#1210 Let It Ride (1989)

After Trotter (Richard Dreyfuss) gambles and bags his second win I kept on wishing out loud this movie wouldn’t be all about him hanging around the race track betting his wins over and over on the horses.

Woefully it is.

Not being a gambler – nor interested in the subject – the plot held zero interest to me. I also missed the cultural references that go with the territory – the aristocrat and worker sides of the race track –– not that I think they’d made the experience any better. Dreyfuss is terrific as always and carries the movie, but still Let It Ride feels like a waste of his talent.

If it’s a movie about gambling you’re after, I’d suggest taking a look at Owning Mahowny instead which is a superb look into the mind of a gambler.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 31%

#1203 Checking Out (1989)

A very 80s look into the career driven yuppie life and hypochondria, Checking Out is a black comedy that provides plenty of anxiety, but very little laughs.

The cast is not to blame here: Jeff Daniels who’d hit a jackpot a few years later as the other comedic half of Dumb & Dumber performs his role of a young executive going through a nervous breakdown as well as one would expect, but it’s the uninspired plot that wonders around through the movie without aim, delivering sarcastic jabs that lack targets relatable for the viewer that makes the viewing experience more chore than a delight.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 41%

#1202 Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)

Steven Soderbergh’s idea of using filmed video confessions as the way to drive the plot is brilliant; women opening up to share their sexual dreams and desires to the camera is both more believable and fresh than the usual approach of confiding to a shrink.

The interhuman relations and tensions are mouth watering right off the bat, but after the pinnacle of the movie is done with, Sex, Lies and Videotape leaves a strangely hollow and unsatisfactory feeling inside.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 70%

#1186 Halloween 2019: Darkroom (1989)

Boasting likely the lushest mullet in any horror movie you’ll ever see, Darkroom is another mishmash of a movie that throws in a bunch of elements familiar from other similar titles, but in a way that they never quite click together in a satisfying way.

Visually the movie is solid and there’s a definite promise of a decent late horror flick, but despite the interesting setup the story itself ends up being the most disappointing factor here: behind the shiny facade is pretty basic slasher of a rural family getting attacked by a camera-wielding madman.

You know one of the characters is culpable – and it’s not going to be the one that the movie offers on a silver platter.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 59%

#1181 Halloween 2019: After Midnight (1989)

Another Halloween, another horror anthology. And I’m perfectly fine with it, as short stories seem an especially good and compact format for horror fireside stories.

The anthology kicks off with The Old Dark House, an excellent haunted house spooky tale that really gets spine tingling towards the end – good stuff!

The expectations are set high for the following A Night on the Town and All Night Operator parts, but although they are somewhat entertaining, they fail in being scary.

After Midnight on the whole is still a positive surprise and is worth watching, if only for its first story.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 72%

#1180 Halloween 2019: A Night to Dismember (1989)

One of the longest movies in making ever, most of A Night to Dismember was shot already in 1977, but it took the director Doris Wishman 10 or so years to actually get the movie put together and released.

The movie is a horrid mess that looks and feels like it was shot under heavy medication. There was absolutely nothing for me here, but the unintentional clumsiness might appeal to certain people.

While there is a certain value in perseverance and seeing a project through to the end, A Night to Dismember stands as a reminder that sometimes it would be preferable to just let your pet projects die a dignified death.

80s-o-meter: 54%

Total: 1%

#1173 Halloween 2019: Offerings (1989)

A mistreated boy grows up in an asylum and breaks free to pay the old neighbourhood a visit and to have his revenge on his tormentors.

Offerings is the most blatant Halloween clone I’ve seen to date, smartly disguised as a homage. The antagonist has the same bodily properties than Michael Myers – bullets don’t seem to slow him down – but as a character he is a far cry from his paragon.

The name Offerings is derived from the habit of the killer leaving body parts to his loved one – a girl who stood up against the bullies – and it’s a charming little touch in this otherwise eventless slasher.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 51%

#1159 Halloween 2019: Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1989)

I totally dug the concept and the looks of Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, but somehow grew bored of the whole vampire aspect of it all too soon.

This very much hindered the mileage I got out of the movie, and although the movie introduces many new little twists, it also embraces all of the clichés of the genre: Vampire bats coffins, crosses, sticks through the heart, even Van Helsing – they’re all here.

Shot in 1989, but officially released only two years later to VHS, Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat has since gathered a cult following common no doubt partly due to featuring one Bruce Campbell of The Evil Dead fame.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 61%

#1156 Halloween 2019: Dead Dudes in the House aka The House on Tombstone Hill (1989)

A group of friends go renovate an old house only to find themselves trapped inside with no way to escape, and taunted by an old woman who tried to lure them away from the herd to turn them to blood thirsty undead.

Dead Dudes in the House is very firmly a B-movie, but punches above its weight and manages to maintain a good balance between having tongue in cheek and being actually haunting and somewhat scary experience. As such it’s one of the definite highlights of Troma Entertainment’s very uneven catalogue of movies.

As often with low budget movies, Dead Dudes in the House was released and re-released in various formats and markets under different titles such as The Dead Come Home, The House on Tombstone Hill and The Road.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 65%

#1151 Physical Evidence (1989)

Let’s get the bad out of the way first: Physical Evidence is a weak courtroom drama that does nothing better than your average episode of Matlock.

Secondly, there is nothing here that would sticks with you and you’ve most likely forgotten all about the movie less than 15 minutes after watching the it. This is a pretty bland ordeal.

But, it does have that easy-to-watch late night cable movie quality to it and as such I never found watching the movie a chore. A slightly older Burt Reynolds of the late eighties (that I much prefer to his earlier roles) plows through his role without much enthusiasm, and what little focus that movie might’ve had earlier is completely lost during the last 15 minutes.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 58%

#1147 Twister (1989)

I’ve happened to come across various quirky movies lately that I’ve liked for their charming weirdness, but the quirkiness that Twisted has to offer is very much the wrong kind of artsy, self-serving and pretentious kind.

Twister feels like an experiment where few actors have put into a house to see if anything silly happens. Sure, they all deliver their lines with professional certainty, but everything they say or do is totally pointless and trivial. It’s also worth mentioning that the movie’s title doesn’t really have any connection with the film other than for one quick, passing scene.

There aren’t many positives to mention here. Crispin Glover performs his trademark eccentric schtick well and his wardrobe is one of the most fabulous ones seen on the silver screen.

But that’s pretty much it.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 4%

#1144 The Unbelievable Truth (1989)

The Unbelievable Truth follows a man returning to his home town after serving a prison sentence for homicide and trying to start anew, and the daughter of a car repair shop, who rebels against his father and her old life as a Harvard admitted grade-A student.

This is one of those movies where the actual plot sounds somewhat lame if recapped, as The Unbelievable Truth is all about small quirky things that take place outside the main storyline. Like for example the scenes with the cocky, soon to be ex boyfriend who, dressed up in a $170 suit, who at first declares the world is his oyster, only to later go into pieces throughout the movie as she walks out of his life without ever looking back.

While I didn’t fall in love with the movie, I do want to give this one another go in the future to see if there are another layers to be found within.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 65%

#1138 She’s Back (1989)

Bad comedies are aplenty but you rarely get to watch something so cringeworthy that it resembles of having to witness someone dying on the stage. She’s Back, starring late Carrie Fisher and Robert Joy is just that.

I don’t honestly know what the team was aiming to do here but I do know that it backfires big time. The movie is not only unfunny and unenjoyable, but downright annoying and painful to watch.

The director Tim Kincaid would return to adult movies after finishing She’s Back, which just might be the right calling for him.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 0%

#1122 Jacknife (1989)

A late 80s movie featuring Robert De Niro, Kathy Baker and Ed Harris that I’ve never even heard about? Color me interested!

And it looks I’m not the only one. Jacknife is a relatively small budget movie that saw a limited release, grossing only a fraction of its budget. It’s a shame since it is one of the better Vietnam veteran movies that handles its main characters with certain affection that at least feels genuine to the viewer. Unlike other similar movies, Jacknife does not start with a huge bang nor draw its strength from powerful flashbacks of the war, but concentrates more on carefully peeling off layers of its subjects.

The movie does a good job of balancing between not glorifying nor antagonising the characters and I found the setup that revolves around personal issues instead of justification of the war interesting and a refreshing approach to the subgenre.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 82%

#1107 Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

The first Star Trek movie to be directed by William Shatner, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier has the unfortunate honour of being the least exciting one in the series.

Most of the elements that made the previous three movies interesting are gone. There aren’t any memorable antagonists here, no pushing visual boundaries and no humour that made the previous instalments stand out. Perhaps most disappointingly, the human (or: Vulcan) interest aspect that probed deep into the weird and interesting chemistry between the lead characters is nowhere to be found this time around.

While the movie is no stinker, it lacks the grandeur expected from a movie launched to be the 1989 summer blockbuster, feeling much more like a prolonged episode of the original series, shot with modern cameras and slightly superior effects.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 60%

#1099 Heathers (1989)

Remember being 15 and hating someone someone so bad you’d wished they were dead? I didn’t, but Heathers totally reminded me going through the same kind of emotional rollercoaster – and that was the first glimpse of its above your average teenage flick virtues.

Three popular Heathers run a high school clique who cruel rule the entire school belittling, subduing and terrorising anyone foolish enough to cross path with them. After just 15 minutes to the film it’s really clear they’re not out to bruise, but to scar. Veronica is one of the students who’s saved from the harassment by being a quiet compliance who never quite stomachs all the wickedness and wishes for the demise of all the three. What seems like a materialisation of her secret wishes, appears mysterious J.D. who quickly makes all of Veronicas subconscious wishes come true.

A black comedy about bullying, revenge, mass murder and teenage suicides, Heathers’ cruel satire still finds its target so well that a movie like this wouldn’t likely be made by any of the major studios today.

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 91%

#1095 Disorganized Crime (1989)

Four criminals come together to prepare for the bank robbery of their lifetime, only to find out that Frank – the mastermind behind the heist – is nowhere to be found.

Disorganized Crime is one of those unknown 80s comedies that would’ve deserved more recognition and popularity upon its release. It’s no masterpiece by any way, but one of those comedies where most parts just seem to click and come together in a very satisfying way. Ed O’Neill of the Married With Kids fame provides a solid backbone for the comedy, but it’s Rubén Blades – who was formerly unknown to me – that provides by far the best laughs of the show.

As mentioned, it all comes together in a very satisfying way for everyone in the end: the gang, the two detectives, the viewer – and possibly even Frank.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 84%

#1092 Dream a Little Dream (1989)

If you do a body switching movie – like so many film makers deemed necessary towards the end of the 80s – you’re going to have to deal with having to sell that outrageous idea to the viewers. Unlike its wacky comedy compadres, Dream a Little Dream has a setback of being a drama, and has to keep a relatively straight face while trying to convince the viewer to go along with the nonsense. And for the most part, it fails.

Dream a Little Dream is the last movie of the 80s for the two teen superstar Coreys – Feldman and Haim – and it also marks end of an era as both soon vanished from top grossing feature films. While it’s no bull’s eye, it’s not at all a bad swansong for either one, although it’s Feldman who gets to lead here. The high school / coming to age drama is typically to the era quite overdramatic, but not everything about it is that far fetched. I’ve seen characters like Joel – played with just the right kind of temper and fire by William McNamara – who are psychotic enough to just snap and pick up a gun.

I wish the creative team behind the movie had introduced both parties of the body switching as just real life characters that happen to meet and find mutual grounds despite the obvious generation gap. Surely it would’ve allowed the same story about growth without all the mumbo jumbo and the excessive explaining and justifying that always follows.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 62%

#1083 Loverboy (1989)

If my memory serves me correctly, I watched Loverboy just a bit before I started this project and so it probably served as some kind of catalyst back then.

Watching the movie now I was actually pretty impressed how well it all comes together. It addresses the obvious genre pitfalls nicely, does a good job of not antagonising the main character without really letting him away with it too easily, ties much of the mishaps together really nicely and is just genuinely funny at times.

While I can’t say I’m big fan of 80s all too wimpy, prior to getting hit with a handsome stick Patrick Dempsey, Loverboy does mark for his strongest comedic role I’ve witnessed so far.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 86%

#1075 Kill Me Again (1989)

Kill Me Again begins kind of lame as for some reason deems necessary to rerun all the banalities of the neo-noir genre. It’s only after the movie finally starts steering away from the obvious clichés that it finds its own tone of voice, ending a much better than anticipated thriller.

Although the then-couple Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley make for a dynamic beat up private detective treacherous femme fatale duo, it’s Michael Madsen that ends up stealing the show as the menacing, force of a nature antagonist.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 81%