#1115 Beyond Therapy (1987)

Robert Altman was an interesting director who managed to create awful duds like Popeye as well as masterpieces that combine the best traits of both indie and Hollywood movies, like Streamers.

Beyond Therapy falls somewhere between these two. It is an artsy film that makes some annoyingly artsy and trivial choices just for the sake of it. A drama comedy about self-centred and neurotic New Yorkers struggling with relationships begs to be hated, but for one reason or another I did find the oddly off mood somewhat enchanting. And yet, I did hate the artsy move where Altman choose to locate the movie to Paris. And yet, I didn’t care for the plot at all.

Whatever there’s good about Beyond Therapy happens in small quirky moments when a dialogue leads the viewer on, only to take a sudden, unexpected 180 degree turn. Those did manage to make me smile every now and then.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 42%

#1079 Hello Again (1987)

If you think about, considering that we all know movies are make believe it’s pretty amazing how much we’re willing to cut them some slack in terms of realism. We prefer a good story to realism and sympathise with characters we know never existed and it really takes a considerable load of baloney for us to lose our faith in the story.

Throughout its running time Hello Again tries these limits: Starting from improbable, moving onto unlikely, all the way through poppycock, ending somewhere between ridiculous, moronic – and downright painful.

I do love Shelley Long. She’s one great comedienne at her very best in easy going, fluffy comedies. But Hello Again is just too much nonsense for anyone with half a brain take in.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 39%

#1028 Throw Momma from the Train (1987)

Throw Momma from the Train, Danny DeVito’s feature film directional debut is a success.

The movie is never taxing to follow, visually pleasing and would’ve even withstood a somewhat longer cut; at its current running time of only 87 minutes, the great roleplay of Anne Ramsey is cut short and the nastiness of the mother from hell is never established quite enough. Not enough to warrant throwing her out from the train, at least.

The movie is based on the 1951 Hitchcock classic Strangers on a Train and does a smart move by not trying to hide this, but intertwining it as the central turn of events in the movie.

I do love nods like these in movies.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 85%

#1020 Outrageous Fortune (1987)

Bette Midler had a running streak of four solid comedies in just two years, all of which were solid box office successes.

Looking at Outrageous Fortune it’s no wonder: The movie is an obvious crowd pleaser and presses quite a lot of right buttons for moviegoers wanting a nice nonsense escape from reality for 90 minutes.

Personally I found all the agent nonsense totally unnecessary. The chemistry between Midler and Shelley Long works a treat and personally I would’ve been pretty happy just following the urban love triangle that was already well established and appetising. Luckily it all wraps up satisfactorily in the end in a finale done in the very best tradition of the 80s.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 71%

#1017 My Best Friend Is a Vampire (1987)

A spinoff of the teenage werewolf subgenre, My Best Friend Is a Vampire, an underdog of a horror comedy is one pleasant surprise.

The movie gets the mood right straight off the bat. Young Robert Sean Leonard – who’s only 17 at the time – makes for a perfect foundation for the timid teen undergoing the change of a lifetime.

Sure, it’s all done before, but My Best Friend Is a Vampire manages to find the tone of voice of its own, offering an entertaining little adventure that doesn’t just settle for recreating the most obvious clichés of the genre.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 85%

#1001 Mannequin (1987)

If a shopping mall doll coming to life as a real life woman sounds a bit far fetched, no worries; Mannequin has the back story covered from the get go as she’s helped by the Egyptian gods to escape an arranged marriage.

While its kind of a mess as a movie, its kind dodgy storyline, overacting and sheer stupidity become somewhat easier to stomach once you accept that you are actually watching a farce – or a modern fairytale – instead of your typical comedy. With this mindset even the nocturnal musical number inside the shopping mall gets not only tolerable, but actually pretty delightful.

The leads Andrew McCarthy and Kim Cattrall pull through the nonsense with charm. On the other hand James Spader’s overacting as the shopping mall manager is really taxing to watch and the comedic talent of G. W. Bailey is wasted in the dimwit night watchman role written very much in the vein of his Police Academy Lt Harris – minus the funny.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 60%

#995 Less Than Zero (1987)

Andrew McCarthy, Robert Downey Jr and James Spader – the top talent of the era – join together in Less Than Zero, a somewhat plasticky, superficial take on the late 80s decadent lifestyle of the filthy rich.

The problem is that most of the movie’s runtime is used on just chasing after the main character on a drug hook, who just seems to get in a trouble time after another. The movie never has enough time to truly examine the ins and outs of being an addict, but offers a superficial, stylised take on the subject that has less depth than your average music video. Robert Downey Jr who is mostly irritating in most of his 80s roles is somewhat tiring also here, but already gives a glimpse into the future for the things to come with his raw portrayal of a remorseful addict on a withdrawal.

A pompous, melodramatic and wonderfully 80s take on the poor rich kids on cocaine, Less Than Zero is very recommendable as a study of the era, not so much as a serious drama film.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 61%

#991 Baby Boom (1987)

A successful New York executive receives an unexpected baby that turns their lives around and derives comedy through awkward situations with clumsy baby handling until they finally fall in love with the little one? Wait a minute. Is Baby Boom just a single mother version of the Three Men and a Baby?

That’s the way it very much looks like until the movie takes a somewhat different route and moves the show to a small rural town. It’s too bad that at the same time the movie gears towards a more traditional romantic comedy and all the clichés that go with the genre.

Baby Boom is harmless little comedy that raises a few interesting questions about women trying to make both the career and the family happen. I just wished it had the director had the courage to leave out the formulaic romantic comedy part that feels very much an unnecessary third wheel here.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 61%

#938 Fatal Attraction (1987)

One of the better known thrillers of the 80s, Fatal Attraction is a story about a lawyer who gets involved in a passionate sexual encounter with absolutely no strings attached – or a least so he thinks, until the relationship comes back to haunt him.

The movie does a terrific job laying out the motivations and relationships between the characters so that when things finally go south, the husband still earns our sympathy despite all that has happened. Glenn Close at first seems to make for the least threatening antagonist ever, but that’s part of the director Adrian Lyne’s plan, and the events that unravel later in the movie certainly gain a good surprise factor out of this equation. Also, the decision to make her exceptionally human and fragile really works for the movie’s benefit.

This unfortunately changes in the very last minutes of the film when the movie wonders a bit too far into the horror/slasher genre, which feels like a total faux pas. Fatal Attraction might not be the conversational topic it was when it was released back in 1987, but in many ways it’s still just as effective, relevant and recommendable.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 87%

#934 North Shore (1987)

North Shore is a surfing movie that at first seems like the most douche 80s piece of cinema: There’s surfer dudes, bikini girls and, like, totally groovy look and feel to it all. It was only after the actual surfing started that the movie seemed to find a tone of its own.

Don’t get me wrong. The depth of the movie is still on par with an average episode of Beverly Hills, 90210: The baddies are comical, there’s an idiotic subplot about a forbidden love and as it is a sports movie you pretty know how it is going to turn out in the end. Nevertheless, it has to be said that there’s a certain kind of undeniable enjoyment to watching the stunning Hawaiian setting coupled with some nice surfing action by the top surfers of the 80s.

North Shore is fluffy, insignificant movie that takes itself serious in a most adorable fashion. But it is also a decent escape if you need some surfing, ocean, endless summer mixed in with a dose of innocence of the youth.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 58%

#931 Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Directed with mastery by Stanley Kubrick Full Metal Jacket is a different kind of war movie consisting of individual segments all of which have been designed to stick. The barbershop opening scene, training bit, helicopter flight, tv interviews, getting pinned by the sniper all have became a part of pop culture imagery we now associate with Vietnam war.

As with any Vietnam War movie, the contemporary music plays a big part here as well, with tracks like The Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black and The Trashmen’s Surfin’ Bird. The ending scene as the soldiers march through the flaming ruins at the end, and join together in singing the Mickey Mouse club march, reminding us of the chilling of the end of an innocence.

A perfect movie in its own right, Full Metal Jacket is a flawless exercise in dark humour and sheer madness that is war.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 100%

#930 The Principal (1987)

Oh no. Not another inspirational teacher in a skid row school making a change and turning them all into nice grade A students.

Well, not exactly. The Principal is a bit of that too, but it’s much more about Jim Belushi as the principal getting pushed beyond the point of no return to ensure a work peace to protect students getting terrorised by a juvenile gang led by Michael Wright. And although you know it’s a showdown waiting to happen, it’s this buildup of tension that makes The Principal worth your while.

Made in the vein of Class of 1984, The Principal is in its way the very best Belushi movie of the era and the role of the unconventional principle fits well with both his appearance and his trademark onscreen character.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 76%

#928 No Man’s Land (1987)

As Benjy, an undercover cop inadvertently gets involved with a criminal in a much deeper level than he originally bargained for, it’s clear that No Man’s Land is going to be the kind of a thriller that’s going to be asking some profound questions about morals.

What makes it all much more interesting is that it isn’t the lavish lifestyle that ends up seducing Benjy, but the bromance with the charismatic ringleader that soon turns into a full fledged friendship.

Lastly, it’s the performances of both D.B. Sweeney and Charlie Sheen that really make the movie click, with Sweeney playing the rookie cop way out of his head to an absolute perfection and Sheen crafting a very believable enigma wrapped in a riddle character accustomed to relying on his natural charm.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 86%

#924 Cherry 2000 (1987)

A white collar worker’s last of its line fembot – a Cherry 2000 – short circuits and ends up beyond repair. To find a replacement, he sets out to find a tracker to bring him one from the forbidden Zone 7, and soon unwillingly finds himself in the midst of an adventure.

Mixing various genres is always a huge gamble, but in Cherry 2000’s case the inventive forces behind it seemingly have a good time borrowing elements from sci-fi, cyberpunk, western and road movies and mixing them with elements of dystopian deserted world, 1950s and even some maniac campers. Unfortunately this lead to the movie ending hard to explain to the movie going masses and was deemed a straight to video instead of a theatrical release.

After its release the movie started gaining a cult following and has since inspired various movie and video game makers alike.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 81%

#914 Dudes (1987)

A movie starring Jon Cryer and Flea (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers fame) that most people me included have never even heard about? Color me interested!

Dudes follows up a three New York punk rockers that take a road trip with a VW Beetle from the east coast to get to the California, only to be ambushed by a gang of redneck thugs in Arizona. After the local police deny helping the two survivals, they then set out to find the gang themselves to revenge the death of their friend.

Dudes tries a little something of its own with freely mixing genres and presenting us some weird dream sequences and ghosts of the warriors passing by the prairie, but there’s something a little off throughout the movie and its screenplay. It all looks and sounds good, but other than that it just seems to wander around aimlessly for the most of its running time.

Cryer and Daniel Roebuck make for a likeable duo that I really see standing a chance of becoming a part of 80s pop culture catalogue had the script been better.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 60%

#909 Three Men and a Baby (1987)

Let’s gather up three hot top list Hollywood male actors and make them go sickly sweet trying to cope with a baby in a clumsy fashion; this has been my presumption on Three Men and a Baby, and the very reason I’ve been steering away from it for the last 30 or so years.

But, I was wrong. What we have here is a terrific, smartly written and savvily directed comedy with a big heart and many laughs. After the woefully sluggish start depicting the swinging lifestyle of the three bachelors the movie really picks up as the baby arrives. Sure, there are some syrupy moments here, but Leonard Nimoy very smartly directs away from the most obvious clichés.

Three Men and a Baby was a huge box office hit and ended up the biggest grossing movie of 1987 – and not undeservedly so.

But I still do loathe the poster.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 92%

#906 Best Seller (1987)

It wasn’t too long into the moody start sequence of Best Seller with the four gunmen violently making their way to the high security police evidence storage unit to steal evidence, that I knew I was onto something good.

It’s after this prologue that we see the cop – turned a writer since – some 15 years later on a pursuit after a suspect, and getting an unexpected help from a mysterious figure in an expensive suit. The stranger eventually encounters him, promising to hand out the biggest revelation scoop ever, guaranteed to land him the next best selling novel.

I wasn’t stoked to see James Woods in the role of the crook, but it seems I just have to admit I’m just completely wrong about him as he once again triumphs in the role, making a great hitman with some chilling psychopathic traits. The huge framed Brian Dennehy – one of our favourite supporting act movie sheriffs – carries the lead role with ease and natural charm.

Stylish, moody and suspenseful, Best Seller is one of the most positive surprises of the year.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 92%

#904 Deathrow Gameshow (1987)

Precisely the kind of a movie that the film critics pan for having no merits, Deathrow Gameshow follows a dystopic and amoral TV show that puts Deathrow convicts competing in various events in order to save their lives – not unlike something you would read from Judge Dredd comics.

If the concept seems familiar from The Running Man, another 1987 movie with the same kind of concept, here the emphasis is more on the comedic mishaps that the ruthless gameshow host faces as he drives his convertible from his hillside Malibu home to work to shoot another three episodes of the show.

Although the movie is such an obvious one trick pony, the movie makes for a surprisingly easy to watch experience. The humour is hit and miss, but when it hits, it surely finds its target. The end commercial spoof reel demonstrating various uses for the deceased bodies for example got a pretty decent chuckle out of me.

Being as crude and uneven as it is, Deathrow Gameshow cannot really be recommended to anyone. But I do applaud the nonconventional approach here to try to do something a bit off the beaten path. The world occasionally needs stupidity like this.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 61%

#902 The Majorettes (1987)

The Majorettes starts out as your typical early 80s copy-paste high school slasher, and not as a particularly good one at that. There’s a small town cheerleader gang, a few naked locker room tit scenes and a killer that begins doing them in.

The movie keeps ticking on all the lowest common denominator boxes until in the act two it inexplicably turns into a revenge flick as one of the jocks annihilates a local motorcycle gang. The change is so abrupt and out of place that if I was in a movie theatre, I would’ve assumed the projectionist had swapped in a wrong reel by accident. I can only assume this is all done to make the otherwise uninspired slasher somehow a bit more unique.

This change of a pace unfortunately adds only a limited amusement factor to it all, and the movie itself remains subpar until the very end.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 17%

#899 Amazon Women on the Moon (1987)

With the exception of Saturday Night Live, sketch shows on the TV aren’t nearly as big in the states as they are in the old continent. As a some sort of oddity (and quite frankly luckily as a passing fad) sketch shows started to appear as full length feature films in the mid 70s.

Amazon Women on the Moon is a continuum to this fad, with five different directors including Joe Dante and John Landis at it. The movie derives its name from a recurring bits that follow a poorly made 50s style scifi movie of a expedition crew landing on the moon. These segments don’t offer any humoristic value beyond the intentionally bad quality and forced clumsiness, and you’re likely to get a much better mileage watching any similar 50s scifi movie done with grave seriousness. There are quite a lot of much funnier scifi films out there, believe me.

Being a full length feature film, the skits are long and tend to drag on for too long. The Blacks Without Soul bit with B.B. King got a good chuckle out of me, but fails to evolve beyond its initial idea and should’ve cut shorter. Carl Gottlieb’s Invisible Man spoof is the real gem here with Ed Begley Jr playing a deluded man convinced of having come up with a formula for invisibility, oblivious that people around him are just humouring him.

Amazon Women on the Moon is best viewed to catch a glimpse of the various 80s actors usually seen only in feature films testing their wings in short sketches.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 60%