#1418 The Kill Reflex aka Soda Cracker (1989)

The Kill Reflex is a paint by numbers action thriller overshadowed by most of its contemporaries. This lone wolf police story could have worked a bit better as a buddy cop movie, but naturally still ended up inferior in that category as well.

It’s a tired show that does not ever to try to outdo other movies of the genre, just fit in with the rest of them.

There are two highlights in the movie; the ending the ending that manages to surprise with the drastic actions the baddies take when caught in a corner, plus the fact that another one of them can be earlier seen wearing a Finnair Sports Tours tracksuit.

Go, Finland!

#1417 Rich and Famous (1981)

The playwrights and the creators of theatre were in a bubble in the early 80s where they thought their life was so extraordinary, it would impress the common people to no end.

Rich and Famous is yet another film about people of the entertainment industry who struggle between best sellers, live in their fancy mansions and wallow in their problems. They’re snappy to no end and even when they lower themselves to an arguement, it’s never a showcase of banality like with the common folk, but a that of mastery of the wit. And all this is super tiresome to watch.

The most interesting aspect of Rich and Famous is that it features young Meg Ryan in her feature film debut – but be aware that her screen time is restricted to just a few minutes.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 17%

#1416 Human Highway (1982)

I like my movies weird, but weirdness is a bit like scifi in movies; if it’s done right, I love it, and if not it can be truly painful to watch. And much more often, it isn’t.

Enter Human Highway, a co-op between Dean Stockwell and Neil Young, with Devo (the band) playing a few parts, and performing a few songs. This movie depicting a defunct diner with its defunct staff, located near a leaking nuclear plant is wonderfully quirky one for the most parts, but it should’ve really relied on solid base story it already established. Now Human Highway starts venturing into music video like dream sequences that feel totally out of place and frankly, aren’t very good at all.

For me, Human Highway turned out a total surprise – and mostly positive one at that.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 81%

#1415 The Last Married Couple in America (1980)

Yet another early 80s comedies in the vein of 70s sexual revolution, The Last Married Couple in America actually manages to find a tone of its own, picturing a couple who find themselves happily together, surrounded by the peer pressure coming from their swinging, divorcing friends.

George Segal and Natalie Wood both possess a great screen presence and make a sympathetic couple in The Last Married Couple in America, awkwardly trying out extramarital affairs.

The movie loses most of its oomph after a strong start, but finally wraps up in a satisfactory fashion at the end. Not a good comedy, but definitely one of the easiest sexual revolution comedies to stomach.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 65%

#1414 Native Son (1986)

I don’t know how well the original Richard Wright’s 1940 novel of the same name captures the stomach turning feeling of have done something so horrible and irreversible that you feel almost separating from your own body and wishing for the relief of waking up from a bad dream, in vein – but this is what the Jerrold Freedman’s 1986 movie adaptation does exceptionally well.

It would have been great to see Sangre Negra, an Argentinian 1951 movie adaptation of the novel to see how the newer version stacks up compared to it as judging by the film clips they both seem much alike.

To movie seems to rush to its ending and end just when things are getting really innocent, but as whole Native Son left a permanent impression on me. Finding forgotten gems like this is what makes the whole project totally worth the while.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 82%

#1413 Appointment with Death (1988)

A pretty tame whodunnit even in Agatha Christie’s scale, Appointment with Death is a Hercule Poirot story that brings the very familiar elements of aristocrats, murders and exotic locations to the table.

For anyone accustomed to thrillers of this decade, Appointment with Death will feel excruciatingly slow, but the fans of the classic Christie novels will probably feel at home.

Travel and exotic locations have always been the salt and pepper of Christie’s murder mysteries, and the biggest drawback of Appointment with Death remains its cinematography and directing that fails to capture the magic of the faraway spots that end up feeling dull and unexciting.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 37%

#1412 Stand Alone (1985)

I was expecting Stand Alone to be something in the line of Death Wish line of movies, but actually the movie is quite low in violence for the most of its running time.

Most of the conflict here is internal, with the WWII veteran Louis Thibadeau (Charles Durning) being pressured by the cops to help them put the violent street gang behind bars, but risking being avenged for this.

Durning is great and sympathetic as even as the old gramps still reliving his glory days in the battle field, but quite disappointingly we see him in real action only at the very end of the movie.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 70%

#1411 Songwriter (1984)

A country drama-comedy featuring Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson, Songwriter depicts Nelson as Doc Jenkins, a singer-songwriter tired of his life on the road and away from his son.

While the movie did not end up in my pile of movies to watch again, I did like how the movie depicts its subjects realistically, without neither glorifying or vilifying them; these country starts enjoy loose women, driving nice convertibles and a round of golf as much they enjoy putting on a show.

The musical talent of Kristofferson and Nelson make the movie one of the easier musicals to stomach.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 67%

#1410 Fresh Horses (1988)

It’s always a treat to come across an 80s movie with class A actors I’ve never heard before and Fresh Horses featuring Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy and Ben Stiller in one of his early roles definitely counts as one.

What I liked about Fresh Horses that it plays out very different than I anticipated, with characters that seem superficial but have actual depth to them, with motives hidden deep below the surface.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 80%

#1409 Border Cop aka The Border U.S.A. aka The Border (1980)

I’m usually particular including movies other than of American origin here, but as the British-Mexican Border Cop makes an attempt to present itself as one (and I had it laying around), I thought what the hey.

Shot in Mexico with a bunch of second and third row Hollywood actors, Border Cop is a story about young Mexican couple that gets involved with a local crime boss smuggling people over the border, and it’s US border patrol agent Frank Cooper who needs to save the day. Terry Savalas (of the Kojak fame) plays the lead as the agent that has to take on the powers that be to protect the common Mexican folk.

The movie plays as expected out of very early 80s production with no real highlights to speak of – but deserves credit for pulling off an almost picture perfect imitation of the American cinema.

80s-o-meter: 77%

Total: 57%

#1408 Halloween 2020: The House on Sorority Row aka House of Evil (1982)

Widely dubbed as ”one of the better slashers” out there, The House on Sorority Row follows a pack of sorority girls who clash with their sorority house mother over arranging a party and end up killing her by accident. The party does go on as planned, but guests start to go missing one by one in a true slasher fashion.

I applaud the team in taking a bit different approach with the movie – and they do manage to make it more memorable – but even with a few high points, The House on Sorority Row is ultimately just a thriller, with the negative aspects that come with the genre, and the disappointing ending does very little to help its case.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 60%

#1407 Halloween 2020: Death House aka Zombie Death House (1988)

John Saxon directs and stars in Death House, a zombie horror game taking place in one of these special movie prisons. And as always, the authorities that run the penitentiary are up to no good, this time around using the convicts on a death row as guinea pigs for experimental drugs.

After one of the experiments goes south, turning the prisoner a bubbling pile of flesh, the jail goes to lockdown and everyone inside still not zombified try make it out one way or another.

Death House is almost as plain 80s action thriller horror as they come, but in a good way; the movie delivers what it promises in a positively entertaining package.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 80%

#1406 Halloween 2020: Satan’s Blade (1984)

After a very confusing start of Satan throwing a cursed blade to a tree trunk, followed by lesbian lovers robbing a bank and killing the cashiers and then retreating to a cabin where the other betrays and kills the other for the money and then gets stabbed with the aforementioned Satan’s Blade, the movie finally starts after 15 minutes of padding.

This is when a group of friends arrive to the mountains and they are placed in the same cabin where the murder took place, with blood marks still (!) visible on the ceiling. To no-one’s surprise they then meet a violent dead, one by one.

Low in quality, and low in most other aspects, The movie fails as a horror movie (and even as a slasher) – but there’s some limited charm in its homespun, adorably clumsy qualities.

80s-o-meter: 48%

Total: 30%

#1405 Halloween 2020: The Children (1980)

A bus full of children are exposed to a chemical that turns them into manic killers capable of turning everyone in their way into a steaming pile of flesh.

Creepy children are not a new thing with horror movies, but the approach in The Children works better than any sings in the movie would suggest. It’s clumsy almost to the extend to being unintentionally funny, but makes the best out of concept and does feel menacing and ominous at the same time, making it a positive surprise overall.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 60%

#1404 Halloween 2020: The Weirdo (1989)

An oddball of a youngster gets bullied by various people until he reaches his breaking point.

There’s an argument to be made that The Weirdo isn’t a horror movie at all. It’s a revenge movie, and not a very good one at that. The concept has been used many times much more effective, touching, gruesome, shocking – you name it – way, and served in a visually more splashy fashion.

Only interesting aspect in The Weirdo is how the main character is just not simple innocent victim, but like many outcasts he can also be bit of an asshole, even towards the people that care for him.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 4%

#1403 Halloween 2020: Twisted Nightmare (1987)

Twisted Nightmare is one of the movies that got made but did not need to exist.

Basically a remake of Friday the 13th Part III (shot in the same set and repeating the same kills), I can’t imagine the movie would excite any fans of the original nor excite new audience in the already saturated market of 80s slashers.

Twisted Nightmare is a teflon coated, empty shell of a movie that enters and leaves the viewer without leaving any trace or lasting impression.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 6%

#1402 Halloween 2020: Splatter University (1984)

Splatter University is the most inept take on the slasher genre I’ve seen to date. Not only does it recycle elements seen in other movies, but actually manages to ruin and water down all of them. Also the humor seen in the movie (yes, it tries to be humoristic at times despite not classified as a comedy) falls as flat as its horror aspect.

Splatter University does manage to do one thing (and one thing only) right by eliminating people I thought were the central characters, which sort of made for a nice surprise element towards the end.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 9%

#1401 Halloween 2020: Prime Evil (1988)

A satanic cult led by a charismatic priest hunt and kidnap victims for their sacrificial ceremonies in Prime Evil, a movie that ends up surprisingly tame despite the grim theme.

While it’s an ok break from the endless stream of slashers this year, it does not really spook or send chills down your spine, unless you are scared by people in robes, chanting in a basement.

William Beckwith performs well as the magnetic leader of the cult and Christine Moore whom I previously saw in the subpar Lurkers (coincidently also directed by Roberta Findlay) fares much better here as the target of the cult’s evil plans.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 57%

#1399 Halloween 2020: Maniac (1980)

Although previously an unknown movie to me, Maniac as a title always had an ominous sound for me. As the movie kicked off I was thinking if this is one of those over hyped horror movies of the era; the overall quality definitely looked like there was very little to be expected out of the movie.

But as the movie finally takes off, it’s one gruesome, palm-sweating ride. Joe Spinell whom I previously haven’t registered as a talent plays to a perfection the role of a man haunted by his demons, going from a violent rage to self pity quick enough to turn the viewers repulsion into compassion within seconds.

Still, the movie is perhaps best known for its graphic bloodletting orchestrated by the special effects wizard Tom Savini, who later admitted that maybe he went a bit too far with some of the FX. As Maniac hit the theatres it caused outrage with many critics at the time and admittedly the violence here is still very impactful even today. But beyond that Maniac is also an interesting study into the mind of a madman, only really shadowed by the totally unnecessary, clichéd ending.

80s-o-meter: 62%

Total: 83%