#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%

#1042 Impulse (1984)

I never read any information about the movies I’m about to watch, but I do check out the posters and VHS covers beforehand as I feel they’re an essential part of the overall experience. It’s a pretty good meter in managing the expectations for the quality of the movie: If the poster completely lacks any effort, chances are that the movie itself is a half-hearted effort as well. And then, once in a blue moon along comes a movie where the poster sets the mood completely wrong, but also manages to be off-putting and misleading at the same time.

If I had checked out the cover of the Impulse beforehand, I’d probably postpone watching it to the next decade. Fortunately I didn’t and instead of a soft porn movie suggested by the poster, I found a pretty nifty action thriller with a slight horror twist to it. Story wise there isn’t anything new here but the production values are good and the movie keeps the viewer successfully on the edge of the seat as the events soon spiral out of control.

As usual with the movies with such an enormous conflict, Impulse fails to wrap everything up in the most satisfactory way in the end, resorting to the 70s way of summarising the final events in writing which really feels like a faux pas in an otherwise solid movie.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 79%

#1041 The Hunter (1980)

I’ve had The Hunter movie laying around for a few years now and based on the cover image I always mistook it for a action film with a cop trailing a killer. What we got here instead is a loose biography of an aging bounty hunter Ralph ”Papa” Thorson who goes after (often petty) criminals who’ve skipped on their bail.

Yes, I’ve never heard about Thorson either. He wasn’t exactly a widely known character in his days, much less these days. If his life or person were anything interesting, The Hunter sadly fails to capture any of that. Steve McQueen is his charismatic self but fails to be nothing more than Steve McQueen and seems a far cry from the big framed, grizzly Thorson. We get the idea that he is a bad driver and that his young wife is expecting a baby that Thorson doesn’t really want to have, but other than that, all the really interesting bits about him – like his colourful working history – is left out of the movie.

The Hunter goes down in history primarily for being the last movie for Steve McQueen who sadly passed away with cancer after wrapping up the film. He was 50 years old at the time.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 48%

#1040 Battle Creek Brawl aka The Big Brawl (1980)

Jackie Chan appears in his first english speaking role in Battle Creek Brawl, a comedic martial arts movie with disappointing plot and an uninspired 1930s setting. Chan himself already shows some of the promise in the imaginatively humorous fighting choreographies that later become his trademark, but it’s those same more recent movies that make the moves seen here kind of basic.

What I did like was how the actual Texas brawl tournament was setup, with an imaginative array of fighters that reminded me in a good way of many classic fighting arcade games like Yie Ar Kung-Fu and Street Fighter series, both of which might have takes some cues from this movie.

Despite the few good fighting bits, as a movie Battle Creek Brawl is a pretty tired show that has a bit too much whiff from the past – both the 30s and late 70s – for me to really enjoy.

80s-o-meter: 32%

Total: 38%

#1039 Heat (1986)

I never was a fan of Burt Reynolds’ smirky, above oneself comedy character seen in oh too many films, so I was surprised to seeing him in dramatic action roles where he is not only tolerable, but actually pretty good!

In Heat he plays a body guard longing of leaving Las Vegas behind him for good, but keeps on making some bad decisions that take him further back on his dreams. The movie feels almost as a prequel to Malone, released the following year and although the movie is bit of a mess plot wise, the movie is never taxing to watch.

Heat also features one of most hilarious kill moves ever, featuring a canister of gas and a light bulb, and is worth watching for that scene alone.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 72%

#1033 Murphy’s Law (1986)

A decade of buddy cop movies, the 80s also saw a minor wave of cop & criminal buddy movies with a similar formula, but more concentration on seeing the two clash together.

Murphy’s Law is a pretty decent Charles Bronson action crime flick, but a totally worthless buddy movie. The petty criminal sidekick – who was probably something of a last minute add on to the movie as she doesn’t really contribute to anything here plot wise – never grows along with the movie and suffers from possibly the worst case of inept dialogue I’ve yet witnessed in a film.

Bronson pretty much walks through the movie without passion and can’t breath any real life into his character of the alcoholic cop battling with his demons.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 58%

#1032 Breathless (1983)

Although I always aim to avoid reading of a movie before watching it to keep my bias down, in most cases with the mainstream cinema with notable actors, I already know the movie at least on some level.

Breathless was a complete surprise to me, and a positive one at that. Richard Gere plays a petty criminal from Las Vegas travelling to Los Angeles to find a girl he had a flake and gets involved in killing of a police officer. True to his nonchalant style he tries to shake it all off but soon finds himself on the run, slowly coming into realisation that for the first time in his life his charm can’t buy him out of the situation.

Gere is pretty much born to play the role of the ”seedy Vegas boy. Thinks he’s cute”, like one of the assistants behind the counter aptly puts it. Paul Newman’s amazing performance in Cool Hand Luke remains untouchable, but this is by far the best stab at it I’ve yet witnessed.

Combining elements of crime, sex, comics and rockabilly music, Breathless is stylish, crude crime and love story straight out of a cheap pulp magazine – and very much an underappreciated gem.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 91%

#1031 The Naked Cage (1986)

Look, I’m not even sure why I started watching The Naked Cage after specifically making a statement I wouldn’t be watching any jail exploitation movies within this project.

Maybe I was lured by the relatively good reviews, or the plot summaries that seemed like the movie could very well be a female version of some of the prison movies like An Innocent Man or Lock Up where a falsely accused person is thrown into the jail.

None of that here. This is your very typical chick in the prison softcore exploitation movie with all the clichés that go with it – sadistic and crooked wardens, catfights, stabbings and lesbian lovemaking scenes – coupled with cheap some soap opera look and feel.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 0%

#1029 Unmasking the Idol (1986)

Unmasking the Idol is yet another nominee for the worst Bond copycat movie of the decade.

The film looks exactly like many of the various super agent movies that came out in the late 70s and early 80s, and is such very much a late comer both in its formula and style. The mimicking of Bond movies goes much too far in the very first scenes to the film; after the movie marched in Sato, an asian version of the agency’s inventor Q, I had to recheck I was really watching an independent action adventure, instead of something categorised as a Bond spoof.

Still, there’s something sympathetic about the whole looney underdog ninja adventure. As crappy as it is, its comic book mood with zany monkey sidekicks and caricaturistic baddies kind of grows on you. Had I seen the movie as a kid, I’d probably still think very highly of it.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 59%