#1265 18 Again! (1988)

One of the many body switching movies of the 80s, 18 Again! does a pretty routine job at comedy.

The only variable with similar titles is that here the story is observed entirely through only the other party of the body switching process as the 81-year old grandfather overtakes the body of his 18-year old grandson, while the grandson ends up in his unconscious body, hooked to life support. This decision leaves the growth story that’s usually in the core of the movie one sided. Another call I didn’t agree with was using the grandpa’s voiceover throughout the movie, often delivering uninspired one-liners – or explaining the situation to the viewer in a condescending fashion.

One noteworthy piece of trivia to share of 18 Again is that this was the last movie for the ageless comedy legend George Burns who plays the 81-year old grandfather. In reality, he was already 91 at the time.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 70%

#1264 Cohen and Tate (1988)

Again, a movie that has totally gone under the radar for me, Cohen and Tate is a thriller of two assassins transporting a young eye witness to a mob boss after wiping out his family and bunch of officers of the Federal Witness Protection Program.

The movie is minimalistic; most of the running time is spent inside the car, with tension building up between Cohen and Tate, two very opposites sides of the same coin. The violence presented in the movie is similarly spartan: very quick and over before the viewer has time to react, making it consequently extreme impactful.

Cohen and Tate is a triumph of an action thriller in both its cinematography and story telling for the director Eric Red, and well ahead of its time, resembling the formula that Coen brothers perfected a decade later.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 95%

#1253 The In Crowd (1988)

Teen dance party TV programs were apparently a thing in 1960s. The In Crowd taps into this phenomenon and offers a look into a life of a young gentleman who makes it to the show and becomes a huge celebrity in his school.

The movie seems extremely silly and trivial so it was very hard for me to have any empathy to their problems, knowing that the male rivals of the movie would settle the score by having a dance off together in a living room.

Yes, a dance off.

The In Crowd tells a story that did not beg to be told and offers a nostalgic trip for meant for those who were there or who really dig the era, or at least when accompanied with thick, rosy nostalgia goggles.

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 11%

#1250 Permanent Record (1988)

Although the 80s is a decade of teen movies if any, the films that depict the teens without lowest common denominator generalisations are far and between. Permanent Record joins this small group of movies with flying colors.

First of all it steers away from the usual teen clichés, offering a very believable take on the day to day life of an Oregon high school student. Secondly, it quite rarely condescends to underlining and being over dramatic to make a point; the boy who decides to take his life is a fine looking, popular kid who seems to be going places, but still goes through his final solution. It may be a spur of the moment act, or something he premeditated for year, but just like his friends who are left to mourn, we will never know.

Towards the end of the movie the movie has two distinctive moments that could have easily turned pretentious, but it’s the sincere love that Permanent Record shows towards its characters that just makes them honest and purely heart breaking.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 94%

#1249 Dead Ringers (1988)

Ah, it’s a David Cronenberg movie, so you never quite know what it has to offer, but you know it’s going to be at least interesting.

In Dead Ringers Cronenberg tells a story of two identical twins who run their gynaecology clinic and while identical twins they seem like two sides of a coin that have their distinctive personal traits, but somehow complete each other as one person. They use their resemblance to their advance and so that the introverted twin gets to share the women seduced by the outgoing one, until a clash over one woman finally makes the twins drift apart, with disastrous consequences.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 84%

#1237 ‎The Phantom Empire (1988)

Fred Olen Ray, the modern day Ed Wood is back with another C-movie made on purpose.

The Phantom Empire introduces us a group up adventurers entering a cave and eventually finding themselves in a prehistoric world. The movie picks up elements like dodgy alien cannibals, dinosaurs, sci-fi cars and humanoid vamps straight from the picture book of 50s horror movies, but doesn’t really know to do anything inventive or funny with them, ending up a pretty pointless and tediously paced exercise that never quite grasps you.

80s-o-meter: 30%

Total: 41%

#1228 Rocket Gibraltar (1988)

Cinematic debut of young Macaulay Culkin of the Home Alone fame, Rocket Gibraltar manages to hold its interest only due to the acting prowess of Burt Lancaster.

Sadly, the role written for him does not offer much besides being an old person who connects exceptionally well with the youngest generation and I feel there would’ve been much more to explore in the persona of the old man if the manuscript wasn’t so straight forward.

Rocket Gibraltar manages to capture some of the magic it intended at times, especially during the moments where Lancaster as the head of the family shares his stories and the his family as the audience are all ears.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 60%

#1227 Masquerade (1988)

Hit-with-a-handsome-stick Rob Lowe plays a jet set playboy in a role that fits him so well you’d almost think it was originally written with him in mind.

The movie itself plays like a light pulp thriller, a paperback you’d take along for a beach vacation – and as such it works out perfectly and without too many unnecessary plot twists along the way.

I would not probably had enjoyed Masquerade that much in the cinemas, but as a late nite cable TV movie it works out perfectly well.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 81%

#1224 The Accused (1988)

There’s one piece of trivia for The Accused that’s particularly interesting: when seeing the screening cut of the film for the first time Jodie Foster thought her performance was bad – career ending bad –, and started looking into options what do for the rest of her life.

She would go on to win the Oscar for the best actress in a leading role for her performance in The Accused.

Based on actual events, The Accused is an unscrupulous movie that poses many interesting questions that challenge both the prosecuting lawyer and the viewer.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 88%

#1217 Punchline (1988)

There’s a definite moment in Punchline that made me fall in love with it; as Lilah Krytsick (Sally Field) – a housewife aiming to be a standup comedian – finally comes out of her shell in front of the audience, aided by the talented, but troubled comedian played by Tom Hanks.

John Goodman as her polish husband provides rest of the wholesome, heartfelt moments in the movie. Such a big hearted guy.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 77%

#1212 Bird (1988)

Produced and directed by Clint Eastwood, Bird is a biographical film about the life of jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker.

The movie is super long for an 80s movie at whopping 161 minutes, and unfortunately it does not work for the movie’s advantage. Even for a person who’s interested in the character – both the movie character and the real musician – the movie seemed to come to full stop at times. Accompanied by dark, murky visuals the movie makes for a dream-like late night watching experience that is at times enchanting and at times enough to make you drowsy. From the current day’s perspective I suspect Bird being hard to follow movie for those that don’t have any previous knowledge of Parker, or jazz in general.

Bird’s performances in the movie are equally intensive and impressive; the saxophone for the sound was isolated from old tapes and brought to modern era by then re-recording all the accompanying instruments, which resulted Bird to win Oscar for its sound – very rightfully so.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 70%

#1205 Some Girls (1988)

As the first 15 minutes of Some Girls had passed, I though in horror I was faced with another Twister: a comedy much too weird for its own good about a wacky family where the only running joke would revolve around the annoying eccentricity running in the family.

There’s a bit to that in Some Girls as well, but it fortunately starts to shed off at the point where the beloved grandmother of the family disappears, and it’s at this point where the movie manages to get uniquely interesting and heartwarming.

Some Girls ventures bravely to uncharted territories, resulting in bits and parts of the movie that are just plain annoying, as well as other parts that are genuinely interesting.

80s-o-meter: 67%

Total: 71%

#1200 Another Woman (1988)

Another Woman is exactly what you’d expect out of 80s drama by Woody Allen: Neurotic, middle-aged New York intellectuals going through life changing moments in their relationships.

Woody is a natural born story teller, and his sense for subtle drama is very well presented here: not once does the drama in Another Woman feel theatrical or forced.

Another Woman is an all around solid drama, but played through a bit too much as expected for my liking, failing to provide surprises to keep my interest at full 100%.

80s-o-meter: 52%

Total: 68%

#1192 Halloween 2019: Black Roses (1988)

Heavy Metal and rock bands – much like horror movies – were heavily targeted by committees of concerned parents during the 80s, sometimes taking excessive forms with artists having to give testimonies in congressional hearings and even getting sued for hiding subliminal messages in their music.

Against this background Black Roses is a delight to watch: here a metal band arrives to a two horse town to play a gig, much to the excitement of the teens – and dismay of the parents. And ominous things start to take place, naturally.

With such a great setup there was no need for Black Roses to put in any excessive effects or rubbery creatures. Unfortunately they did, and these moments feel like a horrible faux pas in otherwise basically solid movie.

If you can overlook these moments, Black Roses is a refreshingly different horror comedy that offers multiple enjoyable moments depicting heavy metal and rotten youth.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 81%

#1190 Halloween 2019: Graverobbers aka Dead Mate (1988)

I love how Graverobbers starts: a mysterious stranger enters an all-American diner where Nora Mae, a young waiter works and right off the bat asks her to marry him. In a moment of impulsiveness she says yes and off they go, right in the middle of her work shift.

But the young love takes a turn for a worse as she finds out that there’s something dodgy going on with the mortuary where his husband works in, and that the previous love interests of the mortician have gone mysteriously missing.

Graverobbers is a black comedy and I like how the horror to humour ratio is pretty much right: not in your face funny, but quirky enough so that it’s clear we’re dealing with a make-believe grown-ups fairytale here. Although the movie wraps in a less satisfactory way than I’d hoped for, the few events that precede – like the motorcycle chase with the undead chauffeur – managed to raise a smile and are something that at least the fans of The Return of the Living Dead might find interesting.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 67%

#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%