#1343 Harry & Son (1984)

First of a, a personal mental note: if I was to ever write a drama, remember to pick up a few interesting topics, think about ways to deepen then and make them relatable and fully explore the aspects of these topics that seem to work, and finally, get rid of everything excessive and shallow you have no time to address during the running time of a movie.

Harry & Son, Paul Newman’s pet project fails in all of these aspects as Newman as the writer and director tries to fit it much too many dramatic elements that never get followed through. Is this a movie about getting older? Father-son relationships? Becoming an author? Coming of age? Coping with illness? Finding a love? Becoming a parent? Finding your focus in life? Forgiving? Loose sex? Answer, unfortunately is that it’s about all of this.

Maybe the biggest oversight of the movie is how it quickly shifts its focus away from Harry to his son Howard –– a much less interesting character of the two. Newman manages to create a somewhat interesting character in Harry, but he remains an unexplored, closed up onion all the way to the end.

80s-o-meter: 67%

Total: 42%

#1334 A Breed Apart (1984)

After just minutes of A Breed Apart I was really looking forward for it to finish as soon as possible, but it just dragged on and on in its predictable and uninteresting path.

A tale of a soldier turned into nature conservationist never manages to interest and the wonderful cast of Rutger Hauer, Kathleen Turner, Donald Pleasence and Brion James is completely wasted in this mess of a movie.

Reportedly one of the four reels of the movie went missing after being shipped from the shooting location back to Los Angeles and the team had to patch up a movie out of the existing footage. This only partly explains the complete staleness of A Breed Apart.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 2%

#1326 Ninja Busters (1984)

What makes Ninja Busters special is that it was never actually released by its distributor after test screenings and the reel sat in a warehouse until discovered again and released by Garagehouse Pictures on Bluray in 2015.

It’s a martial arts comedy in the vein of They Call Me Bruce that follows two losers who get their asses kicked and join the local martial arts club, become black belts and then get mixed into weapon smuggling ring, led by their former employee.

The first half works better after which the movie loses a lot of its sympathetic nature after it turns more into a (poor) showcase of a martial arts fights. Actual laughters are scarce, but the movie is good natured, as are its two lead actors.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 59%

#1317 Sixteen Candles aka 16 Candles (1984)

Sixteen Candles is the first teen comedy led by Molly Ringwald, and begun a series of movies that would make her the household name in the 80s cinema.

Written with Ringwald specifically, writer / director John Hughes’ (making his directorial debut here) way of finding multiple surprising but well fleshed out and believable aspects of the characters that sets the movie ahead of the competition. But the script is not perfect, nor has it aged too well and contains multiple aspects that I did not find that funny any more, including many lazily written and worn out stereotypes.

It’s still an entertaining teen movie, leaps and bounds ahead of the competition, but just beware that it might not have the same impact it did back in the day.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 79%

#1296 Blame It on the Night (1984)

Look, I totally get what the team behind Blame It On The Night was trying to achieve by joining together a free spirited rock’n’roll star father and a high-strung son studying in a military academy.

But this obvious setup of mixing two very different elements together, having them going through a set of clashes before each one learns a lesson from each other pressed all the wrong buttons to make its point. The movie features useless and overlong segments of lame adult pop concert footage that serves no purpose after the first time the status of the father as a pop star figure was established and uses only a little time establishing believable relationship between the father and the son. The way the movie sets up the clashed feels very artificial, and the resolution of those clashes feel equally lame and forced.

The name of the movie remains a testament of how much of a misaligned mess Blame It on the Night is, as it has absolutely nothing to do with what’s seen on the screen.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 4%

#1290 Hot Moves (1984)

Hot Moves is your pretty typical early 80s teen sex comedy where a few losers work together to get laid.

For the utter trash it is, Hot Moves is surprisingly likeable with the movie showcasing summery Venice Beach as an endless party one would really love to be part of. The movie’s minuscule running length of just 80 minutes is full of obvious padding with long clips of filled footage of the 1984 Venice Beach added in, but luckily those clips are also somewhat entertaining to watch as sort of a time capsule of the era.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 62%

#1261 The Lost Empire (1984)

The Lost Empire wants to be wonderfully outrageous B-movie, but despite all the over the top action feels somehow a bit more bland than the writer/director Jim Wynorski aimed for. What it does provide as promised is a constant stream of e-cup mammaries.

Although it was not my cup of tea I can see this being the guilty pleasure for many – as it was designed to be.

The Lost Empire does get a bit more interesting and over the top (in a good way) towards its last 15 minutes, for which I hiked up its scoring a good 20 points.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 58%

#1255 Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues aka The Barbaric Beast of Boggy Creek, Part II (1984)

An official sequel to the 1972 original (there was a similarly named Return to Boggy Creek released in 1977 that didn’t involve the original director Charles B. Pierce) docudrama that became a huge success taking in accountthe shoestring budget it was film on.

While I haven’t seen the original and can’t compare the sequel to it, I do have to say that this is one of the most uninspired pieces of story ever put on celluloid. The director and mastermind Mr. Pierce that was behind the original not only directs, but takes credit for writing and starring as the lead of the movie.

And the lack of proficiency shows all over: the movie is drab, uninteresting show that judging by the trailer looks poorer and more dated than the 70s original.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 2%

#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%