#1681 Halloween 2022: Evil Laugh (1986)

What followed the early 80s stream of slashers was a stream of slasher comedies. I would argue that most slashers are quite humorous and over the board in their nature to begin with, and I’m sure the teams behind them were having a good laugh while making them, so in this light there’s very little point of parodising them other than justifying arriving to the slasher party several years too late.

If I had not check IMDB, I would have never known Evil Laugh was a comedy. Sure, it’s more goofy in some aspects and the characters make references to other slasher movies, but the movie is never laugh out loud funny.

Youngers get slashed, there’s some naked skin, one imaginative killing and possibly one of the most stupid looking antagonists, and that’s pretty much that. No matter how bad slashers are, at least they earn my respect for trying. Comedies like this too afraid to even be proper slashers don’t even have that going for them.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 19%

#1680 Halloween 2022: Saturn 3 (1980)

Almost ten years into having Halloween features and still haven’t reviewed Saturn 3?? Well, to my defence it is a British movie after all but featuring US leads and undoubtedly better than the majority of similar Hollywood movies of the era, so it definitely still does earn its place here.

The film takes place in a remote station in Saturn’s third moon aka Tethys, aka Saturn 3, where a pair of a man and female scientists (Kirk Douglas and Farrah Fawcett) receive a visitor from earth, Captain Benson (Harvey Keitel) whom we witness earlier assassinating the person who was to originally arrive at the station. There he starts to build a helper robot with an organic brain that he programs using a direct brain link connected to himself. As it goes, the robot picks the negative traits from him, including a crush to the female scientist and it is downhill from thereon.

The movie looks great and cinematic, but not 80s, nor 70s but strangely almost 60s or 50s in style. Having Kirk Douglas in the cast furthermore strengthens this feeling, but in this case I don’t really mind as it all works out quite well. The small cast is also a triumph with Keitel performing the role of a antagonist perfectly, Fawcett making for a perfect love interest that I can’t blame Benson falling on, and finally Kirk Douglas – already 64 at the time but in amazingly good shape, perfect for the role – whom you just could not have replaced and have the movie feel the same.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 81%

#1679 Halloween 2022: Beware! Children at Play (1989)

Creepy kids in movies are certainly nothing new, and Beware! Children at Play actually does remarkably bad in this sense. The kids lost in the forest and attacking adults don’t feel menacing at all, more like as if a teacher in a school had decided to direct a short film of scary kids in a forest.

But those who know the movie by its reputation already are aware what the movie is most well known for (and I don’t think I’m revealing any real spoilers here); it’s gory showdown in the that really caught me totally surprised, and I’m still not quite totally if what I saw actually took place in the movie.

Everything preceding this event is just a buildup to justify the ending, and if it’s quite unbelievably mind-boggling cult B-movie to have a laugh with your gorehound friends, Beware! Children at Play has got you covered. Those looking for actual scary movie and frightening events should look elsewhere.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 50%

#1678 Halloween 2022: Doctor Hackenstein aka Dr. Hackenstein (1988)

A parody of Frankestein line of books and movies, Troma’s Doctor Hackenstein cannot be discussed without comparing it to the great Re-Animator that has a similar premise, and was released only three years earlier.

Where Re-Animator reinvents the mad doctor turning dead into living beings, and does so with hilarious results, Doctor Hackenstein remains strangely tame, only ending up a slightly gorier, more naked and a bit sillier version of its paragon.

If Re-Animator did not exist, Doctor Hackenstein would have been a nice breath of fresh air in horror comedies. Even though it’s nowhere near the stinkers often seen in this genre, the team should have really leveraged upon learnings from Re-Animator and try to do something much more outstanding, instead of settling for playing the second fiddle.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 60%

#1677 Halloween 2022: Scared Alive aka Island of Blood aka Whodunit (1982)

If it is a pure slasher you want to watch this Halloween, the lesser known Island of Blood is not a bad option.

It is a pure slasher so you get pretty much what you expect: a group of youngsters getting killed one by one in an imaginative manner.

The most distinctive aspect of the movie is they way the killer plays a quite catchy song with lyrics ”Burn me, stab me, chop me, nail me, boil me, saw me” before commencing the killing. On top of that the end, especially that last few seconds are refreshingly different from what you’d expect.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 59%

#1676 Turk 182 (1985)

Young Jimmy Lynch (Timothy Hutton) starts to perform a series of public stunts behind masked identity and the pseudonym Turk 182 to get justice to his older brother, a NYC firefighter who was denied benefits by the city and humiliated by the mayor.

The movie was completely other than I anticipated by its title, but more or less this was a positive surprise altogether. It’s fun to be an insider in this prank, and to watch Jimmy plan and execute them to humiliate the mayor, and increasingly getting to be the hero of the common folk.

Timothy Hutton is always a delight to watch on the silver screen, and Turk 182 is no exception here. The ending of the movie feels like a lazy writing, and an easy way out, which left me unsatisfied .. but everything until that is completely enjoyable, if not spectacular.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 70%

#1675 The Competition (1980)

The first thing that strikes from The Competition is the love and devotion the team shows for its subject, competitive piano playing. The actors have been instructed and trained carefully, perform their roles as piano virtuosos very well and at least for me superficially the way the competitions are carried out seems quite plausible, and without those facepalm moments.

Although not one of the movies he is most known for, Richard Dreyfuss once again reminds me why he is one of my favourite actors of the era. Amy Irving whom I recently saw in Crossing Delancey is a good pair for Dreyfuss, and them getting involved in the strange mix of mutual interest, friendship and rivalry does not seem too far fetched.

The Competition sidesteps the obvious pitfalls of ending up boring (due to its classical music theme that’s not actually thrilling), or being untrue to the same theme, and for this reason it’s a success.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 74%

#1674 Hotshot (1986)

Hotshot is a football movie made in the vein of soccer almost becoming a household sport in America during the 80s, a trend that never did carry too far.

What makes the movie interesting is it featuring one Pelé, arguably one of the best football players in the history of the sport. This aspect of him not wanting to play the sport anymore, but upon a request of a young hothead American player becomes his protege and teacher is what makes Hotshot of any interest.

Other than that, Hotshot is pretty much your basic sports movie with nothing much surprising to it, coupled with way below average production values, especially for a movie made in 1986.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 52%

#1673 Frances (1982)

Other celebrity biographies well known in this side of the Atlantic ocean, while others, apparently well known in the stateside can remain relatively unknown here. The story and controversial life events of Frances Farmer falls at least to me in the latter category.

A sensation of her time, Farmer’s temperament and lack of respect for authority lead her to discord with Hollywood and a burnout that lead her to be arrested and put into a mental hospital where she was subjected to now-brutal methods of treatment.

As with many biographies, the 2-hour movie format is just too short to give a good treatment to a whole life of events, and the movie feels at many times rushing just to get the story told, and Frances as a character remains to the viewer quite distant and enigmatic.

80s-o-meter: 4%

Total: 60%

#1672 Dangerous Liaisons (1988)

A costume drama I was for once actually aware of for once, Dangerous Liaisons marches in a quite unexpected cast (at least for a historical drama) consisting of Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer, Uma Thurman and Keanu Reeves.

Those familiar with my page know that historical romantic dramas aren’t exactly my cup of tea, so at least here the consolidation was the interesting cast I was looking forward to seeing. I perceived Dangerous Liaisons as it was: a drama taking place for some unexplained reason in the make believe history with bored aristocrats in funny wigs delivering an endless stream of witty and pretentious dialogue in a pompous manner.

But – fortunately – there’s an end to all the wittiness, and this is where Dangerous Liaisons actually becomes interesting, to the point of redeeming itself in the final act.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 70%

#1671 Beat Street (1984)

I love the NYC hiphop culture of the 80s that carried also distant waves all the way to Finland in the forms of graffiti, rap music, beatboxing and breakdancing. There are a few good documentaries out there about the era, but also some cringeworthy movies that haven’t really aged that well. And to be honest, I’ve been putting off watching Beat Street because I always thought it was a movie of the latter kind.

Far from it, Beat Street is actually the 80s hiphop drama to watch and it skilfully balances between showing street life and the struggle to make it out of the ghetto, without being patronising, and having some actual dramatic elements to it without being overly melodramatic and silly by accident.

The movie also features a wide bunch of actual hiphop breakdancers, musical acts and DJs which make it much more credible, and Beat Street has been later recognised as the movie that introduced and ignited hiphop culture around the globe.

80s-o-meter: 98%

Total: 91%

#1670 Doin’ Time (1985)

Truth be told, when starting this project I thought I was in for a lot of mediocre but passable comedies (true), but also hidden laugh out loud gems nobody has heard of – but the latter ones have kind of been hard to find as the really fun ones are typically more well known.

Enter Doin’ Time, a prison comedy for which I had absolutely no expectations for, and what a positive surprise it turned out to be! It’s one of those comedies where the plot is secondary, and only there to carry the movie from a joke to another. But in this case, much of the humor is actually quite fresh and genuinely funny in its stupidity, delivered in numerous word plays and dead pan comedy style not unlike Naked Gun series.

To make things even better Richard Mulligan and John Vernon are there to deliver the humor in style, and Jeff Altman – of whom I hadn’t former memories although I’ve seen him in some roles before – also performs the lead role with surprisingly solid comedic craftsmanship.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 87%

#1669 Apprentice to Murder (1988)

A US-Norwegian-Canadian co-production Apprentice to Murder portrays of Pennsylvanian folk healer and his apprentice getting far too deep into dark powers of their craft in a story that very successfully blurs the line between real and make-belief, wrong and right, and good and bad.

I was surprised to learn the movie was shot entirely in Norway, so my hat is off to the production team who very skilfully concealed this fact, and totally sold me the location of 1920s Pennsylvania.

Although shot in mainstream Hollywood fashion, Apprentice to Murder (apparently based on a real historic event) is a very untypical movie but in a good way. It boldly goes quite deep into religious fanaticism, dark sides of human psyche and superstition.

80s-o-meter: 11%

Total: 72%

#1668 Agnes of God (1985)

Agnes of God presents us with an enigma of a young, eccentric nun giving a birth, insisting the now dead infant was a result of virgin conception, but it never really gives a solid answer to the actual events, or who was the culprit behind it all.

It’s an interesting concept, but the movie never manages to tell it in an interesting way. The same dullness continues in the cinematography and the locations, and the movie is never quite entertaining to watch.

The most prominent feature of the movie is seeing the 80s fitness idol Jane Fonda smoking a truckload of (fake, as it turns out) cigarettes, lighting one up in pretty much every scene she is in.

80s-o-meter: 15%

Total: 31%

#1667 The Bostonians (1984)

I sigh audibly every time I’m to sit down and watch another period picture set in 19th century, especially one with a romantic theme to it.

The Bostonians wasn’t as bad costume drama as I feared, though. Its manuscript based on Henry James’ novel of the same name has some interesting aspects to it, like women’s rights movement and the implied one sided love story between the female leads, but as with many similar movies the end result is just plain dull, and the plot is stuck in the same place pretty much throughout the movie.

I was surprised by the ending, though.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 32%

#1666 Endless Love (1981)

Endless Love is one of those movies that you learn to appreciate much more after you realise it’s a pure work of fiction not even meant to resemble anything that might take place in real life.

It’s after this realisation that you might find yourself enjoying the movie, like myself. In fact the whole concept of a love story gone horribly wrong is a really interesting one, and one that I can’t find any resemblance from the movies I’ve seen.

It’s only the weak, open ended ending that felt to me keeping this movie from greatness; after creating such a bold plot twists I hoped the movie makers had the guts to ride the wave all the way to the ending.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 76%

#1665 The Seduction (1982)

The Seduction takes a tone inspired by the late 80s TV and series like Dallas, marching to the stage one ridiculously good looking character after another, leading a picture perfect life. Now, I don’t have any problem with beautiful people, but having even the antagonist look and dress like a model just makes everything feel a bit plasticky.

Talking of good looking people, The Seduction stars Morgan Fairchild, of Dallas fame herself.

As far as thrillers go, The Seduction may not be anything special, but luckily it’s quite easy and effortless to watch. The traits of the antagonist (gets into fights, but gets his ass easily handed over to him) are quite odd, but at least they made the experience just a little bit more memorable.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 60%

#1664 The Killing Fields (1984)

A  biographical drama film about the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, based on the experiences of journalists Dith Pran and Sydney Schanberg, The Killing Fields may a British film taking place in Asia, but there are numerous things that make it interesting, and very much worth your time.

First of a all, it was nominated in seven categories in the 1985 Academy Awards, taking home awards for Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Actor in Supporting Role for Haing S. Ngor, for whom this was amazingly his first acting experience ever.

Secondly, it’s a good movie about an interesting historical events, told in a realistic – even nihilistic – way, but spiced up with interesting supporting characters we learn about, and soon learn to care for. Its story about journalistic integrity, human rights and inequality is every bit as relevant today as it was 40 years ago.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 87%

#1663 Six Weeks (1982)

Ho hum. It’s Dudley Moore once more playing Dudley Moore, this time not only falling in love with beautiful woman, but also with her daughter who is terminally ill.

It’s not the most original concept as far as tear jerker dramas go, and for the Six Weeks felt really, really calculated effort that never managed to move me. Call me cynical, but this one did not feel like coming from the heart at all.

There are some good moments between Moore and the daughter, and the odd love triangle between the three is something that keeps the interest somewhat up in an otherwise snoozefest of a movie.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 29%

#1662 Prime Risk (1985)

The poster for Prime Risk makes a bold comparison to War Games, stating this movie will make it look like ’kid stuff’.

The reference is not unfound as prime risk successfully draws from its paragon, presenting us a similar setup where youngsters’ mostly innocent tomfoolery turns out something much more than they originally bargained for. In Prime Risk, it’s hacking credit cards that leads to a plot of a hostile nation aiming to crash the U.S. monetary system.

What it comes to hacking and peeping behind curtains of state secrecy and international politics, Prime Risk is an excellent contender to War Games, only taking a few missteps towards the end by turning more into an action packed agent movie rather than what War Games ingeniously pulled off. Still, anyone who enjoyed War Games will find a lot to be loved here.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 84%