#778 Goddess of Love (1988)

Vanna White, best known to the general public as the hostess of Wheel of Fortune stars in Goddess of Love, a made-for-TV romantic comedy. Although is safe to say the movie wasn’t destined to steal away any academy awards from the theatrical releases, it’s still somewhat passable as a real movie even if the obvious commercial break transitions are a straight giveaway.

The plot: Zeus turns Venus – the goddess of love – into a statue that turns alive in 1988 Los Angeles, causing all sorts of silly events and misunderstandings to unravel. For a plot this fluffy and trifle the movie is surprisingly entertaining, and even the suspension of how it all will turn out in the end is kept admirably.

While it’s impossible to recommend the movie to anyone and still save one’s face, for those who know what they’re getting into Goddess of Love offers solid 90 minutes of nonchalant – and totally trivial – entertainment.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 67%

#777 It Came from Hollywood (1982)

A collection of clips from old B-movies edited together with an added commentary track and some short skits, It Came from Hollywood is a movie that the time forgot – unlike most of the titles it aims to mock.

I can only begin to guess how an idea this weak got greenlighted: The concept must’ve been completely useless already back when the movie was originally released, and has only suffered inflation since. The entertainment factor is low here, and one couldn’t pass this kind of show even as a cheap cable TV programme these days.

The commentary provided by Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Gilda Radner and Cheech & Chong is of the worst kind: Sarcastic but entirely without wit.

It Came from Hollywood manages to fall far behind the so called weak movies it features. That, coupled with the fact that many titles featured here aren’t even made in Hollywood makes this movie a total waste of time for both the viewer and the actors involved.

80s-o-meter: 23%

Total: 2%

#776 Maid to Order (1987)

A modern, Beverly Hills twist of the classic It’s a Wonderful Life theme, Maid to Order is a story about rich and spoiled girl who has to start all over again as a maid after the fairy godmother grants his father his wish of her daughter never being born. Yes, really.

Ally Sheedy isn’t able to sell her being the spoiled brat, which kind cripples the beginning of the movie. The movie does get somewhat interesting after the friendship amongst the staff is deepened and once the musical talents of Merry Clayton are introduced. The performance she puts on here leaves many actuals musicals to shame.

Maid to Order is super lightweight fluff that takes place firmly in that alternative reality of Hollywood. It reminds me a lot of all the unsung trailers you’d see scattered around various VHS rental tapes, of movies nobody is quite sure if they really existed.

Here’s an actual proof that some of them do.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 59%

#775 Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

A refreshing change in the endless stream of high school romantic comedies, Some Kind of Wonderful ditches the comedy and goes for the drama. It’s a mix of genres that often ends up melodramatic, cringeworthy and unintentionally funny, but John Hughes, who wrote and produced the movie with his impeccable Midas’ touch once again guarantees hitting the mood just right.

The movie deals about your usual teenage themes; insecurity, rejection and searching one’s identity. Plotwise the movie deals with being friend zoned, learning to grow and coming to terms with what matters the most in life. It all sounds a mouthful, but Some Kind of Wonderful never condescends to preaching but concentrates to telling the story in an entertaining fashion, and the themes presented here still feel fresh. Thanks to the humour being used sparingly, it manages to hit the target every time.

Eric Stoltz and Lea Thompson make for a strong leads with some genuinely good electricity going on, and my hat is off to John Ashton whose portrayal of the good willed father who wants the best for his kids, but constantly misses the mark is an absolute delight to watch. The chemistry between Stolz and Mary Stuart Masterson is kind of a hard sell, which cripples the credibility of the movie a bit. While it can be argued that Molly Ringwald who turned down the role of the tomboy Watts would’ve made a stronger candidate for the unlikely object of love, this is not a deal breaker in any way.

80s-o-meter: 96%

Total: 90%

#774 Out Cold (1989)

A smartly written black comedy that proves to have plenty of aces up its sleeve, Out Cold starts extremely slow but does get better every minute towards the end. While the movie itself is relatively unknown, its cast of a-list actors makes up for an fresh mix. John Lithgow plays a socially awkward butcher, a character not unlike his later TV-role as Dr. Dick Solomon. Teri Garr performs admirably as the black widow wife, and Randy Quaid makes for a perfect confused detective that wanders from one scene to another, always hilariously clueless.

There’s something very off-Hollywood about the whole movie; even if the locations are clearly those of California, somehow the overall mood of the movie resembles more an indie movie shot in Great Britain or New Zealand. While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why this is, clearly some elements like the really unusual(ly bad) soundtrack play a big part here. Personally, I’m really not a big fan of these design choices, and they did bring the overall score down.

Even with its flaws Out Cold is a charming little 90-minuter that manages to earn my recommendation – but won’t be going into my watch again pile.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 68%

#773 3:15 (1986)

Although officially called simply 3:15, this fairly little known title also goes around with numerous additional titles: The Moment of Truth, A Time to Die, Class 89 and Showdown at Lincoln High. In addition to having sort of a problematic, non sticky name (just try Googling it) the number of different titles could be due to the publishing issues the movie faced, having being shot already in 1984 but getting its limited release only two years later, on 1986.

Mohawks and chains were a big thing in late 70s and early 80s cinema, thanks to the gang violence that was spiralling out of hand. New York was on its way to become an urban war zone and on numerous other cities the violent gangs were getting a strong foothold. 3:15 joins the likes of Assault on precinct 13, The Warriors, Class of 1984, Death Wish series and Savage Streets as exploitative dystopian depiction of dealing with these juvenile gangs.

3:15 is basically a high noon -style showdown between two friends, and a depiction of the unfortunate events leading to it. Most of the movie’s running time is spend on the clichéd troubled high school portrayal that fails to bring anything really fresh to the table. The real meat of the movie is the showdown that manages to be palm-sweating intensive, thanks to its fast-paced and savage portrayal of violence. I’ve always liked Adam Baldwin’s screen presence and his subtle acting work here also is pleasant – if a little passionless – to watch.

80s-o-meter: 76%

Total: 70%

#772 You Can’t Hurry Love (1988)

You Can’t Hurry Love is a fish out of water story about a young man moving to LA, trying to find a direction in his life while seeking for true love, mostly by trying to pass as a real LA cool cat. The story revolves around video dating which was a huge hit in the late 80s. These awkwardly shot VHS videos have been amusing people ever since they were uploaded to Youtube some 20 years later. Story is a strong word here though as the movie is more like loose scenes that somehow blend into each other.

For being a low budget movie, You Can’t Hurry Love has managed to gather some impressive cameos and song licences (not written for the movie, obviously); Charles Grodin makes a short but sweet visit as a disgruntled, condom-dispensing dad and Phil Collins’ huge 1982 hit song You Can’t Hurry Love can be heard as the title soundtrack for the movie. David Packer, formerly known to public from V the TV Mini-series and its sequels makes for a performance that’s synonymous with the movie itself: Unwitty but sympathetic and lovable.

You can’t hurry love isn’t obviously significant, nor even a good movie in any way – but somehow, one just can’t be too angry about it all.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 60%

#771 Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)

The very awkwardly named Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean is Robert Altman’s first feature film after the huge misfire that was Popeye, a film that caused him to depart from Hollywood. The movie seemingly follows the play it was based on very closely, taking place in one single set: A worn down Five and Dime store in a small town located somewhere in Texas. A similar setup was seen in the following year in Altman’s Streamers, where the concept worked tremendeously well and remains to be one of my favorite movies of the era.

The movie tells a story of a James Dean fanclub having a reunion after years of inactivity. Some of the members have moved on to another places while the other are stuck in the same little town and store. It’s an uncomplicated story told in a somewhat complicated way in a context that will not necessarily open up to your average viewer these days.

Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean is a plain interpersonal drama that stays much too subtle until the end. There are many individual good moments here but overall the movie seems to either stand still or slow down to near halt, without never quite being able to really hold up my interest.

80s-o-meter: 45%

Total: 38%

#770 Deadly Friend (1986)

An example of how lack of focus can ruin a movie even if it’s build on a solid foundation, Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend shows a lot of promise from the beginning.

We’re introduced to a brainiac who’s just moved in the suburbs with his home build robot, and soon goes on to befriend with another teen boy on the block and to fall in love with the girl next door. Given the overall tone so far my expectation was an action adventure with some sort of thriller twist. What follows instead is sort of a horror scifi with numerous hit and miss design choices that don’t always seem to mix well.

The nightmare sequences that are presented throughout the movie particularly feel very glued on and the whole path the leads to the reanimation is implausible and far fetched. The abusive father bit does give a motive for the eventual revenge, but otherwise it also seems like yet another unnecessary plot twist. Given all this, I’m surprised to say the movie isn’t a complete stinker; it makes for an easy watch and is one of those time capsule movies that’ll definitely take you back to the era.

Still, I would’ve been happier with a more solid, straight forward story instead of the hodgepodge presented here.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 71%

#769 Flashdance (1983)

Plotwise there wouldn’t be much to Flashdance: A model working in a steel factory wants to attend to a dance school but is paralysed by her fear of trying and failing. She then falls in love with her boss, they have a few fights along the way and finally she conquers her fears and dances in the audition.

With the thin plot out of the way let’s move on to the music; and there’s plenty to love here! The highly energetic title song ’Flashdance.. What a feeling’ composed by Giorgio Moroder and performed by Irene Cara, became a huge hit and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Michael Sembello’s Maniac is equally lively, and became almost as big a hit with both songs reaching place #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Other featuring artists include Laura Branigan, Kim Carnes and Joe Esposito, and the soundtrack album went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Album of Original Score and became a best seller.

The movie is professionally shot and the camera just loves Jennifer Beals who looks absolutely gorgeous on the screen. Unfortunately, although the movie is an easy watch, it’s still nothing to write to home about, and it’s clearly the soundtrack here that gives the movie additional value – and not the other way around.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 62%

#768 Strange Invaders (1983)

A scifi action adventure with just a sprinkle of horror, Strange Invaders presses all the right buttons for me genre wise.

But, the disappointment soon set in after the movie started; everything seemed somehow a bit off and not quite exactly what I’d bargained for. It was only later in the movie when I realised the obvious nod to the 50’s sci-fi movies and after putting on those black & white goggles the experience became much more entertaining – even so that I would consider watching the movie again sometimes in the future without color.

Effect wise the movie wasn’t lined up to win any awards. But, although there is certain clumsiness to the aliens hatching out of their human form, the overall effect is impactful, thanks to some sort of gooey, veiny layer implemented under the latex mask.

One could argue that Paul Le Mat is somewhat of a miscast, and the movie could’ve gained from a bit more electrifying lead. But then again, through those 1950s sci-fi glasses his act blends into the movie quite adequately.

80s-o-meter: 48%

Total: 67%

#767 Used Cars (1980)

A comedy that somehow has a very strong early 80s Burt Reynolds movie vibe to it, Used Cars is a scoundrel story of a few ruthless individuals who trying to make their living by selling piece of junk cars to any unwary customer – by any means necessary.

As is the case with many of the early 1980’s movies, Used Cars is a bit too seventies in its style for my taste. This is the kind of comedy that trades in all the plausability with explosions, tits and wacky racing bits. While one could argue it’s all part of the genre and done just for the sake of entertainment, it is somewhat bothersome that all the characters here seem to follow a scripted movie logic instead of any kind of common sense.

The always charismatic Kurt Russell in feature film debut pulls off the lovable scoundrel bit admirably, but much like his character here who knows he has more to offer and suffers as a car salesman, the role here seems a bit menial for Russell who’d go on to star in such a legendary titles as Escape from New York, The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 62%