#1773 The Annihilators (1985)

Deviating from the conventional lone protagonist formula seeing in the vigilant movies made in the vein of Death Wish series, The Annihilators assembles a team of veterans, each contributing unique skills and experiences to combat the rampant street gang.

While not groundbreaking in any way, the film compensates with an engrossing flow of action and thrills, providing a surprisingly entertaining 90 minutes.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 73%

#1772 Flesh and Bullets aka The Wife Contract (1985)

Written and directed by Carlos Tobalina, mostly known for his adult movies, Flesh and Bullets – or rather the more descriptive The Wife Contract – is an amateurish take on thrillers that very much looks like a porn movie, but without porn. The movie also looks old beyond its year, with a certain 70s vibe to it.

It is therefore quite a surprise that the movie is actually .. not that bad at all! Despite the obviously clumsiness and wooden acting the story is quite unique and the ingredients of a passable thriller are to be found here.

80s-o-meter: 54%

Total: 59%

#1771 Desert Hearts (1985)

Feeling dissatisfied with her marriage a young Professor Vivian Bell arrives in 1950s Nevada ranch to seek a quickie divorce. In the middle of a big change in her life, Vivian finds herself unexpectedly and irresistibly drawn to Cay Rivers, a carefree and free spirited young lesbian who is the daughter of the ranch owner, disapproving her lifestyle. As their intimacy develops, Vivian’s insecurities about her feelings for Cay clash with the emotions they unleash.

Desert Hearts is a gem of a movie that totally grasped me and took me to another time, place and life. And for this along it’s a triumph.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 87%

#1770 Losing Ground (1982)

Losing Ground is a recovered piece of lost cinema history, directed and written by Cathleen Collins that never got distributed outside film festivals, and was ultimately restored and released upon initiative of her daughter.

As much as I love seeing any piece of movie retuned from the dead, I found Losing Ground pretty typical piece of indie movie of the era. We have intellectual and artistic academic people wallowing in their troubles and relationships. Here the lead is married to an artist who apparently can’t keep his pants on, leading to all kinds of mishap between the two.

I found the movie within a movie the most interesting aspect here and there was something relatable to the leads willingness to jump into the world of cinema even if for just a passing moment of glory.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 37%

#1769 Night Crossing (1982)

Night Crossing is one of the movies where the story is bigger than the movie itself: the real life events of two families building a hot air balloon in late 70s and use it to jump to the west from East-Germany is certainly something that warrants a movie, or two.

This is not to say Night Crossing is a bad movie. It does it job and tells the story in a relatable and understandable manner – but its style is documenting, to the point and TV-movie like. The story would definitely have worked without western leads – but, if I get John Hurt and Beau Bridges starring together in any movie, you won’t see me complaining.

Normally I would have complained about the uninspiring European setting, but given the Eastern-Germany theme and the 70s era, here it works of course for the benefit of the movie, even if shot in the western side of the fence.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 77%

#1768 Old Enough (1984)

Story of almost 13-year old Lonnie befriending an few years older Karen from working class family, and taking her first steps out of the childhood, Old Enough is subtle, likeable, and mostly harmless little coming of age movie.

Although their friendship is unlikely, both show genuine, intriguing interest into each others different lives, while spying on young adults they secretly admire.

The movie wraps up nicely as the summer ends, creating a tangible touch point for everyone that know how that one lost summer of the past feels like.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 70%

#1767 Dance Goddess (1987)

Look, I don’t even pretend to know enough movie business to understand how something like Dance Goddess gets green lighted and funded, but now that it exists, you can congratulate yourself as you belong to about ten people in the world who know of it.

Sometimes an idea can sound good on paper, but fail on the execution – but I honestly can’t fathom how a concept of an American Bollywood musical has ever gotten enough traction and people backing it up for it to get made. The end result is perhaps the thinnest amount of plot ever seen on the silver screen, coupled with Bollywood style dancing and music acts, performed by American amateur actors. While I’m fully aware that musicals aren’t exactly know for the stellar scripts, at least they usually have either the singing or dancing going for them. Dance Goddess has neither.

At the day of writing this, Dance Goddess has no reviews in Imdb, and only 13 ratings averaging to 3.4 – meaning there was probably more people in the production team than those who’ve seen the movie to date.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 3%

#1766 Sonny Boy (1989)

Sonny Boy, a story of a criminal clan living in the New Mexico desert, who raise a young boy, Sonny, as a weapon to take revenge on their enemies, is one challenging film to classify. Through flashbacks and vignettes, the audience is shown the abuse, endurance tests, and deprivation Sonny is forced to endure to transform him into an animalistic avenger. The film is open to multiple interpretations and is not a routine or formulaic exploitation film. It could be seen as a cruel, contemporary fairy tale or an allegory about child abuse – or, very well as an anarchistic commentary on normalcy and conformity.

Director Robert Martin Carroll creates a dream-like atmosphere that is closer to the cinema of David Lynch, with the desert setting, the muted colors, and soft-focus cinematography. The performances of the cast are eccentric but appropriate for the characters and storyline. Paul L. Smith commands the screen as a monstrous brute of a father figure, Brad Dourif excels in his portrayal of a ratboy like sociopathic accomplice and David Carradine gives totally unexpected, but memorable role as Pearl, who tries clumsily to act as the only thing closer to a family member, and a mother figure for Sonny Boy.

Despite the film’s eccentric storyline and grotesque characters, it is hard to imagine an indifferent viewer as Sonny Boy is a film that will definitely polarize its audience – you’ll either tune out immediately or watch in fascination and disbelief.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 70%

#1765 Permanent Vacation (1980)

The last Jim Jarmusch movie for the era is his earlier student work from the start of the decade.

Although I enjoyed the visual language of the movie, it’s much too muted for my taste, and there’s really nothing much of interest beyond the visuals, making Permanent Vacation hard film to recommend to anyone but Jarmusch completionists.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 31%

#1764 Hard Rock Zombies (1985)

I feel it’s apt to start reviewing Hard Rock Zombies with its most interesting piece of trivia: the film was originally supposed to be only twenty minutes long and solely used as the feature played during the movie American Drive-In – also directed by Krishna Shah – but was then seen wacky and interesting enough concept so the decision was made to extend the short movie to full 90 minutes.

This wacky origin also means that the movie is weird by design, very much intentionally. You have a rock band turning to zombies, battling against Hitler and his cultists, on paper something that would end up hilariously funny.

Unfortunately despite this outrageous premise, Hard Rock Zombies is surprisingly tame. Sure, it has its moments, but this is not the hidden cult classic made for side-splitting movie night with friends it could’ve been in more capable hands.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 60%