#1913 Touched (1983)

A movie you haven’t ever heard of, nor have your friends or family heard of, Touched is a long forgotten little drama on mental patients struggling to become independent.

Boasting only 140 ratings and one review on IMDB, I have no idea how the movie became so obsolete, but I suspect it had either really limited theatrical release, or it was canned altogether. While the movie is no stinker, and would have warranted a somewhat wired release, there’s just something about seeing Robert Hays so many times in Airplane! that I can’t take him easily serious enough to read how good of a drama actor he actually might be.

The movie tells a story of him falling love with another mental patient, played by at least equally gorgeous looking Kathleen Beller, and I was struggling to believe the two as patients going steady and starting a life of their own, instead of actors pretending to do so.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 38%

#1883 Variety (1983)

An indie film depicting young woman working at the door of an adult movie theatre in Times Square who after awhile develops a tempting interest in the world of porn.

In a crossing plot line she accepts an invitation to join an older business man who visits the shows, and finds out he is involved in shady business that she stars to investigate.

Shot almost entirely during nights, the scenes of nocturnal New York work for the advantage of Variety and the atmosphere is the strongest fuel that keeps the movie running. Take the same concept to somewhere else and shoot it during the day, and there wouldn’t be much of a movie here.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 45%

#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%

#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%

#1799 Stuck on You! (1983)

After suffering though Waitress! I thought I might as well look into the other Trauma sex comedies of the early 80s, and Stuck on You! comes definitely from the same assembly line, even including the exclamation mark in the title.

If there was no plot to speak about in Waitress!, here the whole concept is even looser, consisting of a divorcing young couple talking to a judge who takes them back to the totally unrelated totally crazy historical elements a bit like in Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part I. There’s fart and belching jokes aplenty, few tits, and that’s pretty much about it.

The whole thing is a failure, and already in the first 15 minutes I ended up hating the movie, wishing it had never seen the light of the day.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 4%

#1781 Going Berserk (1983)

This year we’ve witnessed the big breakthrough artificial intelligence breakthrough, and no doubt soon it will be easy to prompt any actor do you whatever you like, and to eventually even ask AI to manuscript and play a movie from 80s that never existed.

Going Berserk feels like an early AI attempt to produce a comedy, but getting most aspects all wrong; the humour is not funny, plot does not really connect and feels more like a multiple unrelated segment, and actors like John Candy and Eugene Levy look familiar, but the result feels badly out of character or residing in a wrong movie. It is especially painful to see Candy delivering one unfunny line after another, or getting into raunchy language.

Made in 1983, Going Berserk is not made by AI, but an example of human stupidity in action instead. But, maybe we can harness AI in the future to rewrite and fix this movie to the standard that better suits John Candy.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 25%

#1761 Tough Enough (1983)

Whoa, Dennis Quaid was ripped back in 1983.

Pretty much unlike what I expected, Tough Enough is a boxing movie about a country singer that takes part in a Toughman amateur boxing competition to make the ends meet. This different approach and the human story behind it all is the side of Tough Enough that I enjoyed.

What I did not enjoy though was the endless staged boxing matches with random fighters that quite frankly weren’t really that interesting. The movie has all the usual shortcomings and dramatic structure than all the sports movies, which makes the movie also a bit less interesting if you know the formula. Ultimately I feel it’s Quaid who single handedly carries this movie through, transforming something quite mediocre to a passable movie experience.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 61%

#1739 Wild Style (1983)

Ok, so there isn’t much of a story going on with Wild Style, but what it has going for is an amazing time capsule look into the early 80s graffiti and hip hop culture.

Starting from the beautifully lettered opening titles to the equally stylistic end credits, Wild Style is not something artificial put together by Hollywood film moguls, but 100% street credible from start to finish.

Recommended even if you aren’t in to hip hop culture, and a definite must-see if you are a fan.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 90%

#1738 Born in Flames (1983)

I guess a point that Born in Flames tries to make is that even with a socialist revolution the women and ethnic minorities would continue to be repressed.

Because that’s the premise of the movie; a socialist revolution has taken place in the USA in the past, but now the women are displeased and want to make another revolution by forming a militant Women’s Army.

I feel there’s a message here that is important, but as a movie the end result shot in this pseudo-documentary style is just not very watchable. Especially the ending with the World Trade Center exploding has not aged very well in the 911 world.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 38%

#1735 My Brother’s Wedding (1983)

My Brother’s Wedding was presented to me as a lost Charles Burnett movie, now remastered to its previous glory.

The movie tells a small, passing by moment in the life of low achiever Pierce Mundy living in South Central whose successful brother is getting married to a middle class family, much to the contempt of Pierce. As his low life friend Soldier is freed from the prison, Pierce has to decide whether to attend his brother’s wedding as the best man, or be there when Soldier needs him.

For most people this would not be any kind of a problem, but this is exactly where the movie taps into as we try to understand the motivators behind Pierce’s choices and hoping he goes for the right choice.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 63%

#1726 The Scarlet and the Black (1983)

Over these years I’ve grown fond of underdog made for TV movies that punch far above their height in terms of telling an interesting story. In The Scarler and the Black that a real-life story is of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, an Irish Catholic priest who saved thousands of Jews and escaped Ally soldirs in Rome during WWII.

Seeing John Gielgud, Gregory Peck and Christopher Plummer work together in this movie is a treat, is capturing the essence of their characters perfectly, and adding that little flair of their own to keep things interesting.

Although the scarcer budget shows, for a made for TV movie The Scarlet and the Black is well made movie that doesn’t really give away its modest origins, other than fading out and pausing for the very apparent commercial breaks.

80s-o-meter: 43%

Total: 83%

#1722 Shallow Grave (1987)

We’ve seen this hicksploitation plot before: bunch of city slicker passer-bys get involved with the crooked arms of law in a small rural town. What makes Shallow Grave more interesting though is the way it’s only the sheriff here who is the wrongdoer, and constantly walks on tightrope trying to cover his tracks and not get caught.

And it’s his somewhat clueless deputy slowly closing up on him that also adds to the movie.

All in all Shallow Grave is a better movie than it deserves to be, and makes for easy 90 minutes watch. If it wasn’t for the lousy horror movie like ending, the movie could’ve stood a chance of getting my cautious recommendation.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 70%

#1721 Bless Their Little Hearts (1983)

There’s mixed information in the internet of the movie’s release, IMDB stating 1983 and Wikipedia insisting on December 1984 release. Either way the theatrical release has been extremely limited and the movie is not the kind of popular movie to make it big on VHS, so it was more or less forgotten upon its release.

But make no mistake, Bless Their Little Hearts is a gem of an indie movie.

Following the life of an unemployed African-American father of three struggling to find work and make the ends meet, the real star of the movie is Kaycee Moore whose portrayal of his wife frustrated by having to provide to her family and her husband while trying to keep the family somehow functional. Watch her as she is having a 10-minute long, quite verbal argument with her husband and tell me she does not deserve an Oscar for her role play.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 81%

#1703 Halloween 2022: The Demons of Ludlow (1983)

As per usual there hasn’t been a side of crappy horror movies this year either, and The Demons of Ludlow falls in there somewhere between bad and totally useless.

So there’s basically a haunted automatic piano and villagers getting attacked by people dressed in 19th century clothes apparently living inside the said piano – and it is all as lame as it sounds.

The Demons of Ludlow misses its mark pretty much on all ends, and does not even provide an intentional humour for those looking for giggles and laughs.

80s-o-meter: 1%

Total: 7%

#1687 Halloween 2022: Play Dead aka Killer dog aka Satan’s Dog (1983)

Perhaps the saddest concept for a movie this Halloween, Play Dead tries to sell us the concept of old madame doing some voodoo magic in her home and sending her dog to plot and carry out imaginative killings on her enemies.

It’s a stupid premise executed in a poor and uninteresting way.I can’t imagine the movie being able to entertain or scare anyone in 1983, let alone today.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 5%

#1654 Wavelength (1983)

Last one in late unexpected wave of surprisingly good low budget scifi movies arriving to my desk is Wavelength, a movie that had a feeling of something being off (in a good way) from the get go.

But it was only after the actual secret and its alarming consequences are revealed that Wavelength starts to find its own unique tone and plot line unlike anything I’ve seen to date, and really starts to whet one’s appetite as what will happen next.

Obviously done with a shoe string budget, Wavelength manages to stretch that dime amazingly far, concentrating on the atmosphere rather than special effects. The few effects there are are made in good taste, and don’t feel distracting at all unlike other low budget movies.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 71%

#1643 Cross Creek (1983)

I’ve a strange kind of romantic longing for the Everglades, and similar wetlands located in the southernmost states of the eastern USA. Strange because I could likely not stand the weather or humidity, or the isolation. But I guess its the quite unique, secret and hidden world of these parts that manage to catch my imagination.

80s offerings in this area has been something of a hit and miss. Starting from a-ok Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing to pretty nice The River Rat to complete stinkers like Shy People and Soggy Bottom, U.S.A there hasn’t been one definite movie that has been able to provide me the swamp experience what I’ve been looking for – until I came across Cross Creek.

On paper Cross Creek is a movie that was likely to be one of those slow, pompous, utterly boring period pictures, but this director Martin Ritt’s depiction of the author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings pushes all right buttons, managing to capture an array of greatly interesting and multi-dimensional characters. I was eager to get back to the movie’s world every time I had to pause the movie, and I felt the movie inviting me already to revisit it some time in the future.

80s-o-meter: 11%

Total: 96%

#1619 Foxfire Light (1983)

Romantic drama does not invoke my interest, especially if it looks like a made for TV movie. But Foxfire Light did feel a bit more interesting to me after I learned that Leslie Nielsen – mostly known for me from his comedy roles – stars in it.

Contrary to all the expectations Foxfire Light actually works as a movie, and all the complex relationships shown here do have that soap opera setup for them, but with much more depth added. It’s easy entertainment, but something that still manages to have an actual heart.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 70%

#1617 Lianna (1983)

Look, I don’t know about the history of movies about homosexuality to say how much Lianna was ahead of its time upon its 1983 release – if any – but at least to me the movie felt quite genuine and earnest in its depiction of a housewife suffering from codependency, who then finds consolation and a love interested in the opposite sex.

Earnest in the sense of how the movie depicts the getting out of the closet and the relationship in a quite realistic manner, and as well how Lianna’s codependency is not fixed with getting out of the closet – it just finds a new object, and it’s only when Lianna starts to learn being alone and being comfortable with herself that the growing as a human begins.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 79%

#1592 Halloween 2021: Amityville 3 aka Amityville 3-D aka Amityville III: The Demon (1983)

Another movie that took part of the early 80s 3D craze, Amityville 3-D (like the formerly reviewed Silent Madness) has since then seen a Blu-Ray release in good old 2D. Excluding the overall blurriness towards the edges of the screen, and the few awkward scenes obviously set up with 3D in mind, the movie luckily does not suffer from its 3D origins much.

And as the case was with Silent Madness, this third installation in the Amityville series is actually surprisingly potent horror movie – contrary to all the expectations. The ominous hole in the room, the various types of scourge in the house and possessed daughter; it’s all good classical horror that relies more on the eery presence of evil, instead of them cheap jump scares.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 71%