#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%

#1536 Glitch! (1988)

One more movie out of the movie factory named Nico Mastorakis, I honestly suspect that Glitch was initiated by first renting out the luxury Malibu seaside mansion, and only secondly trying to come up with the movie.

The plot and events are so ridiculous that it feels they just made it all up as they went along. There’s two losers, one of them turning back and forth from a moron to a genius after hypnosis treatment, a few baddies, and perhaps most importantly to the production team a wide array of bikini babes who likely signed up for the movie for no compensation for their petty 15 minutes on a silver screen.

With Glitch Mastorakis has reached the unimaginable goal of coming up with a movie too fluffy and silly for my taste. While the movie has its few passing moments, it’s just much too hollow shell of a movie to really enjoy.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 21%

#1528 Angel III: The Final Chapter (1988)

Angel III: The Final Chapter takes again a step to wrong direction and feels in most ways far less insignificant than the previous two installations, missing the roughness around the edges seen in the first part, and the value adding ideas seen in Avenging Angel.

In fact, with the lead actor once again downgraded to another actress, Angel III: The Final Chapter feels almost a separate movie in the series. While the lead Mitzi Kapture alone isn’t to be blamed for the shortcomings of The Final Chapter, it really did not help that she is previously known to me only from Silk Stalkings, a ridiculously cheap and plastic 90s TV-series that plagued the Finnish late night TV for years.

Despite its title, the series did not end up with The Final Chapter, with one more unworthy sequel released in 1994.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 42%

#1505 The Chocolate War (1988)

The very definition of a storm in a teacup, The Chocolate War studies the weird power play and hierarchy inside a Catholic Private School.

The movie gets surreal from the get go as we see Brother Leon (John Glover) with his unorthodox ways of teaching and ways of publicly disfavouring students who don’t yield to his kind request of selling out a record number of chocolates door to door. Adding to the tower of power are The Vigils, an openly secret student society who usually pull of harmless pranks but are now forced to form an alliance with Brother Leon to make his fundraising dream come true.

Although the whole world of Catholic schools is alien to me, the cliques shown in The Chocolate War are easy to identify with, representing the glass walls of politics and group dynamics I trust we’ve all run into at some point of our lives.

80s-o-meter: 41%

Total: 60%

#1504 The Good Mother (1988)

The world is full of great stories so it’s at times astounding what sometimes gets greenlighted and funded.

In Leonard Nimoy’s The Good Mother Diane Keaton plays a divorced mother dating Liam Neeson who then lets her daughter that’s his genitals for educational purposes – so they both get sued.

All this nonsense is padded with a story of her family and the difficult relationship with her father that is all totally disconnected from the main story line (albeit, much more interesting).

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 8%

#1491 The Sisterhood (1988)

One of those dystopian wasteland movies, The Sisterhood brings very little new to the table but slightly improved production values over its early 80s counterparts, but still clearly falling behind of the fidelity seen in the Mad Max series of movies.

Here we follow a clique called The Sisterhood that possesses supernatural powers as they make their way through the wasteland trying to free the women captured by the evil tribes of the desert.

The movie consists mostly of driving sequences, shot in a sand pit of some sort with vehicles quite lazily modified of their 1970s and 1980s originals.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 21%

#1484 Track 29 (1988)

A spiritual predecessor to Requiem for a Dream, Track 29 follows a downward spiral of one relationship and a woman, married to a narcissistic doctor who enjoys his model railways and getting whipped by one of her nurses.

As you might’ve guessed, Track 29 is one of those weird movies that are as detached from the reality as its characters. Rather than a drama, it’s one of those super dark comedies that really doesn’t make one laugh, even once.

I was excited to see Gary Oldman as one of the leads. I guess you could say he performs his part as the annoying ghost of the past so well that I loathed him already in a few minutes, which again made sitting through the movie far more unenjoyable than it should’ve been.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 38%

#1480 Everybody’s All-American (1988)

What happens to that perfect college football hero and his beauty pageant girlfriend couple after they marry and grow up. This is what Taylor Hackford’s Everybody’s All-American aims to give an answer to.

Based on a 1981 novel of the same name by Frank Deford, Everybody’s All-American manages to avoid almost all of the clichés usually related to sports movies. Similarly its characters avoid falling into typical caricatures and show some actual humane traits.

I wasn’t sold on the final closure of the movie, but the road to there is filled with interesting, lifelike moments that feel nothing like pasted on.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 72%

#1473 Tiger Warsaw (1988)

Ah, the 80s where it’s still totally ok to be totally melodramatic in the most theatrical way.

In Tiger Warsaw it’s the Chuck ’Tiger’ Warsaw (Patrick Swayze) in his leather jacket and wild hair who is suffering with his past after shooting his father, fleeing the town and living a life of self destruction ever since. And boy is he in anguish as he tries to meet up with his past again and make up for the past.

As in, almost rolling in pain.

In the cynical world of 2021 Tiger Warsaw feels directly out of a pen of a teenager in angst and all of its overwhelming drama very much glued on. Call me cynical, but this one did not manage to touch me at all.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 19%

#1467 Killing American Style (1988)

The Iranian born Amir Shervan directed three action movies towards the end of the 80s: Hollywood Cop, Killing American Style and Young Rebels.

While Hollywood Cop was a pleasant surprise that turned all the entertainment knobs all the way to 11, and Young Rebels was an uttermost disappointment, Killing American Style luckily resembles more of the Hollywood Cop, but loses a bit in the action department.

Like other Shervan’s movie, every pumped up character feel like they’d been taken out of Mortal Kombat arcade game, and the action and dialogue are so overboard the movies feel more like parodies rather than serious action movies. Robert Z’Dar, Shervan’s square-jawed go to actor once again complimenting this theme as a menacing baddie straight out of a comic book.

80s-o-meter: 98%

Total: 76%

#1461 Deadbeat at Dawn (1988)

A cult classic so cult (meaning, adored by a small bunch of people) I had no idea of its existence, Deadbeat at Dawn is one notch above your average hobby projects.

But one notch only. The movie follows a gang leader whose girlfriend gets killer by a rivalling gang. He at first doesn’t seek revenge, but after getting hunted down by the gang decides to get even. Shot on a non-existent budget with family and friends helping out, the result is far away from big studio quality, but still a tad better than we usually see in these hobby projects. There are also a number of nice small ideas here that make it clear the director/writer Jim Van Bebber was actually putting something of his own into this movie, instead of just copying form elsewhere.

I was ready to rate this one somewhere in the +-50 range, but the movie does get better towards the end, with some pretty nice street brawler choreography included.

80s-o-meter: 62%

Total: 61%

#1460 Judgment in Berlin aka Judgement in Berlin (1988)

Before watching this movie I had no idea Sean Penn’s father Leo Penn was a director, known mostly from his work on TV. The reason I made the connection was seeing Sean in this movie a side role as one of the passengers of the plane hijacked from Poland to West-Germany.

And that’s what the movie is all about; an American judge (Martin Sheen) is called to arrange a trial for the defector behind the hijacking, under the pressure from both east and the west.

While the setup is interesting, everything else in the movie falls short, starting from the dreary Eastern Europe setting to the movie not really following though any of its plot lines in a meaningful way.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 53%

#1444 Bloodstone (1988)

An Indiana Jones inspired B-action adventure taking place in an exotic location much in the vein of Firewalker and Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, Bloodstone has one interesting aspect going for it: it’s shot in India with shared Bollywood casting.

The experience works and Bloodstone’s Indian born actors make a decent work with their roles, and the movie looks solid overall.

Like many other similar adventure films, Bloodstone can be at times entertaining, but also totally unsubstantial and forgettable.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 71%