#1906 Beach Balls (1988)

When you see a movie cover like this with a silly stupid name, it’s going to be one painful experience or a positive surprise. Either way, the expectations can’t be sky high.

Luckily Beach Balls happens to fall into the latter category. It keeps the annoyances of the genre – like being just a stupid sex comedy only revolving around gratuitous nudity – to the minimum, but still manages to being a showcase of all the possible comedy elements and characters of the genre and era stuffed into one movie: beach, jocks, baddies, heavy metal bands, house parties, side kick of a best friend, clashes with the police and conservative religious parents – it’s all here! The archetype characters also mostly work, one of the best ones being Raf Mauro as the neurotic and problematic parole officer Mr. Sugarman, at the very brink of a complete meltdown.

The humour might be hit and miss but overall Beach Balls is an enjoyable and recommendable time capsule to the silly, fluffy beach comedies of the era.

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 83%

#1886 Two Moon Junction (1988)

A few of the most painful experiences during watching all these movies have been with those ”daring”, ”intimate” and ”passionate” erotic dramas that cause endless amount of cringe to watch through. Knowing this was going to be a case with Two Moon Junction as well, I honestly weren’t looking forward to this one.

To my surprise, not only is there kind of a movie and drama going on here, but the erotic tension of the movie is actually high on this one, thanks to great casting with Richard Tyson and Sherilyn Fenn, both on the very top of their game. Tyson as the rugged carnival odd-jobber with his piercing gaze wins over his love interest and the viewer alike at the first look, and has just the right amount of that free spirit and danger to sell the character with ease.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 77%

#1886 For Keeps? aka Maybe Baby (1988)

Two high school seniors get pregnant, decide on keeping the baby in For Keeps?, a drama movie riding heavily on clichés and predictable plot lines.

While the struggle that takes place as they have to both give up their youth, dreams and ultimately love for each other is likely what would happen to many, I kept on hoping the movie to take another, less wandered path.

Molly Ringwald was on top of Hollywood’s A-list at the time, and she is once again great (as in: sincere and believable) in her role, no doubt about it. She’s so good that For Keeps? ultimately feels just too small and insignificant for her.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 51%

#1874 After School (1988)

This is not a movie review, but a PSA. I was fooled by the luscious poster of After School, that seems to promise a light-hearted high school drama or comedy and address this as a warning for others to steer as far away as possible.

What the movie offers instead is a high school student falling in love with a catholic priest, who then struggles between his faith and carnal desire. And boy is it a drab of a plot and presentation. There’s little credibility in the love affair itself, and most of the movie pictures the permed, curly haired priest wandering around in distress.

Additionally, the movie incorporates flashbacks to prehistoric times, presumably to draw parallels with the Garden of Eden. However, these scenes seem more like filler for the otherwise brief movie and a means to include gratuitous nudity.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 3%

#1872 Full Moon in Blue Water (1988)

I love it when a movie gets the mood right. Love it to bits.

Such is the case with Full Moon in Blue Water, a small drama comedy taking place in Texas Gulf Coast on a small, worn out Diner bar run by Floyd (Gene Hackman). Floyd has lost his wife and the will to go on with his life, and remains unwelcoming to Louise (Teri Garr), who sees something in this stubborn old man. Seeings these two clash before coming together would have been more than enough in the right hands to create a solid romantic comedy, but for some reason the writer Bill Bozzone insists on adding unrelated twists to the story in the form of a dim-witted janitor two messes up bad, and then messes up even worse trying to cover the mess.

Even with the apparent problems with the writing, Full Moon in Blue Water is a movie that invites one the share a moment with the people at the Blue Water Grill. And that moment felt too brief, as I could have hanged around just a little bit longer.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 77%

#1871 Another Chance (1988)

A womaniser has everything, wants more, and ultimately loses everything in a fly weight comedy Another Chance.

On top of being quite easy to watch, the movie portrays it main character as a soap opera star, whose life (and the whole movie) becomes a soap opera of sorts. The plot includes one too many dream sequences, but other than that Another Chance is not a bad way to spend 90 (brainless) minutes with.

80s-o-meter: 87

Total: 65%

#1870 Tricks of the Trade (1988)

I had consciously decided to exclude made-for-TV movies from my reviews (partly because many of them lack posters), but this one inadvertently escaped my notice—and, surprisingly, I was quite content that it did.

Tricks of the Trade stands out as one of the superior made-for-TV movies, where the constraints of a limited budget aren’t glaringly obvious, presenting a film that holds its own among B-list ’80s comedies. The narrative also has compelling elements: a seemingly perfect Beverly Hills marriage comes to a shocking end when the husband is murdered while visiting his secret prostitute girlfriend. Now facing danger, the unlikely duo joins forces to unravel the mystery.

The plot cleverly twists the classic cop movie trope, pairing two vastly different characters forced to tolerate each other and collaborate to outsmart the villains. For the most part, this dynamic is effective. However, there was potential for this to be developed into a theatrical release with somewhat sharper writing and I felt the writers didn’t fully exploit the comedic opportunities presented by the contrasting backgrounds of the two leads. As a result, the humour only hit the mark half of the time for me.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 75%

#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%

#1828 Halloween 2023: Grotesque (1988)

Grotesque is like a gas station buffet, with little bit of everything sub par quality thrown on the plate, with hopes of someone finding even something to fill their tummies with.

At first this feels a bit unbalanced, but once you get the hang of what hodgepodge the movie is by design, this experience with deformed killers and maniac punks that look straight out of a cheap Benny Hill sketch becomes much more tolerable. Grotesque is not officially categorised as a comedy, but clearly this is the undertone throughout the movie and its surprising events.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 61%

#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%