#1598 Halloween 2021: The House Where Evil Dwells aka Ghost in Kyoto (1982)

Award for the most interesting horror concept for this Halloween goes to The House Where Evil Dwells, taking a place in not just a haunted house, but a Japanese house haunted by Japanese samurai warriors who met the end of their day in a violent love triangle. The house and the Japanese landscapes have a great cinematic quality to them, and the whole premise of the family starting anew in an exotic location is interesting to say at least.

But, they made the wrong movie. Out of all the options I can think of, this story has the least amount of interest in it, and cheap looking superimposed ghosts aren’t really convincing at all. If they had to stick with ghosts option, it would’ve been a much more interesting option to see them try to communicate with the deceased, for example. Anything but with the movie ended up.

The House Where Evil Dwells is a missed opportunity that would have gained from going through a few more rounds of audience screenings, and rewrites.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 42%

#1524 Oxford Blues (1984)

A British movie, sure – but with Rob Lowe and Ally Sherry (of The Breakfast Club fame) flown to the cold and drafty England. Aaand that where most of the good news end.

The rest of the film is exactly what you’d expect from a title from UK, and it’s only Lowe’s natural movie star quality that keeps movie afloat, and only barely so as he is mostly focused just on looking all cutesy. The manuscript that doesn’t give him anything more to work with is partly to blame here, as pretty much all of the characters in the script come across unlikable and mostly obnoxious.

Oxford Blues is a weak drama, topped with a layer of romantic comedy devoid of laughs and chemistry. It’s strongest suite is in the sports, but even there it fails to sell the idea in a convincing manner.

80s-o-meter: 45%

Total: 19%

#1523 The Creature Wasn’t Nice aka Spaceship aka Naked Space (1981)

The Creature Wasn’t Nice is one of those movies that never should have been made. Trying to poke fun out of space monster movies, the whole show is amateurish to the maximum (partly by design, though), and pretty much 100% percent of all the humour misses its target.

It’s a well known fact that Leslie Nielsen had to skip Airplace II: The Sequel – a far superior early 80s space comedy – due to his commitment to the Police Squad, but one can’t but to wonder how he got involved in this turd of a movie.

Released at first under the titles The Creature Wasn’t Nice as well as Spaceship, the movie saw another home video release as Naked Space after the vast success of the Naked Gun movies –– naturally with Nielsen’s face promoted over other content in the various VHS covers.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 3%

#1522 State Park aka National Park aka Heavy Metal Summer (1988)

The crew behind State Park knows very well that laid back summer camps are a great setting for 80s comedies.

And within this setting the movie delivers. The summery campsite atmosphere is very enjoyable and the roster of quirky characters suit the movie perfectly.

An US-Canadian-UK co-production shot mostly in Québec, Canada, the movie makes a perfect impression of a Northern America lakeside and it hit a spot for me watching this thing on a summer night while suffering of a horrid flu that prevented me from enjoying the outside.

And for that it deserves its top rating.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 83%

#1417 Rich and Famous (1981)

The playwrights and the creators of theatre were in a bubble in the early 80s where they thought their life was so extraordinary, it would impress the common people to no end.

Rich and Famous is yet another film about people of the entertainment industry who struggle between best sellers, live in their fancy mansions and wallow in their problems. They’re snappy to no end and even when they lower themselves to an arguement, it’s never a showcase of banality like with the common folk, but a that of mastery of the wit. And all this is super tiresome to watch.

The most interesting aspect of Rich and Famous is that it features young Meg Ryan in her feature film debut – but be aware that her screen time is restricted to just a few minutes.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 17%

#1287 Brain Damage (1988)

Frank Henenlotter, the mastermind who brought us the cult classic Basket Case is back with Brain Damage, a similar horror movie with a similar premise of a creature controlling their owner, coupled with similar kind of eery, modern day horror story atmosphere.

Although Brain Damage is the lesser known of the two, I did enjoy it more, thanks to the up to date visuals and improved production values. The movie suffers from obvious padding and repetition, but the individual (often gruesome) ideas in the movie are hilarious and have earned Brain Damage the cult movie status as well.

A recommended underdog horror comedy despite its obvious shortcomings.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 81%

#1286 Windwalker (1980)

Movies about the indigenous peoples of the Americas of the past are often hard to watch for the way they are portrayed in them; even the movies that aren’t hostile but try to show affection towards their subjects rely very heavily on stereotypes and often view the Native Americans as spiritual beings capable of supernatural powers.

While some of that supernatural mumbo-jumbo is definitely present also in Windwalker, it’s luckily much more an vicious and pitiless action thriller following a family of a Cheyenne tribe on the run from Crow warriors, rather than some spiritual trip into the wildness.

To the credit of the team behind the movie, all the parts are being played by native speakers of both languages, and subtitled in English, which is something that is very rarely seen in major movie releases like this. The violence pictured in Windwalker is similarly realistic and harsh, with fights often over with a single swing of a club.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 70%

#1285 Opposing Force aka Hell Camp (1986)

Ok, so the premise in Opposing Force is interesting: there’s a group of trainees attending what’s called the toughest ever bootcamp where the attendees are put to a p.o.w. camp run by other soldiers. But as the events soon start escalating out of hand, it becomes clear to all that the commander of the camp has been blinded by his power and acts purely out of sadistic pleasure.

This is where the good news end, as the next to nothing in the movie really clicks into place. The dodgy execution is coupled with completely forgettable and charism free acting work by the lead Lisa Eichhorn, and Tom Skerritt, usually a strong actor is totally lost in his role of imprisoned Major Logan.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 40%

#1284 The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982)

A Mexican Corrido De Gregorio Cortez is sung in the memory of Gregorio Cortez, a Mexican vaquero and a father of four who was allegedly a victim of a miscarriage of justice the led into the biggest manhunt in the history in USA during 1901.

Being based on real life events – or rather, an interpretation of them – I did enjoy how The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez plays away from your typical western clichés both in its characters and storytelling.

80s-o-meter: 27%

Total: 69%

#1283 The Visitants (1986)

A young high-school student snatches a ray gun from his eccentric neighbours who turn out to be extra-terrestrial couple finishing up their long assignment on earth.

The Visitants is a shoe lace budgeted sci-fi spoof that despise its humble roots manages to entertain, and both the over-the-top theatrical acting and pseudo 50s-80s style works well, reminding me that of the LucasArts classic puzzle adventure Maniac Mansion.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 71%

#1282 No Dead Heroes (1986)

Similarly to Troma’s War, No Dead Heroes makes for an attempt for the biggest amount of bodies seen on the screen. But, without any humour aspect to it.

Everything about No Dead Heroes – like USA army officials being controller by microchips planted by KGB and jungle firefights with invincible heroes just walking and spraying enemies with bullets – sounds like tons of fun, but actually nothing here really is.

No Dead Heroes ends up plain ridiculous, implausible and far fetched, and could have saved the situation by taking all of its ridiculous aspects one step further, ending up outrageous instead of lukewarm and wishy-washy.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 20%

#1281 Cry Wilderness (1987)

If you wanted to learn the ABCs of how not go about shooting a movie, Cry Wilderness should be the first movie to watch.

The story does not make any sense – nor it is it of any interest to anyone – the big foot might be the most off putting thing ever seen on the screen and the movie even misses its opportunity to showcase any great wildlife scenes. It looks dull in 70s kind of way, and definitely older and more outdated than its 1987 release year would suggest.

Cry Wilderness is abysmally bad, but not the least in an entertaining way.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 1%

#1280 Troma’s War (1988)

Inspired by the action movies of the late 80s, Troma’s War makes an attempt for the biggest kill count ever on the silver screen – and likely pulls it off as well.

This is in many ways Troma Entertainment’s most well rounded cinema that despite the outrageous setup seems to make an attempt for wider audience and to me the movie is a complete mess, lacking the usual creative madness and underdog feeling that makes some of Troma’s films classics in their own niche.

The problem is that the late 80s action movies are already so over the top when it comes to kill counts and invincible heroes that the satire here lands very short. Endless scenes of the same extras falling down on the ground in various locations fail to entertain beyond the first few minutes of the film.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 27%

#1279 September (1987)

Woody Allen has usually the skill to make his movies about intellectuals work by being totally conscious what the audience seems on the silver screen is likely to come across as pompous and then fully going along with all of it and seasoning up the situations with his impeccable comedic skills.

But September is not a comedy. It’s a drama shot like it was a play, and it never gets past the pompousness, dryness and pretentiousness often associated with dialogue heavy adult relationship dramas.

The story goes that Allen was not happy with the first version of the film and reshot September again with another crew.

Maybe third time would’ve been the charm.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 24%

#1278 The Killing Time (1987)

The average murder thriller has unexpected charm to it! The Killing Time has absolutely nothing exceptional going for it, and the plot is frankly put quite implausible.

But the atmosphere, setting and the characters won me over, and I did enjoy The Killing Time all the way to the paint-by-numbers finale.

The Killing Time is totally disposable entertainment without any additional layers to it that would warrant a rewatch, but it’s certainly entertaining enough to gain my recommendation – especially if you are a fan of Kiefer Sutherland’s work.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 84%

#1191 Halloween 2019: Witchery aka Evil Encounters aka La Casa 4 (1988)

Shot in USA with American actors, Witchery is actually four and final installation of a weird Italian Casa series. La Casa and La Casa 2 are actually the original American The Evil Dead movies, while La Casa 3: Ghosthouse is an Italian movie disguised as a sequel but otherwise completely unrelated.

La Casa 4 is also completely unrelated to any of the previous movies. Most of the budget seems to have gone towards the exotic location as the movie itself is really tame, consisting mostly of a mixed group of visitants wandering around an old house and having encounters with an old lady doing all sorts of witchery.

The movie gets very low mileage out the the location as well as its cast starring David Hasselhoff and Linda Blair, both of which could’ve been replaced by any other lesser known actor without any noticeable impact.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 26%

#1165 Halloween 2019: Mountaintop Motel Massacre (1983)

Shot in 1983 and released the same year and the following year in a limited release, and later in 1986 as the wide theatrical release, Mountaintop Motel Massacre is a slasher do doubt inspired by the genre classic Psycho.

In Mountaintop Motel Massacre we meet an old lady fresh out of asylum returning to her motel and starting to waste the guests by accessing the cabins using an underground tunnel. Known before as Mountaintop Motel and Horrors at Mountaintop Motel, the 1986 release of the movie saw the changing of its title as well as an updated poster with a deranged character that’s supposed to be the antagonist, but doesn’t really resemble anyone in the film.

While an above the average slasher, Mountaintop Motel Massacre is a fine example of how empty, soulless shells of movies slashers like these are when you get to compare them to an actual chilling and hair-raising horror masterpieces like Psycho.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 49%

#1124 Ghost Warrior (1984)

400-year old samurai frozen alive is revived with the miracles of the modern science in Ghost Warrior, by far the coolest concept of the ancient man in present day movies I’ve seen to date.

There’s no doubt about the star of the show: Hiroshi Fujioka is nothing short of awe inspiring as the oriental warrior Yoshimitsu, bringing to the role tons of charism,

The movie provides some very enjoyable kickassery by Yoshi but regrettably nothing much more than that. It’s a shame, since Yoshi’s clashing with the modern day could’ve easily provided enough material to fuel even a full TV-series.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 81%

#816 My Name Is Bill W. (1989)

Part of the Hallmark Hall of Fame series that began running already in 1951, My Name Is Bill W. is a dramatisation of the William Griffith Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Based on the real life events, the movie is an interesting look into the life of an addict, and still as topical as it was back in the 1920. Production quality wise the movie is definitely one of the better made for tv movies, and the era is well established. James Woods – whom I’ve really grown to like only recently – plays the lead convincingly, but remains a far too distant character to the viewer to adapt to. JoBeth Williams thankfully provides a much more natural object to identify with in her role as the loving, caring and mentally exhausted wife at the end of her tether.

Like the most made for tv movies, this is no roller coaster ride, but if the slow pacing doesn’t scare you, My Name Is Bill W. definitely rates as one of those rare watchable period pictures.

80s-o-meter: 43%

Total: 62%