#1551 The Sting II (1983)

A sequel for the 1973 The Sting starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, The Sting II loses all of its star power that no doubt helped to leverage the original scoundrel comedy to success.

But what The Sting II loses in Newman and Redford, it gains in Jackie Gleason who is a perfect fit for the role of the gang leader aiming to pull off a boxing match scam of a century.

The movie establishes well its 1940s New York era, and Gleason’s persona and the natural appearance of the golden era star no doubt helps to sell this idea. While not exactly match for its predecessor, The Sting II makes for a totally worthy heir to the original.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 70%

#1546 The Dead Zone (1983)

Stephen King’s movies got translated to the silver screen in a quick pace after the success of Carrie and The Shining, but for the better of worse they rarely matched the sheer brilliance of these two movies. While The Dead Zone featuring Christopher Walken in the lead also falls somewhere far behind Carrie and The Shining, it’s still one of the more stronger King adaptations of the decade.

Despite the mild horror and supernatural elements, with The Dead Zone it was never that obvious that this was in fact a Stephen King movie, being more of a thriller. In fact, there’s nothing in the movie that would suggest an exceptional manuscript, and without reading the original 1979 novel of the same name, I can’t really tell how much has been lost (or found!) in translation with Jeffrey Boam’s screen write, or David Cronenberg’s directing.

Even if something has, The Dead Zone still makes for a decent movie with an interesting premise well worth one’s time.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 80%

#1541 Emerald Cities (1983)

A disjointed indie movie about a woman who leaves her home and her father dressed up as a Santa Claus in Death Valley. Father then follows him to San Francisco through various small towns in a road movie fashion.

While the movie would have been ok’ish small budget project, it’s constantly interrupted with excerpts from TV news, faked interviews, movie clips and miscellaneous footage from concerts, which makes it very hard to following the plot, and the movie.

I liked the few quirky moments in the movie, but as Emerald Cities finally ended I could not help but cheated as a viewer.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 17%

#1496 The Devonsville Terror (1983)

A movie about 16th century witch hunt that has unexpected consequences to the present day, it takes ages for The Devonsville Terror to get to the most interesting parts of the story.

The movie has a strong late 70s British cinema vibe to it, and despite the quite dark themes a scary movie this ain’t.

At the end there is an unexpected surprise that the fans of Raiders of the Lost Ark might be able to appreciate.

80s-o-meter: 31%

Total: 34%

#1495 Suburbia (1983)

Writing about teens, especially the troubled ones it’s not an easy feat, and can easily turn condescending and cringeworthy. Suburbia get this totally right and its portrayal of the era, including young punk kids is exactly how I remember it to be.

The movie manages to capture both the dark tones as well as the moments of happiness, and the sense of belonging beautifully, true to its characters, without any excessive sappiness.

The array of amateur punk rocker kids cast to the movie (including young Flea of the RHCP fame in his first credited performance) perform their parts admirably. And in case you wonder: yes, Pet Shop Boys were inspired by this movie when composing their hit song of the same name.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 86%

#1487 Beyond the Limit aka The Honorary Consul (1983)

The weird coincidences the I come across watching all these 80s movies never seize to amaze me: I watched two movies about alcoholic Consuls stuck somewhere in the South Africa almost back to back.

Beyond the Limit is the weaker one of these and it being of British origin it was one of those movies I was on the verge whether I should include it to this movie watching project. Ultimately it was Richard Gere, playing a callous doctor who lusts after the Consul’s (Michael Caine) young wife.

While the movie manages to find a captivating tone of voice during its run time, it’s the final surprising and interesting events that fortunately redeem many of the movie’s shortcomings during the last 20 minutes.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 55%

#1476 Staying Alive (1983)

Sylvester Stallone (of all people) co-wrote and directed the sequel to the 1977 landmark movie Saturday Night Fever – and it remains one of the few misfires in his career.

Staying Alive picks the story up years later of the original storyline, as Tony Manero (John Travolta) is now trying to make it big in the Broadway. Akin to many musicals of the era, it’s a struggle of getting noticed from a fleet of talented dancers.

The original’s heavy disco approach along with the killer soundtrack is what made it a phenomenon, when again Staying Alive is an early 80s fast food take on the subject; light drama is constantly mixed up with lengthy musical numbers, and neither one have enough memorable aspects to really stick with the viewer for more than a minute or two.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 51%

#1465 Sacred Ground (1983)

A mountain man in mid 19th century Oregon builds a cabin to the Native American’s burial site and then revenges the death of his wife by kidnapping a woman from the tribe and killing the chasing tribe members with a repeater stolen from the vendor who lent his horse to him.

In the age of political correctness all the depictions with Native Americans seem a bit uncomfortable, and I’m not sure it Sacred Ground does justice to the Paiutes. I kind of like how the movie handles the disputable decisions of its caucasian lead – this is not the heroic, virtuous character often seen in classic Western movies – but I’d appreciated if the movie had included more the point of view of the tribesmen.

The real star of the show are the Oregon nature and mountains, and the movie captures well what I’d imagine the life there might’ve been back then.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 43%

#1464 Olivia aka A Taste of Sin aka Double Jeopardy aka Prozzie aka Beyond The Bridge aka Mad Night (1983)

A movie that holds a record number of alternative titles so far, Olivia has almost as many plot twists as names.

Other than Olivia witnessing the death of her prostitute mother as a kid, and then re-enacting the revenge against men in her adulthood, I could not tell what the movie was about overall. Very little of all of it makes sense, and the coincidents masquerated as plot twists are just implausible.

Still, kudos for trying out something a bit more unconventional, although this time it does not pay off.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 32%

#1463 Man, Woman and Child (1983)

An academic couple’s picture perfect marriage comes to halt as the husbands love child pops up from the past, and the whole family needs to adjust to the new situation.

The movie handles the situation well and draws a realistic picture of the situation along with all the internal and external conflicts everyone involved goes through.

Man, Woman and Child is an easy to relate to drama that avoids the pitfall of being too syrupy or melodramatic, and is only held back by the ending that really feels like cutting the story totally short.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 70%

#1455 Hercules (1983)

The only reason I was looking forward to seeing Hercules was seeing Lou Ferrigno, who here in his peak physical condition arguably out-performed Schwarzenegger himself.

An Italian-American co-production directed by Luigi Cozzi and shot in a movie studio located in Rome, the movie looks and plays pretty much as expected with visuals and effects comparable to similar adventure epics of the 60s; looking nice but outdated, with dodgy stop motion animations.

Ferrigno is likable, and truly possesses the physique of a Hercules – but not the screen presence of Schwarzenegger: he manages to bump up the movie a few notches, but not quite much as his Austrian colleague might’ve. I’ve never been a big fan of Sybil Danning, but after seeing this movie I do understand what her followers have been going on about.

80s-o-meter: 5%

Total: 58%

#1449 Curse of the Pink Panther (1983)

The untimely death of Peter Sellers in 1980 left the director Blake Edwards unable to milk the Pink Panther franchise even further. Well, almost.

I honestly thought I was through with the franchise after having to sit through the 1982 Trail of the Pink Panther, but there was another Pink Panther movie released the following year, Curse of the Pink Panther. Instead of relying solely on old material like Trail of the Pink Panther, Curse of the Pink Panther aimed to reboot the franchise with a new young inspector of the American origin.

Truth to be told, Curse of the Pink Panther nor its lead Ted Wass aren’t entirely horrid, but already at this point the success of the past movies overshadow any attempts, and the movie might have felt somewhat more fresh as a completely standalone film instead.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 24%

#1428 The Star Chamber (1983)

The second movie of this angry relative of a homicide victim vs the judge who has to deal with the consequences -mini feature is The Star Chamber where Michael Douglas plays a judge who carries the burden of having to release violent criminals without consequences due to technicalities in the investigation.

It’s a different kind of beast compared to Seven Hours to Judgment and goes much, much deeper into the dark depts of the human mind and asks the viewer questions about ethics and taking the law into one’s own hands.

Due to not offering simple solutions to any of theses questions The Star Chamber did leave an impression that still lasts for me, a few days after viewing the movie.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 89%

#1389 Halloween 2020: Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

A travelling circus appears to a small rural town out of thin air, and besides the entertainment it seems to have other things in mind for the town folk.

Based on the Ray Bradbury’s 1962 novel of the same name, Something Wicked This Way Comes came into form already in 1958 as a screenplay but failed to get backed up by the production companies, until getting picked by Walt Disney Pictures. The movie has a strong 60s Walk Disney Productions look and feel to it with the setting, characters and outdated special effects.

The concept of making pack with the devil here is actually pretty great and could have lent itself to looking ever more closely to the secret wishes of the villagers, and used more wisely towards the end, but what the movie provides in a form of hall of mirrors and a magic carousel did not grasp me at all.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 51%

#1378 Halloween 2020: Embalmed aka Mortuary (1983)

Good news: Mortuary has a real cool and mouth watering poster going for it. Bad news: the movie really has nothing much to do with this poster.

So, instead of living dead raising from the grave, the movie concentrates on a mortuary where something awry is going on. Meanwhile some bodies get misplaces and mistreated and a few people get harassed by a masked killer.

Fans of Bill Paxton might be interested to hear he can be seen in the role of an eccentric youngster working in the Mortuary, but the movie manages to really use somewhere around 1-5% of his full potential.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 40%

#1364 Chained Heat (1983)

Apparently one of the definite women in prison movies of the 80s due to featuring Linda Blair, Chained Heat wasn’t the movie that’d finally convert me to a fan of the genre.

What I liked about it was just how over the top (and all over the place in general) the movie is. This is the weirdest prison I’ve ever seen with seemingly no boundaries: every prisoner is free to roam wherever they want and are often invited to the warden’s private luxury room of sexy-time with jacuzzi and cameras.

Other than that, it’s pretty standard ride. The women are much too sexy and well groomed to be prisoners, all the guards are sadists and the movie culminates with your typical vengeful prison riot.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 25%

#1360 Spring Break (1983)

Spring Break could be considered one of the definite teen sex comedies of the era. But not because it goes even more overboard and into bad taste than its rivals, but for managing to be truly genuine and relatable, but still fun all the way.

Unlike some 80s party comedies that can be outright mean and womanising, Spring Break is actually good willing in its nature, and Perry Lang’s likeable underdog college nerd makes for an easy character to identify with.

The subplot involving Nelson’s step-father might be a bit unnecessary, but it’s not the worst I’ve seen and does bring some variation to the mix, and wraps up the movie quite satisfyingly.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 84%

#1332 Of Unknown Origin (1983)

The director George P. Cosmatos creates a new subgenre of rat thriller with Of Unknown Origin.

I was drawn to this Canadian-American movie shot in Montréal due to it featuring Peter Weller (of the later Robocop fame), as well as its ominous title. The movie never quite lives up to its premise, and turns into monotonous mouse and cat game where Weller gets fixated on getting rid of a rodent and ends up destroying both his house and him family along the way.

It is not very scary, not that much fun and gets pretty old pretty fast. The concept could have probably worked better as a 20-minute Simpsons episode instead.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 27%