#1440 Black Rainbow (1989)

If you’re going to introduce supernatural nonsense into your movie, you better back it up some how.

I was waiting for Black Rainbow to come up with a good explanation how Rosanna Arquette as a medium with a great showmanship suddenly begins channeling grim predictions of the future and foreseeing deaths to the tiniest detail, but the movie provides none of that. As the movie closes it manages to leave one confused, with less clear picture of the character and her powers one had just 30 minutes ago.

Black Rainbow is a mishmash of a movie that had a nice premise for a movie, but would’ve needed much, much snappier writing in order to pull it off.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 59%

#1436 Farewell to the King (1989)

An American army squad shipwrecks on the shores of Japanese occupied Borneo and gets wiped out by the enemy, except for the soldier who flees the confrontation and befriends with a local tribe. When two British soldiers paratroop into the jungle, they meet up with the tribe and the American, now dubbed as the king of the tribe.

If this sounds familiar, you might be interested to hear that John Milius, the writer behind Farewell to the King is the same guy who wrote Apocalypse Now some ten years earlier.

What made Farewell to the King the most interesting to me was not the battle against the enemy, but the perseverance the allies show about bringing him back to be trialed as a deserter. The noose tightens and Farewell to the King keeps the viewer well in its grasp until the very end.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 70%

#1434 Cookie (1989)

An organised crime racketeer Dino (Peter Falk) is released from prison and goes out to claim his ill earned money from his former partners of crime who don’t want to give that money to them. At the same time his daughter Cookie (Emily Lloyd) who has had to live without a father turns out not loving him, but hating instead. Now Dino has to get his money and the love of his daughter back and also choose between his mistress and his wife.

This is once again a mob movie that begs the movie to side with the main character against the authorities and for this needs a lead that the viewer can feel that sympathy for, and Falk definitely fits the bill: there’s nothing so vicious he could not do and to get away with it by doing his trademark underdog Columbo schtick.

Falk remains the only strong point in the movie and I found most aspects of the movie very unoriginal, as if the Susan Seidelman had traced over a caricature that has been traced over countless times before, and failing to add anything of her own there.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 41%

#1418 The Kill Reflex aka Soda Cracker (1989)

The Kill Reflex is a paint by numbers action thriller overshadowed by most of its contemporaries. This lone wolf police story could have worked a bit better as a buddy cop movie, but naturally still ended up inferior in that category as well.

It’s a tired show that does not ever to try to outdo other movies of the genre, just fit in with the rest of them.

There are two highlights in the movie; the ending the ending that manages to surprise with the drastic actions the baddies take when caught in a corner, plus the fact that another one of them can be earlier seen wearing a Finnair Sports Tours tracksuit.

Go, Finland!

#1404 Halloween 2020: The Weirdo (1989)

An oddball of a youngster gets bullied by various people until he reaches his breaking point.

There’s an argument to be made that The Weirdo isn’t a horror movie at all. It’s a revenge movie, and not a very good one at that. The concept has been used many times much more effective, touching, gruesome, shocking – you name it – way, and served in a visually more splashy fashion.

Only interesting aspect in The Weirdo is how the main character is just not simple innocent victim, but like many outcasts he can also be bit of an asshole, even towards the people that care for him.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 4%

#1382 Halloween 2020: Clownhouse (1989)

Wow, what a great start for a movie. Clownhouse successfully introduces three brothers and their very relatable relationship; giving each other hard time but really sticking together when it counts. It’s especially the trip to the travelling show that captures this, along with the kids’ coulrophobia and overall the whole segment is just very atmospheric.

It is therefore a shame how Clownhouse regresses into very average game of cat and mouse between the mental patients dressed as clowns and the kids – not unlike in Alone in the Dark just seven years earlier. The movie fails to provide any motivation for why to clowns decide to attack one specific house and why don’t they just march in and kill the kids, but prefer to run around them in the woods and hide inside closets inside the house, and it’s not too long after it gets old.

On the positive note the clowns, especially the leader does look menacing and visually a good fit for the style of the movie. Sam Rockwell can be seen in his debut feature film role as the eldest of the brothers, and his already very Rockwellysque performance at this young age is already a treat for us fans.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 70%

#1381 Halloween 2020: Murder Weapon (1989)

If you’re going to make a stupid slasher, why not at least make it original, right?

Murder Weapon is a turd of a movie, with the record amount of padding I’ve seen to date; for the starters we can see some chick applying sun lotion for what seems an eternity coupled with an interview scene that drags on and on. It takes mind numbing 32 minutes for the movie to actually start.

After it does, things get somewhat better. Murder lusted girls fresh out of asylum invite their mullet-rocking old boyfriends to a house, and – you guessed it – gratuitous nudity and graphic kills ensue. While Murder Weapon earns a few extra points for not going down the beaten path, it’s ultimately just a glorified soft porn movie that fails to provide any scares.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 17%

#1376 Halloween 2020: The Terror Within (1989)

First of the scifi horror movies this Halloween, The Terror Within takes place in a base built in a desert somewhere in the dystopian future when most of the human kind has been wiped out by undisclosed human activities against the nature, leaving only super powerful mutants roaming the earth.

The restricted budget becomes very obvious in the few establishing shots of the futuristic base as everything here seems to be composed cardboard or of off the shelf items with a strong 70s whiff to them. After the movie turns out to be yet another Aliens ripoff and the alien offspring escapes to the ventilation hatches the movie gets a gloomier tone and the lighting changes for the movie’s benefit. For once the inevitable sighting and showdown with the enemy is not a complete letdown: Aliens level of art directing may not be found here, but the monster does look menacing enough for me not to want to bump into it in a dark corridor.

George Kennedy who probably received top billing is not sold on the project and walks through the movie without much enthusiasm. Andrew Stevens who’s previously stayed under the radar for me on the other hand puts in tons of great energy and effort as the heroic lead, levering the otherwise mediocre movie up a quite a notch.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 75%

#1366 The Jigsaw Murders (1989)

I’ve gone through this before; given the sky high quality of the thrillers these days that offer plot twists after plot twists, it’s hard to get impressed with the 80s offerings.

But what actually works for the benefit of The Jigsaw Murders is the way how refreshingly straight forward it is: someone gets murdered, the evidence gets piled up against a suspect, and finally it’s a question of getting enough evidence (with legal means) to put him away.

As the book of movie clichés would have it, the senior detective struggles with alcoholism, but the movie handles this side of the story interestingly, stripping any sorts of movie glamour out of it.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 72%

#1335 Hider in the House (1989)

If there ever was a role Gary Busey was born to play, it’s the deranged patient Tom Sykes who in Hider in the House finds himself building a little nest in the attic of a nuclear family to live with the family he never had. Really, he’s such a natural in the role and boasts just the right physical features that the movie seems written with precisely him in mind.

Busey perfectly shows the likeable traits needed for the role and we the viewers can’t but hope that everything would turn out well for him in the end somehow. The concept of the movie is unique and it skillfully moves away from the most tired clichés when there is a temptation to just take the road well travelled.

That is, until the end. Even though the ending is a-ok it really felt like such a letdown after all the great buildup that was used to establish Tom’s multifaceted character.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 87%

#1333 L.A. Bounty (1989)

A weak cast makes for a weak movie with L.A. Bounty.

Wings Hauser plays the role of a demented madman criminal (strong emphasis on the word plays) and Sybil Danning deadpans through the movie in a pair of badly fitting trousers, delivering around 30 words of dialogue along the way.

A kind of a fast food action movie when it was released, this particular serving has gone stale a long time ago.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 38%

#1325 Mind Trap aka Danger USA (1989)

With movies like Mind Trap where the acting is amateurish, manuscript weak and production values laughable, the only remaining aspect to enjoy the movie remains looking for any possible entertainment aspects in that particular train wreck. Unfortunately they are seldomly to be found unless put into the movie intentionally by the team.

This applies to the Mind Trap as well. Admittedly, there is some amount of hilariousness in the way the team has goofed up the sound while shooting and had to dub parts of the dialogue again, but without the original actor present, or in the way the lady lead baddie boasts the worst russian accent even seen on the silver screen. Or in the way the movie tries to tell and explain a silly concept of a dream machine that makes people return from the death without the slightest possibility to get it across in an understandable way.

But these aspects don’t add up enough to make Mind Trap enjoyable, nor recommendable.

80s-o-meter: 51%

Total: 30%

#1322 New Year’s Day (1989)

Henry Jaglom’s New Year’s Day is one of those pretentious art house movies that makes you never want to sit through another similar movie. Consisting mostly of talking heads in a boring dialogue going through their anxieties, New Year’s Day makes you truly hate every adult out there and their stupid adult problems.

Jaglom’s movies have to be credited in embracing improvisation so wholeheartedly, but here the concept does not just work, and a good movie needs much more flesh around its bones – or at least people in it who feel more fleshed out than just a simple collection of neuroses.

Some people may have come across the movie due to young David Duchovny starring in one of the roles, but you should not bother seeing New Year’s Day for that reason only as Duchovny is one of the weakest links in this already weak movie.

80s-o-meter: 30%

Total: 11%

#1316 Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989)

Bloodhounds of Broadway is an ensemble comedy based on four Damon Runyon stories: ”The Bloodhounds of Broadway”, ”A Very Honorable Guy”, ”The Brain Goes Home” and ”Social Error”, written in the 1930s.

I’ve often criticised period pictures for having their historical settings without any point but to provide nostalgia, but as Bloodhounds of Broadway is more of an adult fairytale, the setting actually works here. I liked quite a lot in the way that the various personas and their stories intertwined during the movie, and the screenplay and direction of Howard Brookner works exceptionally well.

The casting also works well with Matt Dillon, Jennifer Grey, Esai Morales, Steve Buscemi, Randy Quaid, Rutger Hauer and Madonna seen in atypical roles.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 89%

#1308 Do the Right Thing (1989)

Many things make Do the Right Thing worth watching right now, but here are the top two.

First of all it’s a great imaginary time capsule to the late 80s – early 90s hiphop influenced lifestyle of a one neighbourhood in the big apple, delivered through caricatures of characters in a visually rich way that reminds me of cartoony music videos and artists like De La Soul.

Secondly, despite being a sign of its time, Do the Right Thing is just as topical right now as it was 31 years ago. The scene of police attacking Radio Raheem feels chilling and very topical due to the huge black lives matter movement and riots this year following the killing of George Floyd.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 87%

#1304 Vice Academy (1989)

Rick Sloane’s Vice Academy series (they go all the way up to part 6, released in 2008) derives its basic setup from the Police Academy series by changing the interesting set of various odd-ball characters with curvy ladies who aren’t afraid to reveal their mammaries in order to catch the criminals.

I honestly liked the start of the movie as it reminded me of the Police Academy movies, but as soon as the girls leave the academy to do the undercover work, the movie turns kind of stale. Maybe Sloane should have gone all the way in copying more directly and not experimenting with his writing.

The overall mood of Vice Academy is good, Linnea Quigley is likeable as always and visually the movie does fare well for a comedy of its era. Only if the writing was more snappier, Vice Academy could have stood a chance to become an actually recommendable comedy to watch.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 59%

#1300 Society (1989)

It’s hard to write anything about Society without spoiling it for those who are yet to see it.

All I can reveal about the plot without giving too much away is that a high society teen begins to notice some oddities in people around him that then turn out even more odd, and more, and more .. and more.

Society is more of an experience than a movie, but as such it is totally a riot, only held back with some scenes that feel unnecessarily elongated. If you are a fan of home video classics such as Bad Taste, The Blob, Basket Case, Brain Damage or The Evil Dead, you will be very much at home with Society.

80s-o-meter: 96%

Total: 92%

#1291 Nam Angels (1989)

The best part of the home video revolution of the 80s was the parade of totally outrageous movies that would never made it to the silver screen, but make for top notch entertainment.

Nam Angels is one of the purest examples of this; a remake of the 1970 movie of the same name that maintains the same ridiculous of premise of a gang of Soldiers teaming up with a motorcycle club and riding through the jungle of Vietnam to find a gold treasure.

The result is an entertaining piece of trashy guilty pleasure that is best served off an old rental VHS copy.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 101%

#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%