#814 Defense Play (1988)

Defense Play is a low budget, low weight action thriller that never made it to a DVD release. The movie follows a teen – obviously much too old for the role – witnessing a prototype military miniature helicopter crash and ending up in hacking computers and the helicopter in a race against russian spies who try to get a hold of the technology.

This synopsis also introduces the biggest problems with the movie: We’re forced to watch recurring scenes that tend to drag on for much too long. The programming and hacking attempts on a computer are mildly entertaining in a campy way, but it’s the endless amount of footage of the miniature helicopters that got the best of me in the end. In the age of quadcopters and top notch CGI there’s really not much entertainment to be had in watching RC helicopters duelling in the sky, with some kind of a weak laser gun effect superimposed to them.

It’s is a passable film, but composed of elements that never gave it a chance for greatness, and the overall pacing should’ve been a lot tighter to make Defense Play a real winner.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 58%

#794 Elves (1989)

Elves is a christmas horror movie with a homicidal Elf (yes, there’s actually only one) that looks like if Nosferatu and a werewolf mated.

There’s a strong home cam feeling to the movie, even so that I was on the borderline of dropping it altogether from the review list. The elf is mostly just a lifeless, plastic torso or its loose hands puppeteered outside the screen, and as pathetic as this sounds, it still manages to be the most credible actor of the bunch, thanks to not having any actual lines. Speaking of which, the horrid dialogue is the only part with some, limited entertainment value here.

Dan Haggerty – previously known from numerous different Grizzly Adams filmatisations – performs as the male lead looking like, but not actually acting as the santa. Haggerty seems like a capable actor, but here he seems mostly baffled how he actually ended up in this production.

Although the movie doesn’t live up to its premise, I still have to give it some credit for its outrageous synopsis – including some genetically engineered elves and nazis – and for being probably the only christmas horror movie original enough not to involve a lunatic killer dressed as a santa.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 27%

#777 It Came from Hollywood (1982)

A collection of clips from old B-movies edited together with an added commentary track and some short skits, It Came from Hollywood is a movie that the time forgot – unlike most of the titles it aims to mock.

I can only begin to guess how an idea this weak got greenlighted: The concept must’ve been completely useless already back when the movie was originally released, and has only suffered inflation since. The entertainment factor is low here, and one couldn’t pass this kind of show even as a cheap cable TV programme these days.

The commentary provided by Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Gilda Radner and Cheech & Chong is of the worst kind: Sarcastic but entirely without wit.

It Came from Hollywood manages to fall far behind the so called weak movies it features. That, coupled with the fact that many titles featured here aren’t even made in Hollywood makes this movie a total waste of time for both the viewer and the actors involved.

80s-o-meter: 23%

Total: 2%

#772 You Can’t Hurry Love (1988)

You Can’t Hurry Love is a fish out of water story about a young man moving to LA, trying to find a direction in his life while seeking for true love, mostly by trying to pass as a real LA cool cat. The story revolves around video dating which was a huge hit in the late 80s. These awkwardly shot VHS videos have been amusing people ever since they were uploaded to Youtube some 20 years later. Story is a strong word here though as the movie is more like loose scenes that somehow blend into each other.

For being a low budget movie, You Can’t Hurry Love has managed to gather some impressive cameos and song licences (not written for the movie, obviously); Charles Grodin makes a short but sweet visit as a disgruntled, condom-dispensing dad and Phil Collins’ huge 1982 hit song You Can’t Hurry Love can be heard as the title soundtrack for the movie. David Packer, formerly known to public from V the TV Mini-series and its sequels makes for a performance that’s synonymous with the movie itself: Unwitty but sympathetic and lovable.

You can’t hurry love isn’t obviously significant, nor even a good movie in any way – but somehow, one just can’t be too angry about it all.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 60%

#600 Hollywood Cop (1987)

Movie number #600 – a VHS tape this time around – seems like a good moment to talk the home video revolution that took place in the 1980s. Both already released during the mid seventies, it was only in the early 80s that VHS and Betamax became cheap enough to manufacture and to purchase to really became household items. Video rental shops started popping up on every street corner, allowing people to rent out their favourite films and watch them back home at their own pace, any day of the week. Prior to this, if you didn’t own a 8mm or 16mm film projector, the only way to see a movie was to go to a theatre when it was released or catch it a few years later when in was broadcast on a TV.

Home movie watching is so commonplace today that it’s hard to fathom a world without being able to do so and the change was nothing less than a revolution in the film history. Additionally, the whole VCR thing fundamentally changed the way movies could be shot, produced and distributed. Although the aim in most cases was always to get a proper theatre release, by the mid 80s the user base for home movies was so vast that movies could also be released as direct-to-video – particularly sequels to known movies – and still make proper cash. Cheaper VCR alternatives to film cameras were released and could be edited in a home studio with equipment worth a few thousand dollars – a fraction of the cost of producing a movie on film. Needless to say, the amount of movies released per year pretty much skyrocketed.

Sure, some these movies were generally of a lower quality, but sometimes also gave big movie studios run for their money, either taking more risks or more often skipping the whole burden called the manuscript, betting on delivering just some unfiltered entertainment. Sometimes the outcome made Hollywood movies look tame, but even more often the movies became horrible failures – but still in a hilarious and entertaing way!

Overall, It’s safe to say these movies were not written to win awards.

Hollywood Cop is a prime example of late 80s direct-to-video movie that obviously takes cues from many big budget films that preceded it. It checks most boxes you’d expect; from fire fights, to car chases, to (well above average) cheesy dialogue. Made with a home video equipment, it’s the kind of movie where you see plenty of clumsy editing and microphone cords hanging from the backside of the jeans as the hero exits the room – and it’s all somehow much more entertaining than it should be.

80s-o-meter: 96%

Total: 76%