#1868 Shadow Play (1986)

A writers fiancé-to-be passes away, falling off a lighthouse in the eve of their wedding. And now a few years later upon leaving her life in New York and returning to their old house, she finds him reappearing to her in dreams and visions, and also faxing him through a typing machine.

Most importantly for the plot, he is also reappearing in flesh as his brother, so we have something of a supernatural love triangle here.

Atmosphere in Shadow Play is mostly ok, but ultimately the movie was just to soap opera alike and slow for my personal taste, due to the movie introducing multiple personas and side plots that never quite contribute to what the movie is lacking: thrill. Also, the supernatural events presented here required a leap of fate too big for me to take this time.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 31%

#1867 The Verdict (1982)

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Paul Newman fan. Ever since seeing Cool Hand Luke when I was just seven years old I was drawn his screen presence perhaps second to none, and also being able to be just plain cool and vulnerable at the same time.

In The Verdict Newman plays Frank Galvin, once renowned lawyer who after some bad career choices has become a vulture preying injury cases for some easy settlement money. This is until he comes across a case of malpractice that he wants to trial to partly help the family, but also the personal redemption as a strong motive. But as Frank soon finds out he might have bitten more than he can chew as he goes against the army of corporate lawyers.

I have seen many thrillers in my time and only a few of them can amount to the palm sweating skilfully introduced here; as one unfortunate event follows another, the tension in The Verdict ratchets up to almost unbearable levels, and I felt being right there with the lead as he closes in to a nervous breakdown. This one is truly a must watch for any courtroom or Newman fan.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 95%

#1866 The Lonely Lady (1983)

Right off the bat you can tell you’re not going to be in for a milestone of a cinema history when a movie describes itself as sensual.

Starring Pia Zadora in one of her Bo Derek like roles, The Lonely Lady tells a story of a young woman wanting to start a career as a screen writer who is struggling in a field run by misogynist men – which is not a bad topic for a movie to tackle.

Too bad the movie is a weak attempt at the topic with no depth written into the characters. The main character makes one bad personal choice after another, changing men who are affectionate at first, but then turn into monsters overnight without any context or explanation. The moments in between these are sprinkled with Zadora’s nude scenes for that advertised sensuality.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 21%

#1865 The Beast Within (1982)

A movie I wish I had watched as a part of this years Halloween feature, The Beast Within is an apt little horror thriller taking a place in a small town along the Mississippi river.

To be completely honest I had somewhat hard time following all of the plot and nuances the movie was trying to convey, but this did not take away much of the enjoyment I had watching the secrets of the small town unravel. The production quality and direction of Philippe Mora (minus the flaws in story telling) is solid and the sense of danger and gloomy events were enough to keep in glued in my seat through the movie.

Also the cast led by Ronny Cox do their part with flying colors, contributing to an enjoyable overall watching experience.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 21%

#1864 Plenty (1985)

As much as I enjoy movies as a medium, at times I feel like a story would have worked better as a book.

Such is the case with Plenty, starring Meryl Streep. I sort of understand what the movie tries to convey through its nonconformist protagonist, portrayed beautifully by Streep, but I never really get to understand what drives the main character, and why she’s unable or unwilling to adapt or belong. Here I see a novel doing better job in taking its time to dig more deep into the psyche of the character. The story also encompasses events from 20 years of her life, which after the initial war segment were hard to track and here the movie failed for me to tell the whole saga in a relatable manner.

Admittedly a big part of the charm of the movie is trying to read between the lines and understand what drives the main character; her balancing between choosing to be a bohemian soul, reliable soul mate or a member of a system and upper class and the ability to just set herself free is relatable as I’m sure we’ve all had similar moments of feeling we are unwillingly living a life written for someone else.

80s-o-meter: 4%

Total: 70%

#1863 Love Letter (1983)

Love Letter was an attempt for Jamie Lee Curtis to step out her horror typecasting, which see successfully did. We do see another side of Curtis, and she performs her role of a woman falling in love with a married man admirably and believably.

The movie itself is sort of a slow in pacing, but gets increasingly more interesting as both parties of the forbidden relationship seem to have conflict of interest. It’s a long wait, but the movie finally redeems itself at the end of the third act as the story comes to an end.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 62%

#1862 The Apple (1980)

A major misfire by Menahem Golan, The Apple is a very bizarre musical taking place in the distant future of 1994.

This is, of course the future of the 70s, with everyone sporting weird 70s hair and grey scifi suits with padded shoulders. And the movie is just awful.

The Apple fails in the musical front as well, and feels like something out of a cheapo Bollywood movie. I know this is one of those so bad it’s good movie for some, but I really did not find anything to like here.

80s-o-meter: 31%

Total: 3%

#1861 Revenge of the Bushido Blade aka The Last Reunion aka Ninja Nightmare (1980)

Apparently shot already in 1976, Revenge of the Bushido Blade, or The Last Reunion as it is somewhat better known was released a few years late in 1980 .. which is why I had to sit through this borefest.

The movie is woefully 70s in every single aspect. There’s the stale smell of cigarette, old guys boozing, crappy cars, sideburns and massive collars. Similarly stale is the plot of a asian businessman travelling to the far east to revenge the retired soldiers the wrongdoings during WWII. Both the bushido martial arts and the awesome plot are tiring to look at, and the movie can’t ever find a way to actually start.

A true testament to the outdated nature of the movie is the very Ed Woodian ending monology – the only moment when the movie was not only bad, but also amusingly so.

80s-o-meter: 18%

Total: 11%

#1860 Curfew (1989)

Two demented brothers escape from prison to track down the people who sentenced them to death row in Curfew, basic but in overall satisfying little thriller.

In their revenge list are a psychiatrist, judge and district attorney for whom they have the maximum payback in mind. The brothers are an interesting mix of somewhat slow younger brother and a sharp and vengeful older brother who cites the victims word to word what went on in the sentencing.

There are no notable high points to the movie, but nothing appalling either. The movie keeps a good pacing until the very end as the brothers find conflict of interest in the members of the family they keep captive.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 75%

#1859 Night Visitor (1989)

Again a thriller about two demented brothers on a killing spree, Night Visitor throws a few interesting twists to the story that I had still easy to adapt to after finish my schools over 25 years ago.

You see, here the main antagonist is the conservative history teacher. What a thrill! After becoming the eye witness of an a satanist ritual killing a high school kid has a hard time getting anyone to taking his word over the professor.

He then seeks help from a retired detective, which for a long time seems a misstep from the movie (also a weird choice of movies for Elliott Gould), from which point on the movie drags itself through the finish line without much surprises.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 72%

#1858 Cocoon: The Return (1988)

A school book example of why disheartened sequels should not be made, Cocoon The Return parades most of the actors from the original hit movie but without one ounce of the heart we saw in the first movie.

Here the elders return back to earth for a visit, showcase how youthful they are and beat a bunch of kids in a basketball match.

Ron Howard refused to have any association with the film feeling it denounces everything that was put into the first movie, and how right he was. The sympathetic talent here – old and new – should have landed themselves better movie to star in.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 48%

#1857 1918 (1985)

I’ve Horton Foote’s 1918 to thank for the most cryptic post title yet, which happens to be the peak of the praises I can give to this movie.

This period picture taking place in a small Texas town, coinciding two major world events – World War I and Spanish Influenza – and how they both affect the citizen of this small remote town. Of the cast we have Brother Vaughn (Matthew Broderick), a loud mouth local youngster who after failing his school now idolises the war and the soldiers and makes everyone know how eager he is to enlist. In the sort of direct opposite end we have Horace Robedaux (William Converse-Roberts), a calm business owner and family man who has no interest to take part in the war and to leave his wife and baby.

Both world events are very interesting, but here they end up feeling very remote. We hear people dying both due to war and the influenza, but as these are people who have never been even introduced to us, they just feel completely remote and disconnected. The few bits of drama here are relatable but never really struck the chord on the emotional level.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 42%

#1857 Hotel Colonial (1987)

Hotel Colonial is not a widely remembered movie – and those who know it often remember it for wasting the talent of John Savage and Robert Duvall.

I think I saw a slightly different movie here. The movie took me to an adventure to a different world that I found enchanting – a bit like playing some point and click adventure on a computer. The plot is also pretty unique, and for the most parts I did not know where it was going to take me, but I did not really care as the journey was worth it, and for me the story of the protagonist being drawn to the depths of madness by the mysterious character more than warranted the 90 minutes I spent with Hotel Colonial.

But I do agree that character writing and directing is where the movie suffers the most. Savage is a bit lost throughout the movie (although it suits the mental state of the his character) and Duvall’s performance is just plain painful to watch, knowing the level of performer he usually is.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 72%

#1856 Ghost Writer (1989)

The award for this years most featherweight comedy might go to Ghost Writer.

This is one of those movies that aims to sell us a ridiculous supernatural idea far beyond of what we would ever believe. And sure enough, if served in a fluffy alternative reality fantasy that only Hollywood can do, we usually just go with it.

And here Ghost Writer succeeds as well and the Landers sisters serve a movie that is easy spend the 90 minutes with – but only if you are in the mood for something completely trivial and forgettable. I could go on explaining the plot of a deceased Hollywood star of yesteryear coming alive as a ghost, but here the plot is really .. well, side plot here.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 70%

#1855 Garbo Talks (1984)

A man helps his mother on her deathbed to find and meet with Greta Garbo in Garbo Talks, bit of a yawning small scale drama.

I would have hoped the movie had used framed finding Garbo as a thing that would finally unite them, get to discuss and to get closer. Instead, the main character runs around like a schmuck neglecting his work and family trying to get into Greta Garbo’s apartment to talk her with her. If they had had the luck of signing Garbo up to do a role in the movie, I could see some justification of building the whole movie around her, but the team in fact failed to do so.

The basic setup of the dying family member would have multiple opportunities to tell a story that would leave the viewer with a life lesson to take with them, like ”it’s never too late to make things right with your family” or ”in the end the family is all you’ve got”. With Garbo Talks all I got was: ”you can only die happy if you get to talk with a movie star you have not met before”.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 32%

#1854 9 Deaths of the Ninja aka Nine Deaths of the Ninja aka Deadly Warriors (1985)

Ok so Shô Kosugi never was my favourite martial artist, but I guess there had to be a Jackie Chan before he took over the throne of goofy but entertaining martial arts movies. But, 9 Deaths of the Ninja is just so over the top (and all over the place) action movie that I could but like most of the guilty pleasure it offers.

I’m still not quite sure if the movie is just a parody – it really feel like that most of the time – with its James Bond like beginning, ridiculous action scenes and baddies ripped right out of a comic book.

If you are looking for a so good it’s bad kind of film for a movie night with friends, 9 Deaths of the Ninja gets my recommendations with 9 flying shurikens.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 81%