#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%

#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%

#856 Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)

I tend to dislike young or junior versions of already established franchises and it’s particularly because of this that I postponed watching Young Sherlock Holmes for so many years. Second reason is that I always mistook it for a british movie, thanks to the main character, location and the actors all being of british origin.

Directed by Barry Levinson, the movie carries a strong label of its executive producer Steven Spielberg. Although numerous – often somewhat clumsy – nods to the forthcoming Sherlock Holmes events are made throughout the movie, the end results resembles more of a Young Indiana Jones with big emphasis on effects, great set design and action and very slight emphasis on actual deduction and whodunnit.

The computer animations done by the wizards in ILM still fare amazingly well, outperforming much of the effects seen even in the 90s movies, and are alone a good enough reason to check out the movie.

80s-o-meter: 51%

Total: 72%

#842 Eddie and the Cruisers (1983)

A tale of a reporter investigating steps that lead to the tragic disappearance of the leader of an iconic 60s rock band, Eddie and the Cruisers is told through numerous flashbacks – an approach that sort of works, but does make the end result a somewhat patchy.

But, when it comes to music, the movie more than delivers. Michael Paré possesses a true rock star quality as the head of the band and mouths all the heartland rock songs with a convincing intensity. Purely as a musical the movie is among the best, void of the cringeworthiness often associated with the genre.

This poetic and enigmatic journey to unravel the mystery of a lost rock’n’roll star earned a cult status already in the 80s, and spawned a follow-up, released in 1989.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 80%

#712 The Ninth Configuration (1980)

A fairytale-like action drama comedy war mystery movie, The Ninth Configuration is a genre bender if I’ve ever seen one.

The movie follows a crew of post-traumatic military personnel in a castle being used as an insane asylum. They are soon joined by Colonel Kane, an eccentric and grim psychiatrist who’s arrived to help the patients. The movie starts off as a farcical, even slapsticky comedy, but as soon as Kane’s brother arrives at the castle, the movie takes a turn to much darker waters and deals with themes like sacrifice and faith. This is the part of the movie that I much preferred. The act two culminates to the palm-sweating bar confrontation scene that’s a textbook example of building up a tension.

Even if its weirdness feels self righteous and artsy at times – especially during act one – a credit has to be given to the writer and director William Peter Blatty for creating something entertainingly different.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 77%

#682 The Final Countdown (1980)

Taking place on an US aircraft carrier, The Final Countdown is a mystery movie of an entire ship getting warped back in the time all the way to the year 1941.

It’s the kind of concept that always been relevant to my interest, and there are certainly some very interesting elements here as well, like seeing the modern fighter aircrafts take on the Japanese WW2 era planes with ridiculous easiness.

The Final Countdown sets up a very intriguing situation of having to decide whether to interfere with the events of the past, but just as the situation is getting mouthwatering, the movie weasels itself out of having to make any actual decisions.

While I usually don’t bother with any technical details, it’s worth noting that there’s a constant noticeable blur in all the four corners of the movie that I did find distracting at times. The film is one of the rare 80s stereoscopic movies, and the effect could be related to the technic used to shoot it in 3D.

80s-o-meter: 52%

Total: 65%

#681 Dead & Buried (1981)

On the surface Dead & Buried seems like a yet another early 80s slasher but as the events progress further the movie gets some elements of mystery and thriller that really make the story much more interesting to follow.

Towards the end it becomes obvious Dead & Buried is a very untypical movie of the era, and more close to some classic black & white era spook stories. I like it. The movie has a lot of style and ambiance to it that is only broken up occasionally by some of the clumsier special effects.

The movie seems to suffer a little from some identity problems, but once it finds its own voice Dead & Buried is well worth your time.

80s-o-meter: 48%

Total: 76%

#637 Clue (1985)

Although a bit short and rushed though and the three alternative endings are needlessly smart-alecky, Clue (based on the classic board game) is a charming murder in a mansion whodunnit that keeps the viewer engaged and entertained while the events unravel.

The atmosphere here beats the actual plot: Clue gets is its play-like murder mystery atmosphere just right, and while not that bad at all, it’s only the manuscript that could’ve be improved. Overall presentation and the characters are top notch.

If the 80s mystery in a mansion movies are your thing, be sure to also check out The Private Eyes (1980)

80s-o-meter: 62%

Total: 82%

#552 Testament (1983)

Sometimes a made-for-TV movie can outperform its commercial companions simply by having the liberty to take a more bold stance artistically, instead of aiming just for the lowest common denominator.

Testament is a prime example of a movie like this.

It’s an uneasy and unnerving portrayal of the survivals of a nuclear falloff on a small Californian town and its people trying to cope with the new reality while looking for any glimmer of hope that just seems to keep on slipping further away. It’s a chilling ride that delivers its grim message in a tone that is true to itself.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 95%

#415 House II The Second Story (1987)

After the satisfactory box office success of the original, a sequel was released the following year. Unlike many other sequels, The Second Story doesn’t feature any of the original actors, nor is there any continuum from the first installation or the original setting.

In this sense House II could’ve very well been an independent film to avoid then often harsh comparisons to the original.
While House II is often dubbed as an unworthy sequel, there’s a lot to like here as well. The characters for example are well crafted and interesting characters that add a lot to the humour. The drunk ex-girlfriend who pops up in the most unfortunate times and the visit from Bill Towner, the electrician / adventurer are hilarious moments when the sequel surpasses the original by a long shot.

Although I’m much more a good adventure fan rather than horror film freak, House is a concept where the wacky scares would seem a must, so it’s a letdown to see the horror missing this time around.

Ultimately House II’s biggest flaw lies in its mayan saga, wild west plot and the sections in the prehistoric jungle that feel – as imaginative as they might’ve felt like when writing the script – unimaginative, out of place and distractive. House II could’ve easily built its whole plot simply on the haunted house without all the sidetracking.

House II does many things in overall wackyness and in the humor sections better than the original, but the mayan, wild west and jungle side plots feel very obtrusive and glued on.

#414 House (1986)

To finally watch the House movie from 1986 was a special treat for me; I’d always admired the mysterious poster from the first time I saw it and remember the VHS box in the rentals as something that always caught my eye. But it was always the PG rating that kept me from renting it.

So, after always admiring it from afar, I finally got to see the movie – accidentally just a few weeks after its 30th anniversary.

So, how does it measure up to the little kid’s hype? Well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The concept is pretty much as one would except, but the biggest flaw here is that House always feels like its holding back a little and constantly missing its opportunity to really go along with its wacky concept. What little we see here is well done and executed, I just wish there was lots of more of it.

Instead, House tries to tap into some Vietnam war flashbacks that always seem out of place. More screen time could’ve also been dedicated to George Wendt as the nosy but polite neighbour trying to get to know his new mysterious neighbour.

All in all, House is a solid horror comedy that really could’ve been a riot had they dived much move bravely deep into the established concept.