#1887 Fast Forward (1985)

Fast Forward is a rare dance musical where the dancing is actually enjoyable to watch, and there’s not too much gringe here in the form of melodramatic teen agony that makes many of the movies in this genre typically hard to watch.

Coupled with pretty ok soundtrack this (at least to my eye a bit Michael Jackson inspired) dance movie is also generally quite enjoyable, and I found myself rooting for the small town ensemble trying to make it in the big city.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 74%

#1864 Plenty (1985)

As much as I enjoy movies as a medium, at times I feel like a story would have worked better as a book.

Such is the case with Plenty, starring Meryl Streep. I sort of understand what the movie tries to convey through its nonconformist protagonist, portrayed beautifully by Streep, but I never really get to understand what drives the main character, and why she’s unable or unwilling to adapt or belong. Here I see a novel doing better job in taking its time to dig more deep into the psyche of the character. The story also encompasses events from 20 years of her life, which after the initial war segment were hard to track and here the movie failed for me to tell the whole saga in a relatable manner.

Admittedly a big part of the charm of the movie is trying to read between the lines and understand what drives the main character; her balancing between choosing to be a bohemian soul, reliable soul mate or a member of a system and upper class and the ability to just set herself free is relatable as I’m sure we’ve all had similar moments of feeling we are unwillingly living a life written for someone else.

80s-o-meter: 4%

Total: 70%

#1857 1918 (1985)

I’ve Horton Foote’s 1918 to thank for the most cryptic post title yet, which happens to be the peak of the praises I can give to this movie.

This period picture taking place in a small Texas town, coinciding two major world events – World War I and Spanish Influenza – and how they both affect the citizen of this small remote town. Of the cast we have Brother Vaughn (Matthew Broderick), a loud mouth local youngster who after failing his school now idolises the war and the soldiers and makes everyone know how eager he is to enlist. In the sort of direct opposite end we have Horace Robedaux (William Converse-Roberts), a calm business owner and family man who has no interest to take part in the war and to leave his wife and baby.

Both world events are very interesting, but here they end up feeling very remote. We hear people dying both due to war and the influenza, but as these are people who have never been even introduced to us, they just feel completely remote and disconnected. The few bits of drama here are relatable but never really struck the chord on the emotional level.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 42%

#1854 9 Deaths of the Ninja aka Nine Deaths of the Ninja aka Deadly Warriors (1985)

Ok so Shô Kosugi never was my favourite martial artist, but I guess there had to be a Jackie Chan before he took over the throne of goofy but entertaining martial arts movies. But, 9 Deaths of the Ninja is just so over the top (and all over the place) action movie that I could but like most of the guilty pleasure it offers.

I’m still not quite sure if the movie is just a parody – it really feel like that most of the time – with its James Bond like beginning, ridiculous action scenes and baddies ripped right out of a comic book.

If you are looking for a so good it’s bad kind of film for a movie night with friends, 9 Deaths of the Ninja gets my recommendations with 9 flying shurikens.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 81%

#1831 Halloween 2023: Attack of the Beast Creatures aka Hell Island (1985)

Attack of the Beast Creatures has one interesting aspect going for it: the atmosphere. Set in the 1920s the movie shares the same look and feel like the 1940s and 50s creature movies, which makes the (otherwise tame) gore effects much more impactful.

But it’s also in this same FX department where the movie fails the biggest; the little dolls thrown towards the actors for them to hold and pretend struggling is downright ridiculous, and the movie would have gotten much farther by just hinting the existence of the creatures.

80s-o-meter: 14%

Total: 28%

#1818 The Protector (1985)

A lesser-known early work of Jackie Chan, The Protector might not showcase his extraordinary physical talents as later films do, but it still manages to be an entertaining action flick where Chan’s charisma and dedication to his craft already shine through.

As someone watching only USA based movies, I did not at first feel for it when the movie took off to Hong Kong after the action packed New York opening footage – but as it turned out the bustling streets and vibrant atmosphere of Hong Kong end up actually quite captivating and entertaining cinematic experience.

On the paper one of the oddest couples put together in a movie, I was surprised to see the totally unexpected and fun dynamic between Chan and Danny Aiello, who both end up supporting each other – and the movie – more then adequately.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 75%

#1814 Krush Groove (1985)

I’ve now watched the majority of the 80s hiphop movies, and the verdict is that there’s two definite time capsules of the era that no-one interested in the culture should skip. The other one is Beat Street, and Krush Groove here is the other.

Set in the bustling New York City scene, the film revolves around the trials and tribulations of Russell Walker, a young music producer trying to make a mark in the fiercely competitive world of hip-hop. With an impressive ensemble cast featuring iconic artists like Run-D.M.C. & Jam Master Jay, LL Cool J, Kurtis Blow, Sheila E. and Beastie Boys, the movie pulsates with the rhythm of the era’s hip-hop music.

While both films capture the essence of hip-hop, Krush Groove leans towards entertainment and the music business side of the movement and celebrates the emergence of hip-hop as a commercial powerhouse, encapsulating the rise of hip-hop in the mainstream.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 95%

#1808 Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart (1985)

Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart is a subtle little indie like movie following short period of life and events of two generations of Chinese immigrants in San Francisco.

Although the geographical location, ethnic background and challenges in life are quite alien to me, the movie still succeeds to make at very relatable, successfully inviting the viewer to their living room for a short period of time that felt that it was over too soon.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 65%

#1805 Walking the Edge (1985)

Walking the Edge is a revenge / vigilante movie portraying an asian housewife seeking revenge against the killers of her family, and finding an unexpected ally in Forster, a taxi-driver who gets dragged into the action against his will.

The leading duo is an interesting, strange couple that never seem to mix in a believable way; I would not be surprised if the two leads did not get along behind the scenes as the always seem to be unhappy sharing the same space.

The film’s vigilante theme is a standard fare in every possible way, but with Robert Forster delivering a surprisingly charming performance as the reluctant hero with an unlikely love interest to the unlikely killer, not bothered by the complete lack of chemistry between the two.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 61%

#1803 Confessions of a Serial Killer (1985)

Based on the true story of Henry Lee Lucas, Confessions of a Serial Killer follows the interrogations of a serial killer speaking openly to the investigators about the horrific acts performed before getting caught.

The documentary style works well and the depictions of killing just for fun are quite devastating to watch, and especially the suspension in the last part of the movie is almost too much to take in.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 72%

#1773 The Annihilators (1985)

Deviating from the conventional lone protagonist formula seeing in the vigilant movies made in the vein of Death Wish series, The Annihilators assembles a team of veterans, each contributing unique skills and experiences to combat the rampant street gang.

While not groundbreaking in any way, the film compensates with an engrossing flow of action and thrills, providing a surprisingly entertaining 90 minutes.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 73%

#1772 Flesh and Bullets aka The Wife Contract (1985)

Written and directed by Carlos Tobalina, mostly known for his adult movies, Flesh and Bullets – or rather the more descriptive The Wife Contract – is an amateurish take on thrillers that very much looks like a porn movie, but without porn. The movie also looks old beyond its year, with a certain 70s vibe to it.

It is therefore quite a surprise that the movie is actually .. not that bad at all! Despite the obviously clumsiness and wooden acting the story is quite unique and the ingredients of a passable thriller are to be found here.

80s-o-meter: 54%

Total: 59%

#1771 Desert Hearts (1985)

Feeling dissatisfied with her marriage a young Professor Vivian Bell arrives in 1950s Nevada ranch to seek a quickie divorce. In the middle of a big change in her life, Vivian finds herself unexpectedly and irresistibly drawn to Cay Rivers, a carefree and free spirited young lesbian who is the daughter of the ranch owner, disapproving her lifestyle. As their intimacy develops, Vivian’s insecurities about her feelings for Cay clash with the emotions they unleash.

Desert Hearts is a gem of a movie that totally grasped me and took me to another time, place and life. And for this along it’s a triumph.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 87%

#1764 Hard Rock Zombies (1985)

I feel it’s apt to start reviewing Hard Rock Zombies with its most interesting piece of trivia: the film was originally supposed to be only twenty minutes long and solely used as the feature played during the movie American Drive-In – also directed by Krishna Shah – but was then seen wacky and interesting enough concept so the decision was made to extend the short movie to full 90 minutes.

This wacky origin also means that the movie is weird by design, very much intentionally. You have a rock band turning to zombies, battling against Hitler and his cultists, on paper something that would end up hilariously funny.

Unfortunately despite this outrageous premise, Hard Rock Zombies is surprisingly tame. Sure, it has its moments, but this is not the hidden cult classic made for side-splitting movie night with friends it could’ve been in more capable hands.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 60%

#1757 Cocaine Wars (1985)

You know all those mock 80s shorts, music videos and commercials made in the following decades? Cocaine Wars looks from start to finish like one of them. This is especially true with the lead John Schneider with his melodramatic acting style (emphasis with the word acting), mullet and a handlebar moustache that looks 100% glued on.

You might guess where I’m leading with this? Yes. This is truly an 80s action movie with South American baddie generals, bad acting, macho males, occasional dubbing, alcohol and of course cocaine. It’s a cookie cutter drug war action movie, totally forgettable one (if it wasn’t for Schneider), but still more entertaining than it really deserves to be.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 58%

#1744 Fool for Love (1985)

Fool for Love is classic Robert Altman, whose work has always been bit of a mixed bag for me. In the scale of horrible misfire of Popeye, and the brilliance of Streamers, Fool for Love fall somewhere in between.

Written and starring Sam Shepard, the movie takes place a remote, run down motel somewhere in the desert. I’ve always found the movies taking place during one single night magical, and Fool for Love is no exception here, and the mood and cinematography here are worth watching the movie alone.

The plot is built by adding more and more tension, and then defusing it which itself works well. But the plot is just too weak to carry the movie through and the dullness unfortunately starts to wear the viewer down well before the third act.

80s-o-meter: 22%

Total: 62%

#1742 What Comes Around (1985)

1970s road action comedy films in the tradition of Smokey and the Bandit still lived strong in the VHS rentals in 1985 – and while there are no car chases per say here, the whole idiotic way of wearing a stetson and handling all situations either with your fists or messing up a shop by driving a car in it is what you can expect from What Comes Around.

The overall theme is an alcoholic country singer exploited by his manager, and his brother doing an intervention. Something you could probably do a nice profound drama off. But What Comes Around tries to mix some yippee-ki-yay action comedy into the mix to lighten things up, and the end result is just plain unenjoyable, incoherent mess.

I suspect the movie had quite limited entertainment factor in 1985, but in 2023 it’s pretty much non-existent.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 11%

#1736 Hot Chili (1985)

When I thought I had already witnessed the rock bottom of 80s teen sex comedies, along comes Hot Chili, that makes most other similar movies feel high browed and intellectual.

The tired story takes place in a Mexican resort where a group of horny American teenagers have enlisted for summer work. The run into zany and horny guests, have sex, get caught .. aaand I can’t even bother to write more about this one.

Uninspired, and really, really, really tired.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 3%

#1716 Buddies (1985)

I was delighted to find Buddies, the first movie about AIDS is a non-exploitative one. Directed by Arthur J. Bressan Jr., a director with a long history of gay movies, Buddies feels quite honest in its depiction of the events and characters, never robbing any of the characters their personal traits and sexuality.

The movie is muted in most of its expression as it follows the growing friendship and emerging romance and sexual interest between a young gay man volunteering to be a buddy for an AIDS patient abandoned by his friends and lovers in the final stages of the disease.

A sign of a good movie, Buddies is still thematically relevant, as well as an interesting look into the history of the mid-80s where humanitarian groups had to step in to help for the lack of wider support from the government, and a tribute to those who risked their own safety to help others.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 81%