#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%

#1070 A Dry White Season (1989)

The slogan on the poster of A Dry White Season encapsulates perfectly the essence of the movie: No one can be free until all are free.

Taking place in South Africa during the apartheid, the movie depicts Ben du Toit and his white family who’ve gotten so used to their privileged life that they ignore the calls for help by their loyal gardener Gordon whose son goes missing during the peaceful riots and who in turn dies after being detained by the police. As du Toit soon realises, his comfortable life is built upon the repression and exploitation of others. Despite all the death and graphic violence depicted, the most upsetting aspect of the movie is how Ben soon becomes a persona non grata amongst his closest people who quietly give their quiet blessing to the violations to be able to continue their privileged lives.

A Dry White Season is one of the strongest, most upsetting movie of the era that leaves the viewer with no comfort – other than that apartheid as the institutionalised system is a ghost of the past.

The movie is a triumph also for the veteran actors Marlon Brando as the lawyer disillusioned by the system and Donald Sutherland as the seasoned teacher who realises the hard way that in a system where human rights can be taken from one of us, they can be just as easily stripped from anyone.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 93%

#1068 The Beast of War aka The Beast (1989)

I was initially put off by the appearance of The Beast of War; cinematography wise the movie looked dull with most of the events taking place in a tank that wonders across a canyon in desert. But as the story evolved, I soon found the movie to be one of the more interesting and multi-layered war movies of the era.

Looking back now, it’s interesting how the movie antagonises the Russian invaders and represents the Afghan rebels as heroes who bravely stand up against the superpower that tries to take over the land as all know how this narrative was soon changed after the events that started in 2001. Secondly, the tank crew is depicted without thick comical Russian accent, which is still unheard of in Hollywood movies. Instead, they talk with American accents which can be only read as a statement that the two superpowers and their foreign policies aren’t really that different and both are known to start unjust wars to drive their own international politics. As the crew finds themselves on the run with an enemy that’s much better accustomed to the area, it’s not hard to see the correspondence to the Vietnam war.

Thirdly, although the pressure that the tank crew has to endure with is external, it’s the well portrayed internal pressure that really makes the movie: The commander’s power tripping, panic, paranoid and betrayal that the crew goes through are all interestingly documented here.

While I’m not going to change my opinion about judging books by the cover since it’s been a pretty good measurement with 80s movies, The Beast of War is a good reminder that sometimes it’s good to give a movie a fair chance despite its modest covers.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 91%

#1067 Race for Glory (1989)

A Top Gun equivalent of a motorcycle movie, Race for Glory features tons of speed, kick-ass soundtrack .. and your average, very predictable sports movie plot.

The movie is one of the very few Hollywood titles filmed in old continent that still looks fresh and American – in a good way! In fact, the luxurious international locations work really well and capture well all the excitement that surrounds the big motor sports events.

If you’re to watch Race for Glory, you should do it for mostly for the atmosphere for the plot follows a very predictable path without much surprises along the way.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 70%

#1065 Best of the Best (1989)

USA national karate team goes against team Korea in Best of the Best, a totally ridiculous, unrealistic, sports movie about an unlikely karate team.

Sports movies can be a bore as they stick to the plot of an underdog making it through difficulties to the final victory and then try to masquerade this one way or another. Best of the Best on the other hand does not shy away from clichés, it fully embraces them: There’s the unlikely team, an old shoulder injury that you know will come back haunting later, over the top acting, and a final showdown with an opponent guilty of killing your brother! The only thing missing from the arsenal of clichés is if the last match would’ve ended up with some unorthodox special move.

Eric Roberts seems a weird pick for the lead role at first, but he actually makes for one menacing looking fighter in his ponytail – and gives an excellent performance that’s just the right amount over the top.

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 88%