taking a bit different approach with the movie – and they do manage to make it more memorable – but even with a few high points, The House on Sorority Row is ultimately just a thriller, with the negative aspects that come with the genre, and the disappointing ending does very little to help its case.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 60%

#1372 Halloween 2020: Madman (1982)

Another permutation of the Halloween / Friday the 13th style teenagers in the wilderness slasher, Madman boasts one of the ugliest posters around (there’s another, even a more horrid version available) but surprises positively, thanks to very, very low expectations.

Instead of opting for super imaginative kills often seen in the genre, Madman hits the nail on the head with its eery scares that are made scarier by being able to relate to them. I mean, who of us has never stood in a pitch black forest, lighting the bushes nearby with a flashlight, and really hoped you won’t reveal someone or something looking right back at you? This is what separates Madman from slashers, all of which I don’t even pass for horror.

The movie resembles me of the 1987 horror movie Slaughterhouse both with its rural theme and its antagonist, but fails to leave a similar lasting impression. Still, pretty good for a braindead slasher.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 62%

#1368 Halloween 2020: Alone in the Dark (1982)

Although the two are not related, Alone in the Dark as a title has always had a special meaning to me thanks to Infogrames’ 1992 PC horror game and I only later learned a movie of the same name exists and it has bit of a cult following as well.

The movie follows the path set by many contemporary slashers, but instead of recreating the tired plot of horny teenagers in the wood, hunted by a super human immune to any weapon, Alone in the Dark throws into the mix a few more seasoned actors (Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Donald Pleasence), four mental patients escaping from an asylum and the occupants of one house that actually try to put up a decent fight against them, instead of running around like a bunch of headless chicken.

Alone in the Dark is a unique, breath of a fresh air for the people who enjoy their slashers, but have seen far too many to really enjoy them.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 60%

#1356 Endangered Species (1982)

Funny how some things blend into one in your memory when you don’t put your thoughts on a paper right after seeing a movie. I watched Endangered Species about two weeks ago along with The Return and they’ve turned into one and the same movie in my head.

But I’m not completely to be blamed here as the similarities are many: both movies have a supernatural theme, take place in a small distant town and feature a liaison between a stranger coming to the town and a local law enforcement officer, with one of them battling alcoholism.

I can’t see myself watching either one again, but for the future reference, Endangered Species is the stronger one of the two, with a more solid and interesting story about government cover ups. But unlike The Return that went far too much into the supernatural, Endangered Species left me wishing it would’ve leaned even more to huge conspiration theories that its premise is built upon. Now it manages to build up the story and whet my appetite, but does not provide the big payback I so craved for in the end.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 67%

#1347 I Ought to Be in Pictures (1982)

The playwright Neil Simon churned out mediocre scripts through the seventies and the eighties in a breathtaking pace – so much that his name became something of a brand that was printed in a poster right before the title of the movie. I can’t but to wonder the producers’ urge to jump into making filmatised versions out of these plays since, well .. they’re just not particularly good movie material.

True to his style of writing plays about people involved in show business – producers, actors, authors – I Ought to Be in Pictures is also about people of the Hollywood. I’m guessing the charm of revealing the banal side of entertainment business for us the common people was there back in the 80s, but from today’s point of view that charm train has left the station.

I Ought to Be in Pictures is an extremely tedious movie to watch and seems to drag on and on and on without getting anywhere. The characters are unappealing (and, somewhat annoying), and regularly written in situations or mood swings that seem more forced than natural. The dialogue and the way the actors deliver it tries to be always cute, but never actually ends up clever or snappy enough to be delightful, making the movie extra laborious to watch.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 6%

#1323 Vigilante (1982)

Something of a cult classic, Vigilante is one of the most liked .. well .. vigilante movies out there that were popular after the success of Bronson’s Death Wish series.

For me the style of the movie was far too 70s and although there are some good action scenes and car chases done in that very 70s style, the movie feels like same old revenge formula without inventing nothing really new and fresh.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 38%

#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%

#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%

#1247 The Entity (1982)

Based on the story of a Californian woman claiming to having been raped repeatedly by an invisible force, The Entity makes its duty to tell the whole nonsensical story in detail.

While I don’t mind supernatural, the story here is a bit too much to take in, which is a shame since the production quality and acting is not half bad. The movie is also far too long at 125 minutes for a story that doesn’t have enough elements to fill even 30 minutes and the movie ends up just consisting of all too many similar scenes of the force entering the house to violate its victim.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 31%

#1220 Six Pack (1982)

Six Pack is pretty useless little family comedy of a pack of orphans who also happen to be technical wizards what it comes to them cars.

They hook up with Brewster Baker (Kenny Rogers) and start competing against Brewster’s nemesis in various races. After the kids is a crooked sheriff who is trying to make some money on the side selling stolen car parts.

There’s two things in Six Pack that are somewhat interesting. First of all, it’s the only theatrical movie to date starring Kenny Rogers (I had to check – it was hard to believe due to the massive amount of made for TV movies he’s starred in) and secondly, it marks the movie debut for Anthony Michael Hall, playing the wizzest of the wiz kids.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 38%

#1215 Missing (1982)

Missing is a movie about a daring subject: the disappearance of an American journalist after a violent US-backed military coup in Chile and the cover-up that took place afterwards.

Too bad the execution of the the movie is nowhere as interesting as the subject itself; most of the films running time is spent with the father not really grasping the situation, when the gravity of the events has been clear to the audience a long time ago. Also, to me the movie lacked actual context of where (Chile as a location is never mentioned in the movie) the events took place and why and how did they unravel the way they did.

The message of the movie (and its original book) still remains strong and is a good reminder to us small people of the collateral damage approach many countries have driving their foreign policy.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 61%

#1195 They Call Me Bruce (1982)

The quite hacky They Call Me Bruce deals with a clueless oriental cook getting constantly mistaken for a martial arts master – and never bothers to clear up the mix-up.

The joke that plays on the stereotypical portrayal with asians is funny, but nowhere strong enough to carry through a full length feature film. The remaining of the movie is less inventive, with most of the humour derived from our antihero misunderstanding your basic English proverbs.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 37%

#1194 The Border (1982)

One of the rare misses for Jack Nicholson that didn’t gather nominations nor become a box office success, The Border is far from a failure as a movie.

in fact, it’s one of the most interesting looks into the situation at the U.S – Mexico border, picturing the very different everyday struggle that takes place on each side. Nicholson plays to a perfection the role of a border control agent trying to make the ends meet while struggling to hang onto his integrity, making it in my books one of the more memorable roles of the era.

The Border ended up being much, much more enjoyable movie than I anticipated and it is kept from greatness only by its 70s style sudden death ending that cuts the potentially gratifying final events much too short, leaving some vital questions unsatisfyingly unanswered.

80s-o-meter: 63%

Total: 78%

#1192 Author! Author! (1982)

Al Pacino’s winning streak that started in the 70s continued to the early 80s.

Author! Author! is Pacino’s lesser known work between Cruising and Scarface, but turned out to be a positive surprise. It’s a drama of a playwright going through a divorce process, but there are no manipulative tearjerker elements here – nobody gets sick or dies – and the movie draws its strength from everyday elements of a broken family trying to get from a day to another.

What seemed on a superficial level yet another pretentious early 80s romantic comedy with forced dramatic elements turned out to be one of the most moving depictions of changing modern family dynamics.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 72%