#1269 Cutting Class (1989)

Known for most only for featuring young Brad Pitt, Cutting Class has been downplayed in many reviews. And while it’s arguably not a masterpiece, it is not completely without merit.

To me cutting class felt like a nice little high school slasher with late 80s look and feel that seems at first to paint by numbers, but then takes the formula to an original and interesting direction.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 71%

#1262 Say Anything… (1989)

Sometimes when I encounter a movie written with great intellect and penmanship, I get an urge to write something equally meaningful and insightful about it.But sometimes the awe for great writing just renders me unable to come up with fancy words or witty similes.

This happened with Say Anything, where the writer / director Cameron Crowe has achieved something so sincere that leaves next to nothing to improve. The movie tells a love story that’s equally minimalistic, yet biggest thing in the universe through well-rounded, three dimensional characters without once resorting to easy solutions or tearjerkery. And it does all this with an illusion of ease, making the viewing experience unlaborious.

If the movie is a triumph for Crowe, it’s one also for the leads Ione Skye and John Cusack. It’s especially Cusack that performs the role of a lifetime, making Say Anything his no.1 film of the 80s, well ahead of Hot Pursuit and Better Off Dead.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 96%

#1259 Cheetah (1989)

Look, I know what I was getting into when starting to watch Cheetah; a family movie made by Walt Disney Pictures.

I had a reason though: I was hoping there’d be something here for us adults as well so that I could’ve added Cheetah to my catalogue of movies to watch with my kids later. But, there’s nothing here, and to be honest I don’t think the movie is that enchanting to the kids either.

One of the problems here is that for a movie that could’ve been about Cheetah (and Africa), it focuses instead on the young American siblings trying to save the day by busting a crooked Indian clerk and a bounty hunter after the Cheetah. Some of the locations are nice, but you’ll get better experience watching almost any National Geography documentary out there.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 25%

#1256 Old Gringo (1989)

A big money production depicting two Americans in the midst of the Mexican revolution, Old Gringo is a triumph settings wise, but if it has any deeper points to make, I kept on missing it.

Sure, sometimes the movies don’t need to make a point, but the Old Gringo is told in a way that it seems to make one, before completely sidetracking once again. In other words, there seems to be a good story hiding here somewhere, but it never surfaces.

Greckory Peck – who was 73 years old at the time – makes for a charismatic role a disillusioned author in search of a one last adventure, and maybe that one more sigh from a lady.

80s-o-meter: 11%

Total: 57%

#1251 River of Death (1989)

Take Michael Dudikoff of the American Ninja fame, Donald Pleasance of the Halloween fame and Robert Vaughn, and add elements of Nazi doctors lost in the South-American jungle and Indiana Jones like adventure elements and on paper you’ve got one heck of a value proposal for an entertaining movie.

But River of Death never delivers. Based on the Alistair MacLean’s 1981 novel of the same name that apparently wasn’t a strong one to start with offers virtually nothing engaging in the filmed form.

River of Death tries to mask the shortcomings of the story with strong product values – including surprisingly convincing set design – but it becomes painfully obvious no later than half way through the movie that it is totally running on empty.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 40%

#1243 The Phantom of the Opera (1989)

An 80s take on classic 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera starring Robert Englund of A Nightmare on Elm Street fame sort of disappoints for not being an absolute stinker I took it for.

In fact, it’s a surprisingly well made movie with great atmosphere, majestic songs, well executed special effects and impeccable scenic design.

Although the movie’s marketing was strongly built upon Englund’s role, it remains the least interesting part of the movie, and the movie could’ve actually gained from having a lead that didn’t have such burden of a typecasting to carry.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 78%

#1242 Mystery Train (1989)

Although nothing much happens in Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train, there’s just something very enchanting about it.

We get to witness three overlapping stories of events unravelling in one day and night in Memphis and while the movie starts stylish but slow, by the third story I found myself fully hooked the the movie and would’ve kept on watching one similar story after another if the movie just offered more.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 85%

#1235 Relentless (1989)

Leo Rossi and Judd Nelson (both of which would usually fall far in the no interest zone for me) combine their forces in Relentless, which actually ends up a nifty little thriller.

In the end it’s this outside the box casting that makes the movie interesting as the routine plot doesn’t not offer anything exceptional. Judd Nelson puts into the character a lot of pathetic – even tragic traits – that make the killer sometimes even the object of the viewer’s pity, and something of an antithesis of your usual one-dimensional criminal masterminds.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 78%

#1232 The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)

The long-lasting professional relationship of two lounge pianists develops cracks as beautiful young singer joins them.

A fascinating look into family dynamics gets ever more interesting after realising that the two Briges brothers playing the parts are in fact real life brothers, which effectively makes their embittered clashes feel much more real.

Jeff Bridges and Michelle Pfeiffer both turn their charism to 11 for The Fabulous Baker Boys, making it easy for the viewer to a little secret movie crush with either one.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 93%

#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%