#1435 Grunt! The Wrestling Movie (1985)

Grunt! The Wrestling Movie and its poster has a good 80s Mad Magazine parody written all over it, but it turns out to be quite a tame take on the show wrestling that really peaked during the mid 80s.

The movie is shot in a mocumentary style with lots of shaky footage and interviews to reveal if the new wrestling star called The Mask is in fact a guy called Mad Dog that disappeared from the face of the earth a few years earlier. These mocumentary bits are then cut into actual matches with the movie’s stars battling against each other.

Thing is, show wrestling is already so entertaining and over the edge that in comparison everything seen here pales in comparison. For my entertainment I’d much rather watch some actual 80s WWE WrestleMania matches.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 36%

#1434 Cookie (1989)

An organised crime racketeer Dino (Peter Falk) is released from prison and goes out to claim his ill earned money from his former partners of crime who don’t want to give that money to them. At the same time his daughter Cookie (Emily Lloyd) who has had to live without a father turns out not loving him, but hating instead. Now Dino has to get his money and the love of his daughter back and also choose between his mistress and his wife.

This is once again a mob movie that begs the movie to side with the main character against the authorities and for this needs a lead that the viewer can feel that sympathy for, and Falk definitely fits the bill: there’s nothing so vicious he could not do and to get away with it by doing his trademark underdog Columbo schtick.

Falk remains the only strong point in the movie and I found most aspects of the movie very unoriginal, as if the Susan Seidelman had traced over a caricature that has been traced over countless times before, and failing to add anything of her own there.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 41%

#1433 Joy of Sex (1984)

Young horny high school seniors are at it again, trying to get laid before the end of the school year. Joy of Sex resembles so many other similar movies I was sure at times I’d seen the movie before.

What adds to this feeling is the inconsistency throughout the movie; compared to other similar films that find their theme in a spring break, ski trip, working in a fast food restaurant or prom dance, Joy of Sex mixes in a bit of everything and does not find to really follow through most of its many threads.

Same applies with its roster of characters; a militant principle, a non-compromising coach way past his hay day, a bashful female teacher having to teach the kids about reproductive organs, a jock, an underdog and so on. Despite all this Joy of Sex is kind of a watchable teen comedy that has its few moments as well that make it worth a watch through.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 60%

#1432 The Great Outdoors (1988)

The Great Outdoors is one of the movies I saw before starting this web site and I’ve been saving it for a rainy day. Well, that rainy day finally came, and I found The Great Outdoors entertaining – but not quite the laugh riot as I’d hoped for.

There are a few overarching themes like summer romance, dealing with obnoxious relatives and father-son bonding, which of then are carried through various episodes with kind of a generic comedy bits; everything here works but nothing exactly stands out.

The Great Outdoors is not a bad movie or a bad comedy, but it is less than the sum of its parts – especially considering the level of top notch comedy hammer provided by John Candy and Dan Aykroyd who end up carrying this movie 100%. Replace them and you end with The Passable Outdoors, at best.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 76%

#1426 Sweet Lies (1987)

Yet another for the steaming pile of those wild and crazy Americans in Paris engaged in an adventure, Sweet Lies follows an insurance investigator visiting the old continent, who then gets chased around by three women.

Sweet Lies makes an attempt in romantic comedy, but lacks laughs and real romance and is a movie that the time forgot almost immediately upon its release.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 18%

#1425 Penitentiary II (1982)

Another collection of bad design choices, Penitentiary II is a followup to the 1979 blaxploitation movie, both directed by Jamaa Fanaka and starring Leon Isaac Kennedy.

The plot is a mess that makes only little sense as it tries so provide the main character Martel ”Too Sweet” Gordone a motivation to get to the fighting ring. Martel trains for awhile, gets into the ring with some old hack, gets defeated and thus becomes the sensation of the nation everyone roots for. He then goes on to participate in a few fights, which are often cut to a gambling midget trying to get on with some hookers.

The plot makes as much sense as having Mr.T in the movie and reducing his role to a mere trainer that gets very little screen time although he possesses ten times the magnetism compared to the weak screen presence of the Kennedy in the lead role.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 2%

#1421 From the Hip (1987)

I’d previously skipped From the Hip as I mistook it for a British movie thanks to its poster – and I still insist that its style reminds more of the British cinema than what Hollywood usually produces.

But make no mistake, the movie itself is as American as it can be: a courtroom comedy featuring Judd Nelson in one of his best roles of all times. The over acted part of a young hotshot lawyer climbing the corporate ladder could have easily turned super annoying, but the movie manages to be genuinely funny at times.

In fact, laugh out loud funny.

From the Hip has its serious side as well as the horseplay comes to a sudden halt when the wizkid is assigned to defending an intellectual sociopath aristocrat – chillingly convincingly portrayed by John Hurt – in a grim murder case impossible to win.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 87%

#1416 Human Highway (1982)

I like my movies weird, but weirdness is a bit like scifi in movies; if it’s done right, I love it, and if not it can be truly painful to watch. And much more often, it isn’t.

Enter Human Highway, a co-op between Dean Stockwell and Neil Young, with Devo (the band) playing a few parts, and performing a few songs. This movie depicting a defunct diner with its defunct staff, located near a leaking nuclear plant is wonderfully quirky one for the most parts, but it should’ve really relied on solid base story it already established. Now Human Highway starts venturing into music video like dream sequences that feel totally out of place and frankly, aren’t very good at all.

For me, Human Highway turned out a total surprise – and mostly positive one at that.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 81%

#1415 The Last Married Couple in America (1980)

Yet another early 80s comedies in the vein of 70s sexual revolution, The Last Married Couple in America actually manages to find a tone of its own, picturing a couple who find themselves happily together, surrounded by the peer pressure coming from their swinging, divorcing friends.

George Segal and Natalie Wood both possess a great screen presence and make a sympathetic couple in The Last Married Couple in America, awkwardly trying out extramarital affairs.

The movie loses most of its oomph after a strong start, but finally wraps up in a satisfactory fashion at the end. Not a good comedy, but definitely one of the easiest sexual revolution comedies to stomach.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 65%

#1411 Songwriter (1984)

A country drama-comedy featuring Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson, Songwriter depicts Nelson as Doc Jenkins, a singer-songwriter tired of his life on the road and away from his son.

While the movie did not end up in my pile of movies to watch again, I did like how the movie depicts its subjects realistically, without neither glorifying or vilifying them; these country starts enjoy loose women, driving nice convertibles and a round of golf as much they enjoy putting on a show.

The musical talent of Kristofferson and Nelson make the movie one of the easier musicals to stomach.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 67%

#1386 Halloween 2020: The Nail Gun Massacre (1985)

One more for this year’s pile of crummy horror movies, The Nail Gun Massacre starts off with a gang rape performed by construction workers, and a following killing spree where they get eliminated by a killer armed with a nail gun.

What the movie lacks in style, wit and overall quality it partially makes up with its utterly stupid one-liners, delivered by the masked assassin while performing the kills. The crew clearly had a good time with these, and admittedly they did make me laugh in their silliness.

Alas, this is where the positive news end. The Nail Gun Massacre is another amateurish horror movie exercise and there’s really nothing here to make special enough to leave a lasting impression.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 17%

#1380 Halloween 2020: Blood Theatre aka Movie House Massacre (1984)

If there is one fundamental thing wrong with horror, it’s the fact that the bulk horror – slashers in particular – is pretty much draw by numbers kind of a project, and as a genre adored by many wannabe rookie directors who direct one as their hobby project. While there’s nothing wrong with that per se, the projects are often plagued with the same kind of poor design choices, walking by the same beaten path, shoddy quality and overall lameness; I’ll eagerly give kudos for originality, even if the movie is shoddy, but this is very rarely the case.

Finally, when the team realises the quality of the movie is going to be kind of shitty, they dub their movie a horror comedy, which is the worst kind of weaselling out I can think of. The result is usually a movie that’s neither scary nor funny.

Enter Blood Theatre, the debut directorial effort of Rick Sloane. Some old geezer kills youngsters who try to get the old haunted movie theatre operating again. Everything here is just plain bad and no redeeming value can be found in anything. For young Sloane and his friends Blood Theatre must’ve been a nice activity and a good exercise to film making, but nobody other should be subjected to having to sit through it.

80s-o-meter: 30%

Total: 4%

#1377 Halloween 2020: Monstrosity (1987)

A modernisation of the monster of Frankenstein coupled with awkward humour, Monstrosity joins the ranks of horror comedies that fail to provide any laughs or scares.

Frankie as they imaginatively call him is put together by three young guys in a backyard shed to fight against criminals, and he ends up a golem of a man with the mental capacity of a 3-year old.

With the exception of perhaps few gory kills, there’s nothing to be liked about Monstrosity. On the contrary, it’s movies like this that make me regret picking up this hobby without automatically skipping these kind of steaming pile of turds.

80s-o-meter: 30%

Total: -1%

#1363 Big Business (1988)

Two sets of identical twin sisters for two families of the opposite spectrum of richness are born at the same time in a small rural hospital, and get mixed up in nursery, resulting in two sets of non-identical step-sister twins, who then end up growing without ever knowing the existence of their actual identical biological sisters. That is, until fate brings them together.

While it would be easy to give Big Business a hard time for its utterly implausible and silly premise, it’s more admirable to praise the director Jim Abrahams and actors Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin for pulling it all off in a believable manner.

As you’d expect from an Abrahams comedy, the humor finds its mark, and the pacing of the movie makes it easy to watch. The visual tricks of mixing all four unrelated siblings on the screen at the same time is flawless, thanks to clever choreography and the groundbreaking post production work done by Industrial Light & Magic.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 86%

#1362 Oh! Heavenly Dog (1980)

An early 80s Chevy Chase comedy I had been storing for a bad day turned out to be a complete letdown.

As a matter in fact, it isn’t a Chevy Chase comedy to begin with, but a Benji adventure where Chevy Chase plays a detective who gets killed while investigating and comes back from heaven as a dog to solve the case. Yawn.

This is one of those movies where its really hard to tell to which audience segment it was meant for; too childish for the grown ups and too violent and raunchy for the kids, Oh! Heavenly Dog makes a hard case to recommend to anyone but die hard Benji fans.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 17%

#1361 The Heavenly Kid (1985)

A delight of a comedy, The Heavenly Kid takes the often seen formula of dying and coming back from heaven to rectify one’s wrongdoings and with a few original twists and tweaks makes the concept work.

First of all, Lewis Smith as Bobby, a good willed, but a bit empty headed cool cat is a perfect cast for the role and he is a delight to watch on the silver screen. Also the plot line of Bobby having to deal with his former girlfriend in the current day, now married to his former worst rival makes the whole concept much more interesting.

Lastly, Richard Mulligan adds a certain spark of magic to it all as a Rafferty, the worst ever spectral mentor on a motorcycle.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 88%

#1360 Spring Break (1983)

Spring Break could be considered one of the definite teen sex comedies of the era. But not because it goes even more overboard and into bad taste than its rivals, but for managing to be truly genuine and relatable, but still fun all the way.

Unlike some 80s party comedies that can be outright mean and womanising, Spring Break is actually good willing in its nature, and Perry Lang’s likeable underdog college nerd makes for an easy character to identify with.

The subplot involving Nelson’s step-father might be a bit unnecessary, but it’s not the worst I’ve seen and does bring some variation to the mix, and wraps up the movie quite satisfyingly.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 84%

#1359 She’s Having a Baby (1988)

She’s Having a Baby, one of director/writer John Hughes’ rare misses in the 80s misses the snappy writing usually seen in Hughes’ movies. The movie plays out pretty much as expected, with the exception that the movie is written totally from the guy’s point of view.

At first he does not want to get married – but goes on with in nonetheless – has second thoughts about his relationship and career, until the big news about his fiancé expecting a baby hit. The woman in the movie is written as one-dimensional sidekick whose role is to nag and be difficult in all sorts of ways.

Two aspects redeem the movie being a total failure. The depiction of the banal life in suburbs through musical numbers like the lawnmower dance is side-splittingly hilarious, and the ending that manages to grasp the heart like like you’d expect of a John Hughes movie.

If Kevin Bacon’s character seems vaguely familiar, you might have seen him in a clever camio in the beginning of Hughes’ Planes, Trains & Automobiles as the blue collar drone racing with Steve Martin to catch a taxi.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 70%

#1358 The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)

When I think of the world I often see it as an endless source of interesting tales – big and small – that beg to be told. And this is kind of where The Milagro Beanfield War tries to tap into, a small little tale taking place in a small town in New Mexico, involving small people fighting for their right.

Problem is, that story is not very interesting at any given time and with a few exceptions (Sheriff Montoya, old man Cordova) the movie does not present the characters in a way that makes the viewer care for them.

The movie felt tediously long and ends up with very few surprises. As the end credits rolled I couldn’t help but to speculate that maybe the small town next to Milagro could have had a more interesting tale to be shared.

80s-o-meter: 51%

Total: 38%

#1354 Pretty Smart (1987)

Pretty Smart is a totally useless comedy that introduces lots of ingredients seen in other films of the era, but lacks the ability to do anything new or creative with them.

The setting of upper class finishing school for girls is there to allow some gratuitous nudity and the movie plays out with a wit of a porn movie – but with the actual intercourses cut out. In fact, the movie is an antithesis for wit.

This wouldn’t be a problem if the movie had some other qualities going for it, but with the exception of ok production quality, Pretty Smart is a totally soulless creation that has next to nothing enjoyable in it; not in its theme, in its humour, the characters and nor the mediterranean setting.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 7%