#1858 Cocoon: The Return (1988)

A school book example of why disheartened sequels should not be made, Cocoon The Return parades most of the actors from the original hit movie but without one ounce of the heart we saw in the first movie.

Here the elders return back to earth for a visit, showcase how youthful they are and beat a bunch of kids in a basketball match.

Ron Howard refused to have any association with the film feeling it denounces everything that was put into the first movie, and how right he was. The sympathetic talent here – old and new – should have landed themselves better movie to star in.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 48%

#1852 Halloween 2023: Death by Dialogue (1988)

Death by Dialogue tries a little something new by following events where five youngsters are being tormented by an evil manuscript reciting the kills happening before they take place.

There are some interesting and imaginatively created baddies here and the action is overall entertaining, but the movie gets a little too tricky and hard to follow considering the kind of fluff it tries to be.

This is one of those videos that entertains enough to sit it through, but does not really leave any memory prints behind.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 60%

#1847 Halloween 2023: Witchcraft (1988)

Before seeing the movie I did like its title and wondered if i was going to be dragged into one of those 80s wild rides of Fangoria cover page sfx and make up work.

Well, Witchcraft was nothing like it to say the least. We have human like witches who are looking forward to get possession of a new baby who is to become the great Warlock. We have some eery scenes of wandering around the weird old mansion discovering hidden secrets and dream like sequences of an – again – human looking witch dripping a spit of fake blood out of her mouth.

..and that’s as scary as the movie ever gets.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 37%

#1842 Halloween 2023: Cameron’s Closet (1988)

Cameron’s Closet as a title seems like ringing a bell, as if I’d been exposed to it somewhere in the past. But more likely it just resembles some other sumilar sounding title I’ve gotten it mixed up with.

The movie works fairly well as long as the monster is kept in the closet of the young Cameron who possesses telekinetic and telepathic skills, and some of the scares are genuinely effective.

But as the movie wanders too far into the dream world, it soon starts to become a pill far too big to swallow. Keeping things low key and building upon the premise of an entity in the close would have likely yielded better results, and the movie quite unfortunately looses its footing in the third act.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 50%

#1833 Halloween 2023: Lurkers (1987)

Lurkers takes some patience to plow through; right until the last act nothing in the movie seems to make sense, and feels really disconnected. It’s as if the writers had a good idea for the start and the end, and did not have anything to fill up the 80 minutes in the middle.

Which is probably why the ending with the protagonist entering the party in her birth apartment is prolonged to the max. The ending does pay off and tie the story together nicely, but with this little of actual content the movie would worked much better as a 30 minute short story in a horror anthology.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 60%

#1832 Halloween 2023: Dracula’s Widow (1988)

Dracula movies were never my cup of tea, but then again Dracula’s Widow really isn’t one – or at least it takes quite the artistic freedom over the subject.

The wife of Dracula gets accidentally shipped amongst other antique in a wooden crate from Romania to a waxworks in Hollywood, wakes up and starts to take demonic forms and killing people – not by biting but quite literally ripping them apart. So, all of all this could just be a monster movie rather than a Dracula one, which is a strange choice since FX isn’t really the strong suite of the movie. In fact, it’s pretty awful most of the time.

The movie ”stars” Emmanuelle actor Sylvia Kristel, who can’t bring any life [sic] to the character. Maybe some other actor could have been able to save the movie, since some of the other aspects here aren’t half bad. Lenny von Dohlen as the confused waxworks owner and Josef Sommer as the detective on the case both do their roles with a charm and add to the vintage look & feel of the movie.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 58%

#1815 Criminal Law (1988)

Criminal Law turned out to be a solid late 80s thriller involving a young yuppie defense attorney for whom winning has been everything, until freeing an accused man he begins to have second thoughts about.

I originally assumed Criminal Law to be a courthouse drama with a thriller twist to it – the movie does open with a court case – but really most of the action here happens elsewhere. That being said, the theme of truth, judgment, law, and justice is present throughout the movie.

Young Kevin Bacon and Gary Oldman (in his first role with an American accent) make for a dynamic duo, and it’s especially Oldman’s portrayal of a successful lawyer on top of his game that resembles Christian Bale’s role in the American Psycho.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 76%

#1813 Call Me (1988)

The 1988 thriller Call Me depicts a young woman getting allured by a mysterious caller and getting involuntarily involved in a case of murder and a wad of missing cash.

Leaning more into erotic tones and mystery, Call Me might not offer the heart-pounding action of a thriller, but it compensates all this with pure ambiance and enigmatic allure that kept me engaged to the experience right to the end.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 76%

#1792 A New Life (1988)

Pretty much the same thing than Adam Alda’s previous The Four Seasons, A New Life is a comedy about middle aged people getting bored with each others, divorcing, getting confused and then finding new love interests, with the difference here that it’s Alda himself here that divorces. Or rather, he is at the receiving end of being divorced as her wife is the one to pack her packs and go.

Can’t blame the wife as the main character is petty, loud and obnoxious most of the time.

The end result is plastic and very superficial take on the subject that fails to push any of the buttons to make this exercise worth anyone’s time, and very thin on laughs, wit or anything that would make A New Life even mediocre.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 18%

#1790 Crime Zone (1988)

Another one of David Carradine’s 80s scifi movies alongside with Future Force, Crime Zone is clearly the superior one of these two.

Like Future Force, the movie is made with low budget with no fancy FX work done and relies heavily on dimly lit scenes, which are not fancy, but do their job. As a viewer I found myself rooting for the leading couple, and the movie itself also concluded in a totally satisfactory way.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 72%

#1759 Stormy Monday (1988)

Stormy Monday is a movie shot in the UK with two Hollywood actors, Tommy Lee Jones and Melanie Griffith. The story follows a shady American businessman named Cosmo, played by Jones, who arrives in Newcastle during a business event welcoming investors from across the Atlantic. Meanwhile, Brendan, a janitor at the Key Club, assists a nightclub owner Finney – played by Sting – against Cosmo’s henchmen while getting involved with Frank’s girlfriend, Kate, played by Griffith.

By far the best asset of the movie is its stunningly beautiful cinematography by Roger Deakins, with saturated blues and neon reds of nightclub strips and the blaring red, white, and blue of American business hype. But, as the rest of the movie falls short of the level of this cinematography, Stormy Monday is ultimately style over substance – but it’s stylish, alright!

Despite the promising premise of a thrilling film noir caper, Stormy Monday falls short. We never get to understand why Cosmo is so interested in a nightclub in Newcastle, while being so inept in getting it to his hands. Jones is supposed to be the top-billed star here, but it’s ultimately unclear what he’s doing in this movie as he’s more a source of campy fun than real menace. Sting holds his ground well as the little spoken owner of a night club, and Griffith performs admirably – although this is not the role she will be remembered for.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 52%

#1758 Twister’s Revenge! (1988)

Not to be confused with the 1989 Twister, Twister’s Revenge! is also a stinker of a movie, but for completely different reasons.

Instead of trying to be artistic like Twister, Twister’s Revenge does the very opposite and aims for as stupid as possible, featuring in idiotic thugs and monster trucks mainly for the purpose of smashing cars.

Twister’s Revenge is kind of a movie that makes Smokey and the Bandit feel like a serious arthouse film.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 2%

#1751 Switching Channels (1988)

Now here’s an interesting combination: Burt Reynolds, Kathleen Turner and Christopher Reeve in a same comedy. Almost feels like something an 80s AI bot would come up with.

The movie follows TV reporters (Reynolds, Turner) who are also an ex-couple, with Reeve as a successful and handsome business magnate coming in as a third wheel in their weird love-hate relationship. The rest of the movie Reynolds tries his very best to sabotage the new found love between the two.

Towards the end of the 80s Reynolds grew out of his Smokie and the Bandit self-centered lovable rascal role and in Switching Channels he is already quite tolerable to watch. Movie wise Switching Channels is ok I guess, but ventures much too far into fictive movie world towards the end where nobody acts in a plausible way anymore, and thus feel much more like moving parts of a wacky manuscript than real persons.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 77%

#1748 The Moderns (1988)

The Moderns is a dreadful movie about pretentious, obnoxious and horrible human beings trying to act the hipster artist life in the 1926 Paris.

I never understood the American movie makers’ affection to recreate a Paris that never was, and after seeing The Moderns I understand it even less. My guess is that it’s for getting some street credibility; put the same movie to the current day and location and one would immediately see there’s really nothing to this story but smoke and mirrors.

The only good thing I can think of this mind numbingly dull movie is the stylistic character played by John Lone. He may be pretentious and obnoxious like all the others, but at least he manages turns it all to his favour, totally dominating every scene he is in with sheer coolness.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 6%

#1743 Far North (1988)

For North is one of those exercises whose purpose remains unknown for me even after rewinding the movie back and forth to make heads or tails of what I just saw.

Taking place in rural Minnesota, there a large family with Finnish heritage whose head of the family gets thrown off a horse, and he then assigns the women of the house to go after the horse and shoot it. Aaaand that’s pretty much it. Almost sounds like a Finnish movie, lol.

There’s nothing much interesting happening in the following events, and the movie is frankly quite a drab to look at. For us Finns the only interesting aspect of the movie is its depiction of the Finnish heritage shown here, with the family singing Finnish songs I’ve never heard with broken, but surprisingly understandable Finnish.

80s-o-meter: 20%

Total: 11%

#1728 Patty Hearst (1988)

The story of Patty Hearst was formerly unknown to me; a media family heir that got kidnapped at the age of 19 by a left-wing domestic terrorist group would be interesting if it was fully fictive, but given that the events actually took place is what makes Patty Hearst really interesting.

The story is skilfully told from the POV of Patty Hearst, and it’s easy for the viewer to really step into her shoes and feel like what it felt to be blindfolded and locked in a closet, brainwashed and then slowly easing into the treating your kidnappers as your brothers and sisters.

Very interesting, very thought provoking and very controversial, Patty Hearst is a movie not to miss.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 90%

#1725 The Siege of Firebase Gloria (1988)

Despite the apparent gung-ho theme of the film, The Siege of Firebase Gloria still shows an urge of being authentic in its depiction of hopelessness in both sides; there’s no clear cut heroes and villains. The horrific actions and dehumanizing acts done by all parties are not exaggerated but neither ignored; they are presented as a natural part of the war.

The fans of R. Lee Ermey will be happy to hear he is very much starring this show. While this is no Full Metal Jacket, there’s plenty of that same drill sergeant attitude and one liners coming from his way.

The fire fights in The Siege of Firebase Gloria are long and feel the most unrealistic and uninteresting part of the movie. Other than that the movie has interesting aspects to it and will no doubt please those who are into (Vietnam) war movies. The movie is ’drawing inspiration from real life events’ (meaning it never happened), but the lingo and depiction of the troops feels realistic – probably due to Ermey involved in co-scripting some of the scenes with the director.

80s-o-meter: 62%

Total: 71%

#1723 Homeboy (1988)

Mickey Rourke of late 80s, early 90s was something else. I first witnessed him in Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man and he totally blew the then 12-year-old me away with his absolute laidback coolness, and left Don Johnson playing the second fiddle.

For those who loved Rourke in Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, Homeboy offers much of the same. Both feature Rourke playing a tough, rebellious, anti-social, anti-hero characters who living in the outskirts of law. Heck, they’re even both drawing naming inspiration for Rourke from popular brands (here being called Johnny Walker).

As for the movie, yeah – it works. Rourke plays a has-been boxer with problems of setting into the society, and befriends a small-time crook played by Christopher Walken, also past his prime who still wants to be someone no matter what it takes. Rourke manages the hard role of playing someone unsocial and unlikeable, but still manages to make his underdog character someone we’d wish to his break.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 78%

#1715 Distant Thunder (1988)

Most people know John Lithgow for starring in 3rd Rock from the Sun or Dexter, but every movie I’ve seen him in furthermore underlines how he is one of the greatest actors of his era, a versatile performer who has excelled in a wide range of roles and genres.

What makes Lithgow such a great actor is his ability to fully inhabit a character and bring it to life in a believable and nuanced way. He has a talent for finding the heart and humanity in even the most complex and flawed characters, and he has a natural charisma and charm that endears him to audiences.

This shows in Distant Thunder which would not be much of a movie without Lithgow’s stellar performance, as he is able to elevate both mediocre manuscript and a pack of mediocre actors to excellence with his portrayal of the many Vietnam veterans failing to rejoin civilian life, living a vagabond life as one of the mountain men in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Lithgow perfectly captures all the right nuances of socially awkward and traumatised veteran’s clumsy efforts to once again rejoin the society and reach out to his son.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 84%