#1660 Lisa (1989)

And interesting twist on similar thrillers where the main character gets into telephone conversations with a mysterious stranger, here that main character is Lisa, a 14-year old girl who can’t wait but to be grown up and not treated like the kid any longer.

This setup creates an extra layer of suspension as she is not only in the danger of being exposed to the main antagonist, but also trying not to get caught by her protective mother – although in this case we root for the mother to find out and stop the calling before things escalate any further.

Lisa makes for one of the better thrillers of the era while being a true time capsule of its era.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 83%

#1659 Hitcher in the Dark aka Fear in the Dark aka Return of the Hitcher (1989)

An Italian horror movie directed by Umberto Lenzi leveraging off the success of The Hitcher (1986), Hitcher in the Dark is very different from its paragon, but for the good: it delivers the uttermost tension seen in the original Hitcher, but manages to successfully stand on its own.

Hitcher in the Dark would not have worked if it was tame, and it acknowledges this by making some very dark moves along the way that really work for the movie’s advantage. It leaves the viewer with an uneasy feeling, with no wish to ever engage into hitching a ride from a stranger.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 79%

#1655 Beyond the Stars (1989)

It’s hard to fathom a bad movie and bad acting from Martin Sheen – yet here it is in the shape of Beyond the Stars.

The manuscript my the director David Saperstein is nothing short of idiotic and unconvincing, and it is painful to watch Sheen struggling through portraying a retired astronaut troubled with his extraterrestrial conflicts. It is especially the idiotic conclusion that still wants me to facepalm, almost two weeks after finishing the movie.

The fans of Christian Slater will probably find something to like here as Slater gives one of his cookie cutter performances of the 80s, but others should probably steer away.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 37%

#1641 Gleaming the Cube (1989)

What do you get when you put 80s up and coming skating legends like Mike McGillMark ”Gator” RogowskiRodney MullenLance MountainMike VallelyNatas Kaupas, Tony Hawk and Tommy Guerrero into the same movie with young Christian Slater on the top of his game, mix it up with a kick ass soundtrack and Californian scenery?

A totally rad 80s action adventure movie – that’s what.

Gleaming the Cube is enjoyable on most of its aspects and a movie that offers tons of aspects that make it worth revisiting time and time again.

80s-o-meter: 100%

Total: 92%

#1639 Blades (1989)

Blades – a silly movie about a killer lawnmower loose in a golf course sounds 100% like a Troma Entertainment production.

Or does it? Compared to the zany Troma movies of the earlier 80s, Blades feels almost playing it safe and trying to cater for some big enough niche audience: the creative anarchy is missing, but on the other hand Blades is actually quite well-rounded movie with some real budget and effort put into it. Even so that the silly machine antagonist feels like a faux pas, and the movie could have fared much better if it didn’t want to be so much tongue in cheek.

While the lack of a good baddie makes Blades a disappointment, it’s still an easy to watch and enjoyable disappointment for the most parts – especially if you are a golf aficionado. It was especially the shaky golf pro lead who was written as a counterweight for typical movie male characters that made Blades feel interesting and fresh.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 65%

#1637 Big Man on Campus (1989)

Big Man on Campus is one of those movies with a super annoying character that you genuinely hope would start growing on you so that watching through the movie would not turn into complete torture. Here that character is a degenerated hunchback living in a bell tower in a campus where he gets discovered by two students and their professor, played by Tom Skerritt.

Ok so it does take quite awhile, but when the wild man starts to take his first clumsy steps into the civilised world the movie stopped rubbing me the wrong way, and I found myself finally rooting for the character.

Big Man on Campus has multiple weak moments that should have ended in the cutting room floor, but luckily the crudest and most boorish humour is absent, making it actually quite tolerable comedy.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 70%

#1633 Dr. Alien aka I Was a Teenage Sex Maniac aka I Was a Teenage Sex Mutant (1989)

An intentionally campy sci-fi comedy, Dr. Alien is one of those movies that could have gone either way gambling on trying to be fun and weird. It’s more often than not when these kind of comedies end up just awkwardly weird.

People getting into playing this sort of movie know what they are subscribing to, and Dr. Alien pretty much delivers what it promises, ending up in the ”better” end of the spectrum – again, for those who know what they are looking for when watching an 80s high school sex comedy.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 69%

#1621 Over-sexed Rugsuckers from Mars (1989)

An indie scifi comedy of aliens made out of silly putty who cross breed humans and a vacuum cleaner and then urinate to a bottle, making a hobo fall in love with the vacuum.

Well, there you pretty much have it.

These kind of lame film school exercises were never my cup of tea, and the same goes for Over-sexed Rugsuckers from Mars. There’s some attempt to humour that felt fresh and imaginative, but really – a movie should not be the form for delivering a few one-off jokes buried inside 80 minutes of uninteresting fill material.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 8%

#1613 Think Big (1989)

The second movie featuring The Barbarian Brothers isn’t bad one either.

In fact, it is pretty enjoyable one – flawed no doubt, but easy to watch and something I would consider a near-perfect rental for a late 80s stay at home Friday night.

A road trip comedy, Think Big is ultimately a spitting image of its two leads: often childish and silly, at times annoying and stupid – but always with a heart.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 79%

#1603 Halloween 2021: Rush Week (1989)

After the early 80s flood of slashers the sub-genre suffered a quiet death which quite honestly was not a bad thing. The slashers did see a small scale comeback towards the end of the 80s, and although none of those slashers got anywhere near as much fame as the previous generation did, at least this time around the movies were generally more interesting, and not just blatant copies of the genre icons.

Rush Week is one of those movies that definitely gains a lot of being a late 80s release. The movie looks good, is entertaining for the most parts, the lead and the events are likeable, and all that sweet 80s culture from yuppies to home computers can be found here.

On the downside the movie is quite forgettable and typical to the late 80s slashers Rush Week also suffers from featuring a weak antagonist.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 70%

#1595 Halloween 2021: Edge of Sanity (1989)

Eroticism, lust and decadence are the main themes here, and the movie is more of a cheap late night peep show rather than a horror movie. I know it was Perkins himself that has agreed to make the movie, but still seeing him in a humiliation like this almost turns my stomach.

The worst Halloween movie and quite possibly one of the worst horror movies I’ve seen to date comes from a very unexpected place. Anthony Perkins of the Psycho fame stars in this erotic Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde movie, but unlike the quite capable 80s Psycho sequels, Edge of Sanity is an irritatingly bad movie.

Edge of Sanity is one of those rare movies that one does not only without any merits or redeeming qualities, but that you start to hate so much you hope they never actually existed.

80s-o-meter: 1%

Total: -1%

#1593 Halloween 2021: Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes aka Amityville Horror IV (1989)

..and Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes is where the series gets stupid again. The evil has escaped from the Amityville house in a form of a brass floor lamp(!) and is now tormenting a new place.

Other than that the movie plays heavily with typical the genre clichés, like priests teaming up against the evil.

Amityville 4 is the first movie in the series to be made for TV – and frankly that should’ve been a cue for the team to leave skip the project and dedicate their time on something else.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 35%

#1589 Halloween 2021: Memorial Valley Massacre aka Memorial Day aka Valley of Death aka Son of Sleepaway Camp (1989)

Just as I wrote Silent Madness having the most pissed poor antagonist ever seen on the silver screen, along comes Memorial Valley Massacre, violently screaming Silent Madness to hold its beer.

What Memorial Valley Massacre tries to sell us is a concept of some sort of a prehistoric man living in the wilderness, who then starts to – you guessed it – wasting all the campers. Both the look and feel of the movie as well as the dodgy make up of the antagonist (think: someone remembered a costume party in the last minute, and had to make do with things found from home) made me wonder if this was some sort of weird joke I was witnessing, but it seems this wasn’t the case.

Memorial Valley Massacre is one of those movies that fail on all aspects, totally failing to scare or entertain. To try to make up for the bad sales the movie was later rebranded as Son of Sleepaway camp to try to ride on the success of Sleepaway Camp series, another severe faux pas for the movie.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 11%

#1586 Halloween 2021: U.F.O. Abduction aka The McPherson Tape (1989)

Preceding Blair Witch Project ten years, The McPherson Tape took that same home video approach to create a ”lost” tape, an evidence that documents the scary moments unfolding before our eyes.

The approach is powerful as it effectively makes the viewer one of the few eye witnesses to the incident, and also give the footage certain mythical and forbidden flavour. While McPherson Tape nails the home video look & feel and the overall flow of the tableside conversations feel genuine, the actual interesting content of the movie is just about two or three minutes out of the 62 minute running time.

More interesting the the movie content (it’s not very interesting) or its scariness (not very scary) is the viral aspect that McPherson Tape managed to gain: the movie got spread around as VHS copies for years, with people who were sure this was the official proof for extraterrestrial life. The actual, official truth only came out years later as the official release, long time after VHS was no more.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 31%

#1577 Halloween 2021: Lords of the Deep (1989)

Something extraordinary weird happened in 1989: a staggering five production companies released an underwater scifi movie back to back. The best known out of these five is naturally The Abyss, while the fate of the four others remains to be always compared to the James Cameron’s masterpiece.

Lords of the Deep does unfortunately not fare well in the comparison with any of its competitors, ending up the weakest one of the bunch by margin. The movie reminds more of a low budget TV series (think underwater Star Trek), but despite the shortcomings of the set design and costumes the movie manages to sell the idea of an underwater base – if only barely. The same does not apply for alien lifeform, and it would require quite a bit more imagination than what I have to buy the silly storyline.

As with Star Trek, there’s something strangely endearing about the clumsiness and silly costumes though, and in an alternate universe Lords of the Deep might’ve had a somewhat potent one or two season TV series in it.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 42%

#1562 Rooftops (1989)

You know how youth musicals always have this weird corny world where all the characters are so melodramatic and constantly emotionally hurt oh so bad that they have no other options but to dance to shake their negative emotions off.

Rooftops is like a musical without actual music. Instead we have both youthful dance sessions, and some sort of weird youth showoffs where they fight with dance, without touching each other, similarly to Capoeira.

It is what it is. Jason Gedrick in the lead is like a more handsome, more athletic and less charismatic version of Daniel LaRusso of the Karate Kid fame, and well .. I guess he goes well with the movie. While I did get some enjoyment out of the laughable over the top 80s melodramaticity of it all, this is one of the movies I really can’t see myself revisiting any time soon.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 29%

#1553 American Rickshaw aka American Risciò aka American Tiger (1989)

With American Rickshaw the director Sergio Martino bites a bit more than he can chew; a movie about a Miami rickshaw driver mixed with Chinese supernatural mumbo-jumbo gets outright ridiculous quickly. On the other hand it’s this nonsensical, over the top aspect of American Rickshaw that makes the movie if not enjoyable, at least an experience to watch through. This is definitely one more movie to the ”so bad it’s almost good” -category.

An Italian movie shot in Florida with American actors, American Rickshaw does its very best to underline its American origins – up to the title of the movie – by showcasing well the 80s Miami (beach) life. But, there’s something weirdly and wonderfully off about the movie throughout its running time that is somehow a straight giveaway that it’s not a Hollywood movie we’re talking about here.

I can’t rate American Rickshaw too generously because it’s just not a good movie per se. But take the low rating with a grain of salt, as it does have other interesting qualities to it, and if unorthodox movies are your thing, you might find a lot to enjoy about this wonderful train wreck.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 60%

#1538 Communion (1989)

Ok, so Communion and The Dead Zone and Brainstorm are the three 80s movies starring Christopher Walken that I keep mixing up as they all have a scifi / supernatural theme to them.

So, just to reiterate: The Dead Zone is the Stephen King one with Walken gaining psychic abilities after a car crash and the following coma. Brainstorm is the one where they can project images and memories direct to peoples brains with the head gizmo and things go south as the army gets interested in the device. And, finally, Communion is the one that is based on experiences of one Whitley Strieber who was spooked around in a cabin by extraterrestrials who did like the aliens typically do: shined light into their eyes and terrorised their dreams.

Communion is pretty much like every UFO story out there; it has an unbelievable and fascinating events way beyond our current comprehension, but very little explanation or concrete outcome of it all, and it’s this vagueness that leaves the experience pretty bland at the end.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 59%

#1515 The January Man (1989)

The January Man is an odd one, starting with its casting. Not that the cast itself isn’t up for the task, but it’s just the combination of them that does not seem a typical selection for an a-list action movie. Same goes with Kevin Kline acting as the lead: he does the work adequately, but somehow I feel like he wasn’t among the top-5 choices for the role. This becomes obviously clear in the moments he is represented as a top notch cop; no matter how hard I tried, I could not buy it for a second.

Same goes for figuring out who the killer was, which would’ve taken me some giant leaps of faith and perhaps even more imagination than the writers had.

Although coming across more as an actor than an actual cop, there’s no denying that Kline possesses a great secret presence, and despite (or, thanks to) all the fluffiness the movie does make for a very easy, weirdly enjoyable watching experience.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 65%