#1151 Physical Evidence (1989)

Let’s get the bad out of the way first: Physical Evidence is a weak courtroom drama that does nothing better than your average episode of Matlock.

Secondly, there is nothing here that would sticks with you and you’ve most likely forgotten all about the movie less than 15 minutes after watching the it. This is a pretty bland ordeal.

But, it does have that easy-to-watch late night cable movie quality to it and as such I never found watching the movie a chore. A slightly older Burt Reynolds of the late eighties (that I much prefer to his earlier roles) plows through his role without much enthusiasm, and what little focus that movie might’ve had earlier is completely lost during the last 15 minutes.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 58%

#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%

#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%

#1095 Disorganized Crime (1989)

Four criminals come together to prepare for the bank robbery of their lifetime, only to find out that Frank – the mastermind behind the heist – is nowhere to be found.

Disorganized Crime is one of those unknown 80s comedies that would’ve deserved more recognition and popularity upon its release. It’s no masterpiece by any way, but one of those comedies where most parts just seem to click and come together in a very satisfying way. Ed O’Neill of the Married With Kids fame provides a solid backbone for the comedy, but it’s Rubén Blades – who was formerly unknown to me – that provides by far the best laughs of the show.

As mentioned, it all comes together in a very satisfying way for everyone in the end: the gang, the two detectives, the viewer – and possibly even Frank.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 84%

#1093 Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981)

So, apparently Charlie Chan is some kind of mysterious detective that starred in various movies starting already in the 1920s. There was a 1973 movie release starring Chan, but the character really was passé already by the end of 1950s.

Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen kicks off with the assumption that the viewer is somehow aware of the existence and greatness of this character so much that it doesn’t bother to make any kind of introductions. Charlie Chan seems to be the somewhat of a comedic sidekick in his own film as the story concentrates more on his clumsy grandson, his fiancee, mother and the wacky servants of the giant mansion. Really, if you had to go through the trouble of making a yellowface movie, the least you could do is to make him the actual star of the show, right?

The movie was badly outdated as it came out in early 80s, and it’s production was attempted to put on hold by the Chinese-American protesters.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 17%

#1090 They’re Playing with Fire (1984)

An older female teacher seducing her young male student to a sexual intercourse, why does this seem to ring a bell? Oh yes, we saw the same concept in Private Lessons some two hundred movies ago. And hey – it even stars that same guy, Eric Brown.

Despite the obvious similarities, the two movies aren’t related and from the get go They’re Playing with Fire seems to have an actual movie it as the relationship soon turns into foul play, resulting in a murder and our young casanova getting wrongly accused.

But as the director Howard Avedis doesn’t seem to be capable in anything else but to try out the cheapest of the tricks, the movie soon turns into something of a slasher, nullifying all the thriller elements that had been build so far.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 33%

#1085 And God Created Woman (1988)

Directed by Roger Vadim who also directed the 1956 Et Dieu… Créa la Femme that launched Brigitte Bardot’s career, And God Created Woman shares the same title, but brings a completely new story in an very edgy form to the 80s, resulting a catastrophic failure of a movie.

Life is tough for the characters of Rebecca De Mornay and Vincent Spano who play a woman prisoner on a parole, and a carpenter single parent respectively. And it’s oh so tough, and so melodramatic all the time. All sorts of emotional quarrels of love follow, so she decides to put together a rock band to pour all that agony into her songs, all while having erotic B-movie scenes with the carpenter and a famous politician played by Frank Langella.

Essentially a filmatisation of some 2-penny erotic novel I didn’t want to read in the first place, And God Created Woman is a remarkably bad movie – a piece of cinematic garbage that I can’t find any justification for.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 4%

#1078 The Black Marble (1980)

Boasting one of the most unappealing posters I’ve seen in awhile, The Black Marble is another one to the exhibit pile for not to judge a movie by its cover. Passing below the radar for the wide audience upon its march 1980 release, it’s a gem of a movie that never got the recognition it deserved.

Not settling with the obvious clichés, the movie based on the novel of Joseph Wambaugh – who also did the screenwriting here – introduces multiple unlikely elements that at first seem like an odd mix, but ends up wrapping them up so triumphantly, I almost gave the movie a standing ovation.

Harry Dean Stanton, whose legacy as the actors’ actor has only grown interest since him passing away in 2017, does once again remarkably solid work here. But it’s the wonderfully elegiac character of Sgt. A.M. Valnikov played to a such a three dimensional perfection by Robert Foxworth that was unlike anything I’ve seen to this date.

So unlike that I did not get through The Black Marble without watery eyes.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 92%

#1075 Kill Me Again (1989)

Kill Me Again begins kind of lame as for some reason deems necessary to rerun all the banalities of the neo-noir genre. It’s only after the movie finally starts steering away from the obvious clichés that it finds its own tone of voice, ending a much better than anticipated thriller.

Although the then-couple Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley make for a dynamic beat up private detective treacherous femme fatale duo, it’s Michael Madsen that ends up stealing the show as the menacing, force of a nature antagonist.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 81%

#1073 Last Rites (1988)

Last Rites follows a New York priest who goes against the mafia protecting a Mexican immigrant.

Tom Berenger is charismatic as always. Heck – he was likeable even as a white supremacist in Betrayed. Daphne Zuniga who already had a number of successful lead roles under her belt on the other hand feels like a miscast as the Mexican femme fatale. Surely there would’ve been many actual latinos that could’ve pulled off the role with more ease.

Despite some obvious loans from other movies, I can’t say I’ve watched anything that really resembles Last Rites, which is why I actually ended liking the movie quite a lot. It’s an interesting twist on similar kind of thrillers and manages to keep a few aces up its sleeve until the very last minutes to the film.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 86%

#1062 Out of Bounds (1986)

Out of Bounds was Anthony Michael Hall’s attempt to break out of the numerous nerd roles he got typecast to during the first half of the 80s.

As such the movie is a success and young Hall makes a surprisingly believable action lead here, much better than the performance he would give two years later in Johnny Be Good, his another 80s movie outside the geek mould. Sure, there’s some overacting involved and everything is oh much too touch on the streets of L.A., but this has more to do with the style of the movie itself and Hall isn’t the worst culprit here.

I liked the movie. Cinematography, action and all the good kind of 80s movie clichés were well presented and Jeff Kober who was formerly unknown to me creates certainly one of the more menacing and memorable movie villains out of one’s worst nightmares. Out of Bounds was generally forgotten upon its release and wasn’t available on DVD, but finally got a proper high definition release on Amazon’s Prime Video a few years back.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 81%

#1033 Murphy’s Law (1986)

A decade of buddy cop movies, the 80s also saw a minor wave of cop & criminal buddy movies with a similar formula, but more concentration on seeing the two clash together.

Murphy’s Law is a pretty decent Charles Bronson action crime flick, but a totally worthless buddy movie. The petty criminal sidekick – who was probably something of a last minute add on to the movie as she doesn’t really contribute to anything here plot wise – never grows along with the movie and suffers from possibly the worst case of inept dialogue I’ve yet witnessed in a film.

Bronson pretty much walks through the movie without passion and can’t breath any real life into his character of the alcoholic cop battling with his demons.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 58%

#1032 Breathless (1983)

Although I always aim to avoid reading of a movie before watching it to keep my bias down, in most cases with the mainstream cinema with notable actors, I already know the movie at least on some level.

Breathless was a complete surprise to me, and a positive one at that. Richard Gere plays a petty criminal from Las Vegas travelling to Los Angeles to find a girl he had a flake and gets involved in killing of a police officer. True to his nonchalant style he tries to shake it all off but soon finds himself on the run, slowly coming into realisation that for the first time in his life his charm can’t buy him out of the situation.

Gere is pretty much born to play the role of the ”seedy Vegas boy. Thinks he’s cute”, like one of the assistants behind the counter aptly puts it. Paul Newman’s amazing performance in Cool Hand Luke remains untouchable, but this is by far the best stab at it I’ve yet witnessed.

Combining elements of crime, sex, comics and rockabilly music, Breathless is stylish, crude crime and love story straight out of a cheap pulp magazine – and very much an underappreciated gem.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 91%

#1028 Throw Momma from the Train (1987)

Throw Momma from the Train, Danny DeVito’s feature film directional debut is a success.

The movie is never taxing to follow, visually pleasing and would’ve even withstood a somewhat longer cut; at its current running time of only 87 minutes, the great roleplay of Anne Ramsey is cut short and the nastiness of the mother from hell is never established quite enough. Not enough to warrant throwing her out from the train, at least.

The movie is based on the 1951 Hitchcock classic Strangers on a Train and does a smart move by not trying to hide this, but intertwining it as the central turn of events in the movie.

I do love nods like these in movies.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 85%

#1024 The Private Eyes (1980)

The Private Eyes presents us with a classic mansion whodunnit comedy that makes for a surprisingly entertaining watch.

It’s a slapstick comedy making a solid imitation of the similar movies from the famous comedic duos of the yesteryear, namely Abbot and Costello. Starring Tim Conway and Don Knotts who made a series of comedies together starting from 1975, The Private Eyes is their best known movie, and also their final full length feature film together.

The movie is made with the young audience in mind with spooky bits comparable to an episode of Scooby Doo. The jokes are somewhat tame and obvious, but performed in an entertaining way by the duo.

80s-o-meter: 41%

Total: 68%

#1016 Sunset (1988)

Second cooperation between the director Blake Edwards and the up and Bruce Willis (the first one being a failure of a comedy called Blind Date) Sunset is a modern Hollywood take of a crime story taking place in the classic Hollywood of the late 1920s.

Willis shows a lot of the same onscreen magnetism that made him a superstar later in the same year with the release of Die Hard, and fits well to the part of a fancy pants silent era western star. James Garner also plays the role of the aged Wyatt Earp with a similar charism and his presence on the screen is always a pleasure to follow. And that’s pretty much all the movie has going for it.

Despite all the action the movie just doesn’t have the momentum to keep things interesting enough and I did notice I had to struggle a little to keep up the interest, and Sunset is ultimately kept afloat solely by its above average cast.

80s-o-meter: 59%

Total: 61%

#1003 City Heat (1984)

What was it with the obsession with the 1940s gangster movies? City Heat is another movie to join the club with Harlem Nights, Hammett, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The Cotton Club, Johnny Dangerously and many, many others in this seemingly pointless exercise of taking a hard boiled classic crime story and recreating it in color.

Sure, I get it. These are the movies that generation lived up with and they want to pay a homage to the bygone era, and possibly get a spark of that old movie magic along with it. But the movies often rely too heavily on just the atmosphere with a paper thin plot, and if told in contemporary setting just wouldn’t fly at all. So is the case with City Heat as well.

On top the 1940s visuals the movie relies heavily on the personal charism of the two major leads, Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood, but the chemistry is just anywhere to be found. To save your time, just watch through the last minute of the movie and you get a thorough overview of what the movie has to offer.

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 17%

#998 Harlem Nights (1989)

48 Hrs, Beverly Hills Cop, The Golden Child and Coming to America; for Eddie Murphy the 80s was a series of commercial and critical triumphs after another, and it was only his debut as the director and the writer of Harlem Nights that ended up that honeymoon with the critics.

But not with the broad audience, as Harlem Nights – Murphy’s last movie of the decade – was a box office success, even if not nearly as massive as his previous titles.

The movie itself is a pretty sloppy, Hollywood take on the 1930s gangster theme so clichéd it was obviously inspired by watching other movies rather than digging into the history books. If you get past the pastiche aspect as well as the somewhat uninspired periodical setting established only to justify the caricature-like characters, Harlem Nights becomes a somewhat tolerable scoundrel comedy, and even lands a rewarding feel good ending that succeeded to made the minutes put into watching the movie feel worth the while in the end.

80s-o-meter: 48%

Total: 63%

#990 In Country (1989)

In Country is a drama about a young girl who lost his father in the Vietnam war before she was born and who now on the verge of adulthood is set out to know more about his father through reading his old letters and trying to discuss with his former brothers in arms. Problem is, nobody wants to tear open the old wounds.

The movie never grasped me and the themes In Country tries to convey of coming to age mixed with shadows of the war and healing are obvious, but delivered in a way that is supposed to be touching, but end up indifferent. The big promised revelations of the plot never actually materialise and the powerful ending just does not speak to me.

Bruce Willis does a likeable, but very Bruce Willis like performance as the uncle suffering with PTSD, but his performance alone is not a good reason enough to warrant watching through the movie.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 51%

#988 The Executioner’s Song (1982)

Tommy Lee Jones stars in The Executioner’s Song, a solid made for TV movie documenting the life and ultimate death of Gary Gilmore who was executed in 1977 upon his own request.

Unlike many other crime movies, The Executioner’s Song doesn’t go out to glamourise the killer or the criminal life style and handles its subject in a way that seems semi-documentary at times. Gilmore is pictured as a complex, short-tempered man who often resorts in violence and even in the passing moments of regret he still maintains his ominous, possessive and obsessive presence.

Tommy Lee Jones makes the best out of the role, easily outperforming the movie itself.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 64%