#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%

#1394 Halloween 2020: New Year’s Evil (1980)

A mysterious stranger calls a TV host to let them know there’ll be one murder at the clock as each states from east to west coast reaches new year, and that the host herself will be the last victim.

Although classified as slasher, New Year’s Evil is actually a horror thriller that sidesteps all the banalities of slashers. We follow the maniac cruising around L.A., picking up his victims, and the story at this point is told much more from the killer’s point of view rather than the victims’, which makes for an effective design choice. I also applaud how the filmmakers don’t view the killer as an omnipotent super human, but rather show him fumbling along the way, struggling to make it to the killings in time and even having to escape an angry mob.

New Year’s Evil has a lot of good thing going for it, but it suffers a bit from at times less than stellar execution. Here’s one of those movies that could benefit of a modern remake.

80s-o-meter: 73%

Total: 72%

#1367 Halloween 2020: Nomads (1986)

Nomads marks for two interesting debuts: it’s the first leading role for the Irish actor Pierce Brosnan in a feature film, and John McTiernan’s directorial debut.

Story wise Nomads is a bit dud, with group of haunted motorcycle gang tormenting a French couple who just moved to USA. Brosnan’s French accent is totally unnecessary, and the gang itself falls short of similar baddie cliques seen on the silver screen. It’s an ok ride that hints the chance of greatness, but never redeems those expectations.

What Nomads gets absolutely right though is the haunting atmosphere that was picked up by Arnold Schwarzenegger which lead to McTiernan first directing two possibly the most bad ass iconic action movies of the 80s: Predator in 1987, and Die Hard the following year.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 67%

#1366 The Jigsaw Murders (1989)

I’ve gone through this before; given the sky high quality of the thrillers these days that offer plot twists after plot twists, it’s hard to get impressed with the 80s offerings.

But what actually works for the benefit of The Jigsaw Murders is the way how refreshingly straight forward it is: someone gets murdered, the evidence gets piled up against a suspect, and finally it’s a question of getting enough evidence (with legal means) to put him away.

As the book of movie clichés would have it, the senior detective struggles with alcoholism, but the movie handles this side of the story interestingly, stripping any sorts of movie glamour out of it.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 72%

#1356 Endangered Species (1982)

Funny how some things blend into one in your memory when you don’t put your thoughts on a paper right after seeing a movie. I watched Endangered Species about two weeks ago along with The Return and they’ve turned into one and the same movie in my head.

But I’m not completely to be blamed here as the similarities are many: both movies have a supernatural theme, take place in a small distant town and feature a liaison between a stranger coming to the town and a local law enforcement officer, with one of them battling alcoholism.

I can’t see myself watching either one again, but for the future reference, Endangered Species is the stronger one of the two, with a more solid and interesting story about government cover ups. But unlike The Return that went far too much into the supernatural, Endangered Species left me wishing it would’ve leaned even more to huge conspiration theories that its premise is built upon. Now it manages to build up the story and whet my appetite, but does not provide the big payback I so craved for in the end.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 67%

#1348 Schizoid (1980)

Someone is sending Julie, a local columnist, threat notes and killing people in her therapy group one by one using a pair of scissors as the murder weapon.

The unappetizingly named Schizoid marches to the stage a bunch of shady characters that all seem to have their dark sides and leaves the viewer doing the whodunnit guesswork of figuring out which one of the likable suspects did the killings, or – you guessed it – is it someone much less likable.

While I’m always wondering the movie world’s eagerness to cast Klaus Kinski who always seems like playing the same role through every movie, in Schizoid the director David Paulsen seems to be able to keep him in control and he manages in the role like any other bulk actor.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 39%

#1345 The Return (1980)

Everything in The Return feels indifferent and passionless as if none of the actors nor the team itself really wanted to do the movie.

Jan-Michael Vincent is more busy sipping beer than acting most of the time and Cybill Shepherd (of the later Moonlighting fame)looks like she’s contemplating on finding herself a new agent.

The Return is a movie that didn’t need to be made as it serves no real purpose and does not bring anything to the table that hasn’t been done better before or since.

80s-o-meter: 67%

Total: 22%

#1344 Cuba Crossing (1980)

A bunch of rogue USA soldiers set out to assassinate the communist leader of Cuba in Cuba Crossing.

This would not be such an issue if the movie itself had something going on for it, but it’s unfortunately an outdated, inconsistent, uninteresting mess that remains stale most of the running time, and gets somewhat interesting only after the plot twist in the third act.

I try to steer away from talking about technical aspects of a movie, but with Cuba Crossing the lack of decent cinematography cannot be unaddressed. Not only is the shooting amateurish with over/under exposed scenes and overall bad cinematographic choices, the movie completely misses out of taking advantage of the tropical Key West landscapes and mostly looks dull as a dishwasher.

80s-o-meter: 45%

Total: 17%

#1342 Eyewitness aka The Janitor (1981)

Very interesting cast of super talented William Hurt, gorgeous Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Plummer, James Woods and Morgan Freeman star in little known early 80s murder thriller Eyewitness that was originally planned for release as The Janitor, but after lousy initial box office feedback the name was changed.

I’ve always mixed up this movie with the 1987 Broadcast News – William Hurt’s other movie involving TV reporters – and Eyewitness turned out to be completely different from what I was expecting – both in good and in bad.

The plotline has far too many coincidences to make it really believable, and Hurt’s poetic janitor character also seems quite far fetched and theatrical choice. The movie is quite watchable though and the end showdown is both thrilling and uniquely something I can’t remember seeing before.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 70%

#1335 Hider in the House (1989)

If there ever was a role Gary Busey was born to play, it’s the deranged patient Tom Sykes who in Hider in the House finds himself building a little nest in the attic of a nuclear family to live with the family he never had. Really, he’s such a natural in the role and boasts just the right physical features that the movie seems written with precisely him in mind.

Busey perfectly shows the likeable traits needed for the role and we the viewers can’t but hope that everything would turn out well for him in the end somehow. The concept of the movie is unique and it skillfully moves away from the most tired clichés when there is a temptation to just take the road well travelled.

That is, until the end. Even though the ending is a-ok it really felt like such a letdown after all the great buildup that was used to establish Tom’s multifaceted character.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 87%