#1530 Chu Chu and the Philly Flash (1981)

There is one good scene in Chu Chu and the Philly Flash that almost redeems it from its other shortcomings. It’s when the characters finally drop their masks and share the unfortunate life events that landed them where they are now; at the very end of the food chain. Their falling in love is perfectly clumsy and awkward – and perfectly in character.

The rest of the movie does not reach the same standards. Mostly shot in cheap looking studio set the silly story with silly goons going after a silly MacGuffin of a secret government plan.

Alan Arkin is always a pleasure to behold on the silver screen and the hobo character he creates here feels many ways more substantial and complex than the movie itself.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 58%

#1529 The Burning Bed (1984)

One of the most hard to watch movies I’ve seen to date, The Burning Bed is a gruesome depiction of a domestic abuse downward spiral.

Being based on actual events, the movie does a terrific job in putting into concrete how the abuse starts in small, almost innocent baby steps that are easy to put aside. It also depicts exceptionally well the manipulative side as the abuser always finds a justification and forgiveness for their acts.

This is one of the rare cases where it doesn’t make much sense mentioning the made-for-TV origin of the movie was it easily bests the vast majority of theatrical dramas in its genre. Farrah Fawcett’s performance is flawless, and my hat is off to Paul Le Mat for his courage of accepting such a role. The events of the movie cut so deep that I might never look him the same way again.

80s-o-meter: 54%

Total: 92%

#1528 Angel III: The Final Chapter (1988)

Angel III: The Final Chapter takes again a step to wrong direction and feels in most ways far less insignificant than the previous two installations, missing the roughness around the edges seen in the first part, and the value adding ideas seen in Avenging Angel.

In fact, with the lead actor once again downgraded to another actress, Angel III: The Final Chapter feels almost a separate movie in the series. While the lead Mitzi Kapture alone isn’t to be blamed for the shortcomings of The Final Chapter, it really did not help that she is previously known to me only from Silk Stalkings, a ridiculously cheap and plastic 90s TV-series that plagued the Finnish late night TV for years.

Despite its title, the series did not end up with The Final Chapter, with one more unworthy sequel released in 1994.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 42%

#1527 Avenging Angel (1985)

A sequel to the Angel, Avenging Angel picks up the story a few later after the events of its predecessor, with the heroine now off the streets and working as a lawyer. I found the setup interesting and the whole Angel character now much stronger: instead of being just a gun happy lolita on a revenge spree, she is well spoken, confident and intelligent. This coupled with her background and her street knowhow makes for an interesting character that at best writes itself.

Playing Molly (’Angel’) Stewart this time around is the gorgeous Betsy Russell who fits the role perfectly, and would be my pick of all the Angel actors. The tone of the movie is lighter than with its predecessor, and it introduces some actual comedic elements and segments I wasn’t completely sure were the series needed, but I didn’t mind them much either.

As a completely average (in a good way) 80s action comedy, Avenging Angel is by far the strongest and most entertaining movie of the series.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 72%

#1526 Angel (1984)

Angel, an exploitative, sleazy movie of a teen grade-A student gone prostitute ends up something of bore.

The first part of the (mostly unrelated) four Angel movies that were released in 1984 (this one), 1985 (Avenging Angel), 1988 (Angel III: The Final Chapter), plus one more attempt to milk the weak franchise, released in 1994.

Angel is mostly passable, but nothing really substantial enough to stick with the viewer for longer. The only really interesting part of the movie is its eccentric supporting cast, as well as the depiction of the 80s street life. The exploitation angle is strong in the marketing, but the end result is a bit tame.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 58%

#1525 Made in Heaven (1987)

Made in Heaven is a movie narrated in two acts: in the first act we see the protagonist as a young boy heading off to California, getting killed in an accident, ending up in heaven and falling in love with another soul.

In the second act they both have been born again, unaware of their previous lives and mutual time together in heaven, and the thrill the movie offers to the viewers is of course the hope of their life lines somehow intertwining, perhaps leading them to find each other once again.

I have to admit I found the movie incredibly dull and slow paced for most of its running time, but the final events did admittedly get to me to the extend of turning the overall experience quite positive. Clearly this concept of soul mates has something special going for it, only if the endless taxiing before final payoff of a takeoff was crafted just a bit more exciting.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 61%

#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%

#1521 Sweet Liberty (1986)

Watching Sweet Liberty I quickly realised the benefits of writing and directing the movie that you yourself star in: you get to play a well liked college professor who rides a motorcycle, fences, has written a bestseller that’s to be filmed by a film crew visiting the town and get to make out with two women – one of them who no other than Michelle Pfeiffer.

But Alan Alda’s writing is also snappy, full of interesting events and especially interesting characters, each of which strong enough to support a movie is own.

It’s especially these characters that almost seem to write themselves that make the movie easy and satisfying to watch. Even if Alda’s screen presence is totally enjoyable, his strongest suits are definitely off-camera.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 83%

#1520 Partners (1982)

When I first learned about Partners, a comedy about two cops – one straight, one gay – going undercover to a gay community as a couple to solve a mysterious chain of murders, I could not but to cringe. I’ve witnessed on numerous occasions how gays have been portrayed in the 80s and 90s comedies, and it’s generally not pretty.

Partners isn’t devoid of these stereotypes, but in general it’s quite kind with its approach, poking an equal amount of fun of the projudice of the society was well as the inept police force and his womanising partner.

In the end Partners makes for a refreshingly different and charming buddy cop movie that earns my recommendations, but people that are easily offended of stereotypes should probably steer clear

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 83%

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#1519 The Allnighter (1987)

Hey look, it’s Susanna Hoffs (of the The Bangles fame) making her debut in a lead role, in a movie written and directed by her mother Tamar Simon Hoffs.

While Susanna herself performs the role adequately, The Allnighter itself is such a mess that is pretty much nullifies that performance. I would have loved the movie actually living up to its name, taking place in one long night, but instead the events take place during a time period of few days and none of them are properly followed through, leaving one scratching their head wondering what actually is the theme of the movie.

The movie looks good though and has all those nice seasonings of California, surf, beach houses, parties and overall good mood, sprinkled on top of an empty shell of a movie.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 30%

#1518 Someone to Love (1987)

Look, if you’ve seen the other Henry Jaglom’s movies of the era, you’ve pretty much already seen Someone to Love.

The theme is once again adults wallowing in their life and relationship troubles, this time invited and enclosed in an old theatre. Jaglom’s trademark improvised dialogue is once again the aspect of the movie that stands out most, but other than that the array of the characters does not grasp one at all.

Orson Welles can be seen in his final feature film role having a dialogue of his own. Although these interludes do break the monotony of the movie, they make the film feel even more uneven and fragmented as it should be.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 22%

#1517 Reform School Girls (1986)

A 1986 take on the women prison exploitation movies popular in the 70s, Reform School Girls aims to poke fun of the genre by playing with clichés and turning all the knobs all the way to 11. But it does so only partially.

All the prisoners are of course (adult) models tippy-toeing around the reform school dorm just waiting for an excuse to go to have a shower with the other girls, and Edna, the head of the ward pictured in that awesome poster is set to make everybody’s life miserable.

Women prisoner exploitations were already quite far fetched, super heavy on clichés and caricatures for characters, so the humor here falls very short. As in, not funny at all. But in its poor genre Reform School Girls is actually well above average, even if not successful as a satire.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 61%

#1516 Perfect Strangers aka Blind Alley (1984)

Larry Cohen’s (Special Effects, The Stuff, Q) Perfect Strangers begins as a 2-year old witnesses an assassination in an alley.

To make sure there are no loose ends the hitman befriends the boy and her single parent mom, only to soon find himself emotionally attached to both.

The premise is wonderful for a decent thriller, but Perfect Strangers’ approach is somewhat bland and features one of those weird early 80s lense effects where everything looks shiny as if shot through a greasy lens. The strong setup still carries the movie through, fortunately. But only barely.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 68%