#1326 Ninja Busters (1984)

What makes Ninja Busters special is that it was never actually released by its distributor after test screenings and the reel sat in a warehouse until discovered again and released by Garagehouse Pictures on Bluray in 2015.

It’s a martial arts comedy in the vein of They Call Me Bruce that follows two losers who get their asses kicked and join the local martial arts club, become black belts and then get mixed into weapon smuggling ring, led by their former employee.

The first half works better after which the movie loses a lot of its sympathetic nature after it turns more into a (poor) showcase of a martial arts fights. Actual laughters are scarce, but the movie is good natured, as are its two lead actors.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 59%

#1322 New Year’s Day (1989)

Henry Jaglom’s New Year’s Day is one of those pretentious art house movies that makes you never want to sit through another similar movie. Consisting mostly of talking heads in a boring dialogue going through their anxieties, New Year’s Day makes you truly hate every adult out there and their stupid adult problems.

Jaglom’s movies have to be credited in embracing improvisation so wholeheartedly, but here the concept does not just work, and a good movie needs much more flesh around its bones – or at least people in it who feel more fleshed out than just a simple collection of neuroses.

Some people may have come across the movie due to young David Duchovny starring in one of the roles, but you should not bother seeing New Year’s Day for that reason only as Duchovny is one of the weakest links in this already weak movie.

80s-o-meter: 30%

Total: 11%

#1317 Sixteen Candles aka 16 Candles (1984)

Sixteen Candles is the first teen comedy led by Molly Ringwald, and begun a series of movies that would make her the household name in the 80s cinema.

Written with Ringwald specifically, writer / director John Hughes’ (making his directorial debut here) way of finding multiple surprising but well fleshed out and believable aspects of the characters that sets the movie ahead of the competition. But the script is not perfect, nor has it aged too well and contains multiple aspects that I did not find that funny any more, including many lazily written and worn out stereotypes.

It’s still an entertaining teen movie, leaps and bounds ahead of the competition, but just beware that it might not have the same impact it did back in the day.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 79%

#1316 Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989)

Bloodhounds of Broadway is an ensemble comedy based on four Damon Runyon stories: ”The Bloodhounds of Broadway”, ”A Very Honorable Guy”, ”The Brain Goes Home” and ”Social Error”, written in the 1930s.

I’ve often criticised period pictures for having their historical settings without any point but to provide nostalgia, but as Bloodhounds of Broadway is more of an adult fairytale, the setting actually works here. I liked quite a lot in the way that the various personas and their stories intertwined during the movie, and the screenplay and direction of Howard Brookner works exceptionally well.

The casting also works well with Matt Dillon, Jennifer Grey, Esai Morales, Steve Buscemi, Randy Quaid, Rutger Hauer and Madonna seen in atypical roles.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 89%

#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%

#1313 Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama aka The Imp (1988)

More is more, but Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama would have fared better with less elements.

In particular, it’s the Imp – the antagonist that lives in a trophy in the bowling alley and causes all sorts of havoc as he gets out – that is very much an unnecessary element in the movie and never manages to feel anything but the rubber hand puppet it is.

If the team would’ve only realised the weak link in the movie, cut their losses and come up with a different kind of approach, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama could have lived up to its outrageous name. As it is now, it makes for a surprisingly solid movie visually (excluding the imp) despite being filmed in one location outside its business hours.

What is lacking completely though are the kills, which usually lend for easy chuckles in similar horror spoofs. Here they are disappointingly skipped, probably due to budget constraints.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 60%

#1310 Kiss Me Goodbye (1982)

This is the miracle I had to live to see: James Caan in a uncomfortable role in a very average movie.

To make things worse, Jeff Bridges and Sally Field also waste their time with this romantic comedy that has one of the most annoying premises ever: a late hustler of a husband coming back from the dead to haunt (and annoy) the widow and his new husband to be.

It’s been reported that James Caan – seen performing a cheap Gene Kelly imitation here – hated working in this movie so much that he decided took a five year break from Hollywood to recover and find a suitable script to work with.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 23%

#1308 Do the Right Thing (1989)

Many things make Do the Right Thing worth watching right now, but here are the top two.

First of all it’s a great imaginary time capsule to the late 80s – early 90s hiphop influenced lifestyle of a one neighbourhood in the big apple, delivered through caricatures of characters in a visually rich way that reminds me of cartoony music videos and artists like De La Soul.

Secondly, despite being a sign of its time, Do the Right Thing is just as topical right now as it was 31 years ago. The scene of police attacking Radio Raheem feels chilling and very topical due to the huge black lives matter movement and riots this year following the killing of George Floyd.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 87%

#1307 Polyester (1981)

Divine (Harris Glenn Milstead), one of 80s most famous drag acts plays an overweight housewife married to a pig of a man, gets tortured by every member of her family, and then her life gets worse, and worse and worse and worse .. until the the end credits roll.

Everything in the movie is targeted to be kitsch, which it pulls off, especially visually. Equally kitsch is the inclusion of Odorama, a card included in the theatrical showings of the movie that people get prompted to scratch and smell to get different smells to match with what’s seen on the screen.

Similarly to the Lust in the Dust – another comedy starring Divine – the humour in Polyester completely escapes me, although here I can see and kind of appreciate what they were trying to achieve with the approach. While I usually appreciate weirdness and trash in a movie, I still expect it to evoke some kind of feeling, be it repulsion, curiosity, joy or sadness.

Polyester did none of this for me.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 27%

#1306 Sitting Ducks (1980)

There’s an aspect to the story telling in Sitting Ducks that works and another one that lacks a bit. What works is the improvisation of the dialogue between the characters, something very typical for Henry Jaglom’s films.

Where Sitting Ducks falls short is the plot that is just plain silly, and frankly, I expected much more out of the ’big surprise’ in the act 3.

Zack Norman and Michael Emil make for a good anti-heroes in the lead roles, with surprising traits to them, not least of which being having the appearance of a middle aged losers while being pretty ripped (for the time) as they strip to show off their physique at the hotel pool.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 55%

#1305 Bronco Billy (1980)

Bronco Billy is in many ways very similar to Clint Eastwood’s other films of the era, like Every Which Way but Loose or Any Which Way You Can in depicting himself as an everyday dude who road trips around and gets into occasional classes with the locals, or the authorities.

Made purely to entertain, the plot itself feels secondary in Bronco Billy, and the movie mostly concentrates on showcasing Eastwood and his captivating screen presence. Compared to some other films he’s made at the time, what makes Bronco Billy interesting is the way that Eastwood reveals personal flaws in the main character, depicting him as the despotic leader of the western show, but also subjects him to some humiliating encounters with the local law.

For anyone viewing it for the first time, Bronco Billy Makes for a very easy movie to watch, but is less likely to leave any lasting impression.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 61%

#1304 Vice Academy (1989)

Rick Sloane’s Vice Academy series (they go all the way up to part 6, released in 2008) derives its basic setup from the Police Academy series by changing the interesting set of various odd-ball characters with curvy ladies who aren’t afraid to reveal their mammaries in order to catch the criminals.

I honestly liked the start of the movie as it reminded me of the Police Academy movies, but as soon as the girls leave the academy to do the undercover work, the movie turns kind of stale. Maybe Sloane should have gone all the way in copying more directly and not experimenting with his writing.

The overall mood of Vice Academy is good, Linnea Quigley is likeable as always and visually the movie does fare well for a comedy of its era. Only if the writing was more snappier, Vice Academy could have stood a chance to become an actually recommendable comedy to watch.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 59%

#1303 Wacko (1982)

A part of a sub genre called crazy comedy (at least here in northern Europe) Wacko features the same kind of comedy seen in ZAZ and Mel Brooks’ movies – meaning it’s full of visual gags and an endless stream of humour is derived from pretty much everything that can be parodized.

It’s a difficult area of comedy to master, and the script here just isn’t snappy enough to make Wacko a laugh riot.

Sure, few of the jokes find their target in this horror movie sport, but more than often the humour just completely misses its mark for me.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 42%

#1302 True Stories (1986)

Directed and acting as the narrator of the movie, David Byrne of Talking Heads surprised me positively with True Stories and his knack for story telling.

The musical bits were the least favorite bits of the movie for me and I found them really distracting filler kind of material in an otherwise extremely interesting concept.

John Goodman is totally lovable in his role of a kind hearted bachelor looking for love with real intention, and his well built up performance in the local talent show towards the end had me on the edge of the seat, which to me was a totally rare experience for me, and another proof of Byrne’s story telling chops.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 90%

#1301 The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood aka Hollywood Blue (1980)

The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood is a soulless production that makes an endless list of disappointing design choices, starting from assuming the viewer has any knowledge of the Happy Hooker character first seen in the 1975 movie of the same name.

The movie tries to sell itself as a raunchy sexploitation comedy with a promise to see a few glimpses of mammaries, but really, you would be better off obtaining any of the porn movies of the era with a plot if humour and naked skin is what you’re after.

Adam West (of the campy 60s Batman fame) can be seen suffering in one of the lead roles, contemplating on the number of bad career moves that ended him with this movie.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 0%

#1300 Society (1989)

It’s hard to write anything about Society without spoiling it for those who are yet to see it.

All I can reveal about the plot without giving too much away is that a high society teen begins to notice some oddities in people around him that then turn out even more odd, and more, and more .. and more.

Society is more of an experience than a movie, but as such it is totally a riot, only held back with some scenes that feel unnecessarily elongated. If you are a fan of home video classics such as Bad Taste, The Blob, Basket Case, Brain Damage or The Evil Dead, you will be very much at home with Society.

80s-o-meter: 96%

Total: 92%

#1298 Max Dugan Returns (1983)

Max Dugan Returns is a good-natured and likeable family comedy that makes an attempt for actually having a point, which is where it fails to deliver.

A long lost father and the grandfather of Michael (Matthew Broderick), Max Dugan, returns to the family of Michael and his mother after skimming money off a casino and ending up wanted by the police. He then purchases his way into their lives and makes all their financial dreams come through, which leads to all sorts of trouble from the police, and making the mother’s newly found relationship with a local detective (Donald Sutherland) quite troublesome. The interesting conflict that was build up all along is solved at the end in a very unsatisfactory way, ie pretty much not at all.

Max Dugan Returns is enjoyable as long as you accept it at the face value, without putting much thought into it.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 62%

#1293 Stars and Bars (1988)

A somewhat annoying art expert (Daniel Day-Lewis) married to an annoying spouse while working for annoyingly demanding boss is send to deep south to purchase a painting from an annoying eccentric hillbilly family whose annoying unmarried son living at home does annoying things to prevent the sales.

The only thing not utterly annoying in the cast of Stars and Bars is the head of the family, played by Harry Dean Stanton who plays the only character in the movie with some dimensions written into it, and Stanton has the acting chops to make his character likeable despite all of its weird personal traits.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 32%