#1492 Island Claws (1980)

I’m not quite sure if it’s an accidental or intentional, but Island Claws is a flawless homage to the 1950s gigantic monster movies.

In fact, it totally looks and feels as if some old black-and-white movie had been AI coloured posthumously. The small village, idyllic little bar, main male leads and the research faculty are all charmingly familiar.

It’s therefore a shame such a nice set up is wasted on a totally average monster movie. I would’ve much preferred seeing some kind of a thriller/drama taking place in this same setting, instead of this low-quality monster nonsense.

80s-o-meter: 4%

Total: 50%

#1491 The Sisterhood (1988)

One of those dystopian wasteland movies, The Sisterhood brings very little new to the table but slightly improved production values over its early 80s counterparts, but still clearly falling behind of the fidelity seen in the Mad Max series of movies.

Here we follow a clique called The Sisterhood that possesses supernatural powers as they make their way through the wasteland trying to free the women captured by the evil tribes of the desert.

The movie consists mostly of driving sequences, shot in a sand pit of some sort with vehicles quite lazily modified of their 1970s and 1980s originals.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 21%

#1465 Sacred Ground (1983)

A mountain man in mid 19th century Oregon builds a cabin to the Native American’s burial site and then revenges the death of his wife by kidnapping a woman from the tribe and killing the chasing tribe members with a repeater stolen from the vendor who lent his horse to him.

In the age of political correctness all the depictions with Native Americans seem a bit uncomfortable, and I’m not sure it Sacred Ground does justice to the Paiutes. I kind of like how the movie handles the disputable decisions of its caucasian lead – this is not the heroic, virtuous character often seen in classic Western movies – but I’d appreciated if the movie had included more the point of view of the tribesmen.

The real star of the show are the Oregon nature and mountains, and the movie captures well what I’d imagine the life there might’ve been back then.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 43%

#1462 She (1984)

After just a few days after suffering through Robot Holocaust I happened to watch She, a similar kind of sword & sorcery adventure set in the future dystopian world.

But where Robot Holocaust failed, She manages to be actually probably the best movie in this sub genre I’ve seen to date. The different factions and places the leads run into are imaginative, but not completely ridiculous and the whole look and feel of the movie reminds me of a post apocalyptic RPG, kind of like Fallout, with less 50s and mutation.

Heck, I enjoyed the movie and can’t but to credit the director/writer Avi Nesher for managing to put together a surprisingly solid movie out of such a shoddy ingredients.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 80%

#1455 Hercules (1983)

The only reason I was looking forward to seeing Hercules was seeing Lou Ferrigno, who here in his peak physical condition arguably out-performed Schwarzenegger himself.

An Italian-American co-production directed by Luigi Cozzi and shot in a movie studio located in Rome, the movie looks and plays pretty much as expected with visuals and effects comparable to similar adventure epics of the 60s; looking nice but outdated, with dodgy stop motion animations.

Ferrigno is likable, and truly possesses the physique of a Hercules – but not the screen presence of Schwarzenegger: he manages to bump up the movie a few notches, but not quite much as his Austrian colleague might’ve. I’ve never been a big fan of Sybil Danning, but after seeing this movie I do understand what her followers have been going on about.

80s-o-meter: 5%

Total: 58%

#1452 Robot Holocaust (1987)

Here’s a good reminder never to judge a book by its covers. But, in this case it’s the contents of the book that stink to high heaven and don’t live anywhere near up to the pretty nice VHS cover art.

Robot Holocaust is basically a sword & sorcery movie, but this it’s set to the dystopian future where an evil bread bin called Dark One along with his dorky robots have enslaved what’s left of the human race. A band of heroes immune to the tricks of the Dark One provides the swords, and Dark One provides the sorcery through some high level computer magic.

One of the most annoying aspect of the movie is the C-3PO ripoff with a nasal voice and face frozen to a bewildered grin. I grew tired of seeing and hearing him after the first three seconds, and was displeased after understanding he would be a permanent figure on the screen until the very end. There is some fun to be had with the dodgy special effects and sock puppet aliens, but as the movie itself is so tediously boring that none of this warrants subjecting yourself to this waste of celluloid.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 5%

#1444 Bloodstone (1988)

An Indiana Jones inspired B-action adventure taking place in an exotic location much in the vein of Firewalker and Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, Bloodstone has one interesting aspect going for it: it’s shot in India with shared Bollywood casting.

The experience works and Bloodstone’s Indian born actors make a decent work with their roles, and the movie looks solid overall.

Like many other similar adventure films, Bloodstone can be at times entertaining, but also totally unsubstantial and forgettable.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 71%

#1439 Out of Control (1985)

Out of Control takes a bad turn right after an a-ok beginning as it moves from a nice title music and a high school graduation party to some remote island somewhere in former Yugoslavia.

Getting stranded on a remote island is an interesting premise by itself, but instead of concentrating on long term survival and group dynamics, Out of Control puts them into an adult version of The Famous Five kind of adventure where they discover a stash of drug smugglers, get loaded on the booze they find, strip, make out and finally engage in a fight.

I did not have to check out if the movie’s running time was well under 90 minutes; the obvious padding was a straight giveaway, which makes many of the scenes drag on for ages.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 38%

#1437 Sorceress (1982)

Anyone reading the blog will know I’m not too big on the sword & sorcery genre as I find the movies not only utter nonsense, but also pompous and extremely cringe inducing.

Sorceress definitely has all the warning marks of a stupid fantasy movie written all over it, and to for a period of time most of my low expectations were met. A story about two fighter sisters, wizards and other mythical creatures is plagued with bad effects and other disappointing choices, and it was especially the badly masqueraded faun that really rubbed me the wrong way.

But it was towards the end of the film as the fighting started that Sorceress redeemed itself in an unexpected way: the movie has a very strong video game look and feel to it, and I’m willing to bet that it served as an archetype for a number of 80s video games, and despite the overall clumsiness I did find myself entertained in the final boss fight. Some good looking shots there as well!

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 62%

#1436 Farewell to the King (1989)

An American army squad shipwrecks on the shores of Japanese occupied Borneo and gets wiped out by the enemy, except for the soldier who flees the confrontation and befriends with a local tribe. When two British soldiers paratroop into the jungle, they meet up with the tribe and the American, now dubbed as the king of the tribe.

If this sounds familiar, you might be interested to hear that John Milius, the writer behind Farewell to the King is the same guy who wrote Apocalypse Now some ten years earlier.

What made Farewell to the King the most interesting to me was not the battle against the enemy, but the perseverance the allies show about bringing him back to be trialed as a deserter. The noose tightens and Farewell to the King keeps the viewer well in its grasp until the very end.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 70%

#1429-31 The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission, The Deadly Mission & The Fatal Mission (1985, 1987, 1988)

A trilogy of made for tv movies released almost 20 years after the original 1967 Dirty Dozen movie, Next Mission, The Deadly Mission and The Fatal Mission take the same premise of the original movie and serve it in a surprisingly different packages, while maintaining some of the cast of the original movie.

Next Mission’s main asset is Lee Marvin, who led the original bunch of misfits rescued from death sentence to carry out a suicide mission in the occupied Europe. It is made somewhat interesting by the aspect of not trying to kill Hitler, but to prevent his assassination due to the assumption that it will be Hitler himself that will lead Germany to defeat with his megalomaniac plans. Other than that, nothing much here to write to home about. In The Deadly Mission Marvin was replaced by Telly Savalas (of the Kojak fame) and this was the movie that resonated with me the most, being almost an Indiana Jones like adventure in a Nazi occupied castle. I was also impressed the amount of destruction and havoc they put the castle through, especially considering this is a made for TV movie that usually are very bland in the effects department.

The Fatal Mission feels tired to start with, introducing lots of elements (including a female lead and a love story) that all feel like degenerative and not to the core of the franchise. On top of the uneven trilogy, a TV series of the same name aired on Fox on 1988, but was discontinued after the first season.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: Next Mission 60% | The Deadly Mission 79% | The Fatal Mission 45%

#1423 Alien from L.A. (1988)

What would you do if you’d get Kathy Ireland, the hottest swimsuit model of the 80s to star in your movie, and you’d have the chance to shoot in L.A.? Well, the director Albert Pyun and his team decided it was a good idea to make her an annoying mock of a nerd, give her a squeky voice and clothe her in unbecoming rags. I for one would have come up with one or two different options.

A bastardisation of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, Alien from L.A. follows Ireland as he ventures below the earth surface to find his lost father. What follows is scifi equal to a TV-series / made for TV movie that looks like it was done for the demography of under 10 year olds. Plot is both nonexistent and hard to follow at the same time. Basically everyone wants to capture her and a few strangers wish to help her.

Perhaps the most depressing thing about Alien from L.A. is seeing how much effort was wasted with the sets, matte paintings and wardrobes to create this turd that never had any chance of success whatsoever.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 1%

#1352 World Gone Wild (1987)

World Gone Wild starts off as your typical dystopian wastelands Mad Max ripoff – a genre I’ve never cared for – but gets a lot more interesting as the gang of outcasts led by Michael Paré join their forces to get even with a religious cult (led by Adam Ant) terrorising communities outside the city.

Sure, the movie now turns more into a Seven Samurai ripoff, but one that manages to find its own tone of voice. I particularly enjoyed the side plot line involving the treacherous baddie biker that plays out in a very satisfactory fashion.

Visually the movie is solid enough, although most of the gear people wear make the tone like a bunch of 80s types had a cheap dystopian live action roleplay.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 70%

#1314 Miracles (1986)

Jim Kouf, the writer behind many of the top notch comedies of the 80s like Class, Secret Admirer, Stakeout and Up the Creek steps up for the first time also to the director’s seat to direct Miracles that he also manuscripted.

And, it’s a quality comedy one again, written with undeniable wit and great comedic pacing. Tom Conti and Teri Garr have never been in my radar as the great comedic pair, but here their performance as the couple going through divorce until thrown back together in an adventure against their will is perfect and I can’t see anyone else playing the roles better.

Paul Rodriguez fares as the sympathetic crook much better here than in his other 1986 comedy The Whoopee Boys, which still is one of the lousiest comedies I’ve seen, and Christopher Lloyd is as delightful as always as the depth-perception impaired half of the criminal duo.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 87%

#1297 Journey to the Center of the Earth (1988)

To understand how a horrible mess of a movie like Journey to the Center of the Earth came to the existance one has to know about the history behind it. The filming had started already in 1986, but the movie was left unfinished midway and Cannon Films was left with a dud of a movie so they hired Albery Pyun to finish the film.

Pyun who later disowned the whole project and remains uncredited alledgely wrote a new screenplay with zero budget and made it sort of a sequel to the Alien from L.A. (1988) he had just finished shooting.

And all of this shows. Journey to the Center of the Earth (1988) in nobody’s passion project, lacks ownership and direction and ends up totally incomprehensible and definitely one of the biggest train wrecks of the era that should never seen the light of the day. The tragedy is that the actors aren’t half bad, and there’s a constant feeling of a half decent scifi adventure movie being buried under all the pile of garbage that ended up on the screen.

80s-o-meter: 79%

Total: 1%

#1295 Mutant War (1988)

A sequel to Battle For the Lost Planet, Mutant War shares the same production values than its predecessor. Meaning, it’s poor.

And while it has the same kind of charming underdog feeling to its predecessor (the team has aimed ridiculously high, including camera and video effects, matte paintings and stop motion animations, all of which way beyond their capabilities), the charm only carries the movies so far.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 31%

#1291 Nam Angels (1989)

The best part of the home video revolution of the 80s was the parade of totally outrageous movies that would never made it to the silver screen, but make for top notch entertainment.

Nam Angels is one of the purest examples of this; a remake of the 1970 movie of the same name that maintains the same ridiculous of premise of a gang of Soldiers teaming up with a motorcycle club and riding through the jungle of Vietnam to find a gold treasure.

The result is an entertaining piece of trashy guilty pleasure that is best served off an old rental VHS copy.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 101%

#1263 Lionheart (1987)

Starring Eric Stoltz, Lionheart is a 12th century adventure film that the time forgot – and for a good reason.

The reason being that nothing in it really stands out in a memorable way. Released in the era that already gave us terrific adventures like Excalibur, Legend, Willow and Conan the Barbarian that all have their unique thing going for them, Lionheart feels completely lukewarm and odourless.

While similar movies visual landmark movies of their time, Lionheart has the look & feel of Monty Python and The Holy Grail, sans the humour.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 22%

#1261 The Lost Empire (1984)

The Lost Empire wants to be wonderfully outrageous B-movie, but despite all the over the top action feels somehow a bit more bland than the writer/director Jim Wynorski aimed for. What it does provide as promised is a constant stream of e-cup mammaries.

Although it was not my cup of tea I can see this being the guilty pleasure for many – as it was designed to be.

The Lost Empire does get a bit more interesting and over the top (in a good way) towards its last 15 minutes, for which I hiked up its scoring a good 20 points.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 58%