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Trashploitation: 80’s Beat (Review)

Release Rating – 4/5

 

Flatliners
Director – Joel Schumacher (The Lost Boys)
Starring – Kiefer Sutherland (24), Kevin Bacon (Every movie…ever), Julie Roberts (no one cares), and Oliver Platt (Dr. Dolittle)
Release Date – 1990
Rating – 2.5/5

Tagline – “Some lines shouldn’t be crossed”

Do you remember that awesome movie from the 90’s starring Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts, and Oliver Platt?  Yea, neither do I.  This is a film that had a lot riding on it when it was released.  This film would reunite director Schumacher and Sutherland who previously worked together on The Lost Boys.

Among movie goers this flick gets a lot of praise.  That reason alone made me wanna check this one out for years. When Mill Creek Entertainment sent me the 80’s Beat box set I was able to check it out.

**Spoiler Alert**Four med school students are brought together by Nelson (Sutherland) to perform an experiment to discover what lies beyond death.  The plan is to have Nelson flat line for one minute and then resuscitate him.  Everything goes according to plan…so they thought (insert spooky music).

While flat lining Nelson recollects a childhood vision of when him and some friends terrorized a local boy.  Him and his friends chase the youth up a tree and throw stones at him.  Nelson is then revived and confirms that there is something after death but can’t really explain it.  When the group part ways  Nelson walks home and is attacked by a small boy wearing a hood.  The youth beats him to the point where Nelson needs stitches.  The next night the group meet up to flat line another member and see if the results are consistent.  This time on the chopping block is Joe (William Baldwin).

Once he has flat lined he experiences an erotic vision until he is revived.  From this point on Joe has visions of women speaking to him and is often confused if they are real or not.  Meanwhile, Nelson is still getting visits from the young boy and continuously gets the shit kicked out him.  Joe and Nelson do not tell the others of the things happening to them and David volunteers to flat line to share this experience.  While he is under he sees a young black girl that he had bullied when he was a child.

The next day, while on the subway, David sees the little girl calling him names and taunting him.  She shit talks him for a few minutes and David is shocked that no one else on the subway sees her.  He doesn’t realize that the girl on the subway and the girl from his vision are one in the same.   When the group meet to flat line Rachel (Roberts) no one informs her of the visions they have witnessed.

When she flat lines she witnesses her father’s suicide as she did when she was a child.  David, knowing that it had to be the guilt making him see the girl, decided to track down the now adult aged girl and apologize for the things he had done to her in his youth.  Once he has accomplished this he no longer sees visions of her.  The others must face their childhood fear or fall prey to it.**Spoiler Alert**

I genuinely like Shumacher’s films even though the masses do not.  The Lost Boys is one of the greatest vampire movies ever filmed in my humble opinion and the recent Blood Creek was a solid horror flick.  Hell, I even like Schumacher’s sequels to Tim Burton’s Batman series.

I had heard about this movie for years but was afraid to pay the absurd price online for it.  I just happened across it at Big Lots of all places for just $3 and figured for a price like that I’d hate myself for not picking it up.  Now I feel like a fool for paying that ridiculous $3 price for this shit.  The acting is obviously the best part of the movie except I cant stand seeing Julie Roberts in anything.  However, the characters are lame but there is something satisfying about seeing a small child kicking the shit out of Kiefer Sutherland.

The story is original but poorly executed.  Long scenes of dialogue where the cast mostly argues with each other takes a lot away from the entertainment.  To be honest for a thriller or drama this does not work that well but if Schumacher would have made the movie a little darker and turned it into a horror movie I would have enjoyed it a little more.

Overall the story was good but the movie itself was pretty crappy and to be honest I don’t recommend this one.  Watch The Lost Boys.

 

True Believer
Director – Joseph Ruben (The Stepfather, Dreamscape)
Starring – James Woods (VideoDrome, John Carpenter’s Vampires), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, The Avengers), and Margaret Colin (Independence Day, The Devil’s Own)
Release Date – 1989
Rating – 3.5/5

Tagline – “The only good fight is the one you win”

I’ve watched a few good horror flicks the last couple nights so I decided to keep the trend up.  Mill Creek Entertainment sent me the 80s Beat 8 film set that has the long ignored Sean S. Cunningham horror thriller The New Kids.  I had planned on tossing the set in and watching that film first but another film caught my eye.

While I was looking at the back of the set I noticed that there was a film starring James Wood and Robert Downey Jr.  I was definitely interested in that one so I decided to go with that film first.  Thanks Mill Creek for sending this set my way!

**Spoiler Alert**The film follows former civil rights attorney Eddie Dobbs (Woods) and his protégé Roger Baron (Downey Jr,) who fight for the lowlifes and drug dealers of the city when he is visited by the mother of a prisoner who just killed a man in self defense.

When they start investigating the murder they learn that they will lose if they pursue that angle and decide to clear the man of the murder charges he was convicted of eight years earlier.  What they did not suspect is to find a web of lies and conspiracy involving the suspect and the district attorney.  **Spoiler Alert**

I’m not much on court room dramas.  They typically bore the shit out of me and the stories have been done out.  Most involve a hidden conspiracy involving entangled lovers, drugs, the government, and even Cold War espionage.  With that being said, the cast of True Believer really sold me on the film and I am honestly glad that I check it out.

The acting in this one is first class.  James Woods absolutely kills with his performance as Eddie Dobbs.  He has yet to let me down with a performance and once again delivers.  His co-star, RDJ, does a great job as well.  He doesn’t go above and beyond like his roles in Sherlock Holmes and Back to School but he still kills it.  The supporting cast does a tremendous job as well.  They don’t stand out but they still deliver solid performances.

The story for this one was a lot more thought provoking than the day time shows that most associate to court room dramas.  My wife is an avid Law and Order fan so I have suffered through more episodes than I care to count.  They are always predictable and you can see the plot twist coming from a mile away.  True Believer continuously tossed in twists and turns that I did not see coming.  The conspiracy angle did catch me off guard but I should have seen it coming.  This was a well written and well paced drama.

Finally, this one does have a little bit of blood shed but horror fans will not be satisfied by it.  The effects for the few gags we see are decent but they viewer doesn’t get to see the full effect due to the way in which the scene was shot.  Overall, True Believer is one of the few dramas that I really enjoyed.  The acting is top notch and the story is well put together.  Check this one out.

 

The New Kids
Director – Sean S. Cunningham (Friday the 13th, Case of the Full Moon Murders)
Starring – Shannon Presby (Five Mile Creek, Crazy Times), Lori Loughlin (Full House, Amityville 3-D), and James Spader (The Office, Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Release Date – 1985
Rating – 3/5

Tagline – “A new ticket of terror from the director of Friday the 13th”

Like many horror fans I found myself obsessed with Jason Voorhees and the Friday the 13th series.  Those films really kickstarted my love for slashers and the “in the woods” horror films.  I watched those films so many times when I was younger and when I started diving out deeper into horror I started to notice the name Sean S. Cunningham.

He had written, produced, and directed several classic horror films but when I would visit his imdb.com page I noticed that there was several of his films that I had never heard of.  One such film was The New Kids starring Full House’s Lori Louglin.  I’ve never seen this film out in the wild but when I saw that Mill Creek Entertainment included it in their 80’s Beat box set I had to see it.

**Spoiler Alert**The film follows Loren (Presby) and Abby (Loughlin) who are siblings that lost their parents in an accident.  They move to Florida to live with their uncle and aunt who recently bought an amusement park to restore.  The kids help out and attend the local school where they get harassed by Dutra (Spader) and his group of drug dealing goons.

Things get worse when Abby refuses to go out with him and Loren kicks the shit out of them all.  After a drug fueled binge Dutra and his gang sets out to kill Abby, Loren, and their family but didn’t know that their father was a decorated solider before dying and trained them how to survive.**Spoiler Alert**

This wasn’t exactly the type of film I was expecting. Please don’t get me wrong. The film was very entertaining and another solid horror film from a very underrated director but the artwork for the film painted a much different picture. The artwork made me thing this was a very dark and atmospheric horror flick with masked men terrorizing Aunt Becky but I was wrong. The film was actually a thriller that plays out like a vigilante/revenge style exploitation film. I thoroughly enjoyed that.

The acting in this one is superb which is more than I can say about the other Cunningham productions. The film’s leads, Shannon Presby and Lori Loughlin, kill it as siblings. They are very emotional when their characters interact and they show a great deal of on screen chemistry.

The real star of the show was James Spader who really brought the anger out in me. I’ve watched countless movies over my lifetime that had a character so vile that I could easily hate them but Spader takes the cake. He made his character so sleazy and despicable that I caught myself almost yelling at the television. Kudos to Spader for making me look like a fool.

The story for this one is not that deep but it works very well for the type of film we get. The story is simple, kids lose parents, moves to Florida, meet sociopath and his group of backwoods fucktards, survive. This story had been done before but the effective characters and their dimensions is what saved this film. You really get into the characters. Personally, I loved the goons with the exception of Spader’s Dutra. On the down side, the film has several unnecessary scenes that makes the film drag out longer than it absolutely needs to.

Finally, the film has several kill scenes that are not the typical death scenes we see in a Cunningham film. These kills are mostly gun related but we do get an awesome scene where a dog kills someone. The effects are great as well which really adds to the deaths scenes we get. Overall, The New Kids is a slow paced thriller from Sean S. Cunningham. The film is extremely underrated and will not disappoint. Check it out.

 

Little Nikita
Director – Richard Benjamin (My Stepmother is an Alien, The Wonderful World of Disney)
Starring – Sidney Poitier (The Jackal, Children of the Dust), River Phoenix (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Explorers), and Richard Jenkins (The Cabin in the Woods, Step Brothers)
Release Date – 1988
Rating – 3/5

Tagline – “He went to be an all American kid and woke up the son of Russian spies”

I was born in 86 so I grew up during the final days of the Cold War.  I hated hearing about it and I hated even more to learn about it.  The thought of a potential war and the politics behind it bored me to death.  However, things changed when I got older and found myself fascinated by it in college.  I wrote several papers about JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis when I was in college.  I loved it and couldn’t get enough of it.

I then started to realize that a lot of my favorite films growing up was heavily influenced by the Cold War.  Movies like Rocky IV, Red Dawn, and so many more use the Cold War as the foundation of their stories.  One Cold War centered film from the 80s that I never watched was Little Nikita.  This long forgotten gem starring River Phoenix was included in the 80’s Beat box set.  After finishing up The New Kids I decided this would be a fitting follow up.

**Spoiler Alert**The film follows teenager Jeff Grant (Phoenix) who has a problem with driving too fast but excels in school.  He tries to get into Airforce Academy and meets FBI agent Roy Parmeeter (Poitier) who suspects Jeff is a spy.  Upon digging deeper into his background he learns that Jeff’s parents are Russian sleeper cells and Jeff is unaware of their past life until someone resurfaces and intends on using Jeff’s parents to stop a rogue spy who is killing other sleeper cells.**Spoiler Alert**

I didn’t really know what to expect from this film.  I knew that it was deep in the Cold War scare of the 80s but I didn’t know how political it would be or even what type of film it was.  I was shocked when I saw that the film flirted with the line between drama, action, and thriller.  It was very well put together and had a solid cast.

The acting in this one is great.  Sidney Poitier, Richard Jenkins and Richard Lynch are great.  I’ve seen them in so many movies where they more than deliver.  Their performances are always memorable and this film is no exception.  However, I’ve never been a fan of River Phoenix.  His performances were always dry with very little character development.  Little Nikita is no exception.

The story for this one is straight forward but does offer up a few little twists to keep the viewer guessing.  Sadly, the way in which the movie was wrote and shot offers up very little replay value.

Finally, the film does have a few death scenes but they are fairly week due to the film’s non-horror nature.  The effects are limited but do work in the gag’s favor.  Overall, Little Nikita is a solid Cold War era film that is entertaining.  The movie is easily forgettable but still hits the spot if you are looking for something different to watch.

 

The Legend of Billie Jean
Director – Matthew Robbins (Dragonslayer, *batteries not included)
Starring – Helen Slater (Supergirl, Supernatural), Keith Gordon (Christine, Dexter), and Christian Slater (Tales from the Darkside, Twisted)
Release Date -1985
Rating – 3.5/5

Tagline(s) – “When you’re seventeen, people think they can do anything to you. Billie Jean is about to prove them wrong.” and “The last thing she ever expected was to become a hero.”

Every decade has a style about them that sets their films apart from the others.  The 60s saw the rise of films that went against the grain and proudly showcased the counter-culture of the time. The 70s took that foundation layed in the 60s and expanded it.  Films were sexier, sleazier, and riddled with pop culture of the time where the films from decades prior were not.

We then hit the 80s where technology and pop culture of that decade is piled waist deep in every film.  That is why films from the 80s will always be my favorite.  I love the soundtracks, the graphics, the film’s artwork, the clothing and hairstyles, and the lingo. Films from this decade really are like opening a time capsule and fills the room with nostalgia.

Recently, Mill Creek Entertainment released the perfectly 80s film The Legend of Billie Jean.  I had never seen this film so I reached out to them for a review copy and they kindly sent one my way.

**Spoiler Alert**The film follows siblings Billie Jean (Helen Slater) and Binx (Christian Slater).  The two live in a trailer park with their mother.  The two are loving sibling and the only thing Binx loves more than his sister is his scooter.  The two are often criticized by the others because they live in the trailer park.  One day the two go out to get gas for the scooter and run into a couple douchbags.

Binx tricks them and throws a milkshake on their car.  He drives off and the two decide to go swimming.  Moments later the douchbags show up and steal his scooter.  Binx is heart broken and they turn to the police for help only to be shoved to the side.  The next day Binx does get his scooter back but it is severely damaged.  Billie Jean takes it to a garage to get an estimate and then takes that estimate to the douchbage and his father.

His father takes Billie Jean to another room and offers her a proposition; a little tail for the repair costs.  While he is trying to convince her to jump his old bone Binx enters the store and finds the old man’s gun.  Billie turns down his advancements and leaves the room with him following after to find Binx holding the gun.  They argue for a few moments and Binx accidentally shoots him in the arm.  The group of teens flee as the police is called.  They leave town in hopes of hiding out until everything blows over but that does not happen.

The news turns Billie Jean into a martyr and she becomes a voice for those that are mistreated and ridiculed.  This inspired Billie Jean to make the old man pay because “fair is fair.”  Billie Jean then ‘kidnaps” the son of a high ranking city official to force the police into listening to her demands and that is when things spiral out of control!**Spoiler Alert**

When I put in an 80s film I prepare myself for the time traveling adventure I am about to embark upon. The Legend of Billie Jean is beautifully 80s and embodies all the cliches, looks, and feel that I have come to love about that decade.

The acting in this film is solid by the entire cast.  They all took their roles to heart and it really shows.  Sadly, I know the cast can, and has, done a better job in other films and that is a bit of a let down.  The acting was good but I know it could have been better.  The story is fun, inspiring, and a true product of the time.  It has a story that reaches out to the youth of the 80s and is written in such a way that every age can really enjoy it.  This is truly a film for every age.

Finally, the film does not have any real special or visual effects.  Instead, this film relies on great story telling and solid acting to get the point across.  Overall, The Legend of Billie Jean is a real forgotten classic.  Fans of 80s cinema really needs to check this one out!

 

Private Resort
Director – George Bowers (Th Dukes of Hazzard)
Starring – Rob Morrow (Monsters), Johnny Depp (A Nightmare on Elm St.), and Emily Longstreth (Hardbodies)
Release Date – 1985
Rating – 3/5

Tagline – “Where every room has a great view”

No horror July has been off to a slow start but it has started to pick up speed.  My usual no horror month reviews are typically sleazy, raunchy sexploitation flicks from Vinegar Syndrome and Impulse Pictures.  However, I have got a few films from Mill Creek that were not horror.  One of those film is Private Resort which is part of the Sun, Sand, and Sweat bluray set.  This particular film is first in the set and stars a very young Johnny Depp who got the jump start on his career with Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm St.  I love the teen comedies of the 80s, as well as, Johnny Depp so I was excited to check it out.

**Spoiler Alert**The film follows two young boys who book a trip to a private resort for some drinking and beautiful women.  They find themselves in several sticky situations while chasing tail but soon things turn serious when a thief and his wife pose as resort guests to still a priced jewel from another guest thrusting the boys in the middle of the chaos.**Spoiler Alert**

I love the 80s.  I love ALMOST everything from that decade.  I was born in 1986 at the tail end of this sweet decade but everything I came to love as a young child into adulthood has been influenced by 80s pop culture.  When I started writing reviews I wanted to dive deep into the world of forgotten cinema and review exploitation flicks along with anything time had forgot.  The goal was to sneak in as many 80s flicks as I could. Private Resort was just one of those movies.  It is said that the film’s stars, Johnny Depp and Rob Morrow, one made an agreement to destroy all copies of the film once it was completed.  I don’t know why, I actually enjoyed it.

The acting in this one is not the best but far from the worst.  Depp has always been one of my favorite actors but he had not hit his stride by this point and was still fine tuning his skill.  The remainder of the cast does a decent job, including Morrow, but Depp was struggling to keep in character.

The story for this one is pretty generic and flows like so many teen comedies before it.  It follows a group of teenagers living life carefree until something drastic happens forcing them to stand up for what is right.  This was the basis for so many comedies in the 70s that ran through the 80s, 90s. 00, and well into today.  The private resort was a change of pace but still uses the same basic plot.  With that being said, it was still fun and offered several memorable characters.

Finally, this one has several laughs.  Some were goofy and made me wonder why they were there while others were genuinely clever.  The film really had the potential to be one of the comedies that everyone remembers but some of the dry humor makes it fall a little flat.  Overall,Private Resort is a solid 80s comedy that has some laughs and a decent cast.  The writing is a little off at times but still entertains.  Check it out.

 

Like Father Like Son
Director – Rod Daniel (Teen Wolf, American Pie)
Starring – Dudley Moore (Shelley Duvall’s Bedtime Stories, The Adventures of Milo and Otis), Kirk Cameron (Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, Growing Pains), Margaret Colin (Gotham, True Believer)
Release Date – 1987
Rating – 3.5/5

I’ve watched a lot of movies over my life and I don’t regret a single minutes I’ve spent on them.  Some were good, others were horrible, but I cherish each and every experience.  When I was younger I watched any and everything I could ranging from kid friendly television to what you can find late at night on Skinemax.  I watched a lot of stuff but I never learned the name of a lot of movies that I watched growing up.  Most of these were watched on cable with no guide.  One such film I remember watching but never learned the name of until recent years was Like Father Like Son.  This rated R comedy starring self-righteous asshole Kirk Cameron was actually pretty funny but it had been years since I seen it.  That changed when I received the 80’s Beat box set from Mill Creek.

**Spoiler Alert**The film follows Chris Hammond (Cameron) and his father Dr. Jack Hammond (Moore) who accidentally switch bodies when Chris’ friend Trigger (Sean Astin) accidentally gives them a serum he stole from his uncle.  This happens at the worst time.  Chris has an important track meet where he has finally moved up in ranking and Dr. Hammond has a hearing to be moved to the board of directors at the hospital.  They both must act like each other in order to prevent from destroying each other’s lives and learn just what its like to live in the other’s shoes. **Spoiler Alert**

Honestly, I had no idea this was the film I had watched when I was younger when I tossed it in but within minutes I was able to remember the film.  I’m certain I watched this for the first time at my grandmother’s while my dad was out of town.  I remember she was upset about some of the language but we both enjoyed the film for the most part.

The acting in this one is pretty fucking awesome.  Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron both have a very demanding role and they pull it off perfectly.  Their role is very challenging but both amazing actors prevail to bring the audience two very bold characters that they will not soon forget.  The supporting cast is damn near perfect as well.

Sean Astin is great as that high wired best friend that was dominate the sex comedies of the 80s and early 90s.  He was great and brought some humor to an already funny film.  Now, lets take a second to mention how fucking hot Margaret Colin is in this film.  If you see her and don’t get a boner you may need to check your pulse.

The story for this one is nothing original and is very similar to the Disney film Freaky Fridaybut with some changes.  In Freaky Friday we follow a mother/daughter duo who swap bodies.  LFLS is the same but the female characters are swapped with male characters.  The story is virtually the same but brought into a generation of comedies ushered in by the infamous Porky’s.

Finally, this is not a blood and gore flick that most of you expect me to review.  Instead, we have a very story rich and character driven comedy that hits all the right notes.  The film has plenty of laughs and a couple twists that you wont see coming so check it out if you haven’t already.

 

Side Out
Director – Peter Israelson (Expose: Video Exposure)
Starring – C. Thomas Howell (The Outsiders, Red Dawn), Peter Horton (Brimstone, Children of the Corn), and Courtney Thorne-Smith (Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise)
Release Date – 1990
Rating – 3.5/5

Tagline – “Summer just got a lot hotter”

Finally, I’ve reached the end of my trip through the 80s (and 1990) with the box set 80’s Beat from Mill Creek Entertainment.  I started my journey with several films I had never seen before, as well as, a few others I had.  It was also nice to rediscover a film or two that I remember watching years ago but never knew the name of.  Now I move on to the last film in the set which was actually released in 1990 and starred C. Thomas Howell and Peter Horton.  Side Out is one I had never heard of before and looked rather boring so I put it off until last.  Funny thing is, I enjoyed it more than most of the films in the set which goes to show you should never judge a book by it’s cover.

**Spoiler Alert**The film follows Monroe Clark (Howell) who visits California to work for his uncle so he could put himself through law school where he meets Wiley Hunter (Chris Rydell) where he learns about profession beach volleyball.  He is then tossed into the competitive world of volleyball where he meets legend and coach Zack Barnes (Horton) where he works out a deal to have him coach but when Wiley is injured Zack steps in to play.**Spoiler Alert**

Most films centered around sports tends to be sports-centric.  I grew up watching sports films like The Big Green, Little Giants, Cool Runnings, Radio, Remember the Titans and so on.  What made these films so much fun wasn’t the fact they were centered around a sport but the way the characters were written.  Side Out knew that an entire film centered around volleyball would flop and gave the viewer something enjoyable.

The acting in this one is pretty damn good.  C. Thomas Howell and Peter Horton was great together.  They work so well together and I’m shocked we didn’t see more films with the two.  Courtney Thorne-Smith did a great job as well and is a total knockout.  Easily one of the hottest actresses of the 80s.  The supporting cast is decent as well but these three stand head and shoulders higher than everyone else.

The story for this one is very entertaining.  I never thought I would enjoy a film about volleyball but this one is very well written.  The characters are very enjoyable and the film has a nice, natural flow that holds the viewer’s attention without boring them to death.  The film doesn’t have that much action but does have some humor and great character development.

Finally, this is not a blood fest that many of you are wanting but it is a fun late 80s comedy that would pair very well with Hardbodies.  Overall, Side Out was an unexpected surprise.  I really enjoyed it and can see myself visiting it again sometime in the future.

Written by Blacktooth

(Staff Writer) Lover of all things horror and metal. Also likes boobs and booze.