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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A movie with tremendously good production values, made by the very best talent of the Hollywood Who Framed Roger Rabbit is ultimately ruined by its now outdated gimmick of mixing in cartoons with live camera action.
A big part of why I love the 80s movies is that I’ve always preferred well executed puppeteering magic to using CGI characters. As much as we humans want to buy in to the stories, we’re really sensitive for any glitches in the matrix; it’s usually enough to break the illusion if one of the actors is watching to a slightly off direction when trying to interacting with the imagined character. The effects also tend the look cool at the time, but grow old just in few years.
Roger Rabbit’s very experimental nature mixing cartoon characters with live introduces many of the same problems: The novelty off the effects has worn off and the resulting movie lacks the needed immersion.
Then, there’s the obvious problem with the characters. Roger Rabbit, a character cut and pasted together for this movie is annoying. I’m talking about Jar Jar Binks annoying. Even worse yet, the character and its constant screaming around paired with the slapstick humor is totally devoid of any laughters. As a proof, Roger never became a classic character that’d go on to live outside the movie. The actual actors luckily do much better here: Bob Hoskins is choice for the classic film noir Hollywood sleuth and Christopher Lloyd makes his vulture-like Judge Doom character a perfect human-cartoon character blend.
The movie was received well by the critics and went on to win three Oscars. I can’t help but to think many were blinded by the novelty of the movie’s technical merits.
Babes in Toyland is a kids’ movie that probably should’ve been disqualified from this list, but its interesting cast got the best of me: There’s Keanu Reeves as the male lead, Drew Barrymore as the girl hero who helps to save the day, Richard Mulligan as the antagonist and Pat Morita as the toy master, all delivering some decent acting work as always.
Although the most well known from this years’ christmas movie featurette, the movie is still totally unknown in these parts of the woods and never was a part of our christmas tradition. After seeing it I doubt I’ll make it there either, but the little ones really seemed the enjoy the movie.
Babes in Toyland is enjoyable in the context of being a made-for-TV christmas movie with a well known cast, but adults without any nostalgic connection to the movie should probably look elsewhere for their christmas entertainment.
Vanna White, best known to the general public as the hostess of Wheel of Fortune stars in Goddess of Love, a made-for-TV romantic comedy. Although is safe to say the movie wasn’t destined to steal away any academy awards from the theatrical releases, it’s still somewhat passable as a real movie even if the obvious commercial break transitions are a straight giveaway.
The plot: Zeus turns Venus – the goddess of love – into a statue that turns alive in 1988 Los Angeles, causing all sorts of silly events and misunderstandings to unravel. For a plot this fluffy and trifle the movie is surprisingly entertaining, and even the suspension of how it all will turn out in the end is kept admirably.
While it’s impossible to recommend the movie to anyone and still save one’s face, for those who know what they’re getting into Goddess of Love offers solid 90 minutes of nonchalant – and totally trivial – entertainment.
As it turned out only years later, Masters of the Universe was the biggest scam of my childhood. A franchise created by the toy maker Mattel just to sell some overpriced plastic figurines, Masters of the Universe and the accompanied animated television series swept the US and Europe, netting billions of dollars.
And thus enters the movie. What makes the movie interesting to the adult viewer is its strong cast. Although Dolph Lundgren later listed this movie the least his favorite one, his looks and physique as the He-Man seem a step up from the original cartoon character. Although buried behind a thick latex mask, Frank Langella manages to bring Skeletor fabulously alive through intensive eye acting and body movement. Billy Barty makes a perfect Gwildor, a Thenurian inventor dwarf created specifically for this movie, and last but not least, James Tolkan creates one hilariously relentless character in Detective Lubic who manages to steal every scene he’s in.
Compared the stinkers like Flash Gordon and the Superman line of movies, Masters of the Universe’s production values are sky high. While the film is not exactly my cup of tea, this is pretty much as good a movie that’s possible to make from such a two-penny concept as He-Man.
Everything I said I didn’t like in Teen Wolf goes for the sequel as well. You see, Teen Wolf Too plays it too tame and safe and pretty much just reprises everything seen in the first movie, just replacing the actors involved and takes the story to another high school. Every character in the movie and the members of the audience already know how the movie is going to play out and Teen Wolf Too goes to great lengths to make sure it doesn’t take one step outside that sandbox.
Michael J. Fox, a force of nature who pretty much was the only reason to watch the first movie is now gone and replaced with Jason Bateman in his feature film debut. He plays the role just as as predictably and safely as the rest of the movie with little to none surprises.
Whatever little freshness there was in the concept in the first run, it’s all gone, and Teen Wolf Too is stale like a bowl of yesterday’s oatmeal.