#1142 Angel Heart (1987)

Although Angel Heart takes its cues from many classic film noir movies, I can’t say I’ve never seen a movie like it.

Taking place in Harlem and deep south and mixing in elements of black magic, suspense, horror and whodunnit, the atmosphere of the movie is build beautifully and is enough to keep one glued to the silver screen. Although I haven’t read the original 1978 novel, this might be one of those rare occasions where the ambience of the movie might equal or even surpass the book.

The movie also showcases Mickey Rourke at his very best, and if you’ve ever wondered what is the big deal with him I suggest having a look at this movie, and paying special attention to his choreography as he moves around the scene making it a stage of his very own.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 89%

#1132 The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

I’m trying to think up the positives about The Watcher in the Woods.

First of all I love the title, which really sets up the mystery and the mood in the right way, and I also like how the movie tried to achieve something a little different in the horror genre. But the movie never managed to build up the suspense nor the atmosphere in a way that I suspect that the original 1976 novel does.

If I was ten years old and the year was 1980, The Watcher in the Woods might’ve been just the ticket. But from today’s point of view the movie is unfortunately just too outdated to recommend to anyone previously unfamiliar with it.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 41%

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Haunted Honeymoon ends up an outdated comedy effort that offers few snappy lines, interesting concept and characters – but somehow just isn’t much fun to watch.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

#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%

#1100 Piranha II: The Spawning (1981)

The sequel for the original 1977 Piranha movie, which was kind of a bastard child of the widely popular Jaws, Piranha II: The Spawning actual fares better than most of the idiotic Jaws sequels we saw in the 80s. It seems like your normal run-of-the-mill nature horror film, until we learn that the Piranhas have actually grown wings, after which the movie turns into a hilarious, bloody train wreck.

Piranha II is a prime example of A-grade B-grade movies: the overall production quality is good and the actors play their respective roles well, so that the outrageously ridiculous plot seems even more ridiculous, given the obvious competence elsewhere in the movie.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 67%

#1094 Doom Asylum (1988)

Most of Doom Asylum should’ve ended up on the cutting room floor.

An amateurish, low budget horror comedy shot in one location does have its moments with a few one liners and gruesome kills, but on the whole it’s just too darn long, considering how little happens here. On top of overshooting and undercutting the scenes, much of the running time of the movie is padded with old black & white clips of classic B-horror movies.

Doom Asylum would’ve ended a somewhat positive, better than its budget B-movie if it was a smarly cut 30-minute short story. But then, it wouldn’t had ended up as a direct to video release – and consequently would never had made it to this blog.

80s-o-meter: 76%

Total: 12%

#1086 Disconnected (1984)

The only relief I had when watching this movie was the realisation that I wasn’t sitting in a movie screening, having to watch through this pile of excrement just because the filming crew were my acquaintances. Because Disconnected is precisely the kind of student film crap that calls for intervention from the friends: Telling them kindly but firmly that making movies might just not be the right choice for them.

I won’t waste any more time – mine or yours – listing everything that’s wrong with the film; it’s easier to just state there is absolutely nothing of value here.

The only merit that Disconnected has is its ability gathers all the worst aspects of indie horror films into one, and upping the ante by making simple slasher formula so cryptic nobody can understand one bit of it.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 0%

#1025 Nightmare at Noon aka Death Street USA (1988)

How do I love me a good B-movie! Especially the ones that have some decent production values to them, like Nightmare at Noon.

Combining one of my favourite setups, a small town under strange viral attack and a top lineup of B-movie actors: Wings Hauser, Bo Hopkins and George Kennedy on the good side, and Brion James as the villain straight out of a cheap comic book, Nightmare at Noon looks surprisingly decent with good amount of action, horror and explosions.

Like the case often is with these movies, Nightmare at Noon also struggles to make the footage span over 90 minutes, which becomes all too apparent towards the end of the movie with some prolonged chase scenes.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 83%

#1017 My Best Friend Is a Vampire (1987)

A spinoff of the teenage werewolf subgenre, My Best Friend Is a Vampire, an underdog of a horror comedy is one pleasant surprise.

The movie gets the mood right straight off the bat. Young Robert Sean Leonard – who’s only 17 at the time – makes for a perfect foundation for the timid teen undergoing the change of a lifetime.

Sure, it’s all done before, but My Best Friend Is a Vampire manages to find the tone of voice of its own, offering an entertaining little adventure that doesn’t just settle for recreating the most obvious clichés of the genre.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 85%

#985 The Aftermath aka Zombie Aftermath (1982)

This movie really shouldn’t even be here. Shot already in 1978, but released four years later, The Aftermath is a stale relic from the past that wouldn’t have been much of a movie in the seventies, let alone in 1982.

A group of astronauts return to earth only to find it destroyed with only hoards of zombie mutants and rogue criminals roaming around. Don’t let the VHS cover pictured here fool you as there’s nothing even remotely as cool looking to be found in the movie, and while some of the matte shots are passable, the zombies themselves are the poorest papier-mâché masked eyesore ever recorded on film.

I’m usually a sucker for post-nuclear dystopian films, but The Aftermath just offers very little to love.

80s-o-meter: 33%

Total: 16%

#976 Halloween 2018: Waxwork (1988)

A group of kids get invited to a wax museum where the exhibits come to life in Waxwork, a horror movie made in the best tradition of the late 80s Hollywood cinema.

While a triumph in most aspects, my only grief with the movie is that the waxwork theme would’ve lent itself for even more imaginative and outrageous wax scenes than the ones presented here – excluding one specific scene with Marquis de Sade that goes a bit too far out for my taste.

Waxwork offers some unique, tongue in cheek, Amazing Stories style of entertainment that’s admittedly a bit tame as a horror movie, but very recommendable as an adventure with a spooky twist to it. The movie would go on to gain a weaker sequel, Waxwork II: Lost in Time, released in 1992.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 87%

#975 Halloween 2018: The Fog (1980)

The Fog is John Carpenter’s first theatrical release of the 80s and a follow-up to his hugely popular slasher Halloween (1978) that pretty much started the endless stream of slashers in the early 80s, still pretty much outperforming all of them. I probably don’t need to annotate his later filmography of the decade to make my point that whenever he’s at it, solid gold is to be expected.

With this background considered, The Fog is somewhat a miss and certainly doesn’t come near his later horror classics. While the outdated look of Halloween suited it well, The Fog and its effects haven’t aged as well, and it certainly falls far behind the FX genius seen for example in The Thing.

That being said there’s still quite a lot to like about the movie. The story is written in the vein of a good old camp side spooky story and while the movie is never that scary, Carpenter makes the best out of the undead seamen by keeping them veiled in fog and shown as silhouettes, which very much works adds to the dramatic effect and definitely works for the benefit of the film.

Unlike the rest of Carpenter’s film catalogue The Fog is a hard one to recommend, but in comparison to its early 80s competition it still holds its own.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 64%

#973 Halloween 2018: Trick or Treat aka Ragman (1986)

Wait a minute. Another movie called Trick or Treats? Carrying almost the same name as the stinker from 1982, this Trick or Treat is the actual treat you will want this Halloween.

Ready for the plot? An iconic rock star is deceased, after which one of his mourning headbanger fans comes across his long lost album and plays it backwards, unleashing the satanic powers within. Good news? It plays out just as satisfyingly – if not even moreso – than the outrageous synopsis suggests.

To make the package even more tempting, Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osborne can be seen in smaller roles, with the latter playing a hilarious clean cut televangelist who’s after the vile and depraved heavy metal music. Looks like he was right, after all.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 91%

#971 Halloween 2018: The Funhouse (1981)

Directed by Tobe Hooper of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre fame, The Funhouse is a horror movie taking a place in a carnival during its closing hours.

Settings wise the movie is a success; most people who’ve ever spend any time in a sideshow or a circus can surely relate to the weird eeriness that seems to surround them. But once the movie is supposed to go into full gear, the movie loses its direction and wanders far into dullsville. Not even the (very expected) kills manage to make to show any interesting.

It’s only towards the last 10 minutes that the pacing gears towards an action flick, and the movie manages to redeem some of the interest and exits gracefully without the inept last minute plot twists that usually go with the genre.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 32%

#970 Halloween 2018: Hobgoblins (1988)

Hobgoblins features some hairy monsters that resemble quite a lot those of Gremlins, although the director and writer Rick Sloane insists coming up with the idea well before Gremlins was released. Be that as it may the creatures featured here are dodgy hand puppets light years behind those of Gremlins and the actors’ interaction with them is mostly rolling around the ground holding the limp plush toys and then throwing them outside the camera view.

The start of the movie does show some promise, with a night watch discovering a closed vault inside an old movie studio where the Hobgoblins have been kept until now. But what happens next is a series of unfortunate design choices that make a little sense, including one act in a night club that could be longest and most tedious scenes I’ve had to witness.

Shot on short ends – leftover reels purchased from other productions – with apparently some decent gear, the movie manages to look much better than its shoelace budget suggests. The non existing plot become obvious with the tedious padding added for the movie to to make it to the 90 minute mark, resulting in multiple scenes that should’ve been left on the cutting room floor.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 36%

#969 Halloween 2018: Blood Suckers from Outer Space (1984)

A strange intergalactic wind appears from nowhere to a rural Texas countryside turning residents into a blood gushing zombies in Blood Suckers from Outer Space, a surprisingly entertaining piece of low budget B-horror comedy.

Although a spoof of the 50s outer space invader movies mashed up with a zombie theme, the movie finds its own tone of voice and doesn’t just settle for repeating the most obvious clichés of the genres. The zombies here for example are hilariously well spoken – even polite – as they approach you inquiring if they can go ahead and eat your brains. Talking about southern hospitality!

Blood Suckers from Outer Space makes the best out of being a really bad movie, and if the likes of Bad Taste tickle your fancy, you’ll probably find something to like in this weirdness as well.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 74%

#966 Halloween 2018: Day of the Dead (1985)

The third film in Romero’s Living Dead series that started already in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead takes the franchise to the underground tunnels where the last few survivors of the humankind are hiding from the hordes of zombies that roam the earth. Sheltered behind barriers, they catch and examine the living dead to gain some knowledge about them.

The concept feels fresh on paper but the execution is on the stuffy side, resembling the 1978 Dawn of the Dead much more than a modern take on the subject. Romero’s camera lingers on the zombies for much too long, many of which are pretty poorly masqueraded and would’ve been more effective dwelling in the shadows rather than exposing them to spot lights where they look mostly goofy. On the other hand the effect work is far ahead of rest of the movie and feels extra effective thanks to the overall shoddiness of the movie.

It’s towards the end of the movie that Day of the Dead finally starts moving forward, and as the zombies pour into the vault in masses there’s a decent amount of action and thrills to be had here, including a pretty satisfying ending.

Day of the Dead earns my respect for its courage of taking a road less traveled. I just wished the execution was a notch or two sharper.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 68%

#964 Halloween 2018: The Fog (1980)

The Fog is John Carpenter’s first movie coming to the eighties, and his next feature film after his breakthrough film Halloween.

Co-written by Carpenter, the plot, mysterious fog element and the setting in a small town gives out a very Stephen King-esque mood to the film. The fog element is menacing and well build and the minimalistic soundtrack (composed by Carpenter himself once again) feels more fresh than the movie itself.

Essentially a zombie movie with a crew of undead seamen – revenants if you will – appearing in a could of fog to terrorise a small coastal village the types of scares presented here are very close to those in the zombie movie genre; there are slowly walking corpses and hands reaching out of the fog and windows to make away with the living. But, what Carpenter does very well in comparison to the bulk zombi movies is the way he represents them here: Always shown as silhouettes, covered with thick, oozing fog and with the brightly glowing red eyes as their most distinctive feature. It’s an economic and stylish choice very effective still to date.

High in mood, low in scares, The Fog is a likeable and entertaining little ghost story that doesn’t quite reach he grandeur of the other movies in Carpenter’s filmography.

80s-o-meter: 77%

Total: 72%

#962 Halloween 2018: Dreamscape (1984)

Dennis Quaid stars in Dreamscape, a sci-fi thriller with a horror twist about an experiment that makes diving into others’ dreams – as well as nightmare – possible.

The concept itself is cool and the movie manages to successfully sell the implausible idea of entering dreams. The unravelling conspiracy plot itself is thrilling as well, and the antagonist’s plan makes perfect sense within the movie’s world.

Where Dreamscape falls short is the effects department. Clearly the time wasn’t ripe for the vision the director Joseph Ruben had for the special effects as some of the dream segments – especially the last one – look noticeably poor and outdated with their stop motion animations. Once again it would’ve been better idea to rely on some effective makeup or keep the evil hidden in the shadows than to expose it in all of its mediocrity.

Dreamscape might not be as effective as it was when it was first released, but it’s still very much entertaining from the start to the finish.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 74%