#1912 Places in the Heart (1984)

With actors, it’s often the first impression that counts. For example, I only knew Sally Field from her work in Mrs. Doubtfire for a long time before I discovered her true acting skills.

The same goes for Danny Glover, who, upon seeing his other work, turns out to be a much more versatile actor than the Lethal Weapon series would have you believe.

Together, these actors make Places in the Heart work, with Field playing a recently widowed mother now struggling to pay the mortgage, and Glover portraying a vagabond. Together, they become an unlikely team, fighting fiercely to keep the family homestead.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 75%

#1889 Slashdance aka Slash Dance (1989)

When it comes to B-movies, I often mention the padding, meaning trying to make the movie last more than an hour with insufficient footage and content by making each shot last too long and generally lingering on with one scene for much longer than necessary.

Slashdance takes this to the very extreme, with most of the movie just feeling like a filler.

There’s a theatre, young women dancing around and then getting killed one by one. And boy do they dance: endlessly, just improvising badly and trying to keep the film rolling.

80s-o-meter: 76%

Total: 3%

#1878 Mrs. Soffel (1984)

Here’s another thing that I really enjoy: a movie based on real life events I was not aware of before, but that prompt me to really dig deeper and read more.

With Mrs. Soffel these interesting events unraveled back in 1902 when Kate Soffel (Diane Keaton), the wife of the warden of Allegheny County Jail befriended Jack (Matthew Modine) and Ed (Mel Gibson) Biddle, and ultimately falls in love with Ed and helps them to escape the hanging.

The movie seems to document the events somewhat faithfully and interesting fashion, but what I felt like missing out was really getting to understand Mrs. Soffel; her thinking, motives, fears and hopes, as speculative as they might have been.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 70%

#1855 Garbo Talks (1984)

A man helps his mother on her deathbed to find and meet with Greta Garbo in Garbo Talks, bit of a yawning small scale drama.

I would have hoped the movie had used framed finding Garbo as a thing that would finally unite them, get to discuss and to get closer. Instead, the main character runs around like a schmuck neglecting his work and family trying to get into Greta Garbo’s apartment to talk her with her. If they had had the luck of signing Garbo up to do a role in the movie, I could see some justification of building the whole movie around her, but the team in fact failed to do so.

The basic setup of the dying family member would have multiple opportunities to tell a story that would leave the viewer with a life lesson to take with them, like ”it’s never too late to make things right with your family” or ”in the end the family is all you’ve got”. With Garbo Talks all I got was: ”you can only die happy if you get to talk with a movie star you have not met before”.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 32%

#1837 Halloween 2023: Rocktober Blood (1984)

During this journey of watching through all 80s movies I’ve come across a few Heavy metal themed horror movies. Trick or Treat is still the top contender with its outrageously entertaining storyline, with Black Roses being a good runner-up. Hard Rock Zombies falls behind both, but at least it tries to be interesting in its own weird way.

Rocktober Blood ends up the last in this best-of list. The movie is pretty much just your basic slasher, accompanied by a few musical numbers.

It’s only the last few minutes of the movie taking form of a concert that is of any real interest here. And frankly, that could have been done directly as a music video to save everyone’s time.

80s-o-meter: 80%


#1823 Toy Soldiers (1984)

Not to be confused with Martika’s song of the same name, Toy Soldiers joins the ranks of the 80s movies like Let’s Get Harry of Americans getting in trouble with the central American militia, then to be rescued by a mixed team of amateurs / friends travelling guns blazing from back home.

Perhaps most notable for starring young Tim Robbins, this was far before he got acknowledged enough to be able to pick his roles, so don’t expect anything remarkable from him here. The movie is pretty standard schuck with nothing exceptional about it, giving you pretty much that el presidente militia type of south american action you’d expect, both in good and bad.

Personally, Toy Soldiers left me yearning for something more original, and off the beaten path.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 52%

#1812 Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984)

Released only seven months after the first one, I was expecting Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo to be more of the same cringe and badness than the first installation, so I really, really wasn’t looking forward to watching this sequel.

To my positive surprise this second part puts much more effort into the musical dance numbers and makes them much more entertaining in general. Also, the production team seems to have found much more street dance talent this time around, much for the benefit of the movie.

The movie is in many ways much more over the top and there seems to even be a plot line this time around, and I have to admit that I actually enjoyed watching this one.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 75%

#1811 Breakin’ aka Breakdance (1984)

Ah, the youth musicals.. Cue an endless source of cringe.

This goes with Breakin’ as well. This depiction of a young rich girl wanting to get into street wise dancing team and the breakdancing street people is a non-stop stream of life being oh-so-hard.

Dance numbers that might’ve saved the movie are quite underwhelming, and the body popping demonstrated by the leading duo looks like as if I was improvising in front of a camera. This is to say, it’s no good.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 22%

#1810 Bad Manners aka Growing Pains (1984)

Partly road movie, black comedy and coming to age story, Bad Manners seems to try and abandon a lot of avenues, but never quite gets very far in any.

This is one of those quirky comedies where everyone is just outright weird, which soon becomes plain stupid, and renderers the viewer indifferent about the events on the screen.

The movie gets a few points of its edginess, but everything else here is just horribly messy.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 22%

#1791 The Census Taker (1984)

As per usual I did not check any information of The Census Taker before watching it. It was therefore that the first events of the movie took me totally by surprise, and made the viewing experience much more interesting to watch compared to having known what to expect here.

I will not spill the beans either here – other than stating that the movie gets weirder and weirder as it goes on. In a totally good way, that is.

After the interesting build up The Census Taker it felt to me that the writer did not know himself how to conclude the story and thus the movie starts slowly losing its momentum towards the end, finally concluding in a quite unsatisfactory way that feels something of a panic decision.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 62%

#1780 Night Patrol (1984)

Released in 1984, Night Patrol is a cop comedy not inspired by Police Academy, but rather by the crazy comedies like Airplane! and Police Squad.

But even more so, it seems to be heavily influenced by the craziness The Gong Show where the lead Murray Langston performed regularly as The Unknown Comic, and the movie also in many ways feels like a product of 1970s. Most of the comedy is downright stupid, insulting, chauvinistic, even racist – there is even one completely detached black face segment in the movie – and the same uneven segment after segment approach goes for the whole film.

Movie’s strongest suits remain The Unknown Comic itself and small word play gags most likely written in by Langston himself. While nowhere near as inventive as the ones that made ZAZ movies famous, they did manage to occasionally produce a chuckle or two.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 28%

#1768 Old Enough (1984)

Story of almost 13-year old Lonnie befriending an few years older Karen from working class family, and taking her first steps out of the childhood, Old Enough is subtle, likeable, and mostly harmless little coming of age movie.

Although their friendship is unlikely, both show genuine, intriguing interest into each others different lives, while spying on young adults they secretly admire.

The movie wraps up nicely as the summer ends, creating a tangible touch point for everyone that know how that one lost summer of the past feels like.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 70%

#1762 Courage aka Raw Courage (1984)

A pet project of Ronny Cox, starring the man himself and co-written with his wife Mary, Courage turned out to be a really refreshing piece of low budget cinema.

Building up from a simple story of three long distance runners crossing a desert, this survive thriller ends up with the best of the genre, offering tons of tension with just good plain old movie making workmanship.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 76%

#1750 The Brother from Another Planet (1984)

Hey, it’s that science dude from Terminator 2! Joe Morton plays an extraterrestrial crash landing to New York, and wandering around the big city trying to grasp this strange world completely alien to him.

I did enjoy the very special dark mood of the movie, amplified by the acting work of Morton who really possesses a great screen presence. But, I can’t help but think that there were ingredients here with a greater movie, with some other design choices.

While trying to interpret the inner life of the non-verbal alien and watching him trying to cope on earth is downright great, the goofy bounty hunters after him and his ability to fix inanimate objects felt contrived. To me just doubling down on the basic premise of two cultures clashing would’ve been just enough for the movie.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 75%

#1747 The Ratings Game (1984)

Danny DeVito stars in this little known made for TV with his wife Rhea Perlman, a fact I wasn’t aware in the time when I watched the movie. Their love relationship in the movie was kind of endearing, but would’ve have gone to another level had I known of their real life relationship.

The Ratings Game is one of those made for TV movies that punches way above its weight. First of all it’s always a delight seeing DeVito – one of my all time favourite actors – in action, but the story here is also pretty darn unique and interesting: we have a rich owner of a truck company moving to west coast and trying to make it big in Hollywood despite being atrocious writer, who then comes up with a cunning plan to exploit the ratings system for his advantage.

Supporting cast is also top notch here, making The Ratings Game a recommendable movie, and one that easily outperforms vast majority of theatrical comedy movies of 1984.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 79%

#1731 Falling in Love (1984)

Not a sequel not a prequel to the Falling Love Again from 1980, Falling in Love tells a story of two married people running into each other by accident a few times and soon falling in love.

Starring perhaps the two biggest stars of the era, this is also the problem with the movie. As good as actors these two are, I never quite could shake the feeling I’m watching a character played by Robert De Niro falling in love with a character played by Meryl Streep.

Lack of credibility aside, the still has good aspects to it. For one, it feels very 1984, and cinematic in a good way. There’s also one great scene where De Niro reaches the last car of the train and looks out of the rear window, having never found the person he was looking forward to find.

We all know the feeling and have been there, and this is where I connected with the character the most.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 65%

#1717 Weekend Pass (1984)

I can add Weekend Pass to the list of movies that I misinterpreted due to its name and, theme and poster.

We’re led to expect a raunchy comedy where three horny sailors go paint the town red, with lots of gratuitous nudity thrown in, but even though Weekend Pass starts off as such movie, it finds a much more interesting tone by exposing the vulnerabilities and insecurities among the sailors, eventually turning into kind of sweet romance movie about them falling in love with three nice girls.

While this was a positive surprise, I doubt that this was the innovation that most of the audience at time was looking for, which may explain the low ratings the movie received.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 78%

#1713 Maria’s Lovers (1984)

Andrei Konchalovsky’s 1984 drama follows the story of Ivan, a Yugoslav-American soldier returning home to Pittsburgh traumatised after being held captive in a Japanese POW camp during WW2.

Despite being desperately in love with Maria (Nastassja Kinski) and overcoming his rivals in love, Ivan’s mental health struggles prevent him from fully embracing their relationship physically and mentally. As a result, Maria becomes attracted to a travelling musician casanova.

Maria’s Lovers is visually pleasing movie that has a promise of a great movie written all over it, but ultimately feels confused about what story does it want to tell. The movie is heavy on poetic symbolism that feels similarly intriguing at times, but woefully clumsy at others.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 63%

#1671 Beat Street (1984)

I love the NYC hiphop culture of the 80s that carried also distant waves all the way to Finland in the forms of graffiti, rap music, beatboxing and breakdancing. There are a few good documentaries out there about the era, but also some cringeworthy movies that haven’t really aged that well. And to be honest, I’ve been putting off watching Beat Street because I always thought it was a movie of the latter kind.

Far from it, Beat Street is actually the 80s hiphop drama to watch and it skilfully balances between showing street life and the struggle to make it out of the ghetto, without being patronising, and having some actual dramatic elements to it without being overly melodramatic and silly by accident.

The movie also features a wide bunch of actual hiphop breakdancers, musical acts and DJs which make it much more credible, and Beat Street has been later recognised as the movie that introduced and ignited hiphop culture around the globe.

80s-o-meter: 98%

Total: 91%

#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%