#1914 Penn & Teller Get Killed (1989)

In the early 90s someone in the Finnish National Broadcasting company had the good taste to get the Penn & Teller special Don’t Try This at Home to the programming. It was completely new, something fresh, daring and funny. And I was hooked, becoming an instant fan.

So yes, of course I’ve seen Penn & Teller Get Killed. But for some reason I always thought it as an early 90s release.

Written by the Penn & Teller themselves, the movie looks very much like them. There are tricks, pranks, revealing hoaxes, something of a plot and lots of black humour. In fact, the whole premise of the movie is based on the black humour as Penn jokingly states in national television how he wished someone was trying to kill them – something that soon becomes a self granting wish.

The movie might have been better if given to hands of a professional writer, but would not likely have reflected the duo as well as this one. Same goes for the melodramatic ending, filled with that pitch dark dark humour we’ve come to expect from these two magicians.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 80%

#1911 Grave Secrets aka Secret Screams (1989)

In the era where far too many slashers were made, Grave Secrets is already winning for being a good old possessed spirit horror movie.

It’s a movie that does nothing exceptionally well – but nothing that badly neither. It’s biggest problem is with the writing, with nothing too much of interest and of suspense taking place until the last act. It’s this ending where the movie finally wakes up a little, consequently waking the viewer also.

As much as I dig Paul Le Mat, he seems to be sleepwalking through the movie, and I couldn’t have but thunk that perhaps another choice for a lead would have kept the attention up for a longer.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 62%

#1909 Enemies, A Love Story (1989)

Enemies, A Love Story is a rollercoaster of emotions in the life of Herman (Ron Silver), a holocaust survivor in the 1949 New York.

You see, Herman has tangled himself between women. And to make things worse, the third woman from the past is just around ther corner.

Silver does well in the role, portraying the low-key Herman with tons of mixed emotions storming below his calm facade. He never sells the character as heroic or likeable, but manages to make him relatable enough so that the audience finds themselves rooting for him, despite his morally questionable choices and actions.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 67%

#1908 Criminal Act aka Tunnels (1989)

Criminal Act – or Tunnels, as it’s much more apt name for it – promises a horror story inside old, long forgotten tunnels crossing under a newspaper, whose two female reporters go out wandering around there, just for the heck of it.

So it’s a bit far fetched to begin with, but what follows requires even more overlooking the probable. The movie turns into bit of a cartoon for adults, with film’s baddies sketched with heavy strokes of caricature making it even harder for one to buy the plot. It’s like watching a comedy without the humour part.

Horror is promised on the movie cover, but that’s an element that is not be found here.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 22%

#1907 Lobster Man from Mars (1989)

A spoof of 1950s monster scifi movies, Lobster Man from Mars was to my surprise a positive little comedy.

The movie successfully picks a few archetypes of the genre and parodises them with either expected or unexpected twist so almost everything you’d expect to find in the movie is there. The amateurish look and feel naturally goes with the picture, and the movie is often much more cheap and TV-series like than it needs to be to convey the message, but for once this did not take too much away from the overall experience.

80s-o-meter: 12%

Total: 70%

#1904 Deadly Embrace (1989)

A soft porn movie disguised as erotic thriller mostly likely to just make it to the rental VHS space outside the adult corner, Deadly Embrace is a totally brain dead movie shot probably over just a few days.

Most of the running time is spend on endless dreamy erotic sequences and lingering stares.

If anything, the movie remains a testament to Jan-Michael Vincent’s at the time downhill spiralling life and career, of which Deadly Embrace is just another example of bad choices that were made.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 1%

#1901 Brenda Starr (1989)

I should have loved Brenda Starr a lot more: a fantasy adventure based on a comic strip taking place in distant, exotic places. But I didn’t.

Reason is, the movie makes a bad case of telling its story, all the way from the comic book artist getting sucked into the world of comics he created, as well as most of the events that follow. There’s baddies and chases and piranhas and all that but nothing that really grasps the viewer. There are a few funny moments of poking fun of the artificial cartoon world, so maybe they should’ve doubled down on this in the first place. To my understanding Brenda Starr not also not a known figure in Europe and is definitely not one in 2024, so this might have hindered my experience also.

Visually the movie is just about perfect, and grasps the sense of adventure well, and the period picture like South American scenes took me back to adventure games like Flight of the Amazon Queen. Brooke Shields and her clothing and mannerisms and stunning dreamy looks fit the role perfectly.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 42%

#1899 Cage (1989)

The Vietnam war hero Billy (Lou Ferrigno) gets shot in head, and survives with severe brain damage, reducing him to a child like state. Taken care by his friend Scott (Reb Brown) they open a bar together, but quickly get drawn into the world of illegal cage fights where they are forced to compete – or face death.

Before the introduction of UFC, Cage fights had notorious clang to them during the 80s known by name by every boy and man, and the movie successfully taps into this world, plus the crime related to it. Ferrigno himself is the strongest (literally) part of the movie, as well as weakest, not quite having the acting chops to portray the mentally disabled role in a believable fashion. But he gets the job done, no problem there.

The movie itself as as stylish as they came in 1989. The camerawork and cinematography is solid, and the movie is generally entertaining and thrilling to watch.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 80%

#1897 What’s Up, Hideous Sun Demon aka Revenge of the Sun Demon (1989)

What’s Up, Hideous Sun Demon is a 1989 redubbed spoof of the 1958 horror/scifi B-movie Hideous Sun Demon. The idea to even produce something like this and then sell it is downright ridiculous, and something you could barely pass in Youtube these days, but surprisingly What’s Up, Hideous Sun Demon does has its moments, and some of the lines are actually quite funny.

And some are not.

Despite the stupidity the movie was easy to watch through, and whet my appetite to see the original one in an unspoiled form some time in the future.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 31%

#1896 New York Stories (1989)

An anthology film, New York Stories weaves together three distinct tales taking part in New York. The movie begins with Martin Scorsese’s Life Lessons where Nick Nolte portrays a painter balancing between his love interest, and upcoming art exhibition. Next up, Francis Ford Coppola takes us into a whimsical world with Life Without Zoë co-written with his daughter Sofia Coppola, depicting a rich kid living independent live of her own while her family is travelling and working, and getting caught up in a story of Arab Princesses and lost jewelries. Lastly, Woody Allen finishes with Oedipus Wrecks, a quirky story of a middle age man being tormented by his possessive and overbearing mother.

Anthology films with different creative force behind each segment are harder to rate. I was the most happiest with seeing Nick Nolte portraying such a different role (and succeeding in it with flying colors), with Life Without Zoë seemingly written for completely different audience and age group.

Finally, Oedipus Wrecks has an interesting setup, but relies on a gag that was funny at first, but both grows old and takes disappointing dramatic turns that ultimately make it the weakest (or, single use) short story of the bunch.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 65%

#1894 Nobody’s Perfect (1989)

Ever since Chaplin and the dawn of the cinema men dressing as women has been an often visited theme to create comedic situations. This is where Nobody’s Perfect taps as well, this time with the motive of college freshman disguising himself as the opposite sex in order to be closer to his crush.

As imagined, nothing of much depth is to be found here, so it just all down to how entertaining the movie manages to be. And in the case of Nobody’s Perfect it actually fares quite well.

The story proceeds in a predictable path, but the whole experience is quite likeable, and definitely fits the bill if you’ve subscribed to having something easy to watch through and young Chad Lowe in the lead role does a perfectly passable job here.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 72%

#1882 Staying Together (1989)

In a small southern town a father of three brothers sells the family chicken restaurant, consequently triggering a chain of changes in the lives his sons.

Staying Together is built upon numerous conflicts, of which few feel relatable and many less so. This also goes with many of the intentions either the writer or the director had for the story or the main characters; Staying Together is a movie busy being dramatic, but more often than not that drama fails strike the right chord with the viewer.

Between the brothers the movie does have its moments – but much of the sentiment, feeling and intentions that might have been there in the storyboard quite unfortunately remain unfulfilled and unmet.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 48%

#1881 Teen Vamp (1989)

An unpopular nerd turns into a cool cat leather-jacketed vampire after getting bit by a vampire prostitute in a shoelace budgeted horror comedy Teen Vamp.

This one’s is a feeble, amateurish attempt if I ever saw one. Some of the similar hobby horror movies manage to turn the underdog setting to their advantage either by being over the top in either the concept or the gore, but Teen Vamp remains amazingly tame until the very end.

Teen Vamp is one of those amateur movies where I bet the the team enjoyed shooting it more than the viewers enjoy watching it.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 17%

#1880 Beverly Hills Brats (1989)

Right off the bat: is Beverly Hills Brats a good movie?

Well, it could be if you are 6-9 years old, but for myself I cannot really say. The movie is rated as PG-13 most likely due to some foul language, but really feels like targeted to kids. It is kind of a shame since the necessarily building blocks for a satire of filthy rich Beverly Hills family seems to be present, but put together in a very dull and predictable way. Again, as the movie was made for infants in mind.

Martin Sheen as the cosmetic surgeon does his best to keep the movie alive, while Peter Billingsley performs his trademark role straight out of Christmas Story. Probably the funniest side of the movie is seeing totally indifferent Burt Young sleepwalk through the entire movie.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 38%

#1879 Field of Dreams (1989)

A sports movie for those of us who dislike sports movies, Field of Dreams is a fairytale for both adults and kids alike.

No doubt about it; the story itself is totally unbelievable. But like the lead character played by Kevin Costner we find ourselves really wanting to believe in the same silly dream. This is in no way an easy feat from the director Phil Alden Robinson to pull through and the bold gamble put into this movie could have backfired in a horrible way.

Simply put: I loved Field of Dreams, and I especially loved the way way still found it in me to believe in such magic.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 90%

#1876 Blue Vengeance (1989)

Underdog time! An (almost) one man project by J. Christian Ingvordsen, Blue Vengeance depicts a cat and mouse hunt between a rogue cop (Ingvordsen himself) and a psychopathic killer (Mark Trax) shot in a guerrilla style on the streets of New York.

And unlike many similar low budget movies, the team has really put some love in thought into this one and looks good, and also credible in a cool kind of way for which also the memorable antagonist played by Mark Trax contributes, and there is a certain similarity between the the character he creates here and Jackie Estacado, the main character of The Darkness comic series (without the mask, that is).

Blue Vengeance is an uneven ride – but also very refreshingly different from the main stream cinema and definitely one of those rare cases where a shoe lace budgeted action horror manages to better a sizeable portion of its multi million budgeted counterparts.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 82%

#1860 Curfew (1989)

Two demented brothers escape from prison to track down the people who sentenced them to death row in Curfew, basic but in overall satisfying little thriller.

In their revenge list are a psychiatrist, judge and district attorney for whom they have the maximum payback in mind. The brothers are an interesting mix of somewhat slow younger brother and a sharp and vengeful older brother who cites the victims word to word what went on in the sentencing.

There are no notable high points to the movie, but nothing appalling either. The movie keeps a good pacing until the very end as the brothers find conflict of interest in the members of the family they keep captive.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 75%

#1859 Night Visitor (1989)

Again a thriller about two demented brothers on a killing spree, Night Visitor throws a few interesting twists to the story that I had still easy to adapt to after finish my schools over 25 years ago.

You see, here the main antagonist is the conservative history teacher. What a thrill! After becoming the eye witness of an a satanist ritual killing a high school kid has a hard time getting anyone to taking his word over the professor.

He then seeks help from a retired detective, which for a long time seems a misstep from the movie (also a weird choice of movies for Elliott Gould), from which point on the movie drags itself through the finish line without much surprises.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 72%

#1856 Ghost Writer (1989)

The award for this years most featherweight comedy might go to Ghost Writer.

This is one of those movies that aims to sell us a ridiculous supernatural idea far beyond of what we would ever believe. And sure enough, if served in a fluffy alternative reality fantasy that only Hollywood can do, we usually just go with it.

And here Ghost Writer succeeds as well and the Landers sisters serve a movie that is easy spend the 90 minutes with – but only if you are in the mood for something completely trivial and forgettable. I could go on explaining the plot of a deceased Hollywood star of yesteryear coming alive as a ghost, but here the plot is really .. well, side plot here.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 70%

#1847 Halloween 2023: Witchcraft II: The Temptress (1989)

Just when I thought the Witchcraft was an useless horror movie, enters its sequel Witchcraft II: The Temptress.

A kind of continuum of the witch story seen in the first movie, the second part builds its story upon an evil vamp seducing the now grown up baby from the prequel, with the hope of him becoming the supreme warlock. Gone is the little budget there was in the first installation, and everything here from writing to effects is subpar. Having much too old actors play teenagers is the ongoing joke with the 80s movies, but this movie really takes things to another level.

Probably the only good thing I can say about Witchcraft II: The Temptress is that it is the last one one in made during the 80s in the Witchcraft series of movies that has spawned a whopping 15 sequels to date, and that I don’t have to sit through the remaining 14.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 24%