#1487 Beyond the Limit aka The Honorary Consul (1983)

The weird coincidences the I come across watching all these 80s movies never seize to amaze me: I watched two movies about alcoholic Consuls stuck somewhere in the South Africa almost back to back.

Beyond the Limit is the weaker one of these and it being of British origin it was one of those movies I was on the verge whether I should include it to this movie watching project. Ultimately it was Richard Gere, playing a callous doctor who lusts after the Consul’s (Michael Caine) young wife.

While the movie manages to find a captivating tone of voice during its run time, it’s the final surprising and interesting events that fortunately redeem many of the movie’s shortcomings during the last 20 minutes.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 55%

#1485 The River Rat (1984)

Just when I saw Martha Plimpton in a swamp themed movie, I came across The River Rat that precedes that movie two years and yes, is also about people living in the wetlands. And sure, one could make an argue for The Mosquito Coast being a distant relative to the both.

Here young Plimpton plays Jonsy, a foul-mouthed kid living with her grandma that tries to connect with her dad (Tommy Lee Jones), fresh out of jail for the first time in her life. The two find some common ground as they refurbish River Rat, an old river boat.

The past returns to haunt the ex-jailbird in the form of Brian Dennehy, and it’s a pleasure to watch these two veteran actors together. Although not much of a thriller, I did enjoy how the movie played out without going down the most obvious route.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 70%

#1469 Too Scared To Scream (1984)

Too Scared To Scream takes notes from the early 80s slasher movies as well as the genre classic Psycho and serves them as a thriller with a slight horror twist to it.

A high rise apartment complex in New York City is being riddled with murders. Suspicion points to a peculiar doorman played by Ian McShane (of the Lovejoy and Deadwood fame) and its up to the Detective Dinardo (Mike Connors) to prepare a trap to catch the slayer.

I would give Too Scared To Scream top rating purely as a slasher movie (as it tops that genre), but although I do like the overall mood and the setup, as a horror thriller it does not fare quite that well.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 61%

#1468 The Concrete Jungle (1982)

I definitely was not looking forward to seeing The Concrete Jungle after suffering through various similar prison exploitation movies.

Luckily The Concrete Jungle manages to surpass most of similar women’s prison exploitation movies by staying low in exploitation and putting more emphasis on the script. Make no mistake about it still, the movie prison world is very much there; the prisoners are well groomed, look like models, sleep in their pyjamas in a dorm and get into cat fights.

But, there is an actual plot and the movie manages to generate empathy towards the main character thrown in the slammer for protecting her drug trafficking boyfriend. Tracey E. Bregman performs well in her role as Liz and overall the movie looks much more fresh than its release year would suggest, and the 70s style movie poster does not represent the look and feel of the movie at all.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 62%

#1464 Olivia aka A Taste of Sin aka Double Jeopardy aka Prozzie aka Beyond The Bridge aka Mad Night (1983)

A movie that holds a record number of alternative titles so far, Olivia has almost as many plot twists as names.

Other than Olivia witnessing the death of her prostitute mother as a kid, and then re-enacting the revenge against men in her adulthood, I could not tell what the movie was about overall. Very little of all of it makes sense, and the coincidents masquerated as plot twists are just implausible.

Still, kudos for trying out something a bit more unconventional, although this time it does not pay off.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 32%

#1454 White of the Eye (1987)

Truth be told, there was nothing at first in the White of the Eye that caught my interest. I found the characters and cinematography uninteresting and was ready to sign the whole movie off as something average at best.

But as the movie finally got into the gear, it ended up being an interesting and entertaining – although a bit tamer – ride along the line of what Coen brothers might’ve cooked up.

White of the Eye remains the only feature film of the 80s by the director Donald Cammell whose directorial work at the time consisted more of the music documentaries, but as such it’s one of those rare films that will give you a much better mileage on the second run.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 75%

#1448 North Sea Hijack (1980)

North Sea Hijack is the kind of perfect little action thriller one would’ve been super glad to find in the first small video rental stores in the early 80s.

The lead Sir Roger Moore brings a lot of the same charism and screen presence he possesses as Bond, but manages to make his character much more interesting given the jagged edges and peculiarities that the manuscript provides. His womanising trait remains in this movie as well, but instead of trying to get every woman between the sheets, he treats them equally to men – if not always quite respectfully.

The setup of criminals holding an oil rig as a hostage works well, and Anthony Perkins does a wonderful acting work as the criminal mastermind of high intelligence, but manages to avoid the pitfall of going overboard with the characterisation.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 86%

#1441 Music Box (1989)

Music Box is a thought provoking movie: how much we really know of the past of our parents, before they were our parents – especially if it is a subject they don’t want to discuss about.

This is what a young attorney Ann Talbot (Jessica Lange) starts to wonder as she defends his father against the accusations of war crimes that took place in WW2 Hungary. The movie also keeps the viewer at the edge of their seat as we seek for a spark of hope for the accused, while feeling absolutely saddened by the morbid stories shared by the witnesses.

Armin Mueller-Stahl performs a superb role as the straight forward heartfelt grandfather who’s learned to hide well the enigma of a man he really is.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 94%

#1440 Black Rainbow (1989)

If you’re going to introduce supernatural nonsense into your movie, you better back it up some how.

I was waiting for Black Rainbow to come up with a good explanation how Rosanna Arquette as a medium with a great showmanship suddenly begins channeling grim predictions of the future and foreseeing deaths to the tiniest detail, but the movie provides none of that. As the movie closes it manages to leave one confused, with less clear picture of the character and her powers one had just 30 minutes ago.

Black Rainbow is a mishmash of a movie that had a nice premise for a movie, but would’ve needed much, much snappier writing in order to pull it off.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 59%

#1439 Out of Control (1985)

Out of Control takes a bad turn right after an a-ok beginning as it moves from a nice title music and a high school graduation party to some remote island somewhere in former Yugoslavia.

Getting stranded on a remote island is an interesting premise by itself, but instead of concentrating on long term survival and group dynamics, Out of Control puts them into an adult version of The Famous Five kind of adventure where they discover a stash of drug smugglers, get loaded on the booze they find, strip, make out and finally engage in a fight.

I did not have to check out if the movie’s running time was well under 90 minutes; the obvious padding was a straight giveaway, which makes many of the scenes drag on for ages.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 38%

#1438 The Morning After (1986)

Not to be mixed up with The Day After, a 1983 made for TV movie about nuclear war (I know I keep mixing these up all the time), The Morning After is a thriller about a has been actress who keeps on drowning her sorrow to the wine and finds herself blacking out often, only to one day wake up and find herself laying next to a man, stabbed to death.

After the interesting start The Morning After does not provide anything substantial and plays until the end without much surprises. The chemistry and eventual relationship between the leads Jane Fonda and Jeff Bridges is a hard sell, and it’s mostly Bridges’ typical enjoyable screen presence that carries the movie until the finish.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 60%

#1428 The Star Chamber (1983)

The second movie of this angry relative of a homicide victim vs the judge who has to deal with the consequences -mini feature is The Star Chamber where Michael Douglas plays a judge who carries the burden of having to release violent criminals without consequences due to technicalities in the investigation.

It’s a different kind of beast compared to Seven Hours to Judgment and goes much, much deeper into the dark depts of the human mind and asks the viewer questions about ethics and taking the law into one’s own hands.

Due to not offering simple solutions to any of theses questions The Star Chamber did leave an impression that still lasts for me, a few days after viewing the movie.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 89%

#1427 Seven Hours to Judgment (1988)

By a pure coincidence I now have the smallest mini feature ever: angry relative of a homicide victim vs the judge who has to deal with the consequences.

In Seven Hours to Judgment Beau Bridges plays the honourable judge whose wife is kidnapped by the disgruntled husband played by Ron Leibman. The whole story is highly implausible and gets more so as the story progresses; out of nowhere the husband has managed to get a van, add all sorts of gizmos in it, rent a warehouse and booby trap four floors of it with CCTV, remote controleld guns, PA, cardboard cuts of himself wearing a superman suit and a colour computer graphic live game view of the events to mention just a few. At the same time he manages to be just in the right time and the right place, and to transmit his images to various TV screens – and all this just to get even with the judge.

Like, wow.

For anyone looking forward to watching this movie, if you shy away from all the ridiculousness the movie will become hard to watch, but if you fully lean into the nonsense, you might still find Seven Hours to Judgment a somewhat entertaining piece of a long forgotten 80s cinema.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 70%

#1418 The Kill Reflex aka Soda Cracker (1989)

The Kill Reflex is a paint by numbers action thriller overshadowed by most of its contemporaries. This lone wolf police story could have worked a bit better as a buddy cop movie, but naturally still ended up inferior in that category as well.

It’s a tired show that does not ever to try to outdo other movies of the genre, just fit in with the rest of them.

There are two highlights in the movie; the ending the ending that manages to surprise with the drastic actions the baddies take when caught in a corner, plus the fact that another one of them can be earlier seen wearing a Finnair Sports Tours tracksuit.

Go, Finland!

#1414 Native Son (1986)

I don’t know how well the original Richard Wright’s 1940 novel of the same name captures the stomach turning feeling of have done something so horrible and irreversible that you feel almost separating from your own body and wishing for the relief of waking up from a bad dream, in vein – but this is what the Jerrold Freedman’s 1986 movie adaptation does exceptionally well.

It would have been great to see Sangre Negra, an Argentinian 1951 movie adaptation of the novel to see how the newer version stacks up compared to it as judging by the film clips they both seem much alike.

To movie seems to rush to its ending and end just when things are getting really innocent, but as whole Native Son left a permanent impression on me. Finding forgotten gems like this is what makes the whole project totally worth the while.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 82%

#1412 Stand Alone (1985)

I was expecting Stand Alone to be something in the line of Death Wish line of movies, but actually the movie is quite low in violence for the most of its running time.

Most of the conflict here is internal, with the WWII veteran Louis Thibadeau (Charles Durning) being pressured by the cops to help them put the violent street gang behind bars, but risking being avenged for this.

Durning is great and sympathetic as even as the old gramps still reliving his glory days in the battle field, but quite disappointingly we see him in real action only at the very end of the movie.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 70%

#1407 Halloween 2020: Death House aka Zombie Death House (1988)

John Saxon directs and stars in Death House, a zombie horror game taking place in one of these special movie prisons. And as always, the authorities that run the penitentiary are up to no good, this time around using the convicts on a death row as guinea pigs for experimental drugs.

After one of the experiments goes south, turning the prisoner a bubbling pile of flesh, the jail goes to lockdown and everyone inside still not zombified try make it out one way or another.

Death House is almost as plain 80s action thriller horror as they come, but in a good way; the movie delivers what it promises in a positively entertaining package.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 80%

#1401 Halloween 2020: Prime Evil (1988)

A satanic cult led by a charismatic priest hunt and kidnap victims for their sacrificial ceremonies in Prime Evil, a movie that ends up surprisingly tame despite the grim theme.

While it’s an ok break from the endless stream of slashers this year, it does not really spook or send chills down your spine, unless you are scared by people in robes, chanting in a basement.

William Beckwith performs well as the magnetic leader of the cult and Christine Moore whom I previously saw in the subpar Lurkers (coincidently also directed by Roberta Findlay) fares much better here as the target of the cult’s evil plans.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 57%