#1504 The Good Mother (1988)

The world is full of great stories so it’s at times astounding what sometimes gets greenlighted and funded.

In Leonard Nimoy’s The Good Mother Diane Keaton plays a divorced mother dating Liam Neeson who then lets her daughter that’s his genitals for educational purposes – so they both get sued.

All this nonsense is padded with a story of her family and the difficult relationship with her father that is all totally disconnected from the main story line (albeit, much more interesting).

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 8%

#1491 The Sisterhood (1988)

One of those dystopian wasteland movies, The Sisterhood brings very little new to the table but slightly improved production values over its early 80s counterparts, but still clearly falling behind of the fidelity seen in the Mad Max series of movies.

Here we follow a clique called The Sisterhood that possesses supernatural powers as they make their way through the wasteland trying to free the women captured by the evil tribes of the desert.

The movie consists mostly of driving sequences, shot in a sand pit of some sort with vehicles quite lazily modified of their 1970s and 1980s originals.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 21%

#1484 Track 29 (1988)

A spiritual predecessor to Requiem for a Dream, Track 29 follows a downward spiral of one relationship and a woman, married to a narcissistic doctor who enjoys his model railways and getting whipped by one of her nurses.

As you might’ve guessed, Track 29 is one of those weird movies that are as detached from the reality as its characters. Rather than a drama, it’s one of those super dark comedies that really doesn’t make one laugh, even once.

I was excited to see Gary Oldman as one of the leads. I guess you could say he performs his part as the annoying ghost of the past so well that I loathed him already in a few minutes, which again made sitting through the movie far more unenjoyable than it should’ve been.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 38%

#1480 Everybody’s All-American (1988)

What happens to that perfect college football hero and his beauty pageant girlfriend couple after they marry and grow up. This is what Taylor Hackford’s Everybody’s All-American aims to give an answer to.

Based on a 1981 novel of the same name by Frank Deford, Everybody’s All-American manages to avoid almost all of the clichés usually related to sports movies. Similarly its characters avoid falling into typical caricatures and show some actual humane traits.

I wasn’t sold on the final closure of the movie, but the road to there is filled with interesting, lifelike moments that feel nothing like pasted on.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 72%

#1473 Tiger Warsaw (1988)

Ah, the 80s where it’s still totally ok to be totally melodramatic in the most theatrical way.

In Tiger Warsaw it’s the Chuck ’Tiger’ Warsaw (Patrick Swayze) in his leather jacket and wild hair who is suffering with his past after shooting his father, fleeing the town and living a life of self destruction ever since. And boy is he in anguish as he tries to meet up with his past again and make up for the past.

As in, almost rolling in pain.

In the cynical world of 2021 Tiger Warsaw feels directly out of a pen of a teenager in angst and all of its overwhelming drama very much glued on. Call me cynical, but this one did not manage to touch me at all.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 19%

#1467 Killing American Style (1988)

The Iranian born Amir Shervan directed three action movies towards the end of the 80s: Hollywood Cop, Killing American Style and Young Rebels.

While Hollywood Cop was a pleasant surprise that turned all the entertainment knobs all the way to 11, and Young Rebels was an uttermost disappointment, Killing American Style luckily resembles more of the Hollywood Cop, but loses a bit in the action department.

Like other Shervan’s movie, every pumped up character feel like they’d been taken out of Mortal Kombat arcade game, and the action and dialogue are so overboard the movies feel more like parodies rather than serious action movies. Robert Z’Dar, Shervan’s square-jawed go to actor once again complimenting this theme as a menacing baddie straight out of a comic book.

80s-o-meter: 98%

Total: 76%

#1461 Deadbeat at Dawn (1988)

A cult classic so cult (meaning, adored by a small bunch of people) I had no idea of its existence, Deadbeat at Dawn is one notch above your average hobby projects.

But one notch only. The movie follows a gang leader whose girlfriend gets killer by a rivalling gang. He at first doesn’t seek revenge, but after getting hunted down by the gang decides to get even. Shot on a non-existent budget with family and friends helping out, the result is far away from big studio quality, but still a tad better than we usually see in these hobby projects. There are also a number of nice small ideas here that make it clear the director/writer Jim Van Bebber was actually putting something of his own into this movie, instead of just copying form elsewhere.

I was ready to rate this one somewhere in the +-50 range, but the movie does get better towards the end, with some pretty nice street brawler choreography included.

80s-o-meter: 62%

Total: 61%

#1460 Judgment in Berlin aka Judgement in Berlin (1988)

Before watching this movie I had no idea Sean Penn’s father Leo Penn was a director, known mostly from his work on TV. The reason I made the connection was seeing Sean in this movie a side role as one of the passengers of the plane hijacked from Poland to West-Germany.

And that’s what the movie is all about; an American judge (Martin Sheen) is called to arrange a trial for the defector behind the hijacking, under the pressure from both east and the west.

While the setup is interesting, everything else in the movie falls short, starting from the dreary Eastern Europe setting to the movie not really following though any of its plot lines in a meaningful way.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 53%

#1444 Bloodstone (1988)

An Indiana Jones inspired B-action adventure taking place in an exotic location much in the vein of Firewalker and Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, Bloodstone has one interesting aspect going for it: it’s shot in India with shared Bollywood casting.

The experience works and Bloodstone’s Indian born actors make a decent work with their roles, and the movie looks solid overall.

Like many other similar adventure films, Bloodstone can be at times entertaining, but also totally unsubstantial and forgettable.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 71%

#1432 The Great Outdoors (1988)

The Great Outdoors is one of the movies I saw before starting this web site and I’ve been saving it for a rainy day. Well, that rainy day finally came, and I found The Great Outdoors entertaining – but not quite the laugh riot as I’d hoped for.

There are a few overarching themes like summer romance, dealing with obnoxious relatives and father-son bonding, which of then are carried through various episodes with kind of a generic comedy bits; everything here works but nothing exactly stands out.

The Great Outdoors is not a bad movie or a bad comedy, but it is less than the sum of its parts – especially considering the level of top notch comedy hammer provided by John Candy and Dan Aykroyd who end up carrying this movie 100%. Replace them and you end with The Passable Outdoors, at best.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 76%

#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%

#1427 Seven Hours to Judgment (1988)

By a pure coincidence I now have the smallest mini feature ever: angry relative of a homicide victim vs the judge who has to deal with the consequences.

In Seven Hours to Judgment Beau Bridges plays the honourable judge whose wife is kidnapped by the disgruntled husband played by Ron Leibman. The whole story is highly implausible and gets more so as the story progresses; out of nowhere the husband has managed to get a van, add all sorts of gizmos in it, rent a warehouse and booby trap four floors of it with CCTV, remote controleld guns, PA, cardboard cuts of himself wearing a superman suit and a colour computer graphic live game view of the events to mention just a few. At the same time he manages to be just in the right time and the right place, and to transmit his images to various TV screens – and all this just to get even with the judge.

Like, wow.

For anyone looking forward to watching this movie, if you shy away from all the ridiculousness the movie will become hard to watch, but if you fully lean into the nonsense, you might still find Seven Hours to Judgment a somewhat entertaining piece of a long forgotten 80s cinema.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 70%

#1423 Alien from L.A. (1988)

What would you do if you’d get Kathy Ireland, the hottest swimsuit model of the 80s to star in your movie, and you’d have the chance to shoot in L.A.? Well, the director Albert Pyun and his team decided it was a good idea to make her an annoying mock of a nerd, give her a squeky voice and clothe her in unbecoming rags. I for one would have come up with one or two different options.

A bastardisation of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, Alien from L.A. follows Ireland as he ventures below the earth surface to find his lost father. What follows is scifi equal to a TV-series / made for TV movie that looks like it was done for the demography of under 10 year olds. Plot is both nonexistent and hard to follow at the same time. Basically everyone wants to capture her and a few strangers wish to help her.

Perhaps the most depressing thing about Alien from L.A. is seeing how much effort was wasted with the sets, matte paintings and wardrobes to create this turd that never had any chance of success whatsoever.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 1%

#1420 Xmas 2020: Roots The Gift (1988)

Roots was a TV historical miniseries written by Alex Haley depicting the story of his family as they were brought as slaves to America from Africa, originally released in 1977 and a continuum in 1979 as another miniseries.

Almost a decade later a made for TV Christmas special entitled Roots: The Gift was made and premiered on ABC on December 11, 1988. Here we see young Kunta Kinte taking his first rebellious steps as a slave, not accepting the western name and his new status, and starts plotting on escape.

Although labeled as one, the movie does not rate high as a Christmas movie – many ordinary movies not titled as Christmas movies have a much bigger amount of the festivities present. But it does fare fairly well as a movie dealing with themes of empowering slaves who have never experienced freedom, as well as depicting the inner conflicts of the slave owners, some of who have started question of the ethics of enslaving men.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 38%

#1413 Appointment with Death (1988)

A pretty tame whodunnit even in Agatha Christie’s scale, Appointment with Death is a Hercule Poirot story that brings the very familiar elements of aristocrats, murders and exotic locations to the table.

For anyone accustomed to thrillers of this decade, Appointment with Death will feel excruciatingly slow, but the fans of the classic Christie novels will probably feel at home.

Travel and exotic locations have always been the salt and pepper of Christie’s murder mysteries, and the biggest drawback of Appointment with Death remains its cinematography and directing that fails to capture the magic of the faraway spots that end up feeling dull and unexciting.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 37%

#1410 Fresh Horses (1988)

It’s always a treat to come across an 80s movie with class A actors I’ve never heard before and Fresh Horses featuring Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy and Ben Stiller in one of his early roles definitely counts as one.

What I liked about Fresh Horses that it plays out very different than I anticipated, with characters that seem superficial but have actual depth to them, with motives hidden deep below the surface.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 80%

#1407 Halloween 2020: Death House aka Zombie Death House (1988)

John Saxon directs and stars in Death House, a zombie horror game taking place in one of these special movie prisons. And as always, the authorities that run the penitentiary are up to no good, this time around using the convicts on a death row as guinea pigs for experimental drugs.

After one of the experiments goes south, turning the prisoner a bubbling pile of flesh, the jail goes to lockdown and everyone inside still not zombified try make it out one way or another.

Death House is almost as plain 80s action thriller horror as they come, but in a good way; the movie delivers what it promises in a positively entertaining package.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 80%

#1401 Halloween 2020: Prime Evil (1988)

A satanic cult led by a charismatic priest hunt and kidnap victims for their sacrificial ceremonies in Prime Evil, a movie that ends up surprisingly tame despite the grim theme.

While it’s an ok break from the endless stream of slashers this year, it does not really spook or send chills down your spine, unless you are scared by people in robes, chanting in a basement.

William Beckwith performs well as the magnetic leader of the cult and Christine Moore whom I previously saw in the subpar Lurkers (coincidently also directed by Roberta Findlay) fares much better here as the target of the cult’s evil plans.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 57%

#1393 Halloween 2020: Zombie Nosh aka FleshEater aka Revenge of the Living Zombies (1988)

Who knew a low budget zombie movie that innovates very little could be one of the highlights of this Halloween?

Directed and written by Bill Hinzman who originally starred in the genre classic Night of the Living Dead (1968), Zombie Nosh (and its dozen releases under different titles) is a much better stab into film making than his 1986 directorial debut slasher The Majorettes.

Sure, it’s low quality, low production value and definitely looks older than its release year 1988 suggests, but Zombie Nosh manages to be quite effective at times like when the living dead creep out of the darkness to devour the flesh of the living. Plus, some of its inventive special effects punch in one or two weight classes above the movie itself.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 62%