#1079 Hello Again (1987)

If you think about, considering that we all know movies are make believe it’s pretty amazing how much we’re willing to cut them some slack in terms of realism. We prefer a good story to realism and sympathise with characters we know never existed and it really takes a considerable load of baloney for us to lose our faith in the story.

Throughout its running time Hello Again tries these limits: Starting from improbable, moving onto unlikely, all the way through poppycock, ending somewhere between ridiculous, moronic – and downright painful.

I do love Shelley Long. She’s one great comedienne at her very best in easy going, fluffy comedies. But Hello Again is just too much nonsense for anyone with half a brain take in.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 39%

#945 Halloween 2018: Phantasm II (1988)

It could be because I’ve missed the original Phantasm – released in 1979 – but I had no idea whatsoever what was going on in its sequel for the first 30 minutes. And even later to the movie it all seemed to make a very little sense: Who are these main characters, what are they after, who is the Tall Man and what is his agenda?

It was only after giving up the hope of making any sense of the movie and just going on with the flow that I started to enjoy Phantasm II for what it was: A collection of scenes to justify some inventive and gruesome F/X. There are tons of individual things to like here, like Reggie, the ponytailed, balding middle-aged protagonist and the imaginative guns he and his teenager friend Mike have put together to fight the Tall Man. Also, the movie manages to have a good ol’ horror movie ending to it, redeeming some of of the points in the last minute.

Phantasm II is a stylish, cartoony show not unlike the Evil Dead series, and a movie that relies heavily on its gory effects at the cost of its plot. It’s the incoherent story that makes the movie a hard one to recommended, but the admirers of hand crafted 80s F/X will surely find a lot to like here.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 61%

#907 Warlock (1989)

What a mouth-watering setup: A 17th century Warlock jumps through the time to present day to reassemble a Satanic book that will unmake of the creation, and a Witch-hunter named Redferne follows him through the portal in an attempt to foil his plans.

A much remembered classic for a generation, this was my first time seeing the movie, although the I knew the movie well by its reputation. Given its cult status, my expectations weren’t met, but the movie is entertaining nonetheless. To me it seems like the setup would’ve lend itself for much much more, like those few well-known scenes including tongues, frying pans and spiritual channeling well demonstrate. Visual effects are also quite weak considering the late 80s release.

If you haven’t ever heard about Warlock and enjoy time travelling stories, chances are that you will find a lot to be love here. If you are aware of the movie, be advised that it might be not as epic as you’d expect. Either way the movie makes for quite an easy recommendation.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 72%

#826 The Keep (1983)

Based on the F. Paul Wilson’s 1981 novel of the same name, The Keep mixes up some delicious ingredients to a somewhat uneven dish.

The real star here is the atmospheric mood The Keep achieves: The movie is always just a bit off in a charmingly fashion and that right kind of eerie feeling is constantly present when inside the citadel. The haunting soundtrack by Tangerine Dream no doubt plays a bit part in this.

The Keep is also a visually solid film with some genuinely well framed scenes.

Given all this it’s shame that The Keep isn’t a great movie and the end result fall short of the appetising premise and there’s just something unfinished and unfulfilled about it all, even during the movie’s best moments.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 72%

#815 The Clairvoyant aka The Killing Hour (1982)

The high demand for thrillers and the constant competition along with the new wave of nordic thriller and the new renaissance of the TV has caused the genre coming quite a long way since the 80s, and it takes a pretty good thriller to wow someone one these days. The Clairvoyant, a somewhat insignificant entry even in the 80s scale hasn’t got what it takes to thrill the viewer.

The movie starts off strong with multiple gruesome and inventive kills involving a pair of handcuffs, suggesting there’s a serial killer on the loose. As the story shifts from the traditional detective work towards the young woman who foresees the killings by sketching them, the movie starts to lose its focus, and when the badly staged TV talk show portion is introduced, the movie just derails. Clairvoyant is not a visual treat either, having a distinctive look and feel of an dated movie – if I was to guess, I would’ve placed it to around the year 1976.

What saves the movie from being a complete train wreck is the end where the plot – as unconvincing as it is – actually comes together in a way that make sense.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 47%

#806 Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

A campy cult classic by design, Big Trouble in Little China is an outrageous action adventure comedy from John Carpenter, a living legend of the 80s cinema.

I really love the core concept of being able to just step to a side street in the middle of the busy urban San Francisco and get sucked into an ancient chinese adventure where none of your western rules apply anymore. I love how the all the protagonists, magicians, sorcerers, karate masters and their showdowns are pages ripped right out of a comic book, and how the movie plays around with every cliché it can think of. I love Kurt Russell’s portrayal of Jack Burton, a big-mouthed self-quoting wannabe hero who always ends up a little short in his heroic efforts. I love the set design, the effects, the poster and pretty much every still frame of the movie you can throw my way.

And herein lies my fundamental problem with the movie: I love all the small things in Big Trouble in Little China more than I like it as an actual movie. This is not to say that Big Trouble in Little China would be a bad film – I just enjoy the idea of it more than I enjoy actually sitting down and watching through it. Part of it has to do with the movie starting out with such a great setup, but then never quite being able to outdo its outrageous premise, and ends up recycling a lot of what was already seen during the first 30 minutes of the movie.

Given all this, Big Trouble in Little China is still a piece of 80s cult cinema that begs to be revisited every few years.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 80%

#801 Lady in White (1988)

An indie spooky story, Lady in White is the kind of underdog movie you’d hope to be really good, but woefully its flaws ultimately outweight the positives.

The movie is much too slow paced and neither the effects or the ghost seem convincing, yet still the movie chooses to showcase both for even minutes at the time. Both the flashback narrative and the 60s social commentary of the racism just don’t seem to fit in with the rest of the movie, and leaving those along some other bits to the cutting room floor would’ve made the viewing a much tighter experience.

Lukas Haas is a natural in the lead role and I really digged the attempt to build a solid ghost story instead of just your typical slasher or a jump scare horror movie.

Although the movie wasn’t the buried treasure I was hoping for, I do recognise the aspects that have made it a favorite to so many so I still recommend people to check it out if the synopsis raises any kind of curiosity.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 60%

#785 Second Sight (1989)

Second Sight is the name of a detective company where a psychic and two of his co-workers try to solve some petty little crimes together. The movie follows the same pattern throughout: An eccentric psychic gets (somewhat violent) fits, tackles people to the ground and causes all sorts of embarrassing havoc. His assistant documents the events and carefully explains the behaviour to the viewer, while the head of the agency follows the duo, constantly rolling his eyes, irritated and embarrassed by the events.

Second Sight is not a strong comedy to begin with, but really ends up completely butchered by the irritating lead character. Bronson Pinchot (of Beverly Hills Cop fame) tries to do his very best Eddie Murphy imitation to make his eccentric character work, but fails in such a painful way the end result is cringeworthy to watch.

Truth be told, the character is so poorly written that even Murphy’s comedic chops couldn’t have saved this trainwreck.

John Larroquette and Stuart Pankin as the co-workers in the agency actually perform admirably with what little script has to offer, with Larroquette’s straight face comedic acting being the only delightful aspect here.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 28%

#765 Halloween 2017: 976-Evil (1988)

Considering that Robert Englund had very much become a household name for horror as Freddy in the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, his directorial debut 976-Evil surprisingly lacks some essential ingedients to make a quality horror movie.

First of all, the movie is pretty low on scares. Secondly, as soon as the movie lead gets possessed by the evil, we kind of lose our protagonist there, leaving the audience with no-one to root for for the second half of the movie, effectively making the movie sort of a revenge porn instead of horror.

Stephen Geoffreys pretty much reprises his role from Fright Night, playing a nerdy character who finds himself empowered by the forces of the evil. While the performance here falls short of the other one, it’s still Geoffreys’ and his ability to create these somewhat of their trolley, but still much likeable characters that make this movie worth your time.

Even with its obvious shortcomings, 976-Evil is professionally executed movie that may unspectacular – but never dull.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 70%

#764 Halloween 2017: Killer Party (1986)

Killer Party seems to be two different movies rolled together as one. The first half of the movie is a lighthearted fraternity comedy with a few small spooks here and there. After that we have an almost The Exorcist like portion of the movie where all the killings happen. Both halves are fairly well made, the biggest difference being that the comedic part is utterly trivial, and the horror part manages to show a lot of potential.

And herein lies my gripe with the movie. Instead of mixing and matching they really should’ve cut the comedy part short and rely more on the horror part, which seems stronger of the two. Although the overall viewing experience is surprisingly professionally made and fluid, the problem with parts that don’t meet follows the movie through. At the start of the movie we are presented with not one, but two different prologues that have nothing to do with the rest of the movie and there are numerous of sub-plots that don’t really contribute to anything.

The fans of Paul Bartel might be interested to know he makes a brief visit as the Professor Zito in one of the unrelated plot loose ends.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 82%

#755 Halloween 2017: The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow is an intensive, palm sweating ride that doesn’t really hold back. Shot on a location in Haiti, the movie wonderfully captures the essence of steamy voodoo huts, black magic and colorful potions mixed with the whole spectrum of local people, politics, nature and fauna.

The story follows a scientist visiting Haiti in hopes of learning the secrets of a potion able to turn its victims into a paralysed dead alive, seemingly dead but still alive, and he soon realises he’s dealing with forces beyond his grasp. The movie constantly tightropes on the fine line between dream and nightmare, with every scene capable going either way. The scene with the zombie midget bride is one of the eeries scenes I’ve seen this halloween, and one that will surely haunt me for some time.

It’s only in the last few meters of the movie that it looses its core focus and resorts to some needless screen effects that don’t really match up with the quality seen before in the movie. Even so, The Serpent and the Rainbow is regarded by many as Craven’s best – and I’m inclined to agree.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 86%

#745 Halloween 2017: Evil Dead II (1987)

Sam Raimi is back with the second installation of the Evil Dead, this time around with a heftier budget. While Evil Dead II is not a remake, there’s a strong feeling of dejavú with all the events unravelling here: Ash being locked in the cabin, getting haunted by evil creatures spawning out the depths of the Necronomicon.

The gritty underdog home made feeling of the first movie is gone and while some of the effects are inventive, they all seemed more fresh in the original one. There’s also a forced comedy approach here that makes Evil Dead II much less a scary movie than the first one. To me it seems the first part played its hand better in this sense, being more scary and haunting in its imagery, and making you laugh occasionally, but in an uneasy, somewhat nauseated way.

On a positive note Sam Raimi’s fresh ideas with the camera movement are even more present in the sequel and Bruce Campbell furthermore shows he is an excellent physical actor really going all stakes in with his portrayal, and having become synonymous with the series for a very good reason.

While the sequel is weaker than the first movie, this is the movie most people refer to when talking about Evil Dead series. If I was to choose, I’d go hands down with the first movie, but the few iconic moments shown here – like Ash arming his stubb with a chainsaw – still warrant viewing the sequel as well.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 60%

#744 Halloween 2017: The Evil Dead (1981)

The movie that kick-started Sam Raimi’s career, Evil Dead first became a cult classic that gained so much fame in the following years that it’s concerned a genre classic these days.

The Evil Dead is a ludicrously gory show with the amount of blood, ooze and excretion taken to cartoony levels. The movie cannot be taken too seriously, but it isn’t listed as a comedy either, and it’s void of the slapsticky elements seen in its sequel. I actually much prefer it this way.

Considering the otherwise no name cast, Raimi found a perfect companionship in Bruce Campbell, whose distinctive over the edge face acting become synonymous with the series. Although the movie now has been widely accepted as a central part of the movie scene and has lost some of its shocking factor, Evil Dead is by no means a movie for everyone. But, it’s a movie every true horror fan should watch at least once in their lifetime.

80s-o-meter: 76%

Total: 75%

#743 Halloween 2017: The Hunger (1983)

A poetic a vampire movie that never actually mentions vampires aloud, The Hunger is an artistic – and also somewhat artsy – take on the subject.

The first theatrical feature of the director Tony Scott who had earned his chops earlier directing commercials, The Hunger is a visual treat. If you enjoyed Bladerunner, chances are you will find a lot to love in the dusty and smoky, even somewhat surreal interior shots seen here. The masquerading work that turns David Bowie from a 30-year old youngster to an almost mummified old man, plus the shots towards the end of the movie of fragile old bodies to chunks of dust are extraordinarily well made and presented smartly in the screenplay. The soundtrack is also refreshingly original, consisting of haunting classical tracks and numerous unique effects that suit the atmosphere perfectly.

The Hunger is first and foremost a drama with an erotic touch, and secondly a horror movie. The visuals play a huge role creating the atmosphere that make the movie entertaining, and had they executed in a subpar manner, the plot alone wouldn’t make much of a movie here. There are certainly moments that wander into style over substance, self-indulgent territory, but even so The Hunger has that uncanny quality of sticking with you long after the end credits have rolled.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 80%

#719 Teen Witch (1989)

An 80s cult classic largely thanks to its unshameful depictions of teenage high school everyday life – including white boy rapping on school hallways and improvised dance and sing numbers in the girls’ locker room – Teen Witch no doubt paved the way to a lot of awful 90s movies and series, the likes of Beverly Hills 90210.

While I have to admit that all that over the board teen stuff is entertaining in all of its awfulness, Teen Witch never goes full way with any of its concepts. The soon-to-be-cinderella protagonist isn’t a loser to start with, the antagonists aren’t menacing enough, the teen witchery aspect isn’t explored beyond getting a male teacher to undress and getting to be popular in the school, which could’ve been achieved without resorting to any supernatural plotlines.

Finally, the moral of the movie of believing in yourself and being just yourself, well .. I’m not too sure if it ever actually takes place in that final scene.

Teen Witch plays campy like a high school musical with very limited amount of music, but although the movie is flawed and makes just a little sense, there’s just something very irresistible about the whole sincerity of it all.

80s-o-meter: 97%

Total: 70%

#705 From Beyond (1986)

From Beyond wastes no time getting to the meat of the movie; its special effects. Quite literally, within just two minutes from the start we’re presented with first creatures from another dimension gnawing the flesh out of a human cheek. After seeing too many horror movies that really take their sweet time to get to the point, the shock beginning of From Beyond works well.

The movie is loosely based on a short story of just seven pages by H. P. Lovecraft and stars Jeffrey Combs, whose kooky, eccentric assistant character draws a resemblance to his earlier role in Re-Animator. That same intensity fits this movie quite perfectly.

The sadomasochist and sexual themes presented here feel uninspired throughout the movie, but otherwise From Beyond is a morbid and creepy ride that showcases some very inventive FX work in the very best tradition of the 80s.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 72%

#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%

#657 Modern Problems (1981)

Starring Chevy Chase, a star of many top comedies of the era, I really wanted to like this movie, but I’m afraid it’s not good news.

You know those randomising algorithms that take known genres, words, adjectives and verbs and then generate something with a roll of a dice. Modern Problems feels like its been written by one: It introduces one completely loose concept after another and never follows one through to the finish.

The characters are bit of a similar kind of mess and Chevy Chase as the lead hams his way through the movie without any kind of enthusiasm. Performance wise Dabney Coleman’s self-absorbed self-help book writer is spot on, but little good does that do when the rest of the movie is so off.

In the end, Modern Problem’s problem is not a modern one, but a very ancient instead: Finding a reason to exist.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 34%

#653 Cat People (1982)

What we have here is basically a werewolf movie, with wolves replaced with leopards. As daft as it sounds, the switch is actually a successful one and Cat People is a breath of fresh air in the endless line of werewolf movies popular from 70s to the 80s.

Genre-wise the movie is listed as an erotic thriller, which mostly always is bad news, and a sure sign of a cheesy movie. There’s some cheese here as well, but fortunately Cat People is a thriller first, with some strong horror & gore elements added, and the erotic motives are just a sprinkle on the top.

Nastassja Kinski is a spot on casting here with her cat like appearance and movement, and John Heard is his always likeable self and plays his part in perfectly harmony to Kinski and the tone of the movie.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 80%

#648 Pulse (1988)

Although Pulse’s idea of making the possessed electricity a cruel killer is pretty unique, the movie starts to soon follow trails often seen in similar movies: A little kid, shunned by his peers senses a great danger within the house, but none of the grown ups believe him before it’s too late.

This is not to say that some predictability is bad – in many cases following the beaten path but in a memorable way can create a genre cult classic. Pulse really does nothing in a memorable way and it certainly isn’t that long lost classic movie of the era. With that out of the way, there’s a lot to love here as well. The cinematography is solid and the movie successfully culminates towards the end. Cliff De Young has always been a great guy to be cast as the family dad and the same goes here, and Joey Lawrence as the 12-year old protagonist performs admirably and comparable to many top kids actors of the era.

Pulse doesn’t reach the standards of the other haunted house movies of the 80s – the likes of Poltergeist, House and Amityville Horror – but is still very much a recommended watch.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 76%