Taking design cues from the endless stream of monster movies of the 50s, Monster in the Closet is a horror comedy showcasing an extraterrestrial monster living in the shared space that apparently connects every bedroom closet in the world.
Released by Troma in 1987, the movie takes place in the 80s, but with certain 50s small town flair. Similarly to those classic monster movies, the army is paged in to help, only to find out their bullets or missiles do no harm at all.
The concept may sound silly – it is – but Monster in the Closet makes mostly the best out of it. Mostly, because there is still a lot of design choices here that I can agree with and that end up hurting the movie. The silly looking monster is kind of cool as long as it stays in the closet, but loses a lot of its appeal as when exposed to the viewers for far too long time.
What followed the early 80s stream of slashers was a stream of slasher comedies. I would argue that most slashers are quite humorous and over the board in their nature to begin with, and I’m sure the teams behind them were having a good laugh while making them, so in this light there’s very little point of parodising them other than justifying arriving to the slasher party several years too late.
If I had not check IMDB, I would have never known Evil Laugh was a comedy. Sure, it’s more goofy in some aspects and the characters make references to other slasher movies, but the movie is never laugh out loud funny.
Youngers get slashed, there’s some naked skin, one imaginative killing and possibly one of the most stupid looking antagonists, and that’s pretty much that. No matter how bad slashers are, at least they earn my respect for trying. Comedies like this too afraid to even be proper slashers don’t even have that going for them.
A parody of Frankestein line of books and movies, Troma’s Doctor Hackenstein cannot be discussed without comparing it to the great Re-Animator that has a similar premise, and was released only three years earlier.
Where Re-Animator reinvents the mad doctor turning dead into living beings, and does so with hilarious results, Doctor Hackenstein remains strangely tame, only ending up a slightly gorier, more naked and a bit sillier version of its paragon.
If Re-Animator did not exist, Doctor Hackenstein would have been a nice breath of fresh air in horror comedies. Even though it’s nowhere near the stinkers often seen in this genre, the team should have really leveraged upon learnings from Re-Animator and try to do something much more outstanding, instead of settling for playing the second fiddle.
Young Jimmy Lynch (Timothy Hutton) starts to perform a series of public stunts behind masked identity and the pseudonym Turk 182 to get justice to his older brother, a NYC firefighter who was denied benefits by the city and humiliated by the mayor.
The movie was completely other than I anticipated by its title, but more or less this was a positive surprise altogether. It’s fun to be an insider in this prank, and to watch Jimmy plan and execute them to humiliate the mayor, and increasingly getting to be the hero of the common folk.
Timothy Hutton is always a delight to watch on the silver screen, and Turk 182 is no exception here. The ending of the movie feels like a lazy writing, and an easy way out, which left me unsatisfied .. but everything until that is completely enjoyable, if not spectacular.
Truth be told, when starting this project I thought I was in for a lot of mediocre but passable comedies (true), but also hidden laugh out loud gems nobody has heard of – but the latter ones have kind of been hard to find as the really fun ones are typically more well known.
Enter Doin’ Time, a prison comedy for which I had absolutely no expectations for, and what a positive surprise it turned out to be! It’s one of those comedies where the plot is secondary, and only there to carry the movie from a joke to another. But in this case, much of the humor is actually quite fresh and genuinely funny in its stupidity, delivered in numerous word plays and dead pan comedy style not unlike Naked Gun series.
To make things even better Richard Mulligan and John Vernon are there to deliver the humor in style, and Jeff Altman – of whom I hadn’t former memories although I’ve seen him in some roles before – also performs the lead role with surprisingly solid comedic craftsmanship.
A few good tiles excluded, romantic comedies were never quite my thing, but I’ve grown a bit more understanding for them along the years, and willing to give them a fair chance. That being said, Crossing Delancey seemed on the paper something that I would not enjoy at all: a film with a pretentious title, New York self-centered and someone neurotic characters, and a setting in the people engaged in the literary arts, and embracing that lifestyle.
Not that I don’t like any of that, but I’ve been scarred with so many Henry Jaglom’s movies, or by writer/directors who wish to be the next Jaglom or Woody Allen that I had al the warning signs up. But despite its theme Crossing Delancey does not come across too pretentious, and it’s especially the pickle seller Peter Riegert’s very likeable character that seems to get the most honest, most touching lines in the movie.
Third and last in the series of screwball comedies directed by Rafal Zielinski, Screwball Hotel shows the fun, carefree comedy style 80s is known for, but that already feels forced and tired attempt that just copies and pastes all the clichés seen elsewhere.
Screwball Hotel is obviously targeted for VHS rack as just another dumb comedy with gratuitous nudity to pick up if you’ve already rented out Police Academy 4 too many times, and as such it works out as planned.
Sure, the movie would’ve given anyone renting it 90 minutes of brainless action, but without much laughs along the way.
In the Mood is another movie that very likely would not be made today due to its controversial theme of an underage boy falling in love and getting into relationship with married women.
In fact, I was at first curious how the movie was even made back in 1987, until learning that it’s based on the true story of one Sonny Wisecarver, and it was only after that that I begun to enjoy the movie a bit more, as it felt much more credible from thereon. Patrick Dempsey did not seem to mind to portray the young casanova, and it’s all done in a quite uplifting mood and good spirit, and I for one never felt like it was made to promote such activity. This is furthermore aided by the fact that the movie takes places in the 1940, when the times likely were a bit different.
In the Mood will not go into my pile of movies to watch again, but for what it is, it’s still a feel good movie with a lot of good things going for it.
An early 80s revamp of the 70s success comedy Car Wash, Underground Aces takes the same sort of concept to inside the parking hall of a high class hotel, the own kingdom of the parking assistants.
The movie works out pretty much as expected without much surprises along the way; the characters, including a selection of zany parking assistants, a rich middle-eastern sheik and sex crazed youngsters after the female guests of the hotel all feel straight out of mediocre early 80s VHS guidebook.
Spaceballs may be the best known scifi parody of the 80s, but three years prior to it came out Gremloids, a low budget space comedy with a Dark Lord with a silly gigantic helmet.
Instead of being a Star Wars parody like Spaceballs, the premise in Gremloids is actually quite darn hilarious: because of a navigation mistake Lord Buckethead and his gang of minions land on a small village on earth instead of ”galaxy far, far away”, and proceeds to find the princess and the secret transmissions no matter how much the town folk try to tell him he is sorely mistaken.
After the strong start Gremloids never quite takes the full advantage of its unique premise and the latter half of the movie is pretty much spent on an endless trench warfare between Buckethead and local army, making the movie at this time feel like a short film prolonged to feature film length. The ending of the movie still wraps up quite nicely, making Hyperspace easily worth watching through.
It’s fun to watch one of those dreaded really bad movies of 80s, only to find out that it’s fame as one is highly exaggerated. It needs to be said though that Under the Rainbow is a dud. It’s a mess of a movie that mostly consists of scenes of little people acting and goofing off like they were circus clowns. But, the plot itself is easy to follow and seems to make at least some sense, and there’s something entertaining about all the hectic action similar to what’s seen in Get Crazy.
Under the Rainbow isn’t a Chevy Chase show and he never carries the movie, as he did with his forthcoming hits of the 80s. Although he is playing the lead here, it really feels as if he was playing a distant support role.
A horribly disconnected effort, Die Laughing throws in a little bit of everything into the mix without ever finding its own tone of voice.
How disconnected? It genuinely felt like watching an episode of some random late 70s afternoon TV series that just keeps aimlessly going on, and on, and one. The boring action is padded with even more boring sections of the main character performing songs in auditions – another aspect of the movie that felt totally artificial and plastered on.
Die Laughing can really only be recommended to those who want to relive the worst of the 70s television.
You know that screw up of a friend you don’t want anything to do with, but who for one reason or another manages to get you involved in his affairs, ”just for this one more time”.
In Patti Rocks that guy is Billy, played by Chris Mulkey. Billy is unlikely many other lovable bastards often seen in movies in a way that he at times manages to hover over likeable, but more often than not comes across just obnoxious. He is the kind of a guy with his sexist jokes that would make me want to switch tables at bar, and kind of a guy who would accuse anyone doing so of not having a sense of humour.
But his friend Eddie seems to be able to stomach him, and drives him on a long road trip filled with sexist jokes to settle the score with a girl – Patti Rocks – he got pregnant.
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.
Something feels amiss or disconnected throughout Illegally Yours. Perhaps its the nagging feeling of the movie being miscast on most parts, or Peter Bogdanovich’s direction not delivering the story in a convincing way or maybe its the story of a young handsome college dropout nerd stalking his old school love and getting tangled in a trial and murder mystery that just does not click.
There’s a lot to be loved about the movie, and various events and characters have a certain charm, but in the end it’s just somehow much less than the sum of its parts.
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.
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.
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.
Griffin Dunne and Brooke Adams are a disgruntled New York yuppie couple who get emotionally tangled with a nurse, whose actor boyfriend gets involved in the mess for some reason. All the characters are quite obnoxious and highly unrelatable, the plot feels phoney and the movie subjects us to watch through all of these superficial characters having one of the most dull dinner parties ever with a dialogue written and acted with an blatant intention to be witty, making this inept repartée even more painful to follow.
Almost You is a love movie that fails to make one emotionally, drama that fails to move and a comedy that fails to make one laugh – leaving very little to love about this movie.