#1327 Heartburn (1986)

Heartburn marks for the second movie I’ve seen starring both Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, two Academy award winning actors – and both have been a huge disappointments.

Maybe the two egos are too big for one movie, but the lack of chemistry between the two leads in both movies leaves one scratching one’s head.

Both movies also suffer from the same problem, with a weak manuscript that does not leave much chance for success for even a seasoned actor. Based on Nora Ephron’s (the author behind Silkwood and When Harry Met Sally..) personal struggles in her own marriage, Heartburn is a joyless, bitter depiction of a relationship between two uninteresting characters.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 18%

#1321 Happy Hour (1986)

Seeing a decent hand drawn poster on a movie always makes me happy and warm inside as it is a promise of at least half decent production values for the movie as well as a production company that even remotely knows what they are doing.

And Happy Hour fortunately delivers. A silly story about a chemist coming up with a formula that makes beer simply irresistible for everyone from kids to housewives, and the following espionage between two brewing companies has been done with a tongue in cheek in just the right way.

Great characters, excitement and laughters are all to be found in this silly little comedy gem.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 87%

#1319 Big Trouble (1986)

Who doesn’t like a good scoundrel movie?

A surprising (as well as the last) comedy from the director John Cassavetes, Big Trouble walks on the silver screen a somewhat surprising comedic duo of Peter Falk and Beverly D’Angelo that go against Alan Arkin, a mild mannered insurance agent lured into scheme that soon gets out of hand.

All of the casting works like a treat, but it’s particularly Falk as the devil-may-care mastermind – resembling somewhat his famous Columbo character – that gets the best laughs from me.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 85%

#1318 Alien Predator aka Alien Predators aka The Falling (1986)

Alien Predator is a promising underdog of a horror movie that does other things with admirable ingenuity while totally failing elsewhere.

I liked the atmosphere in the movie and the overall science-gone-wrong in a small town kind of setup, and could I bet the writer / director Deran Sarafian has seen the classic 1971 scifi thriller Andromeda Strain a few times before preparing the manuscript for the Alien Predator. Being a horror movie, jump scares are expected, but are so well paced that they manage to surprise from time to time.

The ghost car seemed like a totally unnecessary element in the movie, and Dennis Christopher who plays the other lead struggles throughout the movie to make his lovable rogue / class clown character work, ending up merely with one of the most tiresome characters ever seen on the silver screen.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 73%

#1314 Miracles (1986)

Jim Kouf, the writer behind many of the top notch comedies of the 80s like Class, Secret Admirer, Stakeout and Up the Creek steps up for the first time also to the director’s seat to direct Miracles that he also manuscripted.

And, it’s a quality comedy one again, written with undeniable wit and great comedic pacing. Tom Conti and Teri Garr have never been in my radar as the great comedic pair, but here their performance as the couple going through divorce until thrown back together in an adventure against their will is perfect and I can’t see anyone else playing the roles better.

Paul Rodriguez fares as the sympathetic crook much better here than in his other 1986 comedy The Whoopee Boys, which still is one of the lousiest comedies I’ve seen, and Christopher Lloyd is as delightful as always as the depth-perception impaired half of the criminal duo.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 87%

#1276 Odd Jobs aka Summer Jobs (1986)

Odd Jobs is an on even, small budget comedy of a bunch of college students first trying to get summer jobs before forming their own moving company.

As much as I root for the underdogs, Odd Jobs just doesn’t have what it takes to make for a memorable comedy, and although the single ok moments in the movie are many, as a whole it ends up a dud.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 50%

#1274 A Great Wall aka The Great Wall Is a Great Wall (1986)

A Chinese American man gets disheartened with his Silicon Valley job and takes a long vacation to Beijing for the very first time in forty years with his fully Americanised family with no roots to the mainland China.

The few cultural clashes are inevitable in this kind of setup in A Great Wall, but more interestingly the clashes are internal and take place within each family. None of the drama is too big and I did like the approach as it gave both families a great sense of depth and authenticity.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 75%

#1271 Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986)

A portrayal of a Jewish family living together in 1937 Brooklyn, New York, Brighton Beach Memoirs concentrate on the story of Eugene, a horny 16-year-old trying to find an outlet for his sexual frustrations.

But almost every other character in the story is more interesting to follow. The movie gets its best moments out of the shared moments between the older brother, who makes several bad choices, and the father, who is surprises the son as well as the viewer with his totally unexpected compassion and wisdom.

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 58%

#1267 Omega Syndrome (1986)

Sometimes when you watch a skilfully paced movie, you might pause if after awhile and get surprised that only some 20 minutes have passed and the movie has already taken you into adventure and action while telling an interesting story and establishing a connection with the main characters.

What you get here is the completely opposite. After watching for an hour the movie seemed be in a standstill without me unable to connect with neither the plot nor the any of the characters. Well, almost as the most interesting aspect of the movie turned out to to be the rough-around-the-edges antihero sidekick played by George DiCenzo.

Omega Syndrome resembles quite a lot of the video games of the 80s, as it has a catchy title and splashy poster, but nothing much more.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 42%

#1266 My Chauffeur (1986)

I wasn’t feeling My Chauffeur at all and actually stopped watching it after only 15 minutes as the concept of an annoying free-spirited Madonna copy introduced to a high society limousine company to cause resentment just seemed like such a bore concept.

But after a small pause I carried on bravely and found My Chauffeur not exactly improving, but not at all as irritating as I first thought. The movie actually turned so self-consciously bad from time to time that it actually got entertaining at times, and I found myself ashamed laughing out loud to all the stupidity.

One aspect worth mentioning about My Chauffeur is that the magician / entertainer duo Penn & Teller make their first movie debut together as a team here in a long segment that feels almost completely separated from the rest of the movie.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 60%

#1260 Land of Doom (1986)

Mad Max wasn’t the first movie to the post-apocalyptic wasteland genre, but its success resulted to the genre to skyrocket, with unfortunate consequences: if the original Mad Max wasn’t much of a masterpiece, the copycat movies are generally completely worthless uninteresting, uninspired pieces of cheap trash.

Land of Doom lands somewhere in between. While the setup and the baddies are your typical carbon copy leather dudes on basic motorcycles with some dodgy frames welded on, it’s not a total stinker and has some ok moments in it, including interesting landscapes shot in Turkey – again, compared to shooting it in the nearest sandpit like so many similar movies do.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 28%

#1254 Mission Kill (1986)

Your typical 80s action romp where an all-American male travels to a 3rd world country, confronts some wrongdoings which he resolves by blowing up the whole place.

And like with many of the similar romps is that there’s nothing here that would save Mission Kill from complete mediocrity. While Robert Ginty as the lead is not to blame, the movie would’ve probably gained some limited extra mileage out of having some iconic contemporary action star, like Chuck Norris, starring in it.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 39%

#1252 Battle for the Lost Planet aka Galaxy aka Galaxy Destroyer (1986)

By far the most interesting and creative part of Battle for the Lost Planet takes place during its first 20 minutes as we witness an industrial spy trapped in a malfunctioning shuttle wandering aimlessly through the space, keeping the Spy in a solitary cell kind of setup, trying to maintain his physical and mental health.

Therefore it’s a shame what a stinker the movie turns out to be after the spy finally returns back to earth. It’s not even that the movie would be plain bad, but it’s just so uninteresting and insignificant and gets much more so towards the end as some remarkably meaningless elements of Mad Max are introduced.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 17%

#1218 Wildcats (1986)

When it comes to the sports movies, it’s not about inevitable victory, but the journey there.

With Wildcats, a comedy led by the comedienne Goldie Hawn, the journey there is fun. Ups, downs, underdogs, goofs, training montages with awesome music – it’s all here!

Wildcats does not usually top the lists of the definite sports movies, but it definitely tops the list of the definite sports comedies of the 80s.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 87%

#1211 That’s Life! (1986)

A non-union film shot with family members at the Malibu house of the writer-director Blake Edwards, That’s Life! could be the most professional home movies ever shot.

The movie has that Blake Edwards look and feel to it, but in a positive way. Jack Lemmon carries the movie through making a perfedct example how to play a neurotic character without being annoying to watch, like is often the case.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 62%

#1193 Christmas 2019: The Christmas Star (1986)

This year’s Christmas special is by far the shortest yet. But, it’s also 100% longer than I previously anticipated as I thought I’d run out of eligible movies already last year,

The Christmas Star is one of those movies shot in Canada, but with U.S. actors and look & feel to make a saving in the production costs. The cast is actually remarkably good for a totally unknown little movie; familiar faces here include Ed Asner (who’s known for portraying Santa in various films), Rene Auberjonois (who sadly passed away earlier this month), Alan North and Fred Gwynne.

The story itself is basic, but manages to find an interesting sidetrack from the usual Santa Claus movies. The Christmas Star is not a big budget movie, but being a Disney movie there’s a certain quality to the production.

I watched the movie together with my 6-year old daughter who was glued to the screen right from the beginning to the end. So did The Christmas Star just become a xmas tradition for our family? That’s to be seen next year!

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 83%

#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%