#1172 Halloween 2019: Mutant aka Night Shadows (1984)

Ever since I first saw the poster for Mutant, it got me excited; was this going to be an arctic scifi horror in the vein of The Thing?

Nope, it’s all lies. There’s nothing here even closely resembling it. No interesting location, no extraterrestrial creatures nor that much horror either. Instead what you get is a bunch of hillbilly villagers turned to dodgy blue zombies right out of Dawn of the Dead. And no, that’s not a compliment.

Everything in Mutant aka Night Shadows is weirdly disconnected, starting from the misleading title to the cool poster to the plot and the actual movie that feels as it was pasted together using leftovers from various low budget movies. While Mutant isn’t horribly bad, I can’t find much here that I like either.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 42%

#1126 Blind Date (1984)

An USA production directed by the Greece born Nico Mastorakis and shot in Athens, Blind Date is something of an unique experience.

Follow this if you can: Jonathon is bit of a peeping Tom, gets chased in the forest by a dude in a car and hits his head, consequently making him blind. As he wakes up, a doctor offers him an implant that can make him see again by using a sonar build into a Walkman. If all that sounds like a mouthful, it gets better: Jonathon then wires an Atari 2600 console straight into the Walkman which overloads his brain, giving him an ability to connect with the serial killer loose in Athens.

Blind Date is a good looking movie where the basic setup works, but other elements just fail to connect in a satisfactory way. The movie earns extra kudos though for the European location that for once works well in a Hollywood movie. This is the first one of the movies of the same name released in the 80s and not to be mixed up with the 1987 comedy.

80s-o-meter: 66%

Total: 58%

#1116 The Executioner, Part II (1984)

A confusing vigilante romp, The Executioner, Part II is one of those amateur, shot on the cheap film end movies that kind of pass as a real movies at quick glance, but where the total lack of film making competency quickly shines through after just a few minutes to the film.

While there are basically no redeeming qualities to the movie, it’s the shoddy directing and camera work that make the watching experience lousy. Still, the biggest shortcoming here – as in many other amateur movies – is the total lack of that certain movie magic that the more seasoned directors so manage to establish in their movies.

In the end perhaps the most interesting aspect of The Executioner is that the suggested prequel does not actually exist at all. While there’s no official reasoning available for this unorthodox naming, the theories on the net suggest that the aim was to either hint the moviegoing audience that there’d been a part one so successful that it’d warranted a sequel, or that the game was a blunt attempt to pose the movie as a sequel to similarly named The Exterminator, which received its sequel the same year.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 12%

#1109 The Dungeonmaster aka Ragewar: The Challenges of Excalibrate and Digital Knights (1984)

The Dungeonmaster is an adventure movie depicting a modern computer programmer that gets transferred to a fantasy lair run by ancient sorcerer who challenges him to tasks of defeating enemies in various modern and historical scenarios.

The Dungeonmaster is actually an anthology: Each one of the seven segments is written and directed by different people, and then tied together with interludes of the lair where the programmer returns victorious after each task. The movie would be totally banal if it didn’t have two distinctive modern 80s segments in it; one involving a serial killer and another, hilariously over the top scenario featuring W.A.S.P.

The movie remains the best known for the wide public as the origin of the like ’I reject your reality and substitute my own’, as quoted by Adam Savage in one of the episodes of the MythBusters. The movie is not worth your time for the quote alone, but you might still find it interesting fast forwarding to check it out, as well as watching through the two aforementioned segments.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 52%

#1105 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

Picking the story up right from where it was left in the previous installation, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock concentrates on the crew becoming outlaws after defying Starfleet’s Genesis quarantine and stealing a ship in order to find and save Spock from the Genesis planet.

The first Star Trek movie directed by Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek III is a significant step up in visual fidelity, and definitely one of most handsome looking scifi movies of early 80s. The story itself does not reach the grandeur of its predecessor, but overall this second part of the saga in the line is the most well rounded Star Trek movie of the era.

It’s a movie that’s always been shadowed by its predecessor and sequel – and admittedly it is much more forgettable than either one of them. But personally as a very lightweight trekkie that always preferred the original series over anything that followed, I somehow found myself enjoying The Search for Spock more than any of its siblings.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 80%

#1090 They’re Playing with Fire (1984)

An older female teacher seducing her young male student to a sexual intercourse, why does this seem to ring a bell? Oh yes, we saw the same concept in Private Lessons some two hundred movies ago. And hey – it even stars that same guy, Eric Brown.

Despite the obvious similarities, the two movies aren’t related and from the get go They’re Playing with Fire seems to have an actual movie it as the relationship soon turns into foul play, resulting in a murder and our young casanova getting wrongly accused.

But as the director Howard Avedis doesn’t seem to be capable in anything else but to try out the cheapest of the tricks, the movie soon turns into something of a slasher, nullifying all the thriller elements that had been build so far.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 33%

#1086 Disconnected (1984)

The only relief I had when watching this movie was the realisation that I wasn’t sitting in a movie screening, having to watch through this pile of excrement just because the filming crew were my acquaintances. Because Disconnected is precisely the kind of student film crap that calls for intervention from the friends: Telling them kindly but firmly that making movies might just not be the right choice for them.

I won’t waste any more time – mine or yours – listing everything that’s wrong with the film; it’s easier to just state there is absolutely nothing of value here.

The only merit that Disconnected has is its ability gathers all the worst aspects of indie horror films into one, and upping the ante by making simple slasher formula so cryptic nobody can understand one bit of it.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 0%

#1063 The Lonely Guy (1984)

I saw The Lonely Guy during the 90s when I was in my early teens when contemplating on getting me a girlfriend, and remembering how the story spoke to me already back then. Watching the movie now, it’s that same theme of ending up alone and coping with it any which way one can that still feels fresh today.

But, I’d forgotten about the later half of the movie where the lonely guy writes a book about his experiences, becomes famous and consequently an ex-lonely guy – and it’s from this point on that the movie becomes tediously average. It’s a shame; thanks to snappy writing and the awesome comedy talent of Steve Martin and Charles Grodin the lonely guy schtick was nowhere getting old at this point.

Nonetheless, it’s the strong first half alone that still easily warrants watching the movie.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 80%

#1057 Best Defense (1984)

A cautionary example of two wrongs not making the right, Best Defense is a movie that got a bad reception when shown to test audience upon its completion and in a panic attempt to recover the project the studio decided to fix things by hiring young Eddie Murphy to star in additional segments then glued haphazardly on top of the original movie in post production.

Yeah, it wasn’t a good call at all. On top of spending a staggering amount of $ getting Murphy, the added shots of him driving around in a malfunctioning tank in desert contribute nothing to the movie and make an already so-and-so movie a total mess.

Without the butchering, Best Defense would’ve landed safely as one of the mostly harmless comedies of the 80s, but now it will only stand out a warning example of too many cooks annihilating the broth.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 37%

#1054 Micki & Maude (1984)

A man in a severe baby fever impregnates his wife and lover at the same time in Micki & Maude, a period piece of a comedy done in the era when sexual revolution was just turning to baby boom.

As you’d imagine, most of the comedy here is derived from the close calls of the two brides almost bumping into each other, and ending up having a labour together which feels such a predictable move that it felt tired instantly the scene had started. Although, there is one recurring gag, involving a great sweatshirt that does pay off in the end providing one of the better belly laughs of the movie. Much of the carrying of the movie is done by the lead Dudley Moore, who manages to pull off the despicable role while remaining lovable and funny, and it’s easy to seem what a complete disaster the film could’ve been in more unexperienced hands.

Micki & Maude has the much too common problem of cooking up a drama much too big to be resolved in a satisfactory way, leaving the writer no options but to weasel out of the situation with a wishy-washy, lukewarm solution in the end.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 62%

#1042 Impulse (1984)

I never read any information about the movies I’m about to watch, but I do check out the posters and VHS covers beforehand as I feel they’re an essential part of the overall experience. It’s a pretty good meter in managing the expectations for the quality of the movie: If the poster completely lacks any effort, chances are that the movie itself is a half-hearted effort as well. And then, once in a blue moon along comes a movie where the poster sets the mood completely wrong, but also manages to be off-putting and misleading at the same time.

If I had checked out the cover of the Impulse beforehand, I’d probably postpone watching it to the next decade. Fortunately I didn’t and instead of a soft porn movie suggested by the poster, I found a pretty nifty action thriller with a slight horror twist to it. Story wise there isn’t anything new here but the production values are good and the movie keeps the viewer successfully on the edge of the seat as the events soon spiral out of control.

As usual with the movies with such an enormous conflict, Impulse fails to wrap everything up in the most satisfactory way in the end, resorting to the 70s way of summarising the final events in writing which really feels like a faux pas in an otherwise solid movie.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 79%

#1035 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

A prequel set one year prior to the events in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a much darker, violent and, unfortunately, less fun adventure movie than the original.

For one reason or another, Temple of Doom is also a much more generic adventure movie than its predecessor. While still a clear notch above all of its competition thanks to first rate production values and Harrison Ford as the Indy, the story could’ve been well passed off as one of the adventures of Jack T. Colton or Allan Quatermain instead. Unlike in Raiders of the Lost ARk, there’s really no iconic scenes in Temple of Doom that would’ve become a part of the pop culture folklore.

Temple of Doom is not a bad movie by any standard, especially compared to the other adventures of the era. But it is a victim of a middle child syndrome, paling in comparison to what its go-getter elder and younger brother have to offer.

80s-o-meter: 77%

Total: 86%

#1021 Special Effects (1984)

As Special Effects was nearing its midpoint, I found myself bargaining out loud for the movie not ending up in the very same stupid, predictable direction it was heading. But it does, which makes the latter half of the movie a tedious waiting game for the very apparent outcome.

Directed and written by Larry Cohen, Special Effects – not to be mixed up with similarly named F/X (1986) – does the unexpected by not only revealing the killer, but also lays out his plan to frame her ex fiancee for the murder. This is where the plot’s wittiness ends as we’re expected to take some giant big leaps of faith to believe all the nonsense that follows.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 44%

#1012 Meatballs Part II (1984)

The 1979 Meatballs movie starring one Bill Murray started a wave of summer camp comedies over the following years and in this sense Meatballs Part II was sort of a latecomer to its own party. Rebranded to an official sequel from a title that was originally going to be just another Meatballs ripoff, it’s clear that part II should’ve just been released as a separate movie.

Pretty much everything the movie introduces to the old mix is for the worse, aliens and flying pugilists to name a few. Otherwise the movie sticks to the worn out formula or horny elder teens and younger clueless kids on a camp, with some pranks thrown in – and does it all in a much less interesting way than the competition.

What it comes to goofy comedies, there’s certainly good kind of stupidity and the bad kind. While its predecessor and even its successor both manage to find the right balance, Meatballs Part II just goes badly south.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 31%

#1008 Irreconcilable Differences (1984)

As soon as Irreconcilable Differences opened up with the young Drew Barrymore hiring an attorney to sue her parents, I collapsed mentally as I really wasn’t in a mood for yet another smart kid, stupid adults movie.

But Irreconcilable Differences is actually very little about precocious kids, and more about the love relation of the parents, demanding careers and how all that reflects to the family unit. And it isn’t kids movie at all, blissfully.

Watching Ryan O’Neal and Shelley Long continuously clash together only to drift apart puts the viewer successfully to the position of the daughter forced to witness this endless tug of war throughout the years. And much like that child we also feel like shouting from to top of our lungs, just to make it stop.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 73%

#1003 City Heat (1984)

What was it with the obsession with the 1940s gangster movies? City Heat is another movie to join the club with Harlem Nights, Hammett, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The Cotton Club, Johnny Dangerously and many, many others in this seemingly pointless exercise of taking a hard boiled classic crime story and recreating it in color.

Sure, I get it. These are the movies that generation lived up with and they want to pay a homage to the bygone era, and possibly get a spark of that old movie magic along with it. But the movies often rely too heavily on just the atmosphere with a paper thin plot, and if told in contemporary setting just wouldn’t fly at all. So is the case with City Heat as well.

On top the 1940s visuals the movie relies heavily on the personal charism of the two major leads, Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood, but the chemistry is just anywhere to be found. To save your time, just watch through the last minute of the movie and you get a thorough overview of what the movie has to offer.

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 17%

#977 Kidco (1984)

As I aim to steer away from family movies directed solely for kids, I set out to watch Kidco wishing it’d had something worth watching for the adults as well.

Not the case as Kidco turned out to be one of those inane, utterly annoying kids’ movies that take the lowest common denominator route: Precocious know-it-all kids and babbling idiots as the adults who just don’t get the kids, it’s all here!

Kidco is probably one of those movies that you’d have to see it as a kid to be able to appreciated it afterwards. For the others, the mileage you’ll get here will likely be slim to none.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 24%

#969 Halloween 2018: Blood Suckers from Outer Space (1984)

A strange intergalactic wind appears from nowhere to a rural Texas countryside turning residents into a blood gushing zombies in Blood Suckers from Outer Space, a surprisingly entertaining piece of low budget B-horror comedy.

Although a spoof of the 50s outer space invader movies mashed up with a zombie theme, the movie finds its own tone of voice and doesn’t just settle for repeating the most obvious clichés of the genres. The zombies here for example are hilariously well spoken – even polite – as they approach you inquiring if they can go ahead and eat your brains. Talking about southern hospitality!

Blood Suckers from Outer Space makes the best out of being a really bad movie, and if the likes of Bad Taste tickle your fancy, you’ll probably find something to like in this weirdness as well.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 74%

#962 Halloween 2018: Dreamscape (1984)

Dennis Quaid stars in Dreamscape, a sci-fi thriller with a horror twist about an experiment that makes diving into others’ dreams – as well as nightmare – possible.

The concept itself is cool and the movie manages to successfully sell the implausible idea of entering dreams. The unravelling conspiracy plot itself is thrilling as well, and the antagonist’s plan makes perfect sense within the movie’s world.

Where Dreamscape falls short is the effects department. Clearly the time wasn’t ripe for the vision the director Joseph Ruben had for the special effects as some of the dream segments – especially the last one – look noticeably poor and outdated with their stop motion animations. Once again it would’ve been better idea to rely on some effective makeup or keep the evil hidden in the shadows than to expose it in all of its mediocrity.

Dreamscape might not be as effective as it was when it was first released, but it’s still very much entertaining from the start to the finish.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 74%

#926 The Ambassador (1984)

The Ambassador is an old school triller fare starring Robert Mitchum and Rock Hudson.

Many superior thrillers taking place in the middle east have been made since and The Ambassador is pretty tame by today’s standards. There are some assassinations, a subplot of a love triangle and a resulting black mailing. The movie gets pretty tedious fast and it’s because of this that the bloody showdown at the end feels very powerful, and an image straight out of terrorist news of today.

The Ambassador remained Hudson’s final feature film before his untimely death in the following year at the age of 59.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 59%