All posts by qwipster

Hands of Steel (1986) | Sergio Martino



Hands of Steel is an Italian-produced film obviously influenced by James Cameron’s The Terminator if combined with the basic plot of First Blood. Set in the near future, we find a beefy thug (Daniel Greene) has been brainwashed by the evil head of a pollution-spewing corporation called the Turner Foundation, headed by John Saxon’s Francis Turner, we soon learn, to assassinate a popular ecological guru leading an environmental movement that is set to make major radical changes to the drastically worsening country. But he’s no ordinary thug; Paco Queruak is a war veteran that was left for dead before getting his body used for a radical cyborg assassin experiment, rendering him with an electronic mind and a body of hardened steel, underneath his very human-like exterior. However, at the last second, his human side begins to question what he’s doing, leaving him on the run from the organization that made him in order to hide their tracks. Paco goes on the lam to his old stomping grounds in Arizona, where he meets a lovely motel and bar owner named Linda who offers him room and board in exchange for doing some chores around the property.  Meanwhile, he engages the locals in arm wrestling contests he can easily best them in. Meanwhile, he’s being pursued by a world-class hitman, and also the FBI.


Cyborg (1989) | Albert Pyun



In the future, New York, after the dreaded nuclear holocaust, is a wasteland of lawlessness and gangland thuggery. Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a skilled martial arts warrior named Gibson Rickenbacker, a “slinger”(aka, a mercenary for hire helping refugees), who fights for and rescues a woman named Pearl Prophet from a horde of marauders. It turns out that the woman is a woman no longer, but rather, a cyborg transformed in order to gather information and transport it to Atlanta in the hope of turning the tide on the widespread plague that has threatened humanity with extinction. However, the leader of the marauders is the fearsome psychopath, Fender Tremolo, a man who has history with Gibson and has ruined his life in the past. Fender steals her back because he wants the cure for himself, and it’s up to Gibson, along with his newly found tag-along Nady Simmons, to become Earth’s last hope.


RoboCop (1987) | Paul Verhoeven



RoboCop is set in near-future Detroit, where the city streets are just about completely dominated by the criminal element, while the police are neither respected nor welcome; they are virtually walking targets out there.  Desperate to clean up the crime-ridden community and build a gleaming new one in its place, the government officials turn to OCP, Omni Consumer Products, to build and manufacture the future of law enforcement, robotic police that are more powerful and well-armed than anything anyone has ever seen.  However, when the first prototypes prove inconsistent, the city officials balk at the idea, so an upstart faction within the OCP comes up with a newer, more “human” cop, a cyborg built using the remnant body of downed officer Alex Murphy (Peter Weller), and dubbed simply as “RoboCop”.Things proceed splendidly for the RoboCop program, that is, until the human side of the cyborg begins to recollect his past life as Murphy, plagued with flashbacks to the family he lost and the psychopathic criminals who all but ended his life as he knew it.  Determined to bring the bad guys that did him in to justice, RoboCop sets out on a mission of his own, not realizing that the gang in question is actually in cahoots with a rogue entity within the OCP, who for all intents and purposes, also own the city, the police department, and the machine side of Murphy. Paul Verhoeven directs this scathing and potent satire on American commercialism and privatization.


Overboard (1987) | Garry Marshall



Goldie Hawn plays the ultra-disdainful Joanna Slayton, who hires a carpenter, Dean Proffitt (Kurt Russell), while stopping off for repairs in their luxury yacht off the coast of the small town of Elk Cove, Oregon, with her snobby hubby Grant (Edward Herrmann), in order to remodel her closet space for her extensive designer clothing collection. The two don’t see eye to eye on his work, and Joanna refuses payment, leaving him walking away miffed, especially as she also tosses him and his pricey tools overboard. When Joanna ends up falling off the yacht, she ends up drifting ashore with amnesia. Grant sees this as his opportunity to sow some wild oats, while Dean, seeing her story on the news, sees a way to get payback by claiming she is his wife Annie and making her do all of the household chores for him and his four bratty boys. Annie knows nothing about such matters but soon settles into the role Dean tells her she has always had, but as the two grow feelings for one another, there will be a reckoning should she ever remember where she actually came from. Garry Marshall directs.


American Dreamer (1984) | Rick Rosenthal



JoBeth Williams stars as suburban Ohio housewife and mother Cathy Palmer, who escapes her joyless marriage in her spare time by reading her favorite romantic thriller novels, all starring a Modesty Blaise-like globe-hopping female private detective, Rebecca Ryan. She loves them so much, she enters a Rebecca Ryan fan fiction writing contest in which the winner of the would-be authors scores an all-expenses-paid trip to Paris, including seeing all the famous sights, as well as meeting the author of the novels herself, Margaret McMann.  When her selfish hubby tells her he has no time for it, and she should just not go at all, Cathy decides she’s going to Paris alone if she must, leaving him and their two boys behind for the week. A curious thing happens on the trip, as Cathy ends up taking a blow to the head after getting hit by a car while pursuing some purse thieves, and when she awakens in the hospital, she not only forgets she’s Cathy, but she thinks she’s the heroine of her novels, Rebecca Ryan herself. She begins her make-over to glamour and adventure, all the while imagining everyone and everything around her is part of a plot of one of the novels, including the leader of the French opposition party, whom she suspects is part of her mission to help protect.  Meanwhile, she mistakes Englishman Alan McMann, Margaret’s son (played by Scottish actor, Tom Conti), as her partner-in-crime-solving, Dmitri, and the two get themselves into a heap of real trouble as she dives head-first into snooping around where she doesn’t belong without the skills or expertise to truly know what she’s doing.


Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) | Susan Seidelman



Rosanna Arquette stars as Roberta Glass, a dreamer New Jersey housewife who contents herself to reading about the mysterious lives of others through perusing the personals in the local paper.  One in particular has caught her eye, involving “Jim and Susan” (Susan is played by Madonna) who use the ads in order to meet in public places.  Curious Roberta heads out to catch a glimpse of the two when they meet in New York City, and. through a mishap, ends up with amnesia, not to mention a case of mistaken identity that sees her playing the role of being Susan herself.  Trouble is, the artsy hipster Susan is being followed by a crazed thug (Will Patton) intent on recovering some heisted priceless Egyptian artifacts that end up given to Jim, earrings that have been seen in the real Susan’s possession.  With the help of Jim’s friend Dez (Aidan Quinn), who also mistakenly thinks Roberta is Susan, she must traverse this dangerous territory and find meaning to her own life, even if she has to live the life of another to do it. Susan Seidelman directs this whimsical, artsy farce.


She-Devil (1989) | Susan Seidelman



Roseanne Barr stars as Ruth Pratchett, a devoted wife to her accountant hubby Bob (Ed Begley Jr.), and mother to two precocious children.  One day while attending a swank party, Bob meets and eventually has a fling with best-selling romance novelist Mary Fisher (Meryl Streep), and while they do their best to keep things under wraps, Ruth knows better.  As their marriage falls apart, Ruth vows revenge, and set about destroying all of the things good old Bob and his mistress hold dear – his home, his family, his career, and his freedom. Susan Seidelman directs this cult comedy.


The Jewel of the Nile (1985) | Lewis Teague



In this follow-up to the 1984 hit, Romancing the Stone, it’s hard to live up to a “happily ever after ending”, especially for a successful romance novelist like Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner), who has learned more about romance in the chase than she does in the union of the two would-be lovebirds.  It’s affecting her work, as she struggles to come up with new dreams and situations to fuel her romance novels, resulting in a prolonged bout of writer’s block. As Joan and her hunky man of adventure, Jack Colton (Michael Douglas), have spent their time living the life of luxury partying in Cannes and sailing on their yacht off the French Riviera, boredom begins to set in, realizing the excitement in their lives lie more in reminiscing, causing them to wonder if their good run of romance has run out as they near the expectation of their marriage in Greece.

When a well-known leader within the fictional North African country of Kadir, a supremely wealthy sheikh named Omar (Spyros Fokas), approaches her to write his life’s story, on the hope of elevating his status among his people to become the new emperor there, Joan sees new possibilities to change her scenery, her outlook, and her horizons as a writer.  Jack and Joan reluctantly split up, but when Jack catches wind that Omar may be in possession of the mysteriously alluring “Jewel of the Nile”, his soldier-of-fortune ways get the better of him, so he decides to get a closer look in Kadir, as does the diminutive lowlife named Ralph (Danny DeVito), who insists that Jack owes him enough for them to help each other get the jewel and split their fortune.  Meanwhile, Joan discovers that Omar’s dark side and his attempt at a bloody power grab, leading her to try to get the scoop, as well as help spring a valuable prisoner who is seen as a folk hero to the people of the region, and therefore, Omar’s greatest threat to be respected as leader.


Romancing the Stone (1984) | Robert Zemeckis



Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner), a best-selling writer of romance novels, has little romance in her own life. She dreams of a tall, dark and handsome man to rescue her and whisk her off her feet, much like the hero in her series of sexy adventure novels, though her waiting for her idealized man may be the reason why she is still single. When Joan’s sister is kidnapped, Joan must travel to Colombia to give some baddies a mysterious map she was sent by her recently butchered brother-in-law to free her. Unfortunately, the corrupt local police are after the same map and when Joan takes the wrong bus upon arrival, she soon finds herself on the run for her life. She comes across a local soldier of fortune named Jack Colton (Michael Douglas), who agrees to escort her to the nearest phone booth (for a price), but soon discovers the journey will be harder than they bargained for. Jack has the idea that they should follow the map to get to the treasure it points to, because it is the treasure and not the map that is the true bargaining chip. Could this be the adventure she has searched for all her life?  Danny DeVito co-stars in this Robert Zemeckis film.


Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) | Steven Spielberg



Last Crusade begins with River Phoenix playing a young Indiana Jones, even at a young age, having a thirst for adventure.  His father (Connery), who is also professor of Medieval literature, is acutely obsessed with tracking down any information he can get regarding the whereabouts of the legendary Holy Grail, the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper, and, as a result, little attention is paid to young Indy.  Flash forward to 1938, where Indiana (Harrison Ford) finds that his father has been kidnapped by the Nazis, who are also looking for the Holy Grail, and the legendary powers of immortality it may hold.  Indy and his dad have never quite seen eye to eye, which makes Indiana’s subsequent rescue attempts all the more interesting, as he tries to impress a man who only lives for the Grail.  Steven Spielberg directs, with another memorable John Williams score in what was intended to be the iconic character’s final cinematic adventure.


Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) | Steven Spielberg



While INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM is a sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, it’s really a prequel, set in 1935, a year before.  Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) finds himself in Shanghai on the hunt for a precious diamond, but gets in over his head, chased out of town with his assistant, a young boy nicknamed Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan), and Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw), a ditsy, blonde, nightclub singer.  Having to make a hasty exit into the Himalayas from a crashing airplane, Indy and friends find themselves in a starving village in India, who see their visitors as saviors destined to save their children who they believe have been taken away by resurrected forces of evil at a formerly abandoned palace.  The trio set off for the palace in search of lost children, a sacred stone…and fortune and glory.


Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) | Steven Spielberg



The year is 1936, just before the rise of Hitler and the Nazi regime.  Hitler has been seeking the long-lost Ark of the Covenant, the container for the original tablets containing the Ten Commandments, reportedly used by God’s people in the days of old to crush their enemies using its vast powers.  For over 2,000 years, the Ark has been completely hidden somewhere, and the Nazis are digging in one of the sites reported to be a resting place for it.  The American government seeks fame and fortune hunter, Dr. Henry Jones, to find the Ark before it ends up in the wrong hands, but it’s easier said than done, as he must not only face peril at every turn, he must bring along an old flame who no longer has much tolerance for the likes of Indiana Jones.

Harrison Ford would catapult to super-stardom after this one, with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas solidifying their place as they greatest blockbuster filmmakers of their generation. Can’t forget that amazing John Williams score, either.


The Goonies (1985) | Richard Donner



Sean Astin stars as Mikey, the youngest of two brothers who are about to move from their home in Astoria, Oregon because their family lacks the funds to stop a developer from taking over the area to expand a lush country club.  This would end many friendships with the other children in the area, which they’ve dubbed “the Goondocks”, and their crew call themselves The Goonies, who are united in their quest for adventure and shenanigans.  Things take an interesting turn when a map is discovered in Mikey’s father’s collection of antiques in their attic, which promises to lead to the secret fortune of the infamous One-Eyed Willy, whose cache of jewels promises to make them rich beyond imagination, once they get though all the pirate booty-traps (er, I mean, booby-traps).  The gang end up finding the entrance to the caves where the loot is hidden, but a rival group of thieves threatens to get there first, and to kill anyone who gets in their way. Steven Spielberg produces, Chris Columbus scripts, and Richard Donner directs.  Also features Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman, Jonathan Ke Quan, Kerri Green, Martha Plimpton, Anne Ramsey, John Matuszak, Robert Davi, and Joe Pantoliano.


Batteries Not Included (1987) | Matthew Robbins



Real-life married couple Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy star as Frank and Faye Riley, the owners of a small diner in a dilapidated building that also houses their apartment in the slums of Manhattan.  The rest of the tenants of the building are being paid off to evacuate ASAP, so that greedy land developers can take over and demolish the building in order to erect some high-rise corporate edifices.  Those that refuse are being threatened with injury “or worse” by some local thugs that are also on the corporate payroll to scare the bejesus out of the remaining tenants.  Without anyone to turn to, a desperate plea may have saved the day, as a couple of miniature flying saucers arrive, consuming metal materials and then fixing up damaged parts of the building.  The saucers befriend the remaining tenants, although the thugs and land developers are determined to put an end to this new development even if it costs lives in the process.  Steven Spielberg produced this quaint sci-fi fairy tale.


The Blues Brothers (1980) | John Landis



The film starts out with Jake Blues (John Belushi) being released from prison, picked up by his brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) in a used cop car turned “Blues Mobile”.  They make good on a promise to visit the orphanage they grew up in, only to find it is in danger of being shut down, due needing $5,000 in tax money owed.  With only days to go before it is too late, the Blues Brothers are inspired by a vision from God to save the orphanage, which they plan to do by reuniting the band they played in.  This proves to be a tough task, as all of the members have moved on to other occupations.  Not only this, but along the way, they manage to piss off the police, the Illinois Nazi Party, and just about everyone else they come across in their bid to make enough money to deliver by the deadline without getting caught, or worse.