#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%

#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%