#1525 Made in Heaven (1987)

Made in Heaven is a movie narrated in two acts: in the first act we see the protagonist as a young boy heading off to California, getting killed in an accident, ending up in heaven and falling in love with another soul.

In the second act they both have been born again, unaware of their previous lives and mutual time together in heaven, and the thrill the movie offers to the viewers is of course the hope of their life lines somehow intertwining, perhaps leading them to find each other once again.

I have to admit I found the movie incredibly dull and slow paced for most of its running time, but the final events did admittedly get to me to the extend of turning the overall experience quite positive. Clearly this concept of soul mates has something special going for it, only if the endless taxiing before final payoff of a takeoff was crafted just a bit more exciting.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 61%

#1519 The Allnighter (1987)

Hey look, it’s Susanna Hoffs (of the The Bangles fame) making her debut in a lead role, in a movie written and directed by her mother Tamar Simon Hoffs.

While Susanna herself performs the role adequately, The Allnighter itself is such a mess that is pretty much nullifies that performance. I would have loved the movie actually living up to its name, taking place in one long night, but instead the events take place during a time period of few days and none of them are properly followed through, leaving one scratching their head wondering what actually is the theme of the movie.

The movie looks good though and has all those nice seasonings of California, surf, beach houses, parties and overall good mood, sprinkled on top of an empty shell of a movie.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 30%

#1518 Someone to Love (1987)

Look, if you’ve seen the other Henry Jaglom’s movies of the era, you’ve pretty much already seen Someone to Love.

The theme is once again adults wallowing in their life and relationship troubles, this time invited and enclosed in an old theatre. Jaglom’s trademark improvised dialogue is once again the aspect of the movie that stands out most, but other than that the array of the characters does not grasp one at all.

Orson Welles can be seen in his final feature film role having a dialogue of his own. Although these interludes do break the monotony of the movie, they make the film feel even more uneven and fragmented as it should be.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 22%

#1512 Flowers in the Attic (1987)

When ran into Flowers in the Attic I already knew it by its name. Based on the 1979 novel of the same name, this was the first movie adaptation of the book.

But I did not know the grim gothic tale it was. A story of a grandmother locking the children to wither away in a north wing of the family mansion, and their mother betraying them the movie is not an easy thing to watch – especially considering this kind of abuse in the world is not fictive.

I haven’t read the book or seen the 2014 made for TV version, but based on what I’ve read the director Jeffrey Bloom has made the right call downplaying the incest relationship between the children that would’ve made the movie even harder for me to stomach, and toned it down to normal teen curiosity and a strong comradeship between the two elder siblings.

80s-o-meter: 28%

Total: 85%

#1503 The House on Carroll Street (1987)

A movie about woman in FBI’s is blacklist uncovering a plot in 1950s America to smuggle Nazi war criminals to the states under false identities, The House on Carroll Street plays out like a good mystery novel.

For a thriller the movie plays it quite safe, but establishes well the feeling of being a totally expendable chess piece in the international theatre of power. The House on Carroll Street is also exemplary in the way it portrays the period in a totally natural way and not even once feels underlined nor forced.

I loved Kelly McGillis’ portrayal of Emily that she plays with ethereal coolness but with a humane touch – she is sort of an enigma herself, after all. Jeff Daniels also go out to prove once again that you can’t go much wrong with him aboard.

80s-o-meter: 12%

Total: 80%

#1500 Predator (1987)

By 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger had already starred in the multiple movies that defined the action genre (Terminator, Conan the Barbarian, Commando), but it was Predator that really established him as the action star of the 80s.

Presenting us with a story of an alien humanoid life from travelling over to earth for recreational sports hunting (targeting humans), Predator is a mere B-movie ramped up to an A-level blockbuster hit by utilising all the top shelve talent Hollywood had to its avail at the time.

Similarly to Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars, with Predator Schwarzenegger reached a pinnacle where his character became immortal, and something that transcends human age and passing of time.

This is how we forever remember Schwarzenegger: as a 40-year old still very much in his top form, with a flat top haircut and boasting a magnetic screen presence the few extra years under this his belt and the confidence gained by finally silencing all the naysayers who said he could not cut it as a movie star.

Predator is an action movie that defined its genre so well that its formula still works to date, 35 years after Predator’s theatrical debut.

80s-o-meter: 100%

Total: 98%

#1497 The Beat (1987)

An eccentric boy moves into neighbourhood to find himself an outsider with the local gangs and clicks – until one of the students finds himself gravitating towards the strange world and poetry inside the boys mind. And soon the others follow.

The title of the movie is something they all then begin to chant together.

The Beat is a totally ridiculous depiction of the youth – high school musical ridiculous – but somehow escapes total cringeworthiness, probably due to its somewhat charming, naïvely honest approach.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 65%

#1486 The Hanoi Hilton (1987)

Portraying a bunch of American soldiers imprisoned in the Viet Cong Hỏa Lò prison during the 1960s and early 1980s, Hanoi Hilton turns a tremendously potent set up into a lot lukewarm and mostly an interesting depiction of soldiers forgotten by the war, and their country.

The movie follows many soldiers, but never quite stays long enough with one, or gets under their skin to make us really root for them. Everything from torture to mind games never quite seems to touch, and the made for television look & feel coupled with a strong shot inside a studio feeling does not really add to the authenticity.

Maybe if the approach would’ve been even more daring – like sharing one single cell all through the movie with a prisoner – we could’ve gotten a better sense of what was it like to locked up with no human contacts.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 45%

#1478 Shy People (1987)

American wetlands have always intrigued for their mystique, and I’m always happy to see a movie exploring the swampy southern regions. In Shy People we city slickers get to identify with a New York journalist and her daughter who travel to Louisiana to meet with their weird, backwards distant family.

There are lots of backwards ways in their lives. The family still looks up to an old patriarch of the family who has since left them, lives in a creaky old house and has one of the adult kids permanently locked up in a shed.

I get what the movie makers were going after with the concept, but everything in the movie feels super artificial and implausible. I lost my interest in the events and the characters in the very first minutes when they arrived to the swamp, and the movie failed to pick up my interest afterwards.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 22%

#1477 Square Dance (1987)

Square Dance is an exercise in futility. Stuff happens, people clash and fight and finally get back to the starting point with very little gained along the way.

Everything in the movie feels forced, and it was especially when the intellectually disabled young man played by Rob Lowe appears on screen that I felt the movie was totally without focus. But as it turns out, the only thing really working in the movie is Lowe’s character and I’d rather watched a movie about him rather than being subjected to all the other nonsense the movie tries to serve as a plot.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 16%

#1475 Romero (1989)

Based on the assassination of Óscar Romero, the Archbishop of El Salvador, it felt to me that despite the graphic nature of the movie it fails to really grasp the viewer.

What is shown here feels more documenting than telling an actual story. Perhaps the movie would’ve been better when told from a point of view of a citizen somehow connected to Romero?

Raúl Juliá in the lead does a charismatic role as the Archbishop Bishop standing against the violent regime, and my appreciation towards him has deepened with every one of his movies I’ve seen.

80s-o-meter: 20%

Total: 60%

#1472 Amazing Grace and Chuck (1987)

Chuck, a star of his little league baseball team realises after a visit to nuclear missile silo how the world is in a balance of terror that might go off any minute, and refuses to throw another pitch until the nuclear arsenal in the world is gone. His boycott is then picked up by a local newspaper, after which an unexpected chain of events starts to unravel as a NBA star Amazing Grace Smith joins him, followed by other front row athletes.

Amazing Grace and Chuck is a beautiful fairy tale with great array of interesting personas and events. It grasped me from the get go, and I enjoyed it all the way to the end. So, it’s highly implausible – but the movie handles all this very well, finally wrapping up beautifully with a one single thought:

”But wouldn’t it be nice”

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 86%

#1458 Death Before Dishonor (1987)

A rambo-like Sergeant goes against a terrorist organisation led by Abu Jihad (!) in Death Before Dishonor, a patriotic American action romp taking place somewhere in Middle East.

Despite all the action, the overall feeling of the movie is oddly tame. The movie tries to push all the best buttons to the best of its abilities, but the end result always seems to fall far behind expected.

I expected to lift up a few strengths of the movie to this last paragraph, but honestly can’t think of anything that would stand above average – and that is probably the biggest downside of the whole film.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 50%

#1454 White of the Eye (1987)

Truth be told, there was nothing at first in the White of the Eye that caught my interest. I found the characters and cinematography uninteresting and was ready to sign the whole movie off as something average at best.

But as the movie finally got into the gear, it ended up being an interesting and entertaining – although a bit tamer – ride along the line of what Coen brothers might’ve cooked up.

White of the Eye remains the only feature film of the 80s by the director Donald Cammell whose directorial work at the time consisted more of the music documentaries, but as such it’s one of those rare films that will give you a much better mileage on the second run.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 75%

#1453 Cry Freedom (1987)

The story of the life and killing of black rights activist Steve Biko in the hands of the racist South-African apartheid government and the following events that led journalist Donald Woods to flee the country in secrecy are in fact remarkable piece of our recent history, even so that I’ve a gut feeling that Cry Freedom fails to capture the magnitude of these events, despite not really doing much wrong on the surface.

The good aspects of the movie are obvious: Denzel Washington and Kevin Kline in their respective roles as Biko and Woods perform their roles and the movie is shot in Zimbabwe (after being forced to leave South Africa) with a believable setting and cast of the period.

First of the problems is that the movie is written from Woods’ point of view and we only see Biko through him, when obviously he is the more interesting part of the equation. In that same vein the second half of the movie concentrates on Woods’ attempt to leave the country and while adventurous, it seems that the movie misses an opportunity for even a more important storyline; one stemming out of the black population.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 70%

#1452 Robot Holocaust (1987)

Here’s a good reminder never to judge a book by its covers. But, in this case it’s the contents of the book that stink to high heaven and don’t live anywhere near up to the pretty nice VHS cover art.

Robot Holocaust is basically a sword & sorcery movie, but this it’s set to the dystopian future where an evil bread bin called Dark One along with his dorky robots have enslaved what’s left of the human race. A band of heroes immune to the tricks of the Dark One provides the swords, and Dark One provides the sorcery through some high level computer magic.

One of the most annoying aspect of the movie is the C-3PO ripoff with a nasal voice and face frozen to a bewildered grin. I grew tired of seeing and hearing him after the first three seconds, and was displeased after understanding he would be a permanent figure on the screen until the very end. There is some fun to be had with the dodgy special effects and sock puppet aliens, but as the movie itself is so tediously boring that none of this warrants subjecting yourself to this waste of celluloid.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 5%