#1183 Halloween 2019: Lurkers (1988)

There’s something off with Lurkers throughout it’s running time. The picture angles seem odd, stylistic choices feel weird, pacing is way too slow and scenes are padded with unnecessary footage that should’ve ended up on the cutting room floor; it’s clear the movie wasn’t made by someone who knows their stuff.

The story only gets interesting towards the last 15 minutes, and even then it’s made for TV quality at best. Lurkers should’ve probably been a short movie as it doesn’t really carry through 90 minutes.

The movie was heading steadily to zero total scoring, but the twelve points I ended up giving to it are due to the last scene inside the house.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 12%

#1175 Halloween 2019: Trapped Alive (1988)

Watching Trapped Alive I realised I’ve got a soft spot for movies taking place in tunnels and underground locations. But, I’ve yet to find the definite movie of the sub genre.

Trapped Alive isn’t that movie, but there is definitely something here that kept my interest up, perhaps more than the movie itself deserved. The setup of the convicts on the run, coupled with innocent kidnapped bystanders and a deputy that gets trapped underground with them.

But, the horror aspect with the deranged miner feels completely glued on, and I can’t shake off the feeling that the movie would’ve been better without it.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 67%

#1174 Halloween 2019: Slime City (1988)

An amateurish, below the average slime horror comedy ride, Slime City does very little to stand out from the competition: A young guy drinks from the wrong jug containing dangerous substance that turns him into murderous, slime oozing thingie.

The slimy, violent kills are of course the main focus here and that’s the only aspect of the movie where it delivers: The end mayhem culminating with a crawling brain is one of the wackiest gore comedy scenes of all times.

80s-o-meter: 64%

Total: 51%

#1170 Halloween 2019: The Unholy (1988)

Originally written in the 70s after the box office successes of The Exorcist and The Omen, The Unholy boasts similar base story of a catholic priest fighting against the evil powers, and does so in a wonderfully 80s way.

The concept actually works well and the movie stands out in a positive way among the horror movies of the era. Despite the unfortunate ending revealing the antagonists – usually a bad idea – the movie makes many effective design choices. The effects are scarcely used, but among one of the most effective ones.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 76%

#1167 Halloween 2019: Grandmother’s House aka Grandma’s House (1988)

It’s not that Grandmother’s House’s last 30 minutes were horribly bad – they’re average – but what makes them remarkably disappointing is that they follow one hour of interesting buildup, but then miss most of the marks that were so carefully laid down before.

The latter half also leaves some gaping plot holes and far too many big questions unanswered to make Grandmother’s House a completely satisfying experience. But most of the experience still is fascinating and the story revolving around young kids adopted by their grandparents works well. The intensifying around the mystery involving a strange lady roaming about works well and the thrilling parts are well timed and effective.

Grandmother’s House works because of its pure daylight horror / mystery setup and as such still felt like a fresh breeze in a genre that relies very heavily on clichés and walking in the worn out footsteps of the big box office magnets.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 73%

#1163 Halloween 2019: The Unnamable (1988)

A bunch of university students wonder off to an abandoned building where a demon-like creature – The Unnamable – attacks them one by one.

Based on a H. P. Lovecraft’s short story of the same name The Unnamable is dreadfully slow and eventless horror movie that offers no positive surprises or plot twists whatsoever; it plays through pretty much as it starts with no actual highlights along the way. Although the monster makeup is not bad, The Unnamable joins the endless list of horror movies where the end result would’ve been more impactful if the monster was kept in the shadows instead of fully exposing it to the cameras.

Considering that its entire plot could easily fit on a napkin, The Unnamable does flow through easily thanks to good production quality and snappy editing, which remains pretty much its only virtue.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 31%

#1162 Halloween 2019: Flesh-Eating Mothers (1988)

This is not the first time I come across a snappy horror comedy that is kind of a one-off joke that would be perfect for a horror anthology, but can’t really carry through a full length movie.

In fact, it was after 30 minutes to the movie that I began hoping it would wrap up soon.

Other than that, Flesh-Eating Mothers deliveries its corny, tongue in cheek, blood filled theme that the title promises, and rates somewhat above your average horror spoof. Effects, especially the makeup are not state of the art, but what Flesh-Eating Mothers loses in craftsmanship, it makes up in hilarious over the top gore.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 55%

#1150 Little Nikita (1988)

What would you do if your parents would turn out to be something completely different than you grew up believing? And furthermore, would you betray them to save them?

The set up of Little Nikita is certainly thought provoking and it seamlessly mixes up interesting aspects of family dynamics, betrayal, cold war and coming to age while realising nothing you’ve built your life upon so far might not actually be as they seem.

I found very little that I would like to change in Little Nikita and the concept felt refreshingly different while still maintaining good dramatic sense and all the basic building blocks of a solid thriller.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 88%

#1128 Feds (1988)

Part of a wave of novice cop comedies that was launched after the huge success of Police Academy, Feds mixes in some female buddy cop action into the mix and takes the story to a highly fictional FBI academy where two women fight to graduate and to break through the glass ceiling.

It’s a predictable show where you know that the underdogs will come out as winners in the end and there aren’t too many delightful events along the way. Both leads fare fairly well, but don’t possess nowhere near the comedy muscles of Shelley Long or say, Goldie Hawn.

As long as you accept that the movie doesn’t offer much surprises nor originality, Feds offers an easy to watch comedy, surprisingly enjoyable in its own mediocrity.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 68%

#1123 The Night Before (1988)

Waking up in a strange place with no memory of the events that lead you there might be a clichéd setup, but one that often kick starts a book or movie in an interesting way. The same goes for The Night Before, an adventure comedy exploring probably the most unfortunate prom night ever.

Keanu Reeves performs his trademark awkward Californian surf dude character that we’ve come to love and while it suits the movie perfectly, he seems almost too goofy and dazed here.

As the mystery of the night unravels one memory at the time, the movie successfully ups the ante continuously as it evolves through its non-linear timeline.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 84%

#1121 Platoon Leader (1988)

Michael Dudikoff, the athletic lead in the amazing American Ninja movie series stars in Platoon Leader, one of the least known movie about Vietnam war.

Released during the period that saw many pivotal Vietnam movies, Platoon Leader fails to stand out in any way. It isn’t action movie per se, there’s no antiwar manifesto, no subplots nor does the movie set out to tell the story behind some of the more iconic battles of Vietnam war. And it’s this lack of interesting setup and point of view that hurts the movie throughout.

Some viewers have praised the movie for being one of the more realistic depiction of the war events, and I can imagine that day to day business can be somewhat eventless – but it simply does not a good movie make.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 47%

#1120 Critters 2 – The Main Course (1988)

This is how you do a sequel!

Critters 2 – The Main Course takes everything that was cool in the first part and amps it up to eleven: there’s much more humour, action, new locations and characters this time around.

Even more importantly, the Critters themselves have taken a huge leap forwards and actually feel like actual, menacing but goofy antagonists. The elements that work, like the shape shifting intergalactic mercenaries are fortunately still there and the movie does not try to reinvent the wheels in any negative way.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 87%

#1113 Remote Control (1988)

Aliens attack the earthlings with a cheesy VHS tape programmed to watch its viewer into a homicidal monster in Remote Control, a glorious 80s homage to the 50s scifi that despite its name does not have anything to do with actual remote controls.

By far the best aspect of the movies is its pseudo futuristic 80s styling: most of the TV sets are masqueraded to look like flat screen TVs (roughly about 15 years before they were available) and all the teenagers are wearing some bitching gear straight from the 21st century with makeup and hairdos straight out of Patrick Nagel painting.

Despite the visual style being the most prominent feature here, the movie itself is not bad at all. It’s OK – not as brilliant as it could’ve been – but still very much a recommendable experience and great time capsule to the late 80s.

80s-o-meter: 98%

Total: 71%

#1110 Moving (1988)

Moving takes a humorous, borderline crazy comedy look into the imaginative array of stress factors a family is put through when they are forced to relocate from coast to coast.

The movie was criticized of its whitewashed portrayal of the urban African American family and it presents the main cast as this Cosby-esque clean cut nuclear family. Personally I didn’t mind the setup at all. On the contrary – it felt kind of a fresh approach compared to the lowest common denominator roles the African Americans usually land in various Hollywood comedies.

To my surprise Moving was a blast. Randy Quaid’s portrayal of a neighbour from hell is side splitting funny, especially during the moments where it becomes clear that he is not just a random jerk, but more of a mastermind that has set out to make his tormenting a true form of art. Moving is also one of the three more enjoyable comedies of the 80s for Richard Pryor, along with Brewster’s Millions and See No Evil, Hear No Evil.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 86%

#1094 Doom Asylum (1988)

Most of Doom Asylum should’ve ended up on the cutting room floor.

An amateurish, low budget horror comedy shot in one location does have its moments with a few one liners and gruesome kills, but on the whole it’s just too darn long, considering how little happens here. On top of overshooting and undercutting the scenes, much of the running time of the movie is padded with old black & white clips of classic B-horror movies.

Doom Asylum would’ve ended a somewhat positive, better than its budget B-movie if it was a smarly cut 30-minute short story. But then, it wouldn’t had ended up as a direct to video release – and consequently would never had made it to this blog.

80s-o-meter: 76%

Total: 12%

#1085 And God Created Woman (1988)

Directed by Roger Vadim who also directed the 1956 Et Dieu… Créa la Femme that launched Brigitte Bardot’s career, And God Created Woman shares the same title, but brings a completely new story in an very edgy form to the 80s, resulting a catastrophic failure of a movie.

Life is tough for the characters of Rebecca De Mornay and Vincent Spano who play a woman prisoner on a parole, and a carpenter single parent respectively. And it’s oh so tough, and so melodramatic all the time. All sorts of emotional quarrels of love follow, so she decides to put together a rock band to pour all that agony into her songs, all while having erotic B-movie scenes with the carpenter and a famous politician played by Frank Langella.

Essentially a filmatisation of some 2-penny erotic novel I didn’t want to read in the first place, And God Created Woman is a remarkably bad movie – a piece of cinematic garbage that I can’t find any justification for.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 4%

#1080 Vibes (1988)

Cyndi Lauper, Jeff Goldblum and Peter Falk as the leads are the part of the Vibes that works.

Much of the adventure bit really don’t, and Vibes ends up something of a weaker iteration of The Golden Child released two years before, with bit of additional psychic mumbo jumbo and a hint of Indiana Jones thrown in the mix. While the first half of the movie feels like stalling as the protagonists never seems to be able to make it to the actual expedition, as the adventure part starts it turns out to be much weaker portion of the movie. Including the final encounter with the pyramid that looks as if was haphazardly put together with bit of a plexiglass and hot glue, making it one of the least impressive MacGuffins I’ve seen to date.

Luckily much of the humour works, which along with the strong cast makes Vibes tolerable, if not outright recommendable experience.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 61%

#1077 Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

Panned by the critics and loved by the broad audience, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is a wonderfully quirky comedy powered single-handedly by the actress Cassandra Peterson and her wonderful, quick witted late night TV host character.

On the superficial level Elvira, who makes absolutely zero effort to hide her abundant bosom, might seem sexist especially from today’s puritanical point of view. But it has to be noted that this is her fantasy character, created and made iconic on her terms. Far from a victim of male-driven entertainment industry, she’s kind of an epitome of girl power; not willing to take cheap from anyone and ending up on the upper hand thanks to her sharp tongue. And it’s these witty comebacks that are the real comedy core of the movie and did provide plenty of few good laughs along the way.

Had the movie pressed on the gas pedal towards the end instead of sliding to the finish line like it had ran out of gas, and wrapped up without the uninspired Las Vegas bit, my final score might’ve been even more generous than Elvira’s famous cleavage.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 90%

#1074 Memories of Me (1988)

How’s my relationship with Billy Crystal? Well.. it’s complicated. I’ve liked him in most movies I’ve seen since child, but as the time has passed, I’ve noticed that his comedy schtick gets old really fast. In fact, I like him much better when he drops the witty act and gets down, dirty and serious with his acting.

In Memories of Me this happens right after Abbie (Billy Crystal) finally meets his father who left his family and ran off to Hollywood when Abbie was still a kid. It’s at this moment when a so-and-so movie about a top surgeon recovering from a heart attack turns into an actually interesting study about the difficulty of building a relationship with a person obsessed on being the life of a party that everybody loves – but totally at loss when it comes to showing real love for anyone close to him.

The real power of the movie is the raw energy as Crystal and Alan King as his father clash together with such intensity it feels almost as stomach churning as if you’d just had a fight of a lifetime with your own parents. Dialogue in Memories of Me also surprises positively; not only is it well written, but both leads manage to deliver their lines without a trace of insincerity.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 82%

#1073 Last Rites (1988)

Last Rites follows a New York priest who goes against the mafia protecting a Mexican immigrant.

Tom Berenger is charismatic as always. Heck – he was likeable even as a white supremacist in Betrayed. Daphne Zuniga who already had a number of successful lead roles under her belt on the other hand feels like a miscast as the Mexican femme fatale. Surely there would’ve been many actual latinos that could’ve pulled off the role with more ease.

Despite some obvious loans from other movies, I can’t say I’ve watched anything that really resembles Last Rites, which is why I actually ended liking the movie quite a lot. It’s an interesting twist on similar kind of thrillers and manages to keep a few aces up its sleeve until the very last minutes to the film.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 86%