#1313 Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama aka The Imp (1988)

More is more, but Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama would have fared better with less elements.

In particular, it’s the Imp – the antagonist that lives in a trophy in the bowling alley and causes all sorts of havoc as he gets out – that is very much an unnecessary element in the movie and never manages to feel anything but the rubber hand puppet it is.

If the team would’ve only realised the weak link in the movie, cut their losses and come up with a different kind of approach, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama could have lived up to its outrageous name. As it is now, it makes for a surprisingly solid movie visually (excluding the imp) despite being filmed in one location outside its business hours.

What is lacking completely though are the kills, which usually lend for easy chuckles in similar horror spoofs. Here they are disappointingly skipped, probably due to budget constraints.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 60%

#1311 Hellbent (1988)

A modern twist of the classic Faust story, Hellbent presents a story of a punk trash band who make a management deal with a person who promises them success in exchange to their mortal souls.

I love a good underdog movie, and Hellbent with its weird story, eccentric characters and ominous cinematography definitely counts as one. The movie does lose its sharpest edge as it changes from relying purely on suspension to more of an action movie, and as an action movie it does not fare that well even though the shooting and violence is depicted in a way that makes it feel very impactful, much more so than in the Hollywood A-list movies.

While not the long lost gem of the decade, Hellbent is definitely interesting enough experiment to earn a recommendation.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 79%

#1297 Journey to the Center of the Earth (1988)

To understand how a horrible mess of a movie like Journey to the Center of the Earth came to the existance one has to know about the history behind it. The filming had started already in 1986, but the movie was left unfinished midway and Cannon Films was left with a dud of a movie so they hired Albery Pyun to finish the film.

Pyun who later disowned the whole project and remains uncredited alledgely wrote a new screenplay with zero budget and made it sort of a sequel to the Alien from L.A. (1988) he had just finished shooting.

And all of this shows. Journey to the Center of the Earth (1988) in nobody’s passion project, lacks ownership and direction and ends up totally incomprehensible and definitely one of the biggest train wrecks of the era that should never seen the light of the day. The tragedy is that the actors aren’t half bad, and there’s a constant feeling of a half decent scifi adventure movie being buried under all the pile of garbage that ended up on the screen.

80s-o-meter: 79%

Total: 1%

#1295 Mutant War (1988)

A sequel to Battle For the Lost Planet, Mutant War shares the same production values than its predecessor. Meaning, it’s poor.

And while it has the same kind of charming underdog feeling to its predecessor (the team has aimed ridiculously high, including camera and video effects, matte paintings and stop motion animations, all of which way beyond their capabilities), the charm only carries the movies so far.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 31%

#1293 Stars and Bars (1988)

A somewhat annoying art expert (Daniel Day-Lewis) married to an annoying spouse while working for annoyingly demanding boss is send to deep south to purchase a painting from an annoying eccentric hillbilly family whose annoying unmarried son living at home does annoying things to prevent the sales.

The only thing not utterly annoying in the cast of Stars and Bars is the head of the family, played by Harry Dean Stanton who plays the only character in the movie with some dimensions written into it, and Stanton has the acting chops to make his character likeable despite all of its weird personal traits.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 32%

#1292 Kansas (1988)

If you find an 80s movie nobody has ever heard of with your favourite actors in it, your warning bells should go off. Changes that you’ve just found a long lost treasure are very low, and it’s much more likely that you’ve just encountered something that everyone involved wished they’d never been part of.

While Kansas is no treasure, it is actually a decent piece of cinema depicting a guy crossing his path with a bank robber and soon finding tangled into something that might lose him his love, freedom and even life.

Andrew McCarthy performs his trademark dazed out everyday guy routine while Matt Dillon delivers yet another chilling role as the fugitive with psychopathic personal traits.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 83%

#1289 Black Eagle (1988)

In short: an useless action movie shot in the republic of Malta, starring Shô Kosugi (from the Ninja trilogy fame) and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Instead of relying on your typical Hollywood ninja mythology that Kosugi usually does well, Black Eagle is more of a poor mans rendition of your typical Bond movie of the era; all the secret agents, military secrets and special gizmos are here, but the movie itself is a bore and without much thrills. The cinematography looks dull and the team fails to find any interesting, movie like aspects from the location (excluding those cool caverns), and the long awaited martial arts showdown between the leads in the end is anticlimatic, to say the least.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 14%

#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%