#1711 Halloween 2022: Watchers (1988)

Finally wrapping up this year’s Halloween with Watchers that I’ve had in my peripheral vision for a few years now, being one of the last Corey Haim movies of the 80s I haven’t yet seen.

My expectation was a supernatural movie with certain Watchers lurking in shadows, but to my surprise the movie was about a boy running into a stray dog whom he then adopts, later discovering that it is in fact a runaway experiment from a genetic research lab with mental powers equal to a human, being followed by a dangerous creature from the same lab.

And meeeeh, I did like my first impression better than this quite far fetched scifi story the movie presented to me. The movie is based on a seemingly solid book by Dean Koontz, so my only guess is that something got lost in translation here. The movie is ok, but its core audience leaves me puzzled as the movie feels thematically geared more towards 12-year olds, yet boasts R-rating.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 68%

#1709 Halloween 2022: The Immortalizer (1989)

For the last two years I’ve plowed through an endless list of uninspired slashers, and it was this year that I got to reap the results of that sacrifice and got to see some horror movies with more interesting concepts.

If you’ve enjoyed action comedy horror movies similar to Dead Heat, the chances are high for you to find something to enjoy here as well. The Immortalizer is wonderfully 80s straight-to-video horror movie of bunch of evil scientist types sending out their mutant creations to kidnap young, beautiful people to give old ultra rich people a chance to live in their bodies through brain transplant.

Sure, it’s trashy and highly stupid movie – but also highly entertaining one, and the poor poster does not really give it the justice it deserves.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 83%

#1686 Halloween 2022: Nightwish (1989)

I was hoping to come across at least one interesting horror movie within this year, and it was formerly unknown to me Nightwish (not the be mixed up with a Finnish symphonic metal band of the same name) that unexpectedly managed to provide if not all, then at least much of something original and different to keep my interest up this Halloween.

Mixing elements of thriller, horror, exorcism, monster movies and even a flair of sci-fi together, Nightwish starts off quite safe and even boring, but ventures on to many uncharted territories in its dream like episodes of a group of graduate students trying to escape from a house possessed by an unknown force while being detained by a derailed professor.

Nightwish gets weirder and weirder towards the end – but always in a good and entertaining way. The final events might have been super banal in every other context, but given that Nightwish still is campy 80s horror by its nature, coupled with the fact that the movie plays this card quite well the ending turns out in a satisfying fashion. Sure, there were tons of aspects that I did not like or care for like the henchman of the antagonist professor, and it’s these aspects for which I have to demerit a few points from otherwise surprisingly entertaining movie.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 83%

#1680 Halloween 2022: Saturn 3 (1980)

Almost ten years into having Halloween features and still haven’t reviewed Saturn 3?? Well, to my defence it is a British movie after all but featuring US leads and undoubtedly better than the majority of similar Hollywood movies of the era, so it definitely still does earn its place here.

The film takes place in a remote station in Saturn’s third moon aka Tethys, aka Saturn 3, where a pair of a man and female scientists (Kirk Douglas and Farrah Fawcett) receive a visitor from earth, Captain Benson (Harvey Keitel) whom we witness earlier assassinating the person who was to originally arrive at the station. There he starts to build a helper robot with an organic brain that he programs using a direct brain link connected to himself. As it goes, the robot picks the negative traits from him, including a crush to the female scientist and it is downhill from thereon.

The movie looks great and cinematic, but not 80s, nor 70s but strangely almost 60s or 50s in style. Having Kirk Douglas in the cast furthermore strengthens this feeling, but in this case I don’t really mind as it all works out quite well. The small cast is also a triumph with Keitel performing the role of a antagonist perfectly, Fawcett making for a perfect love interest that I can’t blame Benson falling on, and finally Kirk Douglas – already 64 at the time but in amazingly good shape, perfect for the role – whom you just could not have replaced and have the movie feel the same.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 81%

#1655 Beyond the Stars (1989)

It’s hard to fathom a bad movie and bad acting from Martin Sheen – yet here it is in the shape of Beyond the Stars.

The manuscript my the director David Saperstein is nothing short of idiotic and unconvincing, and it is painful to watch Sheen struggling through portraying a retired astronaut troubled with his extraterrestrial conflicts. It is especially the idiotic conclusion that still wants me to facepalm, almost two weeks after finishing the movie.

The fans of Christian Slater will probably find something to like here as Slater gives one of his cookie cutter performances of the 80s, but others should probably steer away.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 37%

#1654 Wavelength (1983)

Last one in late unexpected wave of surprisingly good low budget scifi movies arriving to my desk is Wavelength, a movie that had a feeling of something being off (in a good way) from the get go.

But it was only after the actual secret and its alarming consequences are revealed that Wavelength starts to find its own unique tone and plot line unlike anything I’ve seen to date, and really starts to whet one’s appetite as what will happen next.

Obviously done with a shoe string budget, Wavelength manages to stretch that dime amazingly far, concentrating on the atmosphere rather than special effects. The few effects there are are made in good taste, and don’t feel distracting at all unlike other low budget movies.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 71%

#1653 Beyond the Rising Moon aka Star Quest aka Outerworld (1987)

First released in 1987, and then re-released in 1994 with added CGI and its name updated to Outerworld, Beyond the Rising Moon is a massive undertaking by its writer/director Philip J. Cook.

The cheap effects and heavy use of miniatures do not go undetected, but considering how everything in the movie was done by just a handful of enthusiastic people with the passion to make a scifi movie, the end results is amazingly solid, and as the viewer you want to believe you are in fact taking part in this dystopian adventure alongside with its cyborg heroine.

The movie’s pacing gets a bit too slow towards the end and the latter half couldn’t keep in in its grips like the first half did, but even so Beyond the Rising Moon earns my recommendation, if only to check out what likely the best indie scifi movie of the 80s looks like.

80s-o-meter: 79%

Total: 74%

#1650 Gremloids aka Hyperspace (1984)

Spaceballs may be the best known scifi parody of the 80s, but three years prior to it came out Gremloids, a low budget space comedy with a Dark Lord with a silly gigantic helmet.

Instead of being a Star Wars parody like Spaceballs, the premise in Gremloids is actually quite darn hilarious: because of a navigation mistake Lord Buckethead and his gang of minions land on a small village on earth instead of ”galaxy far, far away”, and proceeds to find the princess and the secret transmissions no matter how much the town folk try to tell him he is sorely mistaken.

After the strong start Gremloids never quite takes the full advantage of its unique premise and the latter half of the movie is pretty much spent on an endless trench warfare between Buckethead and local army, making the movie at this time feel like a short film prolonged to feature film length. The ending of the movie still wraps up quite nicely, making Hyperspace easily worth watching through.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 72%

#1649 The Aurora Encounter (1986)

Sometimes the story behind a movie is more interesting than the movie itself. I was at first put off by the fact how The Aurora Encounter had cast one Mickey Hays based on his appearance caused by progeria to portray the role of an alien out of space, until I learned that it was actually Make-A-Wish Foundation that had made Mickey’s dream come true to get to act in a Hollywood movie.

Now, for the movie itself, it’s another prime example how much further ahead the marketing and art departments ofter were to the movie crew itself. The poster art is absolutely stunning, with a great promise of an engaging scifi adventure.

What you actually get is haphazardly made western where a space ship quite obviously held by crane and often visible wires lands and takes off, with the alien stepping out, visiting and scaring a few people. It’s tediously boring thing to sit through, with no real engaging plot going for it.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 7%

#1633 Dr. Alien aka I Was a Teenage Sex Maniac aka I Was a Teenage Sex Mutant (1989)

An intentionally campy sci-fi comedy, Dr. Alien is one of those movies that could have gone either way gambling on trying to be fun and weird. It’s more often than not when these kind of comedies end up just awkwardly weird.

People getting into playing this sort of movie know what they are subscribing to, and Dr. Alien pretty much delivers what it promises, ending up in the ”better” end of the spectrum – again, for those who know what they are looking for when watching an 80s high school sex comedy.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 69%

#1621 Over-sexed Rugsuckers from Mars (1989)

An indie scifi comedy of aliens made out of silly putty who cross breed humans and a vacuum cleaner and then urinate to a bottle, making a hobo fall in love with the vacuum.

Well, there you pretty much have it.

These kind of lame film school exercises were never my cup of tea, and the same goes for Over-sexed Rugsuckers from Mars. There’s some attempt to humour that felt fresh and imaginative, but really – a movie should not be the form for delivering a few one-off jokes buried inside 80 minutes of uninteresting fill material.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 8%

#1607 The Invisible Kid (1988)

If there was a parody made of a typical 80s comedy, it would likely feature a teen boy turning himself invisible and sneaking into girls’ locker room. But the truth is, there aren’t actually too many movies done in 80s built around this premise, and so I was quite excited to find a The Invisible Kid, a small comedy that seems to deliver all the above.

But did it deliver? Well, kind of. The whole story unravels in a satisfactory manner, but it seems the movie lost its faith in its strongest suit – fulfilling the fantasy of being able to experience what would it feel like getting to be invisible – quite early, and turning into more of a sports movie.

So, this wasn’t that invisibility movie I was looking for, so the search goes on. I’ll keep you updated if this holy grail of a movie actually exists.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 68%

#1601 Halloween 2021: Nightmare Weekend (1986)

Another Troma release where the plot is so convoluted (read: a mess) that it’s genuinely hard to keep track what’s going on.

Apparently there is some sort of computerised puppet (hence the scifi genre) that sends out some metal balls and affects people’s minds around it and people turn evil and then they get nakkid.

Nightmare Weekend looks better than your average Trauma releases, with absolutely gorgeous female cast to feast your eyes on – even that doctor dude from Pet Sematary is present here in one of his few rare 80s movie roles. All that does little good when the movie is a hopeless mess otherwise, though.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 19%

#1600 Halloween 2021: Deep Space (1988)

When I introduced Deep Space to my self I could not contain my excitement. A nice looking Scifi B-movie with Charles Napier (of the Rambo: First Blood Part II fame) and Bo Svenson (of too many great B-action movies) starring in the same movie.

Then I saw that the director was Fred Olen Ray (of too many cheap movies), which cast deep a shadow over the whole movie.

But luckily this is one of the movies where Fred Olen Ray started to be good in his craft, and this Aliens copy is not bad at all. Sure, it’s still firmly in the B-movie territory, and the directors canny ability to make all the actors deliver their lines in a wooden fashion is still there, but one can’t deny this all isn’t entertaining. Napier is very charismatic in one of his rare lead roles, and chainsaws: there are actually effin chainsaws in this movie – got to love it!

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 83%

#1586 Halloween 2021: U.F.O. Abduction aka The McPherson Tape (1989)

Preceding Blair Witch Project ten years, The McPherson Tape took that same home video approach to create a ”lost” tape, an evidence that documents the scary moments unfolding before our eyes.

The approach is powerful as it effectively makes the viewer one of the few eye witnesses to the incident, and also give the footage certain mythical and forbidden flavour. While McPherson Tape nails the home video look & feel and the overall flow of the tableside conversations feel genuine, the actual interesting content of the movie is just about two or three minutes out of the 62 minute running time.

More interesting the the movie content (it’s not very interesting) or its scariness (not very scary) is the viral aspect that McPherson Tape managed to gain: the movie got spread around as VHS copies for years, with people who were sure this was the official proof for extraterrestrial life. The actual, official truth only came out years later as the official release, long time after VHS was no more.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 31%

#1585 Halloween 2021: The Aftermath aka Zombie Aftermath (1982)

I’ve been somewhat in the know about the cult status of The Aftermath, but 30 minutes in to the movie I did not understand quite why; it’s pretty shoddy, but not quite bad enough to entertain, and visually it’s more close to movies you’d see towards the early 70s – including its beginning, lifted straight out of the original Planet of the Apes. Also the way the camera was operated and framed seemed to be a bit off all times.

It was only after digging to the internet for more information that I learned how the whole movie is a brainchild of the movie’s lead Steve Barkett, who also wrote, directed and edited the movie. Considering how much harder all this was not only to finance, but to pull off technically, my hat is off to Barkett. Overall, well done – the movie looks better than many bigger budget movies of the 1978.

You read it right. The movie was actually shot originally in 1978, but it took Barkett four years to shoot additional footage and to get the movie released. Released in the UK as Zombie Aftermath, the movie does not actually contain any zombies, and is very slim in the scary department as well, falling more closely to dystopian action movie category, rather than horror.

80s-o-meter: 28%

Total: 45%

#1583 Halloween 2021: Star Crystal (1986)

You’ve seen the beginning of Star Crystal before: starship crew on a expedition on a remote planet (well not too remote, Mars) brings into the ship something containing an alien life form that gets quite unhappy with the humen aboard.

After a few goofy deaths with passable FX the movie seems to be all out of crew to sacrifice to the creature. But here is where the movie actually genre blends into an exploration of the inner life of the alien, who is now busy absorbing all the information of the humankind (good and bad) stored on the starship’s mainframe computer.

The change is unexpected and not without problems – the action totally plateaus just when you expect it to go into the next gear. But even if the movie turns into close encounters of the boring kind, I do applaud the film crew’s courage of wandering off the beaten path and trying something new.

It is the very only reason why the movie left any lasting impression.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 63%

#1577 Halloween 2021: Lords of the Deep (1989)

Something extraordinary weird happened in 1989: a staggering five production companies released an underwater scifi movie back to back. The best known out of these five is naturally The Abyss, while the fate of the four others remains to be always compared to the James Cameron’s masterpiece.

Lords of the Deep does unfortunately not fare well in the comparison with any of its competitors, ending up the weakest one of the bunch by margin. The movie reminds more of a low budget TV series (think underwater Star Trek), but despite the shortcomings of the set design and costumes the movie manages to sell the idea of an underwater base – if only barely. The same does not apply for alien lifeform, and it would require quite a bit more imagination than what I have to buy the silly storyline.

As with Star Trek, there’s something strangely endearing about the clumsiness and silly costumes though, and in an alternate universe Lords of the Deep might’ve had a somewhat potent one or two season TV series in it.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 42%

#1545 Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity (1987)

A textbook example of how to make a decent B-movie, Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity shows not only that one does not need a huge budget to make an entertaining movie, but also that B-movies don’t necessarily need to be laugh out loud bad.

Getting its inspiration very likely from The Most Dangerous Game (1932), Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity follows two intergalactic woman fugitives who crash land on a remote planet to find themselves in the vast mansion along with other visitors and robot servants, hosted by an eccentric aristocrat who has more plans for his guests than first meets the eye.

Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity is throughly enjoyable scifi action movie that goes far beyond its modest budget. Should you watch the movie, pay close attention to the appearance and mannerisms of Don Scribner in the antagonist role as is looks as if young Christian Bale had taken a few notes of this very performance into his later day-to-day repertoire.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 79%

#1500 Predator (1987)

By 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger had already starred in the multiple movies that defined the action genre (Terminator, Conan the Barbarian, Commando), but it was Predator that really established him as the action star of the 80s.

Presenting us with a story of an alien humanoid life from travelling over to earth for recreational sports hunting (targeting humans), Predator is a mere B-movie ramped up to an A-level blockbuster hit by utilising all the top shelve talent Hollywood had to its avail at the time.

Similarly to Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars, with Predator Schwarzenegger reached a pinnacle where his character became immortal, and something that transcends human age and passing of time.

This is how we forever remember Schwarzenegger: as a 40-year old still very much in his top form, with a flat top haircut and boasting a magnetic screen presence the few extra years under this his belt and the confidence gained by finally silencing all the naysayers who said he could not cut it as a movie star.

Predator is an action movie that defined its genre so well that its formula still works to date, 35 years after Predator’s theatrical debut.

80s-o-meter: 100%

Total: 98%