Category Archives: 80’s movies

Graphic Horror: The Monster of Frankenstein

The Monster of Frankenstein aka Kyōfu Densetsu Kaiki! Frankenstein 1981

Another day, another obscure Marvel anime released by Toei in the early 80’s. This was produced just one year after their Tomb of Dracula adaptation, this time they adapted yet another Marvel adaptation of a classic horror icon with Frankenstein. There were a couple things that I noticed very early on when comparing the two films, first is that many of the American dub voice actors would later go on to lend their voices to the iconic original dub of Akira. And second, that this was a much better film overall than Dracula. It’s still a long ways away from being a good movie, but it’s not the hilariously bad mess that Dracula was. This was a very serious and somber look at the tale of Frankenstein with a combination of some unique ideas as well as some of the standard ones. For the most part, I did enjoy it even if I knew how it was going to end up.

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Graphic Horror: Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned

Yami no teiô kyuketsuki dorakyura aka Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned 1980

It’s October and I’m kicking it off with my first Graphic Horror post for the month. After Marvel had a string of failures in their TV movies in the late 70’s and their one success with the Incredible Hulk, they also sold the rights to some of their other comics including their Frankenstein series and the Tomb of Dracula which introduced Blade to Toei Animation. Toei is probably most well known for being the studio behind Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon, but before either of them came this cheaply animated made-for-TV film. It was later dubbed and released in the US in VHS and Beta but has since gone out of print and isn’t available on DVD, though copies have made their way online. I of course watched the English dub and found it hilariously awful. There is so much going on in this film and very little of it makes any sense that it’s amazing to watch. I found myself laughing uproariously through much of the run time even though I did have to split my viewing across two nights.
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Buckaroo Banzai

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension 1984

I don’t often spend a lot of time thinking about my criteria for what makes a superhero movie vs. some other category of film similar to a superhero movie. Like the difference between a superhero movie and a straight up sci-fi movie, or a cop vigilante film, or a martial arts film. I have thought about it in the past, enough to come up with a specific set of criteria that still allows for enough wiggle room for my personal preference to come into play. No matter what anyone tells me, I don’t think I’m ever going to be convinced that Baby Geniuses 2: Superbabies is actually a superhero movie because there’s no way I’m going to actually watch it. Looking specifically at this film based on my criteria: it wasn’t based on a comic book but it did have a comic book published to tie in with the film’s release. He doesn’t have any superpowers, but he is a neurosurgeon, particle physicist, rock star, action hero, and gains the ability to see camouflaged aliens and shock Penny back to life. He doesn’t have a secret identity, but his name is Buckaroo Banzai for goodness sake. And when you look at his supervillain for lack of a better word, he is very much over the top and highly theatrical in nature, and his defeat does in fact, save the world.
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Heavy Metal

Heavy Metal 1981

You may remember that one friend you had when you were younger, you know the one who had the hidden stash of Playboys and knew how to get alcohol and cigarettes. Or the one who had the cool dad who let him and his friends watch whatever they wanted from their VHS library or have the run of the TV which also happened to have HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax. Or maybe you were that kid and your friends would come over to your house. I don’t remember those friends very clearly anymore, but I do remember visiting one of those friends when I was somewhere around early middle school, maybe 5th grade and we watched Heavy Metal because we weren’t supposed to be watching it. I remember when I was younger I had a love of darker animation like Secret of N.I.H.M, the Last Unicorn, and The Mouse and his Child, but the days where I would discover Liquid Television, Vampire Hunter D, and Akira were still several years away, though Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards was also right around this time even if I don’t remember if it came first or not. So this was unlike anything I had ever seen before and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. Over twenty years later I’ve finally gotten around to revisiting it and unfortunately it’s not everything that I remember back when I was 12 or so.
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Hero at Large

Hero at Large 1980

This was one of the first obscure movies that I wanted to watch during the first year of this site since it did have a theatrical release here in the United States even though I had never previously heard of it before. I wasn’t exactly sure what to think of it as the cover art featured John Ritter with his feet in a giant washbasin and his costume hung up in the background. What I got was a really heartwarming comedy about a struggling actor who wants to make a real difference. It’s rather far-fetched at times, but Ritter’s Three’s Company era charm really won me over even as he’s going after his across-the-hall neighbor with an almost stalker-level abandon. It also had an overwhelmingly late 70’s feel to it with some of the fashions and overall look to it, which makes sense as it did come out right at the beginning of the new decade in 1980. There was also one brief nod to Superman which had come out to great acclaim just two years prior.
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The Incredible Hulk Returns

The Incredible Hulk Returns 1988

It’s time to finally finish these Incredible Hulk movies as I end with the first one to come after the end of the TV series. I don’t see myself going all the way back to the original pilots for the show as they feel more like they should be considered pilots rather than TV movies, though I may visit them sometime down the line when I run out of other films to watch. But that’s beside the point, I’m here to talk about this film which was also intended to be a spinoff pilot for a potential Thor series, like the Trial of the Incredible Hulk was intended to be a spinoff pilor for a potential Daredevil series. So once again, this movie focused as much if not more on the origin of their version of Thor than they do on Banner and the Hulk. Though it’s interesting that this was the only TV movie that brought back the character of McGee, the reporter who was apparently a big part of the series and this is his only appearance in these TV films. In fact, this was his last major acting appearance. As far as the quality goes, I would say that it falls somewhere in between the other two, it has a lot of fun moments with Thor, but it also doesn’t really go anywhere by the end.
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The Trial of the Incredible Hulk

The Trial of the Incredible Hulk 1989

My first real exposure to the 1970’s Incredible Hulk series was the final film the Death of the Incredible Hulk, so I decided that I would go ahead and continue the trend by watching the three films that followed the series in the reverse order. This was the second of those films and was originally intended to introduce Daredevil as a possible series in its own right. I find it interesting how television was handled differently back then, there are many series that initially started out as a stand alone pilot movie, and if the movie was successful, then it would launch into production to air the next year give or take. It’s also worth noting that while I didn’t care for the Death of the Incredible Hulk at all, I generally enjoyed this film. There was a lot more done with its television budget in terms of sets and cinematography, and the characters felt more fleshed out. There were still plenty of gaping plot holes and sub par special effects, but they were integrated into the story much better.
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Weird Science

Weird Science 1985

As things continue to slow down here despite my repeated assurances of getting back on track I have managed to watch another comic book film. I had seen this film when I was younger alongside several of John Hughes’ 80’s classics, I also became a fan of the Tales From the Crypt series several years later, and I also realized that there were several different variations of the Tales From the Crypt comic book including “Weird Science”, but I never made the connection that this was inspired by one of those EC comics until recently. I even remember watching the spin-off TV series for a while with Vanessa Angel replacing Kelly LeBrock. I do remember it being one of those early 80’s movies where computers can basically do anything even though 30 years later they’re still mostly just used for looking at cat pictures and writing about movies. While it was a fun nostalgia trip, I can say that it didn’t really hold up as being that impressive of a movie outside of Kelly LeBrock’s 80’s hotness.
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Sheena: Queen of the Jungle

Sheena: Queen of the Jungle 1984

I often enjoy doing blogathons, especially when I am able to do them within the focus of this site, and so when my friend Todd over at Forgotten Films decided that he wanted to do a big 1984-a-thon in honor of the 30th anniversary of one of the greatest years in cinema history, I gladly jumped on the bandwagon. Unfortunately, 1984 wasn’t a huge year for superhero movies and the two that were made, Supergirl and the Toxic Avenger, I had already covered here. But there was one other film released that year that wasn’t quite a superhero movie, but it was a comic book adaptation of the first female to ever get her own comic book title four years before Wonder Woman. It began its way to the big screen in the 70’s and took over 10 years before it finally got its cast and went into production with Tanya Roberts who I knew as Donna’s mother Midge from that 70’s show and didn’t realize it until over halfway through the movie and not only that but love interest and journalist was played by Ted Wass who I best knew as the dad from Blossom. Anyway, when I chose this movie I knew it was going to be a campy movie right along the lines of Supergirl and Toxie and it really was. A silly plot, bad acting, and a lot more nudity than I was expecting for a PG-rated movie. But in the end, it was still quite a bit of 80’s fun.
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The Return of Swamp Thing

The Return of Swamp Thing 1989

I knew very little about the first Swamp Thing movie, and I knew even less about the sequel which came out 7 years later and the only connection between the two movies are the actor that plays Swamp Thing in the suit and the villain Arcane who supposedly died in the first movie. I would have thought that they would have used the Dick Durock’s voice once again for the Swamp Thing, but for some reason* they chose to hire a voice actor do ADR all of his lines. The tone of this movie is also much more light and comedic. Unfortunately this makes the campy comedy feel much more forced than in the first movie where everyone was taking things seriously. There’s still some cheesy fun to be had, but it’s not nearly as good of a movie overall than the first one.
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