#1645 Atlantic City aka Atlantic City, USA (1980)

Atlantic City is a movie about transition periods and change. Sally is learning the ropes to be a dealer to be able to leave to Monaco to work on a casino. His former husband, now with Sally’s sister has arrived at the city to makes some money selling drugs, and they run into Lou, a small time old crook looking forward to finally becoming the big shot gangster with the money and a woman he could show off to his Florida pals.

And all this is taking place in Atlantic City that is going through sizeable changes where hotels and casinos of the old glory days are demolished to make room for new buildings.

The real gem in Atlantic City is the interesting array of characters with real yet a bit childish and silly aspirations, and in this sense the movie manages to positively surprise time after time: we don’t have to relate or even like the characters to be able to sympathise with their dreams.

80s-o-meter: 63%

Total: 87%

#1641 Gleaming the Cube (1989)

What do you get when you put 80s up and coming skating legends like Mike McGillMark ”Gator” RogowskiRodney MullenLance MountainMike VallelyNatas Kaupas, Tony Hawk and Tommy Guerrero into the same movie with young Christian Slater on the top of his game, mix it up with a kick ass soundtrack and Californian scenery?

A totally rad 80s action adventure movie – that’s what.

Gleaming the Cube is enjoyable on most of its aspects and a movie that offers tons of aspects that make it worth revisiting time and time again.

80s-o-meter: 100%

Total: 92%

#1602 Halloween 2021: Pieces aka Chainsaw Bastard aka Chainsaw Devil aka The Night Has 1000 Screams (1982)

Pieces, a Spanish horror movie shot in Spain with American actors gained cult fame with its cruel depictions of deaths by chainsaw, and inexplicable encounter with a martial artist, totally detached from any events in the movie.

The movie does a fairly good work presenting itself as an American movie, and even if the movie isn’t anything extraordinary, it’s still one of the better and more original slashers of the era, and definitely earns its place alongside the most iconic examples of its genre.

80s-o-meter: 56%

Total: 60%

#1599 Halloween 2021: Deadly Daphne’s Revenge aka The Hunting Season (1987)

Deadly Daphne’s Revenge kind of shouldn’t be in this Halloween feature, but little did I know it wasn’t strictly speaking a horror movie, but more of a thriller. It seemed to be made in the vein of I Spit On Your Grave and its numerous 80s copies, but what it ends up is kind of a made for TV style movie that looks like it was shot in mid seventies, with quite terrible acting, a few quite interesting plot twists, and an ending gone horribly wrong.

It’s in this ending that the movie finally claims its name, and introduces some horror elements, but .. well … it’s just plain stupid, isn’t it.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 43%

#1568 Halloween 2021: Night Warning aka The Evil Protege aka Thrilled to Death aka Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1981)

Halloween 2021 kicks off with a movie with an awful lot of alternative titles, one worse and more confusing than another.

Much to my surprise Night Warning is actually one of the better horror thrillers that starts well, and antes up multiple times towards the end, eventually getting pretty weird and downright sick. Other than that, it’s hard to describe the movie more closely without giving something away.

Susan Tyrrell is a perfect fit for the weird ant, and Bo Svenson’s role as a ridiculously hard boiled detective is written smartly to play it away from the typical clichés; I for one did not see the ending turning out as it did. I also found the young Jimmy McNichol previously unknown to me due to his short-lived acting career a surprisingly radiant lead, with the boyish charm not unlike that of one Matthew Broderick.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 82%

#1564 Thief of Hearts (1984)

The second collaboration between producer wizards Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer responsible for such 80s gems as Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun, Thief of Hearts failed to find its audience in the box office.

The story of a thief falling in love with one of her victims and using ill gained information to win her heart over does not reach the epic levels of Bruckheimer & Simpson’s top movies, but the story is still unique and interesting – basically nothing like I’ve seen before.

There is a moment of bad writing though when the couple finally clashes, as it really feels forced and out of character for the thief figure. But the ultimate plot twist (for the lack of better wording) manages to fully redeem the movie, making for one a totally satisfying finish to the movie.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 80%

#1563 Extremities (1986)

Well, here’s a weird sort of screen chemistry ongoing: Extremities is a tragic movie of horror of the events that unfold when an intruder enters the home of a woman, with the intention of performing sexual (and deadly) violence on her – and it therefore feels odd to say, but the leads Farrah Fawcett and James Russo actually go well together on the screen.

Extremities is rooted in female revenge movies genre first capitalised in I Spit On Your Grave (1978) and continued in the 80s with the likes of Naked VengeanceMs .45Extremeties and The Ladies Club. But similarly to the recent Positive I.D. (1986), Extremities bravely wanders off the trashy path of the genre to try something new.

The exploitative revenge porn aspect is still there, but here the heroine stops to think about the morals of her vigilant act as she balances on the very verge of the point of no return, realising she’s damned is she don’t and damned if she does. It’s this part that totally make Extremities worth checking out as it begs us as the viewers to ask ourselves those very same questions.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 85%

#1561 Lassiter (1984)

Lassiter is a hit-by-the-handsome-stick gentleman cat thief living in London on the verge of WWII that ends up recruited against his will by FBI to break into the heavily guarded German embassy to steal gems from the nazis.

The plot puts further pressure on Lassiter and his relationship with his love interest (Jane Seymour) as he first has to seduce the nazi femme fatale (Lauren Hutton) to gain access to the base.

40-year old Tom Selleck handles the role with expected charisma and the movie portrays well the era – or at least the movie version of it – without redundant underlining or overselling.

80s-o-meter: 5%

Total: 73%

#1560 The Lightship (1985)

Three thugs kidnap a lightship – an anchored boat that acts as a floating lighthouse – and its crew in this very mediocre action thriller, low on action and thrills.

The look and feel of the movie is from early 80s, that furthermore reminds me of North Sea Hijack – a similar, but far more superior aquatic thriller. With The Lightship I pretty much kept on waiting for some interesting plot twist until the very end, unfortunately in vain: it plays out much as expected.

The positive aspects of the movie are its moody setting, the two highest billed antagonists Robert Duvall and William Forsythe, plus that amazing looking poster that manages to be much less wishy-washy than the movie itself.

80s-o-meter: 27%

Total: 37%

#1553 American Rickshaw aka American Risciò aka American Tiger (1989)

With American Rickshaw the director Sergio Martino bites a bit more than he can chew; a movie about a Miami rickshaw driver mixed with Chinese supernatural mumbo-jumbo gets outright ridiculous quickly. On the other hand it’s this nonsensical, over the top aspect of American Rickshaw that makes the movie if not enjoyable, at least an experience to watch through. This is definitely one more movie to the ”so bad it’s almost good” -category.

An Italian movie shot in Florida with American actors, American Rickshaw does its very best to underline its American origins – up to the title of the movie – by showcasing well the 80s Miami (beach) life. But, there’s something weirdly and wonderfully off about the movie throughout its running time that is somehow a straight giveaway that it’s not a Hollywood movie we’re talking about here.

I can’t rate American Rickshaw too generously because it’s just not a good movie per se. But take the low rating with a grain of salt, as it does have other interesting qualities to it, and if unorthodox movies are your thing, you might find a lot to enjoy about this wonderful train wreck.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 60%

#1549 The First Deadly Sin (1980)

Although Frank Sinatra did a notable career in movies, I’ve either consciously or unconsciously steered away from them, so I did not have any sort of expectations (in good nor bad) towards Sinatra in his comeback movie role. And I liked what I saw. Sinatra makes a great character as an ageing detective in the last leg of his career aiming to solve one more case.

As far as thrillers go, this is your basic early 80s stuff, easily overshadowed in wittiness by almost anything seen today. What makes the movie worth one’s while is Sinatra’s character who is no super cop by any standard, but much more human than almost any other detective I’ve seen on the silver screen, and it’s truly refreshing to see this kind of writing that does fall back into the cliches of the genre – like, whiskey sipping detectives surrounded by femme fatales – but instead actively plays away from them.

Here’s a detective who is pressured by his personal events and work place, and makes multiple mistakes along the way, resulting in a much more three dimensional and relatable character, much more noteworthy than the movie itself.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 70%

#1546 The Dead Zone (1983)

Stephen King’s movies got translated to the silver screen in a quick pace after the success of Carrie and The Shining, but for the better of worse they rarely matched the sheer brilliance of these two movies. While The Dead Zone featuring Christopher Walken in the lead also falls somewhere far behind Carrie and The Shining, it’s still one of the more stronger King adaptations of the decade.

Despite the mild horror and supernatural elements, with The Dead Zone it was never that obvious that this was in fact a Stephen King movie, being more of a thriller. In fact, there’s nothing in the movie that would suggest an exceptional manuscript, and without reading the original 1979 novel of the same name, I can’t really tell how much has been lost (or found!) in translation with Jeffrey Boam’s screen write, or David Cronenberg’s directing.

Even if something has, The Dead Zone still makes for a decent movie with an interesting premise well worth one’s time.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 80%

#1543 Positive I.D. (1986)

Positive I.D. is probably the best twist I’ve seen to date in the woman revenge genre as it concentrates more on the identity – and loss thereof – affected by personal violation.

And its study on its female suspect and the enigmatic change she goes through is really interesting. Much more so than any your typical female revenge porn movie could provide.

A low budget movie shot with mostly unknown cast, Positive I.D. manages to find its own, weird slightly out of tune tone of voice that makes the movie viewing experience quite unique and rewarding.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 85%

#1534 Slam Dance (1987)

Tom Hulce’s movies of the 80s seem to range from great to kind of crappy. After his 1978 break through role in Animal House he started the new decade strongly with Those Lips, Those Eyes, won the critics over with Amadeus, followed by disappointing Echo Park, playing the support role in the highly popular Parenthood before wrapping the decade up in Black Rainbow, another slight disappointment.

While Slam Dance never had a chance of becoming a great movie, this story of an artist framed for a murder of a woman could’ve turned out an OK thriller, but it’s either the story by Don Keith Opper that’s too convoluted, or then it’s the director Wayne Wang who fails to translate it to the silver screen in an understandable manner.

Slam Dance is a messy film where nothing is quite real or convincing. Many of the elements here don’t quite seem to mix in well to the idea of Slam Dance trying to be an erotic thriller, and the sub plot of her ex-wife walking in to the scene just the wrong moment again and again gets old before the midpoint of the movie.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 41%

#1516 Perfect Strangers aka Blind Alley (1984)

Larry Cohen’s (Special Effects, The Stuff, Q) Perfect Strangers begins as a 2-year old witnesses an assassination in an alley.

To make sure there are no loose ends the hitman befriends the boy and her single parent mom, only to soon find himself emotionally attached to both.

The premise is wonderful for a decent thriller, but Perfect Strangers’ approach is somewhat bland and features one of those weird early 80s lense effects where everything looks shiny as if shot through a greasy lens. The strong setup still carries the movie through, fortunately. But only barely.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 68%

#1513 Dangerously Close aka Campus ’86 (1986)

A clique of rich kids who can themselves The Sentinels run a secret society policing an elite highschool and its students, under the blessing from the school authorities. But, it seems not all of their correctional activities would stand the light of the day.

As a part of their scheming behind the scenes they befriend a student newspaper editor who at first falls into their web, but starts to question his newfound friends after one of his buddies seen as unwanted material by The Sentinels.

Meant to be fluffy time passer of a thriller, Dangerously Close delivers what it promises to, in a perfect 80s time capsule; I got carried away and felt entertained throughout the runtime – and did not really mind the final plot twist either.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 75%

#1512 Flowers in the Attic (1987)

When ran into Flowers in the Attic I already knew it by its name. Based on the 1979 novel of the same name, this was the first movie adaptation of the book.

But I did not know the grim gothic tale it was. A story of a grandmother locking the children to wither away in a north wing of the family mansion, and their mother betraying them the movie is not an easy thing to watch – especially considering this kind of abuse in the world is not fictive.

I haven’t read the book or seen the 2014 made for TV version, but based on what I’ve read the director Jeffrey Bloom has made the right call downplaying the incest relationship between the children that would’ve made the movie even harder for me to stomach, and toned it down to normal teen curiosity and a strong comradeship between the two elder siblings.

80s-o-meter: 28%

Total: 85%

#1511 Mindfield aka Mind Field (1989)

Canada – or USA lite as some pundits like to call it – felt in the 80s somewhere in between Great Britain and the States (a bit like Australia did as well) performing at times pretty convincing imitation of the Hollywood cinema, but more than often not really finding a tone of its own, and ending up sort of a poor man’s version of its US counterpart.

Mindfield is 100% Canadian product that got into this list for featuring one Michael Ironside who had already achieved a sizeable career in the US that would ultimately culminate in Total Recall (1990) that made him a household name and one of the definite baddies in the cinema history.

In Mindfield he also performs well, but anything else in the movie falls so far behind the expectations that it’s clear his talent is wasted here. Don’t let the nice poster or the scifi mind altering thriller blurb fool you – Total Recall this totally ain’t.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 38%

#1509 Raggedy Man (1981)

Raggedy Man almost feels like three movies blended into one. First of all you have a story of a single mother (Sissy Spacek) caught in a dead end job as a switchboard operator in a small rural town. Secondly there is a movie about a sailor (Eric Roberts) on a four-day furlough passing through the town, who grabs onto the chance of some day having a family of his own. And thirdly there is the thriller about times for Luke, the gossipy, sometimes violent bunch of people amongst whom is a mysterious old man everyone calls just a Raggedy Man, keeping mostly to himself.

The good news is that every single one of these stories is an interesting one, backed up with smart screen riding and skilled acting, and it was especially the story of the young soldier that stayed with me long after the end credits had rolled: what ever become of him? Did he ever find happiness, or a family of his own?

Such is the power of a good movie that I ended up caring for this totally fictive person.

80s-o-meter: 41%

Total: 85%