#1403 Halloween 2020: Twisted Nightmare (1987)

Twisted Nightmare is one of the movies that got made but did not need to exist.

Basically a remake of Friday the 13th Part III (shot in the same set and repeating the same kills), I can’t imagine the movie would excite any fans of the original nor excite new audience in the already saturated market of 80s slashers.

Twisted Nightmare is a teflon coated, empty shell of a movie that enters and leaves the viewer without leaving any trace or lasting impression.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 6%

#1395 Halloween 2020: Scared Stiff (1987)

There seems to be a pattern in my life; watching a movie I run into an actor I’ve never seen before, and the very next movie stars that obscure actor again. With Scared Stiff that actor is Andrew Stevens, who single handedly saved The Terror Within.

Scared Stiff is a quality late 80s horror thriller that mixes in elements of fantasy and imagination where a ghost of a cruel slave trader possesses the father of the family after they move in an old colonial house and discover the dark secrets within. Everything in Scared Stiff takes place firmly in a movie movie world and you will probably enjoy it a lot more if you watch it as a fairy tale rather than a serious cinema for the grown ups.

The movie is visually rich and enjoyable to watch, but as with many movies similar to it, the scares Scared Stiff provides are comparable to a tame Disney ghost ride rather than something that would keep you at the edge of your seat.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 72%

#1390 Halloween 2020: Primal Scream aka Hellfire (1987)

I picked up Primal Scream confusing it to much more interesting (at least on paper) scifi horror movie Primal Rage that I was looking forward to watching.

I don’t know how Primal Rage will measure up against this movie, but it can’t do much worse. There’s nothing wrong with the story per se – a future substance called Hellfire that provides tons of energy but has one downside to it: it ignites and burns up all human flesh upon contact. A private investigator gets tangled to the web of lethal coverup as the big corporate mining the substance does not want the info to leak out.

Primal Scream might have made an ok graphic novel, but the level of execution (and other design choices) is just not high enough to make the story interesting. Film noir style private investigator, femme fatale and futuristic setting I can see all working if done either in drawing or high production values similar to Blade Runner, but Primal Scream manages to look little else than a slice of 80s everyday life, spiced up with 80s style scifi items, shot in a style that resembles more of an European 70s indie movie than a 1987 American feature film.

80s-o-meter: 31%

Total: 11%

#1383 Halloween 2020: It’s Alive III – Island of the Alive (1987)

The originality award this year goes out to It’s Alive III – Island of the Alive. Larry Cohen’s sequel to the It Lives Again, released in 1978 (which in turn is a sequel to 1974 movie It’s Alive) marches the mutant killer babies to the silver screen for the third time, and this time around they’re being sent to a distant island to live in peace after the father of one mutant (Michael Moriarty) proves the court that the creatures have humane traits to them.

While I don’t necessarily agree that this was a good call from the judge, the island provides a plot device to take the story to bit different route; we get to see unsuccessful attempts to reach the mutants, followed by an adventure through the seas that I found a really fresh plot twist. The creatures themselves end up the Achilles heel of the movie, and the stop motion animations coupled with midgets inside rubber suits don’t really hold up for exposure to the camera for longer than one second, and unlike its predecessors, Island of the Alive gives the creatures plenty of screen time.

It’s Alive III – Island of the Alive is not a good movie, but weird enough to leave a lasting impression – which I consider a merit on its own.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 63%

#1377 Halloween 2020: Monstrosity (1987)

A modernisation of the monster of Frankenstein coupled with awkward humour, Monstrosity joins the ranks of horror comedies that fail to provide any laughs or scares.

Frankie as they imaginatively call him is put together by three young guys in a backyard shed to fight against criminals, and he ends up a golem of a man with the mental capacity of a 3-year old.

With the exception of perhaps few gory kills, there’s nothing to be liked about Monstrosity. On the contrary, it’s movies like this that make me regret picking up this hobby without automatically skipping these kind of steaming pile of turds.

80s-o-meter: 30%

Total: -1%

#1354 Pretty Smart (1987)

Pretty Smart is a totally useless comedy that introduces lots of ingredients seen in other films of the era, but lacks the ability to do anything new or creative with them.

The setting of upper class finishing school for girls is there to allow some gratuitous nudity and the movie plays out with a wit of a porn movie – but with the actual intercourses cut out. In fact, the movie is an antithesis for wit.

This wouldn’t be a problem if the movie had some other qualities going for it, but with the exception of ok production quality, Pretty Smart is a totally soulless creation that has next to nothing enjoyable in it; not in its theme, in its humour, the characters and nor the mediterranean setting.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 7%

#1352 World Gone Wild (1987)

World Gone Wild starts off as your typical dystopian wastelands Mad Max ripoff – a genre I’ve never cared for – but gets a lot more interesting as the gang of outcasts led by Michael Paré join their forces to get even with a religious cult (led by Adam Ant) terrorising communities outside the city.

Sure, the movie now turns more into a Seven Samurai ripoff, but one that manages to find its own tone of voice. I particularly enjoyed the side plot line involving the treacherous baddie biker that plays out in a very satisfactory fashion.

Visually the movie is solid enough, although most of the gear people wear make the tone like a bunch of 80s types had a cheap dystopian live action roleplay.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 70%

#1341 Nadine (1987)

Let me start with a confession: I’ve browsed through this poster in my collection about a thousand times and always skipped the text, looked at the picture and assumed that it was Patrick Swayze who is starring in Nadine with Kim Basinger. I was therefore more than a bit stunned to see Jeff Bridges instead.

Not that I mind, Bridges is one of the greats that I always enjoy seeing on the silver screen. In fact, he is much too good to be in Nadine, a pretty tame action crime comedy set in the 1950s Texas.

On the positive note he does make the movie better than it rightfully deserves to be; the tale of an impulsive hairdresser and his soon-to-be bum ex husband is not very interesting nor is their constant quarrelling funny. The movie does have its exciting moments though as the shady real estate kingpin played by the great Rip Torn finds out the couple has obtained a confidential document he has been looking forward to getting in his hands.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 61%

#1339 Dancers (1987)

Tony (Mikhail Baryshnikov) is a good dancer who’s had sex with every ballet dancer in his ballet company. While he is preparing a film version of Giselle balette in Italy, a 17-year-old American teenager joins the company and Tony wants to have sex with her as well. It all goes well until she hears about the former people Tony has had sex. And then we see about 45 minutes of balette dancing on the stage.

I don’t know who convinced The Cannon Group that making Dancers would be a terrific idea –– it doesn’t sound good even on paper, and on film it’s a total dud.

I’d much rather watched just the ballet dancing for 90 minutes – and I don’t even care for ballet a bit.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 0%

#1337 The Trouble with Spies (1987)

The Trouble with Spies was originally shot in 1984 as a made for TV movie but released three years later as a theatrical release. But make no mistake, this spy comedy looks and feels very much like your average early 80s TV movie.

Special Agent comedies have been already done to death by 1984, and The Trouble with Spies is really nothing more but yet another poor man’s Pink Panther copy. There was two upsides seeing this movie, first one being seeing Lucy Gutteridge (who ended up mostly in made for TV movies) starring in another movie besides Top Secret! – a movie I’ve seen about gazillion times as a kid.

Another upside? That adorable guard dog towards the end of the movie.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 38%

#1329 The Whales of August (1987)

The last movie of the legendary silent movie star Lillian Gish, The Whales of August follows the life and events of two sisters staying together an August during their twilight years in a small shoreside cabin in Maine, like they have done so many times ever since their childhood.

This is one of those slow movies, and nothing much goes on here. In fact, the pacing is painfully slow for anyone with a short attention span .. like myself.

The Whales of August is a hard movie to review, and it pretty much boils down to how much you appreciate seeing the great stars of the yesteryear one more time together in the same movie. My rating will be on the low end due to slow pacing and not having former relationship with the actors – but if you rate it higher, you won’t be getting any counter arguments from me either.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 21%

#1324 The Rosary Murders (1987)

Many movie genres of the 80s still hold up well today, but due to the staggering amount of well written crime movies and TV series we’ve seen in the last two decades, the crime / thriller genre has evolved leaps and bounds.

This leaves many a-ok 80s thrillers paling in comparison. Not because they are necessarily bad, but because we’ve accustomed to seeing such perfected thrill rides that make the old presentation feel tame and slow.

Such is the case with The Rosary Murders as well – while it is a pretty decent crime mystery of its era, you will likely find its offerings thrilling if you’re not accustomed to the genre in any way.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 61%

#1268 Housekeeping (1987)

A critical success of movie of an odd ball sisters, who after getting orphaned end up with their eccentric aunt.

Housekeeping is one of those movies where you either get enchanted by the eccentricity, or don’t get much out of the movie, as happened to me. While I did enjoy the overall mood I found the characters uninteresting and pacing of the movie tedious.

For me a much more interesting story would’ve instead been that of the sister who’s torn with belonging to the dysfunctional family and wanting to fit it with the rest of the society.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 30%

#1263 Lionheart (1987)

Starring Eric Stoltz, Lionheart is a 12th century adventure film that the time forgot – and for a good reason.

The reason being that nothing in it really stands out in a memorable way. Released in the era that already gave us terrific adventures like Excalibur, Legend, Willow and Conan the Barbarian that all have their unique thing going for them, Lionheart feels completely lukewarm and odourless.

While similar movies visual landmark movies of their time, Lionheart has the look & feel of Monty Python and The Holy Grail, sans the humour.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 22%

#1258 Date with an Angel (1987)

Whether you enjoy watching Date with an Angel at all depends on if you take it as a weird comedy with a huge credibility problem – or an adult fantasy fairytale that it is.

The sooner I accepted this, the more I started to enjoy the movie, especially considering that in a bigger picture it all kind of made sense in the end. My movie experience went from rolling my eyes, to getting somewhat engaged, to actually wanting to watch the movie again some time in the future.

I’d even consider the movie a triumph for managing to sell the viewer such an implausible setup, and I’d hoped the team had had more courage than to wrap up the movie otherwise than its current compromised crowd pleasing ending.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 81%

#1248 Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)

If one had to name Ridley Scott’s movie from 1987, even most of the movie enthusiasts would likely draw blank.

Someone to Watch Over Me is probably by far the least known full length feature film in Scott’s immaculate catalogue of movies. And it is a much more insignificant one, resembling more your typical 80s cop movie than a landmark film Scott is known for.

That being said, it’s still a quality movie written, acted, directed and shot with the best skill Hollywood has to offer, and it’s interesting to see Tom Berenger in this anti hero lead role where he is not a perfect cop, perfect husband nor a perfect human.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 85%

#1240 ‎The Pick-up Artist (1987)

We all know what a cool guy Robert Downey Jr of today is. But in his previous life he was a somewhat tiresome character in multiple 80s teen movies.

The Pick-up Artist – Downey Jr’s first leading cinematic role – catches him at his worst. To his defense, there’s nothing much for him to work with in the weak character the script pins on him and I can’t see any contemporary actor saving the movie either.

Nonetheless, the role demands someone with the charm to pull off the lovable scoundrel schtick, but young Downey Jr can’t provide any of that, and his character comes off plain annoying. Same goes for Molly Ringwald who at the peak of her career ends up wasting her time and talent as the romantic interest of this movie.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 36%

#1207 Ironweed (1987)

Ironweed is not nearly as grand movie as it wants to be.

Futhermore, the movie is not a triumph for neither Jack Nicholson nor Meryl Streep, who typically can carry any kind of movie, but here they come across multi-millionaires dressed up in rags and pretending to be alcoholic vagabonds. As weak as the story in Ironweed is, the movie could’ve actually gained from not going for the top billing actors, but trying to introduce new talent instead. This way the movie would’ve at least had the advantage of being an underdog.

Now Ironweed remains an expensive exercise that kept Nicholson and Streep on the peak of their careers from undertaking something more substantial – something that the time would not have already forgotten.

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 55%