#1151 Physical Evidence (1989)

Let’s get the bad out of the way first: Physical Evidence is a weak courtroom drama that does nothing better than your average episode of Matlock.

Secondly, there is nothing here that would sticks with you and you’ve most likely forgotten all about the movie less than 15 minutes after watching the it. This is a pretty bland ordeal.

But, it does have that easy-to-watch late night cable movie quality to it and as such I never found watching the movie a chore. A slightly older Burt Reynolds of the late eighties (that I much prefer to his earlier roles) plows through his role without much enthusiasm, and what little focus that movie might’ve had earlier is completely lost during the last 15 minutes.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 58%

#1150 Little Nikita (1988)

What would you do if your parents would turn out to be something completely different than you grew up believing? And furthermore, would you betray them to save them?

The set up of Little Nikita is certainly thought provoking and it seamlessly mixes up interesting aspects of family dynamics, betrayal, cold war and coming to age while realising nothing you’ve built your life upon so far might not actually be as they seem.

I found very little that I would like to change in Little Nikita and the concept felt refreshingly different while still maintaining good dramatic sense and all the basic building blocks of a solid thriller.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 88%

#1148 Tenement aka Game of Survival (1985)

Tenement is an exploitation action thriller that follows a hoodlum gang taking a hold of an old apartment block building, consequently trapping all of its habitants inside.

The violent and graphic – although with some of the pinkest blood ever seen on the silver screen – exploitation angle feels really distracting at first, but as the plot evolves further, the inhabitants withdraw to the higher levels of the apartment and finally start fighting back, the movie does get a whole lot more interesting.

While I can’t say that Tenement would have many merits, it does have some interests aspects and both stylish and hilariously goofy design choices going for it. I did not at all dig the cinematography that has has that distinctive mid 70s look & feel to it, but I loved the way the gang members were so indifferent when finding one of them brutally eliminated by the inhabitants and how proudly this flick just embraces its B-movie status and runs with it.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 61%

#1142 Angel Heart (1987)

Although Angel Heart takes its cues from many classic film noir movies, I can’t say I’ve never seen a movie like it.

Taking place in Harlem and deep south and mixing in elements of black magic, suspense, horror and whodunnit, the atmosphere of the movie is build beautifully and is enough to keep one glued to the silver screen. Although I haven’t read the original 1978 novel, this might be one of those rare occasions where the ambience of the movie might equal or even surpass the book.

The movie also showcases Mickey Rourke at his very best, and if you’ve ever wondered what is the big deal with him I suggest having a look at this movie, and paying special attention to his choreography as he moves around the scene making it a stage of his very own.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 89%

#1136 The Salamander (1981)

Shot in Rome, following an italian policeman (played by an italian actor) who investigates murders that seem to be intertwined with italian politics, The Salamander is in many ways more italian than some of the italian movies.

In fact, if the character spoke italian, the movie would totally pass as the real deal.

The plot of the movie is somewhat laborious and unstimulating to keep up with, and the movie looks and feels like many mid-70s European action movies. Thick-moustached Franco Nero plays the lead role with somewhat admirable coolness, being one of the few things that stands out positively here.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 38%

#1134 Alamo Bay (1985)

”I don’t know what to tell you, Dinh. You gotta be one of the last cowboys left in Texas”.

Alamo Bay, a fictive movie about actual clashing between refugee Vietnamese and local fisherfolk around Galveston Bay, Texas in the turn of the decade did not catch my interest at first as I was excepting yet another superficially inspirational tale of prejudice and racism rooted deep within the people that just gets sorted with overnight. But the director Louis Malle does not let things slide that easily and turns the movie into nerve wrenching thriller where in the end there might not be any winners at all.

Ed Harris delivers something of a immaculate performance as the unforgiving local fisherman who seeks for vengeance after losing his boat to the bank.

80s-o-meter: 77%

Total: 84%

#1127 Double Exposure (1982)

A fashion photographer sleeps with countless of models and then dreams about killing them, after which they end up turning dead in Double Exposure.

The movie has tons of problems, least of which are not the way the movie tries to sell Michael Callan being the divine gift for them ladies and the lengthy love making scenes that ensue.

Erotic thrillers never quite were my thing, and Double Exposure has nothing special enough under its hood to change my stance on this.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 36%

#1126 Blind Date (1984)

An USA production directed by the Greece born Nico Mastorakis and shot in Athens, Blind Date is something of an unique experience.

Follow this if you can: Jonathon is bit of a peeping Tom, gets chased in the forest by a dude in a car and hits his head, consequently making him blind. As he wakes up, a doctor offers him an implant that can make him see again by using a sonar build into a Walkman. If all that sounds like a mouthful, it gets better: Jonathon then wires an Atari 2600 console straight into the Walkman which overloads his brain, giving him an ability to connect with the serial killer loose in Athens.

Blind Date is a good looking movie where the basic setup works, but other elements just fail to connect in a satisfactory way. The movie earns extra kudos though for the European location that for once works well in a Hollywood movie. This is the first one of the movies of the same name released in the 80s and not to be mixed up with the 1987 comedy.

80s-o-meter: 66%

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%

#1091 Trapped aka Baker County, U.S.A. (1982)

One of the more sophisticated examples of its sub genre, Trapped avoids many of the shortcomings of its rivals.

Sure, there are teens that go out to the mountains in the countryside only to get harassed by the yokels. But, there’s no gratuous nudity, the teens act smart and contact the authorities and even the backwood villagers are able to grow a conscience as the events escalate out of hand. The movie gains some unfortunate comedic elements towards the end as we witness deaths by getting speared by an antenna and the antagonist turning into something of a supernatural boogie man. The blemishes aren’t big, but still bad calls from the director that should’ve kept the violence as it was pictured in the movie so far: sudden and raw.

Considering that the genre is usually not my favourite one, I actually somewhat enjoyed Baker County, U.S.A.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 61%

#1090 They’re Playing with Fire (1984)

An older female teacher seducing her young male student to a sexual intercourse, why does this seem to ring a bell? Oh yes, we saw the same concept in Private Lessons some two hundred movies ago. And hey – it even stars that same guy, Eric Brown.

Despite the obvious similarities, the two movies aren’t related and from the get go They’re Playing with Fire seems to have an actual movie it as the relationship soon turns into foul play, resulting in a murder and our young casanova getting wrongly accused.

But as the director Howard Avedis doesn’t seem to be capable in anything else but to try out the cheapest of the tricks, the movie soon turns into something of a slasher, nullifying all the thriller elements that had been build so far.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 33%

#1075 Kill Me Again (1989)

Kill Me Again begins kind of lame as for some reason deems necessary to rerun all the banalities of the neo-noir genre. It’s only after the movie finally starts steering away from the obvious clichés that it finds its own tone of voice, ending a much better than anticipated thriller.

Although the then-couple Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley make for a dynamic beat up private detective treacherous femme fatale duo, it’s Michael Madsen that ends up stealing the show as the menacing, force of a nature antagonist.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 81%

#1073 Last Rites (1988)

Last Rites follows a New York priest who goes against the mafia protecting a Mexican immigrant.

Tom Berenger is charismatic as always. Heck – he was likeable even as a white supremacist in Betrayed. Daphne Zuniga who already had a number of successful lead roles under her belt on the other hand feels like a miscast as the Mexican femme fatale. Surely there would’ve been many actual latinos that could’ve pulled off the role with more ease.

Despite some obvious loans from other movies, I can’t say I’ve watched anything that really resembles Last Rites, which is why I actually ended liking the movie quite a lot. It’s an interesting twist on similar kind of thrillers and manages to keep a few aces up its sleeve until the very last minutes to the film.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 86%

#1069 In Dangerous Company (1988)

Most people – I certainly included – aren’t too stoked when learning we’re about to see an erotic thriller. Mostly made for sleazy late-night cable TV viewing they can sometime be a passable time killers when they happen to be on, but more rarely does anyone admit going out to rent or buy one specifically.

With In Dangerous Company the erotic part means a femme fatale and a camera that lingers on in scenes with the leads kissing passionately just a bit too long. The thriller part is handled by giving all the characters street credibility by having them sip alcohol constantly and smoking a cigarette with a theatrical passion. And speaking of street credibility, Cliff De Young – who’s one of the better movie family dad figures of the era (check out Pulse or Flight of the Navigator) – just does not cut it as the seasoned Vietnam war vet with a checkered past. Like, not at all. I would’ve rewritten his role as more of an innocent bystander who falls in love with the vamp and unsuspectingly sacrifices all that he’s got to help the seducing stranger.

In Dangerous Company offers some campy acting due to some one shot models trying to get a stab at acting, as well as plot weaker than your average kiosk pulp, but does keep the interest up for one to want to witness how the fabric of lies finally unravels.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 61%

#1062 Out of Bounds (1986)

Out of Bounds was Anthony Michael Hall’s attempt to break out of the numerous nerd roles he got typecast to during the first half of the 80s.

As such the movie is a success and young Hall makes a surprisingly believable action lead here, much better than the performance he would give two years later in Johnny Be Good, his another 80s movie outside the geek mould. Sure, there’s some overacting involved and everything is oh much too touch on the streets of L.A., but this has more to do with the style of the movie itself and Hall isn’t the worst culprit here.

I liked the movie. Cinematography, action and all the good kind of 80s movie clichés were well presented and Jeff Kober who was formerly unknown to me creates certainly one of the more menacing and memorable movie villains out of one’s worst nightmares. Out of Bounds was generally forgotten upon its release and wasn’t available on DVD, but finally got a proper high definition release on Amazon’s Prime Video a few years back.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 81%

#1051 Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986)

Jumpin’ Jack Flash is probably the best known of the Whoopi Goldberg’s 80s comedies. And it is a pretty well-rounded, sure shot of a comedy – that’s just somehow even a bit too well-rounded and tame.

What I did find distracting watching the movie after a long while is how Goldberg is either forced or wilfully performing some kind of female Eddie Murphy schtick here. Gags like getting loud and foul-mouthed or making an embarrassing public scene are all too familiar from movies like Beverly Hills Cop or 48Hrs. I’ve always found Goldberg a good actor that succeeds better in the moments when she is not loud nor obnoxious.

All in all it’s a pretty wishy-washy ride. But also so good willed that it’s easy to forgive most of its shortcomings.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 73%

#1049 Far from Home (1989)

Father and daughter run out of gas and get stranded on a lone town in the middle of the desert in Far From Home, an interesting little thriller that saw a limited theatrical release upon its release.

What makes the movie interesting is not its setting nor the plot, but the good kind of movie-like quality of the small town and its trailer park that gets borderline abstract at times.

For a thriller the movie fails to deliver any kind of suspense and even when the killings take place, they seem more humorous than something that would have you on the edge of the seat. Matt Frewer and Drew Barrymore make for a solid and believable pair as the father and daughter, but the two young trailer park brothers both seem badly directed or complete miscasts for their roles.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 70%

#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%

#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%

#938 Fatal Attraction (1987)

One of the better known thrillers of the 80s, Fatal Attraction is a story about a lawyer who gets involved in a passionate sexual encounter with absolutely no strings attached – or a least so he thinks, until the relationship comes back to haunt him.

The movie does a terrific job laying out the motivations and relationships between the characters so that when things finally go south, the husband still earns our sympathy despite all that has happened. Glenn Close at first seems to make for the least threatening antagonist ever, but that’s part of the director Adrian Lyne’s plan, and the events that unravel later in the movie certainly gain a good surprise factor out of this equation. Also, the decision to make her exceptionally human and fragile really works for the movie’s benefit.

This unfortunately changes in the very last minutes of the film when the movie wonders a bit too far into the horror/slasher genre, which feels like a total faux pas. Fatal Attraction might not be the conversational topic it was when it was released back in 1987, but in many ways it’s still just as effective, relevant and recommendable.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 87%