#1182 Halloween 2019: The Prey (1983)

Filmed already in 1979, but released only four years later, The Prey was originally prepared for Essex Productions known for its adult movies. And it shows: there’s a notable amount of naked skin on display here even for an early 80s slasher, that are well known for their gratuitous nudity.

The story is without surprises: a gang of horny teens wander off to forest, to be crossed off one by one by a manic killer.

The Prey manages to make its attempt entertaining and the production quality and cinematography is somewhat solid, but there’s nothing in here that would set it apart from similar titles. And due to its weak antagonist you will probably want to look elsewhere if cult slashers are your thing.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 55%

#1177 Halloween 2019: Mausoleum (1983)

Girl enters a forgotten Mausoleum and becomes possessed by demon that had previously killed her mother.

The movie has a strong made for TV vibe to it and the green glowing demonic eye effect provides only unintentional humour these days.

The few gory deaths and gratuitous nudity can’t save the movie’s soap opera like execution that makes it somewhat of a snooze fest.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 38%

#1176 Halloween 2019: Frightmare (1983)

An iconic old school horror movie star passes away, but has still more than one trick up his sleeve for those that dare to violate the peace of his tomb.

And it’s soon after this that a few young fans decide to break and enter the tomb and to remove his body, with baneful consequences.

Frightmare offers a somewhat interesting twist to slashers, but never quite reaches its full potential. The 40s and 50s style of horror cinema combined with 80s aesthetics works well – including that ultra modern, almost discotheque like tomb – but as much as I sympathise with Ferdy Mayne’s portrayal of the haunting film star of the yesteryear, the character remains a much too weak antagonist to offer any real scares.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 60%

#1161 Halloween 2019: Sundown: Blood Beat (1983)

What do you do when you realise that slashers are the thing, but you still feel like you have something to give to the world of arthouse cinema?

You shoot an artsy slasher like Blood Beat, a truly weird combination of Japanese samurais, mystic possession (with some autoeroticism thrown in), abstract art, classical music by Sergei Prokofiev and Antonio Vivaldi and a story line that doesn’t make sense – nor does it bother to stop and explain itself to the viewer.

The usual shortcomings of shoestring budgeted B-movies goes with Blood Beat, most obvious of which is that the pacing is tediously slow, but I guess I have to give it some credit for trying out something a bit more unorthodox. I’d still much rather watch train wrecks like this than having to sit through yet another Friday the 13th bastardisation.

80s-o-meter: 41%

Total: 18%

#1117 Never Cry Wolf (1983)

Never Cry Wolf, based on the Farley Mowat’s controversial book of the same name marks for the first ever film for the Walt Disney Pictures label, established in 1983 to diversify film subjects and seek for broader audiences for Disney movies.

I enjoyed the vast landscapes of the subarctic Canada and the love the movie has for its canid subjects. The movie plays out pretty much as expected, so Never Cry Wolf is not about the destination, but more about enjoying the way there. The books tend to encompass these kind of personal journeys in a more intimate, thorough way, so I suspect that the original novel gives a better mileage for those really interested in the theme.

Charles Martin Smith does solid work as the lead and makes following his transformation from a city slicker into a man of the wilderness truly engaging.

80s-o-meter: 42%

Total: 61%

#1108 To Be or Not to Be (1983)

A remake of the 1942 film of the same name, To Be or Not to Be is a delightful little WWII satire.

Taking place in nazi occupied Poland, the movie follows the crew of Warsaw theater company as they put up a show of their lifetime as they try to retrieve the leaked list containing the names of the members of the Polish resistance from the clutches of the third reich. The movie pokes delightfully fun of the quirky nazi officers who like to act grand but turn into shaky poodles when confronted by persons of higher rank.

To Be or Not to Be is the most well rounded up comedy ever to come out of Mel Brooks’ film factory. It provides the trademark zany visual comedy Brooks is so well known for, but manages to couple it with some very entertaining elements of drama, thriller, human interest and musical.

80s-o-meter: 42%

Total: 90%

#1098 Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 (1983)

If the first sequel for Smokey and the Bandit didn’t need to be made, this holds especially true for Smokey and the Bandit Part 3.

Losing most of its better known stars, part 3 concentrates on pursue between Sheriff Buford T. Justice from previous iterations and The Bandit, played by the stuntman turned actor, turned director, Jerry Reed. While he can perform and direct nice stunts, the comedic attempts constantly fall short.

Chases and the stunts are better than previously, so if those are your thing you might find something to like here. For the rest of us, the final Smokey movie is just a deadweight piece of celluloid.

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 4%

#1087 Deadly Force (1983)

An exercise in mediocrity, Deadly Force is an action movie taking place in that distant fantasy land of Hollywood where no conventional rules of the world and physics apply.

Nothing in the movie stands out as it just seems to go through end endless list of clichés: Car chases, rogue cops, angry black police chiefs and vehicles that explode when shot with a hand gun – they’re all here.

The only way the movie could’ve ended up somewhat memorable was if it’d boasted a radiant lead. Unfortunately Wings Hauser isn’t one of them iconic action stars that could make a movie their own.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 59%

#1082 Can She Bake a Cherry Pie? aka Café New York (1983)

If you dislike indie artsy cinema, Can She Bake a Cherry Pie is precisely the kind of movie that would make you hate them even more.

Shot ad-libbing (or so it seems) in New York, the movie shows a recently separated woman and middle aged man entering a relationship where they have sex and go through their neuroses. Watching the movie felt as if I was 6 years old again and having to listen to the adults having a tediously long and boring talks. But it’s even worse than that; here the people are in their underwear while having these long, yawn inducing discussions.

And as if the movie wasn’t artsy enough, it’s interrupted from time to time with needless bits of Orson Welles doing a cameo as a magician trying to make some animals disappear as well as clips of the lead Karen Black singing various musical numbers in some local improv.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 1%

#1046 Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983)

Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn is officially a sci-fi movie taking place on some distant planet, but don’t let a few latex masks and flying vehicles fool you: This is another one for the pile of the dystopian, post-apocalyptic desert action films.

The movie boasts somewhat better production values than its competition with modified cars, costumes and limited special effects, but the story itself is so uninteresting that I had a hard time keeping alert while watching the movie.

Unlike many other shoddy sci-fi titles of the era, Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn does not really have any sort of cult following, probably due to not being shoddy enough to be any kind of guild pleasure. The film is also available as a shoddy 3D version, which does not really add to the experience at all.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 22%

#1038 Class (1983)

A private school brainiac goes for a wild night out and hooks up with a woman of his dreams who woefully turns out to be his roommate’s mother in Class, probably the only decent early 80s comedy with the adult-youngster forbidden love theme (the other ones being My Tutor, Private Lessons and Blame it on Rio).

The movie works because it is first and foremost a decent comedy instead of cringeworthy voyeuristic peeping tom flick like its aforementioned competition. There’s some genuinely good chemistry between Andrew McCarthy and Rob Lowe and I can see the movie failing in many ways with other some less skilled leads.

The well built conflict that tears the friendship apart proves out to be too big for the screenwriters of the movie who weasel out of the situation in a disappointingly lukewarm fashion in the end.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 79%

#1032 Breathless (1983)

Although I always aim to avoid reading of a movie before watching it to keep my bias down, in most cases with the mainstream cinema with notable actors, I already know the movie at least on some level.

Breathless was a complete surprise to me, and a positive one at that. Richard Gere plays a petty criminal from Las Vegas travelling to Los Angeles to find a girl he had a flake and gets involved in killing of a police officer. True to his nonchalant style he tries to shake it all off but soon finds himself on the run, slowly coming into realisation that for the first time in his life his charm can’t buy him out of the situation.

Gere is pretty much born to play the role of the ”seedy Vegas boy. Thinks he’s cute”, like one of the assistants behind the counter aptly puts it. Paul Newman’s amazing performance in Cool Hand Luke remains untouchable, but this is by far the best stab at it I’ve yet witnessed.

Combining elements of crime, sex, comics and rockabilly music, Breathless is stylish, crude crime and love story straight out of a cheap pulp magazine – and very much an underappreciated gem.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 91%

#1030 My Tutor (1983)

A rich kid hellbent on losing his virginity gets a private french tutor in My Tutor, a blatant teen exploitation movie. As it goes, she also ends up teaching the youngster about life and love and as she finally exits, he has finally become a man.

Honestly, I wouldn’t had mind this kind of tutoring back in the days. But having to watching through 90 minutes of this voyeuristic baloney just never hit the spot for me.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 37%

#959 Halloween 2018: Psycho II (1983)

A late sequel to the iconic horror classic, Psycho II starts some 23 years after the events of the first movie as Norman Bates is finally getting released from the asylum. He comes back to the mansion and tries to rehabilitate to the society, but soon finds himself agonised by the house and the memories of his mother. From there on the movie takes a surprising direction.

Psycho II is actually a pretty darn decent horror movie if you stop comparing it to the original and view it as an individual movie. Perkins’ lead character has much more layers this time around, and he grows onto you in a much deeper level as a person. One could argue that the sequel is not as scary as the first movie, but in a way the movie takes you inside a psyche and themes that are much darker.

Although the comparisons to the original can’t be avoided, Psycho II stands firmly on its own and manages to bring the series to the new decade in a style and without nodding too much towards the original by trying to remake, or to outdo it. And in a few passing moments in manages to outshine the original.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 80%

#958 Halloween 2018: The Being (1983)

Shot already in 1980 as ’Easter Sunday’, The Being saw a limited theatrical only three years later. It is a problematic, pastiche like horror movie that despite the short running time doesn’t seem to be able to keep up the interest at all.

The stumbling block here is that the director Jackie Kong doesn’t seem to have much of an idea how to build up scary scenes, which proves a real handicap when making a horror movie. Although the monsters, gore and kills are there, there are no suspenseful moments in the film to speak of. Despite the obvious underdog setting of the movie, The Being does not manage to be sympathetic, and just ends up being on the boring side. It’s not one of those movies to watch with your friends for some laughs and giggles either.

The only thing I can imagine going on for the movie is the fact that it is a monster movie at the time when slashers were pouring in from the left, right and centre. The monster itself is may be a poor Alien ripoff, but it at least provides some actual action for the last 15 minutes to end the finally end the snoozefest.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 43%

#955 Halloween 2018: Sleepaway Camp (1983)

If there’s one common denominator with all of the Friday the 13th copycat slashers I’ve had to sit through, it’s that just can’t hold a candle to the original, no matter how blatantly they copy it. With Sleepaway Camp Jason has actually met his peer, if not even a successor.

The jolly happy Meatballs like camp look and feel works well with the atrocities the movie has up its sleeve. Most of the killings are pretty inventive and horrid and the outdated early 80s look somehow becomes the movie well. But it is that notorious end part that takes the movie from a slasher to a full fledged horror movie and if you have ever heard rumours about it: Yes, it’s pretty much as chilling as they come.

Sleepaway Camp ended up one of the most pleasant (or unpleasant) surprises this year and should make its way on your Halloween list even if slashers aren’t your thing.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 87%

#935 Blue Thunder (1983)

When starting to watch this movie I was expecting an Airwolf like experience with a super technical armed helicopter as the centrepiece of the movie and all of the action revolving around the helicopter acrobatics. I was positively surprised to find out that Blue Thunder is actually a pretty decent action thriller on its own right, and that the helicopter action is just another layer on top of that cake.

Roy Scheider fares well as the seasoned, wry humoured cop leading the show. I never was a huge fan of Malcolm McDowell outside his work in A Clockwork Orange, and here as well he doesn’t either convince as the rivalling antagonist helicopter pilot, no matter how nasty he tries to be on the screen. Daniel Stern’s performance as the likeable rookie pilot feels so natural that you’d be hard pressed to find a replacement for him.

No review of Blue Thunder would be complete without mentioning how it inspired the similarly named Sega’s 1987 arcade super hit Thunder Blade, which famously went as far in its admiration to using a scan from the movie as its title screen. Blue Thunder also spawned a short-lived TV show that ran for 11 episodes.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 82%

#932 Trading Places (1983)

While Eddie Murphy’s 80s comedies were mostly all successes, Dan Aykroid’s movies of the same era were much more a hit and miss. Luckily for Murphy, Trading Places is definitely much more of a hit.

The story here is about two old rich geezers making a wager that leads to Louis Winthorpe III and Billy Ray Valentine, two men out of the opposite ends of the social class spectrum having to exchange their lives. Directed by John Landis, the movie offers some clever moments, but could’ve used some trimming here and there to keep up the pace.

I can’t say Trading Places was such a riot I’d remembered it to be, but definitely offers some good laugh out moments, and the fans of either Murphy or Aykroid will be very much at home here.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 79%

#923 The Day After (1983)

The Day After portrays a nuclear war between the two cold-war giants USA and Soviet Union, and the effects there after. The initial setup establishing a Kansas site of nuclear weapons works and the movie escalates in an interesting way to its nuclear holocaust peak, but the events after that – as horrid and graphic as they may seem – just feel much too staged and phoney.

Set design is pretty impressive for a made for TV movie and could’ve partially passed for an actual feature film. The same cannot be said about the special effects and the make-up where the lack of budget really shines through. There’s an impressive array of actors involved for a made for TV movie, but here they don’t really add up any additional value to the movie compared of going with some no name actors. The movie is also too long at 120 minutes of which a good 40 minutes could’ve been left in the cutting room floor to save us from many of the scenes that drag on for much too long.

The Day After is a movie made to touch and to shock, but its melodramatic, soap opera feel to it plain prevented me to get really emotionally involved in it. The grim and hopeless Testament, released the same year, portrays the devastating effects of a nuclear war in a more subtle but realistic and powerful way.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 46%

#917 Without a Trace (1983)

An absolute nightmare of any parent, Without a Trace follows the story of a mother whose six year old boy disappears on his way to the school. Based on the novel Still Missing by Beth Gutcheon, which is in turn partly based on the disappearance of Etan Patz, a New York kid who famously became the first lost child to be profiled on the a milk carton in the early 80s.

What makes Without a Trace interesting is the approach of concentrating on the effect that the disappearance has on the parents, and less so to the actual detective work to find the boy – which here only leads to a number dead ends. As time passes without any clues, the journalists and the public move on and it seems like a much more demanding task to get anyone interested in finding child, now assumed lost for good.

Despite the near made-for-TV quality and disappointing – if a little surprising – resolution of the case, Without a Trace is an emotional ride that manages to keep the interest and the hopes of the viewer up until the very last minutes.

80s-o-meter: 62%

Total: 68%