#1225 Lust in the Dust (1984)

I have the uttermost respect for Paul Bartel, often found in either in front or behind the camera in small budget offbeat comedies that stand out from the mass in a charming way.

But Lust in the Dust, his third directorial work of the 80s is a total dud where none of the humour seem to find its target. Or it might, but it’s not anywhere near my alley.

If cowboy comedies are of any interest to you, I’d suggest you to check out Rustler’s Rhapsody or Blazing Saddles instead.

80s-o-meter: 48%

Total: 11%

#1220 Six Pack (1982)

Six Pack is pretty useless little family comedy of a pack of orphans who also happen to be technical wizards what it comes to them cars.

They hook up with Brewster Baker (Kenny Rogers) and start competing against Brewster’s nemesis in various races. After the kids is a crooked sheriff who is trying to make some money on the side selling stolen car parts.

There’s two things in Six Pack that are somewhat interesting. First of all, it’s the only theatrical movie to date starring Kenny Rogers (I had to check – it was hard to believe due to the massive amount of made for TV movies he’s starred in) and secondly, it marks the movie debut for Anthony Michael Hall, playing the wizzest of the wiz kids.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 38%

#1218 Wildcats (1986)

When it comes to the sports movies, it’s not about inevitable victory, but the journey there.

With Wildcats, a comedy led by the comedienne Goldie Hawn, the journey there is fun. Ups, downs, underdogs, goofs, training montages with awesome music – it’s all here!

Wildcats does not usually top the lists of the definite sports movies, but it definitely tops the list of the definite sports comedies of the 80s.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 87%

#1217 Punchline (1988)

There’s a definite moment in Punchline that made me fall in love with it; as Lilah Krytsick (Sally Field) – a housewife aiming to be a standup comedian – finally comes out of her shell in front of the audience, aided by the talented, but troubled comedian played by Tom Hanks.

John Goodman as her polish husband provides rest of the wholesome, heartfelt moments in the movie. Such a big hearted guy.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 77%

#1216 Murphy’s Romance (1985)

A divorced woman along with his son move to an old ranch in Arizona and forms a deep friendship with an older gentleman.

Just when the relationship starts to form into something more meaningful things get interesting when her scoundrel of an ex-husband shows up, swearing it’s all water under the bridge now and that he is a reformed man. Brian Kerwin’s performance as the charming but petty man child of an ex-husband is perfectly executed and provides the best comedy bits of the movie.

A romantic comedy is always a triumph when it’s something us men can also stomach. Murphy’s Romance definitely falls into this category.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 76%

#1213 Lost in America (1985)

Writer-director Albert Brooks’ Lost in America suffers from having Brooks himself play the main part.

Similarly to Modern Romance, the neurotic character he plays comes across plain annoying, and Brooks cannot breathe any life or likeable traits to his two dimensional man-child caricature.

Other than that the concept of the movie is very unique and interesting, ending up something of an antithesis of a road movie.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 73%

#1211 That’s Life! (1986)

A non-union film shot with family members at the Malibu house of the writer-director Blake Edwards, That’s Life! could be the most professional home movies ever shot.

The movie has that Blake Edwards look and feel to it, but in a positive way. Jack Lemmon carries the movie through making a perfedct example how to play a neurotic character without being annoying to watch, like is often the case.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 62%

#1210 Let It Ride (1989)

After Trotter (Richard Dreyfuss) gambles and bags his second win I kept on wishing out loud this movie wouldn’t be all about him hanging around the race track betting his wins over and over on the horses.

Woefully it is.

Not being a gambler – nor interested in the subject – the plot held zero interest to me. I also missed the cultural references that go with the territory – the aristocrat and worker sides of the race track –– not that I think they’d made the experience any better. Dreyfuss is terrific as always and carries the movie, but still Let It Ride feels like a waste of his talent.

If it’s a movie about gambling you’re after, I’d suggest taking a look at Owning Mahowny instead which is a superb look into the mind of a gambler.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 31%

#1205 Some Girls (1988)

As the first 15 minutes of Some Girls had passed, I though in horror I was faced with another Twister: a comedy much too weird for its own good about a wacky family where the only running joke would revolve around the annoying eccentricity running in the family.

There’s a bit to that in Some Girls as well, but it fortunately starts to shed off at the point where the beloved grandmother of the family disappears, and it’s at this point where the movie manages to get uniquely interesting and heartwarming.

Some Girls ventures bravely to uncharted territories, resulting in bits and parts of the movie that are just plain annoying, as well as other parts that are genuinely interesting.

80s-o-meter: 67%

Total: 71%

#1204 Hot Dog… The Movie (1984)

If we already had a neural network that could synthesize a generic movie by inputting a list of keywords Hot Dog… The Movie would likely to be an outcome of feeding it words like 80s, rental, downhill skiing, sex and comedy.

For better or worse, Hot Dog… The Movie is as generic as they come, providing things you’d expect it to have (partying, gratuitous nudity), but very little any positive surprises.

One silly piece of trivia for the movie has to be shared: James Saito who was cast to portray a generic Japanese athlete in the movie convinced the entire crew that the pig latin he spoke was actually Japanese, and it was only few weeks into shooting the movie that they figured out the bluff.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 60%

#1203 Checking Out (1989)

A very 80s look into the career driven yuppie life and hypochondria, Checking Out is a black comedy that provides plenty of anxiety, but very little laughs.

The cast is not to blame here: Jeff Daniels who’d hit a jackpot a few years later as the other comedic half of Dumb & Dumber performs his role of a young executive going through a nervous breakdown as well as one would expect, but it’s the uninspired plot that wonders around through the movie without aim, delivering sarcastic jabs that lack targets relatable for the viewer that makes the viewing experience more chore than a delight.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 41%

#1201 Five Corners (1987)

Another movie with a strong cast (Jodie Foster, John Turturro, Tim Robbins) but that has remained totally unknown to me – and presumably also for the wide audience.

Odds for finding a lost gold nugget with such a setup is usually slim to none, and such is the case also here. Based on the writer John Patrick Shanley’s experiences in growing up in Bronx during the sixties, the movie throws together a wide array of eccentric characters, out of which only few tie together in the end in a satisfactory way. The sixties does not provide any kind of additional story drivers nor elements, but serving only to provide a dose of nostalgia to certain audience segment.

Five Corners offers a few interesting insights to its quirky characters, but those characters and their real emotional drivers end up woefully hollow.

80s-o-meter: 15%

Total: 61%

#1198 The Gong Show Movie (1980)

The Gong Show, a weird talent show was something of a TV phenomenon in the late 70s, and The Gong Show Movie here is a fictive look into the life of the show’s host Chuck Barry, and a semi-fictive look into the show itself, including some bits edited out of the TV programme.

While the movie itself does not have much merits, it got me interested in the show itself and I ended up watching a few episodes uploaded to the Youtube. There’s admittedly something mesmerising in the show and if you are brave enough to want to take a look at the movie, you will likely get a slightly better mileage out of it if you check a few episodes beforehand.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 38%

#1196 They Still Call Me Bruce (1987)

Released straight on video on 1987, They Still Call Me Bruce actually kicks off promisingly – not the Oscar kind of mind you, but discount VHS bin silver nugget kind of promisingly.

The late 80s style suits the movie better than what was seen in the original instalment, the plot revolving around the karate studio is marginally more interesting and the jokes dealing with Bruce misunderstanding English sayings are generally funnier this time around.

But this sequel starts running out of steam soon and the heavy handed padding makes the movie crawl through the finishing line.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 52%

#1195 They Call Me Bruce (1982)

The quite hacky They Call Me Bruce deals with a clueless oriental cook getting constantly mistaken for a martial arts master – and never bothers to clear up the mix-up.

The joke that plays on the stereotypical portrayal with asians is funny, but nowhere strong enough to carry through a full length feature film. The remaining of the movie is less inventive, with most of the humour derived from our antihero misunderstanding your basic English proverbs.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 37%

#1192 Author! Author! (1982)

Al Pacino’s winning streak that started in the 70s continued to the early 80s.

Author! Author! is Pacino’s lesser known work between Cruising and Scarface, but turned out to be a positive surprise. It’s a drama of a playwright going through a divorce process, but there are no manipulative tearjerker elements here – nobody gets sick or dies – and the movie draws its strength from everyday elements of a broken family trying to get from a day to another.

What seemed on a superficial level yet another pretentious early 80s romantic comedy with forced dramatic elements turned out to be one of the most moving depictions of changing modern family dynamics.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 72%

#1190 Halloween 2019: Graverobbers aka Dead Mate (1988)

I love how Graverobbers starts: a mysterious stranger enters an all-American diner where Nora Mae, a young waiter works and right off the bat asks her to marry him. In a moment of impulsiveness she says yes and off they go, right in the middle of her work shift.

But the young love takes a turn for a worse as she finds out that there’s something dodgy going on with the mortuary where his husband works in, and that the previous love interests of the mortician have gone mysteriously missing.

Graverobbers is a black comedy and I like how the horror to humour ratio is pretty much right: not in your face funny, but quirky enough so that it’s clear we’re dealing with a make-believe grown-ups fairytale here. Although the movie wraps in a less satisfactory way than I’d hoped for, the few events that precede – like the motorcycle chase with the undead chauffeur – managed to raise a smile and are something that at least the fans of The Return of the Living Dead might find interesting.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 67%

#1174 Halloween 2019: Slime City (1988)

An amateurish, below the average slime horror comedy ride, Slime City does very little to stand out from the competition: A young guy drinks from the wrong jug containing dangerous substance that turns him into murderous, slime oozing thingie.

The slimy, violent kills are of course the main focus here and that’s the only aspect of the movie where it delivers: The end mayhem culminating with a crawling brain is one of the wackiest gore comedy scenes of all times.

80s-o-meter: 64%

Total: 51%

#1169 Halloween 2019: Transylvania 6-5000 (1985)

Picking fun of Glenn Miller’s song Pennsylvania 6-5000 – a pun that wasn’t much fun back then, and even less today when the song is long forgotten – Transylvania 6-5000 unsuccessfully aims to poke fun of two reporters of a sleazy tabloid flying over to Transylvania to investigate a reported sighting of the Frankenstein’s monster.

The word on the internet is that the movie was financed by a chemical company that had frozen finances in the former Yugoslavia that couldn’t be used in the U.S., and the movie was written to accommodate that problem. When the motivation to shoot a picture is this, you can only imagine the hollowness of the end result.

The movie gets absolutely no mileage out of the foreign location and gathers up a remarkably strong cast that it then wastes due to a remarkably lousy script. Out of Jeff Goldblum, Ed Begley Jr., Jeffrey Jones, Geena Davis and Michael Richards it’s only Richards that manages to provide with little entertainment with his physical humour.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 17%

#1166 Halloween 2019: Slaughterhouse (1987)

Let’s get the bad out of the way first: Slaughterhouse is not particularly scary movie, but to be fair it doesn’t really aim to be one. And although it has that comedic / absurd side tone to it, it luckily doesn’t try to be one of those silly horror spoofs either.

But it does has the look and feel that makes you think if the director/writer Rick Roessler had read an imaginary, over the top horror tale from the Mad Magazine and then decided to turn it into an actual film. There’s an abandoned slaughterhouse, tale of a payback, a big dumb psychopath in the vein of Leatherface and naturally a bunch of teens and other outsiders who wander into the depths of the slaughterhouse and are greeted with a surprise.

Slaughterhouse is not without flaws and clichés but in this case they work for the movie’s benefit, making it a perfectly good fit for those Halloween movie nights with your friends.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 82%