#1669 Apprentice to Murder (1988)

A US-Norwegian-Canadian co-production Apprentice to Murder portrays of Pennsylvanian folk healer and his apprentice getting far too deep into dark powers of their craft in a story that very successfully blurs the line between real and make-belief, wrong and right, and good and bad.

I was surprised to learn the movie was shot entirely in Norway, so my hat is off to the production team who very skilfully concealed this fact, and totally sold me the location of 1920s Pennsylvania.

Although shot in mainstream Hollywood fashion, Apprentice to Murder (apparently based on a real historic event) is a very untypical movie but in a good way. It boldly goes quite deep into religious fanaticism, dark sides of human psyche and superstition.

80s-o-meter: 11%

Total: 72%

#1658 Crossing Delancey (1988)

A few good tiles excluded, romantic comedies were never quite my thing, but I’ve grown a bit more understanding for them along the years, and willing to give them a fair chance. That being said, Crossing Delancey seemed on the paper something that I would not enjoy at all: a film with a pretentious title, New York self-centered and someone neurotic characters, and a setting in the people engaged in the literary arts, and embracing that lifestyle.

Not that I don’t like any of that, but I’ve been scarred with so many Henry Jaglom’s movies, or by writer/directors who wish to be the next Jaglom or Woody Allen that I had al the warning signs up. But despite its theme Crossing Delancey does not come across too pretentious, and it’s especially the pickle seller Peter Riegert’s very likeable character that seems to get the most honest, most touching lines in the movie.

Fans of Frasier might be delighted to find David Hyde Pierce in a role of a bookstore clerk, pretty much 1:1 to Niles.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 61%

#1656 Screwball Hotel (1988)

Third and last in the series of screwball comedies directed by Rafal Zielinski, Screwball Hotel shows the fun, carefree comedy style 80s is known for, but that already feels forced and tired attempt that just copies and pastes all the clichés seen elsewhere.

Screwball Hotel is obviously targeted for VHS rack as just another dumb comedy with gratuitous nudity to pick up if you’ve already rented out Police Academy 4 too many times, and as such it works out as planned.

Sure, the movie would’ve given anyone renting it 90 minutes of brainless action, but without much laughs along the way.

80s-o-meter: 96%

Total: 41%

#1646 Patti Rocks (1988)

You know that screw up of a friend you don’t want anything to do with, but who for one reason or another manages to get you involved in his affairs, ”just for this one more time”.

In Patti Rocks that guy is Billy, played by Chris Mulkey. Billy is unlikely many other lovable bastards often seen in movies in a way that he at times manages to hover over likeable, but more often than not comes across just obnoxious. He is the kind of a guy with his sexist jokes that would make me want to switch tables at bar, and kind of a guy who would accuse anyone doing so of not having a sense of humour.

But his friend Eddie seems to be able to stomach him, and drives him on a long road trip filled with sexist jokes to settle the score with a girl – Patti Rocks – he got pregnant.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 40%

#1640 Illegally Yours (1988)

Something feels amiss or disconnected throughout Illegally Yours. Perhaps its the nagging feeling of the movie being miscast on most parts, or Peter Bogdanovich’s direction not delivering the story in a convincing way or maybe its the story of a young handsome college dropout nerd stalking his old school love and getting tangled in a trial and murder mystery that just does not click.

There’s a lot to be loved about the movie, and various events and characters have a certain charm, but in the end it’s just somehow much less than the sum of its parts.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 61%

#1638 Assault of the Killer Bimbos (1988)

Ok, so the name here sounds much worse than what the movie actually is.

Assault of the Killer Bimbos is more like an early, rough version of Thelma & Louise. Actually, to them actually contemplating to sue its production team. Truth be told, Assault of the Killer Bimbos is no Thelma & Louise, but some of the similarities here are uncanny.

But Assault of the Killer Bimbos is really a feel good comedy, and actually not a bad one at that.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 75%

#1630 A Man for All Seasons (1988)

Apparently Charlton Heston would have wanted to star in the 1966 version of A Man for All Seasons that took home six Oscars in that year’s Academy Awards.

To the extend that to rectify this wrongdoing he would go on to direct his own made-for-TV version some 20 years later where he this time around stars in. Based on a play by Robert Bolt of the life of Sir Thomas More, this newer version of A Man for All Seasons still maintains the great wit and charm of the original.

Historical dramas – especially the made for TV ones – aren’t my cup of tea, but in this genre A Man for All Season definitely holds its own, thanks to its strong manuscript.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 70%

#1614 The Wizard of Speed and Time (1988)

I love a good underdog, and The Wizard of Speed and Time definitely counts as one.

A brainchild of an animator Mike Jittlow, the movie is a testament to what a creative mind can accomplish; the movie takes great cues from mainstream media and movies, but takes them in a quirky direction that the big companies can not follow. Jittlow also adds to the mix a lot of his elbow grease, artwork and effects that he very obviously put together with a lot of dedication and love, instead of just hastily putting something together as quickly as possible in order to fill the minimum required length for a movie.

And this is why The Wizard of Speed and Time ends up more of a triumph than incompetent mess that indie movies – especially the comedies – more than often are.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 83%

#1609 Midnight Crossing (1988)

I don’t know if such sub genre exists, but Midnight Crossing falls into one of those movies where the plot line resembles a cheap paperback thriller you’ve picked up for the tropical vacation from a discount bin. It does its job in entertaining you as you lay beneath a palm tree, but upon completing it gets forgotten before you finish your next piña colada.

The movie delivers much of the same: some thrills, erotic scenes, highly implausible plotline and the main character with an impaired vision with no other motivation than to drive the plot.

Now, after a few weeks seeing the movie I can’t say whether it was good or bad as nothing of it has sticked with me – I guess it did do its job, delivered the lighthearted entertainment producers had aimed for. I recall that Midnight Crossing was not that awful to watch, but that’s pretty much all I can say about it.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 60%

#1607 The Invisible Kid (1988)

If there was a parody made of a typical 80s comedy, it would likely feature a teen boy turning himself invisible and sneaking into girls’ locker room. But the truth is, there aren’t actually too many movies done in 80s built around this premise, and so I was quite excited to find a The Invisible Kid, a small comedy that seems to deliver all the above.

But did it deliver? Well, kind of. The whole story unravels in a satisfactory manner, but it seems the movie lost its faith in its strongest suit – fulfilling the fantasy of being able to experience what would it feel like getting to be invisible – quite early, and turning into more of a sports movie.

So, this wasn’t that invisibility movie I was looking for, so the search goes on. I’ll keep you updated if this holy grail of a movie actually exists.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 68%

#1600 Halloween 2021: Deep Space (1988)

When I introduced Deep Space to my self I could not contain my excitement. A nice looking Scifi B-movie with Charles Napier (of the Rambo: First Blood Part II fame) and Bo Svenson (of too many great B-action movies) starring in the same movie.

Then I saw that the director was Fred Olen Ray (of too many cheap movies), which cast deep a shadow over the whole movie.

But luckily this is one of the movies where Fred Olen Ray started to be good in his craft, and this Aliens copy is not bad at all. Sure, it’s still firmly in the B-movie territory, and the directors canny ability to make all the actors deliver their lines in a wooden fashion is still there, but one can’t deny this all isn’t entertaining. Napier is very charismatic in one of his rare lead roles, and chainsaws: there are actually effin chainsaws in this movie – got to love it!

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 83%

#1590 Halloween 2021: Necromancer (1988)

Ahem, so okay.. Apparently there’s a Necromancer living in this suburban garage who then helps one girl to take revenge on a gang of fellow high school students that raped her.

Necromancer is an exceptionally bad and credibility look into supernatural mumbo-jumbo, coupled with some piss poor special effects. And I’m being polite here.

I just skimmed through the movie once again before rating it to see if it would have any redeeming qualities to mention. But no – the movie starts ok but just keeps getting gradually worse and worse towards the end.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 11%

#1582 Halloween 2021: The Head Hunter aka Headhunter (1988)

It was usually the Italian film production companies that migrated to Miami to shoot their films with American actors, so Headhunter with its South-African film crew is bit of an anomaly in this aspect.

That is not all the movie has in common with its Italian counterparts; it is visually quite apt (special effects notwithstanding) and on the surface level it feels as a quite passable small horror movie where an evil spirit is chopping off heads for their personal collection.

The idea of the bad entity works, but then the movie gets unfocused with tribal African mumbo jumbo, and other similar aspects like the cop’s domestic affairs that just had me snooze off. Movie gets once again mildly more interesting towards the end as the evil becomes a shape shifter and things get almost hilariously (but not quite enough!) overboard.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 61%

#1580 Halloween 2021: The Carrier (1988)

The Carrier depicts a small rural town where after being attacked by a creature, a local boy becomes a carrier of a strange disease that charges everything he touches with flesh eating powers invisible to the naked eye.

What happens after the town folk find out about the disease spread by an unknown culprit is where The Carrier really gets interesting. A wave of panic and paranoia ensues; people try to cover up with whatever plastic bags they can find, turning the town into kind of a current day version of Mad Max. The disease is horrible – but even more frightening is the way it turns people against each other, not tearing through, but completely wiping out the fabric of the society overnight.

The Carrier was a truly pleasant surprise that successfully plans together horror and social commentary (not forgetting the very obvious comedy aspect). This is the unexpected sleeper 80s hit of this Halloween.

80s-o-meter: 57%

Total: 91%

#1579 Halloween 2021: Primal Rage (1988)

Bo Svenson became the unexpected antagonist star of this Halloween. His hard boiled detective character levelled up Night Warning, and in Primal Rage he plays a scientist that whips up a virus that causes people becoming berserk killers.

Primal Rage is an Italian production shot in Miami, but it does not show at all, and the production quality is right up there with similar Hollywood movies. As a movie it’s bit off an uphill and downhill ride: the title and the video cover are great, and the movie shows a lot of promise, but does not quite redeem any of its promises.

The last 20 minutes of the movie is actually pretty entertaining (including a totally hilarious ending), and redeem a lot of its earlier shortcomings.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 68%

#1569 Halloween 2021: Spellbinder aka Witching Hour (1988)

I’m not one for horror thrillers with an erotic twist to them – but hey, if it stars Kelly Preston, I’ll take it.

That coupled with the fact that Spellbinder is actually quite apt movie with a great late 80s style to it make the movie easy to recommend. The supernatural aspects of many horror movies can always be quite hard to sell for the viewer, but thanks to the highly entertaining nature of the movie, it’s easy to just go with the flow.

And the movie never wanders too far into the magical mumbo jumbo, but instead concentrates to tell the story through quite interesting array of characters and keeping the suspense level high until the end.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 85%

#1565 Clara’s Heart (1988)

An African-American multi millionaire actress in one of those movies where an outsider enters a community to make a change, this time boasting a heavy Jamaican accent? I sure can see many ways how this one could’ve gone heavily wrong.

But this is late 80s Whoopi Goldberg very much on top of her game, and she just manages to make it all work out. Clara does not end up just a Afro-Jamaican Mary Poppins, but has that certain edge to her to make the character interesting; despite all the philosophy in her, she still is very much a human being with the flaws that come with that territory. But this is not just Whoopi’s show. Kathleen Quinlan, Michael Ontkean and Neil Patrick Harris all in their respective roles contribute to the movie in a memorable way, and Robert Mulligan in the director’s seat manages to fully sell the story to the viewer.

I started to quickly glance through the movie again for review purpose, and ended up watching the whole thing pretty much all over again. If this isn’t a testament to Clara’s Heart being a thoroughly enjoyable movie to watch, I don’t what is.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 86%

#1556 Mr. North (1988)

Anthony Edwards appears in Mr. North as Theophilus North, a young bright student who arrives at a wealthy Rhode Island community with big plans. He soon starts to leave lasting impressions on the locals, some of which he befriends with, while other take him for a miracle healer, thanks to his natural tendency of stacking up static electricity.

Mr. North is one of those period pictures that heavily relies on nostalgic scenes of the yesteryear’s America: a small knit together community helping each other, old money, people dressed up smartly and innocence. And it works out for the movie, making it somehow soothing and relaxing to watch.

But if one’d take the concept to the current day, thus stripping out the nostalgia and the related glamor, there wouldn’t just be much of a movie going on here.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 40%

#1555 Torch Song Trilogy (1988)

What makes Torch Song Trilogy an above the average movie about gays (and drag) is that is was conceived and lead acted by Harvey Fierstein, an openly gay actor and playwright. This results in a movie that does not aim to explain, sugar coat nor view the gay community through hetero lenses.

A result is refreshing take that portrays all of its characters and their shortcomings, insecurities and sometimes even sheer pettiness in a realistic fashion. Fierstein is a wonderful actor, and a persona on and off stage and his character that often goes from gorgeous to goofy in one scene, depending on the camera direction and his mood swing makes for one of the more interesting and multi-faceted personas seen on screen.

What I did not like about the movie though is how it’s divided in three acts between different eras and lovers as I’d much rather had the movie concentrating on just one time frame in the lifeline of this character.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 74%