#1480 Everybody’s All-American (1988)

What happens to that perfect college football hero and his beauty pageant girlfriend couple after they marry and grow up. This is what Taylor Hackford’s Everybody’s All-American aims to give an answer to.

Based on a 1981 novel of the same name by Frank Deford, Everybody’s All-American manages to avoid almost all of the clichés usually related to sports movies. Similarly its characters avoid falling into typical caricatures and show some actual humane traits.

I wasn’t sold on the final closure of the movie, but the road to there is filled with interesting, lifelike moments that feel nothing like pasted on.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 72%

#1479 Resting Place (1986)

Another made-for-TV movie with a super interesting premise, Resting Place takes place in early 70s as an US Army Major (John Lithgow) arrives to a small souther town to with a body of young deceased African-American sergeant and soon finds out the family is denied of his burial on the graveyard reserved for whites.

When everything else fails, the major turns out to officials, local newspapers and finally his team, who to his surprise seem to keep shush about the actual events leading to the sergeant’s death.

Resting Place is one of those made for tv movies that manages to better 90% of the movies out there, and easily earns my recommendations for watching.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 87%

#1478 Shy People (1987)

American wetlands have always intrigued for their mystique, and I’m always happy to see a movie exploring the swampy southern regions. In Shy People we city slickers get to identify with a New York journalist and her daughter who travel to Louisiana to meet with their weird, backwards distant family.

There are lots of backwards ways in their lives. The family still looks up to an old patriarch of the family who has since left them, lives in a creaky old house and has one of the adult kids permanently locked up in a shed.

I get what the movie makers were going after with the concept, but everything in the movie feels super artificial and implausible. I lost my interest in the events and the characters in the very first minutes when they arrived to the swamp, and the movie failed to pick up my interest afterwards.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 22%

#1477 Square Dance (1987)

Square Dance is an exercise in futility. Stuff happens, people clash and fight and finally get back to the starting point with very little gained along the way.

Everything in the movie feels forced, and it was especially when the intellectually disabled young man played by Rob Lowe appears on screen that I felt the movie was totally without focus. But as it turns out, the only thing really working in the movie is Lowe’s character and I’d rather watched a movie about him rather than being subjected to all the other nonsense the movie tries to serve as a plot.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 16%

#1476 Staying Alive (1983)

Sylvester Stallone (of all people) co-wrote and directed the sequel to the 1977 landmark movie Saturday Night Fever – and it remains one of the few misfires in his career.

Staying Alive picks the story up years later of the original storyline, as Tony Manero (John Travolta) is now trying to make it big in the Broadway. Akin to many musicals of the era, it’s a struggle of getting noticed from a fleet of talented dancers.

The original’s heavy disco approach along with the killer soundtrack is what made it a phenomenon, when again Staying Alive is an early 80s fast food take on the subject; light drama is constantly mixed up with lengthy musical numbers, and neither one have enough memorable aspects to really stick with the viewer for more than a minute or two.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 51%

#1474 Death of a Salesman (1985)

I’m not quite sure what to do with all these made for TV movies of the 80s. On the other hand, watching through all of them is not at all what I signed up for, but with gems like Death of a Salesman how could I possibly pass them up?

Based on the brilliant 1949 play of the same name by Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman transfers nicely to the TV format thanks to great casting including Dustin Hoffman, John Malkovich and Charles Durning – and in this case specifically to the TV as the production values themselves are a far cry from a feature film.

If you’re new to the play, Death of a Salesman is one of the better ways to get acquainted with the story and its timeless themes of the (false sense of) pride, delusion, American dream – and falling short of it.

80s-o-meter: 5%

Total: 85%

#1473 Tiger Warsaw (1988)

Ah, the 80s where it’s still totally ok to be totally melodramatic in the most theatrical way.

In Tiger Warsaw it’s the Chuck ’Tiger’ Warsaw (Patrick Swayze) in his leather jacket and wild hair who is suffering with his past after shooting his father, fleeing the town and living a life of self destruction ever since. And boy is he in anguish as he tries to meet up with his past again and make up for the past.

As in, almost rolling in pain.

In the cynical world of 2021 Tiger Warsaw feels directly out of a pen of a teenager in angst and all of its overwhelming drama very much glued on. Call me cynical, but this one did not manage to touch me at all.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 19%

#1472 Amazing Grace and Chuck (1987)

Chuck, a star of his little league baseball team realises after a visit to nuclear missile silo how the world is in a balance of terror that might go off any minute, and refuses to throw another pitch until the nuclear arsenal in the world is gone. His boycott is then picked up by a local newspaper, after which an unexpected chain of events starts to unravel as a NBA star Amazing Grace Smith joins him, followed by other front row athletes.

Amazing Grace and Chuck is a beautiful fairy tale with great array of interesting personas and events. It grasped me from the get go, and I enjoyed it all the way to the end. So, it’s highly implausible – but the movie handles all this very well, finally wrapping up beautifully with a one single thought:

”But wouldn’t it be nice”

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 86%

#1471 Covergirl (1984)

A fashion model meets up with a wealthy and persuasive entrepreneur who promises to make her a star, but after the initial crush the she feels that the he has become quite an overpowering force in his life. This imbalance of power is turned around when it’s her turn to help him.

For a movie much about nothing Covergirl is much more entertaining than it deserves to be. Jeff Conaway as the robot building businessman does a good job of being big headed but still likeable scoundrel, and Irena Ferris whose acting career dried up by the end of the 80s has a great screen presence, and the camera truly seems to love her.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 70%

#1470 Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling (1986)

In the 1980 the comedian Richard Pryor famously set himself on fire while on a drug induced psychosis and sustained severe burns. It’s from this setup that Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling, a semi-biographical movie of Pryor starts.

Directed and starring Pryor, he plays a stand-up comedian much like himself. While definitely boosted up in the 80s by the Pryor being a star everyone knew, the movie holds very little interest to anyone not aware nor fan of Pryor. There’s no real common thread running through the movie and I’m not sure why the movie was made, other than for some sort of personal self-examination.

Fans of Pryor likably will dig this one as well, others might want to steer clear.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 22%

#1469 Too Scared To Scream (1984)

Too Scared To Scream takes notes from the early 80s slasher movies as well as the genre classic Psycho and serves them as a thriller with a slight horror twist to it.

A high rise apartment complex in New York City is being riddled with murders. Suspicion points to a peculiar doorman played by Ian McShane (of the Lovejoy and Deadwood fame) and its up to the Detective Dinardo (Mike Connors) to prepare a trap to catch the slayer.

I would give Too Scared To Scream top rating purely as a slasher movie (as it tops that genre), but although I do like the overall mood and the setup, as a horror thriller it does not fare quite that well.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 61%

#1468 The Concrete Jungle (1982)

I definitely was not looking forward to seeing The Concrete Jungle after suffering through various similar prison exploitation movies.

Luckily The Concrete Jungle manages to surpass most of similar women’s prison exploitation movies by staying low in exploitation and putting more emphasis on the script. Make no mistake about it still, the movie prison world is very much there; the prisoners are well groomed, look like models, sleep in their pyjamas in a dorm and get into cat fights.

But, there is an actual plot and the movie manages to generate empathy towards the main character thrown in the slammer for protecting her drug trafficking boyfriend. Tracey E. Bregman performs well in her role as Liz and overall the movie looks much more fresh than its release year would suggest, and the 70s style movie poster does not represent the look and feel of the movie at all.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 62%

#1467 Killing American Style (1988)

The Iranian born Amir Shervan directed three action movies towards the end of the 80s: Hollywood Cop, Killing American Style and Young Rebels.

While Hollywood Cop was a pleasant surprise that turned all the entertainment knobs all the way to 11, and Young Rebels was an uttermost disappointment, Killing American Style luckily resembles more of the Hollywood Cop, but loses a bit in the action department.

Like other Shervan’s movie, every pumped up character feel like they’d been taken out of Mortal Kombat arcade game, and the action and dialogue are so overboard the movies feel more like parodies rather than serious action movies. Robert Z’Dar, Shervan’s square-jawed go to actor once again complimenting this theme as a menacing baddie straight out of a comic book.

80s-o-meter: 98%

Total: 76%

#1466 Stark Raving Mad aka Murder Run aka Rockaday Ritchie aka Execution (1981)

Another late 80s drawn to look cool to hide the fact that the movie itself is almost one decade old and made with a small budget, Stark Raving Mad is one of the movies I always thought to be a cult classic, but isn’t. The probable reason for this is the classic Simpsons episode from the season 3 (1991) that had a similar word play, Stark Raving Dad – but the two aren’t connected in any way.

Stark Raving Mad is an exploitation movie done in the vein of Bonnie and Clyde of a 19-year old greaser who starts dating a 14-year old and they end up starting a crime/murder spree. The official blurb of the movie states the following: while awaiting execution, a convicted serial killer relates the story of the circumstances that led to his present situation – but this kind of prologue was missing on my DVD copy. There is however a final sentencing closure present.

There isn’t much info nor reviews available for the film online, so it can be considered an actual movie lost in time. Plot and production wise it’s a pretty inept movie, but not a complete stinker. Knowing the downward spiral will end unfortunately for the duo, watching the proverbial noose tighten around them still makes for an interesting if not thrilling experience.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 52%

#1465 Sacred Ground (1983)

A mountain man in mid 19th century Oregon builds a cabin to the Native American’s burial site and then revenges the death of his wife by kidnapping a woman from the tribe and killing the chasing tribe members with a repeater stolen from the vendor who lent his horse to him.

In the age of political correctness all the depictions with Native Americans seem a bit uncomfortable, and I’m not sure it Sacred Ground does justice to the Paiutes. I kind of like how the movie handles the disputable decisions of its caucasian lead – this is not the heroic, virtuous character often seen in classic Western movies – but I’d appreciated if the movie had included more the point of view of the tribesmen.

The real star of the show are the Oregon nature and mountains, and the movie captures well what I’d imagine the life there might’ve been back then.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 43%

#1464 Olivia aka A Taste of Sin aka Double Jeopardy aka Prozzie aka Beyond The Bridge aka Mad Night (1983)

A movie that holds a record number of alternative titles so far, Olivia has almost as many plot twists as names.

Other than Olivia witnessing the death of her prostitute mother as a kid, and then re-enacting the revenge against men in her adulthood, I could not tell what the movie was about overall. Very little of all of it makes sense, and the coincidents masquerated as plot twists are just implausible.

Still, kudos for trying out something a bit more unconventional, although this time it does not pay off.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 32%

#1463 Man, Woman and Child (1983)

An academic couple’s picture perfect marriage comes to halt as the husbands love child pops up from the past, and the whole family needs to adjust to the new situation.

The movie handles the situation well and draws a realistic picture of the situation along with all the internal and external conflicts everyone involved goes through.

Man, Woman and Child is an easy to relate to drama that avoids the pitfall of being too syrupy or melodramatic, and is only held back by the ending that really feels like cutting the story totally short.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 70%

#1462 She (1984)

After just a few days after suffering through Robot Holocaust I happened to watch She, a similar kind of sword & sorcery adventure set in the future dystopian world.

But where Robot Holocaust failed, She manages to be actually probably the best movie in this sub genre I’ve seen to date. The different factions and places the leads run into are imaginative, but not completely ridiculous and the whole look and feel of the movie reminds me of a post apocalyptic RPG, kind of like Fallout, with less 50s and mutation.

Heck, I enjoyed the movie and can’t but to credit the director/writer Avi Nesher for managing to put together a surprisingly solid movie out of such a shoddy ingredients.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 80%

#1461 Deadbeat at Dawn (1988)

A cult classic so cult (meaning, adored by a small bunch of people) I had no idea of its existence, Deadbeat at Dawn is one notch above your average hobby projects.

But one notch only. The movie follows a gang leader whose girlfriend gets killer by a rivalling gang. He at first doesn’t seek revenge, but after getting hunted down by the gang decides to get even. Shot on a non-existent budget with family and friends helping out, the result is far away from big studio quality, but still a tad better than we usually see in these hobby projects. There are also a number of nice small ideas here that make it clear the director/writer Jim Van Bebber was actually putting something of his own into this movie, instead of just copying form elsewhere.

I was ready to rate this one somewhere in the +-50 range, but the movie does get better towards the end, with some pretty nice street brawler choreography included.

80s-o-meter: 62%

Total: 61%