#1147 Twister (1989)

I’ve happened to come across various quirky movies lately that I’ve liked for their charming weirdness, but the quirkiness that Twisted has to offer is very much the wrong kind of artsy, self-serving and pretentious kind.

Twister feels like an experiment where few actors have put into a house to see if anything silly happens. Sure, they all deliver their lines with professional certainty, but everything they say or do is totally pointless and trivial. It’s also worth mentioning that the movie’s title doesn’t really have any connection with the film other than for one quick, passing scene.

There aren’t many positives to mention here. Crispin Glover performs his trademark eccentric schtick well and his wardrobe is one of the most fabulous ones seen on the silver screen.

But that’s pretty much it.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 4%

#1146 The Sure Thing (1985)

The first lead role for John Cusack and the one that made him an overnight success, The Sure Thing follows two college students on a road trip to California.

They begin the trip an unlikeable companions, hating each others guts – and you pretty know how it’s going to play from there. But as with every road trip, it’s not the destination but the journey matters, and that journey is mostly likeable, although the role of a boorish loudmouth does not seem to sit that well with Cusack.

On a whole The Sure Thing ends up a decent little comedy that manages to be more than the sum of its – at times – meager parts.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 82%

#1144 The Unbelievable Truth (1989)

The Unbelievable Truth follows a man returning to his home town after serving a prison sentence for homicide and trying to start anew, and the daughter of a car repair shop, who rebels against his father and her old life as a Harvard admitted grade-A student.

This is one of those movies where the actual plot sounds somewhat lame if recapped, as The Unbelievable Truth is all about small quirky things that take place outside the main storyline. Like for example the scenes with the cocky, soon to be ex boyfriend who, dressed up in a $170 suit, who at first declares the world is his oyster, only to later go into pieces throughout the movie as she walks out of his life without ever looking back.

While I didn’t fall in love with the movie, I do want to give this one another go in the future to see if there are another layers to be found within.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 65%

#1140 Class of Nuke ’Em High (1986)

Among with Toxic Avenger series, Class of Nuke ’Em High is one of the best known Troma movies of the 80s.

The movie actually has some similarities with the Toxic Avenger – released two years earlier – with its theme of nuclear mutation.

I was expecting to see plenty of mutated students throughout the movie, but the movie changes its direction to following a toxic creature instead, and as well the monster is made, this seemed like a wasted opportunity to me. Similarly the movie showcases an array of wacky high school caricatures, but does not get the best possible mileage out of them.

Usually known for the intentional sub b-movie quality, this Troma release actually has some pretty decent special effects in it, and the imaginative fx scenes are the inspirational part of the movie – I’d just wished they’d gone even more overboard with those as well.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 62%

#1139 Surf Nazis Must Die (1987)

Boasting an outrageous name even for a Troma movie, Surf Nazis Must Die does now unfortunately reach anywhere near the expectations set by the quirky title.

In fact, it’s a relatively tame show that lacks most of the wacky creativity often seen in Troma releases and it crossed my mind quite a few times that they thought of the title first and then ended up having nothing to actually follow up with it.

Suft Nazis Must Die is a movie that sounds cool on paper and looks better as still images than it actually works out as a movie.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 27%

#1138 She’s Back (1989)

Bad comedies are aplenty but you rarely get to watch something so cringeworthy that it resembles of having to witness someone dying on the stage. She’s Back, starring late Carrie Fisher and Robert Joy is just that.

I don’t honestly know what the team was aiming to do here but I do know that it backfires big time. The movie is not only unfunny and unenjoyable, but downright annoying and painful to watch.

The director Tim Kincaid would return to adult movies after finishing She’s Back, which just might be the right calling for him.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 0%

#1135 Trouble in Mind (1985)

I wish I’d checked out the poster of Trouble in Mind before watching the movie as I was more than a puzzled at first what to make of the movie that first looks like your ordinary film noir influenced action movie featuring a cop beaten by life.

Trouble in Mind is all this, but what sets it apart from similar movies is its comedic, surreal tones that I first thought were completely unintentional misfires by the director Alan Rudolph. But I’m not completely to blame for this as the movie starts pretty normal but turns somewhat quirky only later as the story moves on to showing the underworld of the fictional Rain City.

While I did not care much for Trouble in Mind, I did find something intriguing in its setting of an alternative timeline combining 50s and 80s and it will go my list of movies to check out later again. I might like it more on the second run.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 48%

#1133 Stewardess School (1986)

Yet another movie heavily influenced by Police Academy series, Stewardess School follows the journey of a misfit class as they make their way through training for graduating as airplane cabin crew.

What looks like a perfect eighties fluffy and nonsensical comedy is ruined by idiotic, lowest common denominator humour that reminds me of endless parade of cheap bulk no name comedies that begun pouring to video stores from mid 90s on.

Essentially, farting in a crowded elevator is pretty much as clever as this movie ever gets.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 27%

#1131 Midnight Madness (1980)

An early 80s adventure hunt movie in the vein of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (and its many clones), Midnight Madness replays the same formula of multiple teams racing against each other, trying to outsmart and outrun each others to the finish.

I’m usually sucker for the genre and the little interest I had in the movie was because of this. But everything Midnight Madness does, it does a little bit worse than its competitors: there are no big celebrity names here, no cameos, no great landmarks nor road movie elements to be found here.

If you’re new to the genre, you might still enjoy Midnight Madness. For similar, slightly better versions of the era, check out The Cannonball Run or even the 2001 Rat Race.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 60%

#1129 Melvin and Howard (1980)

Melvin and Howard is a good example how movies already changed from seventies to the early eighties, and from there to date.

The movie first starts with Melvin picking up a stranger in the desert who later claims to be one Howard Hughes, much to Melvin’s amusement. During the next hour after this event the movie concentrates to draw a picture of Melvin Dummar as an all-American dreamer and a high stakes loser who seems to have all the odds stacked up against him. It’s only in the few last minutes to the film when after Howard Hughes passes away that we see the actual meat of the story when Melvin claims to have received a will from a stranger giving him one-sixteenth of Hughes’ heritage.

Everything from the movies pacing to the themes and focus may seem odd from todays point of view when, but it didn’t stop Melvin and Howard becoming a huge critical success back in the early 80s. Considering its contemporaries Melvin and Howard is not a bad movie, but it the critics wouldn’t give it the time of day had it been released today.

80s-o-meter: 31%

Total: 37%

#1128 Feds (1988)

Part of a wave of novice cop comedies that was launched after the huge success of Police Academy, Feds mixes in some female buddy cop action into the mix and takes the story to a highly fictional FBI academy where two women fight to graduate and to break through the glass ceiling.

It’s a predictable show where you know that the underdogs will come out as winners in the end and there aren’t too many delightful events along the way. Both leads fare fairly well, but don’t possess nowhere near the comedy muscles of Shelley Long or say, Goldie Hawn.

As long as you accept that the movie doesn’t offer much surprises nor originality, Feds offers an easy to watch comedy, surprisingly enjoyable in its own mediocrity.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 68%

#1125 Haunted Honeymoon (1986)

I always mistook Haunted Honeymoon for one of the definite comedies of the pre-millennium era, probably mixing it up with the popular Young Frankenstein, another spooky horror comedy starring Gene Wilder.

But although Haunted Honeymoon is a relatively well known release, it never was a commercial success and hasn’t had cult following to speak of. The movie is mostly harmless, tamed down take on the Mel Brooks’ comedy style and never quite grasps the viewer like a movie of this caliber should.

Haunted Honeymoon ends up an outdated comedy effort that offers few snappy lines, interesting concept and characters – but somehow just isn’t much fun to watch.

80s-o-meter: 23%

Total: 52%

#1123 The Night Before (1988)

Waking up in a strange place with no memory of the events that lead you there might be a clichéd setup, but one that often kick starts a book or movie in an interesting way. The same goes for The Night Before, an adventure comedy exploring probably the most unfortunate prom night ever.

Keanu Reeves performs his trademark awkward Californian surf dude character that we’ve come to love and while it suits the movie perfectly, he seems almost too goofy and dazed here.

As the mystery of the night unravels one memory at the time, the movie successfully ups the ante continuously as it evolves through its non-linear timeline.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 84%

#1120 Critters 2 – The Main Course (1988)

This is how you do a sequel!

Critters 2 – The Main Course takes everything that was cool in the first part and amps it up to eleven: there’s much more humour, action, new locations and characters this time around.

Even more importantly, the Critters themselves have taken a huge leap forwards and actually feel like actual, menacing but goofy antagonists. The elements that work, like the shape shifting intergalactic mercenaries are fortunately still there and the movie does not try to reinvent the wheels in any negative way.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 87%

#1119 Critters (1986)

The best moments for me in this project happen when I finally sit down to watch a movie I’ve seen countless of times as a poster or stacked on the shelves of a local rental store when I was a kid. Critters very likely tops that list.

I’m happy to say that the movie mostly lived up to the sky high expectations I had for it. A furry mini-monster comedy in the vein of Gremlins and Ghoulies, the actual creatures themselves appear as surprisingly weak characters (and antagonists), and end up overshadowed by other elements of the movie, like the two intergalactic mercenaries who arrive on earth, taking various human forms, resulting in plenty of comic relief.

It might be due to the weakish Critters, or the dip in the movie’s pacing towards the third act, but I had the constant nagging feeling that the film never quite reached its full potential. Fortunately the movie wraps up in a satisfactory way, although with a much too clichéd last minute horror cliffhanger.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 83%

#1118 Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

When reviewing these movies I often talk about how the difference with good and bad movies is the directors’ ability to just sprinkle in that special movie magic into their creations. Francis Ford Coppola surely possesses that skill and Peggy Sue Got Married, his look what one would do differently if they could relive their past – and if they could help falling in love with the same person they’ve just divorced – is an exceptional

Kathleen Turner plays the leading role with grace and certain heavyheartedness that the part really calls for. I can see Debra Winger – originally cast for the role, but gave it up due to an injury – performing the role with flying colors. But it’s really Turner’s ability to bring in the role a layer of melancholy that’s almost translucent but still weighty like a bag of boulders that makes her seemingly impeccable fit for the role.

Peggy Sue Got Married is a delight of a movie to watch and only slightly held back by its ending that seems to cut the story short.

80s-o-meter: 67%

Total: 87%

#1115 Beyond Therapy (1987)

Robert Altman was an interesting director who managed to create awful duds like Popeye as well as masterpieces that combine the best traits of both indie and Hollywood movies, like Streamers.

Beyond Therapy falls somewhere between these two. It is an artsy film that makes some annoyingly artsy and trivial choices just for the sake of it. A drama comedy about self-centred and neurotic New Yorkers struggling with relationships begs to be hated, but for one reason or another I did find the oddly off mood somewhat enchanting. And yet, I did hate the artsy move where Altman choose to locate the movie to Paris. And yet, I didn’t care for the plot at all.

Whatever there’s good about Beyond Therapy happens in small quirky moments when a dialogue leads the viewer on, only to take a sudden, unexpected 180 degree turn. Those did manage to make me smile every now and then.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 42%

#1113 Remote Control (1988)

Aliens attack the earthlings with a cheesy VHS tape programmed to watch its viewer into a homicidal monster in Remote Control, a glorious 80s homage to the 50s scifi that despite its name does not have anything to do with actual remote controls.

By far the best aspect of the movies is its pseudo futuristic 80s styling: most of the TV sets are masqueraded to look like flat screen TVs (roughly about 15 years before they were available) and all the teenagers are wearing some bitching gear straight from the 21st century with makeup and hairdos straight out of Patrick Nagel painting.

Despite the visual style being the most prominent feature here, the movie itself is not bad at all. It’s OK – not as brilliant as it could’ve been – but still very much a recommendable experience and great time capsule to the late 80s.

80s-o-meter: 98%

Total: 71%

#1111 Ruthless People (1986)

From the director team of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, Ruthless People is a triumph of a kidnapping comedy with a truly clever manuscript by Dale Launer the man behind Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, one of my favourite comedies of all time.

Known mostly from their crazy parodies full of visual gags and verbal puns, Ruthless People is quite a different undertaking for the directing trio and they get to demonstrate how they master all aspects of comedy with ease. Equally impressive is to witness how the distinctive comedy styles of Danny DeVito, Bette Midler and Judge Reinhold work seamlessly together with the right kind of writing.

Ruthless People became an unexpected comedy hit of the year, ending up among the top ten grossing movies of 1986.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 94%

#1110 Moving (1988)

Moving takes a humorous, borderline crazy comedy look into the imaginative array of stress factors a family is put through when they are forced to relocate from coast to coast.

The movie was criticized of its whitewashed portrayal of the urban African American family and it presents the main cast as this Cosby-esque clean cut nuclear family. Personally I didn’t mind the setup at all. On the contrary – it felt kind of a fresh approach compared to the lowest common denominator roles the African Americans usually land in various Hollywood comedies.

To my surprise Moving was a blast. Randy Quaid’s portrayal of a neighbour from hell is side splitting funny, especially during the moments where it becomes clear that he is not just a random jerk, but more of a mastermind that has set out to make his tormenting a true form of art. Moving is also one of the three more enjoyable comedies of the 80s for Richard Pryor, along with Brewster’s Millions and See No Evil, Hear No Evil.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 86%