#1919 Lifepod (1981)

I have to admire the courage so many film makers or the 80s had when having no budget at all, but still trying to come up with a believable scifi movie – which typically requires expensive FX work, costumes and set design. And more so in the case of Lifepod that has taken the concept of a central computer taking control of a space ship – a concept pretty much perfected in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: Space Odyssey – and puts it into a much more modest wrapper.

The made-at-home feeling here is even a bit sympathetic at times, and could have been easily forgiven if the movie was kosher otherwise. But alas – it’s nothing but as Lifepod is a lifeless, slow, repetitive show without any real feel of suspense. A wide range of characters is introduced but none of them ever seem to add much to the plot.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 26%

#1905 Lady Street Fighter (1981)

This one landed on my table in the form of Blu-Ray release restored from the last remaining copy of the film. So it’s one of those ”lost movies” nobody has heard of. And to be honest, it should have stayed that way.

Apparently shot sometime in the mid 70’s and released during 80s (different sites list different dates ranging from 1980 to 1989), Lady Street Fighter is an awful piece of trash, and a reminder that sometimes bad movie is just bad movie. Not only is there no plot, but the movie manages to mix in every worst aspect of the 70s and sprinkle on top with some really stomach turning imagery of repulsive characters licking telephones, sucking on celery and showcasing some really unnecessary nudity I was not expecting or hoping to see.

This does not happen too often, but I absolutely hated the movie. Glad it’s over.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 0%

#1888 Hard Country (1981)

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jan-Michael Vincent in a movie I would care for, nor in role I that’d had me admiring his acting skills – but Hard Country could very well be an exception.

In this film, he stars alongside Kim Basinger as a young Texan couple. He aspires to be a blue-collar worker, enjoys getting drunk on weekends, dreams of marrying his teenage sweetheart, having kids, and staying in Texas. She, however, has bigger ambitions for herself.

Vincent’s portrayal is spot-on, embodying a stubborn, womanizing, traditional redneck with surprisingly likable, almost puppy like qualities to him. Their dynamic keeps viewers engaged, wondering if she will muster the courage to pursue her dreams.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 72%

#1845 Halloween 2023: Dawn of the Mummy (1981)

One of the first movies I remember seeing was The Mummy from 1959, which left a lasting impact on little me. Now, I haven’t consumed much of the mummy movies from thereon, but everything I’ve seen has dropped short of that experience.

Enter the early 80s Dawn of the Mummy, which is by far the poorest take on the subject I’ve seen. The movie frames the mommy as something of a slasher kind of killer, wasting photo models who ”happened to be nearby”. Occasionally the Mummy also turns in a cannibal, rips his victims up and consumes .. uh, some parts of them.

Dawn of the Mummy falls into that unfortunate slot where the movie is just plain bad, but not the kind of bad that would have any guilty pleasure entertainment value to it.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 4%

#1820 My Dinner with Andre (1981)

I like movies that invite you to a share a moment or night with some people you don’t know and by sharing that time with them you get to know them and enjoy a small slice of their lives just for a bit.

My Dinner with Andre takes the concept to the most minimalistic approach I’ve encountered so far by following a conversation of two friends – a struggling playwright and a director – over a meal in a Manhattan restaurant.

There’s a lot of ways this could have turned into a complete disaster and a bore of a movie of two intellectual talking heads, but the way that the dialogue effortlessly flows out makes this one interesting passing moment to witness.

80s-o-meter: 12%

Total: 75%

#1804 The Fan (1981)

I recently watched The Seduction, a movie quite line The Fan with a handsome stalker of an admirer tormenting the female lead with his clumsy attempts to get their attention.

Both movies, released in the early 80s at first seem to be inspired by the public stalking cases that caught public attention during the era, but interestingly the original novel that The Fan is based actually precedes these cases.

Besides all this The Fan is a drag, an utter disappointment of a movie and a thriller, with very little to give 40 years after its first release; skimming the movie now through again for a review I can’t come up with one single positive thing to bring up about it.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 11%

#1778 King of the Mountain (1981)

As I watched King of the Mountain with a ruggedly handsome rogue driver wearing a leather jacket and boasting a wild curly hair, I could not to think this is where the iconic TV series drew its inspiration.

Some petrol heads race on the iconic Mulholland Drive over the Hollywood Hills and young Steve manages to beat them all, and breaks the old record by an eccentric mechanic Cal, who used to rule the hills. In a more interesting subplot there’s bunch of Steve’s musician friends in the brink of success who have to sell themselves short to make it big in the business.

Car racing movies where aplenty in the era, and for me this movie did not really do anything exceptionally well, or in a way that would stick with me. Anything you see here is bettered in multiple movies preceding or succeeding King of the Mountain.

80s-o-meter: 76%

Total: 42%

#1756 Going Ape! (1981)

The fact that that Going Ape!, a movie about three orangutans is a brain child of a writer-director Jeremy Joe Kronsberg most known as a writer for Clint Eastwood’s ape comedies Every Which Way but Loose (1978) and Any Which Way You Can (1980) kind of kills me. These primate exploitation movies are very much relics of the era, and something we will likely never see in the silver screen again, unless they’re animated with CGI.

And even then they would not be represented like this, as comedic reliefs mimicking human behaviour.

I don’t know if I even have to into details with this one as the movie is pretty much what the poster promises. There’s orangutans, crooks and car chases like in any decent early 80s comedy. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the movie is it’s featuring Danny DeVito in a quite different kind of role as a (Lithuanian?) animal trainer which earned him nomination for a Razzie award. The silly, unnecessary accent besides DeVito manages to put a lot of heart into the role, making it probably better than what it was on the paper.

80s-o-meter: 73%

Total: 61%

#1754 Liar’s Moon (1981)

Liar’s Moon feels like someone first wanted to write a tragic love story, but was never quite sure how to wrap it all up. And actually this is pretty much what happened, apparently; Liar’s Moon was shot and distributed with two very different endings, one tragic and another where ”the forbidden love” ends well for everyone.

The weak writing ultimately leads to the movie turning into a complete soap opera in its third act. I watched the happier version, and I can only imagine the other version being even more soap opera like.

On the positive side young Matt Dillon and Cindy Fisher make a great pair on the screen though, and I did find myself genuinely rooting for them.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 51%

#1749 The Four Seasons (1981)

Written, directed and starring Alan Alda, The Four Seasons follows the three middle-aged married couples whose mutual relationship with each other gets complicated after one of them divorces, putting them all into a position where the old chemistry seems to be gone for good.

Some of the qualities in their friendship seems real, genuine and relatable which many other aspects feel contrived. Especially the moments where they all follow the lead by Alda and engage into big belly laugh (as stated in the manuscript) feel woefully artificial.

The Four Seasons is a harmless little excercise that has some good bits going for it, but ultimately tries to muscle in too many events, people and aspects for the movie’s own good.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 42%

#1729 The Chosen (1981)

On paper I could not have think of something less interesting than a movie about a Jewish kid becoming a friend with and orthodox Jew in 1940s Brooklyn. But as both start venturing and peaking into the strange and enticing world of the other the movie grasps one in a very unexpected way, like a good movie or book does.

The World War 2 era setting in The Chosen provides a dynamic and colorful background for the experiences of both conservative Jews, who are becoming less and less common, and liberal Jews, who are looking to maintain their traditions while also embracing modern ways of life. The clash between these two perspectives is effectively conveyed through the friendship between two young boys, as well as through the contrasting attitudes of their respective fathers, who despite their belief and heritage represent very opposing worldviews.

Robby Benson and Barry Miller perform their roles admirably and make the improbable friendship between the two young boys easy to buy into.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 79%

#1727 Incident at Crestridge (1981)

Woman moving into a small town located in the Western region of the USA faces ineptitude and corruption of the local law enforcement system and campaigns to become the new sheriff with the mission of rooting out corruption and to provide a sense of safety and security to the community that had been missing for years.

As with made for TV movies the theme of the movie is a bit different from what you’d normally see in movies with a theatrical release, and here also her struggle against the powers that be is interesting to watch.

On the downside Incident at Crestridge suffers from being very much a made for TV movie, and in its style and pacing reminds more of a long episode of some TV series of the early 80s, rather than a cinematic experience you’d go to see from a big screen.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 60%

#1702 Halloween 2022: The Hand (1981)

As for someone who has plowed through most of the mainstream 80s horror movies a long time ago, and then having to had to settle for finding gems in an endless sea of cheapo horror movies not worth the raw film they’re on, finding a proper horror movie like The Hand with a notable names behind it is a real threat.

Directed by Oliver Stone as his first movie in a decade that turned out a heck of an era for him, The Hand follows Jon Lansdale (Michael Caine), who after struggling with his personal life loses his hands and career as a cartoonist. He finds himself terrorized by blackouts and nightmarish visions of his torn off hand still living a life of its own.

The premise of the movie takes some believing and could have easily gone unintentionally humorous with the lesser talented team, but Stone and Caine completely sell the viewer the idea, keeping everyone in the audience wonderfully in suspense until the end credits roll.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 90%

#1685 Halloween 2022: The Final Conflict aka Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)

A sequel to the two earlier Omen movies, released in 1976 and 1978 respectively, Omen III: The Final Conflict picks up the story when Damien, the satanic child, has now grown up and has gotten highly successful as a politician. It’s behind this facade that he works in shadows, running his own cult, eliminating those who stand in his way, attempting to find and kill a reborn Jesus baby, all while while trying to dodge the attacks of monk brotherhood trying to kill him using a set of sacred daggers.

The movie kicks off in a quite graphic and effective way with a scene of a politician resigning to make way for Damien to become the new American ambassador in UK. But it’s after this that movie defaults to quite average and uninspired depiction of good vs bad with a bits of bible as well as occultism thrown into the mix and does not grow nearly as menacing or intimidating that I’d hoped for.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 61%

#1666 Endless Love (1981)

Endless Love is one of those movies that you learn to appreciate much more after you realise it’s a pure work of fiction not even meant to resemble anything that might take place in real life.

It’s after this realisation that you might find yourself enjoying the movie, like myself. In fact the whole concept of a love story gone horribly wrong is a really interesting one, and one that I can’t find any resemblance from the movies I’ve seen.

It’s only the weak, open ended ending that felt to me keeping this movie from greatness; after creating such a bold plot twists I hoped the movie makers had the guts to ride the wave all the way to the ending.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 76%

#1651 Underground Aces (1981)

An early 80s revamp of the 70s success comedy Car Wash, Underground Aces takes the same sort of concept to inside the parking hall of a high class hotel, the own kingdom of the parking assistants.

The movie works out pretty much as expected without much surprises along the way; the characters, including a selection of zany parking assistants, a rich middle-eastern sheik and sex crazed youngsters after the female guests of the hotel all feel straight out of mediocre early 80s VHS guidebook.

The movie is likely most notable for starring Melanie Griffith and Michael Winslow, for both of whom the rest of 80s luckily had better things in mind.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 54%

#1648 Under the Rainbow (1981)

It’s fun to watch one of those dreaded really bad movies of 80s, only to find out that it’s fame as one is highly exaggerated. It needs to be said though that Under the Rainbow is a dud. It’s a mess of a movie that mostly consists of scenes of little people acting and goofing off like they were circus clowns. But, the plot itself is easy to follow and seems to make at least some sense, and there’s something entertaining about all the hectic action similar to what’s seen in Get Crazy.

Under the Rainbow isn’t a Chevy Chase show and he never carries the movie, as he did with his forthcoming hits of the 80s. Although he is playing the lead here, it really feels as if he was playing a distant support role.

80s-o-meter: 5%

Total: 41%

#1626 Buddy Buddy (1981)

Whenever there’s a movie starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in a same movie, you know you’re in for a treat.

Buddy Buddy is in its cinematic style very 60s, but in a beautiful, and somehow comforting way; it’s like meeting an old friend, although you’re pretty sure you’ve never met before. It is also something of a testament to the extraordinary chemistry between Matthau and Lemmon: while there’s nothing exceptional about the movie and its script, its the seasoned actors that make the movie exceptional. With other actors in place Buddy Buddy wouldn’t have been much of a movie.

Even the fact that Matthau does not for a second pass for a vicious professional assassin does not take the fun out of the movie: you still want to go with the flow and accept it all – just to have these two fine gentlemen entertain you for the next 90 minutes.

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 78%

#1615 Soggy Bottom, U.S.A. (1981)

Soggy Bottom, U.S.A. manages to encompass pretty much everything I loathe about a movie: it takes all the lowest common denominators (swamp people are yokels but honest, city slickers are posh but deceptive), and does it all in as predictable and condescending way a Hollywood movie can.

Not only that, but the movie also manages to waste the time of actors like Anthony James and Brion James that could have been more useful in pretty much any other film imaginable.

Despite all this I was going to give the movie a fair trial, but in the end did not have any other options than to deduct ten points for every time the movie tries to pass a rotten fart of a dog as an actual humour.

I counted two occasions.

80s-o-meter: 25%

Total: 2%

#1587 Halloween 2021: Jaws of Satan aka King Cobra (1981)

Let’s start off with a piece of trivia: this movie was at first called King Cobra, but later changed to Jaws of Satan in an attempt to try and piggyback on the Jaws movie series’ success.

In the movie Satan has taken the form of a snake, and after a small killing spree starts tormenting Father Tom. In other words, this is one of those scary movies that relies leans heavily on the religious, supernatural themes.

There isn’t much good to be said about the movie itself as it’s really quite uninspired, other than that Fritz Weaver does a performs well as the flawed man of spirit. The fans of Christina Applegate might be also interesting to her debuting in the movie.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 33%