A sequel to the Angel, Avenging Angel picks up the story a few later after the events of its predecessor, with the heroine now off the streets and working as a lawyer. I found the setup interesting and the whole Angel character now much stronger: instead of being just a gun happy lolita on a revenge spree, she is well spoken, confident and intelligent. This coupled with her background and her street knowhow makes for an interesting character that at best writes itself.
Playing Molly (’Angel’) Stewart this time around is the gorgeous Betsy Russell who fits the role perfectly, and would be my pick of all the Angel actors. The tone of the movie is lighter than with its predecessor, and it introduces some actual comedic elements and segments I wasn’t completely sure were the series needed, but I didn’t mind them much either.
As a completely average (in a good way) 80s action comedy, Avenging Angel is by far the strongest and most entertaining movie of the series.
One more to the pile of movies portraying the 80s New York jetset intellectuals who wallow in money and self pity.
Shot half and half in New York and a remote island in Greece, the movie establishes the vast difference of both well: when we move from New York to the island, the change feels genuinely relaxing, and when we finally get back to the big apple, it again feels like a breath of fresh fresh air after the stuffy island and it’s perverted inhabitant Kalibanos (Raul Julia).
But what happens in both locations is hardly interesting or logical. At 140 minutes the movie is also far too long. It’s so long that it feels downright arrogant from the production team as there really is nothing that epic or interesting on display here.
A movie that thematically reminded me quite a lot of The Whales of August, The Trip to Bountiful is one of those slow-paced movies where not too much happens.
Similarly to The Whales of August, this movie is about home, roots and inevitable change and passing of the time.
Geraldine Page – who was only 60 at the time – does a great role as the old, rough around the edges mother, and despite our age and gender difference, it was easy to empathise with the her throughout the movie.
I’m not quite sure what to do with all these made for TV movies of the 80s. On the other hand, watching through all of them is not at all what I signed up for, but with gems like Death of a Salesman how could I possibly pass them up?
Based on the brilliant 1949 play of the same name by Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman transfers nicely to the TV format thanks to great casting including Dustin Hoffman, John Malkovich and Charles Durning – and in this case specifically to the TV as the production values themselves are a far cry from a feature film.
If you’re new to the play, Death of a Salesman is one of the better ways to get acquainted with the story and its timeless themes of the (false sense of) pride, delusion, American dream – and falling short of it.
Out of Control takes a bad turn right after an a-ok beginning as it moves from a nice title music and a high school graduation party to some remote island somewhere in former Yugoslavia.
Getting stranded on a remote island is an interesting premise by itself, but instead of concentrating on long term survival and group dynamics, Out of Control puts them into an adult version of The Famous Five kind of adventure where they discover a stash of drug smugglers, get loaded on the booze they find, strip, make out and finally engage in a fight.
I did not have to check out if the movie’s running time was well under 90 minutes; the obvious padding was a straight giveaway, which makes many of the scenes drag on for ages.
Grunt! The Wrestling Movie and its poster has a good 80s Mad Magazine parody written all over it, but it turns out to be quite a tame take on the show wrestling that really peaked during the mid 80s.
The movie is shot in a mocumentary style with lots of shaky footage and interviews to reveal if the new wrestling star called The Mask is in fact a guy called Mad Dog that disappeared from the face of the earth a few years earlier. These mocumentary bits are then cut into actual matches with the movie’s stars battling against each other.
Thing is, show wrestling is already so entertaining and over the edge that in comparison everything seen here pales in comparison. For my entertainment I’d much rather watch some actual 80s WWE WrestleMania matches.
A trilogy of made for tv movies released almost 20 years after the original 1967 Dirty Dozen movie, Next Mission, The Deadly Mission and The Fatal Mission take the same premise of the original movie and serve it in a surprisingly different packages, while maintaining some of the cast of the original movie.
Next Mission’s main asset is Lee Marvin, who led the original bunch of misfits rescued from death sentence to carry out a suicide mission in the occupied Europe. It is made somewhat interesting by the aspect of not trying to kill Hitler, but to prevent his assassination due to the assumption that it will be Hitler himself that will lead Germany to defeat with his megalomaniac plans. Other than that, nothing much here to write to home about. In The Deadly Mission Marvin was replaced by Telly Savalas (of the Kojak fame) and this was the movie that resonated with me the most, being almost an Indiana Jones like adventure in a Nazi occupied castle. I was also impressed the amount of destruction and havoc they put the castle through, especially considering this is a made for TV movie that usually are very bland in the effects department.
The Fatal Mission feels tired to start with, introducing lots of elements (including a female lead and a love story) that all feel like degenerative and not to the core of the franchise. On top of the uneven trilogy, a TV series of the same name aired on Fox on 1988, but was discontinued after the first season.
Total: Next Mission 60% | The Deadly Mission 79% | The Fatal Mission 45%
I was expecting Stand Alone to be something in the line of Death Wish line of movies, but actually the movie is quite low in violence for the most of its running time.
Most of the conflict here is internal, with the WWII veteran Louis Thibadeau (Charles Durning) being pressured by the cops to help them put the violent street gang behind bars, but risking being avenged for this.
Durning is great and sympathetic as even as the old gramps still reliving his glory days in the battle field, but quite disappointingly we see him in real action only at the very end of the movie.
One more for this year’s pile of crummy horror movies, The Nail Gun Massacre starts off with a gang rape performed by construction workers, and a following killing spree where they get eliminated by a killer armed with a nail gun.
What the movie lacks in style, wit and overall quality it partially makes up with its utterly stupid one-liners, delivered by the masked assassin while performing the kills. The crew clearly had a good time with these, and admittedly they did make me laugh in their silliness.
Alas, this is where the positive news end. The Nail Gun Massacre is another amateurish horror movie exercise and there’s really nothing here to make special enough to leave a lasting impression.
A sequel to the 1981 The Howling, Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf takes the franchise to a totally campy direction by bringing into the mix the concept of erotic leather having intercourses while turning into werewolves, uninspiring European location, and overall cheapness of it all.
Generally seen as a bad movie, some people seem to cheer the fact that Sybil Danning can be seen in one of the key roles in the movie. But the same goes for every movie Danning is in, and to me she does absolutely nothing. What it comes to cheap b-movie semi naked horror heroines, I’m Linnea Quigley kind of guy, myself.
The most painful aspect of Howling is to see the iconic Christopher Lee smearing his name with this movie, although it is quite apparent he regretted this decision already during the shooting.
A delight of a comedy, The Heavenly Kid takes the often seen formula of dying and coming back from heaven to rectify one’s wrongdoings and with a few original twists and tweaks makes the concept work.
First of all, Lewis Smith as Bobby, a good willed, but a bit empty headed cool cat is a perfect cast for the role and he is a delight to watch on the silver screen. Also the plot line of Bobby having to deal with his former girlfriend in the current day, now married to his former worst rival makes the whole concept much more interesting.
Lastly, Richard Mulligan adds a certain spark of magic to it all as a Rafferty, the worst ever spectral mentor on a motorcycle.
The never-heard-before Delivery Boys is a comedy with a typical problem of the team not having a proper focus. This results as the movie being an uneven collection of adolescent sex comedy, a musical and a serious film about break dancing, as if it was patched together from the leftovers of three different movies.
The comedy bits are of your typical lowest common denominator type, with men dressing as women and horny men then trying to have sex with them, and the breakdance and training parts of the movie are much more interesting to watch.
Delivery Boys would’ve worked much better as a showcase to the 1985 New York and to its breakdance / hiphop scene with the comedy bits somehow related to that theme.
American Flyers is a sports movie that tries a little something different to break the clichéd sports movie formula.
Problem is, it would’ve been a better sports movie if it didn’t so hard to come up with an excessive drama and the additional storyline that seemed only distracting and out of place to me. All of the drama between the two brothers feels really forced and is never quite explained in a satisfactory way.
As a sports movie American Flyers does well in depicting a bicycle race, making it look quite realistic and visually quite pleasing.
I wanted to reiterate the plot here to better understand why such a silly premise and goofy plot twists work so well in Creator, but as I wrote everything down it sounded like a pretty darn horrible movie; there’s an eccentric medical professor teaching at a small California college who wants to bring her back through cloning. Plus one of the characters even falls fatally ill – a page right out of a cheap soap opera manuscript.
But please trust me, Creator makes it all work out much better than I can explain it.
Deborah Tranelli – Apparently known the pain most due to her role in the Dallas TV series – gets mishandled first by a crook that kills her husband and then by the womanising and chauvinistic pack of hoodlums in her hometown, after which she releases her wrathful vengeance on all of them.
The protagonist’s transformation to a cold blooded killer that plans and executes imaginative kills on her wrongdoers is highly inplausible – she could’ve much more easily just shoot them all one by one – but I did like the way she always did not succeed in her plans so easily, and actually ended up in a tight spot, hunted by the townsfolk.
A motorcycle gang terrorises a small town in Savage Dawn, a missed opportunity of a cult movie.
Out of the strong cast of George Kennedy, Richard Lynch and Lance Henriksen it’s suprisingly William Forsythe that really shines as the leader of the gang (that otherwise resembles Black Widows, the comical motorcycle gang seen in Clint Eastwood’s Every Which Way but Loose).
Savage Dawn looks great for a B-movie, boasts a nice poster, has a strong cast, and silly enough plot, and thus sets the viewer’s expectations sky high. But somehow it just does not add up as expected; the action just isn’t there and the movie unfortunately looks much more fun in still pictures than it does as a movie.
One of the definite teen movies of the 80s, the setup in John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club bears resemblance to the 12 Angry Men (1957). Both movies present us a group of people with seemingly little in common forced to a small room by an external power.
But in The Breakfast Club the roles of the individuals are much more pronounced and relatable for anyone who lived through the high school: there’s the jock, the snobb, the geek, the juvenile delinquent and the weirdo, species of different cliques that usually don’t interact in their day to day life, and when they do, they find out just how much in common they really have.
The Breakfast Club leans on clichés a bit more than it needs to in order to make its point, but even if if the movie may be dated, its themes are definitely not.
And that right there is a sign of a movie classic.
A mid 80s take on the woman penitentiary movies, Hellhole maintains the gratuitous full frontal nudity aspect of the genre and is a complete miss as a horror movie.
But it does manage to find a somewhat interesting own tone, making it if not great, still one of the more tolerable exploitation movies out there.