#1525 Made in Heaven (1987)

Made in Heaven is a movie narrated in two acts: in the first act we see the protagonist as a young boy heading off to California, getting killed in an accident, ending up in heaven and falling in love with another soul.

In the second act they both have been born again, unaware of their previous lives and mutual time together in heaven, and the thrill the movie offers to the viewers is of course the hope of their life lines somehow intertwining, perhaps leading them to find each other once again.

I have to admit I found the movie incredibly dull and slow paced for most of its running time, but the final events did admittedly get to me to the extend of turning the overall experience quite positive. Clearly this concept of soul mates has something special going for it, only if the endless taxiing before final payoff of a takeoff was crafted just a bit more exciting.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 61%

#1493 The Boy Who Could Fly (1986)

After her family moves to an old house, a 14-year old Milly encounters Eric, a young boy shut in his own world.

Soon after befriending him she begins to wonder if there is more to this boy and in his obsession to paper planes and flying, than meets the eye. Two separate site plots follow Milly’s mother struggling to get back to the now-computerised 80s work life, as well as her brother’s struggle with the neighbourhood bullies.

The Boy Who Could Fly is a brief and likeable peek into the life of a suburban family encountering wonderful events, most of which I unfortunately struggled to identify with.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 61%

#1462 She (1984)

After just a few days after suffering through Robot Holocaust I happened to watch She, a similar kind of sword & sorcery adventure set in the future dystopian world.

But where Robot Holocaust failed, She manages to be actually probably the best movie in this sub genre I’ve seen to date. The different factions and places the leads run into are imaginative, but not completely ridiculous and the whole look and feel of the movie reminds me of a post apocalyptic RPG, kind of like Fallout, with less 50s and mutation.

Heck, I enjoyed the movie and can’t but to credit the director/writer Avi Nesher for managing to put together a surprisingly solid movie out of such a shoddy ingredients.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 80%

#1455 Hercules (1983)

The only reason I was looking forward to seeing Hercules was seeing Lou Ferrigno, who here in his peak physical condition arguably out-performed Schwarzenegger himself.

An Italian-American co-production directed by Luigi Cozzi and shot in a movie studio located in Rome, the movie looks and plays pretty much as expected with visuals and effects comparable to similar adventure epics of the 60s; looking nice but outdated, with dodgy stop motion animations.

Ferrigno is likable, and truly possesses the physique of a Hercules – but not the screen presence of Schwarzenegger: he manages to bump up the movie a few notches, but not quite much as his Austrian colleague might’ve. I’ve never been a big fan of Sybil Danning, but after seeing this movie I do understand what her followers have been going on about.

80s-o-meter: 5%

Total: 58%

#1395 Halloween 2020: Scared Stiff (1987)

There seems to be a pattern in my life; watching a movie I run into an actor I’ve never seen before, and the very next movie stars that obscure actor again. With Scared Stiff that actor is Andrew Stevens, who single handedly saved The Terror Within.

Scared Stiff is a quality late 80s horror thriller that mixes in elements of fantasy and imagination where a ghost of a cruel slave trader possesses the father of the family after they move in an old colonial house and discover the dark secrets within. Everything in Scared Stiff takes place firmly in a movie movie world and you will probably enjoy it a lot more if you watch it as a fairy tale rather than a serious cinema for the grown ups.

The movie is visually rich and enjoyable to watch, but as with many movies similar to it, the scares Scared Stiff provides are comparable to a tame Disney ghost ride rather than something that would keep you at the edge of your seat.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 72%

#1361 The Heavenly Kid (1985)

A delight of a comedy, The Heavenly Kid takes the often seen formula of dying and coming back from heaven to rectify one’s wrongdoings and with a few original twists and tweaks makes the concept work.

First of all, Lewis Smith as Bobby, a good willed, but a bit empty headed cool cat is a perfect cast for the role and he is a delight to watch on the silver screen. Also the plot line of Bobby having to deal with his former girlfriend in the current day, now married to his former worst rival makes the whole concept much more interesting.

Lastly, Richard Mulligan adds a certain spark of magic to it all as a Rafferty, the worst ever spectral mentor on a motorcycle.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 88%

#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%

#1258 Date with an Angel (1987)

Whether you enjoy watching Date with an Angel at all depends on if you take it as a weird comedy with a huge credibility problem – or an adult fantasy fairytale that it is.

The sooner I accepted this, the more I started to enjoy the movie, especially considering that in a bigger picture it all kind of made sense in the end. My movie experience went from rolling my eyes, to getting somewhat engaged, to actually wanting to watch the movie again some time in the future.

I’d even consider the movie a triumph for managing to sell the viewer such an implausible setup, and I’d hoped the team had had more courage than to wrap up the movie otherwise than its current compromised crowd pleasing ending.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 81%

#1109 The Dungeonmaster aka Ragewar: The Challenges of Excalibrate and Digital Knights (1984)

The Dungeonmaster is an adventure movie depicting a modern computer programmer that gets transferred to a fantasy lair run by ancient sorcerer who challenges him to tasks of defeating enemies in various modern and historical scenarios.

The Dungeonmaster is actually an anthology: Each one of the seven segments is written and directed by different people, and then tied together with interludes of the lair where the programmer returns victorious after each task. The movie would be totally banal if it didn’t have two distinctive modern 80s segments in it; one involving a serial killer and another, hilariously over the top scenario featuring W.A.S.P.

The movie remains the best known for the wide public as the origin of the like ’I reject your reality and substitute my own’, as quoted by Adam Savage in one of the episodes of the MythBusters. The movie is not worth your time for the quote alone, but you might still find it interesting fast forwarding to check it out, as well as watching through the two aforementioned segments.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 52%

#1077 Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

Panned by the critics and loved by the broad audience, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is a wonderfully quirky comedy powered single-handedly by the actress Cassandra Peterson and her wonderful, quick witted late night TV host character.

On the superficial level Elvira, who makes absolutely zero effort to hide her abundant bosom, might seem sexist especially from today’s puritanical point of view. But it has to be noted that this is her fantasy character, created and made iconic on her terms. Far from a victim of male-driven entertainment industry, she’s kind of an epitome of girl power; not willing to take cheap from anyone and ending up on the upper hand thanks to her sharp tongue. And it’s these witty comebacks that are the real comedy core of the movie and did provide plenty of few good laughs along the way.

Had the movie pressed on the gas pedal towards the end instead of sliding to the finish line like it had ran out of gas, and wrapped up without the uninspired Las Vegas bit, my final score might’ve been even more generous than Elvira’s famous cleavage.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 90%

#1001 Mannequin (1987)

If a shopping mall doll coming to life as a real life woman sounds a bit far fetched, no worries; Mannequin has the back story covered from the get go as she’s helped by the Egyptian gods to escape an arranged marriage.

While its kind of a mess as a movie, its kind dodgy storyline, overacting and sheer stupidity become somewhat easier to stomach once you accept that you are actually watching a farce – or a modern fairytale – instead of your typical comedy. With this mindset even the nocturnal musical number inside the shopping mall gets not only tolerable, but actually pretty delightful.

The leads Andrew McCarthy and Kim Cattrall pull through the nonsense with charm. On the other hand James Spader’s overacting as the shopping mall manager is really taxing to watch and the comedic talent of G. W. Bailey is wasted in the dimwit night watchman role written very much in the vein of his Police Academy Lt Harris – minus the funny.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 60%

#989 The Devil and Max Devlin (1981)

A lousy landlord gets a second chance for life after he dies and makes a pact with devil to return to earth to sign in three souls for the eternal damnation in a stuffy old movie called The Devil and Max Devlin, starring Elliott Gould and Bill Cosby.

The landlord goes on to do a little magic mumbo jumbo along the way to help the victims get what they want, but later quite expectedly learns to be less self-centred and not to exchange others’ souls for his freedom. It’s a movie hard to stomach on its own right, but watching the Cosby play the machinating devil feels almost morbid given his recent sentence.

The Devil and Max Devlin is an odd move from The Walt Disney Studios; a misfire with really no apparent target audience to recommend it to.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 17%

#945 Halloween 2018: Phantasm II (1988)

It could be because I’ve missed the original Phantasm – released in 1979 – but I had no idea whatsoever what was going on in its sequel for the first 30 minutes. And even later to the movie it all seemed to make a very little sense: Who are these main characters, what are they after, who is the Tall Man and what is his agenda?

It was only after giving up the hope of making any sense of the movie and just going on with the flow that I started to enjoy Phantasm II for what it was: A collection of scenes to justify some inventive and gruesome F/X. There are tons of individual things to like here, like Reggie, the ponytailed, balding middle-aged protagonist and the imaginative guns he and his teenager friend Mike have put together to fight the Tall Man. Also, the movie manages to have a good ol’ horror movie ending to it, redeeming some of of the points in the last minute.

Phantasm II is a stylish, cartoony show not unlike the Evil Dead series, and a movie that relies heavily on its gory effects at the cost of its plot. It’s the incoherent story that makes the movie a hard one to recommended, but the admirers of hand crafted 80s F/X will surely find a lot to like here.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 61%

#907 Warlock (1989)

What a mouth-watering setup: A 17th century Warlock jumps through the time to present day to reassemble a Satanic book that will unmake of the creation, and a Witch-hunter named Redferne follows him through the portal in an attempt to foil his plans.

A much remembered classic for a generation, this was my first time seeing the movie, although the I knew the movie well by its reputation. Given its cult status, my expectations weren’t met, but the movie is entertaining nonetheless. To me it seems like the setup would’ve lend itself for much much more, like those few well-known scenes including tongues, frying pans and spiritual channeling well demonstrate. Visual effects are also quite weak considering the late 80s release.

If you haven’t ever heard about Warlock and enjoy time travelling stories, chances are that you will find a lot to be love here. If you are aware of the movie, be advised that it might be not as epic as you’d expect. Either way the movie makes for quite an easy recommendation.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 72%

#894 Space Raiders aka Star Child (1983)

Ah, Star Wars. The 1977 space saga years ahead of its time that then spawned numerous late 70s and early 80s copycat movies that never really bothered creating something of their own. Space Raiders definitely takes this route as well, and the loaning here goes as far as one of the pilots uttering out ’Look at the size of that thing’ upon confronting a mothership – a line well known from the Star Wars merchandise.

The movie is targeted to the sub-12 year Mickey Mouse Club audience, telling a story of a young kid who wanders into a space pirates’ ship during a battle and gets abducted incidentally as the pirates flee. Most of the movie’s offering – including the sets and music recycled from earlier titles – is tired and subpar, but I actually enjoyed much of the early 80s style effects and the look of the ships as they pass by in the vast frontiers of the outer space.

Space Raiders is the kind of a movie that gets all of its mileage from being set in the extra terrestrial backdrop. Strip out the setting and move the story to a, say, wild west and you admittedly wouldn’t have much of a movie going on here.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 37%

#858 Willow (1988)

You have to excuse me for having always mixed up Willow with Ridley Scott’s Legend; another mid-80s fantasy movie with stunning, faerytale like visuals. While Willow might not be as beautiful a movie, it’s still stunning to look at and the groundbreaking special effects by ILM still look mostly impressive, despite their age.

Story-wise there isn’t anything extraordinary going on here: Your usual fantasy stuff with evil queens, dwarfs and dragons. But it’s the way that the director Ron Howard manages to tell the story that makes it truly captivating. Young Warwick Davis makes for a terrific, unlikely hero of the story, and although Val Kilmer at first seems to overact the role of the mischievous thief, he soon grows on to you.

Fantasy movies are not my cup of tea, but in Willow’s case, the end result is just much too charming to pass by with just a shrug.

80’s-o-meter: 48%

Total: 84%

#837 Streets of Fire (1984)

I’m fond of movies that don’t look like real life – I get plenty of that just by looking outside the window. It’s in this aspect that Street of Fire more than delivers, taking place in an alternative reality, even making a note about this at the start of the movie.

It may be due to the amount of music involved coupled with the lead actor Michael Paré’s mysterious presence, but Street of Fire reminds me a lot of his earlier movie Eddie and the Cruisers, released year earlier. Street of Fire ends up a weaker movie of the two, both in storyline and the music, which mostly suits the mood, but that last music video part movie really just felt like a filler for to make it to the 90 minute mark.

Streets of Fire is style over substance, which is definitely not a sin in my book. But if all that great cinemating style was stripped out of Streets of Fire you simply wouldn’t have that much of a movie going on here.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 68%

#819 Nightmares (1983)

As usual I try not to read any info about the movie I’m going to watch to avoid any spoilers. In the case with Nightmares it might’ve been a good idea for I would’ve figured out I was watching an anthology instead of a horror movie with an exceptionally hard to follow plot. When it finally dawned to me, well — you can only imagine the amount of facepalms.

This anthology consists of four short stories, based on urban legends. The first one starts off strong with a great buildup towards the end payoff. Second one is my favorite, starring Emilio Estevez as the penny arcade wizard caught in a web of a mysterious co-op machine. From hereon it’s a slight downhill with the third episode involving a priest, a killer on a 4×4 and some magical holy water that’ll save the day. The last part of Nightmares features our favorite 80s self-absorbed company man Richard Masur as the head of the family getting a special kind of rat infestation. Too bad this is the part that drags far behind the others, relying much too heavily on subpar special effects lifted straight out of 50s monster scifi movies.

Probably one of the least known of all the 80s anthologies, Nightmares is very uneven like most movies of the genre, but still definitely one of the more interesting ones, largely thanks to its strong cast.

80s-o-meter: 79%

Total: 68%