#1643 Cross Creek (1983)

I’ve a strange kind of romantic longing for the Everglades, and similar wetlands located in the southernmost states of the eastern USA. Strange because I could likely not stand the weather or humidity, or the isolation. But I guess its the quite unique, secret and hidden world of these parts that manage to catch my imagination.

80s offerings in this area has been something of a hit and miss. Starting from a-ok Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing to pretty nice The River Rat to complete stinkers like Shy People and Soggy Bottom, U.S.A there hasn’t been one definite movie that has been able to provide me the swamp experience what I’ve been looking for – until I came across Cross Creek.

On paper Cross Creek is a movie that was likely to be one of those slow, pompous, utterly boring period pictures, but this director Martin Ritt’s depiction of the author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings pushes all right buttons, managing to capture an array of greatly interesting and multi-dimensional characters. I was eager to get back to the movie’s world every time I had to pause the movie, and I felt the movie inviting me already to revisit it some time in the future.

80s-o-meter: 11%

Total: 96%

#1619 Foxfire Light (1983)

Romantic drama does not invoke my interest, especially if it looks like a made for TV movie. But Foxfire Light did feel a bit more interesting to me after I learned that Leslie Nielsen – mostly known for me from his comedy roles – stars in it.

Contrary to all the expectations Foxfire Light actually works as a movie, and all the complex relationships shown here do have that soap opera setup for them, but with much more depth added. It’s easy entertainment, but something that still manages to have an actual heart.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 70%

#1617 Lianna (1983)

Look, I don’t know about the history of movies about homosexuality to say how much Lianna was ahead of its time upon its 1983 release – if any – but at least to me the movie felt quite genuine and earnest in its depiction of a housewife suffering from codependency, who then finds consolation and a love interested in the opposite sex.

Earnest in the sense of how the movie depicts the getting out of the closet and the relationship in a quite realistic manner, and as well how Lianna’s codependency is not fixed with getting out of the closet – it just finds a new object, and it’s only when Lianna starts to learn being alone and being comfortable with herself that the growing as a human begins.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 79%

#1592 Halloween 2021: Amityville 3 aka Amityville 3-D aka Amityville III: The Demon (1983)

Another movie that took part of the early 80s 3D craze, Amityville 3-D (like the formerly reviewed Silent Madness) has since then seen a Blu-Ray release in good old 2D. Excluding the overall blurriness towards the edges of the screen, and the few awkward scenes obviously set up with 3D in mind, the movie luckily does not suffer from its 3D origins much.

And as the case was with Silent Madness, this third installation in the Amityville series is actually surprisingly potent horror movie – contrary to all the expectations. The ominous hole in the room, the various types of scourge in the house and possessed daughter; it’s all good classical horror that relies more on the eery presence of evil, instead of them cheap jump scares.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 71%

#1584 Halloween 2021: Sweet Sixteen aka Sweet 16 (1983)

Here’s another slasher I’ve mixed up with many similarly named slashers – Bloody Birthday, Happy Birthday to Me 15 and to name a few.

Sweet 16 draws its inspiration (quite loosely) from native Americans, mixes in some weak mythology and puts them up against racist rednecks and watches them clash. Everyone bad gets what’s coming to them and then it’s up to the viewer to start the guesswork who was the actual killer, and watch through to the totally expected last minute jump scare attempt.

The movie is not exceptional in any sense, and was going for a passable rating. But here’s the thing: I really hate the exploitative sexual angle in the marketing of this movie that has nothing to do with the theme (or the actual content) of the movie – and loathe it even more for it targeting 16-year olds.

Cheap trash, this one.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 18%

#1551 The Sting II (1983)

A sequel for the 1973 The Sting starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, The Sting II loses all of its star power that no doubt helped to leverage the original scoundrel comedy to success.

But what The Sting II loses in Newman and Redford, it gains in Jackie Gleason who is a perfect fit for the role of the gang leader aiming to pull off a boxing match scam of a century.

The movie establishes well its 1940s New York era, and Gleason’s persona and the natural appearance of the golden era star no doubt helps to sell this idea. While not exactly match for its predecessor, The Sting II makes for a totally worthy heir to the original.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 70%

#1546 The Dead Zone (1983)

Stephen King’s movies got translated to the silver screen in a quick pace after the success of Carrie and The Shining, but for the better of worse they rarely matched the sheer brilliance of these two movies. While The Dead Zone featuring Christopher Walken in the lead also falls somewhere far behind Carrie and The Shining, it’s still one of the more stronger King adaptations of the decade.

Despite the mild horror and supernatural elements, with The Dead Zone it was never that obvious that this was in fact a Stephen King movie, being more of a thriller. In fact, there’s nothing in the movie that would suggest an exceptional manuscript, and without reading the original 1979 novel of the same name, I can’t really tell how much has been lost (or found!) in translation with Jeffrey Boam’s screen write, or David Cronenberg’s directing.

Even if something has, The Dead Zone still makes for a decent movie with an interesting premise well worth one’s time.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 80%

#1542 High School U.S.A. aka The Race (1983)

Look, I’m not 100% sure if High School U.S.A. really exists, or if I’m trapped in a matrix, comatose or in some kind of psychosis. It’s just that seeing Michael J. Fox and Crispin Glover together in a high school movie in roles not too different to those seen in Back to the Future, and coupling that with some random 80s names such as Anthony Edwards as the rich kid and Michael Zorek in his typical slob role feels like something I could’ve very well cooked up in my sleep.

Other than that, this is your very basic high school comedy with the typical characters and events that go with the territory. There’ the rich, the jocks, the nerds, and the brainiacs and High School U.S.A. does not even aim to do things differently; it mostly just wants to be a TV movie passable for a theatrical release, and in that aspect it does no worse than most of the similar movies of the era you’d watch in a theatre.

Michael J. Fox already shows likeable traits straight out of his forthcoming teen star roles, but does not leverage this movie up that much. The real star of the show is Crispin Glover whose perfect timing and laconic replies got me laughing aloud quite a few times.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 74%

#1541 Emerald Cities (1983)

A disjointed indie movie about a woman who leaves her home and her father dressed up as a Santa Claus in Death Valley. Father then follows him to San Francisco through various small towns in a road movie fashion.

While the movie would have been ok’ish small budget project, it’s constantly interrupted with excerpts from TV news, faked interviews, movie clips and miscellaneous footage from concerts, which makes it very hard to following the plot, and the movie.

I liked the few quirky moments in the movie, but as Emerald Cities finally ended I could not help but cheated as a viewer.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 17%

#1532 Porky’s II: The Next Day (1983)

What do Halloween and Porky’s series have in common? Well, they both have sequels that pick up the story from the very minute the original one left off.

Propelled no doubt with the runaway success of the first movie, Porky’s II: The Next Day revolves around the students trying to put on a play, with Reverend Flavel trying to shut them down.

There’s limited fun to be had with the movie poking fun of some redneck KKK organisation, but other than that, The Next Day is one really tame and lame show compared to the original.

80s-o-meter: 51%

Total: 41%

#1496 The Devonsville Terror (1983)

A movie about 16th century witch hunt that has unexpected consequences to the present day, it takes ages for The Devonsville Terror to get to the most interesting parts of the story.

The movie has a strong late 70s British cinema vibe to it, and despite the quite dark themes a scary movie this ain’t.

At the end there is an unexpected surprise that the fans of Raiders of the Lost Ark might be able to appreciate.

80s-o-meter: 31%

Total: 34%

#1495 Suburbia (1983)

Writing about teens, especially the troubled ones it’s not an easy feat, and can easily turn condescending and cringeworthy. Suburbia get this totally right and its portrayal of the era, including young punk kids is exactly how I remember it to be.

The movie manages to capture both the dark tones as well as the moments of happiness, and the sense of belonging beautifully, true to its characters, without any excessive sappiness.

The array of amateur punk rocker kids cast to the movie (including young Flea of the RHCP fame in his first credited performance) perform their parts admirably. And in case you wonder: yes, Pet Shop Boys were inspired by this movie when composing their hit song of the same name.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 86%

#1487 Beyond the Limit aka The Honorary Consul (1983)

The weird coincidences the I come across watching all these 80s movies never seize to amaze me: I watched two movies about alcoholic Consuls stuck somewhere in the South Africa almost back to back.

Beyond the Limit is the weaker one of these and it being of British origin it was one of those movies I was on the verge whether I should include it to this movie watching project. Ultimately it was Richard Gere, playing a callous doctor who lusts after the Consul’s (Michael Caine) young wife.

While the movie manages to find a captivating tone of voice during its run time, it’s the final surprising and interesting events that fortunately redeem many of the movie’s shortcomings during the last 20 minutes.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 55%

#1476 Staying Alive (1983)

Sylvester Stallone (of all people) co-wrote and directed the sequel to the 1977 landmark movie Saturday Night Fever – and it remains one of the few misfires in his career.

Staying Alive picks the story up years later of the original storyline, as Tony Manero (John Travolta) is now trying to make it big in the Broadway. Akin to many musicals of the era, it’s a struggle of getting noticed from a fleet of talented dancers.

The original’s heavy disco approach along with the killer soundtrack is what made it a phenomenon, when again Staying Alive is an early 80s fast food take on the subject; light drama is constantly mixed up with lengthy musical numbers, and neither one have enough memorable aspects to really stick with the viewer for more than a minute or two.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 51%

#1465 Sacred Ground (1983)

A mountain man in mid 19th century Oregon builds a cabin to the Native American’s burial site and then revenges the death of his wife by kidnapping a woman from the tribe and killing the chasing tribe members with a repeater stolen from the vendor who lent his horse to him.

In the age of political correctness all the depictions with Native Americans seem a bit uncomfortable, and I’m not sure it Sacred Ground does justice to the Paiutes. I kind of like how the movie handles the disputable decisions of its caucasian lead – this is not the heroic, virtuous character often seen in classic Western movies – but I’d appreciated if the movie had included more the point of view of the tribesmen.

The real star of the show are the Oregon nature and mountains, and the movie captures well what I’d imagine the life there might’ve been back then.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 43%

#1464 Olivia aka A Taste of Sin aka Double Jeopardy aka Prozzie aka Beyond The Bridge aka Mad Night (1983)

A movie that holds a record number of alternative titles so far, Olivia has almost as many plot twists as names.

Other than Olivia witnessing the death of her prostitute mother as a kid, and then re-enacting the revenge against men in her adulthood, I could not tell what the movie was about overall. Very little of all of it makes sense, and the coincidents masquerated as plot twists are just implausible.

Still, kudos for trying out something a bit more unconventional, although this time it does not pay off.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 32%

#1463 Man, Woman and Child (1983)

An academic couple’s picture perfect marriage comes to halt as the husbands love child pops up from the past, and the whole family needs to adjust to the new situation.

The movie handles the situation well and draws a realistic picture of the situation along with all the internal and external conflicts everyone involved goes through.

Man, Woman and Child is an easy to relate to drama that avoids the pitfall of being too syrupy or melodramatic, and is only held back by the ending that really feels like cutting the story totally short.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 70%

#1455 Hercules (1983)

The only reason I was looking forward to seeing Hercules was seeing Lou Ferrigno, who here in his peak physical condition arguably out-performed Schwarzenegger himself.

An Italian-American co-production directed by Luigi Cozzi and shot in a movie studio located in Rome, the movie looks and plays pretty much as expected with visuals and effects comparable to similar adventure epics of the 60s; looking nice but outdated, with dodgy stop motion animations.

Ferrigno is likable, and truly possesses the physique of a Hercules – but not the screen presence of Schwarzenegger: he manages to bump up the movie a few notches, but not quite much as his Austrian colleague might’ve. I’ve never been a big fan of Sybil Danning, but after seeing this movie I do understand what her followers have been going on about.

80s-o-meter: 5%

Total: 58%

#1449 Curse of the Pink Panther (1983)

The untimely death of Peter Sellers in 1980 left the director Blake Edwards unable to milk the Pink Panther franchise even further. Well, almost.

I honestly thought I was through with the franchise after having to sit through the 1982 Trail of the Pink Panther, but there was another Pink Panther movie released the following year, Curse of the Pink Panther. Instead of relying solely on old material like Trail of the Pink Panther, Curse of the Pink Panther aimed to reboot the franchise with a new young inspector of the American origin.

Truth to be told, Curse of the Pink Panther nor its lead Ted Wass aren’t entirely horrid, but already at this point the success of the past movies overshadow any attempts, and the movie might have felt somewhat more fresh as a completely standalone film instead.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 24%