#1045 Cyborg (1989)

Written in one weekend and shot with shoelace budget just to find some use for movie sets and costumes left over from cancelled movies, Cyborg is a prime example of how movies shouldn’t be made.

The movie is pretty much a mess, edited painstakingly to make it to the feature film length. The pacing is way off and the cyborg theme is not followed through at all. The few fight scenes with Jean-Claude Van Damme handing out roundhouse kicks are somewhat entertaining but go only so far to save the movie.

The lack of vision and enthusiasm shines through every crevice of the movie and Cyborg ends up a lifeless shell of a movie done solely with quick cash business goals in mind.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 8%

#1011 Wheels of Fire (1985)

Six years after the first Mad Max movie started the post-apocalyptic wasteland craze, Wheels of Fire finally joins the party as a latecomer pretty much at the following day when the host is already done cleaning up the pool.

But it’s ok to come in late if you bring something new to the table, right? Unfortunately in Wheels of Fire’s case the movie feels exceptionally void of any innovation as it seems to follow the very same route set by other ripoffs. In fact, Wheels of Fire might be closest one to original Mad Max series – and this is not a compliment, believe me.

Driving around the desert with the 80s cars, wearing hockey elbow pads spray painted to black and shooting useless weirdly modded weapons has always represented the lowest form of scifi to me, and Wheels of Fire serves as a prime example why.

80s-o-meter: 76%

Total: 13%

#1000 Blade Runner (1982)

The poster on the left is from the Australian release of Blade Runner. A cinematic landmark of its time, it’s also one of the main drivers why this blog came out to be in the first place.

The director Ridley Scott had already demonstrated his prowess for crafting impressive sci-fi worlds oozing with atmosphere with the 1979 Alien, but it was Blade Runner that saw his craftmanship come to full fruition. Aided by the concept artist Syd Mead, cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth and an exceptionally talented team of FX artists, Blade Runner came into form in 1982 as a movie years ahead of its time, leaving its footprint in the history as the cinematic template for the dark dystopian future.

Equally impressive is Vangelis’ haunting synth track that at times is able to paint the film’s aesthetics on an even deeper level than the moving images can. Synonymous with the movie itself, Vangelis’ Blade Runner suite sets the mood right from the very first second of the movie and continues to do so until the end credits have stopped scrolling.

Harrison Ford who was on a winning streak at the time after starring in Star Wars and Indiana Jones movie series creates another character here that is very exclusively his. In a similar fashion Rutger Hauer crafts his portrayal of a replicant on the run to such perfection that it’s hard to fathom anyone else playing the role.

Essentially a futuristic film noir, the original Domestic Cut was compromised by the studio who after showing it to a test audience changed the ending and added a very unfortunate narrative voiceover. The 1992 Director’s Cut improved on the original theatrical cut by removing the aforementioned faux pas, and the movie finally saw its ultimate form in 2007 Final Cut, still the preferred version of the movie.

Blade Runner has established its status as a classic and arguably stood the test of time still feeling fresh almost 40 years since its initial release; every viewing of the movie seems to unfold just another layer of it, serving as a somewhat bittersweet reminder of how science fiction of this caliber does not come by often.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 200%

#924 Cherry 2000 (1987)

A white collar worker’s last of its line fembot – a Cherry 2000 – short circuits and ends up beyond repair. To find a replacement, he sets out to find a tracker to bring him one from the forbidden Zone 7, and soon unwillingly finds himself in the midst of an adventure.

Mixing various genres is always a huge gamble, but in Cherry 2000’s case the inventive forces behind it seemingly have a good time borrowing elements from sci-fi, cyberpunk, western and road movies and mixing them with elements of dystopian deserted world, 1950s and even some maniac campers. Unfortunately this lead to the movie ending hard to explain to the movie going masses and was deemed a straight to video instead of a theatrical release.

After its release the movie started gaining a cult following and has since inspired various movie and video game makers alike.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 81%

#802 Equalizer 2000 aka Defender 2000 (1987)

I never quite understood the charm and the huge following behind the Mad Max series. Although the series did spawn one sequel that has at least some good cinematography and a killer soundtrack, the dystopian desert action genre mostly feels really campy and lame – and the time usually hasn’t been too kind on it. The biggest sin of the series still remains that it opened the floodgate of an endless stream of ripoffs, all of which fall pretty much behind even the already lousy original.

Equalizer 2000 takes place in the post-apocalyptic Alaska desert where the baddies drive around in lazily customised cars from the 70s and the 80s. In order to fight against them, a rogue warrior called Slade crafts a machine gun that apparently makes him invincible against gun fire. That’s pretty much the plot here, with rest of the running time filled with extras firing off guns, getting shot and falling to the ground.

Equalizer 2000 is a poor, poor movie with an equally low production value. The movie lags far behind its time and feels completely out of place compared to the movies released in the 1987, and even manages to look and feel more outdated than the original 1979 Mad Max.

Consider this a warning.

80s-o-meter: 16%

Total: 4%

#732 Solarbabies aka Solarwarriors aka Solarfighters (1986)

Solarbabies didn’t get any love from the critics nor the audience when it was released back in 1986, and it hasn’t gained much more charism in 30 years. There’s some limited appeal to the 80s haircuts and the whole sheer stupidity of it all, but in the end there’s nothing here to be found but mediocrity.

The concept and its execution are copypasted from various other movies. Unfortunately Solarbabies never knows quite how to evolve those concepts and ends up an uneven patchwork. This is not to say that the movie doesn’t have some genuinely good moments as well – it does – but sandwiched between moments like rollerblading in the desert and playing a game of dystopian roller ball with and extra terrestrial, glowing new-age ball of energy called Bodhi, they really don’t stick out.

The most significant aspect of the movie is the Spanish desert landscape that provides a beautiful, desolate location for the movie, and the set design – although scarce and heavily influenced by Mad Max – is solid, and by far the strongest aspect in the movie.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 28%

#652 Robot Jox (1989)

Remember those battle themed 90s saturday morning TV shows aimed for kids from 7 to 12 year olds, created to sell kids some kind of merchandise? The theme here is the same, but Robot Jox doesn’t quite reach that sort of depth or visual fidelity.

If I had to guess, I would’ve placed style wise to the late 70s, and done with a sub 500k budget. To think this is a 1989 movie with a staggering 10 million budget instead, aimed for the adult audience… Well, it just boggles the mind.

In all of its shoddiness, I can see Robot Jox being a guilty pleasure movie for some. The unconvincing miniature Robots hanging by visible wires from the sky and very lazy set design including CRT monitors, off the shelf items, remote controls with huge antennas and 80s clothes to mention a few are all so hilariously poor and campy that there certainly is a humour factor to watching the movie.

Strictly as a movie it’s a misfire that really bombed in the box office – and for a very good reason.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 26%