John Travolta stars as Jack Terry, a sound effects engineer for cheapie horror exploitation flicks. When a producer deems the victim’s screams and wind effects used in their slasher film as substandard, Jack determines to capture new recordings. While outdoors, his tape captures audio from a nearby car careening off of a bridge and into a river after its tire blows out. Jack jumps to action to save a drowning woman (Nancy Allen) from the vehicle, but the driver dies, later revealed to be the presidential frontrunner, Pennsylvania Governor George McRyan. While listening to the tape, Jack hears a gunshot just before the blowout, suggesting it was no accident. It’s revealed that a photographer in the area (Dennis Franz) captured film of the incident, which Jack synchronizes with his audio, proving an assassin was the cause. The authorities and media want the proof, but an assassin (John Lithgow) seeks to silence Jack’s obsessive quest for truth. Brian De Palma writes and directs this potent political thriller.
Real Genius centers on several students at Pac Tech, an institution esteemed for its technological breakthroughs. They’re currently working on a project to build a high-powered laser. The project is led by an egotistical professor and TV science show host named Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton), who has been employed by a clandestine group within the Pentagon for Operation Crossbow, whereby the military will use the laser to vaporize targets from space with sniper-like precision.
Enter 15-year-old genius Mitch Taylor (Gabe Jarrett), recruited by Hathaway to start college early at Pacific Tech. He rooms with the school’s prior hot prodigy, a rebellious and smart-alecky senior named Chris Knight (Val Kilmer), who has decided there’s more value in being a slacker than to continue showing everyone he’s the smartest person on campus. Knight’s shenanigans have Hathaway, who must produce the results in an accelerated four months instead of the originally intended eighteen, threatening to kick him out of school if he doesn’t assist in completing the laser in the allotted time. Martha Coolidge directs.
The story of Sheena involves a young girl orphaned after her geologist parents are killed in a cave-in while exploring the source of mystical healing soil found near the jungle in the fictional African country of Tigora. The native Zambouli villagers immediately adopt the girl, dubbing her “Sheena,” prophecied to be their savior and the future queen of the jungle. Sheena grows up to be a strikingly beautiful woman (Tanya Roberts), learning how to communicate and control animals with her mind, ride a zebra, and other mystical arts.
Trouble brews in her territory when Prince Otwani (Trevor Thomas), an ex-football placekicker, joins in a plot to assassinate his brother, King Jabalani (Clifton Jones) so that he can gain untold riches from the fertile Zambouli lands he’s been protecting. Shaman, one of the Zambouli leaders, is framed for the killing. Still, a visiting American sports news crew, led by charismatic sports reporter Vic Casey (Ted Wass), captures the events as they happen, showing that a significant coup was in play. Otwani, wanting the incriminating tape back at any cost, sets about capturing Vic before he can escape, but with the help of Sheena and her animal friends, Casey means to get out of the country to set the record straight.
John Guillermin directs.
The simple premise: A killer android (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent back to 1984 to assassinate the mother (Linda Hamilton) of a resistance leader of the future. A soldier of that resistance (Michael Biehn) is also sent back to protect her from harm, but the killer android is virtually unstoppable in its mission. This classic science fiction/action/horror/thriller represents the best in all of those genres that the 1980s has to offer. James Cameron put his name on the map with this action masterpiece.
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.
Dreamscape stars Dennis Quaid as a psychic enlisted into a top-secret government experiment that puts him into the nightmares of another person in order to cure them. However, when the President of the United States becomes the subject, he finds himself embroiled in a plot to assassinate the world leader in his sleep. Kate Capshaw, Max von Sydow and Christopher Plummer co-star in this low-budget but high-concept sci-fi/thriller that would be the precursor to a great many genre films, including THE MATRIX.