#1644 Runaway Nightmare (1982)

There’s only one thing wrong with being a renaissance man, and that is if you aren’t that talented.

This Mike Cartel’s movie, directed by Mike Cartel, written by Mike Cartel and starring Mike Cartel is one of these cases. It’s a messy, messy movie with no real focus what it really wants to be. The movie tries out quite a bit of different things, but fails on each and every one of them.

Runaway Nightmare makes me wish I had the will power to exclude all these kinds of exercises in movie making from my to-do list, but I’m still hoping there’s a gem to be found from that pile. Runaway Nightmare was not that gem, no by a long shot.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 11%

#1642 King Kong Lives (1986)

King Kong got a pretty ok reboot in the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis remake starring Jeff Bridges, Jessica Lange and Charles Grodin, and ten years later King Kong Lives tried to pick up where the previous movie left by introducing a female counterpart for the colossal gorilla, but without the star power of the previous installation.

Well, almost. Linda Hamilton plays the female lead and John Ashton (of the Beverly Hills Cop fame) the army dude trying to blow up the big ape.

Movie fails to utilise neither one, and the apes themselves could be passable for late 80s, early 80s release, but by 1986 the audience had been already spoiled with the next wave of special FX and King Kong Lives absolutely can’t keep up in this race, and feels like a relic from the past with absolutely no value for the viewers of today.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 28%

#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%

#1638 Assault of the Killer Bimbos (1988)

Ok, so the name here sounds much worse than what the movie actually is.

Assault of the Killer Bimbos is more like an early, rough version of Thelma & Louise. Actually, to them actually contemplating to sue its production team. Truth be told, Assault of the Killer Bimbos is no Thelma & Louise, but some of the similarities here are uncanny.

But Assault of the Killer Bimbos is really a feel good comedy, and actually not a bad one at that.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 75%

#1635 War Cat aka Angel of Vengeance (1987)

There’s a group of survivalists living in a desert that after clashing with a motorcycle gang decide to make a game of human hunting out of one of the females. Needless to say it does not go as planned as she decides to fight back instead.

War Cat revisits the often seen human hunting / female revenge concept, and does not bring anything that new to the mix. It does perform as expected, so those who are fans of the genre will find something here to spend easy 90 minutes with.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 61%

#1611 Shogun Assassin (1980)

A Japanese movie – or rather a mix of two – there’s a good reason why Shogun Assassin should be a part of this blog. The movie is combined from two Japanese movies of the Lone Wolf and Cub manga series originally shot in the early 1970s.

The project to cut the two movies together for Northern American release was a brainchild of Robert Houston and David Weisman who were the fans of the original movies. The movie got more attention a few years later as the home video release that got almost banned due to its graphic depictions of violence, gained a solid cult status and has been since featured in pop culture and movies.

The movie itself? Loved it. It’s stylish and moody without any camp factor often associated with ninja movies to it. The unlikely sword hero is a total badass and the fighting scenes are choreographed in a beautiful way, and I can totally understand why so many people often re-visit this movie.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 87%

#1561 Lassiter (1984)

Lassiter is a hit-by-the-handsome-stick gentleman cat thief living in London on the verge of WWII that ends up recruited against his will by FBI to break into the heavily guarded German embassy to steal gems from the nazis.

The plot puts further pressure on Lassiter and his relationship with his love interest (Jane Seymour) as he first has to seduce the nazi femme fatale (Lauren Hutton) to gain access to the base.

40-year old Tom Selleck handles the role with expected charisma and the movie portrays well the era – or at least the movie version of it – without redundant underlining or overselling.

80s-o-meter: 5%

Total: 73%

#1560 The Lightship (1985)

Three thugs kidnap a lightship – an anchored boat that acts as a floating lighthouse – and its crew in this very mediocre action thriller, low on action and thrills.

The look and feel of the movie is from early 80s, that furthermore reminds me of North Sea Hijack – a similar, but far more superior aquatic thriller. With The Lightship I pretty much kept on waiting for some interesting plot twist until the very end, unfortunately in vain: it plays out much as expected.

The positive aspects of the movie are its moody setting, the two highest billed antagonists Robert Duvall and William Forsythe, plus that amazing looking poster that manages to be much less wishy-washy than the movie itself.

80s-o-meter: 27%

Total: 37%

#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%

#1545 Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity (1987)

A textbook example of how to make a decent B-movie, Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity shows not only that one does not need a huge budget to make an entertaining movie, but also that B-movies don’t necessarily need to be laugh out loud bad.

Getting its inspiration very likely from The Most Dangerous Game (1932), Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity follows two intergalactic woman fugitives who crash land on a remote planet to find themselves in the vast mansion along with other visitors and robot servants, hosted by an eccentric aristocrat who has more plans for his guests than first meets the eye.

Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity is throughly enjoyable scifi action movie that goes far beyond its modest budget. Should you watch the movie, pay close attention to the appearance and mannerisms of Don Scribner in the antagonist role as is looks as if young Christian Bale had taken a few notes of this very performance into his later day-to-day repertoire.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 79%

#1544 Rage of Honor (1987)

Shô Kosugi starred in many famous 80s Ninja movies, most of which really did not resonate with me, except for the entertaining Ninja III: The Domination, and his venture out from Ninja genre fared ever worse with the low budget stinkers like Rage of Honor and Black Eagle.

In Rage of Honor he plays a sort of a James Bond type that goes after a drug king pin in Argentina and while the movie is not quite as bad as Black Eagle, it just does everything in such an unimpressive and mediocre way that the movie leaves no lasting impression whatsoever.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 28%

#1540 Defiance aka Terror in Brooklyn (1980)

Tommy is a wandering seaman who arrives at early 80s New York to wait for a new ship to take him in. Meanwhile he find a house in a small worn out neighbourhood terrorised by a hoodlum gang called The Souls.

As you might have guessed, Defiance draws its inspiration from Death Wish and its numerous heirs: the main character inadvertently clashes with the gang, but remains hesitant to really stand up against them.

After seeing many similar gang movies, The Souls seems pretty lame bunch of misfits – almost caricatures – in their silly outfits, an do not really feel imposing enough to warrant a violent revenge. And unlike Death Wish, Defiance does not really deliver one. Oh, and if you’re into Jan-Michael Vincent, you might want to learn that Defiance is among the best, or if not the best movie of the decade for Vincent, before his unfortunate downward spiral.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 48%

#1537 Alphabet City (1984)

Alphabet City is one of those movies that has only night scenes with tons of smoke and bright neon coloured lights, and it’s stylish all right ..and it’s mostly style over substance.

Which is not necessarily bad at all. I’ve enjoyed tons of movies for the mood only if they represent well a movie world that fascinates me. But even then the movies do need some substance, even if it’s through an interesting main character – and this is where Alphabet City fails. Vincent Spano seems to have been hired for the role for his looks only and his character and his representation of it feels paper thin, even for a superficial movie like this.

The movie reminds me mostly of video games that appeared years later, and the way that the movie looks totally fresh still to date is totally a feat on its own. But judging this by the story only, I’ve seen better plots written on the side of a yogurt can.

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 58%

#1528 Angel III: The Final Chapter (1988)

Angel III: The Final Chapter takes again a step to wrong direction and feels in most ways far less insignificant than the previous two installations, missing the roughness around the edges seen in the first part, and the value adding ideas seen in Avenging Angel.

In fact, with the lead actor once again downgraded to another actress, Angel III: The Final Chapter feels almost a separate movie in the series. While the lead Mitzi Kapture alone isn’t to be blamed for the shortcomings of The Final Chapter, it really did not help that she is previously known to me only from Silk Stalkings, a ridiculously cheap and plastic 90s TV-series that plagued the Finnish late night TV for years.

Despite its title, the series did not end up with The Final Chapter, with one more unworthy sequel released in 1994.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 42%

#1527 Avenging Angel (1985)

A sequel to the Angel, Avenging Angel picks up the story a few later after the events of its predecessor, with the heroine now off the streets and working as a lawyer. I found the setup interesting and the whole Angel character now much stronger: instead of being just a gun happy lolita on a revenge spree, she is well spoken, confident and intelligent. This coupled with her background and her street knowhow makes for an interesting character that at best writes itself.

Playing Molly (’Angel’) Stewart this time around is the gorgeous Betsy Russell who fits the role perfectly, and would be my pick of all the Angel actors. The tone of the movie is lighter than with its predecessor, and it introduces some actual comedic elements and segments I wasn’t completely sure were the series needed, but I didn’t mind them much either.

As a completely average (in a good way) 80s action comedy, Avenging Angel is by far the strongest and most entertaining movie of the series.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 72%

#1526 Angel (1984)

Angel, an exploitative, sleazy movie of a teen grade-A student gone prostitute ends up something of bore.

The first part of the (mostly unrelated) four Angel movies that were released in 1984 (this one), 1985 (Avenging Angel), 1988 (Angel III: The Final Chapter), plus one more attempt to milk the weak franchise, released in 1994.

Angel is mostly passable, but nothing really substantial enough to stick with the viewer for longer. The only really interesting part of the movie is its eccentric supporting cast, as well as the depiction of the 80s street life. The exploitation angle is strong in the marketing, but the end result is a bit tame.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 58%

#1517 Reform School Girls (1986)

A 1986 take on the women prison exploitation movies popular in the 70s, Reform School Girls aims to poke fun of the genre by playing with clichés and turning all the knobs all the way to 11. But it does so only partially.

All the prisoners are of course (adult) models tippy-toeing around the reform school dorm just waiting for an excuse to go to have a shower with the other girls, and Edna, the head of the ward pictured in that awesome poster is set to make everybody’s life miserable.

Women prisoner exploitations were already quite far fetched, super heavy on clichés and caricatures for characters, so the humor here falls very short. As in, not funny at all. But in its poor genre Reform School Girls is actually well above average, even if not successful as a satire.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 61%

#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%