I guess it’s my turn. Here we go:
Shame (1988) - Director: Steve Jodrell - 7/10 - An engaging Australian drama about the ordeal of a young girl that gets raped, yet is discouraged from reporting the crime because of its real-life ramifications and the social pressure coming from the little town community. It’s a well acted and written film that is trying to make a point about the toxicity of some town communities that choose to blink at the atrocity of some of the acts perpetrated by its local residents. It reminds me of Wake in Fright in that regard. Deborra-Lee Furness is excellent in the main role. She plays an empowered woman, but it’s all handled very well. Her character has a lot of genuine charisma and doesn’t come off as exaggerated or heavy-handed. Overall, a very solid movie well worth watching if you’re able to track it down.
The Boys Next Door (1985) - Director: Penelope Spheeris - 7/10 - A decent little neo-noir with two excellent performances by its two leads. The denouement is a little bit of a disappointment, but the overall portrayal of lunacy is well handled and makes for a gripping watch.
The Bedroom Window (1987) - Director: Curtis Hanson - 6/10 - It is a sufficiently diverting piece of a thriller, but at the same time, there is nothing particularly memorable or that unusual about it. The most absorbing aspect of the film constitutes the performance by Isabelle Huppert who plays this femme fatale character that almost brings down the protagonist of the motion picture. The direction is nothing special, but it is good enough I guess, it doesn’t get in the way of the story or the actors, the pacing is steady. I found it to be pretty entertaining, but I guess I prefer more full-blooded, sick and wayward ventures of this sort rather than restrained ones such as this. If it had been trashier and taken more chances, it could’ve been much better. All in all, it’s let down by its rather uneventful stylistic rendition. But it’s okay I guess.
Road Games (1981) - Director: Richard Franklin - 7/10 - Stylistically, it’s more of a 1970s effort, but it’s a very well executed shocker with a fair dose of humor and good pacing. It feels very old-fashioned in the sense that it’s pre-slasher-y in its scares, so there is hardly any gore to be found here. As I’ve said though, it’s all done in a relatively humorous manner, so the movie has aged pretty well and feels moderately fresh even by today’s standards precisely on account of its partially jocular nature.
Defense of the Realm (1986) - Director: David Drury - 8/10 - I loved this one. It’s a political thriller that’s more reliant on tension and style rather than kabooms or some overblown drama.
Extremities (1986) - Director: Robert M. Young - 5/10 - It’s pretty good most of the time, however, it gets stale towards the end and you can kinda tell it’s a play adapted into a movie which is most definitely not a good thing. The ending is also kinda anticlimatic and excessively thespian and dramatic for my liking. The former part is super disturbing to watch on account of a very prolonged and sadistic cat-and-mouse game between the rapist and his victim.
Dangerously Close (1986) - Director: Albert Pyun - 4/10 - A Cannon film… you never learn, do you Mickey? Well, it’s not that bad of a movie to be honest, just a mind-bogglingly insipid one. It’s somewhat superior to Down Twisted (1987) (made by the same director) in the sense that it’s got a more cohesive storytelling and isn’t scattered all over the place. Additionally, I must say that I enjoyed its former part quite a lot. I mean, yeah, it’s still shit and you can tell it’s a very low-budgeted production, but despite all that, it’s got a fairly swift pacing that prevents the movie from becoming a total bore. If you enjoy watching infantile and stupid shit every once in a while, you should be content with what’s being offered here. The problem is that once the pacing decelerates in the second half, Pyun is not a sufficiently skilled director to handle all dramatic and suspenseful scenes properly and this is when things really turn to shit. I mean, hardly anything of interest happens in the second half and the tension that is supposed to be there is never really conjured up, the scenes indicating this gigantic build-up of suspense are there, but the execution is so mind-numbingly poor it’s painful to watch and you lose pretty much all interest the former part managed to generate somehow. The acting does not help either. The story is likewise resolved in a pretty awkward way. Yeah, that’s the word. The movie is awkward. Other than some asinine shit and several deftly (you know, deftly for a Cannon film) constructed action scenes, it’s rather pedestrian if not downright vapid. This shot is bloody gorgeous though, it’s weird to see something like this in a shit movie. Well, this is probably why we keep watching more and more movies, right, for moments like this.
Next of Kin (1982) - Director: Tony Williams - 9/10 - A mind-blowingly good one. I had no idea what it was prior to watching the thing and well, I was in for a treat. No wonder Tarantino loves this one so much, the dude has a great taste in movies. I came across this movie while looking for flicks with electronic soundtracks. And yeah, Klaus Schulze’s soundtrack is splendid, but the film itself is probably one of the best low-budgeted horror movies ever made. It’s up there with the greatest. The acting is pretty good, but it’s the style and the execution that distinguish it from a swarm of similar efforts. Virtually every shot has a specific purpose and the way the director builds tension is truly unbelievable and admirable. The last 20 minutes is pure unadulterated fire and an excruciating experience amplified by film’s distinct sense of style and artistic purpose. Highly recommended. I’m definitely gonna re-watch the shit out of this thing.
Union City (1980) - Director: Marcus Reichert - 4/10 - I couldn’t get into this thing at all. It’s this quirky story about the guy who neglects his wife and gets obsessed with a man stealing his bottles of milk. And that’s about it, there isn’t much more to the story. If you’re after something truly indie and different, you might enjoy it. I didn’t.
Rampage (1987) - Director: William Friedkin - 5/10 - I have no idea what to think about this one. Despite having a fairly intriguing storyline, it’s one mess of a movie. Not only is the murderer treated in a remarkably one-dimensional manner, but also the liberal district attorney serving as a prosecutor is supposed to be professional and all that, yet he behaves in a hysterical manner in court, senselessly blabbering about Nazis, unashamedly appealing to feelings and looking a total dilettante, if not like a complete misfit. The murderer is obsessed with Nazis poisoning his blood and whatever kind of insane shit, so I guess it’s not completely out of place, but at the same time it’s overly dramatic and doesn’t feel realistic at all. If you want to nail the bastard, stop behaving like a little kid and start convincing the jury in a sensible fashion. The homicidal maniac is also so unfathomable in his actions and so little light is shed on his misdeeds that it’s hard to make out what it’s all about. It is all so vague that the motion picture becomes this impenetrable maze of thespian exploits. I guess it’s diverting enough, but I dunno.
Farewell to the King (1989) - Director: John Milius - 5/10 - A nice little adventure drama. There is not much to discuss here. Decent enough for a watch, nothing special though.
Out of the Dark (1988) - Director: Michael Schroeder - 4/10 - A sleazy piece of slashery action. A little too dumb for my taste, but I guess it could’ve been much worse. Several good scenes, but it all feels too absurd and after a while, its kinda claustrophobic atmosphere becomes tiring and cumbersome. Not that interesting and kind of irritating.
Perfect Strangers (1984) - Director: Larry Cohen - 7/10 - One of the best very low-budgeted neo noirs to come from the 1980s. The thing that makes this one a compelling watch is the persona of the assassin that vacillates between killing a kid that witnessed him murder one of his targets and helping the family dodge a bullet or a knife for that matter. However, it’s very weird to hear what appears to be a Roland Tr-808 on the soundtrack (most of the film composers from the 1980s used predominantly Linndrums), which readily attests to the low-budget nature of the production.
I, The Jury (1982) - Director: Richard T. Heffron - 4/10 - A piece of trash. It’s weird to see Ebert praise this movie, as it feels very flaccid and tired in its execution. To what style he is referring to I have no idea. The only thing that distinguishes it from other TV productions (it’s not a TV movie, but it feels like one due to a mediocre execution by a TV director who stood in for Larry Cohen) are its quasi-pornographic softcore scenes and a plentiful amount of violence. Despite being sufficiently trashy and kinda provocative, I found it to be exceptionally uneventful and boring to be honest.
Up To Date (1989) - Director: Lina Wertmüller - 7/10 - It’s a very poignant drama about the stigmatization of the individuals afflicted with HIV and the public panic in the wake of the discovery of the said virus. Hauer is excellent as usual. The only thing that really bothered me was the handling of the passage of time, it feels really hasty and could’ve been dealt with more effectively. Other than that, it’s a very mellow and moving piece well worth a look. Have to check other Wertmüller flicks out.