#1116 The Executioner, Part II (1984)

A confusing vigilante romp, The Executioner, Part II is one of those amateur, shot on the cheap film end movies that kind of pass as a real movies at quick glance, but where the total lack of film making competency quickly shines through after just a few minutes to the film.

While there are basically no redeeming qualities to the movie, it’s the shoddy directing and camera work that make the watching experience lousy. Still, the biggest shortcoming here – as in many other amateur movies – is the total lack of that certain movie magic that the more seasoned directors so manage to establish in their movies.

In the end perhaps the most interesting aspect of The Executioner is that the suggested prequel does not actually exist at all. While there’s no official reasoning available for this unorthodox naming, the theories on the net suggest that the aim was to either hint the moviegoing audience that there’d been a part one so successful that it’d warranted a sequel, or that the game was a blunt attempt to pose the movie as a sequel to similarly named The Exterminator, which received its sequel the same year.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 12%

#1112 Star Slammer aka Prison Ship (1986)

I’ve expressed my deep hatred for the woman prison exploitation flicks that peaked in their popularity during the 70s, and unfortunately continued to some extend to the 80s, always recycling the same concept and rarely bringing anything new to the equation.

Well, Star Slammer kind of does by placing the penitentiary somewhere out in space, but only to repeat the same tired clichés. Yes – even the compulsory prison cantina fight is here.

Star Slammer is useless garbage made only to showcase some T&A, and manages to waste relatively nice (in comparison to the rest of the movie) set design.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 1%

#1103 Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend (1985)

Sporting one of the most cryptic movie names ever, Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend is a dinosaur movie, and something of an unrelated 80s predecessor to the now iconic Jurassic Park.

Done in the time before CGI, some of the action effects shown in the wider shots have surprisingly fared adequately, and it’s only when we get to the static closeups that the illusion of actual, living jurassic creatures is completely shattered.

Much bigger problem than the effects is where the movie tries to position itself audience wise: on the other hand there’s tons of family movie elements here – like that cutesy little Brontosaurus baby – and on the other some surprisingly graphic gun violence as well as borderline sex scenes. Although the movie does definitely have its strong points, namely the dinos and its overall sense of an adventure, on the whole the movies just isn’t well balanced at all.

It’s a shame since on paper the movie seems like an easy win that could’ve ended up another E.T. of the era.

80s-o-meter: 73%

Total: 51%

#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%

#1093 Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981)

So, apparently Charlie Chan is some kind of mysterious detective that starred in various movies starting already in the 1920s. There was a 1973 movie release starring Chan, but the character really was passé already by the end of 1950s.

Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen kicks off with the assumption that the viewer is somehow aware of the existence and greatness of this character so much that it doesn’t bother to make any kind of introductions. Charlie Chan seems to be the somewhat of a comedic sidekick in his own film as the story concentrates more on his clumsy grandson, his fiancee, mother and the wacky servants of the giant mansion. Really, if you had to go through the trouble of making a yellowface movie, the least you could do is to make him the actual star of the show, right?

The movie was badly outdated as it came out in early 80s, and it’s production was attempted to put on hold by the Chinese-American protesters.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 17%

#1091 Trapped aka Baker County, U.S.A. (1982)

One of the more sophisticated examples of its sub genre, Trapped avoids many of the shortcomings of its rivals.

Sure, there are teens that go out to the mountains in the countryside only to get harassed by the yokels. But, there’s no gratuous nudity, the teens act smart and contact the authorities and even the backwood villagers are able to grow a conscience as the events escalate out of hand. The movie gains some unfortunate comedic elements towards the end as we witness deaths by getting speared by an antenna and the antagonist turning into something of a supernatural boogie man. The blemishes aren’t big, but still bad calls from the director that should’ve kept the violence as it was pictured in the movie so far: sudden and raw.

Considering that the genre is usually not my favourite one, I actually somewhat enjoyed Baker County, U.S.A.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 61%

#1088 Runaway Train (1985)

Another movie I recall seeing right before starting this project, Runaway Train is a standout movie that has sticked with me to date.

What we have here is an extraordinary movie that combines prison escape, disaster movie, action and thriller in a truly unique way. Star of the show is the cold, harsh and ethereal setting resembling an alternative reality of a video game or an absorbing book that the director Andrey Konchalovskiy manages to forge here.

Similarly captivating are the performances of Jon Voight and Eric Roberts, former of which manages to create one of the most vile, savage and multi-layered delinquents even seen on film.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 93%

#1087 Deadly Force (1983)

An exercise in mediocrity, Deadly Force is an action movie taking place in that distant fantasy land of Hollywood where no conventional rules of the world and physics apply.

Nothing in the movie stands out as it just seems to go through end endless list of clichés: Car chases, rogue cops, angry black police chiefs and vehicles that explode when shot with a hand gun – they’re all here.

The only way the movie could’ve ended up somewhat memorable was if it’d boasted a radiant lead. Unfortunately Wings Hauser isn’t one of them iconic action stars that could make a movie their own.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 59%

#1076 Roar (1981)

It’s nothing short of remarkable that nobody got killed while shooting Roar.

Shot with wild cats of various species without any post processing or camera trickery, it’s truly blood-tingling to see the actors – including one young Melanie Griffith – taking part in wrestling matches with the giant beasts that in many case end up with actual bleeding wounds requiring medical care. As we’re accustomed to seeing online videos of similar play of Russian roulette ending in sudden disaster, Roar really keeps one glued to the edge of the seat.

Most people checking out the movie will do it purely out of curiosity to see the most dangerous ever filmed. And admittedly with Roar that a pretty valid reason in its own right.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 57%

#1073 Last Rites (1988)

Last Rites follows a New York priest who goes against the mafia protecting a Mexican immigrant.

Tom Berenger is charismatic as always. Heck – he was likeable even as a white supremacist in Betrayed. Daphne Zuniga who already had a number of successful lead roles under her belt on the other hand feels like a miscast as the Mexican femme fatale. Surely there would’ve been many actual latinos that could’ve pulled off the role with more ease.

Despite some obvious loans from other movies, I can’t say I’ve watched anything that really resembles Last Rites, which is why I actually ended liking the movie quite a lot. It’s an interesting twist on similar kind of thrillers and manages to keep a few aces up its sleeve until the very last minutes to the film.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 86%

#1069 In Dangerous Company (1988)

Most people – I certainly included – aren’t too stoked when learning we’re about to see an erotic thriller. Mostly made for sleazy late-night cable TV viewing they can sometime be a passable time killers when they happen to be on, but more rarely does anyone admit going out to rent or buy one specifically.

With In Dangerous Company the erotic part means a femme fatale and a camera that lingers on in scenes with the leads kissing passionately just a bit too long. The thriller part is handled by giving all the characters street credibility by having them sip alcohol constantly and smoking a cigarette with a theatrical passion. And speaking of street credibility, Cliff De Young – who’s one of the better movie family dad figures of the era (check out Pulse or Flight of the Navigator) – just does not cut it as the seasoned Vietnam war vet with a checkered past. Like, not at all. I would’ve rewritten his role as more of an innocent bystander who falls in love with the vamp and unsuspectingly sacrifices all that he’s got to help the seducing stranger.

In Dangerous Company offers some campy acting due to some one shot models trying to get a stab at acting, as well as plot weaker than your average kiosk pulp, but does keep the interest up for one to want to witness how the fabric of lies finally unravels.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 61%

#1062 Out of Bounds (1986)

Out of Bounds was Anthony Michael Hall’s attempt to break out of the numerous nerd roles he got typecast to during the first half of the 80s.

As such the movie is a success and young Hall makes a surprisingly believable action lead here, much better than the performance he would give two years later in Johnny Be Good, his another 80s movie outside the geek mould. Sure, there’s some overacting involved and everything is oh much too touch on the streets of L.A., but this has more to do with the style of the movie itself and Hall isn’t the worst culprit here.

I liked the movie. Cinematography, action and all the good kind of 80s movie clichés were well presented and Jeff Kober who was formerly unknown to me creates certainly one of the more menacing and memorable movie villains out of one’s worst nightmares. Out of Bounds was generally forgotten upon its release and wasn’t available on DVD, but finally got a proper high definition release on Amazon’s Prime Video a few years back.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 81%

#1061 Young Rebels (1989)

Young Rebels follows the action that follows when one man goes on a rampage against a violent drug cartel.

There’s nothing much to cheer about here. Young Rebels is a cheap, amateurish mess that seems to settle for copying badly things seen on other action films rather than aiming to create something of its own. In fact, the shoddy camera work makes it look like someone from behind the iron curtain had a thing for American action movies and decided to make his own fan fiction. Although the movie is shot with some proper gear, I couldn’t spot one single scene with the white balance set correctly; the film goes from green to yellow to blue hues, over and underexposed even during the same fight scene.

As it goes with B-movies, a lot of padding is added in cutting room to make the footage run the full 90 minutes. Young Rebels features multiple nude and strip soft porn scenes that can run for minutes without contributing anything to the plot.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 17%

#1051 Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986)

Jumpin’ Jack Flash is probably the best known of the Whoopi Goldberg’s 80s comedies. And it is a pretty well-rounded, sure shot of a comedy – that’s just somehow even a bit too well-rounded and tame.

What I did find distracting watching the movie after a long while is how Goldberg is either forced or wilfully performing some kind of female Eddie Murphy schtick here. Gags like getting loud and foul-mouthed or making an embarrassing public scene are all too familiar from movies like Beverly Hills Cop or 48Hrs. I’ve always found Goldberg a good actor that succeeds better in the moments when she is not loud nor obnoxious.

All in all it’s a pretty wishy-washy ride. But also so good willed that it’s easy to forgive most of its shortcomings.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 73%

#1049 Far from Home (1989)

Father and daughter run out of gas and get stranded on a lone town in the middle of the desert in Far From Home, an interesting little thriller that saw a limited theatrical release upon its release.

What makes the movie interesting is not its setting nor the plot, but the good kind of movie-like quality of the small town and its trailer park that gets borderline abstract at times.

For a thriller the movie fails to deliver any kind of suspense and even when the killings take place, they seem more humorous than something that would have you on the edge of the seat. Matt Frewer and Drew Barrymore make for a solid and believable pair as the father and daughter, but the two young trailer park brothers both seem badly directed or complete miscasts for their roles.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 70%

#1048 The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981)

Western movies were quite a craze starting from the 30s all the way to the 60s, after which they fell out of style in the 70s. The Legend of the Lone Ranger was an attempt to bring back Lone Ranger – the masked wild west hero that made his original debut already in the 30s – to the Star Wars generation.

It did not go down well. But then again, it wasn’t a valiant effort to start with.

Cinematography wise the movie looks like it belongs way to the past and its clearly not positioned right for its target audience: The film is much too violent for the youngsters and much too childish and lame for the grown ups. It takes ages for the Lone Ranger to appear and while the movie picks up the pace towards the end, it’s just too little, too late.

80s-o-meter: 24%

Total: 31%

#1047 Gotcha! (1985)

Like mentioned numerous times before, there was a hangup in the 80s to do movies based on Europe. Paris in particular was a popular location, due to its romantic and mysterious reputation to the US public, with many dreaming to travel there one day. Unfortunately the European locations rarely translated well to the American cinema and the endless number of films with out of the water US citizen involuntarily getting into all sorts of mishaps are often only tedious to sit through.

Gotcha! breaks this spell .. sort of. I don’t find the locations fascinating, but they do feel less distracting than usual. It’s an interesting little espionage story that manages to pull off something refreshingly different.

Young Anthony Edwards proves he can carry a full length feature film as the sole lead, most likely somewhat saving Gotcha from total oblivion.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 74%

#1046 Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983)

Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn is officially a sci-fi movie taking place on some distant planet, but don’t let a few latex masks and flying vehicles fool you: This is another one for the pile of the dystopian, post-apocalyptic desert action films.

The movie boasts somewhat better production values than its competition with modified cars, costumes and limited special effects, but the story itself is so uninteresting that I had a hard time keeping alert while watching the movie.

Unlike many other shoddy sci-fi titles of the era, Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn does not really have any sort of cult following, probably due to not being shoddy enough to be any kind of guild pleasure. The film is also available as a shoddy 3D version, which does not really add to the experience at all.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 22%

#1045 Cyborg (1989)

Written in one weekend and shot with shoelace budget just to find some use for movie sets and costumes left over from cancelled movies, Cyborg is a prime example of how movies shouldn’t be made.

The movie is pretty much a mess, edited painstakingly to make it to the feature film length. The pacing is way off and the cyborg theme is not followed through at all. The few fight scenes with Jean-Claude Van Damme handing out roundhouse kicks are somewhat entertaining but go only so far to save the movie.

The lack of vision and enthusiasm shines through every crevice of the movie and Cyborg ends up a lifeless shell of a movie done solely with quick cash business goals in mind.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 8%

#1044 The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper (1981)

The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper retells the story of a hijacker who escaped with $200,000 after leaping from the back of a Boeing 727 on 1971 and became a something of a media pet at the time.

As you’d imagine the movie takes quite a few liberties from the original story to beef it up, but even so the movie doesn’t really keep up the interest that well. The selected genre is a scoundrel movie that was popular at the time, but what’s seen here can’t really hold up a candle to the genre classics like The Cannonball Run, even if the movie was based on some real life events.

The charm that the movie might’ve had at some point probably had to do with being already familiar with the story. For the 2019 viewer, that magic is unfortunately long gone.

80s-o-meter: 76%

Total: 38%