#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%

#1069 In Dangerous Company (1988)

Most people – I certainly included – aren’t too stoked when learning we’re about to see an erotic thriller. Mostly made for sleazy late-night cable TV viewing they can sometime be a passable time killers when they happen to be on, but more rarely does anyone admit going out to rent or buy one specifically.

With In Dangerous Company the erotic part means a femme fatale and a camera that lingers on in scenes with the leads kissing passionately just a bit too long. The thriller part is handled by giving all the characters street credibility by having them sip alcohol constantly and smoking a cigarette with a theatrical passion. And speaking of street credibility, Cliff De Young – who’s one of the better movie family dad figures of the era (check out Pulse or Flight of the Navigator) – just does not cut it as the seasoned Vietnam war vet with a checkered past. Like, not at all. I would’ve rewritten his role as more of an innocent bystander who falls in love with the vamp and unsuspectingly sacrifices all that he’s got to help the seducing stranger.

In Dangerous Company offers some campy acting due to some one shot models trying to get a stab at acting, as well as plot weaker than your average kiosk pulp, but does keep the interest up for one to want to witness how the fabric of lies finally unravels.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 61%

#1043 A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon (1988)

A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon portrays an insignificant little story taking place during the 60s for no apparent reason, and does a pretty bad job at conveying the said period.

Often dubbed by the worst movie of River Phoenix by his fans, River himself wqs reportedly embarrassed having to play the part. And really, there is very little to be loved here. We’re forced to watch through the mishaps of a womanising brat trying to pass as an adult while betraying his best friend, cheating on his girlfriend, reciting bad poetry while trying to borrow enough money from someone to get a one way ticket to Hawaii.

A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon is an unfortunate smut in the solid lineup of movies River had before his untimely death in 1993.

80s-o-meter: 51%

Total: 16%

#1037 School Daze (1988)

Spike Lee’s School Daze makes a successful and interesting late 80s look on African-American college life that’s very convincingly portrayed from inside out.

Being quite far away from its frame of reference as a pale skinned European I probably missed a lot of the references and subtleties of the movie, but on the other hand many of the themes here are still universal enough for me to relate to, especially the way the young and somewhat misguided adults having to choose their side to belong, be it jigaboos, wannabes or fraternities. We’ve all been there.

I also love how many of the clashes on the movie are built around petty issues of the middle-class college students and thus feel like actual, interesting conflicts.

Lee makes admittedly many uniquely interesting insights about the interracial conflicts, principles, having to choose one’s side, fraternities and the petty power that corrupts. But if the movie was out there to make a clear statement, it’s lost in translation for me.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 72%

#1026 Bull Durham (1988)

A veteran catcher joins a minor-league baseball team Durham Bulls and crosses paths with up and coming star pitcher Ebby and Ann, a baseball groupie who has her own view on how to mature Ebby to the big leagues.

All in all Bull Durham is a quite refreshing sports movie as it concentrates on its characters instead of playing the tired from the bottom of the barrel to the champions schtick; there’s no training montages, no big motivational speeches and no last second game winning throws here.

Kevin Costner performs one of his strongest roles as a charismatic 33-year old baseball veteran on his very last game leg.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 74%

#1025 Nightmare at Noon aka Death Street USA (1988)

How do I love me a good B-movie! Especially the ones that have some decent production values to them, like Nightmare at Noon.

Combining one of my favourite setups, a small town under strange viral attack and a top lineup of B-movie actors: Wings Hauser, Bo Hopkins and George Kennedy on the good side, and Brion James as the villain straight out of a cheap comic book, Nightmare at Noon looks surprisingly decent with good amount of action, horror and explosions.

Like the case often is with these movies, Nightmare at Noon also struggles to make the footage span over 90 minutes, which becomes all too apparent towards the end of the movie with some prolonged chase scenes.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 83%

#1016 Sunset (1988)

Second cooperation between the director Blake Edwards and the up and Bruce Willis (the first one being a failure of a comedy called Blind Date) Sunset is a modern Hollywood take of a crime story taking place in the classic Hollywood of the late 1920s.

Willis shows a lot of the same onscreen magnetism that made him a superstar later in the same year with the release of Die Hard, and fits well to the part of a fancy pants silent era western star. James Garner also plays the role of the aged Wyatt Earp with a similar charism and his presence on the screen is always a pleasure to follow. And that’s pretty much all the movie has going for it.

Despite all the action the movie just doesn’t have the momentum to keep things interesting enough and I did notice I had to struggle a little to keep up the interest, and Sunset is ultimately kept afloat solely by its above average cast.

80s-o-meter: 59%

Total: 61%

#1014 Big Top Pee-wee (1988)

While Pee-wee’s Big Adventure made a good effort in taking an remarkably insignificant event and making it an amazingly big adventure, Big Top Pee-wee tackles somewhat bigger things, but ends up a more insignificant movie.

Like with the original I really can’t tell who this movie is made for. Its lush and colourful scenes seem perfect for a kiddies movie, but many of the themes presented here really aren’t suitable for the young ones, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable watching the movie with my offspring. All in all it feels like an episode of Teletubbies edited some Youtuber who added some raunchier elements to the mix.

Big Top Pee-wee is an easy-to-watch, easy-to-forget movie that, unlike the original, leaves absolutely no lasting appeal.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 47%

#1010 Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988)

Made a whopping seven years after the original, Arthur 2: On the Rocks picks up remarkably well from where the first movie left off, looking like it was shot pretty much back to back with the original.

Four years in the movie time have passed and Arthur and Linda are enjoying the life of the filthy rich. After their decision to adopt a child the dark clouds start to gather as Arthur’s old arch enemy Burt Johnson appears out of the blue and strips the couple out of every penny they have in a hostile business deal.

As a movie the sequel is much less tight than the original, especially including the final payoff, but on the other many of the jokes themselves are much to my surprise actually funnier. And the side plot of clueless butler Fairchild trying to grow into the shoes of his predecessor is smartly written and offers some of the most genuinely heartwarming moments of the movie.

But most importantly for the fans of the original: The once-in-a-lifetime chemistry between the two leads is still most definitely there.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 85%

#1007 Working Girl (1988)

I don’t know how I’d managed to avoid Working Girl for so long. My guess it that I somehow got the movie mixed up with Blind Date, the stinker of a romantic comedy that featured the hottest names in the Hollywood.

Mind you, this movie is nothing like the Blind Date. Starring Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver and Melanie Griffith the movie is a triumph especially for Griffith who plays the underdog of a business woman to such a perfection that us viewers can’t help but compassionate with her, and we really want to see her getting the lucky break she’s long time due for.

Romantic comedies can notoriously be sort of an agony for us men, but in the few special cases like Working Girl, they’re just plain old good movies first, and romantic comedies just on top of that.

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 93%

#1005 Missing Link (1988)

Missing Link depicts the journey of the last of his kind ape man through the landscape of the Africa after the ancestors of the modern man have murdered his tribe and his family.

The most of obvious problem here is that there’s not really enough stuff here for a feature length movie; the kindness and the tragic loss of the man ape are established right in the very first minutes to the film, and most of the actual run time of the movie is nothing more but a nature documentary with scenes of the missing link cut in.

But, there’s a certain power to the story and as the kind ape man finally makes his way to the oceanfront I did take a guilt trip on behalf of the violent mankind that caused the extinction of the missing link – whether true or not. Like Koyaanisqatsi, Missing Link is more of an experience than a movie and as such, it felt like a refreshingly different one.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 64%

#992 Things Change (1988)

I was very suspicious as I started watching as movies about mob seem to get some weird extra scoring from the viewers and critics alike I’ve never quite understood. But, Things Change isn’t a mob movie, but a movie about a modest and honest shoeshine man named Gino who agrees to take a blame for a murder in exchange for a fishing boat on which to spend his remaining years.

The movie also pulls a sleight of hand as the it at first seems like we’re heading to one of those mistaken identity comedies where tons of annoying mishaps take place. If you think the plot is going nowhere fast, hang on as it really becomes worth your while towards the end.

Things Change is intelligent, well crafted and unique piece of comedy that has a huge heart – without being the least sappy.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 92%

#990 In Country (1989)

In Country is a drama about a young girl who lost his father in the Vietnam war before she was born and who now on the verge of adulthood is set out to know more about his father through reading his old letters and trying to discuss with his former brothers in arms. Problem is, nobody wants to tear open the old wounds.

The movie never grasped me and the themes In Country tries to convey of coming to age mixed with shadows of the war and healing are obvious, but delivered in a way that is supposed to be touching, but end up indifferent. The big promised revelations of the plot never actually materialise and the powerful ending just does not speak to me.

Bruce Willis does a likeable, but very Bruce Willis like performance as the uncle suffering with PTSD, but his performance alone is not a good reason enough to warrant watching through the movie.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 51%