Around the World in 80s Movies

Vince Leo

Join film writer Vince Leo as he journeys back through his favorite decade for films, the 1980s!

All Episodes

Set in the near future of 1991, it's been three years since the landing of an actual flying saucer landed on Earth, containing a species of aliens (dubbed "Newcomers") who had been genetically engineered as slave laborers.  The Newcomers are smarter and physically stronger than their human counterparts, which makes them more suitable to perform certain jobs, and the backlash against them from the human population is escalating daily.  In this environment, Detective Sergeant Matt Sykes (James Caan) has his partner killed by one of the alien "slags", making it his mission to take down the ones responsible.  He voluntarily requests to be partnered with the first Newcomer police detective, Sam Francisco (Mandy Patinkin) - Sykes calls him "George" instead, and while they haven't been specifically assigned the homicide case, Sykes won't stay off of it, employing Sam's help as needed in order to get to the bottom of the underworld slag crime syndicate. Directed by Graham Baker from a script by Rockne S. O'Bannon and an uncredited James Cameron.

Sep 18

31 min

In the story, five escaped alien refugees come to Earth like a bolt of lightning and find themselves in a remote North Carolina Victorian-style farmhouse inhabited by a newly-orphaned teenage girl Deirdre Clark (Ione Skye) and her grandmother Grace (Maureen O'Sullivan). Suspicions are high, resulting in the aliens taking casualties in a gunfight with the local yokels. They just want to be left alone and leave peacefully. But police are surrounding the house, just barely able to contain the gin-toting locals out for revenge for these aliens killing one of their own. Joe Morton and Flea also appear.

Sep 11

20 min

A mute extraterrestrial resembling a black man (but with feet that have three toes) crash lands his spaceship near New York City. Not understanding where he is or what people are saying, he finds his way to Harlem's 125th Street. Although derided as either crazy or homeless, others discover his worth when he can heal broken electronics and human injuries with a single touch. A concerned social worker helps him get a job as a repairman. Hobnobbing with patrons at a local bar, the Brother finds a dangerous world outside of junkies, thieves, and thugs. Bounty hunters from his homeworld are after him. After discovering a boy's heroin overdose, he uncovers a Wall Street drug ring. Joe Morton stars in this John Sayles film.

Sep 4

32 min

An alien race intercepts Voyager II, a space probe describing Earth, effectively inviting aliens to visit. These aliens take Earth up on the offer, sending a scout pod to see what we're up to. American fighter jets greet it and the alien scout crashlands up in the American backwoods in Wisconsin. Using DNA found in the hair in recent widow Jenny Hayden's photo album, he transforms himself into the likeness of Jenny's dead husband, a house painter named Scott (Jeff Bridges). Now, not-Scott must get to a rendezvous point at Meteor Crater, Arizona to get back to the mothership before he dies, but SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and the FBI want him to experiment on.  The alien has no choice but to kidnap Jenny (Karen Allen) to assist him.  John Carpenter directs.

Aug 28

32 min

E.T.: The Extraterrestrial starts in a forest outside a California suburb. An alien spacecraft lands, and several extraterrestrials emerge, gathering flora samples.  Suspicious humans arrive, the aliens escape, leaving one behind.  He hides in a backyard shed, discovered by a 10-year-old boy named Elliott (Henry Thomas). Startled and scared, Elliott hides the alien, whom he dubs “E.T.,” in his room, and they become friends. E.T. determines to find his way back to his world by gathering the materials necessary to build a transmitter and “phone home” for his kin to come back and get him, as he appears to be growing weaker the longer he remains on Earth.  However, Earth’s scientists aren’t going to let such an extraordinary creature get away quickly. STeven Spielberg directs. Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, and Peter Coyote also appear.

Aug 21

33 min

Richard Dreyfuss stars as Muncie, Indiana electricity lineman, Roy Neary, one of many people in the world to experience a close encounter with a UFO.  Others experiencing the phenomenon exhibit the same odd behavior — radiation burns and an obsession with a mountainous shape. Roy’s obsession strains his relationship with his family, who think he is mentally ill. The eyewitnesses are compelled to converge at a location where the US military also plans for a close encounter of the third kind. Francois Truffaut, Teri Garr, Cary Guffey, and Melinda Dillon also appear in this influential film written and directed by Steven Spielberg.

Aug 14

34 min

Virgil 'Bud' Brigman (Ed Harris) is the lead foreman of Deepcore, an underwater oil drilling rig 2,000-feet deep. Deepcore receives word of a downed US Navy nuclear submarine in the area near the Cayman Trough. As Russian subs are close by, foul play is suspected. The crew must escort Bud's soon-to-be ex-wife Lindsay (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), the project engineer for Deepcore, and a crew of Navy SEALs for a rescue mission.  A hurricane cuts communication outside, effectively leaving Navy SEAL Lieutenant Coffey (Michael Biehn) in command. Psychosis from pressurization makes Coffey unstable and paranoid, viewing the various neon-colored NTIs (Non-Terrestrial Intelligence) in a nearby abyss as enemy Russian vessels that must be destroyed. James Cameron writes and directs.

Jul 31

35 min

The plot of DeepStar Six involves a team of eleven scientists working for the US Navy is constructing a facility stationed six miles beneath the surface of the ocean for the launching of nuclear missiles. They discover they are building atop what appears to be a vast underground cavern. The Navy might scrap the project if they don't complete it before their six-month stint is up. Once they destroy the cavern, they discover that they aren't alone down there, as some strange and massive prehistoric arthropod creature begins to attack their undersea vehicles. Nancy Everhard, Greg Evigan, Miguel Ferrer, Taurean Blacque, Nia Peeples, and Matt McCoy star. Erratum: Apologies to Harry Manfredini for calling him "Henry" in this episode.

Jul 24

27 min

Scientists on the last few days of their stint in a deep sea mining operation stumble upon a mysterious Russian ship, "Leviathan", which has sunk and perhaps was ambushed by their own navy.  They loot some cargo on board and inadvertently bring back the remnants of a genetic experiment gone awry, which they also set loose upon their own vessel, to gruesome and nightmarish results. Peter Weller, Amanda Pays, Richard Crenna, Daniel Stern, Ernie Hudson, and Hector Elizondo appear in this film directed by George Cosmatos.

Jul 17

30 min

In a small coastal fishing village called Noyo in northern California, the residents are set to celebrate their annual salmon festival. The festival has been on the decline of late because the fish population has dwindled, leaving the town suffering  Doug McClure plays a fisherman and trusted community leader named Jim Hill (Doug McClure), doing what he can to keep harmony among his neighbors. Vic Morrow is the town's more aggressive type, twisting whatever arms necessary to get a company to establish a cannery in town. Anthony Pena is among the Native Americans protesting the cannery planning to exploit his tribe's land. The corporation has been experimenting with ways to escalate the growth of fish in the area. Ann Turkel is a scientist named Dr. Susan Drake who led the experiments, which involved tinkering with salmon DNA so they'd grow large and increase spawning activity. However, the experiment goes awry after prehistoric coelacanths begin to consume these genetically altered salmon. Their offspring evolves quickly into humanoid sea creatures that emerge out of the ocean, attacking landlubbers with an overwhelming desire to feed on mammals and procreate with human women. Directed by Barbara Peeters for Roger Corman's New World Pictures.

Jul 10

32 min

The story for Piranha II doesn't connect to Piranha save for a reference to fish used as bioweapons for a top-secret U.S. Army experiment.  Those experiments continued into cross-breeding piranhas with grunions and flying fish to make them dangerous in both air and water. A ship has sunk and a container of their eggs breaks open in the area near Club Elysium, a posh Jamaican resort, on the verge of their annual Fish Fry Beach Festival, when the grunions hatch and walk upon the shore. That's where Anne (Tricia O'Neil), a marine biologist, works as a scuba instructor. Anne's separated husband Steve (Lance Henriksen) is a cop in the seaside town. Steve's a little jealous when Anne enters into a fling with a mysterious resort resident, Tyler Sherman (Steve Marachuk). When human bodies are found in a gruesome, half-eaten state, they suspect other summer frolickers are in danger.  Too bad Club Elysium won't shut down the highly attended festival. James Cameron's directorial debut.

Jul 3

30 min

Bradford Dillman stars as Paul Grogan, a reclusive alcoholic living in a cabin out in the woods in an undisclosed part of the United States. He's visited by a skiptracer named Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies), who is out to find a couple of backpackers who have disappeared without a trace. Their search leads them to an abandoned Army research facility solely inhabited by a strange scientist, Dr. Hoak (Kevin McCarthy). Hoak has been keeping up the research on "Operation Razorteeth," where mutant carnivorous piranha fish became bioweapons they can use to destroy the coldwater river systems of North Vietnam.  The war ended, and the research stopped, but the scientist wouldn't abandon it. A mishap sees the piranha drained out into the nearby river, where they begin to wreak havoc on anyone unlucky enough to be in the water with them. Joe Dante directs this Roger Corman production from a script by John Sayles.

Jun 26

30 min

The Brody family, not led by the widow Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary), continues to experience shark attacks, starting with when Ellen's younger son, Sean. While mourning the loss, Ellen visits her other son, Michael (Lance Guest), in the Bahamas, where she meets the rascally Hoagie Newcombe (Michael Caine). Meanwhile, the same shark that got her boy appears off the coast of the island, and Ellen has to take it down or never escape the shark's wrath. Mario Van Peebles also appears in this Joseph Sargent film so bad that it killed off the Jaws franchise once and for all.

Jun 19

29 min

Jaws 3 sees the sons of Sheriff Brody now in Florida, as eldest son Mike (Dennis Quaid) has laid the foundations for a two-year project to bring an underwater structure in the lagoon at Sea World to life.  The younger brother, Sean (John Putch) is also visiting, although he is still suffering from a strong phobia about getting in the water, brought about from his harrowing near-death experiences with sharks from his youth.  He has reason to fear, as it appears that a young Great White shark has entered the lagoon and is terrorizing the pre-opening day adjustments, having gotten through the filtration system, and begins snacking on whatever it can find.  However, when one of the crew ends up viciously chomped, it appears that a much larger shark must have been responsible, as they shudder to realize that the young shark's mother, a massive 35-foot long Great White, has also passed into the park, hungry for the taste of human flesh and underwater Sea World structures. Joe Alves directs. Lou Gossett Jr., Bess Armstrong, Simon McCorkindale, and Lea Thompson also appear.

Jun 12

30 min

Jaws 2 is set four years after Jaws, in the same island community of Amity. Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) still patrols, though now shaken from his ordeal with the shark. Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) is catering to a land developer on the construction of new waterfront condominiums that will be very lucrative for a town still struggling to bring in tourists after the shark attacks of the past. When calamities occur again in the ocean, Brody becomes suspicious that another shark is on the prowl. Once again, the mayor and city council of the town refuse to listen due to economic interests. Brody persists until he loses his job, but still must act, this time as a father, when his sons and their friends become stranded in the ocean with no one but a crazed shark in sight. Jeannot Szwarc directs.

Jun 5

31 min

Roy Scheider stars as police chief Martin Brody of Amity, a Long Island resort community just about to enjoy its most popular season of the year, in the sun and fun of the 4th of July.  All is not idyllic on this day, however.  A teenage girl has been found washed up on the beach, apparently the victim of a shark attack.  Brody's instinct is to close the beach, but he pulls back when the mayor of Amity reminds him how important it is to keep the tourists coming, warning that news of a shark in the water could cost the community dearly.  Meanwhile, the attacks continue. Try as they might to keep a lid on things, they are soon forced with a decision to close the beach or catch the shark themselves.  Enlisting the help of a wealthy oceanographer (Richard Dreyfuss) and charismatic shark hunter (Shaw), Brody sets to the ocean in order to lure the large Great White shark near to go for the kill. Steven Spielberg directs this shocker on the sea from the novel by Peter Benchley.

May 29

30 min

In this sequel to the 1976 remake of Kong Kong, none of the original cast returns, except in archival footage shown in the intro depicting Kong after getting shot down from the top of the World Trade Center and falling to the streets below. We come to learn that Kong (Peter Elliott) improbably survived, existing in a coma for ten years on life support in a giant lab facility in Atlanta awaiting a giant artificial heart to replace the organic one that can no longer support him without medical assistance. Kong also needs lots of ape plasma for the surgery but there aren't apes like him to give blood. The lead heart surgeon, Dr. Amy Franklin (Linda Hamilton), laments that only a miracle can save Kong. That miracle arrives when the soldier-of-fortune Hank Mitchell (Brian Kerwin) discovers another giant ape while scouting for diamonds in the jungles of Borneo. He finds a way to bring the female ape back to the United States for fortune and glory. The lab needs her plasma but the two apes sense the presence of each other, which makes it particularly dangerous for any humans trying to keep the apes from doing what apes want to do naturally.  The apes escape their confinement and run away as fugitives, but the scientists can't have these two roaming the Great Smoky Mountains wreaking havoc, so the military, led by the tenacious Colonel Nevitt (John Ashton), is called in to take whatever measures and necessary. It's up to Dr. Franklin and Hank Mitchell to lead them to safety somehow. John Guillermin directs.

May 22

28 min

In this remake of the 1933 classic of the same name, Petrox, a gasoline corporation, sends an expedition to an uncharted island near Micronesia obscured by perpetual fog to find out if there’s oil there. Stowing away is Jack Prescott (Jeff Bridges), a paleontologist from Princeton University curious if the reports of a giant primate residing on there are true. they pick up another unexpected passenger in Dwan (Jessica Lange), an aspiring American actress adrift in a lifeboat. What they find instead of useable oil is a gorilla six times the size of a normal ape, who is the god to which the native villagers sacrifice women, of which Dwan becomes the next in line. Kong takes a liking to Dwan but gets captured by the Petrox people who take him back to the United States to gain publicity. Problems arise when the ape escapes and begins destroying the city searching for Dwan. Charles Grodin Costars. John Guillerman directs this Dino De Laurentiis production fro a Lorenzo Semple Jr. Script.

May 15

35 min

Set in 1910, virginal Jane Parker (Bo Derek), a feminist who thinks women should be able to explore the world the same as men. She travels to Africa to find the father she never knew, renowned explorer James Parker (Richard Harris). James, who abandoned her when she was an infant, thinks Jane is the spitting image of his late wife, which brings up all manner of incestuous feelings. James continues his safari to find the fabled elephant graveyard where precious ivory exists. Jane insists on coming along despite her father's protests. Tarzan's primal yelling makes their native entourage nervous, forbidden to travel into the land occupied by the famous "white ape-man" who stands, according to myth, ten feet tall. Proceeding cautiously, Jane bathes in the ocean, attracting a ferocious lion, saved by the mysterious ape-man of myth. James determines Tarzan (Miles O'Keeffe) will be their next kill, especially after he kidnaps Jane, though she seems more than willing to get caught. John Derek directs.

May 8

31 min

Based on elements within Edgar Rice Burroughs's 1912 novel, "Tarzan of the Apes," Greystoke begins in the late 19th century, where a young couple born into Scottish nobility, Jack Clayton and his pregnant wife Alice, find themselves shipwrecked off the coast of Western Africa. Months later, they give birth to a boy who quickly becomes an orphan when his mother dies of malaria, and his father is killed in an altercation with nearby apes. One of the apes adopts the human baby as her own. When the boy grows into a man, he takes on the alpha male to become the leader of the tribe. Meanwhile, an expedition arrives nearby for specimens for the British Musem. The expedition gets viciously attacked by a native village. Surviving the slaughter is a Belgian named Phillippe d'Arnot, whose life is saved and wounds tended by the mysterious ape-man. Phillippe realizes his savior is the son of the married couple, the Claytons, who built the abandoned cabin in the vicinity. Dubbing the jungle man "John Clayton', d'Arnot teaches him to speak, move, and behave like an aristocrat from civilized society before taking him to his ancestral estate in Scotland to reunite with his grandfather, the Earl of Greystoke. There, John develops feelings for grandfather's ward, an American-raised woman named Jane Parker. Christopher Lambert, Ralph Richardson, Ian Holm, Andie MacDowell, James Fox star. Hugh Hudson directs.

May 1

28 min

The Beastmaster follows the hero, Dar (Marc Singer), the son of a king snatched away from his mother's womb by a witch under the employ of the evil magician named Maax (Rip Torn). Maax had been prophesied to be killed by the son of a king (to which he takes to slaughtering all of the young'uns he can).  The intended infanticide is thwarted by a goodly peasant, who raises Dar as his own, and harnesses the boy's skill in fighting and farming. Dar soon discovers an uncanny ability to communicate telepathically with whatever animals reside nearby. Dar's village is decimated by the evil forces known as the Jun, in cahoots with Maax.  Out for revenge, Dar enlists some newfound animal friends in the form of a panther, an eagle, and two ferret thieves, to bring down Maax before he slaughters any more innocents.  Also joining Dar is slave girl Kiri (Tanya Roberts), a valiant warrior named Seth (John Amos), and the son of the imprisoned king, Tal (Josh Milrad). Directed and co-written by Don Coscarelli.

Apr 24

27 min

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.

Apr 17

26 min

An unofficial spinoff of sorts to the Conan franchise, Red Sonja starts off with Sonja (Brigitte Nielsen) as an attractive farm girl that evil lesbian Queen Gedren of Berkubane (Sandahl Bergman) finds fetching enough to invite over.  Sonja finds the offer so repulsive she ends up giving the queen's face a nasty gash. Spurned, Sonja's family is soon murdered by Gedren's army, while they also destroy her home and she ends up raped by Gedren's soldiers. Gedren seeks a powerful talisman, which grows stronger the more exposure it has to light, enough to destroy the world if left unchecked within a couple of weeks. Gedren has the all-female guards (only women can touch it) at the temple protecting the talisman massacred and takes it for herself. After a forest spirit grants her great abilities to wield a sword, Sonja vows revenge, soon going off to the Orient to train with the masters on sword fighting, who end up giving her a powerful sword. On her quest, she meets a mysterious stranger named Lord Kalidor (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a protector of the Order of the Talisman, who tells Sonja about her dying sister, who took an arrow to the back from one of the Queen's soldiers. In her sister's final words, Sonja gets a mission to stop Gedren's quest to use the talisman to destroy the world, and she has fourteen days to do it. Richard Fleischer directs this Dino De Laurentiis production.

Apr 10

30 min

Power-hungry Queen Tamaris of Shadizar (Sarah Douglas), who offers Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) a bargain. Taramis will resurrect his dead lover Valeria upon completion of a special mission. He is to assist with the protection of her niece, a young virgin princess named Jehnna (Olivia d'Abo). Jehnna travels with her bodyguard Bombaata (Wilt Chamberlain), to venture into the mystical castle to retrieve a key in the form of a magic jewel called the Heart of Ahriman that, by prophecy, only someone who bears the distinctive mark like Jehnna can touch. This key will unlock a fabled horn that promises to bring the dormant 'dreamer god' Dagoth to the mortal realm.  The twist is that, at the end of the quest, Jehnna is a sacrificial offering to Dagoth, and Conan and his friends shall die as well.  These friends include the great wizard Akiro (Mako), the agile warrior Zula (Grace Jones), and Conan's comical sidekick, Malak, the thief (Tracey Walter). Richard Fleischer directs.

Apr 3

31 min

The setting of this fantasy-adventure based on Robert E. Howard's literary creations is the Hyborian Age, a fictional period invented by Howard, around 10,000 B.C. It is a time of magic, madmen, and mercenaries, and barbarians who kill before they end up killed. The film starts with Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) as a young lad in Cimmeria, orphaned at the hands of an evil snake cult-leader and a black-magic sorcerer named Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones), and becomes a slave.  As he grows, he soon fights in an arena for sport and becomes very good at what he does.  Soon, he escapes and uses his freedom to seek revenge on the man responsible for the murder of his parents, with some help from new friends he meets along the way. Sandahl Bergman, Gerry Lopez, Mako, and Max Von Sydow co-star. John Milius directs. Milius and Oliver Stone script.

Mar 27

29 min

This animated story involves a fantasy world imagined before the last ice age, featuring human civilizations and exotic dinosaurs coexisting. It is a time where the lands are divided among two factions, the evil Ice Peak sorcerer warlords, Queen Juliana and her wicked son Nekron, leading an army of ape-like subhumans, and the goodly Fire Keep clan led by King Jarol. The ice clan's Nekron is using his telekinetic powers to send giant glaciers out to freeze over the rest of the world, forcing the good humans to set up camp near the volcanoes. Our main hero is vengeful Larn, the survivor of North Village from one of Nekron's glacier attacks that takes out his people. Jarol's beloved teenage daughter Princess Teegra gets kidnapped from Nekron's subhuman minions. Teegra manages to escape and runs into Larn, and the two form an instant romantic bond. As King Jarol sends his son Taro and his men to seek a peaceful solution, Larn makes his way to Nekron's abode, joining forces with a mysterious warrior named Darkwolf, who also is traveling to the Ice City to thwart the Ice Lord's wrath. Ralph Bakshi directs. Frank Frazetta co-produces.

Mar 20

18 min

Nine months after her Oz experience, Dorothy wants to return to check in with her friends. Aunt Em thinks Dorothy is mentally ill. She seeks treatment from an experimental clinic using electroshock therapy to treat maladies of the mind. Dorothy is taken to an eerie clinic run by an uncaring Dr. Worley and the stern Nurse Wilson. During the treatment, a mysterious girl watching over Dorothy intervenes during a lightning strike that halts the experiment. Dorothy escapes down a nearby river, washing ashore in the land of Oz again. Except the Yellow Brock Road is demolished. The Emerald City is in ruins and its inhabitants, including all of her old friends, have been turned to stone by the mad Nome King. Except for the Scarecrow, who ran Emerald City in her absence, who has been imprisoned. Along with her hen Billina, a broomstick figure with a pumpkin for a head named, obviously, Jack Pumpkinhead, a robotic soldier named Tik Tok, and a flying beast of burden named The Gump, it's up to Dorothy to stop the mad Nome King and the evil Princess Mombi from destroying the Oz that once was for good. Fairuza Balk stars as Dorothy in her debut feature film. Walter Murch directs and co-writes this nightmarish cult adventure.

Mar 13

29 min

The story involves Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis), a farmer who dreams of becoming a sorcerer's apprentice among the Nerwyns, which are a race of little people. One day, he encounters a baby who has washed onto the riverbank near his farm. The baby, who we come to learn is named Elora Danan, is a Daikini, a race much larger than the Nerwyns, but Willow's brethren don't think it's a good idea to keep her. The evil-witch Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh) has minions, including her warrior-princess daughter Sorsha (Joanne Whalley) and vicious skull-faced warrior General Kael (Pat Roach), actively searching for this baby smuggled out from under her nose because she may be the prophecy foretold to end her reign, a child with a special mark upon its arm. Willow accepts the mission to return the baby back to the first Daikini he meets, with a few other Nerwyns in tow. Along the way, they encounter and recruit that first Daikini, Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), a skilled but down-on-his-luck mercenary, who agrees to take the baby for release from capture.  THe Daikinis are in the midst of a war with the legions on Bavmorda's side, putting Elora's fate in jeopardy should they fall short. However, Willow gets another directive from a fairy to find the good witch on a remote island. With Madmartigan and a couple of Brownies, who are from a human-like race even smaller than the Nerwyns, only nine inches in height, Willow seeks to find a way to protect the baby. Ron Howard directs this story by producer George Lucas.

Mar 6

25 min

The moon of Endor gets attacked by a vicious band of thuggish Sanyassan marauders, whose ancestors also crashlanded on Endor some time ago, and a powerful shape-shifting sorceress named Charal under the leadership of King Terak.  They attack the Ewok village, taking the crashed Towani ship's power source after killing Cindel's family, then take away all of the Ewoks except Wicket back to their dungeons as prisoners. While roving the forest, Cindel and Wicket encounter a mysterious creature named Teek who leads them to the home of a grumpy hermit named Noa Briqualon, who we come to find has also crashlanded there. Noa wards them off, but his icy exterior melts to friendship, leading to Teek and Noa helping them on their quest to free the imprisoned Ewoks from the marauders' castle. King Terak is confident that the powerful crystal that is an energy cell used by the Towani family star cruiser has magical powers. The power, Terak feels, will get them off of Endor and that Cindel must be some sorceress who can tap into those powers.

Feb 28

24 min

George Lucas's story for this made-for-TV spin-off from the Star Wars films involves a spacecraft that crash lands on Endor. The mother and father spend the film looking for their two children, a fourteen-year-old named Mace Towani and his four-year-old sister, Cindel, not knowing that they've been taken in by the kindly Ewoks whose village lies a bit of a distance away from the crash site. Cindel befriends the Ewoks instantly, but Mace is not too sure about their intentions, concentrating more on finding the monstrous, ax-wielding Gorax might have captured the whereabouts of their parents, who the Ewoks begin to suspect. They set about building a caravan to head to the Gorax lair on the hope they can rescue the parents before it's too late.

Feb 21

18 min

The Star Wars Holiday Special is a two-hour made-for-TV musical variety show movie that aired on November 17. 1978 on CBS for its November sweeps period.). Variety shows were hot on TV in the 1970s and this effort would serve as a ratings bonanza, putting the hottest cultural phenomenon of the last year in front of as many eyeballs as they could on a Friday night when kids could stay up to watch TV. The Force was not with this one. Chewbacca's family living in a giant treehouse on Kashyyyk. The family trio includes Chewbacca's wife Malla, his father Itchy, and his son, Lumpy. Chewbacca is returning to see his kin for a celebration of the holiday called Life Day. However, Chewie is delayed by an Imperial Cruiser in the vicinity performing a blockade that keeps the Millennium Falcon from its destination, and down on the Wookiee planet, Stormtroopers are invading homes and placing the locals under a strict curfew. All Chewie's family can do is use their technology to entertain themselves with cartoons, acrobats, sultry women of fantasy, and Jefferson Starship while they wait. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Bea Arthur, Art Carney, Harvey Korman, Diahann Carroll, and the voice of James Earl Jones all make an appearance.

Feb 14

27 min

The final of the Star Trek films to feature the entire original cast, Star Trek VI draws many parallels to the end of the Cold War between the United States (represented here by the Federation) and the Soviet Union (the big bad Klingons).  An explosion occurs on the Klingon moon known as Praxis (an allusion to the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl), which makes the Klingon race face possible extinction, as their way of life crumbles, rendering them a superpower no longer (akin to the breakup of the USSR).  The crew of the Enterprise is called upon to be an escort for Klingon Chancellor Gorkon (Gorbachev wannabe) to a crucial assembly on Earth.  It's hard for Kirk and co. to trust the Klingons after so many years of fighting them, so when a pair of photon torpedoes are shot into the Klingon ship and two men in Federation gear assassinate many onboard, all fingers point to the only logical culprits, the Enterprise crew.  Kirk and McCoy (who tried in vain to save Gorkon) are put on trial for the disaster, leaving the remaining crew with little time to coordinate an effort to clear their names and secure their release before whatever faction responsible commits more assassinations in response to the peace process.

Feb 7

27 min

Star Trek V starts off with the crew taking over the reins of new Enterprise starship, and their first impromptu mission requires them to travel to the near desolate planet of Nimbus III, where a rogue Vulcan known as Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill) has placed several key ambassadors as hostages in order to draw a starship to the planet.  His plans are to hijack the ship and crew, taking them on an odyssey to the Great Barrier, a place that no other ship has successfully breached.  His mission is to find the Higher Being that all life in the universe refers to as their God, whom he says has beckoned him to be the one to find out life's eternal mysteries.  Is Sybok a madman or a visionary anointed with divine responsibilities? William Shatner makes his feature-film debut as a director of this maligned entry in the Star Trek movie series.

Jan 31

31 min

Star Trek IV starts with our heroes on planet Vulcan, loading up to go home and face punishment from the Federation for their hijacking of the Enterprise and its subsequent destruction, as well as the sabotage of the Excelsior.  As they approach Earth, they find that a giant space probe is threatening to destroy the planet, emitting a signal that those on Earth are baffled how to respond to.  It is determined that the probe is sending messages in the language of humpback whales, which have been extinct for over 200 years.  With seemingly no obvious solution, Kirk and crew decide to time warp back to the late 20th Century to snatch a couple of humpbacks to bring back with them in the hopes of saving the Earth.  They discover two whales in captivity at a San Francisco Cetacean institute. Still, they have only a limited amount of time to figure out how to transport these whales in tons of seawater, in addition to needing to harvest enough nuclear energy to send their tapped out ship back to the future. Leonard Nimoy directs.

Jan 24

27 min

Star Trek III starts off with the weary Enterprise crew returning home after their near-death battle with Khan, and the actual death of Spock, whose body had been torpedoed to the Genesis world, which was a newly transformed planet, formerly without life.  While all involved are a bit worse for wear, the biggest effect on a crew member seems to be with Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), who is exhibiting strange behavior that suggests he may be cracking from the experience, babbling something about returning to Spock's homeworld of Vulcan.  Spock's father, Sarek (Mark Lenard), is convinced that Spock's "essence" has somehow been transferred to another before his death through a mind-meld, which would explain McCoy's behavior.  With an unknown life form recently found on the Genesis planet, Kirk (William Shatner) wants to visit and find out if Spock's body is also reincarnated, but the instability of the area makes it off-limits to anyone but science officers.  Kirk and company must hijack their old ship, against orders, but soon finds that murderous Klingons have discovered news of the Genesis Project, and are willing to kill anyone in order to gain information on the process. Leonard Nimoy directs.

Jan 17

27 min

With Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the series took a swing in the exact opposite direction from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, putting things on a raw emotional level. This is a sequel, not of the first film, but of an original "Star Trek" episode, "The Space Seed", also starring Ricardo Montalban in the Khan role. Now, it is 15 years later, and Khan and his men are marooned on a desert planet which is slated as an experiment in the Federation's Genesis project. This project is actually a bomb of sorts that can take any uninhabited planet and make it habitable for life as we know it, transforming it into a tropical paradise. Khan hijacks a small cruiser piloted by Chekhov (Walter Koenig) and the duel between Khan and Kirk (William Shatner), the man with whom he is filled with hatred, for control of the bomb and for sheer revenge. Nicholas Meyer directs.

Jan 10

30 min

Fast approaching Earth is a cloudlike alien entity that has destroys all that approaches its nebulous form.  The not-quite-fully-refitted Enterprise is the closest vessel available in its approach toward Earth. Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) pushes his way to take over the mission over the man he picked for his successor as the captain, Willard Decker (Stephen Collins).  Kirk makes every attempt to reason with this living entity, who goes by the moniker, V’ger.  V’ger abducts the Enterprise’s navigator, Ilia (Persis Khambatta), who then returns in a mechanical form, giving voice to the entity.  The bad news: V’ger wants to rid the Earth of all the carbon-based life forms, effectively ending life as we know it for everyone on the planet unless Kirk and company can save the day. Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, and Nichelle Nichols return to their iconic roles. Robert Wise directs.

Jan 3

35 min

In this semi-spoof sequel to the classic TV show, "Dragnet", Dan Aykroyd isn't playing Jack Webb's character, Joe Friday, in this film, but rather, his nephew, with the same name and personality.  He's assigned a roguish new partner named Pep Streebeck (Tom Hanks) with which to fight crime with, though he's of a new breed of a police officer, not really respecting the rule of law that Sergeant Friday does to his core.  Their first case together sees them trying to crack a slew of recent murders in Los Angeles, ostensibly done by a mysterious cult known simply as P.A.G.A.N., (People Against Goodness and Normalcy) as the calling cars they leave behind at the scenes of their crimes suggest.  Signs begin to point in the direction of a smarmy TV evangelist named Rev. Jonathan Whirley (Christopher Plummer) and a smarmy smut merchant named Jerry Caesar (Dabney Coleman).  Friday and Streebeck rescue a sacrificial virgin, Connie Swail (Alexandra Paul), at one of the P.A.G.A.N. gatherings, and for the first time in his life, Sgt. Friday has found someone wholesome enough to consider as his girlfriend, though he has now become too involved to think clearly -- or play things by the book when the heart is involved.

Dec 2019

26 min

In this "Get Smart" sequel movie made for network television, KAOS makes a comeback in a world that hasn't been terrorized by them since CONTROL took them down and put themselves out of the international terror business.  Recurring "Get Smart" actor Bernie Kopell returns as Maxwell Smart's (Don Adams) main nemesis Conrad Siegreid, who leads the new KAOS after it has been bought out in a corporate takeover and is now encountering budget cuts requiring a quick influx of cash. Siegried launches his own plans for world domination with the formula to create a Weather-Control Machine, which gives them the power to adjust the climate anywhere in the world as they see fit, but willing to stop targeting places like the interior of the White House for a ransom of $250 billion to be paid within seven days. Barbara Feldon, Dick Gautier, Robert Karvelas, Harold Gould, King Moody, and Kenneth Mars also appear.

Dec 2019

19 min

Maxwell Smart (Don Adams), the dimwitted super-spy from the hit TV series from the 1960s, "Get Smart" returned in 1980 for a brand new, racier adventure.  Entitled The Nude Bomb, it has lost that title over the years in favor of the more TV-programming friendly The Return of Maxwell Smart.  The gist of the film is that an agent from the super-terrorist organization, KAOS, is threatening to rid the world of all clothing if demands aren't met, using a bomb capable of destroying all forms of fabric.  It's up to Agent 86 of PITS, Maxwell Smart, to put an end to these nefarious plans, although wherever he turns, trouble seems to follow.  He suspects there may be a double agent trying to put a wrench in the works, but who? Andrea Howard, Dana Elcar, Vittorio Gassman, Norman Lloyd, Sylvia Kristel, Rhonda Fleming, Pamela Hensley, Bill Dana also appear in this film directed by Clive Donner. Erratum Note: Writer/producer Alan Spencer reached out to me on Twitter to let me know that a comment I made about "all" Eugene Roche's scenes being re-shot after his departure due to illness is not entirely accurate, as you can see him in a few long shots. He recommends the new Kino Lorber Blu-ray release of The Nude Bomb for a vast wealth of information on the making of the film. Although I released this episode on 12/13/19, three days after the release of the Blu-ray on 12/10/19, I did the research on The Nude Bomb and recorded the episode approximately two weeks prior and did not have the Blu-ray's supplemental material or Alan Spencer's commentary to consult, so I do apologize for this discrepancy. If you're interested in the most definitive take on The Nude Bomb, please check out the Kino Lorber release: https://www.kinolorber.com/product/nude-bomb-aka-the-return-of-maxwell-smart-4k-uhd

Dec 2019

26 min

The comedy writing team of Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and David Zucker brought this first of a trilogy, based on their short-lived 1982 TV show "Police Squad", of zany screwball comedies to Hollywood in 1988, offering plenty of sight gags, plays on words, pop culture sendups, and downright silly slapstick.  Leslie Nielsen returns to star as Lt. Frank Drebin, who seems to have a high success rate in closing his cases despite being an overconfident buffoon. His latest case involves trying to prevent the assassination of Queen Elizabeth II while on a visit to America. A hunch leads Drebin to look into wealthy philanthropist Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalban), who Frank thinks is also a scam artist. Drebin ends up falling for Ludwig's beautiful but klutzy assistant, Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley). George Kennedy and O.J. Simpson also appear.  

Dec 2019

23 min

Ted Wass stars as New York City police sergeant Clifton Sleigh, who ends up getting selected by an Interpol computer that is choosing the second-best sleuth in the world to use to find the missing best sleuth, Inspector Clouseau. Except Sleigh isn't the best, as Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) deliberately sabotaged the computer to try to find the worst and assure the whereabouts of Clouseau remains a mystery.  Meanwhile, Clouseau is still alive in the care of health spa operator Countess Chandra (Joanna Lumley), who aims to change his looks through plastic surgery. Meanwhile, the criminal element of the French underworld tries to take out Sleigh before he can find success in bringing their nemesis back, Inspector Clouseau. Blake Edwards co-writes and directs this attempt to continue the Pink Panther series beyond the death of star Peter Sellers.

Nov 2019

24 min

Trail of the Pink Panther is a film done nearly two years after the death of Pink Panther franchise star Peter Sellers, compiling the best clips and unused outtakes from prior films, along with new material to hang together a plot around the. That plot involves the theft of the infamous and priceless Pink Panther diamond from the fictional country of Lugash, and Chief Inspector Clouseau, at the request of the president of Lugash, is brought in yet again to investigate its whereabouts, against the wishes of Commissioner Dreyfus. In the course of the globe-hopping investigation, a plane carrying Clouseau goes down into the ocean, where it is presumed he might have finally met his fate. A television reporter is called forth to talk to those who knew Clouseau well, from co-workers to those he helped put away, as well as those who knew of his activities prior to joining the police, from his childhood upbringing to becoming a resistance fighter for France in World War II. Herbert Lom, Joanna Lumley, David Niven, and Robert Loggia also appear. Blake Edwards directs.

Nov 2019

25 min

John Candy plays Harry Crumb, the bumbling son who never quite lived up to the reputation of his sleuthing father and grandfather in his family's long-standing detective agency. Instead of running the company, he's been relegated to being a lowly trainee as their Tulsa office. Ineptitude is just what the CEO of the company, Eliot Draisen (Jeffrey Jones), in Los Angeles wants from an investigator for reasons of his own. Draisen flies out Crumb to Los Angeles to crack the case involving the kidnapping and ransom of Jennifer Downing,  the beautiful heiress daughter of P.D. Downing (Barry Corbin) and his philandering new wife Helen (Annie Potts). Crumb begins to use his penchant for disguises to get to the bottom of things.

Nov 2019

14 min

Fletch (Chevy Chase) quits his job as an investigative reporter when he learns he has inherited his aunt's expansive plantation estate in Louisiana called Belle Isle.  Unfortunately, he arrives to find that the property is completely run down through many years of lack of upkeep, though there are offers for the land from mysterious sources. When the executor of the will ends up dead in Fletch's bed, he becomes the top suspect in the murder. He soon learns that the reason for foul play is likely because someone out there desperately wants Fletch off of the property, with the main suspect being a local television evangelist Jimmy Lee Farnsworth (R. Lee Ermey), who has plans for the land to expand his Bible-based theme park. Fletch decides to put his nose for sleuthing to good use to get to the bottom of who wants the land bad enough to be willing to kill for it, and why. Michael Ritchie returns to direct this sequel to 1985's Fletch.

Nov 2019

27 min

Chevy Chase plays a Los Angeles Times investigative reporter named Irwin M. Fletcher (he prefers to be called by his nickname, “Fletch”) under the pseudonym of Jane Doe. While working undercover trying to uncover the secret to a major beachside drug ring, Fletch is approached by a wealthy businessman named Alan Stanwyk (Tim Matheson) who thinks he is a transient and makes him an offer of $50,000 to kill him. The story is that he has bone cancer and doesn’t want to be around to enjoy the most painful aspects of the disease and wants his wife to get the insurance on it by getting killed. Sensing another scoop, Fletch agrees and soon learns that the two stories he is covering are almost one and the same. Michael Ritchie directs this silly but witty comedy.

Nov 2019

22 min

Shelley Long plays prissy longtime acting student Lauren Ames who has never gotten an actual gig, finally finding some hope when she makes her way into a prestigious drama class led by an all-time great international acting coach. Bette Midler co-stars as Sandy Brozinsky, a mouthy, earthy waitress who also suddenly finds herself in the same class without any of the talent or desire to be there. The two have a personality clash immediately that only gets worse once it is discovered that they are both in a relationship with the same dreamboat of a man, Michael Santers (Peter Coyote), who ends up faking his death for reasons the ladies have to put aside their petty differences to discover, mostly to make him choose between them. Their collaborative adventure sees them go on a cross-country trip only to find that there is so much more to Michael they never knew, something which gets them on the run from KGB agents and the CIA to hopefully come out alive, with the MacGuffin being a toxin that can destroy all vegetation within miles with just a few drops. Arthur Hiller directs from a Leslie Dixon script.

Oct 2019

17 min

James Belushi stars as Nick Pirandello, a crude smart-ass that just so happens to be one of the country's top CIA agents, who is ordered to recruit a mild-mannered suburban insurance salesman father, Bob Wilson (John Ritter), a lookalike for a recently iced agent, to join him on a secret mission that may have interplanetary implications that may result in the end of the world as we know it. But Bob is such a sweet-natured man, he needs a crash course in toughening up to the task, which Nick must do in order to achieve the mission's success.  Meanwhile, Bob thinks Nick is off his rocker, particularly when he begins talking like the case involves aliens from outer space. Dennis Feldman writes and directs this zany off-the-wall buddy comedy.

Oct 2019

11 min

The plot of Spies Like Us involves the two most inept, low-level U.S. intelligence agents they could find to go on a mission as expendable decoys for the real agents. Emmett Fitz-Hume (Chevy Chase) and Austin Millbarge (Dan Aykroyd) were scouted by the CIA after cheating on their advanced placement exams, with a mission that sees them parachuting into Pakistan. From there, the bumbling duo ends up in Afghanistan, where they're mistaken for doctors there on a humanitarian mission for the United Nations, followed by run-ins with the Russians during an effort to draw out the identities of Soviet spies in the area so that the real American spies can complete their mission to check out a news style of Soviet missile launcher. With this launcher, they can send up a Soviet missile in order to test the U.S. anti-missile satellite defenses in order to convince the Soviet Union that they have an edge in technology. John Landis directs this silly slapstick comedy.

Oct 2019

18 min

This time it's a bit more personal for John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), as his former Vietnam commander and friend, Colonel Trautman (Richard Crenna), has been captured by Russian forces as he tries to rally the Afghan rebels who have been winning the resistance.  The Afghani people are too suspicious of the American to willingly join his crusade to spring Trautman from his prison cell, leaving him to go it mostly alone, with one or two friends he has made in his short introduction to their ranks.  He faces formidable odds, as the prison is surrounded by landmines, tanks, and hundreds of Russians, and the Russkie leadership is as corrupt and uncaring as the worst of them. John MacDonald directs this ultra-patriotic action-war effort from a script co-written by Stallone himself.

Oct 2019

18 min

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