#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%

#1446 Mankillers aka 12 Wild Women (1987)

The poster of Mankillers is a poor one, but it very truthfully represents what you can expect out of the movie: tits and guns.

Basically a womanised version of Dirty Dozen with all the depth surgically removed, a concept already utilised by Hell Squad two years earlier. There is very little to nothing to the story; a group of women march into a camp of thugs and engage in a firefight until they’re all dead.

The movie is a typical example of something you’d find in a random rental tape of the 80s, and for most parts you would’ve been happy with watching the attractive women getting into unconvincing fire fights. But for the today’s point of view, there should be something more in here, either in the plot, or just going so much over the border that the end result would be fun.

Mankillers ultimately fails at both.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 35%

#1429-31 The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission, The Deadly Mission & The Fatal Mission (1985, 1987, 1988)

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.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: Next Mission 60% | The Deadly Mission 79% | The Fatal Mission 45%

#1426 Sweet Lies (1987)

Yet another for the steaming pile of those wild and crazy Americans in Paris engaged in an adventure, Sweet Lies follows an insurance investigator visiting the old continent, who then gets chased around by three women.

Sweet Lies makes an attempt in romantic comedy, but lacks laughs and real romance and is a movie that the time forgot almost immediately upon its release.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 18%

#1421 From the Hip (1987)

I’d previously skipped From the Hip as I mistook it for a British movie thanks to its poster – and I still insist that its style reminds more of the British cinema than what Hollywood usually produces.

But make no mistake, the movie itself is as American as it can be: a courtroom comedy featuring Judd Nelson in one of his best roles of all times. The over acted part of a young hotshot lawyer climbing the corporate ladder could have easily turned super annoying, but the movie manages to be genuinely funny at times.

In fact, laugh out loud funny.

From the Hip has its serious side as well as the horseplay comes to a sudden halt when the wizkid is assigned to defending an intellectual sociopath aristocrat – chillingly convincingly portrayed by John Hurt – in a grim murder case impossible to win.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 87%

#1403 Halloween 2020: Twisted Nightmare (1987)

Twisted Nightmare is one of the movies that got made but did not need to exist.

Basically a remake of Friday the 13th Part III (shot in the same set and repeating the same kills), I can’t imagine the movie would excite any fans of the original nor excite new audience in the already saturated market of 80s slashers.

Twisted Nightmare is a teflon coated, empty shell of a movie that enters and leaves the viewer without leaving any trace or lasting impression.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 6%