#1585 Halloween 2021: The Aftermath aka Zombie Aftermath (1982)

I’ve been somewhat in the know about the cult status of The Aftermath, but 30 minutes in to the movie I did not understand quite why; it’s pretty shoddy, but not quite bad enough to entertain, and visually it’s more close to movies you’d see towards the early 70s – including its beginning, lifted straight out of the original Planet of the Apes. Also the way the camera was operated and framed seemed to be a bit off all times.

It was only after digging to the internet for more information that I learned how the whole movie is a brainchild of the movie’s lead Steve Barkett, who also wrote, directed and edited the movie. Considering how much harder all this was not only to finance, but to pull off technically, my hat is off to Barkett. Overall, well done – the movie looks better than many bigger budget movies of the 1978.

You read it right. The movie was actually shot originally in 1978, but it took Barkett four years to shoot additional footage and to get the movie released. Released in the UK as Zombie Aftermath, the movie does not actually contain any zombies, and is very slim in the scary department as well, falling more closely to dystopian action movie category, rather than horror.

80s-o-meter: 28%

Total: 45%

#1554 The Escape Artist (1982)

Here’s something I always look forward to when watching these 80s movies: to find a relatively unknown gem of a movie. The Escape Artist tells the story of a son of a famous escape artist who wants to follow his late father’s steps, while also learning what really happened to him.

Griffin O’Neal (the son of Ryan O’Neal) plays the young illusionist thrown in the adult world so convincingly that it was astounding to find out he wasn’t hired based on his magician skills, but only learned the basics for the movie. Griffin is a natural on the silver screen and no doubt ramps up an already decent movie quite a bit, and I was therefore saddened to learn about his troublesome life ever since as it seems to me we lost quite a great skill here. Raul Julia makes for one of his best characters as the slick son of the mayor who form a duo with the young magician, constantly trying to outwit one another.

The Escape Artist is – well, magical – coming of age movie of one exceptional young man on an exceptional journey, relying on his exceptional skills and wit.

Much recommended.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 91%

#1535 Best Friends (1982)

Since the first time I’ve seen this poster, it has been amusing me to no end to how Goldie Hawn looks just dying inside having been forced to nibble Burt Reynolds’ ear.

In real life they were apparently friends though, and Best Friends was a passion project for them that they wanted to do at some point. This is a romantic comedy of a couple that despite the mutual love get hesitantly married in a modest, small chapel, go see the relatives, get fed up with them and finally with each other and split up.

Best Friends is a pretty tame comedy with no laugh out loud moments, and the theme of suffocating relatives has been executed in a better way in many other films, all of which Meet the Parents (2000) being probably the most well known one.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 43%

#1520 Partners (1982)

When I first learned about Partners, a comedy about two cops – one straight, one gay – going undercover to a gay community as a couple to solve a mysterious chain of murders, I could not but to cringe. I’ve witnessed on numerous occasions how gays have been portrayed in the 80s and 90s comedies, and it’s generally not pretty.

Partners isn’t devoid of these stereotypes, but in general it’s quite kind with its approach, poking an equal amount of fun of the projudice of the society was well as the inept police force and his womanising partner.

In the end Partners makes for a refreshingly different and charming buddy cop movie that earns my recommendations, but people that are easily offended of stereotypes should probably steer clear

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 83%

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#1502 The Soldier (1982)

First of all I have to say that the vast success of 60s-80s Bond movies almost completely escapes me, so my love for movies taking creative notes from them will be quite limited.

But when The Soldier is not blindly mimicking Bond, it actually has a few quite snappy moments going for it.

When watching The Soldier you have to take it in the right way: watch it as a top-notch spy thriller and you will be likely disappointed. But frame it as a worn out, soft covered VHS tape you discovered at the end of a local gas station’s rental rack and you will likely get a much better mileage out of it.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 60%

#1490 Smithereens (1982)

Smithereens is a low budget in the production depicting a young girl in the early 80s New York punk scene who’s determined she is destined for greatness, despite lacking any talent to make it.

Instead, she tries to hang around local small time music celebrities and makes one bad choice after another that cost her her apartment, friends and generally always seem to take her further away from recognitions she’s after.

I found the movie slow and mostly uninteresting to watch, but it did stick with me later on, thanks to its sincerity, and quite original plot – so, not a total stinker.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 52%

#1482 Making Love (1982)

Sometimes watching a movie without reading the covers can be beneficial. Judging by its name, with Making Love I expected to get a typical daring early 80s, post sexual revolution romantic drama with painful emphasis on the constant love making, but what I got instead is a study into one married man’s journey to coming into realisation of his homosexuality.

Most of the movie and the drama in it is still very relevant, even though the movie is almost 40 years old. The way that the movie portrays the love of the two leads is particularly beautiful, and the moment of them having to let go of each other is truly heart breaking.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 75%

#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%