#1184 Halloween 2019: Nightbeast (1982)

An alien with his face frozen on a silly grin crash lands on the earth and begins to kill anything that passes their way.

There are b-movies movies that are made intentionally bad. Then there are bad movies that are made without any skills, and end up being just plain bad and boring. And out of all the b-movies only a fraction are like Nightbeast: really bad, but totally disarming in its clumsiness and unintentional humour.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 76%

#1160 Halloween 2019: Sundown: Biohazard (1985)

If the name Fred Olen Ray rings any bells, you probably know already what to expect from Biohazard: a low budget scifi horror movie hoping one day to be a B-movie.

Long story short, Biohazard is bad. But, it’s also borderline bad enough to be funny. An example: The ‘notorious’ killer who looks like a 5-year old kid running around in a dodgy alien costume makes much more sense when you find out that it is in fact the director’s 5-year old kid running around in a dodgy alien costume.

If you hang around long enough to witness the last five seconds and the almost heartbreaking blooper reel revealing how unprepared most of the actors are and are really struggling with remembering and delivering their lines, there’s no way you can stay completely mad with Biohazard wasting 80 minute of your life.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 51%

#1155 Halloween 2019: Silent Rage (1982)

A slasher featuring Chuck Norris? Although the movie markets itself as a action crime movie, make no mistake as it takes most of its cues from the contemporary slashers – in good and in bad.

On the bright side, Silent Rage also brings something a little different to the table and manages to move cross-genre in a surprising way. There is even a bit of scifi brought into the mix as we are introduced to the mad scientist who fiddles with the Mother Nature, creating a self healing, relentless kill machine not unlike Michael Myers or Jason.

With this genre of choice many of its banalities are unfortunately also brought in to the mix, including a very disappointing and clichéd last second cliffhanger ending.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 58%

#1113 Remote Control (1988)

Aliens attack the earthlings with a cheesy VHS tape programmed to watch its viewer into a homicidal monster in Remote Control, a glorious 80s homage to the 50s scifi that despite its name does not have anything to do with actual remote controls.

By far the best aspect of the movies is its pseudo futuristic 80s styling: most of the TV sets are masqueraded to look like flat screen TVs (roughly about 15 years before they were available) and all the teenagers are wearing some bitching gear straight from the 21st century with makeup and hairdos straight out of Patrick Nagel painting.

Despite the visual style being the most prominent feature here, the movie itself is not bad at all. It’s OK – not as brilliant as it could’ve been – but still very much a recommendable experience and great time capsule to the late 80s.

80s-o-meter: 98%

Total: 71%

#1112 Star Slammer aka Prison Ship (1986)

I’ve expressed my deep hatred for the woman prison exploitation flicks that peaked in their popularity during the 70s, and unfortunately continued to some extend to the 80s, always recycling the same concept and rarely bringing anything new to the equation.

Well, Star Slammer kind of does by placing the penitentiary somewhere out in space, but only to repeat the same tired clichés. Yes – even the compulsory prison cantina fight is here.

Star Slammer is useless garbage made only to showcase some T&A, and manages to waste relatively nice (in comparison to the rest of the movie) set design.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 1%

#1107 Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

The first Star Trek movie to be directed by William Shatner, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier has the unfortunate honour of being the least exciting one in the series.

Most of the elements that made the previous three movies interesting are gone. There aren’t any memorable antagonists here, no pushing visual boundaries and no humour that made the previous instalments stand out. Perhaps most disappointingly, the human (or: Vulcan) interest aspect that probed deep into the weird and interesting chemistry between the lead characters is nowhere to be found this time around.

While the movie is no stinker, it lacks the grandeur expected from a movie launched to be the 1989 summer blockbuster, feeling much more like a prolonged episode of the original series, shot with modern cameras and slightly superior effects.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 60%

#1106 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

The Star Trek movie perhaps the most applauded by the critics, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home takes the adventure to the then-present day earth.

While many viewers seem to be fascinated by the contemporary setting, I found myself missing the vast space and distant worlds showcased in other Star Trek films, especially after the humour of the crew wandering around the streets of 1986 San Francisco sticking out like a sore thumb has worn out.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is a very different Star Trek movie – to the extend that one could argue that it really isn’t a Star Trek movie at all, but more of a humoristic, eco-warrior themed spinoff of the original series. On the positive note the humour presented here is genuinely funny, and the movie wraps up nicely the three episode saga that started with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 71%

#1105 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

Picking the story up right from where it was left in the previous installation, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock concentrates on the crew becoming outlaws after defying Starfleet’s Genesis quarantine and stealing a ship in order to find and save Spock from the Genesis planet.

The first Star Trek movie directed by Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek III is a significant step up in visual fidelity, and definitely one of most handsome looking scifi movies of early 80s. The story itself does not reach the grandeur of its predecessor, but overall this second part of the saga in the line is the most well rounded Star Trek movie of the era.

It’s a movie that’s always been shadowed by its predecessor and sequel – and admittedly it is much more forgettable than either one of them. But personally as a very lightweight trekkie that always preferred the original series over anything that followed, I somehow found myself enjoying The Search for Spock more than any of its siblings.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 80%

#1104 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Star Trek, the iconic TV show from the 60s saw continuum in 1979 as the first movie of the Star Trek series was released and received with mixed reviews. Given the vast public interest in scifi at the time a cost effective sequel was green lighted, and the first Star Trek movie of the 80s, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan finally saw daylight in 1982.

Made with a budget of $11.2M – one-fourth that of its predecessor – the sequel became a sleeper hit that restored the public interest in the franchise and is considered by many the best movie of the series. Much of the success is due to iconic Khan, the villainous title character of the movie played with certain charism by Ricardo Montalbán.

Personally I also preferred the sequel to the original 1979 movie, although I admittedly found the overall experience less epic than I recalled. But what the movie itself may lack in grandiosity is more than redeemed in its emotional ending that wonderfully bridges the saga towards its next instalment, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

80s-o-meter: 69%

Total: 71%

#1102 Liquid Sky (1982)

Invisible aliens in search for heroin land in New York end up harvesting the endorphin that forms in the brain as people orgasm, consequently killing them.

Liquid Sky is one of those purposely weird independent films – and apparently something of a cult classic at that. Directed by the USSR born Slava Tsukerman, the movie is really nothing to celebrate about but more of a disjointed collection of scenes than a solid movie experience. It’s characters and neon lit scenes are stylish, but very much style over substance, and the movie feels like it’s mostly designed just to impress those who associate themselves with New York’s early 80s Warholian hipster art scene.

The main problem with Liquid Sky is that it’s just plain weird – but never quite wonderfully nor charmingly so.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 23%

#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%