#1667 The Bostonians (1984)

I sigh audibly every time I’m to sit down and watch another period picture set in 19th century, especially one with a romantic theme to it.

The Bostonians wasn’t as bad costume drama as I feared, though. Its manuscript based on Henry James’ novel of the same name has some interesting aspects to it, like women’s rights movement and the implied one sided love story between the female leads, but as with many similar movies the end result is just plain dull, and the plot is stuck in the same place pretty much throughout the movie.

I was surprised by the ending, though.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 32%

#1664 The Killing Fields (1984)

A  biographical drama film about the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, based on the experiences of journalists Dith Pran and Sydney Schanberg, The Killing Fields may a British film taking place in Asia, but there are numerous things that make it interesting, and very much worth your time.

First of a all, it was nominated in seven categories in the 1985 Academy Awards, taking home awards for Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Actor in Supporting Role for Haing S. Ngor, for whom this was amazingly his first acting experience ever.

Secondly, it’s a good movie about an interesting historical events, told in a realistic – even nihilistic – way, but spiced up with interesting supporting characters we learn about, and soon learn to care for. Its story about journalistic integrity, human rights and inequality is every bit as relevant today as it was 40 years ago.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 87%

#1650 Gremloids aka Hyperspace (1984)

Spaceballs may be the best known scifi parody of the 80s, but three years prior to it came out Gremloids, a low budget space comedy with a Dark Lord with a silly gigantic helmet.

Instead of being a Star Wars parody like Spaceballs, the premise in Gremloids is actually quite darn hilarious: because of a navigation mistake Lord Buckethead and his gang of minions land on a small village on earth instead of ”galaxy far, far away”, and proceeds to find the princess and the secret transmissions no matter how much the town folk try to tell him he is sorely mistaken.

After the strong start Gremloids never quite takes the full advantage of its unique premise and the latter half of the movie is pretty much spent on an endless trench warfare between Buckethead and local army, making the movie at this time feel like a short film prolonged to feature film length. The ending of the movie still wraps up quite nicely, making Hyperspace easily worth watching through.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 72%

#1634 Almost You (1984)

Listed as a 1984 movie by IMDB, and a March 1985 release according to Wikipedia, Almost You is a small, little known drama comedy of a love triangle (or a square, depending on how you count).

Griffin Dunne and Brooke Adams are a disgruntled New York yuppie couple who get emotionally tangled with a nurse, whose actor boyfriend gets involved in the mess for some reason. All the characters are quite obnoxious and highly unrelatable, the plot feels phoney and the movie subjects us to watch through all of these superficial characters having one of the most dull dinner parties ever with a dialogue written and acted with an blatant intention to be witty, making this inept repartée even more painful to follow.

Almost You is a love movie that fails to make one emotionally, drama that fails to move and a comedy that fails to make one laugh – leaving very little to love about this movie.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 8%

#1628 Not for Publication (1984)

Not for Publication is advertised as a movie by the director of Eating Raoul, but in reality it’s pretty different from Paul Bartel’s more outrageous comedies. In fact, the movie feels more like something out of Blake Edwards’ pencil.

More mainstream than Bartel’s other movies, Not for Publication is a satire about sleazy tabloids and political corruption that never quite finds its target and as such fails to make one laugh.

Although a frustrating movie to watch (you keep on wishing things would finally start to click – they never do), there are single good moments here and I feel there’s a decent movie hidden here somewhere that Bartel might have found by streamlining and rewriting the manuscript one more time from the scratch.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 48%

#1606 Snowballing (1984)

There’s a special place i my heart for comedies taking place in ski resorts, even thought most of them stink to high heavens.

Out of all of these films, Snowballing is the least known, but actually not the worst. In fact, it’s totally average in all of its aspects.

In other words, not much to recommend here, not much to complain either. If you know what to except from these kind of comedies, Snowballing will likely provide all of that, but the friends of gratuitous mammaries have to look elsewhere (despite the very apparent promise in the VHS cover).

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 60%

#1597 Halloween 2021: The Initiation (1984)

At this point I’m not looking forward to slashers to offer anything new, but just hoping to see at least a small spin to the tired subgenre.

The Initiation offers at least two and while neither are something I would call original or particularly good, but enough for me to give them some credit for not just making ”that movie” one more time. It does still feel like a pastiche with tons of elements borrowed from left, right and center.

The nocturnal mall as the location works better than forest and Daphne Zuniga in the lead role brings the movie up a notch or two.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 57%

#1588 Halloween 2021: Silent Madness aka Beautiful Screamers aka The Nightkillers aka The Omega Factor (1984)

Silent Madness is another early 80s 3-D movie that I immediately anticipated to stink to high heavens – but that contrary to all the expectations turned out a-ok.

The fact that I enjoyed Silent Madness seems even more implausible given the fact that it has probably the weakest antagonist I’ve ever seen in a slasher. Honestly, it looks like they applied some eye make up up to the production company janitor and just send him in front of cameras.

Luckily he is not actually even the main source for the suspension in the movie; it’s the corrupt asylum, its rotten doctors and their henchman orderlies that provide Silent Madness most of its thrills.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 72%

#1578 Halloween 2021: The Power (1984)

Movies can be like a hand of poker. The bluff you in with an alluring poster, interesting premise and a strong beginning, but as the story progresses, it becomes quite clear that they’re playing with an empty hand.

With The Power the directors Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow have an ace-high. The plot of a evil Aztec doll giving people great power but destroying them in exchange is a spinoff of a classic Faust pact-with-a-devil tale, but instead of expanding or taking the concept to the next level The Power seems to just lose the very essence of the classic story in translation.

The very movie-like atmosphere and special effects in a good tradition of 80s horror cinema manage to partially redeem the movie, but in the end it’s just too little, too late.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 58%

#1564 Thief of Hearts (1984)

The second collaboration between producer wizards Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer responsible for such 80s gems as Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun, Thief of Hearts failed to find its audience in the box office.

The story of a thief falling in love with one of her victims and using ill gained information to win her heart over does not reach the epic levels of Bruckheimer & Simpson’s top movies, but the story is still unique and interesting – basically nothing like I’ve seen before.

There is a moment of bad writing though when the couple finally clashes, as it really feels forced and out of character for the thief figure. But the ultimate plot twist (for the lack of better wording) manages to fully redeem the movie, making for one a totally satisfying finish to the movie.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 80%

#1561 Lassiter (1984)

Lassiter is a hit-by-the-handsome-stick gentleman cat thief living in London on the verge of WWII that ends up recruited against his will by FBI to break into the heavily guarded German embassy to steal gems from the nazis.

The plot puts further pressure on Lassiter and his relationship with his love interest (Jane Seymour) as he first has to seduce the nazi femme fatale (Lauren Hutton) to gain access to the base.

40-year old Tom Selleck handles the role with expected charisma and the movie portrays well the era – or at least the movie version of it – without redundant underlining or overselling.

80s-o-meter: 5%

Total: 73%

#1550 Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

Considering how much I loved Jim Jarmusch’s later Down by the Law, I really looked forward to seeing Stranger Than Paradise, its indirect predecessor. In fact I was looking forward to viewing it to a small audience in an makeshift Spanish open-air theatre, but changed my plans for another movie in the last minute.

Luckily too, as Stranger Than Paradise turned out nothing like the witty and quirky Down by the Law was. This is a story of two friends who take a road trip to Cleveland to meet up with a cousin, then travel back with her, lose some money and win it back. And .. well, that’s about it.

Nothing much happens meanwhile, and Stranger Than Paradise turned out to be one of those artsy black and white indie movies with much too long scenes of people just sitting still and smoking cigarette and staring into the distance as their lips slowly chap. The very kind of movie that movie snobs watch in their private movie sessions, always laughing a few seconds too early and too loud to the unfunny jokes to underline they are the only ones sophisticated enough to appreciate them.

80s-o-meter: 30%

Total: 24%

#1537 Alphabet City (1984)

Alphabet City is one of those movies that has only night scenes with tons of smoke and bright neon coloured lights, and it’s stylish all right ..and it’s mostly style over substance.

Which is not necessarily bad at all. I’ve enjoyed tons of movies for the mood only if they represent well a movie world that fascinates me. But even then the movies do need some substance, even if it’s through an interesting main character – and this is where Alphabet City fails. Vincent Spano seems to have been hired for the role for his looks only and his character and his representation of it feels paper thin, even for a superficial movie like this.

The movie reminds me mostly of video games that appeared years later, and the way that the movie looks totally fresh still to date is totally a feat on its own. But judging this by the story only, I’ve seen better plots written on the side of a yogurt can.

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 58%

#1529 The Burning Bed (1984)

One of the most hard to watch movies I’ve seen to date, The Burning Bed is a gruesome depiction of a domestic abuse downward spiral.

Being based on actual events, the movie does a terrific job in putting into concrete how the abuse starts in small, almost innocent baby steps that are easy to put aside. It also depicts exceptionally well the manipulative side as the abuser always finds a justification and forgiveness for their acts.

This is one of the rare cases where it doesn’t make much sense mentioning the made-for-TV origin of the movie was it easily bests the vast majority of theatrical dramas in its genre. Farrah Fawcett’s performance is flawless, and my hat is off to Paul Le Mat for his courage of accepting such a role. The events of the movie cut so deep that I might never look him the same way again.

80s-o-meter: 54%

Total: 92%

#1526 Angel (1984)

Angel, an exploitative, sleazy movie of a teen grade-A student gone prostitute ends up something of bore.

The first part of the (mostly unrelated) four Angel movies that were released in 1984 (this one), 1985 (Avenging Angel), 1988 (Angel III: The Final Chapter), plus one more attempt to milk the weak franchise, released in 1994.

Angel is mostly passable, but nothing really substantial enough to stick with the viewer for longer. The only really interesting part of the movie is its eccentric supporting cast, as well as the depiction of the 80s street life. The exploitation angle is strong in the marketing, but the end result is a bit tame.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 58%

#1516 Perfect Strangers aka Blind Alley (1984)

Larry Cohen’s (Special Effects, The Stuff, Q) Perfect Strangers begins as a 2-year old witnesses an assassination in an alley.

To make sure there are no loose ends the hitman befriends the boy and her single parent mom, only to soon find himself emotionally attached to both.

The premise is wonderful for a decent thriller, but Perfect Strangers’ approach is somewhat bland and features one of those weird early 80s lense effects where everything looks shiny as if shot through a greasy lens. The strong setup still carries the movie through, fortunately. But only barely.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 68%

#1498 The Stone Boy (1984)

Joe Hillerman has a grave problem. His 17-year old has just been killed in a morbid firearm accident and his younger brother who is the sole witness refuses to talk about the incident in detail. Furthermore, he seems mostly inconvenienced about the death rather than showing any other emotions.

Watching The Stone Boy I often got to reminiscence Square Dance, but only in the way how the former underlines how it totally failed to make us feel for any of its characters. With The Stone Boy the absolute opposite is true – and even if we don’t agree with some of the characters, they are written well enough for us to always sympathise with them.

While I don’t feel quite right criticising the work of a child actor, I was admittedly expecting something of an Oscar worthy performance during the movie’s culmination point, but that never came to be. Luckily it’s the more seasoned actors that still make the ending work in a totally satisfactory way.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 86%

#1494 Sole Survivor (1984)

The deceased won’t let a Sole Survivor of a devastating airplane crash be.

Preceding Final Destination by 16 years, both share the similar premise of coming back to claim those ear marked for underworld.

Sole Survivor doesn’t quite live up to interesting setup, very unfortunately presenting the impending death as reanimated corpses and never actually taking the idea one notch further. It does play for the benefit for the ending, but events before that are much more tame than they deserve to be.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 62%

#1488 Under the Volcano (1984)

Out of the alcoholic consuls stuck somewhere in the Southern America (Beyond the Limit being the other one), Under the Volcano makes for a stronger contestant.

Although quite different kind of beasts, what both movies have in common on top of heavy drinking is the highly volatile political situation. But with Under the Volcano the emphasis of the thriller and drama elements are more on whether the main character will manage to overcome his alcoholism and demons in the moment when happy ever after is being served to him on a silver platter.

What really makes Under the Volcano is the outstanding performance by Albert Finney whose work as the highly intellectual and sympathetic consul Firmin is often over the board, but never even closely forced nor insincere.

80s-o-meter: 30%

Total: 70%