#1171 Halloween 2019: Breeders (1986)

Horror in general already had a reputation or being sleazy before 80s, but it was in the early 80s that the movie producers really knew their core audience and catered them with cheap frights and gratuitous nudity so much that the genre – especially the slashers – became highly predictable. While this predictability was repelled by the critics, the young moviegoing audience ate it all up.

Breeders offers little new to what similar movies have done: There’s blood, graphic effects, virgins, rape and strange, otherworldly gooey substances and various other elements of an exploitation movie: it’s all about voyeurism, filth and sleaze. But what sets Breeders apart from the others is how unashamedly it is just that: absolute sleaze. It makes no hesitation of undressing every female just to show some nudity and the movie lingers on to these moments for what seems like an eternity.

There’s not much to be said in Breeders’ defence other than that it’s trash – but at least it’s being completely honest about it.

80s-o-meter: 76%

Total: 59%

#1158 Halloween 2019: Vamp (1986)

On the surface Vamp could’ve been one of the best teen horror comedies of the 80s. But as the it starts to stalling already in the early striptease scene, it soon becomes apparent that the movie is playing with nothing but an empty hand when it comes to the actual plot.

There are multiple single elements here that work tremendously well, but as the manuscript has a fuel for only 30 minutes at best, the pacing of the movie becomes much too slow to make for an interesting watch.

The nocturnal atmosphere of the movie still works well though and the movie offers a good selection of interesting characters that remain the strongest aspect of this movie – just don’t expect this to be the long lost horror comedy gem you’ve been looking for.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 60%

#1145 No Retreat, No Surrender (1986)

No Retreat, No Surrender takes a good portion of Karate Kid and mixes it up with Rocky – especially the fourth one – and manages to come up as a pretty fresh and entertaining competitive martial arts movie.

I always mistook the movie for Jean-Claude Van Damme’s vehicle, but instead he is seen portraying the role of a cocky baddie straight from USSR. The cold war aspect of the movie feels much, much more glued on than in Rocky IV, but in an 80s movie like this that’s just part of the fun, right?

The story itself concentrates on a young kid who practises karate and idolises Bruce Lee. After getting his ass handed to him by the bullies and running into clash with a syndicate and his father, he is visited by the spirit of Bruce Lee that teaches him the way of the Kung Fu.

The modern Bluray transfer reveals the shortcomings of the original film and the movie seems old beyond its years – not in a flattering way – so my recommendation is to hunt this one down as VHS instead.

80s-o-meter: 98%

Total: 87%

#1140 Class of Nuke ’Em High (1986)

Among with Toxic Avenger series, Class of Nuke ’Em High is one of the best known Troma movies of the 80s.

The movie actually has some similarities with the Toxic Avenger – released two years earlier – with its theme of nuclear mutation.

I was expecting to see plenty of mutated students throughout the movie, but the movie changes its direction to following a toxic creature instead, and as well the monster is made, this seemed like a wasted opportunity to me. Similarly the movie showcases an array of wacky high school caricatures, but does not get the best possible mileage out of them.

Usually known for the intentional sub b-movie quality, this Troma release actually has some pretty decent special effects in it, and the imaginative fx scenes are the inspirational part of the movie – I’d just wished they’d gone even more overboard with those as well.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 62%

#1133 Stewardess School (1986)

Yet another movie heavily influenced by Police Academy series, Stewardess School follows the journey of a misfit class as they make their way through training for graduating as airplane cabin crew.

What looks like a perfect eighties fluffy and nonsensical comedy is ruined by idiotic, lowest common denominator humour that reminds me of endless parade of cheap bulk no name comedies that begun pouring to video stores from mid 90s on.

Essentially, farting in a crowded elevator is pretty much as clever as this movie ever gets.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 27%

#1125 Haunted Honeymoon (1986)

I always mistook Haunted Honeymoon for one of the definite comedies of the pre-millennium era, probably mixing it up with the popular Young Frankenstein, another spooky horror comedy starring Gene Wilder.

But although Haunted Honeymoon is a relatively well known release, it never was a commercial success and hasn’t had cult following to speak of. The movie is mostly harmless, tamed down take on the Mel Brooks’ comedy style and never quite grasps the viewer like a movie of this caliber should.

Haunted Honeymoon ends up an outdated comedy effort that offers few snappy lines, interesting concept and characters – but somehow just isn’t much fun to watch.

80s-o-meter: 23%

Total: 52%

#1119 Critters (1986)

The best moments for me in this project happen when I finally sit down to watch a movie I’ve seen countless of times as a poster or stacked on the shelves of a local rental store when I was a kid. Critters very likely tops that list.

I’m happy to say that the movie mostly lived up to the sky high expectations I had for it. A furry mini-monster comedy in the vein of Gremlins and Ghoulies, the actual creatures themselves appear as surprisingly weak characters (and antagonists), and end up overshadowed by other elements of the movie, like the two intergalactic mercenaries who arrive on earth, taking various human forms, resulting in plenty of comic relief.

It might be due to the weakish Critters, or the dip in the movie’s pacing towards the third act, but I had the constant nagging feeling that the film never quite reached its full potential. Fortunately the movie wraps up in a satisfactory way, although with a much too clichéd last minute horror cliffhanger.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 83%

#1118 Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

When reviewing these movies I often talk about how the difference with good and bad movies is the directors’ ability to just sprinkle in that special movie magic into their creations. Francis Ford Coppola surely possesses that skill and Peggy Sue Got Married, his look what one would do differently if they could relive their past – and if they could help falling in love with the same person they’ve just divorced – is an exceptional

Kathleen Turner plays the leading role with grace and certain heavyheartedness that the part really calls for. I can see Debra Winger – originally cast for the role, but gave it up due to an injury – performing the role with flying colors. But it’s really Turner’s ability to bring in the role a layer of melancholy that’s almost translucent but still weighty like a bag of boulders that makes her seemingly impeccable fit for the role.

Peggy Sue Got Married is a delight of a movie to watch and only slightly held back by its ending that seems to cut the story short.

80s-o-meter: 67%

Total: 87%

#1112 Star Slammer aka Prison Ship (1986)

I’ve expressed my deep hatred for the woman prison exploitation flicks that peaked in their popularity during the 70s, and unfortunately continued to some extend to the 80s, always recycling the same concept and rarely bringing anything new to the equation.

Well, Star Slammer kind of does by placing the penitentiary somewhere out in space, but only to repeat the same tired clichés. Yes – even the compulsory prison cantina fight is here.

Star Slammer is useless garbage made only to showcase some T&A, and manages to waste relatively nice (in comparison to the rest of the movie) set design.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 1%

#1111 Ruthless People (1986)

From the director team of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, Ruthless People is a triumph of a kidnapping comedy with a truly clever manuscript by Dale Launer the man behind Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, one of my favourite comedies of all time.

Known mostly from their crazy parodies full of visual gags and verbal puns, Ruthless People is quite a different undertaking for the directing trio and they get to demonstrate how they master all aspects of comedy with ease. Equally impressive is to witness how the distinctive comedy styles of Danny DeVito, Bette Midler and Judge Reinhold work seamlessly together with the right kind of writing.

Ruthless People became an unexpected comedy hit of the year, ending up among the top ten grossing movies of 1986.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 94%

#1106 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

The Star Trek movie perhaps the most applauded by the critics, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home takes the adventure to the then-present day earth.

While many viewers seem to be fascinated by the contemporary setting, I found myself missing the vast space and distant worlds showcased in other Star Trek films, especially after the humour of the crew wandering around the streets of 1986 San Francisco sticking out like a sore thumb has worn out.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is a very different Star Trek movie – to the extend that one could argue that it really isn’t a Star Trek movie at all, but more of a humoristic, eco-warrior themed spinoff of the original series. On the positive note the humour presented here is genuinely funny, and the movie wraps up nicely the three episode saga that started with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 71%

#1081 Shanghai Surprise (1986)

Shanghai Surprise was supposed to be a sure hit: A comedic adventure taking place in the exotic 1930s Shanghai featuring Madonna and young Sean Penn, both guaranteed box office magnets.

The general finger or blame seems to point to Madonna – a pop star turned to actor – but despite being really uncomfortable in her role as a missionary, the real problem of the movie is that it’s just plain dull to watch. George Harrison who produced the film deemed necessary to write the soundtrack as well, and his Beatlesque pop songs just don’t work at all – not with the setting nor the era. Penn who has an uncanny ability to make any role his, can’t do much with the two dimensional frames he is given here and ends up creating some sort of weak pastiche from various men leads from classic romantic adventures, with a stub that pretty much looks like it was doodled on with a ball point pen.

Shanghai Surprise is an UK production that got picked up for the blog merely because of its leads and a little bit of personal curiousness – and I got a good reminder to be a little less curious in the future.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 45%

#1062 Out of Bounds (1986)

Out of Bounds was Anthony Michael Hall’s attempt to break out of the numerous nerd roles he got typecast to during the first half of the 80s.

As such the movie is a success and young Hall makes a surprisingly believable action lead here, much better than the performance he would give two years later in Johnny Be Good, his another 80s movie outside the geek mould. Sure, there’s some overacting involved and everything is oh much too touch on the streets of L.A., but this has more to do with the style of the movie itself and Hall isn’t the worst culprit here.

I liked the movie. Cinematography, action and all the good kind of 80s movie clichés were well presented and Jeff Kober who was formerly unknown to me creates certainly one of the more menacing and memorable movie villains out of one’s worst nightmares. Out of Bounds was generally forgotten upon its release and wasn’t available on DVD, but finally got a proper high definition release on Amazon’s Prime Video a few years back.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 81%

#1060 Munchies (1987)

Be it an extra terrestrial, slasher killer or furry little creature, every time some character becomes hugely popular in movies the copycat products start popping up left right and center. After the huge success of Gremlins, we’ve had to stomach through Critters, Ghoulies, Hobgoblins and now Munchies – which might the weakest link of them all.

The foul-mouthed Munchies come from outer space, resemble noticeably the full grown Gremlins, are far too interested in woman mammaries for being aliens and multiply once cut in two. And boy do the people start cutting them. The resemblance to Gremlins stop here as Munchies are remarkably badly animated and never manage to feel nothing but hand puppets.

As there are only very little horror elements here (the threat posed by them seems like a minor annoyance at the best) coupled with how the movie fails to deliver any laughs, Munchies can’t possibly be perceived nothing but a failure. It kind of works at times when the creatures stay hidden, but takes a deep nose dive as soon as they appear on screen.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 39%

#1051 Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986)

Jumpin’ Jack Flash is probably the best known of the Whoopi Goldberg’s 80s comedies. And it is a pretty well-rounded, sure shot of a comedy – that’s just somehow even a bit too well-rounded and tame.

What I did find distracting watching the movie after a long while is how Goldberg is either forced or wilfully performing some kind of female Eddie Murphy schtick here. Gags like getting loud and foul-mouthed or making an embarrassing public scene are all too familiar from movies like Beverly Hills Cop or 48Hrs. I’ve always found Goldberg a good actor that succeeds better in the moments when she is not loud nor obnoxious.

All in all it’s a pretty wishy-washy ride. But also so good willed that it’s easy to forgive most of its shortcomings.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 73%

#1039 Heat (1986)

I never was a fan of Burt Reynolds’ smirky, above oneself comedy character seen in oh too many films, so I was surprised to seeing him in dramatic action roles where he is not only tolerable, but actually pretty good!

In Heat he plays a body guard longing of leaving Las Vegas behind him for good, but keeps on making some bad decisions that take him further back on his dreams. The movie feels almost as a prequel to Malone, released the following year and although the movie is bit of a mess plot wise, the movie is never taxing to watch.

Heat also features one of most hilarious kill moves ever, featuring a canister of gas and a light bulb, and is worth watching for that scene alone.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 72%

#1033 Murphy’s Law (1986)

A decade of buddy cop movies, the 80s also saw a minor wave of cop & criminal buddy movies with a similar formula, but more concentration on seeing the two clash together.

Murphy’s Law is a pretty decent Charles Bronson action crime flick, but a totally worthless buddy movie. The petty criminal sidekick – who was probably something of a last minute add on to the movie as she doesn’t really contribute to anything here plot wise – never grows along with the movie and suffers from possibly the worst case of inept dialogue I’ve yet witnessed in a film.

Bronson pretty much walks through the movie without passion and can’t breath any real life into his character of the alcoholic cop battling with his demons.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 58%

#1031 The Naked Cage (1986)

Look, I’m not even sure why I started watching The Naked Cage after specifically making a statement I wouldn’t be watching any jail exploitation movies within this project.

Maybe I was lured by the relatively good reviews, or the plot summaries that seemed like the movie could very well be a female version of some of the prison movies like An Innocent Man or Lock Up where a falsely accused person is thrown into the jail.

None of that here. This is your very typical chick in the prison softcore exploitation movie with all the clichés that go with it – sadistic and crooked wardens, catfights, stabbings and lesbian lovemaking scenes – coupled with cheap some soap opera look and feel.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 0%

#1029 Unmasking the Idol (1986)

Unmasking the Idol is yet another nominee for the worst Bond copycat movie of the decade.

The film looks exactly like many of the various super agent movies that came out in the late 70s and early 80s, and is such very much a late comer both in its formula and style. The mimicking of Bond movies goes much too far in the very first scenes to the film; after the movie marched in Sato, an asian version of the agency’s inventor Q, I had to recheck I was really watching an independent action adventure, instead of something categorised as a Bond spoof.

Still, there’s something sympathetic about the whole looney underdog ninja adventure. As crappy as it is, its comic book mood with zany monkey sidekicks and caricaturistic baddies kind of grows on you. Had I seen the movie as a kid, I’d probably still think very highly of it.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 59%

#983 Hoosiers (1986)

A coach with a checkered past is enrolled in to work as small rural town’s new high school basketball coach in Hoosiers, a nostalgic take on an Indiana team making it to the state championships.

It’s probably due to some heavy cutting demanded by the studio that many of the events in the movie feel rushed; the teams’ way to the ultimate victory seems to happen overnight, with just a few games on their way there. Similarly the big love affair of the movie just kind of happens without a real buildup, and is not followed through afterwards.

If you know the drill with the sports movies, Hoosiers follows that very same path from being an underdog to the ultimate triumph. But what makes Hoosiers special is the way it stays so small, concentrating on a two horse town where even the adequate success of their undersized team is a matter a notch above life and death for the town folk, school boards, students and the parents alike. And does is all in a very sympathetic way.

80s-o-meter: 62%

Total: 71%