#1521 Sweet Liberty (1986)

Watching Sweet Liberty I quickly realised the benefits of writing and directing the movie that you yourself star in: you get to play a well liked college professor who rides a motorcycle, fences, has written a bestseller that’s to be filmed by a film crew visiting the town and get to make out with two women – one of them who no other than Michelle Pfeiffer.

But Alan Alda’s writing is also snappy, full of interesting events and especially interesting characters, each of which strong enough to support a movie is own.

It’s especially these characters that almost seem to write themselves that make the movie easy and satisfying to watch. Even if Alda’s screen presence is totally enjoyable, his strongest suits are definitely off-camera.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 83%

#1520 Partners (1982)

When I first learned about Partners, a comedy about two cops – one straight, one gay – going undercover to a gay community as a couple to solve a mysterious chain of murders, I could not but to cringe. I’ve witnessed on numerous occasions how gays have been portrayed in the 80s and 90s comedies, and it’s generally not pretty.

Partners isn’t devoid of these stereotypes, but in general it’s quite kind with its approach, poking an equal amount of fun of the projudice of the society was well as the inept police force and his womanising partner.

In the end Partners makes for a refreshingly different and charming buddy cop movie that earns my recommendations, but people that are easily offended of stereotypes should probably steer clear

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 83%

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#1519 The Allnighter (1987)

Hey look, it’s Susanna Hoffs (of the The Bangles fame) making her debut in a lead role, in a movie written and directed by her mother Tamar Simon Hoffs.

While Susanna herself performs the role adequately, The Allnighter itself is such a mess that is pretty much nullifies that performance. I would have loved the movie actually living up to its name, taking place in one long night, but instead the events take place during a time period of few days and none of them are properly followed through, leaving one scratching their head wondering what actually is the theme of the movie.

The movie looks good though and has all those nice seasonings of California, surf, beach houses, parties and overall good mood, sprinkled on top of an empty shell of a movie.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 30%

#1518 Someone to Love (1987)

Look, if you’ve seen the other Henry Jaglom’s movies of the era, you’ve pretty much already seen Someone to Love.

The theme is once again adults wallowing in their life and relationship troubles, this time invited and enclosed in an old theatre. Jaglom’s trademark improvised dialogue is once again the aspect of the movie that stands out most, but other than that the array of the characters does not grasp one at all.

Orson Welles can be seen in his final feature film role having a dialogue of his own. Although these interludes do break the monotony of the movie, they make the film feel even more uneven and fragmented as it should be.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 22%

#1517 Reform School Girls (1986)

A 1986 take on the women prison exploitation movies popular in the 70s, Reform School Girls aims to poke fun of the genre by playing with clichés and turning all the knobs all the way to 11. But it does so only partially.

All the prisoners are of course (adult) models tippy-toeing around the reform school dorm just waiting for an excuse to go to have a shower with the other girls, and Edna, the head of the ward pictured in that awesome poster is set to make everybody’s life miserable.

Women prisoner exploitations were already quite far fetched, super heavy on clichés and caricatures for characters, so the humor here falls very short. As in, not funny at all. But in its poor genre Reform School Girls is actually well above average, even if not successful as a satire.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 61%

#1516 Perfect Strangers aka Blind Alley (1984)

Larry Cohen’s (Special Effects, The Stuff, Q) Perfect Strangers begins as a 2-year old witnesses an assassination in an alley.

To make sure there are no loose ends the hitman befriends the boy and her single parent mom, only to soon find himself emotionally attached to both.

The premise is wonderful for a decent thriller, but Perfect Strangers’ approach is somewhat bland and features one of those weird early 80s lense effects where everything looks shiny as if shot through a greasy lens. The strong setup still carries the movie through, fortunately. But only barely.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 68%

#1515 The January Man (1989)

The January Man is an odd one, starting with its casting. Not that the cast itself isn’t up for the task, but it’s just the combination of them that does not seem a typical selection for an a-list action movie. Same goes with Kevin Kline acting as the lead: he does the work adequately, but somehow I feel like he wasn’t among the top-5 choices for the role. This becomes obviously clear in the moments he is represented as a top notch cop; no matter how hard I tried, I could not buy it for a second.

Same goes for figuring out who the killer was, which would’ve taken me some giant leaps of faith and perhaps even more imagination than the writers had.

Although coming across more as an actor than an actual cop, there’s no denying that Kline possesses a great secret presence, and despite (or, thanks to) all the fluffiness the movie does make for a very easy, weirdly enjoyable watching experience.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 65%

#1514 Silk (1986)

A ton of low-budget movies were shot in Asia in the 80s with an international crew plus a few no name American actors to make an impression of an US movie passable enough for video distribution. The vast majority of these movies are Vietnam war reenactments or other action movies, and generally they are quite a disappointment with subpar production quality to them. While I steer away from these movies per rule that they are not in fact US productions, I’ve let some of these slip in if they on the surface make a convincing enough attempt of Hollywood cinema, and are at least partly US productions.

Silk may have for me to recheck this rule.

Shot in Philippines masqueraded as Hawaii, Silk is an appalling, soulless production that never grasped me even once. When the end credits finally rolled I noticed I hadn’t been even remotely entertained by the movie, nor did I know what the heck it had been all about, making Silk a total waste of time.

Too bad. I did enjoy the lush cover art.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 2%

#1513 Dangerously Close aka Campus ’86 (1986)

A clique of rich kids who can themselves The Sentinels run a secret society policing an elite highschool and its students, under the blessing from the school authorities. But, it seems not all of their correctional activities would stand the light of the day.

As a part of their scheming behind the scenes they befriend a student newspaper editor who at first falls into their web, but starts to question his newfound friends after one of his buddies seen as unwanted material by The Sentinels.

Meant to be fluffy time passer of a thriller, Dangerously Close delivers what it promises to, in a perfect 80s time capsule; I got carried away and felt entertained throughout the runtime – and did not really mind the final plot twist either.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 75%

#1512 Flowers in the Attic (1987)

When ran into Flowers in the Attic I already knew it by its name. Based on the 1979 novel of the same name, this was the first movie adaptation of the book.

But I did not know the grim gothic tale it was. A story of a grandmother locking the children to wither away in a north wing of the family mansion, and their mother betraying them the movie is not an easy thing to watch – especially considering this kind of abuse in the world is not fictive.

I haven’t read the book or seen the 2014 made for TV version, but based on what I’ve read the director Jeffrey Bloom has made the right call downplaying the incest relationship between the children that would’ve made the movie even harder for me to stomach, and toned it down to normal teen curiosity and a strong comradeship between the two elder siblings.

80s-o-meter: 28%

Total: 85%

#1511 Mindfield aka Mind Field (1989)

Canada – or USA lite as some pundits like to call it – felt in the 80s somewhere in between Great Britain and the States (a bit like Australia did as well) performing at times pretty convincing imitation of the Hollywood cinema, but more than often not really finding a tone of its own, and ending up sort of a poor man’s version of its US counterpart.

Mindfield is 100% Canadian product that got into this list for featuring one Michael Ironside who had already achieved a sizeable career in the US that would ultimately culminate in Total Recall (1990) that made him a household name and one of the definite baddies in the cinema history.

In Mindfield he also performs well, but anything else in the movie falls so far behind the expectations that it’s clear his talent is wasted here. Don’t let the nice poster or the scifi mind altering thriller blurb fool you – Total Recall this totally ain’t.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 38%

#1510 Pink Cadillac (1989)

Pink Cadillac is one of those movies I watched at the very beginning of starting out this project, but it turns out I never got around reviewing it.

Turns out I remember at the beginning with Clint Eastwood as a skip tracer going after the trailer park beauty queen Lou Ann (Bernadette Peters) who has fled to Reno with a briefcase full of her husbands counterfeit money – but the second half with them battling together against a camp full of white supremists I’d totally forgotten about. Probably due to it being more forgettable and less impactful than the plot twists that preceded it.

So, Pink Cadillac is a totally enjoyable movie – but not quite as iconic as I remembered it to be.

Still, you can never go much wrong with Eastwood.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 81%

#1509 Raggedy Man (1981)

Raggedy Man almost feels like three movies blended into one. First of all you have a story of a single mother (Sissy Spacek) caught in a dead end job as a switchboard operator in a small rural town. Secondly there is a movie about a sailor (Eric Roberts) on a four-day furlough passing through the town, who grabs onto the chance of some day having a family of his own. And thirdly there is the thriller about times for Luke, the gossipy, sometimes violent bunch of people amongst whom is a mysterious old man everyone calls just a Raggedy Man, keeping mostly to himself.

The good news is that every single one of these stories is an interesting one, backed up with smart screen riding and skilled acting, and it was especially the story of the young soldier that stayed with me long after the end credits had rolled: what ever become of him? Did he ever find happiness, or a family of his own?

Such is the power of a good movie that I ended up caring for this totally fictive person.

80s-o-meter: 41%

Total: 85%

#1508 Raise the Titanic (1980)

The movie knows what its money shot is: it uses minutes to show the surfacing of the Titanic model from under the sea shot from a dozen of different angles in one of the most expensive special effect sequences in a movie at the time.

And it pays off; this is why we sat down to see the Raise the Titanic for in the first place. Otherwise the movie is not bad an adventure movie at all. It manages to sell us the idea of being able to lift up the iconic ship from the bottom of the sea and gives a good reasoning for doing so. Although the movie does feel dated, being already 41 years old, it’s definitely ahead of most movies of the 1980 and in a way a promise of all the great summer blockbusters we saw in the 80s.

Watch closely as the ship finally surfaces to catch a hilarious easter egg put there by the effects team: two crewmen still onboard, frantically pumping water off the deck.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 74%

#1507 Robot Ninja (1989)

If many of the main stream movies gained in quality from being released towards the end of the 80s, the same goes for the indie movies as well. Had Robot Ninja been released in 1982 it would’ve probably been unwatchable mess, but now the overall production quality (for a low budget movie) and the 80s style of it makes it more enjoyable and definitely closer to something that one could consider as a cult movie.

Mind you, this is still not a good movie. It is totally stupid and silly, and mostly relying on totally overboard gory special effects, but it does have that guilty pleasure aspect to it that I can relate to some people enjoying. That being said, the movie wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.

There is a definite star in this show as well, though: A Commodore Amiga 500 home computer is present in many of the scenes, which alone makes the movie worth checking out for the fans of Amiga. I know you’re out there!

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 40%

#1506 Tempest (1982)

One more to the pile of movies portraying the 80s New York jetset intellectuals who wallow in money and self pity.

Shot half and half in New York and a remote island in Greece, the movie establishes the vast difference of both well: when we move from New York to the island, the change feels genuinely relaxing, and when we finally get back to the big apple, it again feels like a breath of fresh fresh air after the stuffy island and it’s perverted inhabitant Kalibanos (Raul Julia).

But what happens in both locations is hardly interesting or logical. At 140 minutes the movie is also far too long. It’s so long that it feels downright arrogant from the production team as there really is nothing that epic or interesting on display here.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 14%

#1505 The Chocolate War (1988)

The very definition of a storm in a teacup, The Chocolate War studies the weird power play and hierarchy inside a Catholic Private School.

The movie gets surreal from the get go as we see Brother Leon (John Glover) with his unorthodox ways of teaching and ways of publicly disfavouring students who don’t yield to his kind request of selling out a record number of chocolates door to door. Adding to the tower of power are The Vigils, an openly secret student society who usually pull of harmless pranks but are now forced to form an alliance with Brother Leon to make his fundraising dream come true.

Although the whole world of Catholic schools is alien to me, the cliques shown in The Chocolate War are easy to identify with, representing the glass walls of politics and group dynamics I trust we’ve all run into at some point of our lives.

80s-o-meter: 41%

Total: 60%

#1504 The Good Mother (1988)

The world is full of great stories so it’s at times astounding what sometimes gets greenlighted and funded.

In Leonard Nimoy’s The Good Mother Diane Keaton plays a divorced mother dating Liam Neeson who then lets her daughter that’s his genitals for educational purposes – so they both get sued.

All this nonsense is padded with a story of her family and the difficult relationship with her father that is all totally disconnected from the main story line (albeit, much more interesting).

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 8%

#1503 The House on Carroll Street (1987)

A movie about woman in FBI’s is blacklist uncovering a plot in 1950s America to smuggle Nazi war criminals to the states under false identities, The House on Carroll Street plays out like a good mystery novel.

For a thriller the movie plays it quite safe, but establishes well the feeling of being a totally expendable chess piece in the international theatre of power. The House on Carroll Street is also exemplary in the way it portrays the period in a totally natural way and not even once feels underlined nor forced.

I loved Kelly McGillis’ portrayal of Emily that she plays with ethereal coolness but with a humane touch – she is sort of an enigma herself, after all. Jeff Daniels also go out to prove once again that you can’t go much wrong with him aboard.

80s-o-meter: 12%

Total: 80%

#1502 The Soldier (1982)

First of all I have to say that the vast success of 60s-80s Bond movies almost completely escapes me, so my love for movies taking creative notes from them will be quite limited.

But when The Soldier is not blindly mimicking Bond, it actually has a few quite snappy moments going for it.

When watching The Soldier you have to take it in the right way: watch it as a top-notch spy thriller and you will be likely disappointed. But frame it as a worn out, soft covered VHS tape you discovered at the end of a local gas station’s rental rack and you will likely get a much better mileage out of it.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 60%