#1246 Ninja III: The Domination (1984)

The third film in Cannon Films’ Ninja Trilogy (the first being Enter the Ninja, and the second Revenge of the Ninja) that all have sort of a cult following, Ninja III: The Domination is really sequel only in name.

But it might the the most bizarre one of the all three, combining elements of ninjitsu mythology, exorcism and erotic thrillers and throwing in to the mix all sorts of 80s elements like big hairs, neon lights and aerobics.

Despite all this, Ninja III: The Domination isn’t quite the riot it sounds like – but it does end up my favourite of the three. What was said with the previous movies of the trilogy, holds true here as well: the new 4k transfers look amazing, but the old worn out VHS versions will provide much more atmosphere that somehow work out for all the Ninja movies’ advantage.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 80%

#1245 No Small Affair (1984)

No Small Affair, a depiction of a nerdy 16 year old photographer falling hopelessly in love with a nightclub singer was originally written for Matthew Broderick in mind. And as much as I appreciate Jon Cryer’s later works, I can’t help but to think that the movie would’ve been much more believable with Broderick in lead.

With Cryer and Demi Moore as his love interest the movie kind of works, but the lack of real chemistry between the two hurt the overall experience. The movie does have its moments and as a whole it’s original and likeable, albeit without much of a rewatch qualities to it.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 72%

#1244 Teachers (1984)

Teachers would have been a better movie if it shifted its focus more on being either a comedy or a drama as the way how it mixes the two was not to my liking.

Right now the emphasis is on comedy, but as the movie later introduces some actually dramatic elements, like a young juvenile student getting assaulted in the school by his own father, the drama lost much of the impact it could’ve had.

Nick Nolte makes a very believable role as a teacher that is a rare breed, but totally recognisable to me: one who can connect with even the lost causes. Ralph Macchio does not cut it at all as a juvenile student, but Judd Hirsch saves the day with his portrayal of a hilariously disillusioned principal.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 61%

#1225 Lust in the Dust (1984)

I have the uttermost respect for Paul Bartel, often found in either in front or behind the camera in small budget offbeat comedies that stand out from the mass in a charming way.

But Lust in the Dust, his third directorial work of the 80s is a total dud where none of the humour seem to find its target. Or it might, but it’s not anywhere near my alley.

If cowboy comedies are of any interest to you, I’d suggest you to check out Rustler’s Rhapsody or Blazing Saddles instead.

80s-o-meter: 48%

Total: 11%

#1222 Tightrope (1984)

Clint Eastwood’s 1984 neo-noir thriller Tightrope has lost its impact over time. The concept of a detective living somewhat suspicious double life might’ve had more edge way back when the movie was released but what exists here would’t cut even as a single episode of a tv series these days.

It doesn’t help much that the antagonist in Tightrope is totally forgettable; I can’t remember a thing about him now just a few days after watching the movie.

I do applaud Clint for playing a flawed antihero kind of character, but Tightrope did not end up anywhere near my favourite Eastwood movie.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 39%

#1221 Crimes of Passion (1984)

Crimes of Passion is an erotic thriller, which usually is a definite flag for disaster. But when many other erotic thrillers end up just adoringly clumsy, Crimes of Passion really tries to be a real drama with depth and look into the human psyche. And it crashes and burns.

There weren’t too many moments of the movie that I didn’t hate – except for the bit with China Blue visiting a dying man for which I grant the movie the few points it ended up with.

Other than that I really hated Anthony Perkins’ over acted sex maniac priest character straight from a bad small town play and the shallowness of the script that made me feel indifferent about pretty much that took place on the screen.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 31%

#1219 The Natural (1984)

Here’s a movie that presents us with a big mystery, but does very little in explaining that mystery to us.

Furthermore, the movie seems to solely concentrate on glorifying the saintlike, handsome and talented Robert Redford. While Redford is a totally cool dude in my books, the movie offers very little else than him a pedestal performing miracles, expecting for us to stand in awe in front of his greatness.

I thought I was going to see a biographical movie – usually the most interesting approach to what it comes to sports movies – but it isn’t. It isn’t much of a sports movie either; they could’ve picked anything else they wished as Roy Hobbs’ super power. Like knitting, horse riding or firefighting.

For The Natural they decided to go with the baseball.

80s-o-meter: 11%

Total: 43%

#1204 Hot Dog… The Movie (1984)

If we already had a neural network that could synthesize a generic movie by inputting a list of keywords Hot Dog… The Movie would likely to be an outcome of feeding it words like 80s, rental, downhill skiing, sex and comedy.

For better or worse, Hot Dog… The Movie is as generic as they come, providing things you’d expect it to have (partying, gratuitous nudity), but very little any positive surprises.

One silly piece of trivia for the movie has to be shared: James Saito who was cast to portray a generic Japanese athlete in the movie convinced the entire crew that the pig latin he spoke was actually Japanese, and it was only few weeks into shooting the movie that they figured out the bluff.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 60%

#1197 A Soldier’s Story (1984)

The playwright Charles Fuller had a stroke of genius when he came up with the concept behind A Soldier’s Story: a murder mystery taking place deep south in segregated Louisiana and involving a African-American regiment looking forward to be shipped to serve in WWII.

A Soldier’s Story includes multiple intriguing themes: the struggle for equality, the mental stress while stuck in a limbo, and of course all the bigotry and racism that takes place in the army camp – but not the way you expected.

The movie is a triumph; its story is equally entertaining and thought provoking, directing solid, time period effortlessly established and the cast does not include one single weak link.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 93%

#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%