Category Archives: 1985 Films

Private Resort-1985

Private Resort-1985

Director George Bowers

Starring Rob Morrow, Johnny Depp, Hector Elizondo

Scott’s Review #1,382


Reviewed July 26, 2023

Grade: B

Depending on what type of film you are looking for Private Resort (1985) may be just what the doctor ordered.

A version of Animal House (1978) or Porky’s (1981) shifted to a sunny beach resort is the perfect summer setting for a sex romp with enough g-strings, boobs, and bare butts to make even non-prudish viewers blush a little.

Suffice it to say, director George Bowers, mostly known as a film editor, and screenwriter Alan Wenkus wasn’t seeking any Academy Award nominations.

Though silly, thoughtless, and caked with terrible acting Private Resort is a fun flick.

Shamelessly, since its 1985 release the distributors have callously billed mega Hollywood star Johnny Depp as the ‘star’ of this film. Someone even dared to add his photo to the film’s cover art, which I nearly used when creating my film review.

In reality, Depp plays second fiddle to Rob Morrow, who is the film’s real star and proudly displays more bare flesh than Depp does.

Morrow also proudly dons a dress and wig for a lengthy drag performance.

Thankfully, another source cleverly depicts a lineup of bronzed and toned beach bodies donning the letters that spell ‘Private Resort’ (see above) on different cover art.

Horny teenage buddies, Ben and Jack (Morrow and Depp) decide to spend a weekend in a swanky Miami beach resort chasing the flock of equally horny and scantily clad women they encounter.

How they have the money to afford a room is never explained.

Their fun is parlayed when they cross paths with a shifty jewel thief played by Hector Elizondo and his leggy girlfriend Bobbie Sue (Leslie Easterbrook). Throw in a romance with all-American-looking waitress Patti (Emily Longstreth) and sultry Dana (Karyn O’Bryan) and you’ve got a plot.

Bowers throws in enough physical comedy and antics to keep the action moving along in a speedy one-hour and twenty-two-minute running time.

The gags follow films like Caddyshack (1980) or any of the other countless 1980s slapstick comedies and you can pretty much bank on what you’ll be served up.

Why, the opening scene follows a parade of sexy female sunbathers slathering suntan lotion on or suggestively bending over for all to see. Many were uncredited so my hunch is that adult film stars were used.

Morrow is the standout and his boyish charisma lights up the screen especially when he becomes smitten with Patti. The fresh-faced pair make a perfect match and exude young love becoming the heart of the film.

Elizondo and Easterbrook dutifully perform their parts as one-dimensional foils and MILF roles respectively. Decent actors are worlds above any of the other supporting actors in terms of talent. Even comic actress Dody Goodman goes way over the top in her role as the wealthy grandmother to Dana.

Andrew Dice Clay, then known as Andrew Clay also appears.

Private Resort gets a severe wrist-slapping for two crass fat-shaming scenes not worth giving time to other than to mention it’s not kind to plump girls.

I first saw Private Resort (1985) as a teenager when it was first released and loved it. This was before I blossomed into a snobby film critic. Seeing the film a million years later with more sophisticated tastes I still find it fun, especially on a scorching summer night.

That’s got to count for something, right?

Back to the Future-1985

Back to the Future-1985

Director Robert Zemeckis

Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd

Scott’s Review #1,205

Reviewed December 5, 2021

Grade: A-

Being a child of the 1980s films like Back to the Future (1985) left an indelible mark on me. I fondly recall excitedly going to the movie theater on a Saturday afternoon with a giant tub of popcorn in tow and enjoying the hell out of this film.

I’ve subsequently seen it several times since.

There exists a magical, futuristic element that left me and countless other youngsters and adults alike with a sense of wonder. And one amazing car!

Michael J. Fox, a huge television star of the 1980s largely thanks to the sitcom Family Ties, powered through to the big screen with the help of this film and others.

The 1980s was a wonderful decade to grow up in.

Small-town California teen Marty McFly (Fox) is thrown back into the 1950s when an experiment by his eccentric scientist friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) goes awry.

Traveling through time in an amazing DeLorean car, Marty encounters younger versions of his parents (Crispin Glover, Lea Thompson), and must make sure that they fall in love or he will cease to exist.

To further complicate matters, Marty has to then return to his own time and save the life of Doc Brown.

Back to the Future is one of those films that has something for everyone and the stars perfectly aligned to make it a blockbuster popcorn hit. Besides the science fiction elements, there is humor, a cool 1950s throwback vibe, romance, and natural chemistry between Fox and Lloyd who together carry the film.

It’s hardly an art film and goes for the jugular with mainstream additions like a killer soundtrack led by The Power of Love by Huey Lewis and the News which was all over top 40 radio in the summer of ’85. Counterbalancing the current times was another smash hit Johnny B. Goode, a 1958 Chuck Berry tune.

There is a safe vibe for sure and director Robert Zemeckis knows his action-adventure romantic comedies. This may be his best work but he also skews adding much diversity or heavy topics. He simply creates a fun, entertaining film.

Fox is perfectly cast in the role of Marty and I cannot imagine anyone else in the part though method actor Eric Stolz was the original choice and spent several dismal weeks filming scenes until he was replaced.

Fox is the ultimate boy next door, cute but goofy, and relatable to teenage boys across middle America.

Lloyd is perfect as the zany Doc Brown. He is wacky without being too ridiculous and bridges the gap between generations. The character is presumed to be old enough to be Marty’s (in present-day) grandfather and the two characters rely on each other. Back to the Future shows that an unlikely friendship can develop.

The film is also great at depicting the vast differences between the 1950s and the 1980s. At a simpler time, the 1950s are viewed as wholesome while the 1980s are perceived as the decade of excess and some fun is poked at both generations. But, both generations can also connect.

In an acute moment, Marty helps secure his parent’s bond and ensures he is created. This could be viewed as icky to some but the romance between the two parents is tender and sweet. The interactions between all characters are sentimental without being saccharine.

Back to the Future was the feel-good film of 1985 and a must-see for those living in the period. It holds up surprisingly well with then state-of-the-art special effects not now looking dated or laughable. It also explores growing up as an adolescent and identifying with one’s parents and the differences they have.

Who can’t relate to that in some way?

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Song-“The Power of Love, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing (won)

After Hours-1985

After Hours-1985

Director Martin Scorsese

Starring Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette

Scott’s Review #1,069

Reviewed October 9, 2020

Grade: A-

After Hours (1985) is a gem of a film.

When thoughts of director Martin Scorsese are conjured, Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), or Goodfellas (1993) are films that immediately spring to mind.

Scorsese’s decision to create a pared-down independent film was met with enormous success and accolades for the very first Best Feature indie film victory and Best Director honors.

The experience is a black comedy set within the gritty and unpredictable underbelly of Soho-New York City in the 1980s.

Mixing comedy with satire, Scorsese leapfrogs from similar content in The King of Comedy (1983) to this film made only two years later.

Any fan of New York City will cheer with joy at the authenticity achieved since the film was shot on location there. The Big Apple in the 1980s was a notoriously violent cesspool so the genuine setting and the use of dark streets and alleys is an immeasurable treat and adds much zest to this unusual film.

A nice guy, Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne), works hard as a computer data entry worker by day and shares an encounter with a quirky young woman named Marcy Franklin (Rosanna Arquette) in a Manhattan coffee shop.

After she gives him her number and leaves, he is unable to stop thinking about her and embarks on a late-night adventure to go and see her at her apartment.

The night does not end how he thinks it will. Not by a long shot, as he spends the rest of the long night meeting various women and other strange characters as he traverses around the city attempting to get back home. He has lost his money and is broke.

The great aspects of After Hours are its bizarre characters and the cinematography that offers a tantalizing view of downtown Manhattan. The film is atmospheric and zany in its gloomy and steamy side streets and odd locales sprinkled with color.

A dingy bar, a sophisticated artist’s apartment, and a man sculpture that follows Paul everywhere are usurped by the film’s strangest and most interesting set, Club Berlin, an “after-hours” club inhabited by punks who want to shave Paul’s head into a mohawk.

I enjoyed this film as a sort of “A Day in the Life of Paul” adventure story, albeit a gothic one. The film concludes wonderfully as the sun begins to rise just as the film ends and thus Paul’s wild night finally ends.

I was chomping at the bit with the thought of what a new morning would bring and the possibilities of reuniting with any of the women he encountered the night before, either dead or alive.

Particularly charming to me while watching After Hours, the decade of decadence well into the past, are the relics once commonplace in everyday life. A phone booth, the traditional yellow cabs, and desktop personal computers are heavily featured.

These items, relevant when the film was made, now seem like throwback niceties that make the film endearing and like a glimpse into someone’s time capsule.

I did not pick up on much authentic romance between Paul or any of the female characters- Marcy, June, Gail (Catherine O’Hara), or Julie (Teri Garr), but maybe that’s the point. While one winds up dead, not one, but two of them pursue him, and not in a good way.

The film is mystical, weird, and energetic. The inclusion of Cheech & Chong only adds to the revelry.

Sadly, underappreciated and too often forgotten, After Hours (1985) is a Scorsese treat worth dusting off now and then. The birth of the Independent Spirit Awards has a lot to owe to this film for grabbing top honors and the admiration works both ways.

For a glimpse at the creative genius that is Martin Scorsese, this film gets an enormous recommendation.

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: 2 wins-Best Feature (won), Best Director-Martin Scorsese (won), Best Female Lead-Rosanna Arquette, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge-1985

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge-1985

Director Jack Sholder

Starring Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Englund

Scott’s Review #1,024

Reviewed May 18, 2020

Grade: B

While producing a surprising and tantalizing sexual subtext to a standard story and including a male protagonist instead of the generic female, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) sometimes feels overwrought.

With stock characters and not enough scary moments to satisfy bloodthirsty appetites, the effort and aching for something a bit different is apparent if viewers are sharp enough to take a curious peek.

The glossy 1980s cinematic look is cringe-worthy and very “of the time” which usurps the creative tidbits nestled beneath the surface, as deserving of their merits as they are.

Nonetheless, the film is not at all bad, almost feeling fresh by today’s standards, and the familiar villain is worth the price of admission. Once again Freddy baits and taunts his victims, who never stand a chance, with his trademark sneer and razor-sharp nails.

Five years following the events of the first A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), a new family arrives on the cursed block, happily anticipating a new life filled with baked cookies and warm fires.

Parents Ken and Cheryl Walsh (film legend Hope Lange) raise two kids, Angela and Jesse (Mark Patton). The latter is haunted in his dreams by a killer driving a school bus. Jesse is joined by his friend and romantic interest, Lisa (Kim Meyers), school chum Grady (Robert Rusler), and Coach Schneider (Marshall Bell), who may or may not be gay.

An obvious comparison to the similar-themed Friday the 13th franchise, a hot ticket during the 1980s, is the return to a familiar setting.

Elm Street is to A Nightmare on Elm Street what Camp Crystal Lake is to Friday the 13th. The locale is a character itself and knowing that bad stuff will occur there is pleasing to the viewer.

Elm Street is supposed to be a quiet and safe place for families to snuggle in their beds with pets, dreaming the nights away, not worrying about an evil force turning their pleasant dreams into nightmares come to life.

A clever homoerotic tidbit lost on most viewers, emerges nonetheless, especially in hindsight. Let’s remind ourselves that 1985 was not a hotbed of LGBTQ cinematic activity, especially as the horrific A.I.D.S epidemic was front-page news.

Gay-themed films were not the norm, not even in the independent film circuit yet, so any mention of a gay character was a win for the community.

A riveting scene has Jesse dreaming of indulging in a drink at a gay bar and is caught by Schneider, who sends him to the showers. The sexual overtones, obvious now, were not then.

Sadly, this is as far as the film goes with this subject.

The remainder of the story is mostly standard fare, featuring a lively teenage pool party, aqua-net-infused hairstyles, up-tempo pop music, and familiar written characters, most of whom turned up with different faces in the droves of horror films that peppered suburban movie theaters in those days.

Not daring to make Jesse a gay character, though someone humorously made the character’s name androgynous, Jesse and Lisa share a tender kiss in her cabana.

Most sequels pale in comparison to their originals. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) is an adequate follow-up that dares to incorporate as much diversity and inclusiveness as could be mustered in a mainstream film during the mid-1980s.

Let’s not kid ourselves that the studios did not have profit on the mind over credibility and creativity, but the stakes are not exactly played safe which is to its credit.

There were far worse sequels in this franchise yet to come!

The Breakfast Club-1985

The Breakfast Club-1985

Director John Hughes

Starring Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald

Scott’s Review #755

Reviewed May 8, 2018

Grade: A

The Breakfast Club (1985) is one of the most beloved films of the 1980s and perfectly captures being a teenager during this time.

Containing both innocence and authenticity rarely found in films targeted at younger audiences (and there were plenty in the 1980s), the film is timeless and holds up exceptionally well, still feeling fresh.

Director John Hughes avoids cliches and creates genuine truth in cinema. The theme song, “(Don’t You) Forget About Me” is nearly impossible to hear without associating it with this film.

The storyline is uncomplicated; five high school students (Bender, Claire, Andy, Brian, and Allison) of differing social classes gather one Saturday morning in the high school library for a day of detention.

Each student appears to know the others, but only peripherally, having little in common.

Assistant Principal Vernon (Paul Gleason) assigns them to complete a thousand-word essay by the end of the day. The group engages in mischievous antics, and squabbles, and discusses their respective roles and troubles in life throughout the day.

The film looks and feels like a small independent feature rather than a big-budget offering, which is of enormous praise. The cast is very small- only the aforementioned six principles and two minor characters.

The setting is almost entirely inside the walls of a suburban high school with only a few exterior shots to speak of. Mainly what succeeds is that the characters interact with rich dialogue, good texture, and underlying insecurities that make the screenplay bristle with genuine angst.

It is tough to pinpoint who the lead characters would be, but arguably Claire and Bender (Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson) are the pair expected to unite as a couple, as they do in the conclusion- this is predictable yet sweet.

Unexpectedly, however, the film pairs Andy and Allison (Emilio Estevez and Allie Sheedy). Both couples are complete opposites, Claire and Bender even despise each other throughout most of the film but realize their mutual attraction.

Careful not to weigh down the film with too much heavy drama, Hughes, who also wrote and produced the work, peppers in some comedic moments.

Gleason is the easy foil as the sole authority figure, a bit too dedicated to his job of humiliating and disciplining the students, but he does get his due humorously.

Either on-screen or off-screen, no adult figures are written in a positive light giving The Breakfast Club a complete teenage perspective.

But the main appeal goes to the teenagers and the message that Hughes successfully relays- that of the misunderstood young adult. Each character is unhappy in some way and feels put into a category or defined by the individual cliques they each belong to- whether they want to or not.

Hughes makes the film a treasure in terms of relating to the characters- everyone remembers high school and the insecurities wrestled with while attempting to get good grades and obtain acceptance.

Hughes brings these aspects to life with his slice-of-life tale.

Even if every character is not immediately recognized by the viewers themselves, each is empathetic nonetheless. When Andy reveals his father’s criticisms or Bender painfully recounts his father’s physical abuse, we feel for them, suddenly seeing the strong athlete or the burnout from our high school days in an entirely new way.

Mousy Allison gets a makeover from Claire and suddenly shines like a new dime- finally not being ignored. Brian’s overbearing parent’s pressures are almost too much for him to bear.

After the film, we are left to wonder what will happen on Monday morning during homeroom. Will the group continue their new friendships (or more) or simply return to the normalcy of their respective peer groups?

Hughes wisely does not satisfy our piqued curiosity but rather leaves it to our imagination.

The Breakfast Club (1985) holds appeal for the masses without feeling cliched or put upon- only feeling insightful and inspired to accept others we may have preconceived notions about.



Director Peter Weir

Starring Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis

Scott’s Review #754

Reviewed May 7, 2018

Grade: A-

Witness (1985) is a slick crime thriller that may at first glance seem like a by-the-numbers genre film but instead is well above average.

As the plot unfolds there are key nail-biting and edge-of-your-seat scenes that build the tension in a way that the suspense master himself, Alfred Hitchcock would be proud of.

Decades later it is tough to watch the film and not notice a slightly dated quality, but at the time it was well-regarded and terrifically paced.

Charismatic Harrison Ford and novice child actor Lukas Haas make the film more than it could have been.

The setting of the film is twofold and presents two different cultures- rural Pennsylvania’s Amish country and the bustling metropolitan Philadelphia.

The death of her husband leads Amish woman Rachel (Kelly McGillis) and her son Samuel (Haas) to the big city to see her sister. While transferring trains Samuel witnesses a brutal murder in the men’s room- unbeknownst to the killers.

This riveting scene (explained more below) triggers the rest of the story.

When Detective John Book (Ford) is assigned to the case and questions Samuel, he is unable to determine who the assailants are. After Samuel’s fingers, an unthinkable suspect, events escalate and John uncovers a mighty corruption circuit within the police force.

John, now targeted, must assimilate into the Amish culture as he strives to protect both Samuel and Rachel (as well as keep himself alive) while embarking on a relationship with Rachel.

The story wisely focuses on the differing lifestyles of the principal characters.

What I enjoy most about Witness is the nice mix between both types of people and different cultures and how they can learn from one another. John is so used to and desensitized by being in the midst of the rat race that he often forgets the nicer things in life- peace or even love.

Rachel and Samuel, of course, are highly sheltered, living in a bubble, and are fish out of water amid the bustling streets of Philadelphia. The counter-cultures offer a nice balance in this masculine film with female sensibilities.

Not to be usurped by pure romance, Witness is at its core, a fleshy, male-driven crime thriller. Adding some softer edges, Weir pleases both male and female audience members and appeals to the masses.

John’s precinct, filled with detectives, police officers, and criminals, gives the film appropriate “guy elements”.

So director Peter Weir offers a good balance here.

I like how Weir chooses to portray the Amish- not caricatures, stereotypes, or to be made fun of, they are sweet, stoic, and intelligent, accepting of John in their lives.

As John learns more about the Amish culture and becomes one of them, this is even more prevalent as an immersion of different cultures- a good lesson to even apply to other differences between peoples.

The acting is a strong component of Witness. Charismatic and handsome, Ford is believable as a fast-paced, busy detective. To add further substance, Ford transforms his character (written as one-note in typical films of this nature) into a sympathetic and inspiring man as he slowly becomes a father figure to wide-eyed youngster Samuel and falls in love with Rachel.

Ford is the standout, but the film would not work with fewer supporting actors. Both innocent and gentle characters, McGillis and Haas add layers to their roles with pronounced toughness and resilience- saving John as much as he saves them.

Two scenes are pure standouts and successfully elicit tension and dramatic effect.

As Samuel witnesses the murder in the bathroom, he is seen in a stall peeking through a crack with only one eye exposed. When he makes a slight noise the assailant violently goes through each stall intent on shooting whatever he finds.

Samuel must think quickly to avoid being caught. The camera goes back and forth between Samuel’s looks of panic and the assailant getting closer and closer to catching him.

Viewer’s hearts will pound during this scene.

Later, as Samuel sees a newspaper clipping framed among a case of awards, he recognizes one man as the assailant. Weir shoots it in slow motion so that the reactions of John and Samuel’s characters are palpable and effective.

The scene is tremendously done and cements the bond and trust between these characters.

Thanks to a wonderful performance by Ford and the cast surrounding him, Witness (1985) successfully widens the traditionally one-dimensional masculine crime thriller into something deeper.

Providing slick entertainment with a great story and substance, the film crosses genres and offers a substantial cinematic experience woefully needed in the mid-1980s.

Oscar Nominations: 2 wins-Best Picture, Best Director-Peter Weir, Best Actor-Harrison Ford, Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (won), Best Original Score, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing (won)



Director Tobe Hooper

Starring Steve Railsback, Peter Firth

Scott’s Review #516


Reviewed November 11, 2016

Grade: F

Lifeforce, a film made in 1985, is a film that I did not enjoy at all.

It tells the story of a team of astronauts who find three pods of seemingly human bodies, who eventually return the bodies to Earth and turn said humans into zombies.

That is it in a nutshell.

The story makes no sense whatsoever and there is no rhyme or reason for the actions of the characters except to further the plot.

No mention or details as to why they are in outer space or anything that drives the character’s motives.

The film is way too complicated for its good and would have been wiser to go for a straightforward action film rather than what we are treated to (a combo sci-fi/horror mess).

The special effects are completely dated and very cheesy.

Lifeforce (1985) is completely plot-driven and I did not find it gripping at all and is a waste of time that deserves to be completely forgotten.

A View to a Kill-1985

A View to a Kill-1985

Director John Glen

Starring Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Grace Jones

Scott’s Review #484


Reviewed September 21, 2016

Grade: A

Not exactly deemed a masterpiece, or even a treasured favorite, among the masses of James Bond lovers, A View to a Kill (1985) holds a soft spot for me.

It is one of the first Bond films that I was fortunate enough to see in the movie theater and it has continued to enamor me all these decades later.

Yes, it has flaws (to be mentioned later), but it is a classic, fun, exciting, mid-1980s Bond offering. It contains Roger Moore- in his final Bond appearance, the exotic Grace Jones, a great villain, and on-location treats such as Paris and Iceland- who could ask for anything more?

We are re-introduced to MI-6 agent James Bond on the snowy slopes of Siberia as he discovers the body of 003, along with a Soviet microchip believed to belong to the wealthy Max Zorin (Christopher Walken).

Bond attends a horse sale hosted by Zorin and discovers he is drugging the horses to make them perform better.

It is also revealed that he intends to destroy Silicon Valley to rule the microchip industry. In Zorin’s camp is a mysterious woman named May Day and an odd Nazi scientist named Dr. Carl Mortner.

Events conclude in San Francisco as the action-packed finale takes place in a mine and overlooking (via blimp) the historic Golden Gate Bridge.

I completely get the criticisms hurled at this film- both Roger Moore and, as a secondary character, Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny, had gotten quite long in the tooth by this point in the franchise (1985), which is a shame because both are favorites of mine.

Most glaring in the “bad” department is Tanya Roberts as the main Bond girl, Stacy Sutten- almost rivaling Halle Berry (Die Another Day) as screamingly awful.

Not appearing as a major character until quite late in the film, Stacey is a wealthy heir, to who Zorin is attempting to pay five million dollars to relinquish her shares in Silicon Valley (she refuses).

Robert’s acting is quite poor- she has no chemistry with Moore, and comes across as a dimwit, despite being written as a doctor or scientist of some sort. Regardless, she does not work as a Bond girl.

Yes, the cartoon-like chase around San Francisco with the brooding police chief is unintentionally funny- another negative to the film.

But here are some strengths- Fantastic is Walken as the main villain role of Zorin. Psychotic, loony tunes, and such a pleasure to watch. With his bleached blonde hair and grimacing sneer, a particularly controversial, and favorite scene of mine is when Zorin, machine gun in hand, sprays bullets from left to right, undoubtedly killing dozens, as he gleefully laughs.

This was unprecedented in Bond films up to this point as most villains contained a safer personality- Zorin is positively monstrous and to be feared.

Also worth mentioning is Jones as May Day, simply mesmerizing in the role- although sadly her character is weakened toward the end did she believe Zorin was capable of love??

Countering the anemic chemistry between Bond and Roberts, the chemistry between Jones and Moore sizzles.

This is not the first time Bond has explored an interracial (white and black) romance- far from it. Live and Let Die- circa 1973 takes this honor. I would have enjoyed much more exploration on an emotional level between Bond and May Day instead of the animalistic physical attraction.

One may wonder with all the recognizable flaws with the film, why the A-rating? Because simply put this film is fun and contains all the elements a Bond film ought to. The action is plentiful- who can forget the nail-biting Eifel Tower chase or the Paris car chase- sans car roof?

Not high art, but a grand favorite of mine, A View to a Kill (1985) is entertainment personified. The pop title-theme song, performed by Duran Duran, which became a #1 hit in the summer of 1985, is a wonderful aspect of the film and immediately takes me back to a different time.

I suppose the film does as well and that is a great part of my fondness for it.

The Color Purple-1985

The Color Purple-1985

Director Steven Spielberg

Starring Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey

Scott’s Review #358


Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

Steven Spielberg, admittedly a director who focuses more on sentimentality, mixes heartbreak with the courage to blend a recipe that makes for a perfect, mainstream film from 1985.

It is a different direction for him- far extreme from the summer blockbusters he was known for until this time.

Exceptional acting and cinematography lend themselves to The Color Purple, a film based on the much darker novel by Alice Walker. Certainly, one of the best films of the 1980s.

A relative unknown when the film was made, Whoopi Goldberg gives an astounding performance in the lead role.

The film spans approximately forty years in the early twentieth century and is set in rural Georgia.

Celie Harris (Goldberg) is an oppressed black woman, her sister and best friend Nettie is sent away, leaving Celie a virtual prisoner with a man, Albert Johnson (Danny Glover), whom she is forced to marry and care for in addition to his children.

Raped and beaten, Celie is left with little self-worth until two women, rotund, feisty, Sophia (Oprah Winfrey), and Shug (Margaret Avery) inspire her to be something better.

The Color Purple is a very sentimental film filled with inspiration for anyone beaten down or otherwise abused by people or by society.

The depiction of southern life for blacks, especially black women is depicted well, though softened I have no doubt. Liberties must be taken for the sake of film as black men, in particular, are not portrayed well- surely there must have been some decent black men in this time?

But, despite Spielberg being a male, The Color Purple is told from a definite female perspective.

Her role of Celie is Goldberg’s finest and hers is a case of the Academy getting it all wrong; she should have won an Oscar for this performance instead of a conciliation win a few years later for her secondary (and unremarkable) role in Ghost.

Goldberg never achieved any roles as great as Celie.

Her expressions and mannerisms spoke volumes and her occasional wide, beaming smile would melt the coldest heart.

Winfrey, equally brilliant as Sophia (and also robbed at Oscar’s time), is a completely different character. Angry, abrasive, and outspoken, she fills Sophia with life and energy, which makes her big scene heartbreaking to watch.

Defying a white man she is beaten and arrested and reduced to living out her days as a limping maid to a white woman- who she swore she would never serve.

The cinematography and direction of The Color Purple are grand.

Spielberg does a believable job of depicting time accurately. The costumes worn by the cast and the lighting, in general, are bright and colorful, and I think this gives the film a flavor that is nice to watch.

Again, Walker’s novel and the real-life experience were undoubtedly much darker, but for the film’s sake, this adaptation (numerous stage versions preceded and followed) makes for a wonderful film.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress-Whoopi Goldberg, Best Supporting Actress-Margaret Avery, Oprah Winfrey, Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Original Score, Best Original Song-“Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)”, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup, Best Costume Design



Director Jonathan Lynn

Starring Christopher Lloyd, Eileen Brennan, Madeline Kahn

Top 100 Films #61

Scott’s Review #341


Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

Clue is a harmless, 1985 comic yarn that is not a cinematic masterpiece, nor anything more than fluff.

But since I adored the classic board game growing up and reveled in the excitement of the different characters, rooms, and murder weapons, the film version holds a very special place in my heart and memory bank, having watched it time and time again as a youngster.

The plot is immediately filled with intrigue- a successful element and the best part of the film.

Six interesting characters- with provocative aliases such as Ms. Scarlet, Colonel Mustard, and Mrs. Peacock, are all summoned to a New England mansion named Hill House.

Naturally, it is a dark, stormy night and each receives a mysterious note written by a stranger.

Among the colorful characters working at the mansion are the plump cook, the scantily dressed maid, Yvette, and the butler, Wadsworth, who is running the show and greets the confused guests.

Slowly, it is revealed that all of the guests are being blackmailed and all of them either live or have ties to Washington D.C.

After each guest is given a weapon as a gift, the lights go out and a murder occurs, launching a fun whodunit. Each guest, and the staff, strive to figure out who has committed the murder, as subsequent murders begin to occur.

The comic hi-jinks are reminiscent of funny films like High Anxiety (1977)  and even Young Frankenstein (1974).

The atmospheric qualities featured in Clue are what I love most about the film- the vast mansion, the many gorgeously decorated rooms, the secret passageways, and the driving rain all make for a great ambiance.

Clue is clever in that it features three different endings!  Upon initial theatrical release, this was a unique premise- one could see the film multiple times and not know how it was to end or who the killer might be revealed to be.

Unfortunately, the film was not a commercial success so this ploy did not work.

The famed cast delivers their parts with comic gusto, and with lesser talents, the film would simply be dumb. It seems obvious that the cast had a good old time with this romp- Eileen Brennan, Christopher Lloyd, Lesley Ann Warren, and Madeline Khan, have a comic ball with their perfect delivery of the lines.

Clue is not a message movie, it does not inspire cinematic art, but what it does, it does incredibly well- it entertains.

The writing and the political and sexual innuendos are witty. One can become lost in the interesting characters and try to guess, or even make up, the whodunit and why they did it.

I can be entertained by Clue (1985) time and time again.

Kiss of the Spider Woman-1985

Kiss of the Spider Woman-1985

Director Hector Babenco

Starring William Hurt, Raul Julia

Scott’s Review #187


Reviewed October 24, 2014

Grade: B+

1985 was not the best year for film nor was much of the 1980s, as I think about it, but unique standouts do exist and Kiss of the Spider Woman is an unusual and artistic film.

Set in present-day South America (Brazil) two men are imprisoned for very different reasons and are cellmates in the prison where they are captives.

Complete opposites, they form an unlikely bond, centering on friendship, but also skirting toward romance, flirtation, and at times, love.

Luis Molina is outwardly homosexual and extremely flamboyant and perhaps out of touch with reality as he fantasizes and describes romantic Nazi films. He is imprisoned for not only being homosexual but for having sex with an underage male.

The other man, Valentin Arregui, is a liberal, political activist, who has been beaten, tortured, and interrogated due to his revolutionary-leaning politics. He has a rough, macho edge to him.

On the surface, the two men have nothing in common, but due to proximity, forge a close bond and mutual respect as their lives pre-imprisonment are explained to each other as well as to the audience.

The true strength of this film is the performance, very against type, of William Hurt- the best performance of his career by a mile. He completely embodies the character of Luis in his effeminacy, yearning, pain, and obsession with escaping reality through film.

Raul Julia has the same effect, though in a completely different way, as he portrays Valentin. Luis tenderly comforts Valentin, who is being poisoned by prison officials, by incorporating his stories of films into Valentin’s real life, as he yearns for his separated lover, Marta.

As Luis begins falling in love with Valentin, and one is seemingly double-crossed by the other, it leads to a test of courage and dedication to each other.

The ending of the film is a sad one, dark, yet thought-provoking, and shows love, tenderness, and bravery.

My only negative from Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) is at moments, using the flashback series or through the film that Luis explains, it is tough to follow and surmise what is exactly going on in the story, but the performances of Hurt and Julia, and the chemistry between them, are the films major strengths.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Picture, Best Director-Hector Babenco, Best Actor-William Hurt (won), Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: 1 win-Best International Film (won)

Friday the 13th: Part V: A New Beginning-1985

Friday the 13th: Part V: A New Beginning-1985

Director Danny Steinmann

Starring Melanie Kinnaman, John Sheperd

Scott’s Review #118


Reviewed July 17, 2014

Grade: B

The fifth installment of the seemingly never-ending Friday the 13th franchise, Part V (1985) offers viewers a twist, one that sadly did not go over well with horror audiences.

Hardly high art, and hated by myself initially, I have grown a fondness for this film over the years after repeated viewings.

Originally, I was not crazy about the twist at the end of the film, but I now recognize, for this type of film, an appreciation for trying something different.

The lighting is brighter and more modern than its predecessor, Part IV, despite being made only a year later.

There is greater comedy in this one- the hillbillies are laugh-out-loud funny and the waitress scene is howlingly awful in the acting department most of the acting is atrocious and can be laughed at, but a much-needed change of setting away from Camp Crystal Lake works and seems refreshing.

The final victim is, for a change, not a teenager, but a mature, intelligent young woman.

Released smack dab in the middle of the 1980s, the film has a jarring dated look to it, which doesn’t do the film any favors in the longevity department.

The film cannot compare to the original or even the first three installments (the best in my opinion), but more experimental than any of the others, which deserves some credit.