#1332 Of Unknown Origin (1983)

The director George P. Cosmatos creates a new subgenre of rat thriller with Of Unknown Origin.

I was drawn to this Canadian-American movie shot in Montréal due to it featuring Peter Weller (of the later Robocop fame), as well as its ominous title. The movie never quite lives up to its premise, and turns into monotonous mouse and cat game where Weller gets fixated on getting rid of a rodent and ends up destroying both his house and him family along the way.

It is not very scary, not that much fun and gets pretty old pretty fast. The concept could have probably worked better as a 20-minute Simpsons episode instead.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 27%

#1324 The Rosary Murders (1987)

Many movie genres of the 80s still hold up well today, but due to the staggering amount of well written crime movies and TV series we’ve seen in the last two decades, the crime / thriller genre has evolved leaps and bounds.

This leaves many a-ok 80s thrillers paling in comparison. Not because they are necessarily bad, but because we’ve accustomed to seeing such perfected thrill rides that make the old presentation feel tame and slow.

Such is the case with The Rosary Murders as well – while it is a pretty decent crime mystery of its era, you will likely find its offerings thrilling if you’re not accustomed to the genre in any way.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 61%

#1292 Kansas (1988)

If you find an 80s movie nobody has ever heard of with your favourite actors in it, your warning bells should go off. Changes that you’ve just found a long lost treasure are very low, and it’s much more likely that you’ve just encountered something that everyone involved wished they’d never been part of.

While Kansas is no treasure, it is actually a decent piece of cinema depicting a guy crossing his path with a bank robber and soon finding tangled into something that might lose him his love, freedom and even life.

Andrew McCarthy performs his trademark dazed out everyday guy routine while Matt Dillon delivers yet another chilling role as the fugitive with psychopathic personal traits.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 83%

#1269 Cutting Class (1989)

Known for most only for featuring young Brad Pitt, Cutting Class has been downplayed in many reviews. And while it’s arguably not a masterpiece, it is not completely without merit.

To me cutting class felt like a nice little high school slasher with late 80s look and feel that seems at first to paint by numbers, but then takes the formula to an original and interesting direction.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 71%

#1267 Omega Syndrome (1986)

Sometimes when you watch a skilfully paced movie, you might pause if after awhile and get surprised that only some 20 minutes have passed and the movie has already taken you into adventure and action while telling an interesting story and establishing a connection with the main characters.

What you get here is the completely opposite. After watching for an hour the movie seemed be in a standstill without me unable to connect with neither the plot nor the any of the characters. Well, almost as the most interesting aspect of the movie turned out to to be the rough-around-the-edges antihero sidekick played by George DiCenzo.

Omega Syndrome resembles quite a lot of the video games of the 80s, as it has a catchy title and splashy poster, but nothing much more.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 42%

#1264 Cohen and Tate (1988)

Again, a movie that has totally gone under the radar for me, Cohen and Tate is a thriller of two assassins transporting a young eye witness to a mob boss after wiping out his family and bunch of officers of the Federal Witness Protection Program.

The movie is minimalistic; most of the running time is spent inside the car, with tension building up between Cohen and Tate, two very opposites sides of the same coin. The violence presented in the movie is similarly spartan: very quick and over before the viewer has time to react, making it consequently extreme impactful.

Cohen and Tate is a triumph of an action thriller in both its cinematography and story telling for the director Eric Red, and well ahead of its time, resembling the formula that Coen brothers perfected a decade later.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 95%

#1249 Dead Ringers (1988)

Ah, it’s a David Cronenberg movie, so you never quite know what it has to offer, but you know it’s going to be at least interesting.

In Dead Ringers Cronenberg tells a story of two identical twins who run their gynaecology clinic and while identical twins they seem like two sides of a coin that have their distinctive personal traits, but somehow complete each other as one person. They use their resemblance to their advance and so that the introverted twin gets to share the women seduced by the outgoing one, until a clash over one woman finally makes the twins drift apart, with disastrous consequences.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 84%

#1243 The Phantom of the Opera (1989)

An 80s take on classic 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera starring Robert Englund of A Nightmare on Elm Street fame sort of disappoints for not being an absolute stinker I took it for.

In fact, it’s a surprisingly well made movie with great atmosphere, majestic songs, well executed special effects and impeccable scenic design.

Although the movie’s marketing was strongly built upon Englund’s role, it remains the least interesting part of the movie, and the movie could’ve actually gained from having a lead that didn’t have such burden of a typecasting to carry.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 78%

#1238 ‎Streetwalkin’ (1985)

A small town girl in a big city gets seduced by Duke, a charismatic pimp, and made walk the streets for money. She don’t mind it though until Duke gets bat shit crazy with another girl of his and beats her unconscious. From here starts a getaway through nocturnal New York with Duke right on her heels.

Streetwalkin’ chooses an exploitative point of view that doesn’t really feel as fresh as the movie makers wanted it to feel, but as a thriller it does get pretty ok towards the end as Duke closes in step by step. Dale Midkiff plays the part of the psychotic pimp to a perfection, and his bursts of rage don’t feel theatrical, but truly chilling.

The movie is one of the examples of many misaligned marketing efforts of the era: its poster does not represent any of the characters or the thriller nature of the movie in any way.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 62%

#1235 Relentless (1989)

Leo Rossi and Judd Nelson (both of which would usually fall far in the no interest zone for me) combine their forces in Relentless, which actually ends up a nifty little thriller.

In the end it’s this outside the box casting that makes the movie interesting as the routine plot doesn’t not offer anything exceptional. Judd Nelson puts into the character a lot of pathetic – even tragic traits – that make the killer sometimes even the object of the viewer’s pity, and something of an antithesis of your usual one-dimensional criminal masterminds.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 78%

#1234 Ragtime (1981)

My general dislike for period pictures is probably well known for any regular visitor; I often find them either unimaginative projects that rely much too heavily on just the nostalgia, or are annoyingly pretentious.

Ragtime surely has all the warning signs all over it it – starting with its name – and begins as a snore fest, but as soon as the first of the many violent outbursts of the movie take place it soon occurred to me this was not your average period picture. After introducing an interesting array of upper class white characters Ragtime concentrates on telling a story of a black piano player who gets vengeful after denied justice after getting insulted and harassed by racist voluntary firemen, starting a crusade that soon escalates out of hand.

Directed by Miloš Forman and based on E. L. Doctorow’s book of the same name, Ragtime ends up one of the best period picture thrillers in my book

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 91%

#1231 Nightkill (1980)

Looking like an episode of Dallas (the lead Jaclyn Smith is best known for her role as one of the original Charlie’s Angels) Nightkill defies all the odds by being a very original, and surprisingly interesting take on a woman caught in murderous love triangle and a net of lies that gets more tangled the more she struggles to get out of it.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 64%

#1227 Masquerade (1988)

Hit-with-a-handsome-stick Rob Lowe plays a jet set playboy in a role that fits him so well you’d almost think it was originally written with him in mind.

The movie itself plays like a light pulp thriller, a paperback you’d take along for a beach vacation – and as such it works out perfectly and without too many unnecessary plot twists along the way.

I would not probably had enjoyed Masquerade that much in the cinemas, but as a late nite cable TV movie it works out perfectly well.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 81%

#1222 Tightrope (1984)

Clint Eastwood’s 1984 neo-noir thriller Tightrope has lost its impact over time. The concept of a detective living somewhat suspicious double life might’ve had more edge way back when the movie was released but what exists here would’t cut even as a single episode of a tv series these days.

It doesn’t help much that the antagonist in Tightrope is totally forgettable; I can’t remember a thing about him now just a few days after watching the movie.

I do applaud Clint for playing a flawed antihero kind of character, but Tightrope did not end up anywhere near my favourite Eastwood movie.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 39%

#1221 Crimes of Passion (1984)

Crimes of Passion is an erotic thriller, which usually is a definite flag for disaster. But when many other erotic thrillers end up just adoringly clumsy, Crimes of Passion really tries to be a real drama with depth and look into the human psyche. And it crashes and burns.

There weren’t too many moments of the movie that I didn’t hate – except for the bit with China Blue visiting a dying man for which I grant the movie the few points it ended up with.

Other than that I really hated Anthony Perkins’ over acted sex maniac priest character straight from a bad small town play and the shallowness of the script that made me feel indifferent about pretty much that took place on the screen.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 31%

#1214 Eddie Macon’s Run (1983)

A young prison escapee tries to make it to Mexico to join with his family with a keen old detective on his tail.

A likeable road movie with some eccentric characters thrown into the mix, Eddie Macon’s Run doesn’t do anything remarkably well – but it doesn’t do anything remarkably badly either.

Both leads Kirk Douglas and John Schneider perform their roles well, with the latter one doing a good job making his character an easy to relate to underdog.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 70%

#1209 The Osterman Weekend (1983)

The director Sam Peckinpah’s attempt for comeback after five years of radio silence was loaded with high expectations. Based on Robert Ludlum’s 1974 novel of the same name, The Osterman Weekend did not meet those expectations.

Sadly, the movie is pretty much on par with many of the made for TV movies of the era. Hidden camera setup has lost the novelty it had in 1983 and it does not help that the movie is not exactly state of the art of its era what it comes to its visions of this hi-tech.

As the movie gets past its first tedious 60 minutes, it does get mildly more interesting as the big web of lies finally starts to unravel.

80s-o-meter: 46%

Total: 52%

#1191 Halloween 2019: The Thing (1982)

This year’s Halloween will wrap up with this review, and what a feature it has been: we’ve watched together a whopping record number of 41 horror movies! There’s no immediate fear for running out of things to watch though, plenty more still out there.

I do miss getting back to the genre classics every now and then, so I wrapped up this year’s feature with Carpenter’s The Thing. This won’t be a full review as almost everything worth saying about the movie is already out there. I can just tell that this arctic survival horror is the best horror movie of the era, until proven otherwise. Its setting is perfect, cast lead by Kurt Russell flawless, effects work both years ahead of its time, but done with such perfect vision that they blend in to the story effortlessly and the story itself – Bill Lancaster’s screenwriting on the classic John W. Campbell Jr’s novella Who Goes There? concentrates on the just the right aspects of the story, while adds layers upon layers of tension and paranoia.

The Thing is an almost perfect horror movie that has aged tremendously well and gained fans in multiple generations up to date – and will probably keep on doing so as long as we keep on celebrating Halloween with classic films.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 98%

#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%