#1719 Sleepwalk (1986)

Done with every Jim Jarmusch movie of the 80s? You might then be interested to check out Sleepwalk, directed by Jarmuch’s partner Sara Driver that feels like having fallen from the same arthouse tree.

Sleepwalk presents us with an interesting concept – a woman is hired to transcribe an ancient Chinese manuscript, after which she slowly starts to discover the manuscript has powers that begin to take over her life. This is where the movie goes off the rails and wanders deep into the world of nonsense. The events that follow in the movie are interesting and visually appealing to watch, but totally disconnected from the main story line.

If you can accept that not much of the movie even tries to make sense, you might find Sleepwalk enjoyable piece of experimental, surrealist cinema. It just isn’t for everyone – nor does it try to be.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 55%

#1707 Halloween 2022: Slaughter High aka April Fool’s Day aka The Last Laugh (1986)

Although the poster claims that Slaughter High is from the makers of Friday the 13th, they don’t share the same writers nor the director, so I’m not quite sold on that claim. Anyway, Slaughter High is a copy pastey slasher revenge movie where mistreated and disfigured nerd who was picked in high school gets back to his old school mates visiting the abandoned school in a class reunion, wearing an off-the-shelf old joker mask. Or is it him?

Well, yes it is. And there’s nothing very imaginative going on in the movie. The killer has gained superhuman powers and speed and will get anywhere in the school before others and can smell where they are without seeing them, while the ex students have become more stupid than ever, running around the school and getting separated from each others to be more easy targets.

Slaughter High isn’t a bad slasher and has proper production quality to it, but other than that it’s totally and utterly uninspired product.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 37%

#1681 Halloween 2022: Evil Laugh (1986)

What followed the early 80s stream of slashers was a stream of slasher comedies. I would argue that most slashers are quite humorous and over the board in their nature to begin with, and I’m sure the teams behind them were having a good laugh while making them, so in this light there’s very little point of parodising them other than justifying arriving to the slasher party several years too late.

If I had not check IMDB, I would have never known Evil Laugh was a comedy. Sure, it’s more goofy in some aspects and the characters make references to other slasher movies, but the movie is never laugh out loud funny.

Youngers get slashed, there’s some naked skin, one imaginative killing and possibly one of the most stupid looking antagonists, and that’s pretty much that. No matter how bad slashers are, at least they earn my respect for trying. Comedies like this too afraid to even be proper slashers don’t even have that going for them.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 19%

#1674 Hotshot (1986)

Hotshot is a football movie made in the vein of soccer almost becoming a household sport in America during the 80s, a trend that never did carry too far.

What makes the movie interesting is it featuring one Pelé, arguably one of the best football players in the history of the sport. This aspect of him not wanting to play the sport anymore, but upon a request of a young hothead American player becomes his protege and teacher is what makes Hotshot of any interest.

Other than that, Hotshot is pretty much your basic sports movie with nothing much surprising to it, coupled with way below average production values, especially for a movie made in 1986.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 52%

#1657 Ratboy (1986)

Even before I started to watch Ratboy, I had a feeling that it was going to be something exceptional. But little I knew that it was going to be exceptionally bad.

And bad it is, oh boy. I would go as far as to say that out of the 1657 80s movies I’ve watched so far this one is the worst. Sondra Locke is apparently the primus motor behind this train wreck of a movie, starring in the lead role and sitting on the director’s chair, and for both parts she fails miserably putting on one of the least likeable characters ever and acting like it was a chore for her, and not being able to find any gold nuggets from Rob Thompson’s script. Maybe there was nothing there to be found – I don’t know – but at that point it could’ve been a better call to go for another script instead.

If there is anything good about the movie is the way it never manages to show its main character favourably like these kinds of movies usually do; having a heart of gold, or some other supernatural skill that makes him exceptional for the viewer. He is just a small man with glued on rat like features who enjoys living in dirt, is not that bright, farts, panics and gets angry easily (resorting to even beating up two women with a stick).

Ratboy is one of those movies that just leaves one scratching their head wondering what kind of reasoning got this project greenlighted, funded and cast with a relatively well known actors. Was there never anyone in the project team with the guts to stand up to say what we are doing here might ultimately be a just a huge waste of celluloid?

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: -10%

#1649 The Aurora Encounter (1986)

Sometimes the story behind a movie is more interesting than the movie itself. I was at first put off by the fact how The Aurora Encounter had cast one Mickey Hays based on his appearance caused by progeria to portray the role of an alien out of space, until I learned that it was actually Make-A-Wish Foundation that had made Mickey’s dream come true to get to act in a Hollywood movie.

Now, for the movie itself, it’s another prime example how much further ahead the marketing and art departments ofter were to the movie crew itself. The poster art is absolutely stunning, with a great promise of an engaging scifi adventure.

What you actually get is haphazardly made western where a space ship quite obviously held by crane and often visible wires lands and takes off, with the alien stepping out, visiting and scaring a few people. It’s tediously boring thing to sit through, with no real engaging plot going for it.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 7%

#1642 King Kong Lives (1986)

King Kong got a pretty ok reboot in the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis remake starring Jeff Bridges, Jessica Lange and Charles Grodin, and ten years later King Kong Lives tried to pick up where the previous movie left by introducing a female counterpart for the colossal gorilla, but without the star power of the previous installation.

Well, almost. Linda Hamilton plays the female lead and John Ashton (of the Beverly Hills Cop fame) the army dude trying to blow up the big ape.

Movie fails to utilise neither one, and the apes themselves could be passable for late 80s, early 80s release, but by 1986 the audience had been already spoiled with the next wave of special FX and King Kong Lives absolutely can’t keep up in this race, and feels like a relic from the past with absolutely no value for the viewers of today.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 28%

#1629 Round Midnight (1986)

A fictional tale loosely based on African-American jazz musicians’ life and influence in late 50s Paris, Round Midnight feels an exercise too keen on substance and being accepted as a cool cat piece of French cinema.

Although I understand the intention for going for an atmosphere that can be sold to American cinema goers, it all frankly feels far too clichéd to be taken seriously: dark, smoke-filled rooms, a gloomy and dark Paris where it always rains, and characters (despite of battling with serious personal problems, like alcoholism) that feel naïve caricatures instead of actual persons.

The musical pieces composed by Herbie Hancock and performed by a bunch of skilled musicians are the best aspects of the movie, hands down. As I enjoyed the jazz pieces, but not so much the interludes between them, I could not but to think that for the selected fictional style of the movie it would’ve been better to go all in and make Round Midnight a full musical instead.

80s-o-meter: 17%

Total: 54%

#1624 Nobody’s Fool (1986)

Ok, I’m not even going to hide the fact that I’ve always had bit of a man crush for Eric Roberts. So, I therefore can’t blame Rosanna Arquette in the role of Cassie falling for him as well.

I was a bit puzzled about the plot in Nobody’s Fool and it was only after I accepted that this is a fairytale taking place in the movie la la land that I went along it all. And once you buy the concept the movie and the character of Cassie are actually quite endearing.

And speaking of Cassie, there’s something about her character that I was looking to learn about even more, but the often superficial and caricature like strokes don’t seem to fully capture.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 76%

#1620 Hamburger: The Motion Picture (1986)

If 80s movies in the vein of Police Academy are your thing, Hamburger: The Motion Picture might be your ticket.

No, it’s nowhere near funny or potent comedy, but the style is pretty much the same. The movie pokes fun out of fictive fast food chain and their education facility that takes things a bit too seriously, and too far.

And yes, of course there is a quite flawed but loud authority running the show. Or rather, trying and failing.

80s-o-meter: 79%

Total: 73%

#1618 Popeye Doyle (1986)

Popeye Doyle is not actually a movie, but a movie length pilot for a TV series based on early 70s The French Connection starring Gene Hackman.

Like most people, I watched Popeye Doyle due to Ed O’Neill playing the lead part, but O’Neill really does not bring anything of himself into the role, like he famously did with Married With Kids, and multiple other comedies that followed. There’s nothing really that bad about the pilot, but it’s just so uninspired and average that it never manages to capture the attention.

The series was never picked up by broadcasting companies, which in hindsight was a blessing in disguise, especially for O’Neill himself.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 30%

#1608 Amazons (1986)

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: Amazons is the one with the balding antagonist with black and white beard who looks like the dude in the background of C64 game Barbarian. It also has the strong blond female lead leading the fight by herself, battling against the magic effects of the evil that are quite cheaply just drawn on the film.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 70%

#1601 Halloween 2021: Nightmare Weekend (1986)

Another Troma release where the plot is so convoluted (read: a mess) that it’s genuinely hard to keep track what’s going on.

Apparently there is some sort of computerised puppet (hence the scifi genre) that sends out some metal balls and affects people’s minds around it and people turn evil and then they get nakkid.

Nightmare Weekend looks better than your average Trauma releases, with absolutely gorgeous female cast to feast your eyes on – even that doctor dude from Pet Sematary is present here in one of his few rare 80s movie roles. All that does little good when the movie is a hopeless mess otherwise, though.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 19%

#1591 Halloween 2021: Spookies (1986)

Apparently a cult classic of some sort due to its inventive use of horror FX, the effects are nice (even great) – but pretty much all of what Spookies has to offer.

More precisely, it’s the better than expected effects that make the other, below the average aspects of the movie look quite bad in comparison: the werewolf like creature roaming the forest for example, laughable. The 300-year old owner of the house, plain bad. There are a group of quests constantly branching off to different sections of the mansion to make themselves easier targets for the evil, quite uninspired.

On the other hand the birthday party, farting mud monsters and the possessed lady: all pretty cool, with the rest of the segments falling somewhere in between.

Spookies is more of a theme park right than an actual movie, which makes recommending it without urging to jump to the juicy bits – and skipping the boring – quite hard.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 61%

#1583 Halloween 2021: Star Crystal (1986)

You’ve seen the beginning of Star Crystal before: starship crew on a expedition on a remote planet (well not too remote, Mars) brings into the ship something containing an alien life form that gets quite unhappy with the humen aboard.

After a few goofy deaths with passable FX the movie seems to be all out of crew to sacrifice to the creature. But here is where the movie actually genre blends into an exploration of the inner life of the alien, who is now busy absorbing all the information of the humankind (good and bad) stored on the starship’s mainframe computer.

The change is unexpected and not without problems – the action totally plateaus just when you expect it to go into the next gear. But even if the movie turns into close encounters of the boring kind, I do applaud the film crew’s courage of wandering off the beaten path and trying something new.

It is the very only reason why the movie left any lasting impression.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 63%

#1563 Extremities (1986)

Well, here’s a weird sort of screen chemistry ongoing: Extremities is a tragic movie of horror of the events that unfold when an intruder enters the home of a woman, with the intention of performing sexual (and deadly) violence on her – and it therefore feels odd to say, but the leads Farrah Fawcett and James Russo actually go well together on the screen.

Extremities is rooted in female revenge movies genre first capitalised in I Spit On Your Grave (1978) and continued in the 80s with the likes of Naked VengeanceMs .45Extremeties and The Ladies Club. But similarly to the recent Positive I.D. (1986), Extremities bravely wanders off the trashy path of the genre to try something new.

The exploitative revenge porn aspect is still there, but here the heroine stops to think about the morals of her vigilant act as she balances on the very verge of the point of no return, realising she’s damned is she don’t and damned if she does. It’s this part that totally make Extremities worth checking out as it begs us as the viewers to ask ourselves those very same questions.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 85%

#1559 Uphill All The Way (1986)

Imagine any Burt Reynolds’ action comedy of the late 70s / early 80s, change the setting to the wild West, take out Reynolds and any other notable star – and you’ll end up with Uphill All The Way.

Roy Clark and Mel Tillis – both unknown to me – lead this cowboy Cannonball Run, going from one hardship to another, even more boring one.

Reynolds actually visit that set in a quick uncredited cameo as a poker hustler, which only confirms there was some some of connection going on behind the scenes.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 14%

#1543 Positive I.D. (1986)

Positive I.D. is probably the best twist I’ve seen to date in the woman revenge genre as it concentrates more on the identity – and loss thereof – affected by personal violation.

And its study on its female suspect and the enigmatic change she goes through is really interesting. Much more so than any your typical female revenge porn movie could provide.

A low budget movie shot with mostly unknown cast, Positive I.D. manages to find its own, weird slightly out of tune tone of voice that makes the movie viewing experience quite unique and rewarding.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 85%

#1539 Crimes of the Heart (1986)

Three troubled and eccentric (read: annoying) sisters reunite to the old family house to hang around, discuss and confront each others and the tragic events that led to their mother committing suicide.

Lenny is an old maid, wallflower type of person that never left the house. Meg aimed for a Hollywood career but ended up with nervous breakdown, and drives everyone (including the viewers) crazy in her egocentric ways. Then there’s Babe, a pedophile who got into relationship with an underage African-American child and shot her husband when he found out about it.

Yeah, I did not feel it at all for Crimes of the Heart, and honestly don’t understand for whom this movie is made for in the first place. It’s only the fine actresses that save very little what there is to be saved in this convoluted mess of a movie.

80s-o-meter: 38%

Total: 11%