#1313 Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama aka The Imp (1988)

More is more, but Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama would have fared better with less elements.

In particular, it’s the Imp – the antagonist that lives in a trophy in the bowling alley and causes all sorts of havoc as he gets out – that is very much an unnecessary element in the movie and never manages to feel anything but the rubber hand puppet it is.

If the team would’ve only realised the weak link in the movie, cut their losses and come up with a different kind of approach, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama could have lived up to its outrageous name. As it is now, it makes for a surprisingly solid movie visually (excluding the imp) despite being filmed in one location outside its business hours.

What is lacking completely though are the kills, which usually lend for easy chuckles in similar horror spoofs. Here they are disappointingly skipped, probably due to budget constraints.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 60%

#1312 Savage Dawn (1985)

A motorcycle gang terrorises a small town in Savage Dawn, a missed opportunity of a cult movie.

Out of the strong cast of George Kennedy, Richard Lynch and Lance Henriksen it’s suprisingly William Forsythe that really shines as the leader of the gang (that otherwise resembles Black Widows, the comical motorcycle gang seen in Clint Eastwood’s Every Which Way but Loose).

Savage Dawn looks great for a B-movie, boasts a nice poster, has a strong cast, and silly enough plot, and thus sets the viewer’s expectations sky high. But somehow it just does not add up as expected; the action just isn’t there and the movie unfortunately looks much more fun in still pictures than it does as a movie.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 51%

#1311 Hellbent (1988)

A modern twist of the classic Faust story, Hellbent presents a story of a punk trash band who make a management deal with a person who promises them success in exchange to their mortal souls.

I love a good underdog movie, and Hellbent with its weird story, eccentric characters and ominous cinematography definitely counts as one. The movie does lose its sharpest edge as it changes from relying purely on suspension to more of an action movie, and as an action movie it does not fare that well even though the shooting and violence is depicted in a way that makes it feel very impactful, much more so than in the Hollywood A-list movies.

While not the long lost gem of the decade, Hellbent is definitely interesting enough experiment to earn a recommendation.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 79%

#1310 Kiss Me Goodbye (1982)

This is the miracle I had to live to see: James Caan in a uncomfortable role in a very average movie.

To make things worse, Jeff Bridges and Sally Field also waste their time with this romantic comedy that has one of the most annoying premises ever: a late hustler of a husband coming back from the dead to haunt (and annoy) the widow and his new husband to be.

It’s been reported that James Caan – seen performing a cheap Gene Kelly imitation here – hated working in this movie so much that he decided took a five year break from Hollywood to recover and find a suitable script to work with.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 23%

#1309 Cattle Annie and Little Britches (1981)

Now, it’s true that Anna Emmaline McDoulet – known as Cattle Annie – and Jennie Stevenson aka Little Britches were two teenage girls that toured around in Oklahoma, following the Doolin-Dalton gang and earning their living stealing horses and selling booze to the native American tribes.

But the movie gets wrong pretty much everything else, and Cattle Annie and Little Britches is a very typical western that demonises the law enforcers, celebrates their death, glorifies the criminals and draws a romantic and a mind-numbingly naive picture of the life of the outlaws.

The only upside of the movie is the Cattle Annie character, played by Amanda Plummer (of the later Pulp Fiction fame) with the look and feel of a human tumbleweed.

80s-o-meter: 10%

Total: 8%

#1308 Do the Right Thing (1989)

Many things make Do the Right Thing worth watching right now, but here are the top two.

First of all it’s a great imaginary time capsule to the late 80s – early 90s hiphop influenced lifestyle of a one neighbourhood in the big apple, delivered through caricatures of characters in a visually rich way that reminds me of cartoony music videos and artists like De La Soul.

Secondly, despite being a sign of its time, Do the Right Thing is just as topical right now as it was 31 years ago. The scene of police attacking Radio Raheem feels chilling and very topical due to the huge black lives matter movement and riots this year following the killing of George Floyd.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 87%

#1307 Polyester (1981)

Divine (Harris Glenn Milstead), one of 80s most famous drag acts plays an overweight housewife married to a pig of a man, gets tortured by every member of her family, and then her life gets worse, and worse and worse and worse .. until the the end credits roll.

Everything in the movie is targeted to be kitsch, which it pulls off, especially visually. Equally kitsch is the inclusion of Odorama, a card included in the theatrical showings of the movie that people get prompted to scratch and smell to get different smells to match with what’s seen on the screen.

Similarly to the Lust in the Dust – another comedy starring Divine – the humour in Polyester completely escapes me, although here I can see and kind of appreciate what they were trying to achieve with the approach. While I usually appreciate weirdness and trash in a movie, I still expect it to evoke some kind of feeling, be it repulsion, curiosity, joy or sadness.

Polyester did none of this for me.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 27%

#1306 Sitting Ducks (1980)

There’s an aspect to the story telling in Sitting Ducks that works and another one that lacks a bit. What works is the improvisation of the dialogue between the characters, something very typical for Henry Jaglom’s films.

Where Sitting Ducks falls short is the plot that is just plain silly, and frankly, I expected much more out of the ’big surprise’ in the act 3.

Zack Norman and Michael Emil make for a good anti-heroes in the lead roles, with surprising traits to them, not least of which being having the appearance of a middle aged losers while being pretty ripped (for the time) as they strip to show off their physique at the hotel pool.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 55%

#1305 Bronco Billy (1980)

Bronco Billy is in many ways very similar to Clint Eastwood’s other films of the era, like Every Which Way but Loose or Any Which Way You Can in depicting himself as an everyday dude who road trips around and gets into occasional classes with the locals, or the authorities.

Made purely to entertain, the plot itself feels secondary in Bronco Billy, and the movie mostly concentrates on showcasing Eastwood and his captivating screen presence. Compared to some other films he’s made at the time, what makes Bronco Billy interesting is the way that Eastwood reveals personal flaws in the main character, depicting him as the despotic leader of the western show, but also subjects him to some humiliating encounters with the local law.

For anyone viewing it for the first time, Bronco Billy Makes for a very easy movie to watch, but is less likely to leave any lasting impression.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 61%

#1304 Vice Academy (1989)

Rick Sloane’s Vice Academy series (they go all the way up to part 6, released in 2008) derives its basic setup from the Police Academy series by changing the interesting set of various odd-ball characters with curvy ladies who aren’t afraid to reveal their mammaries in order to catch the criminals.

I honestly liked the start of the movie as it reminded me of the Police Academy movies, but as soon as the girls leave the academy to do the undercover work, the movie turns kind of stale. Maybe Sloane should have gone all the way in copying more directly and not experimenting with his writing.

The overall mood of Vice Academy is good, Linnea Quigley is likeable as always and visually the movie does fare well for a comedy of its era. Only if the writing was more snappier, Vice Academy could have stood a chance to become an actually recommendable comedy to watch.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 59%

#1303 Wacko (1982)

A part of a sub genre called crazy comedy (at least here in northern Europe) Wacko features the same kind of comedy seen in ZAZ and Mel Brooks’ movies – meaning it’s full of visual gags and an endless stream of humour is derived from pretty much everything that can be parodized.

It’s a difficult area of comedy to master, and the script here just isn’t snappy enough to make Wacko a laugh riot.

Sure, few of the jokes find their target in this horror movie sport, but more than often the humour just completely misses its mark for me.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 42%

#1302 True Stories (1986)

Directed and acting as the narrator of the movie, David Byrne of Talking Heads surprised me positively with True Stories and his knack for story telling.

The musical bits were the least favorite bits of the movie for me and I found them really distracting filler kind of material in an otherwise extremely interesting concept.

John Goodman is totally lovable in his role of a kind hearted bachelor looking for love with real intention, and his well built up performance in the local talent show towards the end had me on the edge of the seat, which to me was a totally rare experience for me, and another proof of Byrne’s story telling chops.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 90%

#1301 The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood aka Hollywood Blue (1980)

The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood is a soulless production that makes an endless list of disappointing design choices, starting from assuming the viewer has any knowledge of the Happy Hooker character first seen in the 1975 movie of the same name.

The movie tries to sell itself as a raunchy sexploitation comedy with a promise to see a few glimpses of mammaries, but really, you would be better off obtaining any of the porn movies of the era with a plot if humour and naked skin is what you’re after.

Adam West (of the campy 60s Batman fame) can be seen suffering in one of the lead roles, contemplating on the number of bad career moves that ended him with this movie.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 0%

#1300 Society (1989)

It’s hard to write anything about Society without spoiling it for those who are yet to see it.

All I can reveal about the plot without giving too much away is that a high society teen begins to notice some oddities in people around him that then turn out even more odd, and more, and more .. and more.

Society is more of an experience than a movie, but as such it is totally a riot, only held back with some scenes that feel unnecessarily elongated. If you are a fan of home video classics such as Bad Taste, The Blob, Basket Case, Brain Damage or The Evil Dead, you will be very much at home with Society.

80s-o-meter: 96%

Total: 92%

#1299 Zoot Suit (1981)

Zoot Suit is the lavish and showy outfit with high-waist, wide-legged trousers and a ridilously long coat with wide, padded shoulders, coupled with a overlong watch chain dangling below the knee, and worn mostly by the youngsters of African-American, Latino, Italian American, and Filipino descent in the 1940s. What makes Zoot Suit interesting is its rebellious statement of self expression and the showiness of it by using excessive amount of materials, making them a luxury items and the way to show the neighbourhood (and the ladies) how much of a cool cat you were.

This is where the interesting part of Zoot Suit ends. The movie itself is an adaptation of a 1979 musical of the same name with possibly the worst music I’ve heard and the movie itself is shot with theatrical setting as if it was a play, likely to underline the fairy tale like nature of the movie, but to me it just did not work, give a take a few scenes. What worked though was the narrator and the ’Zoot Suit Spirit’ played by Edward James Olmos.

Like most of the musicals, Zoot Suit has a limited, but die hard fan base that rates it up there with the actual musical timeless classics.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 18%

#1298 Max Dugan Returns (1983)

Max Dugan Returns is a good-natured and likeable family comedy that makes an attempt for actually having a point, which is where it fails to deliver.

A long lost father and the grandfather of Michael (Matthew Broderick), Max Dugan, returns to the family of Michael and his mother after skimming money off a casino and ending up wanted by the police. He then purchases his way into their lives and makes all their financial dreams come through, which leads to all sorts of trouble from the police, and making the mother’s newly found relationship with a local detective (Donald Sutherland) quite troublesome. The interesting conflict that was build up all along is solved at the end in a very unsatisfactory way, ie pretty much not at all.

Max Dugan Returns is enjoyable as long as you accept it at the face value, without putting much thought into it.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 62%

#1297 Journey to the Center of the Earth (1988)

To understand how a horrible mess of a movie like Journey to the Center of the Earth came to the existance one has to know about the history behind it. The filming had started already in 1986, but the movie was left unfinished midway and Cannon Films was left with a dud of a movie so they hired Albery Pyun to finish the film.

Pyun who later disowned the whole project and remains uncredited alledgely wrote a new screenplay with zero budget and made it sort of a sequel to the Alien from L.A. (1988) he had just finished shooting.

And all of this shows. Journey to the Center of the Earth (1988) in nobody’s passion project, lacks ownership and direction and ends up totally incomprehensible and definitely one of the biggest train wrecks of the era that should never seen the light of the day. The tragedy is that the actors aren’t half bad, and there’s a constant feeling of a half decent scifi adventure movie being buried under all the pile of garbage that ended up on the screen.

80s-o-meter: 79%

Total: 1%

#1296 Blame It on the Night (1984)

Look, I totally get what the team behind Blame It On The Night was trying to achieve by joining together a free spirited rock’n’roll star father and a high-strung son studying in a military academy.

But this obvious setup of mixing two very different elements together, having them going through a set of clashes before each one learns a lesson from each other pressed all the wrong buttons to make its point. The movie features useless and overlong segments of lame adult pop concert footage that serves no purpose after the first time the status of the father as a pop star figure was established and uses only a little time establishing believable relationship between the father and the son. The way the movie sets up the clashed feels very artificial, and the resolution of those clashes feel equally lame and forced.

The name of the movie remains a testament of how much of a misaligned mess Blame It on the Night is, as it has absolutely nothing to do with what’s seen on the screen.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 4%

#1295 Mutant War (1988)

A sequel to Battle For the Lost Planet, Mutant War shares the same production values than its predecessor. Meaning, it’s poor.

And while it has the same kind of charming underdog feeling to its predecessor (the team has aimed ridiculously high, including camera and video effects, matte paintings and stop motion animations, all of which way beyond their capabilities), the charm only carries the movies so far.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 31%

#1294 The Breakfast Club (1985)

One of the definite teen movies of the 80s, the setup in John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club bears resemblance to the 12 Angry Men (1957). Both movies present us a group of people with seemingly little in common forced to a small room by an external power.

But in The Breakfast Club the roles of the individuals are much more pronounced and relatable for anyone who lived through the high school: there’s the jock, the snobb, the geek, the juvenile delinquent and the weirdo, species of different cliques that usually don’t interact in their day to day life, and when they do, they find out just how much in common they really have.

The Breakfast Club leans on clichés a bit more than it needs to in order to make its point, but even if if the movie may be dated, its themes are definitely not.

And that right there is a sign of a movie classic.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 94%