#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%

#973 Halloween 2018: Trick or Treat aka Ragman (1986)

Wait a minute. Another movie called Trick or Treats? Carrying almost the same name as the stinker from 1982, this Trick or Treat is the actual treat you will want this Halloween.

Ready for the plot? An iconic rock star is deceased, after which one of his mourning headbanger fans comes across his long lost album and plays it backwards, unleashing the satanic powers within. Good news? It plays out just as satisfyingly – if not even moreso – than the outrageous synopsis suggests.

To make the package even more tempting, Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osborne can be seen in smaller roles, with the latter playing a hilarious clean cut televangelist who’s after the vile and depraved heavy metal music. Looks like he was right, after all.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 91%

#965 Halloween 2018: Sorority House Massacre (1986)

Sorority House Massacre marks for an another late comer movie to the slasher genre.

The movie repackages the original Halloween plot line with a murderous brother coming after people returning to the house where the murders originally happened, and wraps it all up in a cheap direct-to-video container and sprinkles on top just about every cliché of the genre it can find.

The expectable outcome may please the most devoted fans of the genre, but personally I found Sorority House Massacre one of the most uninspired attempts at the subject.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 12%

#960 Halloween 2018: Psycho III (1986)

Directed by Anthony Perkins himself this time, Psycho III makes for the second and the last Psycho sequel of the decade.

Psycho III is even more 80s than its predecessor – at the times outrageously so. The colour schemes and wacky characters are crafted in a way that makes the whole movie feel more fictive and movie like which once again helps the sequel differentiate itself from the previous one. As a director Perkins show a lot of prowess and many of the scenes noticeable well planned and timed to perfection. Perkins also knows his character better than anyone else by now and gets inside the psyche and nuances of this character better than any Psycho movie so far.

As movies the second and third part are pretty much on par, but the third installation takes the lead what it comes to providing some pure horror in 80s style.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 83%

#947 Halloween 2018: Blood Hook (1986)

If you’re like me and watched your fair share of slashers, you would agree that there’s a certain comedic element present in many of them even if they’re not marketed as comedies – especially the ones that show the imaginative ways how the killers do away with their victims. I’m tend to be very sceptical every time I’m presented with a slasher comedy, as they set out to parodize a movie genre that’s somewhat of a parody to begin with and a setup that rarely lends itself to any witty approaches.

In this sense Blood Hook is the worst of the worst. Otherwise your typical slasher, the comedy here is limited in the method of how the killer attacks his human prey: By throwing an oversized, hooked lure at them. Yes, it is just as funny on the screen as it sounds here.

As much as I sometimes loathe the copy paste slashers, some of them still earn a bit of my respect for having the backbone of not making a total, idiotic buffoonery out of their movie. For Blood Hook, not even that applies.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 3%

#944 Halloween 2018: The Zero Boys (1986)

Made as late is in 1986 when the slashers were already badly outdated, Zero Boys tries to pass itself as an action movie by throwing in a few guns for the teens to shoot around with. But make no mistake, this is very much your basic slasher that does only a little to add anything new to the old formula.

In fact; as a slasher Zero Boys is subpar as it totally lacks the imaginative killings or memorable antagonists that make the best of the genre the best.

Production quality is a step up from its early 80s rivals, but that will only take it so far. Starting semi-strong with an interesting setup, Zero Boys takes several steps for the worse until turning into totally irrelevant mess in the second half, and falls short both as an horror movie or a convincing action film.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 38%

#912 Avenging Force aka Night Hunter (1986)

What a treat. Michael Dudikoff and Steve James, those guys from the outrageous American Ninja are back with another action packed .. err, action pack.

In Avenging Force, or Night Hunter as it was known in the various European countries’ later home video release has a plot, a group called Pentangle consisting of some of the society’s elite members assassinate and arrange hunts for men in order to preserve the American way of life as they want it. The director Sam Firstenberg smartly acknowledges that it is first and foremost an action movie that they are making here and makes sure to push all the right buttons to keep the adrenaline level high. The house fire scene including its aftermath is one of the most palm sweating ones there are.

Avenging Force, virtually an totally unknown movie to the public is an entertaining and fierce movie done in the very best tradition of the 80s, even managing to best the many of the much better known classics of the genre.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 92%

#911 The Manhattan Project (1986)

The Manhattan Project is an intriguing movie about Paul, a tech savvy boy who manages to steal plutonium from a local fuel fabrication laboratory and build himself a nuclear bomb in order to win a local science fair, and to blow the cover from the plant producing the dangerous substance.

The movie is made very much in the vein of WarGames, and if you liked that one, chances are that you’ll find things to love here as well.

The biggest drawback is that the movie feels like a first or second draft and really could’ve used one or two iterative rewrites to weed out all the illogicalities and even out the wrinkles. I’m not going to start with all the technical inaccuracies as they go with the artistic freedom, but I sure would’ve liked to hear a little bit better reasonings why Paul decides to go to the science fair of all the places. Or why does he insist on walking into the lion’s den towards the end of the movie instead of going to the press or sending them a video clearing things up. For a smart boy Paul surely makes a lot of bad moves that aren’t really explained anywhere along the way like they were in WarGames. And if The Manhattan Project pretends to be a smart movie for smart people, it really should’ve been more consistent here.

Although the movie takes some liberties with its subject, the technical insight and interest in the science is solid. During the science fair we see Roland, the science class arch rival of Paul describing what would become internet a few years later, and a friend of his having cultured insects for protein rich human consumables – a trend we all know has become a reality since.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 67%

#905 A Fine Mess (1986)

Kind of living up to its name, A Fine Mess is a mess alright; some mafia henchmen have drugged a race horse and when two deadbeats find out about it and win a ton of cash, the crooks go after them. Most of the rest of the movie consists of the goody henchmen chasing the men around in extended chase sequences, often sped up for a comedic effect.

Unlikely and inane plot twists follow each other as they purchase a piano from the auction by accident and then sell it to the mob boss. The writer and director Blake Edwards based the movie on an old Laurel & Hardy style, which does not translate well at all to the contemporary movie. Not in this particular experimentation at least.

There’s a slight positive undertone with the movie that keeps watchable, at least for awhile. But as the bad ingredients keep piling on, A Fine Mess becomes less on an entertainment and more a chore to watch.

80s-o-meter: 62%

Total: 32%

#895 The Whoopee Boys (1986)

It’s worth taking a look on the poster on the right as it perfectly captures the essence of this movie, and no – it’s not good news. The Whoopee Boys is a comedy following two useless losers who after running into a rich heiress decide to get into the high society disguised as a gentleman and his servant.

Total void of funny is what best describes the movie. Much of the failure is due to Paul Rodriguez, the other half of the comedic duo who just goes for the low key comedy without any kind of idea or wittiness to it. His schtick throughout the movie consists of slapping women on their gluteus maximi and acting like a dick among the aristocratic crowd, making funny remarks about poodles humping legs and suggesting the owners stroke their pets’ genitals. I’ve never witnessed a comedian dying so many times on stage and I can only hope not to witness anything like this again.

The Whoopee Boys is an agonising experience to sit through, and I’d suggest anyone hoping to find a hidden eighties Dumb & Dumber gem here to keep on looking anywhere far away from this stink pile.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 4%

#891 Tough Guys (1986)

Tough Guys is an action comedy of a two yesteryear bank robbers getting released from a jail after serving their 30 year sentence.

After the interesting premise along with the main characters are introduced, the movie grinds to an absolute halt, presenting a stream of rather uninteresting events that only serve to rub in that modern day isn’t too kind for these old men. Watching the movie is a long and some times tedious waiting game for that inevitable heist in the end, but luckily the movie manages to redeem itself in the last 25 minutes of its running time.

Tough Guys is a relatively unknown movie that has gathered favourable reviews no doubt thanks to its veteran actors Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster, and they manage to make the movie worth your while.

A word of warning though; replace them with some 30 years younger bulk actors and you really wouldn’t have that much of a movie going on here.

80s-o-meter: 64%

Total: 61%

#889 Vicious Lips (1986)

Vicious Lips is what happens when you gather a bunch of young models and promise them they’ll get to star in the talking pictures — and them at some point you have no choice but to have that movie made, with ideas on not.

Very little in this movie makes any sense, and it all feels like it’s been made up as they go along. There’s something about a crashed spaceship, topless women running around in a desert and an intergalactic girls band trying to find some venue while being harassed by something kind of resembling a monster.

If any of that managed to sound funny, I can assure you it’s not.

The only somewhat passable thing here are the musical numbers scattered around the movie, but honestly I really couldn’t be bothered by them either.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 12%