Canada – or USA lite as some pundits like to call it – felt in the 80s somewhere in between Great Britain and the States (a bit like Australia did as well) performing at times pretty convincing imitation of the Hollywood cinema, but more than often not really finding a tone of its own, and ending up sort of a poor man’s version of its US counterpart.
Mindfield is 100% Canadian product that got into this list for featuring one Michael Ironside who had already achieved a sizeable career in the US that would ultimately culminate in Total Recall (1990) that made him a household name and one of the definite baddies in the cinema history.
In Mindfield he also performs well, but anything else in the movie falls so far behind the expectations that it’s clear his talent is wasted here. Don’t let the nice poster or the scifi mind altering thriller blurb fool you – Total Recall this totally ain’t.
Pink Cadillac is one of those movies I watched at the very beginning of starting out this project, but it turns out I never got around reviewing it.
Turns out I remember at the beginning with Clint Eastwood as a skip tracer going after the trailer park beauty queen Lou Ann (Bernadette Peters) who has fled to Reno with a briefcase full of her husbands counterfeit money – but the second half with them battling together against a camp full of white supremists I’d totally forgotten about. Probably due to it being more forgettable and less impactful than the plot twists that preceded it.
So, Pink Cadillac is a totally enjoyable movie – but not quite as iconic as I remembered it to be.
Still, you can never go much wrong with Eastwood.
If many of the main stream movies gained in quality from being released towards the end of the 80s, the same goes for the indie movies as well. Had Robot Ninja been released in 1982 it would’ve probably been unwatchable mess, but now the overall production quality (for a low budget movie) and the 80s style of it makes it more enjoyable and definitely closer to something that one could consider as a cult movie.
Mind you, this is still not a good movie. It is totally stupid and silly, and mostly relying on totally overboard gory special effects, but it does have that guilty pleasure aspect to it that I can relate to some people enjoying. That being said, the movie wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.
There is a definite star in this show as well, though: A Commodore Amiga 500 home computer is present in many of the scenes, which alone makes the movie worth checking out for the fans of Amiga. I know you’re out there!
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.
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.
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.
A mountain man in mid 19th century Oregon builds a cabin to the Native American’s burial site and then revenges the death of his wife by kidnapping a woman from the tribe and killing the chasing tribe members with a repeater stolen from the vendor who lent his horse to him.
In the age of political correctness all the depictions with Native Americans seem a bit uncomfortable, and I’m not sure it Sacred Ground does justice to the Paiutes. I kind of like how the movie handles the disputable decisions of its caucasian lead – this is not the heroic, virtuous character often seen in classic Western movies – but I’d appreciated if the movie had included more the point of view of the tribesmen.
The real star of the show are the Oregon nature and mountains, and the movie captures well what I’d imagine the life there might’ve been back then.
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.
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.
An action b-movie, Kill Squad presents us with a motley crew of Vietnam vets who get together to revenge the murdering and raping the wife of their former platoon leader.
This is one of those movies where every encounter with even the car salesmen turns out as a martial arts fight with all of the clichés that go with the genre – including those over the top whack, yap and ki-yah sound effects!
The movie rinses and repeats the same scenario of a fist fight ending up with a sniper doing away one of the squad members over and over again, and there’s only little charm to it after the third time. Still, the concept is something I’ve never seen before and there’s certainly something enchanting about the whole movie that raises it above similar brawler movies.
An Italian-American co-production directed by Luigi Cozzi and shot in a movie studio located in Rome, the movie looks and plays pretty much as expected with visuals and effects comparable to similar adventure epics of the 60s; looking nice but outdated, with dodgy stop motion animations.
Ferrigno is likable, and truly possesses the physique of a Hercules – but not the screen presence of Schwarzenegger: he manages to bump up the movie a few notches, but not quite much as his Austrian colleague might’ve. I’ve never been a big fan of Sybil Danning, but after seeing this movie I do understand what her followers have been going on about.
Blue City is the kind of a movie that’s firmly detached from any reality and where there are no real motivations or consequences for the actions of the characters.
Judd Nelson as the lead proves to be a tough cookie for me handle; he always seems to be borderline annoying in his roles, and unlike in From The Hip where he managed to turn his negative traits into something positive, in Blue City his totally wild and rebellious character comes off totally unlikeable.
The quite implausible events in Blue City would be easier to accept if the cinematography supported the fantasy aspect of the plot with a more fictitious setting and characters. But, if you manage to accept early on that Blue City takes place in Fantasyville, Hollywood, chances are you will enjoy the movie more than I did.
North Sea Hijack is the kind of perfect little action thriller one would’ve been super glad to find in the first small video rental stores in the early 80s.
The lead Sir Roger Moore brings a lot of the same charism and screen presence he possesses as Bond, but manages to make his character much more interesting given the jagged edges and peculiarities that the manuscript provides. His womanising trait remains in this movie as well, but instead of trying to get every woman between the sheets, he treats them equally to men – if not always quite respectfully.
The setup of criminals holding an oil rig as a hostage works well, and Anthony Perkins does a wonderful acting work as the criminal mastermind of high intelligence, but manages to avoid the pitfall of going overboard with the characterisation.
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.
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.
Out of Control takes a bad turn right after an a-ok beginning as it moves from a nice title music and a high school graduation party to some remote island somewhere in former Yugoslavia.
Getting stranded on a remote island is an interesting premise by itself, but instead of concentrating on long term survival and group dynamics, Out of Control puts them into an adult version of The Famous Five kind of adventure where they discover a stash of drug smugglers, get loaded on the booze they find, strip, make out and finally engage in a fight.
I did not have to check out if the movie’s running time was well under 90 minutes; the obvious padding was a straight giveaway, which makes many of the scenes drag on for ages.
Anyone reading the blog will know I’m not too big on the sword & sorcery genre as I find the movies not only utter nonsense, but also pompous and extremely cringe inducing.
Sorceress definitely has all the warning marks of a stupid fantasy movie written all over it, and to for a period of time most of my low expectations were met. A story about two fighter sisters, wizards and other mythical creatures is plagued with bad effects and other disappointing choices, and it was especially the badly masqueraded faun that really rubbed me the wrong way.
But it was towards the end of the film as the fighting started that Sorceress redeemed itself in an unexpected way: the movie has a very strong video game look and feel to it, and I’m willing to bet that it served as an archetype for a number of 80s video games, and despite the overall clumsiness I did find myself entertained in the final boss fight. Some good looking shots there as well!