#1574 Halloween 2021: I Was a Teenage Zombie (1987)

Don’t let the (relatively) nice poster fool you: I Was a Teenage Zombie is a shoelace budgeted, amateurish horror movie that has nothing to offer but horrible production quality and bad makeup.

And it’s not even the teenage main character that gets turned into a zombie but a 70s style hispanic pimp (read: falls into a river and climbs up with his face mucked with green body paint). Then, he then goes around humping people. I kid you not.

You have to wait until the one hour mark for anything interesting to happen to the actual teenager, and even after that it’s not too interesting. He gets body painted in a similar fashion and walks around cluelessly until he fights the pimp, and the end credits roll.

It’s not every day that one comes across something this inadequate.

80s-o-meter: 52%

Total: 0%

#1567 The Last Fling (1987)

John Ritter and Connie Sellecca, both seasoned TV and made for TV movie actors star in this TV movie made by ABC. As far as made for TV movies go, this one fares very well, resembling your quite average feature film made with a modest budget, and actually got distributed widely as a rental movie as well.

Ritter plays a popular playboy grown tired of one night stands, while Sellecca portrays a role of a fiancée who goes out to try to match her groom’s wild stag party – with dire consequences.

The story is nothing to write to home about, but solid acting work of both leads and good production quality make The Last Fling an a-ok time passer.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 72%

#1566 Tin Men (1987)

Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito, the two best disgruntled, conning scoundrels ever on the silver screen in a movie where they get involved in a massive feud? Sign me in!

Honestly, the movie seems such a good fit for both personas it feels like it was written specifically with these two gentlemen in mind. A story that starts from one bad day and unfortunate accident between two rivalling house aluminium siding salesmen soon gets out of hand, and what seems an bitter downward spiral escalating further and further soon turns out a totally unexpected, beautiful love story.

An already enjoyable comedy, surprisingly it’s this romantic part of Tin Men that ends up its strongest asset.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 91%

#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%

#1559 Uphill All The Way (1986)

Imagine any Burt Reynolds’ action comedy of the late 70s / early 80s, change the setting to the wild West, take out Reynolds and any other notable star – and you’ll end up with Uphill All The Way.

Roy Clark and Mel Tillis – both unknown to me – lead this cowboy Cannonball Run, going from one hardship to another, even more boring one.

Reynolds actually visit that set in a quick uncredited cameo as a poker hustler, which only confirms there was some some of connection going on behind the scenes.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 14%

#1556 Mr. North (1988)

Anthony Edwards appears in Mr. North as Theophilus North, a young bright student who arrives at a wealthy Rhode Island community with big plans. He soon starts to leave lasting impressions on the locals, some of which he befriends with, while other take him for a miracle healer, thanks to his natural tendency of stacking up static electricity.

Mr. North is one of those period pictures that heavily relies on nostalgic scenes of the yesteryear’s America: a small knit together community helping each other, old money, people dressed up smartly and innocence. And it works out for the movie, making it somehow soothing and relaxing to watch.

But if one’d take the concept to the current day, thus stripping out the nostalgia and the related glamor, there wouldn’t just be much of a movie going on here.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 40%

#1555 Torch Song Trilogy (1988)

What makes Torch Song Trilogy an above the average movie about gays (and drag) is that is was conceived and lead acted by Harvey Fierstein, an openly gay actor and playwright. This results in a movie that does not aim to explain, sugar coat nor view the gay community through hetero lenses.

A result is refreshing take that portrays all of its characters and their shortcomings, insecurities and sometimes even sheer pettiness in a realistic fashion. Fierstein is a wonderful actor, and a persona on and off stage and his character that often goes from gorgeous to goofy in one scene, depending on the camera direction and his mood swing makes for one of the more interesting and multi-faceted personas seen on screen.

What I did not like about the movie though is how it’s divided in three acts between different eras and lovers as I’d much rather had the movie concentrating on just one time frame in the lifeline of this character.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 74%

#1554 The Escape Artist (1982)

Here’s something I always look forward to when watching these 80s movies: to find a relatively unknown gem of a movie. The Escape Artist tells the story of a son of a famous escape artist who wants to follow his late father’s steps, while also learning what really happened to him.

Griffin O’Neal (the son of Ryan O’Neal) plays the young illusionist thrown in the adult world so convincingly that it was astounding to find out he wasn’t hired based on his magician skills, but only learned the basics for the movie. Griffin is a natural on the silver screen and no doubt ramps up an already decent movie quite a bit, and I was therefore saddened to learn about his troublesome life ever since as it seems to me we lost quite a great skill here. Raul Julia makes for one of his best characters as the slick son of the mayor who form a duo with the young magician, constantly trying to outwit one another.

The Escape Artist is – well, magical – coming of age movie of one exceptional young man on an exceptional journey, relying on his exceptional skills and wit.

Much recommended.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 91%

#1552 Stardust Memories (1980)

Although I do enjoy Woody Allen’s writing – he is the only author that makes the rich neurotic self centred adults caught in their first world problems movies tolerable – Stardust Memories and its insight into the life of the rich and famous seems more targeted to a selected group of his New York intellectual friends to enjoy, rather than something I could really relate with.

Allen is being his base neurotic screen persona and inconstantly disillusioned in his relationships with the fellow men, especially his love interests. And in this movie there are many of them.

You can’t blame the writing from not being smart; it is – and that if anything is what makes the movie enjoyable. But I left Stardust Memories thinking that a movie needs something more than just endless stream of wittiness to be really enjoyable.

80s-o-meter: 45%

Total: 58%

#1551 The Sting II (1983)

A sequel for the 1973 The Sting starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, The Sting II loses all of its star power that no doubt helped to leverage the original scoundrel comedy to success.

But what The Sting II loses in Newman and Redford, it gains in Jackie Gleason who is a perfect fit for the role of the gang leader aiming to pull off a boxing match scam of a century.

The movie establishes well its 1940s New York era, and Gleason’s persona and the natural appearance of the golden era star no doubt helps to sell this idea. While not exactly match for its predecessor, The Sting II makes for a totally worthy heir to the original.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 70%

#1550 Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

Considering how much I loved Jim Jarmusch’s later Down by the Law, I really looked forward to seeing Stranger Than Paradise, its indirect predecessor. In fact I was looking forward to viewing it to a small audience in an makeshift Spanish open-air theatre, but changed my plans for another movie in the last minute.

Luckily too, as Stranger Than Paradise turned out nothing like the witty and quirky Down by the Law was. This is a story of two friends who take a road trip to Cleveland to meet up with a cousin, then travel back with her, lose some money and win it back. And .. well, that’s about it.

Nothing much happens meanwhile, and Stranger Than Paradise turned out to be one of those artsy black and white indie movies with much too long scenes of people just sitting still and smoking cigarette and staring into the distance as their lips slowly chap. The very kind of movie that movie snobs watch in their private movie sessions, always laughing a few seconds too early and too loud to the unfunny jokes to underline they are the only ones sophisticated enough to appreciate them.

80s-o-meter: 30%

Total: 24%

#1548 First Family (1980)

Sometimes the political correctness of the 2020s just goes overboard, and 80s movies can be a good counterweight to all that. But as First Family goes out to prove, it’s also a very recommendable thing we’ve moved ahead in many aspects.

It’s the dull sex jokes and racist overtone that makes this one uninteresting to watch. Not that I would mind either, but it’s the uninventive lowest common denominator approach to both that I find mind numbingly stupid.

Bob Newhart plays a president who is willing to sacrifice his family and a portion of the American people for a savage third world nation in exchange for giant vegetables, while Gilda Radner performs as her daughter trying to get laid throughout the movie.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 15%

#1542 High School U.S.A. aka The Race (1983)

Look, I’m not 100% sure if High School U.S.A. really exists, or if I’m trapped in a matrix, comatose or in some kind of psychosis. It’s just that seeing Michael J. Fox and Crispin Glover together in a high school movie in roles not too different to those seen in Back to the Future, and coupling that with some random 80s names such as Anthony Edwards as the rich kid and Michael Zorek in his typical slob role feels like something I could’ve very well cooked up in my sleep.

Other than that, this is your very basic high school comedy with the typical characters and events that go with the territory. There’ the rich, the jocks, the nerds, and the brainiacs and High School U.S.A. does not even aim to do things differently; it mostly just wants to be a TV movie passable for a theatrical release, and in that aspect it does no worse than most of the similar movies of the era you’d watch in a theatre.

Michael J. Fox already shows likeable traits straight out of his forthcoming teen star roles, but does not leverage this movie up that much. The real star of the show is Crispin Glover whose perfect timing and laconic replies got me laughing aloud quite a few times.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 74%

#1541 Emerald Cities (1983)

A disjointed indie movie about a woman who leaves her home and her father dressed up as a Santa Claus in Death Valley. Father then follows him to San Francisco through various small towns in a road movie fashion.

While the movie would have been ok’ish small budget project, it’s constantly interrupted with excerpts from TV news, faked interviews, movie clips and miscellaneous footage from concerts, which makes it very hard to following the plot, and the movie.

I liked the few quirky moments in the movie, but as Emerald Cities finally ended I could not help but cheated as a viewer.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 17%

#1539 Crimes of the Heart (1986)

Three troubled and eccentric (read: annoying) sisters reunite to the old family house to hang around, discuss and confront each others and the tragic events that led to their mother committing suicide.

Lenny is an old maid, wallflower type of person that never left the house. Meg aimed for a Hollywood career but ended up with nervous breakdown, and drives everyone (including the viewers) crazy in her egocentric ways. Then there’s Babe, a pedophile who got into relationship with an underage African-American child and shot her husband when he found out about it.

Yeah, I did not feel it at all for Crimes of the Heart, and honestly don’t understand for whom this movie is made for in the first place. It’s only the fine actresses that save very little what there is to be saved in this convoluted mess of a movie.

80s-o-meter: 38%

Total: 11%

#1536 Glitch! (1988)

One more movie out of the movie factory named Nico Mastorakis, I honestly suspect that Glitch was initiated by first renting out the luxury Malibu seaside mansion, and only secondly trying to come up with the movie.

The plot and events are so ridiculous that it feels they just made it all up as they went along. There’s two losers, one of them turning back and forth from a moron to a genius after hypnosis treatment, a few baddies, and perhaps most importantly to the production team a wide array of bikini babes who likely signed up for the movie for no compensation for their petty 15 minutes on a silver screen.

With Glitch Mastorakis has reached the unimaginable goal of coming up with a movie too fluffy and silly for my taste. While the movie has its few passing moments, it’s just much too hollow shell of a movie to really enjoy.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 21%

#1535 Best Friends (1982)

Since the first time I’ve seen this poster, it has been amusing me to no end to how Goldie Hawn looks just dying inside having been forced to nibble Burt Reynolds’ ear.

In real life they were apparently friends though, and Best Friends was a passion project for them that they wanted to do at some point. This is a romantic comedy of a couple that despite the mutual love get hesitantly married in a modest, small chapel, go see the relatives, get fed up with them and finally with each other and split up.

Best Friends is a pretty tame comedy with no laugh out loud moments, and the theme of suffocating relatives has been executed in a better way in many other films, all of which Meet the Parents (2000) being probably the most well known one.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 43%

#1533 Porky’s Revenge (1985)

The third installation of the Porky’s series does one thing right: it restores Chuck Mitchell to the silver screen as the antagonist, now running a sleazy river boat for booze hounds looking forward to seeing some hooters.

Porky’s Revenge also introduces other sub plots like shot gun wedding, state champion basketball match, and a raunchy relationship between the teachers, all of which alone work better than the play motif in its predecessor.

Couple this with a revenge plot that introduces just the right amount of excitement towards the finale, and Porky’s Revenge not only manages to match the first installation of the series, but actually makes for a better movie overall!

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 65%

#1532 Porky’s II: The Next Day (1983)

What do Halloween and Porky’s series have in common? Well, they both have sequels that pick up the story from the very minute the original one left off.

Propelled no doubt with the runaway success of the first movie, Porky’s II: The Next Day revolves around the students trying to put on a play, with Reverend Flavel trying to shut them down.

There’s limited fun to be had with the movie poking fun of some redneck KKK organisation, but other than that, The Next Day is one really tame and lame show compared to the original.

80s-o-meter: 51%

Total: 41%

#1531 Porky’s (1981)

A Canadian sex comedy about 1950s High School teenagers was a huge success upon its 1981 release – and interestingly perhaps more American than many of its similar USA releases.

Most of the elements typical to the sub genre are there, and don’t provide much more than what you’ve used to with other similar titles of the era. But where Porky’s gets interesting is when the boys travel across the border to a strip club owned by Porky (aptly named Porky’s), get conned, humiliated and driven out of the state. The plotting and eventual revenge against this tub of lard is by far the best aspect of the movie, making it interesting to watch until the end. Chuck Mitchell really makes on despicable antagonist here!

Porky’s would go on to spawn two sequels, Porky’s II: The Next Day and Porky’s Revenge, released in 1983 and 1985, respectively.

80s-o-meter: 51%

Total: 60%