#1472 Amazing Grace and Chuck (1987)

Chuck, a star of his little league baseball team realises after a visit to nuclear missile silo how the world is in a balance of terror that might go off any minute, and refuses to throw another pitch until the nuclear arsenal in the world is gone. His boycott is then picked up by a local newspaper, after which an unexpected chain of events starts to unravel as a NBA star Amazing Grace Smith joins him, followed by other front row athletes.

Amazing Grace and Chuck is a beautiful fairy tale with great array of interesting personas and events. It grasped me from the get go, and I enjoyed it all the way to the end. So, it’s highly implausible – but the movie handles all this very well, finally wrapping up beautifully with a one single thought:

”But wouldn’t it be nice”

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 86%

#1458 Death Before Dishonor (1987)

A rambo-like Sergeant goes against a terrorist organisation led by Abu Jihad (!) in Death Before Dishonor, a patriotic American action romp taking place somewhere in Middle East.

Despite all the action, the overall feeling of the movie is oddly tame. The movie tries to push all the best buttons to the best of its abilities, but the end result always seems to fall far behind expected.

I expected to lift up a few strengths of the movie to this last paragraph, but honestly can’t think of anything that would stand above average – and that is probably the biggest downside of the whole film.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 50%

#1454 White of the Eye (1987)

Truth be told, there was nothing at first in the White of the Eye that caught my interest. I found the characters and cinematography uninteresting and was ready to sign the whole movie off as something average at best.

But as the movie finally got into the gear, it ended up being an interesting and entertaining – although a bit tamer – ride along the line of what Coen brothers might’ve cooked up.

White of the Eye remains the only feature film of the 80s by the director Donald Cammell whose directorial work at the time consisted more of the music documentaries, but as such it’s one of those rare films that will give you a much better mileage on the second run.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 75%

#1453 Cry Freedom (1987)

The story of the life and killing of black rights activist Steve Biko in the hands of the racist South-African apartheid government and the following events that led journalist Donald Woods to flee the country in secrecy are in fact remarkable piece of our recent history, even so that I’ve a gut feeling that Cry Freedom fails to capture the magnitude of these events, despite not really doing much wrong on the surface.

The good aspects of the movie are obvious: Denzel Washington and Kevin Kline in their respective roles as Biko and Woods perform their roles and the movie is shot in Zimbabwe (after being forced to leave South Africa) with a believable setting and cast of the period.

First of the problems is that the movie is written from Woods’ point of view and we only see Biko through him, when obviously he is the more interesting part of the equation. In that same vein the second half of the movie concentrates on Woods’ attempt to leave the country and while adventurous, it seems that the movie misses an opportunity for even a more important storyline; one stemming out of the black population.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 70%

#1452 Robot Holocaust (1987)

Here’s a good reminder never to judge a book by its covers. But, in this case it’s the contents of the book that stink to high heaven and don’t live anywhere near up to the pretty nice VHS cover art.

Robot Holocaust is basically a sword & sorcery movie, but this it’s set to the dystopian future where an evil bread bin called Dark One along with his dorky robots have enslaved what’s left of the human race. A band of heroes immune to the tricks of the Dark One provides the swords, and Dark One provides the sorcery through some high level computer magic.

One of the most annoying aspect of the movie is the C-3PO ripoff with a nasal voice and face frozen to a bewildered grin. I grew tired of seeing and hearing him after the first three seconds, and was displeased after understanding he would be a permanent figure on the screen until the very end. There is some fun to be had with the dodgy special effects and sock puppet aliens, but as the movie itself is so tediously boring that none of this warrants subjecting yourself to this waste of celluloid.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 5%

#1446 Mankillers aka 12 Wild Women (1987)

The poster of Mankillers is a poor one, but it very truthfully represents what you can expect out of the movie: tits and guns.

Basically a womanised version of Dirty Dozen with all the depth surgically removed, a concept already utilised by Hell Squad two years earlier. There is very little to nothing to the story; a group of women march into a camp of thugs and engage in a firefight until they’re all dead.

The movie is a typical example of something you’d find in a random rental tape of the 80s, and for most parts you would’ve been happy with watching the attractive women getting into unconvincing fire fights. But for the today’s point of view, there should be something more in here, either in the plot, or just going so much over the border that the end result would be fun.

Mankillers ultimately fails at both.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 35%

#1429-31 The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission, The Deadly Mission & The Fatal Mission (1985, 1987, 1988)

A trilogy of made for tv movies released almost 20 years after the original 1967 Dirty Dozen movie, Next Mission, The Deadly Mission and The Fatal Mission take the same premise of the original movie and serve it in a surprisingly different packages, while maintaining some of the cast of the original movie.

Next Mission’s main asset is Lee Marvin, who led the original bunch of misfits rescued from death sentence to carry out a suicide mission in the occupied Europe. It is made somewhat interesting by the aspect of not trying to kill Hitler, but to prevent his assassination due to the assumption that it will be Hitler himself that will lead Germany to defeat with his megalomaniac plans. Other than that, nothing much here to write to home about. In The Deadly Mission Marvin was replaced by Telly Savalas (of the Kojak fame) and this was the movie that resonated with me the most, being almost an Indiana Jones like adventure in a Nazi occupied castle. I was also impressed the amount of destruction and havoc they put the castle through, especially considering this is a made for TV movie that usually are very bland in the effects department.

The Fatal Mission feels tired to start with, introducing lots of elements (including a female lead and a love story) that all feel like degenerative and not to the core of the franchise. On top of the uneven trilogy, a TV series of the same name aired on Fox on 1988, but was discontinued after the first season.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: Next Mission 60% | The Deadly Mission 79% | The Fatal Mission 45%

#1426 Sweet Lies (1987)

Yet another for the steaming pile of those wild and crazy Americans in Paris engaged in an adventure, Sweet Lies follows an insurance investigator visiting the old continent, who then gets chased around by three women.

Sweet Lies makes an attempt in romantic comedy, but lacks laughs and real romance and is a movie that the time forgot almost immediately upon its release.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 18%

#1421 From the Hip (1987)

I’d previously skipped From the Hip as I mistook it for a British movie thanks to its poster – and I still insist that its style reminds more of the British cinema than what Hollywood usually produces.

But make no mistake, the movie itself is as American as it can be: a courtroom comedy featuring Judd Nelson in one of his best roles of all times. The over acted part of a young hotshot lawyer climbing the corporate ladder could have easily turned super annoying, but the movie manages to be genuinely funny at times.

In fact, laugh out loud funny.

From the Hip has its serious side as well as the horseplay comes to a sudden halt when the wizkid is assigned to defending an intellectual sociopath aristocrat – chillingly convincingly portrayed by John Hurt – in a grim murder case impossible to win.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 87%

#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%