#1577 Halloween 2021: Lords of the Deep (1989)

Something extraordinary weird happened in 1989: a staggering five production companies released an underwater scifi movie back to back. The best known out of these five is naturally The Abyss, while the fate of the four others remains to be always compared to the James Cameron’s masterpiece.

Lords of the Deep does unfortunately not fare well in the comparison with any of its competitors, ending up the weakest one of the bunch by margin. The movie reminds more of a low budget TV series (think underwater Star Trek), but despite the shortcomings of the set design and costumes the movie manages to sell the idea of an underwater base – if only barely. The same does not apply for alien lifeform, and it would require quite a bit more imagination than what I have to buy the silly storyline.

As with Star Trek, there’s something strangely endearing about the clumsiness and silly costumes though, and in an alternate universe Lords of the Deep might’ve had a somewhat potent one or two season TV series in it.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 42%

#1576 Halloween 2021: Aerobicide aka Killer Workout (1987)

Somebody is wasting people inside a small gym. And instead of closing it down, the gym is kept running while mutilated bodies fall out of every locker room and broom closet. Because, why not?

Aerobicide is light weight entertainment with light weight slasher elements in it. The movie never manages to be quite scary and the writer/director David A. Prior does not seem to have any elementary clue of how to build up suspense; the movie just moves from one killing to the next, and they viewer could not care less who’s next one to go. The same shallowness worked well in Prior’s Deadly Prey, but here everything just feels far too fluffy.

I did like the theme although Aerobicide does not do much with it. I mean, what could be more 80s than aerobics, sweat bands and leg warmers? Plus it seems to act as a quite potent padding material, filling up many precious minutes out of the movie’s measly running time of just 79 minutes.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 38%

#1575 Halloween 2021: Girls School Screamers (1985)

If something, Troma is never boring. It can be bad, and it can be totally tasteless – but never boring.

Cue in Girls School Screamers that right off the bat feels quite a different kind of Troma movie, like if they were really making a big push for the main stream cinema. The production quality is on a quite different level, and Girls School Screamers doesn’t look amateurish at all, but the movie is totally uneventful, and downright dull, which is truly a shame after that movie’s superb starting with a boy wandering into the old abandoned house. In fact, the starting scene feels like .. almost like from a different movie.

There’s a reason for that. Girls School Screamers actually started out as a haunter house movie called The Portrait shot in the 1985. Troma then picked up the project, added a few gory scenes in the movie and changed its title.

And it’s these hilariously gory small inserts that end up the only thing really working in this snoozefest.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 58%

#1574 Halloween 2021: I Was a Teenage Zombie (1987)

Don’t let the (relatively) nice poster fool you: I Was a Teenage Zombie is a shoelace budgeted, amateurish horror movie that has nothing to offer but horrible production quality and bad makeup.

And it’s not even the teenage main character that gets turned into a zombie but a 70s style hispanic pimp (read: falls into a river and climbs up with his face mucked with green body paint). Then, he then goes around humping people. I kid you not.

You have to wait until the one hour mark for anything interesting to happen to the actual teenager, and even after that it’s not too interesting. He gets body painted in a similar fashion and walks around cluelessly until he fights the pimp, and the end credits roll.

It’s not every day that one comes across something this inadequate.

80s-o-meter: 52%

Total: 0%

#1573 Halloween 2021: Bloody Birthday aka Hide and Go Kill (1981)

First movie of this Halloween with them creepy kids, Bloody Birthday presents us the concept of three kids being born during an evil solar eclipse that plants a seed if evil in them that activates ten years later, effectively turning them into little psychopaths who plot to act sweet and kill everybody in their path.

The concept works and all three actually make for pretty credible killers that seem to ooze evil, especially the sweet little Elizabeth Hoy in the role of Debbie. Typical shortcomings of slashers plague Bloody Birthday as well but I did like the way the kids weren’t staged as your typical unerring evil masterminds: they work their little brains to no end trying to find out how to kill people, often failing miserably.

Bloody Birthday should not be mixed up with Happy Birthday To Me, another similarly named (but very different) slasher from 1981.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 60%

#1572 Halloween 2021: Toxic Zombies aka Bloodeaters aka Forest of Fear (1980)

One more low budget indie zombie movie to shy away from, Toxic Zombies does little or nothing better than any of its contemporary rivals.

A pesticide is dropped on top of a few teenage campers, turning them into – you guessed it – blood lusting zombies. Typically with these kind of cheap productions the primus motor has been ”that weird neighbour kid” into gory special effects, who’s then all grown up and releases that one uninspired cookie cutter horror movie with horrid production quality, but inventive use of special effects.

Toxic Zombies doesn’t even have that going for it. Story wise there’s a bit more effort to it than other indie horror films, and the mood gets ok at times, but really, there’s nothing here to phone home about.

80s-o-meter: 57%

Total: 26%

#1571 Halloween 2021: Berserker (1987)

A good rule of thumb is that what it comes to horror and suspense, it’s not what you see, but what you don’t.

But Berserker takes all this too far by spraying all the scenes full of thick machine fog that makes it hard to make see just about anything. The concept of some ancient viking who would be possessed by a Berserker rage making them strong enough to fight a bear is there only to later demonstrate some bear handler wrestling with a grizzly.

Plus, the whole concept is just another spinoff of your tired slasher formula where a group of horny teenagers wander off to a remote forest, have sex and get killed. And that norse supernatural nonsense does not make that formula any more interesting.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 28%

#1570 Halloween 2021: Dark Tower (1987)

Contesting for the stupidest horror movie concept this year, Dark Tower tries to sell the viewer an idea of an evil office tower that is out to get the architect.

The concept of the high altitude office building horror reminded me of Michael Moriarty’s earlier Q – The Winged Serpent, but has quite a bit less of everything going for it. And unlike the earlier Spellbinder, the movie does not manage to sell the supernatural concept at all, ending up just plain stupid.

I was hoping that at least the movie could get some additional mileage out of its exotic location of Barcelona, Spain, but the movie does not embrace this aspect at all, and could’ve been shot in any generic office in any generic city.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 11%

#1569 Halloween 2021: Spellbinder aka Witching Hour (1988)

I’m not one for horror thrillers with an erotic twist to them – but hey, if it stars Kelly Preston, I’ll take it.

That coupled with the fact that Spellbinder is actually quite apt movie with a great late 80s style to it make the movie easy to recommend. The supernatural aspects of many horror movies can always be quite hard to sell for the viewer, but thanks to the highly entertaining nature of the movie, it’s easy to just go with the flow.

And the movie never wanders too far into the magical mumbo jumbo, but instead concentrates to tell the story through quite interesting array of characters and keeping the suspense level high until the end.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 85%

#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%

#1567 The Last Fling (1987)

John Ritter and Connie Sellecca, both seasoned TV and made for TV movie actors star in this TV movie made by ABC. As far as made for TV movies go, this one fares very well, resembling your quite average feature film made with a modest budget, and actually got distributed widely as a rental movie as well.

Ritter plays a popular playboy grown tired of one night stands, while Sellecca portrays a role of a fiancée who goes out to try to match her groom’s wild stag party – with dire consequences.

The story is nothing to write to home about, but solid acting work of both leads and good production quality make The Last Fling an a-ok time passer.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 72%

#1566 Tin Men (1987)

Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito, the two best disgruntled, conning scoundrels ever on the silver screen in a movie where they get involved in a massive feud? Sign me in!

Honestly, the movie seems such a good fit for both personas it feels like it was written specifically with these two gentlemen in mind. A story that starts from one bad day and unfortunate accident between two rivalling house aluminium siding salesmen soon gets out of hand, and what seems an bitter downward spiral escalating further and further soon turns out a totally unexpected, beautiful love story.

An already enjoyable comedy, surprisingly it’s this romantic part of Tin Men that ends up its strongest asset.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 91%

#1565 Clara’s Heart (1988)

An African-American multi millionaire actress in one of those movies where an outsider enters a community to make a change, this time boasting a heavy Jamaican accent? I sure can see many ways how this one could’ve gone heavily wrong.

But this is late 80s Whoopi Goldberg very much on top of her game, and she just manages to make it all work out. Clara does not end up just a Afro-Jamaican Mary Poppins, but has that certain edge to her to make the character interesting; despite all the philosophy in her, she still is very much a human being with the flaws that come with that territory. But this is not just Whoopi’s show. Kathleen Quinlan, Michael Ontkean and Neil Patrick Harris all in their respective roles contribute to the movie in a memorable way, and Robert Mulligan in the director’s seat manages to fully sell the story to the viewer.

I started to quickly glance through the movie again for review purpose, and ended up watching the whole thing pretty much all over again. If this isn’t a testament to Clara’s Heart being a thoroughly enjoyable movie to watch, I don’t what is.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 86%

#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%

#1562 Rooftops (1989)

You know how youth musicals always have this weird corny world where all the characters are so melodramatic and constantly emotionally hurt oh so bad that they have no other options but to dance to shake their negative emotions off.

Rooftops is like a musical without actual music. Instead we have both youthful dance sessions, and some sort of weird youth showoffs where they fight with dance, without touching each other, similarly to Capoeira.

It is what it is. Jason Gedrick in the lead is like a more handsome, more athletic and less charismatic version of Daniel LaRusso of the Karate Kid fame, and well .. I guess he goes well with the movie. While I did get some enjoyment out of the laughable over the top 80s melodramaticity of it all, this is one of the movies I really can’t see myself revisiting any time soon.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 29%

#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%

#1559 Uphill All The Way (1986)

Imagine any Burt Reynolds’ action comedy of the late 70s / early 80s, change the setting to the wild West, take out Reynolds and any other notable star – and you’ll end up with Uphill All The Way.

Roy Clark and Mel Tillis – both unknown to me – lead this cowboy Cannonball Run, going from one hardship to another, even more boring one.

Reynolds actually visit that set in a quick uncredited cameo as a poker hustler, which only confirms there was some some of connection going on behind the scenes.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 14%

#1558 Border Radio (1987)

When you see a black and white in the movie netting a mere 5.4 average in IMDb, it usually means the the movie does not even enjoy a strong cult following – so you know you’re not probably going to have a particularly good time with this particular title.

And this is the case with Border Radio as well. As with many other similar indie movies, Border Radio seems to be all about style over substance, and the characters and what we really know about them evolves very little during the 90 minute runtime. Sure, we get exposed to the faces a lot and they grow onto us that way, but it’s still a far cry from really connecting with any of them.

The movie and it’s southern California scenery look nice though.

80s-o-meter: 43%

Total: 22%