#1670 Doin’ Time (1985)

Truth be told, when starting this project I thought I was in for a lot of mediocre but passable comedies (true), but also hidden laugh out loud gems nobody has heard of – but the latter ones have kind of been hard to find as the really fun ones are typically more well known.

Enter Doin’ Time, a prison comedy for which I had absolutely no expectations for, and what a positive surprise it turned out to be! It’s one of those comedies where the plot is secondary, and only there to carry the movie from a joke to another. But in this case, much of the humor is actually quite fresh and genuinely funny in its stupidity, delivered in numerous word plays and dead pan comedy style not unlike Naked Gun series.

To make things even better Richard Mulligan and John Vernon are there to deliver the humor in style, and Jeff Altman – of whom I hadn’t former memories although I’ve seen him in some roles before – also performs the lead role with surprisingly solid comedic craftsmanship.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 87%

#1668 Agnes of God (1985)

Agnes of God presents us with an enigma of a young, eccentric nun giving a birth, insisting the now dead infant was a result of virgin conception, but it never really gives a solid answer to the actual events, or who was the culprit behind it all.

It’s an interesting concept, but the movie never manages to tell it in an interesting way. The same dullness continues in the cinematography and the locations, and the movie is never quite entertaining to watch.

The most prominent feature of the movie is seeing the 80s fitness idol Jane Fonda smoking a truckload of (fake, as it turns out) cigarettes, lighting one up in pretty much every scene she is in.

80s-o-meter: 15%

Total: 31%

#1662 Prime Risk (1985)

The poster for Prime Risk makes a bold comparison to War Games, stating this movie will make it look like ’kid stuff’.

The reference is not unfound as prime risk successfully draws from its paragon, presenting us a similar setup where youngsters’ mostly innocent tomfoolery turns out something much more than they originally bargained for. In Prime Risk, it’s hacking credit cards that leads to a plot of a hostile nation aiming to crash the U.S. monetary system.

What it comes to hacking and peeping behind curtains of state secrecy and international politics, Prime Risk is an excellent contender to War Games, only taking a few missteps towards the end by turning more into an action packed agent movie rather than what War Games ingeniously pulled off. Still, anyone who enjoyed War Games will find a lot to be loved here.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 84%

#1661 Mata Hari (1985)

After starring in Emmanuelle, Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel got typecast to movies of the similar nature, ie a sexually liberated young woman in seek of erotic moments, tied together by a very loose plot.

The value of these erotic movies in these days and times are close to zero, and Mata Hari is no exception. It is a shame since some real effort was done to put the movie together, and the locations, costume design and war scenes are pretty well done, considering how weak the movie is otherwise.

80s-o-meter: 13%

Total: 11%

#1634 Almost You (1984)

Listed as a 1984 movie by IMDB, and a March 1985 release according to Wikipedia, Almost You is a small, little known drama comedy of a love triangle (or a square, depending on how you count).

Griffin Dunne and Brooke Adams are a disgruntled New York yuppie couple who get emotionally tangled with a nurse, whose actor boyfriend gets involved in the mess for some reason. All the characters are quite obnoxious and highly unrelatable, the plot feels phoney and the movie subjects us to watch through all of these superficial characters having one of the most dull dinner parties ever with a dialogue written and acted with an blatant intention to be witty, making this inept repartée even more painful to follow.

Almost You is a love movie that fails to make one emotionally, drama that fails to move and a comedy that fails to make one laugh – leaving very little to love about this movie.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 8%

#1631 Beer (1985)

Beer is a satire picking fun out of advertisement agencies selling brew to the the masses, and one particular agency that hires three average joes to become their spokespersons.

The movie balances well with being witty and making the right observations to pick fun of, and being light to watch and entertaining. The fictive events don’t seem too far fetched and the three leads with distinctive personal traits (and problems) are all someone you could imagine starring in a beer commercial in an alternative reality.

Same goes for the supporting cast. Rip Torn is great as always as the eccentric director and Loretta Swit is a natural as the advertisement agency exec to whom easy profit always justifies the means.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 79%

#1625 Barbarian Queen (1985)

I had always hard time telling Amazons and Barbarian Queen apart. Both are made in the mid 80s, are shot in Argentina with Argentinian crew, have a very similar posters (and logos!) drawn by Boris Vallejo and have basically the same premise of beautiful and strong female crew of fighters battling in iron bikinis.

Here’s the bad news: after seeing them both now, I still won’t be able to remember which one is which. There are certainly other similar movies like Deathstalker that will probably make it even harder for me to tell each movie apart, but these two are just too darn close for me to ever remember.

Notes to the future self: Barbarian Queen is the one with the much more exploitative tone to it, and the one that feels much more like 80s actors larping sword & sorcery.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 51%

#1610 Pray For Death (1985)

Ah .. Shô Kosugi, my not favourite martial artist star of the 80s is back with Pray For Death.

Most of Kosugi’s movies seem to fall into unfortunate slot of not being guilty pleasure like the cheap and over the top ninja movies of the era, nor are they exceptionally well choreographed and orchestrated like what Jackie Chan was already producing at the time.

While the movie doesn’t seem to do anything particularly well, it’s still for sure Kosugi’s better movies of the era – if not the best. The thriller and revenge plot line works, and the movie (and its poster) have that 80s home movie & computer game vibe to it that I actually enjoyed quite a bit.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 70%

#1575 Halloween 2021: Girls School Screamers (1985)

If something, Troma is never boring. It can be bad, and it can be totally tasteless – but never boring.

Cue in Girls School Screamers that right off the bat feels quite a different kind of Troma movie, like if they were really making a big push for the main stream cinema. The production quality is on a quite different level, and Girls School Screamers doesn’t look amateurish at all, but the movie is totally uneventful, and downright dull, which is truly a shame after that movie’s superb starting with a boy wandering into the old abandoned house. In fact, the starting scene feels like .. almost like from a different movie.

There’s a reason for that. Girls School Screamers actually started out as a haunter house movie called The Portrait shot in the 1985. Troma then picked up the project, added a few gory scenes in the movie and changed its title.

And it’s these hilariously gory small inserts that end up the only thing really working in this snoozefest.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 58%

#1560 The Lightship (1985)

Three thugs kidnap a lightship – an anchored boat that acts as a floating lighthouse – and its crew in this very mediocre action thriller, low on action and thrills.

The look and feel of the movie is from early 80s, that furthermore reminds me of North Sea Hijack – a similar, but far more superior aquatic thriller. With The Lightship I pretty much kept on waiting for some interesting plot twist until the very end, unfortunately in vain: it plays out much as expected.

The positive aspects of the movie are its moody setting, the two highest billed antagonists Robert Duvall and William Forsythe, plus that amazing looking poster that manages to be much less wishy-washy than the movie itself.

80s-o-meter: 27%

Total: 37%

#1533 Porky’s Revenge (1985)

The third installation of the Porky’s series does one thing right: it restores Chuck Mitchell to the silver screen as the antagonist, now running a sleazy river boat for booze hounds looking forward to seeing some hooters.

Porky’s Revenge also introduces other sub plots like shot gun wedding, state champion basketball match, and a raunchy relationship between the teachers, all of which alone work better than the play motif in its predecessor.

Couple this with a revenge plot that introduces just the right amount of excitement towards the finale, and Porky’s Revenge not only manages to match the first installation of the series, but actually makes for a better movie overall!

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 65%

#1527 Avenging Angel (1985)

A sequel to the Angel, Avenging Angel picks up the story a few later after the events of its predecessor, with the heroine now off the streets and working as a lawyer. I found the setup interesting and the whole Angel character now much stronger: instead of being just a gun happy lolita on a revenge spree, she is well spoken, confident and intelligent. This coupled with her background and her street knowhow makes for an interesting character that at best writes itself.

Playing Molly (’Angel’) Stewart this time around is the gorgeous Betsy Russell who fits the role perfectly, and would be my pick of all the Angel actors. The tone of the movie is lighter than with its predecessor, and it introduces some actual comedic elements and segments I wasn’t completely sure were the series needed, but I didn’t mind them much either.

As a completely average (in a good way) 80s action comedy, Avenging Angel is by far the strongest and most entertaining movie of the series.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 72%

#1506 Tempest (1982)

One more to the pile of movies portraying the 80s New York jetset intellectuals who wallow in money and self pity.

Shot half and half in New York and a remote island in Greece, the movie establishes the vast difference of both well: when we move from New York to the island, the change feels genuinely relaxing, and when we finally get back to the big apple, it again feels like a breath of fresh fresh air after the stuffy island and it’s perverted inhabitant Kalibanos (Raul Julia).

But what happens in both locations is hardly interesting or logical. At 140 minutes the movie is also far too long. It’s so long that it feels downright arrogant from the production team as there really is nothing that epic or interesting on display here.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 14%

#1501 The Trip to Bountiful (1985)

A movie that thematically reminded me quite a lot of The Whales of August, The Trip to Bountiful is one of those slow-paced movies where not too much happens.

Similarly to The Whales of August, this movie is about home, roots and inevitable change and passing of the time.

Geraldine Page – who was only 60 at the time – does a great role as the old, rough around the edges mother, and despite our age and gender difference, it was easy to empathise with the her throughout the movie.

80s-o-meter: 20%

Total: 60%

#1474 Death of a Salesman (1985)

I’m not quite sure what to do with all these made for TV movies of the 80s. On the other hand, watching through all of them is not at all what I signed up for, but with gems like Death of a Salesman how could I possibly pass them up?

Based on the brilliant 1949 play of the same name by Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman transfers nicely to the TV format thanks to great casting including Dustin Hoffman, John Malkovich and Charles Durning – and in this case specifically to the TV as the production values themselves are a far cry from a feature film.

If you’re new to the play, Death of a Salesman is one of the better ways to get acquainted with the story and its timeless themes of the (false sense of) pride, delusion, American dream – and falling short of it.

80s-o-meter: 5%

Total: 85%

#1439 Out of Control (1985)

Out of Control takes a bad turn right after an a-ok beginning as it moves from a nice title music and a high school graduation party to some remote island somewhere in former Yugoslavia.

Getting stranded on a remote island is an interesting premise by itself, but instead of concentrating on long term survival and group dynamics, Out of Control puts them into an adult version of The Famous Five kind of adventure where they discover a stash of drug smugglers, get loaded on the booze they find, strip, make out and finally engage in a fight.

I did not have to check out if the movie’s running time was well under 90 minutes; the obvious padding was a straight giveaway, which makes many of the scenes drag on for ages.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 38%

#1435 Grunt! The Wrestling Movie (1985)

Grunt! The Wrestling Movie and its poster has a good 80s Mad Magazine parody written all over it, but it turns out to be quite a tame take on the show wrestling that really peaked during the mid 80s.

The movie is shot in a mocumentary style with lots of shaky footage and interviews to reveal if the new wrestling star called The Mask is in fact a guy called Mad Dog that disappeared from the face of the earth a few years earlier. These mocumentary bits are then cut into actual matches with the movie’s stars battling against each other.

Thing is, show wrestling is already so entertaining and over the edge that in comparison everything seen here pales in comparison. For my entertainment I’d much rather watch some actual 80s WWE WrestleMania matches.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 36%

#1429-31 The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission, The Deadly Mission & The Fatal Mission (1985, 1987, 1988)

A trilogy of made for tv movies released almost 20 years after the original 1967 Dirty Dozen movie, Next Mission, The Deadly Mission and The Fatal Mission take the same premise of the original movie and serve it in a surprisingly different packages, while maintaining some of the cast of the original movie.

Next Mission’s main asset is Lee Marvin, who led the original bunch of misfits rescued from death sentence to carry out a suicide mission in the occupied Europe. It is made somewhat interesting by the aspect of not trying to kill Hitler, but to prevent his assassination due to the assumption that it will be Hitler himself that will lead Germany to defeat with his megalomaniac plans. Other than that, nothing much here to write to home about. In The Deadly Mission Marvin was replaced by Telly Savalas (of the Kojak fame) and this was the movie that resonated with me the most, being almost an Indiana Jones like adventure in a Nazi occupied castle. I was also impressed the amount of destruction and havoc they put the castle through, especially considering this is a made for TV movie that usually are very bland in the effects department.

The Fatal Mission feels tired to start with, introducing lots of elements (including a female lead and a love story) that all feel like degenerative and not to the core of the franchise. On top of the uneven trilogy, a TV series of the same name aired on Fox on 1988, but was discontinued after the first season.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: Next Mission 60% | The Deadly Mission 79% | The Fatal Mission 45%

#1412 Stand Alone (1985)

I was expecting Stand Alone to be something in the line of Death Wish line of movies, but actually the movie is quite low in violence for the most of its running time.

Most of the conflict here is internal, with the WWII veteran Louis Thibadeau (Charles Durning) being pressured by the cops to help them put the violent street gang behind bars, but risking being avenged for this.

Durning is great and sympathetic as even as the old gramps still reliving his glory days in the battle field, but quite disappointingly we see him in real action only at the very end of the movie.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 70%