#1440 Black Rainbow (1989)

If you’re going to introduce supernatural nonsense into your movie, you better back it up some how.

I was waiting for Black Rainbow to come up with a good explanation how Rosanna Arquette as a medium with a great showmanship suddenly begins channeling grim predictions of the future and foreseeing deaths to the tiniest detail, but the movie provides none of that. As the movie closes it manages to leave one confused, with less clear picture of the character and her powers one had just 30 minutes ago.

Black Rainbow is a mishmash of a movie that had a nice premise for a movie, but would’ve needed much, much snappier writing in order to pull it off.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 59%

#1438 The Morning After (1986)

Not to be mixed up with The Day After, a 1983 made for TV movie about nuclear war (I know I keep mixing these up all the time), The Morning After is a thriller about a has been actress who keeps on drowning her sorrow to the wine and finds herself blacking out often, only to one day wake up and find herself laying next to a man, stabbed to death.

After the interesting start The Morning After does not provide anything substantial and plays until the end without much surprises. The chemistry and eventual relationship between the leads Jane Fonda and Jeff Bridges is a hard sell, and it’s mostly Bridges’ typical enjoyable screen presence that carries the movie until the finish.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 60%

#1413 Appointment with Death (1988)

A pretty tame whodunnit even in Agatha Christie’s scale, Appointment with Death is a Hercule Poirot story that brings the very familiar elements of aristocrats, murders and exotic locations to the table.

For anyone accustomed to thrillers of this decade, Appointment with Death will feel excruciatingly slow, but the fans of the classic Christie novels will probably feel at home.

Travel and exotic locations have always been the salt and pepper of Christie’s murder mysteries, and the biggest drawback of Appointment with Death remains its cinematography and directing that fails to capture the magic of the faraway spots that end up feeling dull and unexciting.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 37%

#1401 Halloween 2020: Prime Evil (1988)

A satanic cult led by a charismatic priest hunt and kidnap victims for their sacrificial ceremonies in Prime Evil, a movie that ends up surprisingly tame despite the grim theme.

While it’s an ok break from the endless stream of slashers this year, it does not really spook or send chills down your spine, unless you are scared by people in robes, chanting in a basement.

William Beckwith performs well as the magnetic leader of the cult and Christine Moore whom I previously saw in the subpar Lurkers (coincidently also directed by Roberta Findlay) fares much better here as the target of the cult’s evil plans.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 57%

#1389 Halloween 2020: Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

A travelling circus appears to a small rural town out of thin air, and besides the entertainment it seems to have other things in mind for the town folk.

Based on the Ray Bradbury’s 1962 novel of the same name, Something Wicked This Way Comes came into form already in 1958 as a screenplay but failed to get backed up by the production companies, until getting picked by Walt Disney Pictures. The movie has a strong 60s Walk Disney Productions look and feel to it with the setting, characters and outdated special effects.

The concept of making pack with the devil here is actually pretty great and could have lent itself to looking ever more closely to the secret wishes of the villagers, and used more wisely towards the end, but what the movie provides in a form of hall of mirrors and a magic carousel did not grasp me at all.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 51%

#1356 Endangered Species (1982)

Funny how some things blend into one in your memory when you don’t put your thoughts on a paper right after seeing a movie. I watched Endangered Species about two weeks ago along with The Return and they’ve turned into one and the same movie in my head.

But I’m not completely to be blamed here as the similarities are many: both movies have a supernatural theme, take place in a small distant town and feature a liaison between a stranger coming to the town and a local law enforcement officer, with one of them battling alcoholism.

I can’t see myself watching either one again, but for the future reference, Endangered Species is the stronger one of the two, with a more solid and interesting story about government cover ups. But unlike The Return that went far too much into the supernatural, Endangered Species left me wishing it would’ve leaned even more to huge conspiration theories that its premise is built upon. Now it manages to build up the story and whet my appetite, but does not provide the big payback I so craved for in the end.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 67%

#1183 Halloween 2019: Lurkers (1988)

There’s something off with Lurkers throughout it’s running time. The picture angles seem odd, stylistic choices feel weird, pacing is way too slow and scenes are padded with unnecessary footage that should’ve ended up on the cutting room floor; it’s clear the movie wasn’t made by someone who knows their stuff.

The story only gets interesting towards the last 15 minutes, and even then it’s made for TV quality at best. Lurkers should’ve probably been a short movie as it doesn’t really carry through 90 minutes.

The movie was heading steadily to zero total scoring, but the twelve points I ended up giving to it are due to the last scene inside the house.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 12%

#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%