Film Review: The Princess Bride (1987)

Release Date: September 18th, 1987 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Written by: William Goldman
Based on: The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Music by: Mark Knopfler
Cast: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Andre the Giant, Robin Wright, Peter Falk, Fred Savage, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane

Act III Communications, Buttercup Films Ltd., The Princess Bride Ltd., Vestron Pictures, 20th Century Fox, 98 Minutes

Review:

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” – Inigo Montoya

I’m going to be honest, this wasn’t a film that captivated me in my childhood like it did most people from my generation. However, I have still always liked it and it’s one of those things I’d leave on if I was flipping the channels in my teen years.

This was the first time I had seen this, though, since probably the ’90s. At least, in its entirety. So revisiting it was kind of a treat and I actually think I’m more fond of it now, simply because they don’t make movies like this anymore.

At its core, this is just a wholesome fairytale. But it’s also full of several characters who have become iconic over the three and a half decades since this was released.

I think that these characters became so iconic because this movie was so well cast, from top-to-bottom.

I also really underappreciated the swashbuckling bits and the camaraderie between the characters, which was so good and natural that one would have to assume that all these people genuinely clicked and enjoyed working together.

As a big wrestling fan, especially the ’80s era, I love seeing Andre the Giant in this. He’s absolutely superb and it makes me wish that he got to do more films before he died, shortly after this.

The Princess Bride is just a really entertaining and fun movie that should work for anyone, regardless of age, gender or generation. It’s kind of perfect in its wholesomeness and its adventurous spirit.

While it’s not what I personally consider a classic, I can see why so many people are immensely fond of it.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: other ’80s family friendly fantasy movies.

TV Review: The New Statesman (1987-1994)

Original Run: September 13th, 1987 – December 30th, 1994
Created by: Laurence Marks, Maurice Gran
Directed by: Geoffrey Sax, Graeme Harper
Written by: Laurence Marks, Maurice Gran
Music by: Modest Mussorgsky, Alan Hawkshaw
Cast: Rik Mayall, Marsha Fitzalan, Michael Troughton

Yorkshire Television, Alomo Productions, ITV Studios, Fremantle, 26 Episodes + 3 Specials, 25 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Out of the three shows that Rik Mayall starred in, The New Statesman seems to be the least known, at least from an American standpoint. While I have friends that love The Young Ones, Bottom and Mayall as a comedic actor, none of them knew about this show until I introduced them to it. 

It’s been a favorite of mine for years and I actually discovered it on a tape sent to me from a friend in the UK, who I used to tape trade with in the ’90s.

The show is a satire of British politics in the opulent ’80s. It features Mayall as Alan B’Stard, a Conservative Party backbencher in Parliament that schemes his way to more power, as the show progresses.

B’Stard commits terrible crimes and has no morals whatsoever and while that may sound like the recipe for a completely unlikable character, with Mayall playing him, he brings to life the show’s despicable main character with his charisma, charm and stupendous ability to make it all work.

Alan B’Stard is an iconic character even if modern audiences aren’t aware of him, especially in the States. While it’s easy to see how UK conservatives of the ’80s would’ve been offended by the show’s over-the-top critique of them, I think it’d be really hard for any fan of comedy and political satire not to laugh. Mayall is simply perfect.

Each episode over the four series is pretty good and has a purpose behind it. The writers hit a lot of topical issues from ’87 through ’94 and even if this feels like it’s only showing things from one side of the political spectrum, it’s still entertaining.

Also, my view could be skewed because I’m American and I’m not really a fan of any political party or mainstream political ideals. They’re all authoritarian fascists in my book.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other British sitcoms starring Rik Myall.

Film Review: From A Whisper To A Scream (1987)

Also known as: The Offspring (original title)
Release Date: May 13th, 1987 (Cannes)
Directed by: Jeff Burr
Written by: C. Courtney Joyner, Darin Scott, Jeff Burr, Mike Malone
Music by: Jim Manzie
Cast: Vincent Price, Susan Tyrrell, Clu Gulager, Terry Kiser, Harry Caesar, Rosalind Cash, Cameron Mitchell, Martine Beswick, Lawrence Tierney

Conquest Productions, Manson International, Whisper Scream Limited Partnership, 99 Minutes, 92 Minutes (VHS cut)

Review:

“One thing I’ve learned, my dear, is that one is never too old for nightmares.” – Julian White

I’ve stated in the past that I’m not a big fan of anthology horror movies. However, as I’ve reviewed more and more over the almost five years that this website has existed, they’ve kind of won me over.

Sure, many are bad and most are inconsistent from segment-to-segment. However, even if something doesn’t hit the right way, it’s over pretty quickly and the viewer gets to move on to the next chapter.

With From A Whisper To A Scream, we get an anthology picture where every chapter was pretty decent. Plus, the story that connects everything together stars horror legend Vincent Price in his last true horror role.

I don’t know if Price would’ve been a fan of the level of gore in this movie but it’s pretty standard for an ’80s horror flick that’s going for the jugular. I don’t think it’s overly gratuitous and it’s fine for the style but it’s definitely edgier and bloodier than the film’s one would typically associate Price with.

Each story was interesting and pretty creative. Unlike Creepshow, the Twilight Zone movie, Tales From the Darkside and the Tales From the Crypt TV show, this didn’t have source material to pull from and adapt. Still, the situations were cool and unique and frankly, pretty f’n bonkers.

From A Whisper To A Scream was enjoyable from top-to-bottom. For me, that’s rare in an anthology horror picture.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other horror anthologies of the ’70s and ’80s.

Film Review: Throw Momma from the Train (1987)

Release Date: December 11th, 1987
Directed by: Danny DeVito
Written by: Stu Silver
Music by: David Newman
Cast: Danny DeVito, Billy Crystal, Anne Ramsey, Kim Greist, Kate Mulgrew, Rob Reiner, Annie Ross, Olivia Brown, Oprah Winfrey (cameo)

Throw Momma, Rollins, Morra & Brezner, Orion Pictures, 88 Minutes

Review:

“Don’t you “In a minute, Momma” me! Get off your fat little ass or I’ll break it for you! I want two soft-boiled eggs, white toast, and some of that grape jelly goddammit! And don’t burn the toast!” – Momma

Man, I haven’t seen this since the ’80s but it held up pretty well and I found it as hilarious and amusing now, as I probably did back then when I was too young to grasp all of the clever humorous bits.

Danny DeVito and Billy Crystal make a pretty great comedic duo and this film really capitalizes on their strengths. The scenes they share with Anne Ramsey are also good and she was pretty believable as DeVito’s mean and overbearing mother.

Now that I’m older, I also appreciated the plot more, as it is basically a twist on one of Hitchcock’s classics, Strangers On A Train. With that, DeVito assumes Crystal gave him the plan of killing his ex-wife and in exchange, Crystal would kill DeVito’s mother.

For most of the movie, you believe that DeVito actually killed the ex-wife and this puts pressure on Crystal to kill the mother, as he realizes he is in deep shit and needs to keep a lid on things.

While the plot sounds ridiculous, it really sets up a good black comedy scenario and the two leads just commit to the script and put in performances so good, it’s really easy to get swept up in the story and not worry about whether or not it’s realistic. Frankly, this is meant to be a bit surreal.

The cool thing about this picture is that DeVito directed it. I think he did a pretty solid job and he definitely got a stupendous performance out of Anne Ramsey, who left this planet a year or so later.

Throw Momma From the Train was just good escapism and it featured two legendary comedic actors in their prime, who happened to have good chemistry.

Honestly, I wish these two would’ve done more together.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other ’80s and early ’90s comedies, specifically those with Danny DeVito or Billy Crsytal.

Film Review: Can’t Buy Me Love (1987)

Also known as: Boy Rents Girl (alternative title)
Release Date: August 14th, 1987
Directed by: Steve Rash
Written by: Michael Swerdlick
Music by: Robert Folk
Cast: Patrick Dempsey, Amanda Peterson, Dennis Dugan, Tina Caspary, Darcy DeMoss, Cort McCown, Eric Bruskotter, Courtney Gains, Seth Green, Ami Dolenz

Apollo Pictures, Silver Screen Partners III, Touchstone Pictures, 94 Minutes

Review:

“What happened to us? We were all friends in elementary.” – Ronald Miller, “That’s because we were all forced to be in the same room together. But, hey, Junior high, high school. Forget it. Jocks became Jocks. Cheerleaders became cheerleaders. We became us. I like us.” – Kenneth Wurman

I always had a soft spot for this ’80s teen comedy but I guess I never realized how good it is when compared to all of the other films like it. Outside of the work of John Hughes and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, this one is probably the best of the lot.

This is a movie that carries a real message and does a fantastic job of delivering that message through the journey of its main character.

It’s also a message that’s timeless and maybe even more relevant today, as so many young people are willing to give anything just for their fifteen seconds of fame. Social media has probably just made this more of an issue, as “going viral” is a lifegoal of too many young people.

The story is about a geek named Ronald that has a hard time understanding why half of his friends from elementary school became the cool kids in high school and why he and his other buds are dorks, pushed away from the cool circle. He is also crushing hard on the most popular girl in school. When she finds herself in a bad financial situation, he bails her out. But he does so with the agreement that she’ll date him for a month, as he believes it will make him cool.

Of course, things can’t be that simple. While he does become “cool”, he turns his backs on his geeky friends and even breaks the heart of the popular girl he was in love with in the first place. As the story rolls on, his ruse is exposed and everything backfires. With that, he has to find a way to be himself, fix his old friendships and earn back the cool girl, who fell in love with the sweet guy she knows is inside Ronald.

As a young person, I got the message of the film loud and clear and it’s a simple one but this movie does a pretty good job of letting it play out in a lot of different ways, showing how it effects Ronald in every facet of his life, as well as the other kids around him.

Additionally, I think it’s a good message. High school aged kids generally want the same thing Ronald wanted but it’s important to understand the cost and what being “cool” actually means.

While this doesn’t have the magic of John Hughes best pictures, I think it is as well written as his high school movies and that’s why I consider it to be in the same ballpark of quality for ’80s teen comedies.

I like Patrick Dempsey in this but it’s Amanda Peterson that stole the show for me. I wish she had gotten better work after this film but she retired from acting in the mid-’90s, moved back home to Colorado and her life tragically went to shit until she died of an overdose in 2015.

Sorry to end this on a sad note but it’s kind of a punch to the gut when watching this film, knowing what happened to the high school goddess in real life.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other ’80s teen comedies.

Film Review: Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Release Date: February 23rd, 1987 (Hollywood premiere)
Directed by: Howard Deutch
Written by: John Hughes
Music by: Stephen Hague, John Musser
Cast: Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, Craig Sheffer, Lea Thompson, Elias Koteas, John Ashton, Candace Cameron, Maddie Corman

Hughes Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, 95 Minutes

Review:

“Keith… you’re losing it. And when it’s lost, all you are is a loser.” – Watts

About a week ago I reviewed Pretty In Pink, which was written by John Hughes and directed by Howard Deutch. I commented on how Hughes didn’t like the ending and wanted to correct it, so he wrote this film, which was actually released just a year later.

While researching this, I discovered that Deutch wasn’t actually the first choice for director and that Hughes pulled him in after two other potential directors left the project.

That being said, knowing what’s behind the genesis of this film makes comparing it to Pretty In Pink kind of hard. However, they’re still very different, especially tonally, as this is more of a drama and doesn’t have the more lighthearted comedy side that Hughes’ other teen pictures do.

I think with the more serious tone, though, this film just loses some of the patented Hughes magic and comes across as a bit dry. This may be why it’s not as highly regarded as the other teen movies Hughes was creatively a part of in the ’80s.

If I’m being honest, I feel like Hughes may have been a bit out of steam by this point. At least in regards to these kind of flicks, as he would still create great cinematic magic with Planes, Trains and Automobiles and the first two Home Alone films.

This is okay but it’s hard to care about these characters as they seem to lack personality and depth. Mary Stuart Masterson’s Watts is the most developed character of the bunch but you still never really come to understand her as deeply as you should and her pining starts to become annoying by the end of the film.

While this may have been the ending that Hughes wanted for Pretty In Pink, it’s just not as good of a film leading up to that big romantic climax.

I did really like Elias Koteas in this, though. I wish there was more of him, as he robbed every scene he was in and apparently, ad-libbed a lot of his lines.

Anyway, this is a fairly mundane teen drama. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before and it doesn’t have much to really justify its own existence when compared to better, similar movies.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: Pretty In Pink and other John Hughes teen movies of the ’80s.

Film Review: Equalizer 2000 (1987)

Also known as: Defender 2000 (Germany), Apocalypse Warriors (France), Slade, o Dominador (Portugal)
Release Date: 1987 (Spain)
Directed by: Cirio Santiago
Written by: Joe Mari Avellana, Frederick Bailey
Music by: Ding Achacoso (as Edward Achacoso)
Cast: Richard Norton, Corinne Wahl, Don Gordon Bell, Robert Patrick

Premiere Productions, 85 Minutes

Review:

Out of all the Mad Max ripoffs I’ve watched over the years, this is one of the worst ones. Still, I liked it because I like these sort of films.

I’m not gonna lie, though. Former Penthouse Pet, Corinne Wahl, made this movie really watchable. So much so, I cry for my eight year-old self who missed this movie back when it was newly released.

Anyway, the only other person of note in this is Robert Patrick, who looks damn young playing a villainous scumbag trying to bite off more than he can chew with the movie’s buff hero, his clunker apocalypse car and bizarre, multi-turreted gun.

I wouldn’t call this Patrick’s best work but it’s still cool seeing him a couple years before he became famous as the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

The story is pretty run-of-the-mill post-apocalyptic schlock. There’s a bad gang that terrorizes people, wants to steal their shit and then a hero shows up to challenge them and murder the crap out of them with guns and vehicles.

The cars aren’t very cool in this film and that works against it. Also, the action is just kind of mediocre and it doesn’t really leave you with anything worth remembering unlike Wheels of Fire, a similar movie that had great action and cooler cars.

I can’t recommended this to anyone, except for people like me who just have a strange attraction to post-apocalyptic vehicle flicks.

Equalizer 2000 could’ve and should’ve been better but it also came out at the tail end of these film’s popularity.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: other Mad Max ripoffs: Battletruck, Metalstorm and Megaforce.

Film Review: Rage to Kill (1987)

Also known as: Battle Wars (Japanese English title), Guerilla Force (Germany)
Release Date: December, 1987
Directed by: David Winters
Written by: David Winters, Ian Yule
Music by: Tim James, Mark Mancina, Steve McClintock
Cast: James Ryan, Oliver Reed, Cameron Mitchell, Henry Cele, Maxine John, Ian Yule

93 Minutes

Review:

“[while torturing Blaine Striker] Let’s see how tough you really are.” – Slade

This is a film that has been in my queue just about as long as I’ve been using Prime Video, which is forever. I’ve set off on a mission, though, to clear out the oldest stuff on all my queues, so why not start at the bottom with a film I’ve let languish there for years.

What sucks about this is that I really enjoy Oliver Reed and I think that James Ryan is sort of cool in a South African David Carradine sort of way. That probably doesn’t make sense to anyone but me but my mind is mush after having to force myself through this 93 minute turd.

I will say that I didn’t mind the opening sequence where the bad guys showed up and murdered the shit out of everyone, even a toddler at a party. I also thought that the big action finale was pretty decent for what it was. However, it’s the middle 70 minutes or so that really sucked the air out of what could’ve been a passable, mindless, ’80s action flick.

The plot surrounds a crazy military general, played by Reed, who leads a coup to overtake a small Caribbean island nation. An “American” racecar driver then flies down there to rescue his brother because racing cars means that you can lead a resistance army against a madman with superior weapons and a complete lack of morals at his disposal.

I’m not gonna lie, though, the premise sounds incredible but with lackluster execution, the best setup will still lead to shit results.

Rage to Kill is a dumb movie. It’s also a really bad movie. I usually don’t mind dumb or bad but when they come together in a certain way, you end up with a cold, lifeless turkey.

Anyway, I hope Oliver Reed got paid, took home a few of the babes from the movie and blew all his earnings living the over-the-top, party life he was famous for.

Rating: 3.5/10
Pairs well with: other extremely low budget ’80s action flicks, as well as other movies with James Ryan.

Film Review: Cyclone (1987)

Also known as: Tornado (Germany)
Release Date: June 5th, 1987
Directed by: Fred Olen Ray
Written by: Paul Garson, T.L. Lankford, Fred Olen Ray (uncredited)
Music by: Haunted Garage, David A. Jackson, Michael Sonye
Cast: Heather Thomas, Jeffrey Combs, Dar Robinson, Martine Beswick, Martin Landau, Huntz Hall, Troy Donahue

Cinetel Films, 89 Minutes

Review:

“You’re as plastic as your tits!” – Teri Marshall

I recently reviewed another Fred OIen Ray movie called Alienator. That was an atrocious motion picture in every way. Cyclone, however, was fairly enjoyable and had the right kind of sexiness and cheesiness that made it an okay way to waste 89 minutes.

Plus, I really liked Heather Thomas when I watched reruns of The Fall Guy when I was a kid in the mid-’80s. Although, who didn’t like Ms. Thomas?

This also features Re-Animator‘s Jeffrey Combs and the great Martin Landau because I guess he needed money at the time. Luckily, his best work was yet to come with 1994’s Ed Wood, even if he appeared to be past his prime when this came out in 1987.

The story is pretty simple. A scientist is building a suped-up, badass motorcycle and everyone wants it for sinister reasons. The scientist is killed in a nightclub with an icepick to the back of his head. His girlfriend, the super sexy Heather Thomas, can’t trust anyone, so she takes the motorcycle and kills the scumbags.

This is a basic ’80s action movie with a cool sci-fi vehicle twist. And while this might not be the best film of its type from its era, it’s still enjoyable and the action sequences are actually better than I thought they’d be. Although, this also baffles me as the action sequences in Alienator were total shit.

Anyway, this is fun, dumb and cool. It’s the perfect sort of film for watching while vegging out on the couch on a rainy day. Plus, it has Heather Thomas in it during her prime. And she’s not the only beauty.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other really low budget ’80s sci-fi and action films.

Film Review: The Untouchables (1987)

Release Date: June 2nd, 1987 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Brian De Palma
Written by: David Mamet
Based on: The Untouchables by Eliot Ness, Oscar Fraley
Music by: Ennio Morricone
Cast: Kevin Costner, Charles Martin Smith, Andy Garcia, Robert De Niro, Sean Connery, Billy Drago, Patricia Clarkson, Brad Sullivan, Clifton James (uncredited)

Paramount Pictures, 119 Minutes

Review:

“You just fulfilled the first rule of law enforcement: make sure when your shift is over you go home alive. Here endeth the lesson.” – Malone

While this isn’t one of my favorite Brian De Palma movies, it was one of my favorite mob movies back when I was a teenager. As a De Palma picture, though, it’s stylistically very different than his other films, especially those that came before it.

Don’t get me wrong, though, I still love the hell out of this movie.

The Untouchables is full of great actors giving solid performances and telling a really compelling and tragic story, as many of the heroes die very violently while trying to bring one of America’s most violent criminals to justice.

This is a balls out, unapologetic movie that doesn’t shy away from some onscreen carnage and while that’s what made me think this was cool as a teen, it’s actually what makes it so effective and real.

Granted, Robert De Niro’s portrayal of Al Capone is inaccurate, as the real man wasn’t as publicly careless as he appears to be in the film. That’s not De Niro’s fault, that’s the script’s fault but at the same time, I don’t mind it, as it is used artistically to convey who Capone was beyond the public facade.

I love the camaraderie between the four heroes in this film, as they all felt truly chummy and it transcended the picture and made their sacrifices come across as even more genuine. You feel it in your gut when Sean Connery is gunned down and it doesn’t really matter how many times one has seen this picture.

The real standout in the cast to me is Billy Drago, who plays Frank Nitti, the sadistic and blatantly evil henchman of Capone. Drago has been a favorite actor of mine since he played the villain, John Bly, in the grossly underappreciated television series The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. Since then, I’ve taken note of everything Drago has been in but then, he’s really hard to miss. Drago takes control of every scene he’s ever been in and can convey chilling villainy like no other actor. That being said, this is probably his greatest and most prolific role.

The movie also has a really unique score, composed by the legendary Ennio Morricone. Even for Morricone, it’s a strange soundtrack while also still sounding like his patented style. I like that this movie allowed Morricone to experiment in a way that he couldn’t when he was doing spaghetti westerns and Italian dramas.

The Untouchables holds up pretty well. It’s not a run of the mill, typical gangster picture. It certainly feels like it’s own thing and I feel like that’s why it still stands out, years later. While I can’t consider it as great as De Palma’s Scarface, Coppola’s Godfather movies or Scorsese’s Goodfellas, it’s still in the upper echelon of the genre.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other Brian De Palma crime films, as well as other Robert De Niro starring crime flicks.