#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%

#920 Missing in Action (1984)

A movie series tailor made as a vehicle for Chuck Norris, Missing in Action is known by its name to many, but still not the most prolific of the 80s POW movies. The first two movies of the trilogy were shot back to back, but after the production had ended, the powers that be decided that the sequel was a stronger movie of the two and was released first. Hence the odd order of movies.

Watching the movies now, 30 years after the original screening the decision feels unwise as the movies would make a bit more sense in the original order. My suggestion would be to watch The Beginning first like it was originally internded before moving onto this movie as you might get a bit better mileage out of it that way. Personally, I feel that Missing in Action is an insignificant mess that falls far behind of Norris’ best movies of the era.

The Italian style poster is cool though.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 55%

#919 Swing Shift (1984)

A war can be a big game changer when you are left on the home front as your husband enlists and gets shipped overseas. And more so if you’re one of the thousands of housewives who rolled in to the factories armed with a rivet gun to support the war effort.

The real treat in this wartime story is the well picked out cast consisting of Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Christine Lahti and Ed Harris, all of who do wonderfully 3-dimensional acting work with their characters.

Swing Shift never seeks for that Oscar like, bigger than life grandeur but instead tells its story of a wartime, separation, friendship and forgiveness with a certain, undeniable affection for each and every one of its characters, making it a triumph.

80s-o-meter: 42%

Total: 86%

#916 Grandview, U.S.A. (1984)

Telling a story of a few individuals on the verge of a change in their lives in a small town, Grandview, U.S.A. is a successful little exercise in storytelling that feels a perfectly suitable for a TV, but doesn’t have that big screen charm to it.

The movie unravels its story, setting and many characters in a way that feels like a 90 minute pilot for a series. By taking its sweet time we get a good feel of the people and their aspirations, but makes for a slow paced movie where the viewer is never quite sure what storyline to follow and if more characters will still be introduced. I was afraid that the movie would run out of time tying its many loose ends together, but it does manage to conclude the main storyline in a satisfactory manner.

Being a forgotten movie for the general public, Grandview, U.S.A. boasts pretty impressive array of front line 80s actors including Jamie Lee Curtis, C. Thomas Howell, Patrick Swayze, John Cusack and Michael Winslow.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 75%

#913 Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

I’ll never understand people’s fascination with the mob and the huge popularity and high rating of the gangster movies depicting the lifestyle of these crooks. In Once Upon a Time in America we get to see a gang of jewish delinquents who grow up mugging drunkards in early 20th century Manhattan, helping out smugglers and eventually getting involved in a kill and a stabbing of a police officer. Later we witness them running a speakeasy during the prohibition era, and while not involved in shady business, they steal diamonds in violent heists, murder people and just for the heck of it rape a few women along the way.

I couldn’t wait for them to get caught, but as you know this never happens in these movies that beg the viewers to side with the criminals.

The director Sergio Leone has set out to direct an epic movie and it really shows in the fabulous set and costume design that capture the look and feel of the Lower East Side of Manhattan in three different decades in a truly magnificent and cinematic way. I watched the 4-hour Extended Director’s Cut and don’t have any benchmark what the lengthy ’definitive’ cut of the movie adds the original theatrical cut but some tediously long scenes of endless dialogue and fading out lights.

I guess if the organised crime is your thing, you’ll be enjoying what Once Upon a Time in America for what it has to offer. Personally it seems like a totally wasted chance to tell a proper story with some actual human interest.

80s-o-meter: 32%

Total: 41%

#910 Finders Keepers (1984)

Remember The Whoopee Boys that I reviewed a while back? It took me awhile to even make the connection that Michael O’Keefe from that stinker of a movie is the same actor that plays the lead here, so much on another level is his performance in Finders Keepers. Here he manages to make for a perfect lovable scoundrel and even to pull off some genuinely funny physical comedy, both of which not easy feats at all.

Aiding him is Beverly D’Angelo from the National Lampoon’s Vacation fame and I really dug the weird chemistry between the two. Brian Dennehy makes for a terrific constantly outraged local mayor of a Nebraska two horse town and last but definitely not least David Wayne is just simply hilarious as the baffling, demented old conductor. Fans of Jim Carrey might be interested to check out the movie as he visits the set briefly as a local yokel in a performance only a shadow of the things to come.

Finders Keepers is one funny and entertaining comedy and a forgotten gem to add to your watch list.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 87%

#901 Flashpoint (1984)

What at first seems like a some sort of lighthearted border patrol buddy cop movie, Flashpoint takes both the viewers and the leads by surprise as the events take several grim turns, soon escalating out of hand.

But the movie does take its sweet time getting there, and the few thrilling events are followed soon after with less thrilling ones – like popping in to library to read some of them micro films. If feels like the movie has its left foot on the brake and its right one on the accelerate, gunning and braking at the same time for the most of the film.

Kris Kristofferson does his basic stuff as a raspy voiced patrolman. Treat Williams who triumphed in Prince of the City seems a little lost with the script that doesn’t give him much to work with. Kurtwood Smith makes for a terrific crook as always, and the movie would’ve had gained quite a lot devoting more screen time to him.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 63%