#1131 Midnight Madness (1980)

An early 80s adventure hunt movie in the vein of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (and its many clones), Midnight Madness replays the same formula of multiple teams racing against each other, trying to outsmart and outrun each others to the finish.

I’m usually sucker for the genre and the little interest I had in the movie was because of this. But everything Midnight Madness does, it does a little bit worse than its competitors: there are no big celebrity names here, no cameos, no great landmarks nor road movie elements to be found here.

If you’re new to the genre, you might still enjoy Midnight Madness. For similar, slightly better versions of the era, check out The Cannonball Run or even the 2001 Rat Race.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 60%

#1130 Ladyhawke (1985)

Sad news hit us this week with the news of Rutger Hauer passing away at the age of 75.

To commemorate him I watched through Ladyhawke, a fictitious fantasy tale taking place in the 13th century. It was only too bad that pretty much the only interesting bit for the movie was Mr.Hauer himself, and I really didn’t find other aspects of the movie that interesting.

Shot in location in Italy, the damp and drafty atmosphere did not lure me in, and although I’m not a fan of sword and sorcery movies, I wished the movie had had some more interesting fantasy element to it than the dodgy shapeshifting to animals, like the landmark movies Willow or Legend did.

The movie does have a strong fan base that really seem to dig it, so if the genre interests you, you might still find something here to love.

80s-o-meter: 38%

Total: 51%

#1129 Melvin and Howard (1980)

Melvin and Howard is a good example how movies already changed from seventies to the early eighties, and from there to date.

The movie first starts with Melvin picking up a stranger in the desert who later claims to be one Howard Hughes, much to Melvin’s amusement. During the next hour after this event the movie concentrates to draw a picture of Melvin Dummar as an all-American dreamer and a high stakes loser who seems to have all the odds stacked up against him. It’s only in the few last minutes to the film when after Howard Hughes passes away that we see the actual meat of the story when Melvin claims to have received a will from a stranger giving him one-sixteenth of Hughes’ heritage.

Everything from the movies pacing to the themes and focus may seem odd from todays point of view when, but it didn’t stop Melvin and Howard becoming a huge critical success back in the early 80s. Considering its contemporaries Melvin and Howard is not a bad movie, but it the critics wouldn’t give it the time of day had it been released today.

80s-o-meter: 31%

Total: 37%

#1128 Feds (1988)

Part of a wave of novice cop comedies that was launched after the huge success of Police Academy, Feds mixes in some female buddy cop action into the mix and takes the story to a highly fictional FBI academy where two women fight to graduate and to break through the glass ceiling.

It’s a predictable show where you know that the underdogs will come out as winners in the end and there aren’t too many delightful events along the way. Both leads fare fairly well, but don’t possess nowhere near the comedy muscles of Shelley Long or say, Goldie Hawn.

As long as you accept that the movie doesn’t offer much surprises nor originality, Feds offers an easy to watch comedy, surprisingly enjoyable in its own mediocrity.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 68%

#1127 Double Exposure (1982)

A fashion photographer sleeps with countless of models and then dreams about killing them, after which they end up turning dead in Double Exposure.

The movie has tons of problems, least of which are not the way the movie tries to sell Michael Callan being the divine gift for them ladies and the lengthy love making scenes that ensue.

Erotic thrillers never quite were my thing, and Double Exposure has nothing special enough under its hood to change my stance on this.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 36%

#1126 Blind Date (1984)

An USA production directed by the Greece born Nico Mastorakis and shot in Athens, Blind Date is something of an unique experience.

Follow this if you can: Jonathon is bit of a peeping Tom, gets chased in the forest by a dude in a car and hits his head, consequently making him blind. As he wakes up, a doctor offers him an implant that can make him see again by using a sonar build into a Walkman. If all that sounds like a mouthful, it gets better: Jonathon then wires an Atari 2600 console straight into the Walkman which overloads his brain, giving him an ability to connect with the serial killer loose in Athens.

Blind Date is a good looking movie where the basic setup works, but other elements just fail to connect in a satisfactory way. The movie earns extra kudos though for the European location that for once works well in a Hollywood movie. This is the first one of the movies of the same name released in the 80s and not to be mixed up with the 1987 comedy.

80s-o-meter: 66%

Total: 58%

#1125 Haunted Honeymoon (1986)

I always mistook Haunted Honeymoon for one of the definite comedies of the pre-millennium era, probably mixing it up with the popular Young Frankenstein, another spooky horror comedy starring Gene Wilder.

But although Haunted Honeymoon is a relatively well known release, it never was a commercial success and hasn’t had cult following to speak of. The movie is mostly harmless, tamed down take on the Mel Brooks’ comedy style and never quite grasps the viewer like a movie of this caliber should.

Haunted Honeymoon ends up an outdated comedy effort that offers few snappy lines, interesting concept and characters – but somehow just isn’t much fun to watch.

80s-o-meter: 23%

Total: 52%

#1124 Ghost Warrior (1984)

400-year old samurai frozen alive is revived with the miracles of the modern science in Ghost Warrior, by far the coolest concept of the ancient man in present day movies I’ve seen to date.

There’s no doubt about the star of the show: Hiroshi Fujioka is nothing short of awe inspiring as the oriental warrior Yoshimitsu, bringing to the role tons of charism,

The movie provides some very enjoyable kickassery by Yoshi but regrettably nothing much more than that. It’s a shame, since Yoshi’s clashing with the modern day could’ve easily provided enough material to fuel even a full TV-series.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 81%

#1123 The Night Before (1988)

Waking up in a strange place with no memory of the events that lead you there might be a clichéd setup, but one that often kick starts a book or movie in an interesting way. The same goes for The Night Before, an adventure comedy exploring probably the most unfortunate prom night ever.

Keanu Reeves performs his trademark awkward Californian surf dude character that we’ve come to love and while it suits the movie perfectly, he seems almost too goofy and dazed here.

As the mystery of the night unravels one memory at the time, the movie successfully ups the ante continuously as it evolves through its non-linear timeline.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 84%

#1122 Jacknife (1989)

A late 80s movie featuring Robert De Niro, Kathy Baker and Ed Harris that I’ve never even heard about? Color me interested!

And it looks I’m not the only one. Jacknife is a relatively small budget movie that saw a limited release, grossing only a fraction of its budget. It’s a shame since it is one of the better Vietnam veteran movies that handles its main characters with certain affection that at least feels genuine to the viewer. Unlike other similar movies, Jacknife does not start with a huge bang nor draw its strength from powerful flashbacks of the war, but concentrates more on carefully peeling off layers of its subjects.

The movie does a good job of balancing between not glorifying nor antagonising the characters and I found the setup that revolves around personal issues instead of justification of the war interesting and a refreshing approach to the subgenre.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 82%

#1122 Silverado (1985)

A tale of misfit scoundrels with a heart of gold, Silverado joins Pale Rider, Young Guns and The Long Riders as one of the most essential western movies of the 80s.

This is very much a romantic, Hollywoodian take on the western, and takes place in some alternative reality where even the hookers look like immaculate fashion models, but I dig the way the movie totally embraces its approach and does not even try to represent itself as being historically accurate in any way.

While one could make a case for Silverado to being unrealistic, they’d be hard pressed to ever calling it boring.

80s-o-meter: 45%

Total: 77%

#1121 Platoon Leader (1988)

Michael Dudikoff, the athletic lead in the amazing American Ninja movie series stars in Platoon Leader, one of the least known movie about Vietnam war.

Released during the period that saw many pivotal Vietnam movies, Platoon Leader fails to stand out in any way. It isn’t action movie per se, there’s no antiwar manifesto, no subplots nor does the movie set out to tell the story behind some of the more iconic battles of Vietnam war. And it’s this lack of interesting setup and point of view that hurts the movie throughout.

Some viewers have praised the movie for being one of the more realistic depiction of the war events, and I can imagine that day to day business can be somewhat eventless – but it simply does not a good movie make.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 47%

#1120 Critters 2 – The Main Course (1988)

This is how you do a sequel!

Critters 2 – The Main Course takes everything that was cool in the first part and amps it up to eleven: there’s much more humour, action, new locations and characters this time around.

Even more importantly, the Critters themselves have taken a huge leap forwards and actually feel like actual, menacing but goofy antagonists. The elements that work, like the shape shifting intergalactic mercenaries are fortunately still there and the movie does not try to reinvent the wheels in any negative way.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 87%

#1119 Critters (1986)

The best moments for me in this project happen when I finally sit down to watch a movie I’ve seen countless of times as a poster or stacked on the shelves of a local rental store when I was a kid. Critters very likely tops that list.

I’m happy to say that the movie mostly lived up to the sky high expectations I had for it. A furry mini-monster comedy in the vein of Gremlins and Ghoulies, the actual creatures themselves appear as surprisingly weak characters (and antagonists), and end up overshadowed by other elements of the movie, like the two intergalactic mercenaries who arrive on earth, taking various human forms, resulting in plenty of comic relief.

It might be due to the weakish Critters, or the dip in the movie’s pacing towards the third act, but I had the constant nagging feeling that the film never quite reached its full potential. Fortunately the movie wraps up in a satisfactory way, although with a much too clichéd last minute horror cliffhanger.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 83%

#1118 Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

When reviewing these movies I often talk about how the difference with good and bad movies is the directors’ ability to just sprinkle in that special movie magic into their creations. Francis Ford Coppola surely possesses that skill and Peggy Sue Got Married, his look what one would do differently if they could relive their past – and if they could help falling in love with the same person they’ve just divorced – is an exceptional

Kathleen Turner plays the leading role with grace and certain heavyheartedness that the part really calls for. I can see Debra Winger – originally cast for the role, but gave it up due to an injury – performing the role with flying colors. But it’s really Turner’s ability to bring in the role a layer of melancholy that’s almost translucent but still weighty like a bag of boulders that makes her seemingly impeccable fit for the role.

Peggy Sue Got Married is a delight of a movie to watch and only slightly held back by its ending that seems to cut the story short.

80s-o-meter: 67%

Total: 87%

#1117 Never Cry Wolf (1983)

Never Cry Wolf, based on the Farley Mowat’s controversial book of the same name marks for the first ever film for the Walt Disney Pictures label, established in 1983 to diversify film subjects and seek for broader audiences for Disney movies.

I enjoyed the vast landscapes of the subarctic Canada and the love the movie has for its canid subjects. The movie plays out pretty much as expected, so Never Cry Wolf is not about the destination, but more about enjoying the way there. The books tend to encompass these kind of personal journeys in a more intimate, thorough way, so I suspect that the original novel gives a better mileage for those really interested in the theme.

Charles Martin Smith does solid work as the lead and makes following his transformation from a city slicker into a man of the wilderness truly engaging.

80s-o-meter: 42%

Total: 61%

#1116 The Executioner, Part II (1984)

A confusing vigilante romp, The Executioner, Part II is one of those amateur, shot on the cheap film end movies that kind of pass as a real movies at quick glance, but where the total lack of film making competency quickly shines through after just a few minutes to the film.

While there are basically no redeeming qualities to the movie, it’s the shoddy directing and camera work that make the watching experience lousy. Still, the biggest shortcoming here – as in many other amateur movies – is the total lack of that certain movie magic that the more seasoned directors so manage to establish in their movies.

In the end perhaps the most interesting aspect of The Executioner is that the suggested prequel does not actually exist at all. While there’s no official reasoning available for this unorthodox naming, the theories on the net suggest that the aim was to either hint the moviegoing audience that there’d been a part one so successful that it’d warranted a sequel, or that the game was a blunt attempt to pose the movie as a sequel to similarly named The Exterminator, which received its sequel the same year.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 12%

#1115 Beyond Therapy (1987)

Robert Altman was an interesting director who managed to create awful duds like Popeye as well as masterpieces that combine the best traits of both indie and Hollywood movies, like Streamers.

Beyond Therapy falls somewhere between these two. It is an artsy film that makes some annoyingly artsy and trivial choices just for the sake of it. A drama comedy about self-centred and neurotic New Yorkers struggling with relationships begs to be hated, but for one reason or another I did find the oddly off mood somewhat enchanting. And yet, I did hate the artsy move where Altman choose to locate the movie to Paris. And yet, I didn’t care for the plot at all.

Whatever there’s good about Beyond Therapy happens in small quirky moments when a dialogue leads the viewer on, only to take a sudden, unexpected 180 degree turn. Those did manage to make me smile every now and then.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 42%

#1114 Saturday the 14th (1981)

The title Saturday the 14th already gives one good overview what to expect here: a horror parody where the title is the most witty aspect of it. And the title isn’t very witty.

On paper it all sounds pretty good: a clean cut nuclear family inherit a cursed house, after which their son accidentally unleashes a horde of monsters by opening a forbidden book. But before you get excited, there’s really not much to be loved here as the movie isn’t anywhere near the best monster adventure comedies of the era. Despite its name, the movie does not poke fun of the Friday the 13th series at all. In fact, it doesn’t seem to parodize any horror movie that I know of.

But that all is really beside the point since no matter what the movie aims for, it ends up a failure that won’t provide the scares nor the laughs. Also, the piss poor production quality crushes any hopes for at least getting to witness any cool movie monsters on screen.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 23%

#1113 Remote Control (1988)

Aliens attack the earthlings with a cheesy VHS tape programmed to watch its viewer into a homicidal monster in Remote Control, a glorious 80s homage to the 50s scifi that despite its name does not have anything to do with actual remote controls.

By far the best aspect of the movies is its pseudo futuristic 80s styling: most of the TV sets are masqueraded to look like flat screen TVs (roughly about 15 years before they were available) and all the teenagers are wearing some bitching gear straight from the 21st century with makeup and hairdos straight out of Patrick Nagel painting.

Despite the visual style being the most prominent feature here, the movie itself is not bad at all. It’s OK – not as brilliant as it could’ve been – but still very much a recommendable experience and great time capsule to the late 80s.

80s-o-meter: 98%

Total: 71%