#1046 Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983)

Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn is officially a sci-fi movie taking place on some distant planet, but don’t let a few latex masks and flying vehicles fool you: This is another one for the pile of the dystopian, post-apocalyptic desert action films.

The movie boasts somewhat better production values than its competition with modified cars, costumes and limited special effects, but the story itself is so uninteresting that I had a hard time keeping alert while watching the movie.

Unlike many other shoddy sci-fi titles of the era, Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn does not really have any sort of cult following, probably due to not being shoddy enough to be any kind of guild pleasure. The film is also available as a shoddy 3D version, which does not really add to the experience at all.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 22%

#1045 Cyborg (1989)

Written in one weekend and shot with shoelace budget just to find some use for movie sets and costumes left over from cancelled movies, Cyborg is a prime example of how movies shouldn’t be made.

The movie is pretty much a mess, edited painstakingly to make it to the feature film length. The pacing is way off and the cyborg theme is not followed through at all. The few fight scenes with Jean-Claude Van Damme handing out roundhouse kicks are somewhat entertaining but go only so far to save the movie.

The lack of vision and enthusiasm shines through every crevice of the movie and Cyborg ends up a lifeless shell of a movie done solely with quick cash business goals in mind.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 8%

#1000 Blade Runner (1982)

The poster on the left is from the Australian release of Blade Runner. A cinematic landmark of its time, it’s also one of the main drivers why this blog came out to be in the first place.

The director Ridley Scott had already demonstrated his prowess for crafting impressive sci-fi worlds oozing with atmosphere with the 1979 Alien, but it was Blade Runner that saw his craftmanship come to full fruition. Aided by the concept artist Syd Mead, cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth and an exceptionally talented team of FX artists, Blade Runner came into form in 1982 as a movie years ahead of its time, leaving its footprint in the history as the cinematic template for the dark dystopian future.

Equally impressive is Vangelis’ haunting synth track that at times is able to paint the film’s aesthetics on an even deeper level than the moving images can. Synonymous with the movie itself, Vangelis’ Blade Runner suite sets the mood right from the very first second of the movie and continues to do so until the end credits have stopped scrolling.

Harrison Ford who was on a winning streak at the time after starring in Star Wars and Indiana Jones movie series creates another character here that is very exclusively his. In a similar fashion Rutger Hauer crafts his portrayal of a replicant on the run to such perfection that it’s hard to fathom anyone else playing the role.

Essentially a futuristic film noir, the original Domestic Cut was compromised by the studio who after showing it to a test audience changed the ending and added a very unfortunate narrative voiceover. The 1992 Director’s Cut improved on the original theatrical cut by removing the aforementioned faux pas, and the movie finally saw its ultimate form in 2007 Final Cut, still the preferred version of the movie.

Blade Runner has established its status as a classic and arguably stood the test of time still feeling fresh almost 40 years since its initial release; every viewing of the movie seems to unfold just another layer of it, serving as a somewhat bittersweet reminder of how science fiction of this caliber does not come by often.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 200%

#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%

#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%

#949 Halloween 2018: Evils of the Night (1985)

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you might know that I steer away from exploitation movies of any kind. It was because of this that I really had to weight if I wanted to include Evils of the Night here, but it was the zany concept of intergalactic vampire aliens that changed my mind.

As you might already guess from the poster, there’s a quite a lot of naked skin here on display and it does get a little raunchy during the first 30 minutes. There’s a limited camp factor to the silly aliens, but nothing bad enough to make it for one of those so bad, it’s so good flicks.

I had already given up my hope with this movie, but the upcoming scene with the three survivors tied inside the car repair shop and the events thereafter were actually pretty suspenseful – even entertaining. That blue collar aliens armed scene where they chase the survivors with drills and axes took some turns I never expected, and almost felt like having some sort of affinity with the cult classic Bad Taste.

This doesn’t change the fact that on all the other accounts Evils of the Night still isn’t much of a movie. Still, watching it somehow felt like a breath of fresh air after all these subpar slashers this year I’ve had to plow through this year.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 44%

#948 Halloween 2018: Time Walker (1982)

Time Walker has quite a many things going for to make it an enjoyable B-movie, mixing elements from black & white horror movies from the 40 and 50s, ancient Egypt, mummies, aliens, power diamonds, terrible flesh eating ooze that gains in strength and size when exposed in x-rays.

With an appetite whetting setup like this, it really a shame that the execution doesn’t match up with it all. Instead of looking into all of the interesting aspects the concept has to offer, the movie sticks to following the mummy wandering around during a campus Halloween party night and getting mixed up with masqueraded students while trying to retrieve his mysterious intergalactic diamonds he needs to phone home. After all this sidetracking is over we still don’t get to the real meat of it all in the end: Revealing the alien, figuring out who he is, where did he come from and what are his motives and so on.

On the contrary; in an obvious panic solution of not figuring out how to wrap the story up, the movie ends up with an disappointing ’To be continued’ cliffhanger.

It never was.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 52%

#940 Halloween 2018: Warning Sign (1985)

A surprisingly likeable piece of scifi horror, Warning Sign is a biohazard thriller made in the vein of The Andromeda Strain – a similar kind of viral outbreak movie that really resonated with me when I saw it as a kid. Had I seen Warning Sign back then, it’d surely ended up very near to the top of my favourite movies list.

But, 30 years haven’t been kind to the movie and it hasn’t aged that gracefully. And it doesn’t really help that the movie wasn’t ahead of its time, but already a bit outdated when released. Some of the casting ain’t spot on either with G.W. Bailey – whom I usually love to bits – ending up giving the movie some unintentional comedic tones as one of the doctors inside the military laboratory.

Still, I quite liked Warning Sign. The movie’s premise of scientists coming up a rage inducing virus works well and the elements mixed in from various zombie movies make the movie entertaining, even scary at times. If you can forgive the movie for being fluffy – to the extremes at times – Warning Sign makes for a decent, campy piece of cinema with a certain lovable underdog feel to it.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 76%

#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%

#911 The Manhattan Project (1986)

The Manhattan Project is an intriguing movie about Paul, a tech savvy boy who manages to steal plutonium from a local fuel fabrication laboratory and build himself a nuclear bomb in order to win a local science fair, and to blow the cover from the plant producing the dangerous substance.

The movie is made very much in the vein of WarGames, and if you liked that one, chances are that you’ll find things to love here as well.

The biggest drawback is that the movie feels like a first or second draft and really could’ve used one or two iterative rewrites to weed out all the illogicalities and even out the wrinkles. I’m not going to start with all the technical inaccuracies as they go with the artistic freedom, but I sure would’ve liked to hear a little bit better reasonings why Paul decides to go to the science fair of all the places. Or why does he insist on walking into the lion’s den towards the end of the movie instead of going to the press or sending them a video clearing things up. For a smart boy Paul surely makes a lot of bad moves that aren’t really explained anywhere along the way like they were in WarGames. And if The Manhattan Project pretends to be a smart movie for smart people, it really should’ve been more consistent here.

Although the movie takes some liberties with its subject, the technical insight and interest in the science is solid. During the science fair we see Roland, the science class arch rival of Paul describing what would become internet a few years later, and a friend of his having cultured insects for protein rich human consumables – a trend we all know has become a reality since.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 67%

#894 Space Raiders aka Star Child (1983)

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.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 37%

#892 Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Based on the 50s TV series of the same name, Twilight Zone is an anthology of 4 short stories with a fantasy / horror / supernatural twist to them.

After a simple but rather nice prelude with Dan Aykroid we are presented with a story of a racist bigot getting a taste of his own medicine. This first episode ’Time Out’, directed by John Landis, is technically and acting wise an applaudable effort, but never evolves beyond the simple idea and soon gets old and predictable. The following Spielberg’s ’Kick the Can’ tells a tale of the habitants of a retirement getting a chance to be children again, a story which continues in the same vein of quality, slow pacing and predictability.

In ’It’s a Good Life’, a segment directed by Joe Dante is where the movie really takes off as mystery of people trapped in a cartoony house is unrevealed layer by layer, and it’s the following ’Nightmare at 20,000 Feet’ that finally redeems the anthology as one of the best of the 80s. It’s a segment perfectly suited for the short story format and the director George Miller hilariously captures the claustrophobic hysteria of the situation while John Lithgow does a wonderful portrayal of a phobic airline passenger on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

Like numerous other anthologies, Twilight Zone is an uneven show, but its two stronger story segments along with its above average production quality lift it above the competition.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 81%

#889 Vicious Lips (1986)

Vicious Lips is what happens when you gather a bunch of young models and promise them they’ll get to star in the talking pictures — and them at some point you have no choice but to have that movie made, with ideas on not.

Very little in this movie makes any sense, and it all feels like it’s been made up as they go along. There’s something about a crashed spaceship, topless women running around in a desert and an intergalactic girls band trying to find some venue while being harassed by something kind of resembling a monster.

If any of that managed to sound funny, I can assure you it’s not.

The only somewhat passable thing here are the musical numbers scattered around the movie, but honestly I really couldn’t be bothered by them either.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 12%

#885 Starflight: The Plane That Couldn’t Land (1983)

All the way from the movie Airport, continuing through Airport 1975, Airport ’77 and The Concorde, 70s was a decade of dodgy disaster movies that got rightfully ridiculed in the early 80s Airplane and in Airplane II: The Sequel, with the latter taking place in a commercial space shuttle. Given this background it’s hard to fathom what exactly went through the minds of the executive producers that green lighted Starflight: The Plane That Couldn’t Land after the genre already done to death and even worse, ridiculed.

To add insult to the injury this movie, released in 1983, plays a lot like the Airport parodies, but with a lesser production quality and totally sans humour.

Starflight is a product of the past that offered very little mileage when it was released back in 1983, and much less today.

80s-o-meter: 42%

Total: 24%

#880 Runaway (1984)

Taking place in a near future (that looks remarkably like the year 1984 with some clunky gadgets, flashing gizmos and robots on wheels added on) Runaway is a piss poor sci-fi movie with a surprisingly high entertainment value.

A criminal mastermind called Luthor – played to a high comedic value by none other than Gene Simmons – is turning robot servants to killer machines. Jack Ramsay, a cop played by Tom Selleck with a remarkably straight poker while having to deliver a number of inane lines while chatting with some bread box on wheels, is out to get him. G.W. Bailey of the Police Academy fame is a delight like always as the police chief.

For a movie that leans to much to robots, most of the gizmos in Runaway are poorly made and driven by fishing lines that are clearly visible in the fresh high resolution prints. On the other hand there are a few notably well executed scenes here: The chase with the target seeking droids and the sky high elevator duel against the spider bots are both disarmingly clumsy but still have tons of good kind of adventurous video game like vibe to them.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 67%

#860 Explorers (1985)

Explorers is a kids’ adventure movie that starts a bit dumb, then manages to get exciting as the three youngsters start putting together a spaceship, only to get dumb again as they eventually make their way into the alien spaceship.

The idea of another culture getting all of its information about mankind from TV broadcasts and ads is downright delicious, but Explorers fails to get anything substantial out of it. The aliens – as the rest of the movie – are well executed, but the forced humour aspect will leave cold anyone looking forward to a thrilling adventure.

Most viewers familiar with the two child stars of the movie will probably get the best mileage out of Explorers as a look into the early career of Ethan Hawke and the late River Phoenix.

80’s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 61%

#851 Voyage of the Rock Aliens (1984)

Voyage of the Rock Aliens is made to spoof the swinging beach movies of the 60s with an element of extra terrestrial synth pop band traveling to study earth.

Wanting to be one of those crazy comedies, Voyage of the Rock Aliens makes an endless number of desperate attempts for humor. The most amount of wittiness you will see though is a convict attacking a cop with an electric can opener, and the cop then defending himself with a can of tomatoes, or a robot transformed to a fire hydrant then getting peed on by a dog. And both of these gags sound funnier in writing than they come out in the movie.

Much of the humor is built upon the fish out of water aspect of it all that grows stale already during the first minutes into the movie. There are also a lot of lengthy pop songs along the way, all of which have a strong vibe of if the soviet union had produced some music videos, and tried to pass them as the real thing.

Voyage of the Rock Aliens is one of those movies that is shoddy by design, and approach which sometimes works, but here the end result is just one cringeworthy mess.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 3%

#845 Zone Troopers (1985)

A troop of American WWII soldiers wander off behind the nazi enemy lines to discover a crashed spaceship in Zone Troopers, a movie that has gained something of a cult following over the years.

I enjoyed the unique concept but neither the plot nor the execution live up to it — this is a movie with poor, made for TV like production quality to it. It’s not unintentionally funny kind of shoddiness either, but of the kind that always seems to just flatten the overall experience: The aliens look dodgy, nazi soldiers never quite pass as the real thing and camera cuts seem to be the only special effect used here.

Zone Troopers hasn’t been listed as a comedy, there are certainly some genuine attempts for humour – some of which aren’t even too bad.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 56%

#833 TerrorVision (1986)

Finding a totally obscure movie that rocks is a thing that really makes running this blog worthwhile, and TerrorVision is definitely fits the bill.

It’s not a hard task to figure out an outrageous silly plot and concept like seen in this movie, but making it work definitely is and it’s more often than not that these kind of movies fail. But TerrorVision totally makes the best out of its B-movie origins and has one positive surprise after another lined up. While playing around with clichés has proven to be the biggest letdown in numerous of uninspired horror comedies, TerrorVision succeeds to find its own voice, often taking a step into completely unexpected direction.

I can’t end up nothing but to recommend the title. It’s one of the most positive, utterly surprises lately, and a perfect addition for that marathon of horror scifi comedies along with Night of the Creeps, The return of the Living Dead and Dead Heat.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 95%

#819 Nightmares (1983)

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.

80s-o-meter: 79%

Total: 68%