#1084 Savannah Smiles (1982)

I can think of thousands of ways Savannah Smiles could’ve gone very wrong; a tale of two criminals in a run after a jailbreak inadvertently kidnapping a young girl is a delicate subject even for 1982, and a theme that would never go through the executives these days.

What happens afterwards is of course foreseeable. The young girl touches the hearts of the fugitives who let their shields down for the first time and grow attached to her. And Savannah in return finds love and comfort she lacked back home.

What makes this movie tick is the heartfelt change the leads Mark Miller and Donovan Scott manage to convey, as well as the the apparent love that Miller – who also wrote the manuscript – had for the subject.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 65%

#1072 Jekyll and Hyde… Together Again (1982)

There are movies that I look forward to watching at some point, and then there are the ones that I just have to get over with. Jekyll and Hyde… Together Again is definitely of the latter variety: I could tell already from the poster that this is going to be one of those stuffy early 80s comedies with the roots firmly in the mid-70s, and a quick glance through the chapters confirmed that I wasn’t in for a treat.

Much to my surprise the first 20 minutes of the movie aren’t that bad at all, and there are some genuinely funny visual gags here. It’s when the transformation to the sex crazy Hyde happens that the movie goes completely to the shitter.

I loathed the movie and its design choices. The chance of a possibly passable crazy comedy is ruined by an annoying lead character and on top of it all the movie manages to completely waste the talent of Tim Thomerson.

80s-o-meter: 32%

Total: 3%

#1071 Hanky Panky (1982)

Hanky Panky plays it safe.

Far too safe, in fact: It gives us the basic story of a man wrongly accused of a murder that soon finds himself tangled in an international espionage ploy.

It really feels like a rehash since Gene Wilder’s previous comedy Stir Crazy already presented us with a similar plot. There are some funny aspects here, like Wilder foolishly trying to outwit the powers that be, but otherwise Hanky Panky ends up pretty eventless, predictable and bland adventure comedy.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 43%

#1023 Jinxed! (1982)

For a movie about gambling, Jinxed really truly pulls a great sleight of hand. With its story of a boorish, womanising gambler going after one specific blackjack dealer who he thinks is jinxed, the movie really seems to have an interesting and unique little comedic story in its hands.

But as the we reach the end of the act one, the movie really goes down the shitter and an interesting story that was being developed all along is changed to something of a cannonball run where the woman lead played by Bette Midler goes for a hunt after heritage left behind by his late husband. Nothing in the movie really works from hereon.

Midler does his comedic work in a satisfactory way, and Ken Wahl – who later gathered fame as the lead in Wiseguy, a successful late 80s TV series – co-stars as a hunk of a casino worker, delivering one of the most wooden acting ever recorded on film, yet somehow managing to be likeable.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 41%

#1022 A Little Sex (1982)

A newly married man keeps on landing on his dick on every woman that crosses his path in A Little Sex, an early eighties sex comedy.

The theme of the movie might’d still been somewhat relatable if the main male character wasn’t written in such a dull way: He’s portrayed as this whiny, poor thing that is forced to extramarital affairs by the sex craving women, instead of taking any of the initiative himself.

There’s somewhat interesting tension built between the couple as the dude finally is caught, but even that is quickly diluted in a disappointing, uninspired romantic comedy ending.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 32%

#1015 Young Doctors in Love (1982)

A crazy comedy no doubt inspired by the iconic Airplane, Young Doctors in Love many cues from its paragon, but doesn’t really measure up to enough for any further comparison.

The usual problem with crazy comedies – making an attempt for a joke all the time and at all the cost – easily makes the plot and the events in the movie feel trivial. This is very much the case with Young Doctors in Love as well, and I noticed getting somewhat indifferent about the events and characters in the movie.

Young Doctors in Love is not a total dud, but I have this nagging feeling that the movie could’ve worked better as a more traditional comedy – with a bit less crazy in it.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 50%

#1004 Grease 2 (1982)

Grease 2, the sequel for the original 1978 runaway musical hit starring John Travolta was a critical and a box office failure. Oh boy, I thought as I pressed the play on my remote, assured I was facing a torture even worse than having to watch through the original.

Pessimism be blessed, as the experience didn’t turn out to be nearly as bad as I’d anticipated. The movie is inept – that’s given – but it all seems to have been done in a good humour with a fair amount of tongue in cheek. Grease 2 does a remarkably bad work at establishing the early 60s setting and the movie never seizes to feel like 80s kids doing a cosplay of the former era.

Personally I count this only as a definitely plus for the movie.

80s-o-meter: 41%

Total: 48%

#1002 Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1982)

Obnoxious teen with an obnoxious band goes on tour with with an english punk band with an annoying lead singer in Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, a mouthful of a movie.

On top of the unpleasant cast, the movie offers very little to like. Plot is all over the place and the smallest hopes of some human interest story are never actually followed through.

As the musical numbers are nothing to phone to home about and both the turning point the movie as well as the denouement are amongst the most inane I’ve ever had to witness, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains ends up a movie I won’t be revisiting anytime soon.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 22%

#1000 Blade Runner (1982)

The poster on the left is from the Australian release of Blade Runner. A cinematic landmark of its time, it’s also one of the main drivers why this blog came out to be in the first place.

The director Ridley Scott had already demonstrated his prowess for crafting impressive sci-fi worlds oozing with atmosphere with the 1979 Alien, but it was Blade Runner that saw his craftmanship come to full fruition. Aided by the concept artist Syd Mead, cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth and an exceptionally talented team of FX artists, Blade Runner came into form in 1982 as a movie years ahead of its time, leaving its footprint in the history as the cinematic template for the dark dystopian future.

Equally impressive is Vangelis’ haunting synth track that at times is able to paint the film’s aesthetics on an even deeper level than the moving images can. Synonymous with the movie itself, Vangelis’ Blade Runner suite sets the mood right from the very first second of the movie and continues to do so until the end credits have stopped scrolling.

Harrison Ford who was on a winning streak at the time after starring in Star Wars and Indiana Jones movie series creates another character here that is very exclusively his. In a similar fashion Rutger Hauer crafts his portrayal of a replicant on the run to such perfection that it’s hard to fathom anyone else playing the role.

Essentially a futuristic film noir, the original Domestic Cut was compromised by the studio who after showing it to a test audience changed the ending and added a very unfortunate narrative voiceover. The 1992 Director’s Cut improved on the original theatrical cut by removing the aforementioned faux pas, and the movie finally saw its ultimate form in 2007 Final Cut, still the preferred version of the movie.

Blade Runner has established its status as a classic and arguably stood the test of time still feeling fresh almost 40 years since its initial release; every viewing of the movie seems to unfold just another layer of it, serving as a somewhat bittersweet reminder of how science fiction of this caliber does not come by often.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 200%

#999 The Retrievers aka Hot and Deadly (1982)

I’m still trying to wrap my head around what the alternative poster of The Retrievers on the right is all about. It certainly does not seem to be any way related to the movie I just plowed through. Given the setup and the title, my guess is that the movie performed badly initially and was released again with a more exploitation, revenge porn sounding title and the poster to go with it.

Either way The Retrievers is a remarkably insignificant movie with equally insignificant plot line and production values. There’s a limited amount of entertainment to the dodgy kung-fu aspect where everybody in the movie seems to be some kind of a karate champion, grabbing a pair on nunchukas that happen to be handy when the fight starts, and the choreographed fights really seem out of place given the setting, mood and the outfits. And on most parts the fighting is pretty much on par with the home movies you made as a kid, throwing a few roundhouse kicks that felt just about perfect in your mind, but looked much less impressive as you later viewed them on telly.

There isn’t much info available online about the movie to be shared. The director and the writer Elliott Hong would direct another movie in the same year, a martial arts comedy called They Call Me Bruce? that would end up his best known title by a long shot.

80s-o-meter: 59%

Total: 21%

#988 The Executioner’s Song (1982)

Tommy Lee Jones stars in The Executioner’s Song, a solid made for TV movie documenting the life and ultimate death of Gary Gilmore who was executed in 1977 upon his own request.

Unlike many other crime movies, The Executioner’s Song doesn’t go out to glamourise the killer or the criminal life style and handles its subject in a way that seems semi-documentary at times. Gilmore is pictured as a complex, short-tempered man who often resorts in violence and even in the passing moments of regret he still maintains his ominous, possessive and obsessive presence.

Tommy Lee Jones makes the best out of the role, easily outperforming the movie itself.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 64%

#987 Tex (1982)

Unbeknownst to the young Tex McCormick his life is at a turning point and it’s up to the confused small town teen to figure out what to make out of his family, school, relationship, and ultimately the rest of his life.

The drama presented in Tex is subtle and believable, and Tex himself is an easy point of reference to the viewer. It’s this subtle approach that makes the drama much more impactful: We’re tightroping with him knowing that any small wrong step he takes could easily snowball out of control, leading his future life off to an awfully bad start.

The movie admittedly takes its sweet time to get going by the time that the end credits roll the movie will have you fully involved in Tex’s life. Young Matt Dillon has the natural grasp for the acting and Tex joins Drugstore Cowboy and The Outsiders as his prolific movies to date.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 85%

#986 Hammett (1982)

Directed by Wim Wenders, Hammett is a crime / mystery movie done in the style of the old film noir movies. Rest assured, this is not a neo-noir take of the genre, but a homage that really goes out its way to recreate the look and feel of the old 40s and 50s movies – only in full colour this time around.

The die hard fans of film noir will probably find something like about this recreation, but personally I really wasn’t that sold on the concept, and would’ve appreciated some sort of evolutionary step to make the concept feel less of a rehash of the oldies.

Purely as a film noir movie Hammett fares quite well, and as the mystery starts to unravel, the movie isn’t a chore at all to watch. But I was to choose a movie for a rainy Sunday, my pick would be one of the original black and white movies.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 57%

#985 The Aftermath aka Zombie Aftermath (1982)

This movie really shouldn’t even be here. Shot already in 1978, but released four years later, The Aftermath is a stale relic from the past that wouldn’t have been much of a movie in the seventies, let alone in 1982.

A group of astronauts return to earth only to find it destroyed with only hoards of zombie mutants and rogue criminals roaming around. Don’t let the VHS cover pictured here fool you as there’s nothing even remotely as cool looking to be found in the movie, and while some of the matte shots are passable, the zombies themselves are the poorest papier-mâché masked eyesore ever recorded on film.

I’m usually a sucker for post-nuclear dystopian films, but The Aftermath just offers very little to love.

80s-o-meter: 33%

Total: 16%

#972 Halloween 2018: Trick or Treats aka Don’t Prank the Babysitter! (1982)

When Halloween night stopped being fun, indeed!

Trick or Treats is yet another horror movie this year with an interesting synopsis, and a lousy execution; an innocent babysitter getting tormented by a prankster kid from hell is an original and interesting concept that would’ve surely lent itself for many interesting plot twists.

But the screenwriter and director Gary Graver never manages to evolve the idea any further, and the shtick becomes tiresome before it gets entertaining. While the kid is pranking the babysitter, a killer put inside an asylum in the beginning of the movie makes his painstakingly slow getaway from the institute to perform his killings, and the movie is pretty much over by the time he finally makes it to the site.

Oh, and don’t get fooled by David Carradine getting the top billing here. His role is minuscule and probably shot in just a few hours time.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 28%

#948 Halloween 2018: Time Walker (1982)

Time Walker has quite a many things going for to make it an enjoyable B-movie, mixing elements from black & white horror movies from the 40 and 50s, ancient Egypt, mummies, aliens, power diamonds, terrible flesh eating ooze that gains in strength and size when exposed in x-rays.

With an appetite whetting setup like this, it really a shame that the execution doesn’t match up with it all. Instead of looking into all of the interesting aspects the concept has to offer, the movie sticks to following the mummy wandering around during a campus Halloween party night and getting mixed up with masqueraded students while trying to retrieve his mysterious intergalactic diamonds he needs to phone home. After all this sidetracking is over we still don’t get to the real meat of it all in the end: Revealing the alien, figuring out who he is, where did he come from and what are his motives and so on.

On the contrary; in an obvious panic solution of not figuring out how to wrap the story up, the movie ends up with an disappointing ’To be continued’ cliffhanger.

It never was.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 52%

#882 Still of the Night (1982)

A homage to Alfred Hitchcock, Still of the Night accomplishes in what it sets out to do: There’s plenty of 50s style of suspension and atmosphere to be enjoyed here.

Faithful to the classics of the genre, the director Robert Benton skillfully leads the viewer through dark laundry hallways and abandoned houses, creating constant mistrust and tension that keeps on building up.

The movie had such a strong buildup that I was excepting a trilling plot twist towards the end. Given this the wrap-up of the movie did feel more unimaginative and unsatisfying than I’d hoped for.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 76%

#817 Forced Vengeance (1982)

There are two kinds of Chuck Norris movies that are still worth one’s time: The ones that are just genuinely good, and those that are so outrageous that they make for a top notch guilty pleasure. Forced Vengeance doesn’t really fall into either one of these categories.

Taking place in Hong Kong, Norris plays a Casino hired hand who finds himself pinned as the prime suspect in the death of his boss and sets out to find the real killer. There are many fights along the way, which Norris plays out with his usual solid craftsmanship.

Excluding one flashy silhouetted fight scene shot in front of a gigantic neon sign, Forged Vengeance is your typical early 80s Chuck Norris movie with no real high or low points, and has a very limited redeeming value to it – unless you’re a die hard Norris fan.

80s-o-meter: 62%

Total: 58%

#815 The Clairvoyant aka The Killing Hour (1982)

The high demand for thrillers and the constant competition along with the new wave of nordic thriller and the new renaissance of the TV has caused the genre coming quite a long way since the 80s, and it takes a pretty good thriller to wow someone one these days. The Clairvoyant, a somewhat insignificant entry even in the 80s scale hasn’t got what it takes to thrill the viewer.

The movie starts off strong with multiple gruesome and inventive kills involving a pair of handcuffs, suggesting there’s a serial killer on the loose. As the story shifts from the traditional detective work towards the young woman who foresees the killings by sketching them, the movie starts to lose its focus, and when the badly staged TV talk show portion is introduced, the movie just derails. Clairvoyant is not a visual treat either, having a distinctive look and feel of an dated movie – if I was to guess, I would’ve placed it to around the year 1976.

What saves the movie from being a complete train wreck is the end where the plot – as unconvincing as it is – actually comes together in a way that make sense.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 47%

#789 48 Hrs. (1982)

One of the movies that really kickstarted the 80s as we learnt to know it, 48 Hrs is an action packed buddy-cop comedy with a twist of the buddy being convict.

It’s a landmark movie for another reason as well, being the theatrical feature debut of one Eddie Murphy. Demonstrating a street smart, cheeky character he’d perfect two years later in Beverly Hills Cop, Murphy’s transition from a Saturday Night Live comedian to the silver screen is a triumph.

Equally praiseworthy is Nick Nolte’s portrayal of a cynical, drunken dog of a cop, a role that Nolte dives into head first with his raspy, deep whiskey voice. Although there’s a lot of light-hearted wise-cracking going on at most times, 48 Hrs concentrates to be an action film first – a choice that really works for the film’s benefit.

With these kind of movies speaking about any plotlines or character development is kind of besides the point, as long as the movie is entertaining. 48 Hrs is just that; a highly entertaining, unapologetic package that’s never shy on action, shootouts – nor the f-words.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 90%