#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%

#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%