Knife Under the Throat (1986)

Catherine (Florence Guerin, FacelessToo Beautiful to Die, Demons 6: De Profundis) is an adult magazine model who is being stalked over the phone. That’s not as bad as some of the other girls she works with. After all, they’re not just getting heavy breathing. They’re getting killed.

Brigitte Lahaie is in this, pretty much a perfect fit for her background. She rose from the X-rated films of France to be recognized by Jean Rollin, who cast her in his films The Grapes of Death and Fascination. This also makes sense as to why Claude Mulot directed this, as the majority of his career was also in adult films. He’d die a few years later in a drowning accident. He also made The Blood Rose, a film so close to a Jess Franco movie that Troy Howarth would say in So Deadly, So Perverse: Giallo-Style Films from Around the World Volume 3, “wone would be forgiven for thinking that Franco had made it himself.”

This doesn’t do anything special or different than any other giallo. Both Guerin and Lahaie would make Franco’s Faceless soon after, a much better film.

La Casa del Buon Ritorno (1986)

This 1986 late model Italian giallo — with a title that translates as The House of Good Returns  — was written, directed and produced by Beppe Cino. It is the only horror movie he’s made.

Twenty years ago, a young girl died here. Now, Luca and his fiancee Margit have come back, reopening old memories and unleashing Ayesha, a mysterious woman, and a series of killings.

Yes, Luca killed that girl accidentally when she put on a mask to frighten him. But now, that very same Onibaba mask is being worn by a killer. Of course, that mask comes directly from the 1964 film Onibaba, but this a film that shows its influences for all to see, like large chunks taken from Deep Red. But hey — remixing is art, after all, and this movie looks great, feels like a dream sequence and is the only giallo I’ve ever seen with music that would fit better into a Woody Allen film.

While this was released on VHS in countries like Italy, Spain (The House of No Return) and Germany (The House of the Blue Shadows), it was never put out on DVD until its 2020 TetroVideo reissue. It still hasn’t been dubbed into English. In a strange way, it’s Japanese look reminds me of another completely off-kilter movie that makes dream logic sense, Blood Beat.

The Killer Is Still Among Us (1986)

Also known as Florence! The Killer is Still Among Us and The Killer Has Returned, you have to admire the chutzpah — or the gall — of a film to have the disclaimer “This film was made as a warning to young people and with the hope that it will be of use to law enforcement to bring these ferocious killers to justice,” after you’ve just watched 83 minutes of a killer graphically mutilating women and their most intimate of parts, as if this were some bid to outdo Giallo  In Venice or The New York Ripper.

Based on the true story of the Florence serial killer “The Monster of Florence,” this was written by Ernesto Gastaldi (The Whip and the BodyAll the Colors of the DarkMy Name Is Nobody) and Giuliano Carnimeo (who directed four of the Sartana films under the alias Anthony Ascott, as well as The Case of the Bloody Iris, Exterminators of the Year 3000 and Ratman).

Directing this movie — and helping with the script — would be Camillio Teti, who produced The Dead Are Alive and Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi’s attempt at a non-mondo, the ironically named Mondo Candideo.

Much like a scene out of Maniac, a couple on lover’s lane is blown away mid-aardvark by a gloved killer. What separates the uomini from the ragazzi is that the killer then uses a knife and a tree branch to do things that made me turn my head from the screen for an extended period of time.

Christiana Marelli has been studying the killer in criminology class to the displeasure of her boyfriend, the cops and her teachers. This leads to her being stalked via phone and in person by the killer. Of course, seeing as how Alex, that formerly mentioned boyfriend, is never around during these killings, you can see why she starts thinking he could be Il Mostro.

The film moves from the giallo into the supernatural as our heroine attends a seance where the medium has a vision of the killer decimating a camping couple, soon developing the same wound that the victims just received.

What does Christina do? Run to the theater to see if Alex is there or not, proving that while he is waiting for her, he certainly could still be the killer. If I were her professor, I’d have given her a zero out of thirty.

After all this, she just sits down to watch a movie with him and it ends up being the same film we’ve just been watching. That’s either a huge cop out or just how you expect a giallo to end.

Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986)

This is Penny Marshall’s directorial debut. She replaced Howard Zieff, the director of the two My Girl movies, and the script — originally intended for Shelley Long when people actually thought she’d be likable enough to open a movie — was rewritten as the movie was shot. You know how Hollywood works. If you can’t get Shelley Long, get Whoopi Goldberg.

Whoopi is Terry Doolittle, a computer operator at a Manhattan bank surrounded by really funny people like Carol Kane, Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman. You also get minor parts for Tracy Ullman, Annie Potts, Jim Belushi and Michael McKean.

The story itself is a Cold War spy movie that has computers do things that they could not do in 1986. There are also more Rolling Stones references than just the title, if you’re looking for a movie with those kinds of things.

Is it sad that I know that Jonathan Pryce, who plays Jack, was also the President in two G.I. Joe movies?

Somehow, in the midst of quarantine, I was subjected to two Penny Marshall movies. This means that I have the horrifying Awakenings and Riding In Cars with Boys before COVID-19 is done.

Weekend Warriors (1986)

Bert Convy directed one movie. This is it.

The rest of the world doesn’t remember it. I’d like to celebrate it for you, as it’s a monument to the late night cable stupidity that I spend a good chunk of my teen years on. Who am I lying to? I’ve spent a good portion of my life watching movies like this.

When TV Guide reviewed this movie, they said, “Honestly, there isn’t one moment in this alleged comedy that anyone over the age of seven would find even remotely funny.”

When I reviewed this movie, I stood on my couch and screamed, “I love Vic Tayback!” like some kind of imbecile.

Also known as Hollywood Air Force, this film is all about the adventures of Hollywood actors, stuntmen and writers who have been drafted into military service during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

After getting in trouble, they must pass an inspection or be sent to actual military service. Led by Vince Tucker (Chris Lemmon), they use movie magic to appear that they look like they know what they’re doing.

In addition to the beloved Tayback, Lloyd Bridges, Matt McCoy (Sgt. Nick Lassard, of course), Tom Villard from We Got It Made and Deep Roy — yes, Fellini from Flash Gordon — all appear.

If you’re the kind of TV junkie who would get excited when E.Z. Taylor from the Three’s Company spin-off Three’s A Crowd shows up, much less also know that he was Kevin in The Final Terror, then this is a movie that you should come over to watch with me after this pandemic ends. Or maybe we’ll just watch it over the internet.

Combat Academy (1986)

When it comes to the youth against authority genre, you really can’t go wrong with Neal Israel. Just look at his resume. Beyond directing  Bachelor Party, he wrote Police AcademyMoving Violations and Real Genius. Here’s a weird fact: he was once married to Amy Heckerling, but they divorced after making Look Who’s Talking Too together. You know what else helped? Israel believed their daughter, Mollie, was his until a DNA test proved that she was really the daughter of Harold Ramis.

Originally airing on NBC on November 23, 1986, this movie is all about Max Mendelsson (Keith Gordon, who seemingly was in everything) and Perry Barnett (Wally Ward), two pranksters who cause so much damage that a judge (Sherman Hemsley) sends them to Kirkland Military School.

There, they run afoul of Cadet Major Biff Woods (George Clooney!), who is trying to prove himself to his father, General Edward “Ed” Woods (Robert Culp) who runs the school along with Colonel Frierick (Jamie Farr).

I can hear you asking so let me answer. Yes, as this movie was made in 1986, Richard Moll is definitely in it. He and Keith Gordon being in the same movie, well…if Michael Caine had been there as well, the world would have ended. We got close with Dressed to Kill. This would be the other time that the world skirted so close to oblivion, with these multi-movie stars all so close to aligning and unleashing the end of all things.

It also has the late Dana Hill from National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Bernie Kopell (Doc from Love Boat), Dick Van Patten, Tina Caspary (Mac and MeTeen Witch), John Ratzenberger and Marc Price (Ragman from Trick or Treat).

Before Neal Israel’s connection with Police Academy, you may have seen this movie as Combat High. It was renamed in syndication.

You can watch this on YouTube:

Recruits (1986)

Mayor Bagley learns that the governor is coming to his town of Clam Cove  to announce that they’re getting a freeway. To make sure nothing goes wrong, he demands that Police Chief McGruder (Mike McDonald, who was also in Oddballs and Screwballs II) add more people to the police force. That means that anyone can be a cop. And before you can ask, “Isn’t this almost the same movie as Police Academy?” I’m ready to answer that this is a Canadian tax shelter movie made in Ottawa’s Wasaga Beach, just like Fireballs, which was filmed at the same time.

If you want to win a trivia contest — actually I don’t know who would ask this question — this would be Lolita Davidovich’s third movie. It’s also the first movie for Jon Mikl Thor, who would make Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare the very next year.

Director Rafal Zielinski would also make two Screwballs movies, as well as State Park, which you know that I’ve watched several times. He also made Spellcaster, which has Adam Ant, DJ Richard Blade and Traci Lind from Fright Night Part 2. You better believe I’m hunting that movie down as you read this.

Hollywood Vice Squad (1986)

Penelope Spheeris made Wayne’s World, which is what so many know her for. Me, I remember when she made the three The Decline of Western Civilization movies. I would also like to forget that she made The Beverly Hillbillies and The Little Rascals.

She also made this movie about a vice squad that battles drug dealers and pornographers. In fact, three different teams of Hollywood Vice Squad officers work on three separate cases which include mob-run betting parlor, a bondage porn director and an old gangster who runs a teenage prostitution ring. Yes, there’s something here for the whole family.

Officers Chang (Evan C. Kim, Loo from The Kentucky Fried Movie) and Stevens (Joey Travolta) are two of the cops and their game is to act like Chang is a tourist. Things go too far when one of the girls ends up being a man with a knife, leading to a tense moment.

There’s also Officer Melton (Carris Fisher), who the boys — Jensen (Ronny Cox), Chavez and Miller — don’t trust to go after a BDSM director on her own.

Oh yeah — Pauline Stanton (Trish Van DeVere, the widow of George C. Scott) is looking for her daughter (Robin Wright), who has been kidnapped by James Walsh, owner of Pretty Girl Escorts. You know what I say: Never trust someone played by Frank Gorshin.

One of the other cops is played by Leon Isaac Kennedy, who was in all the Penitentiary movies as Martel “Too Sweet” Gordone. He should know something about vice, as he’s one of the first celebrities to have a sex tape leak, albeit one with his then-wife Jayne Kennedy.

Hard Boiled Haggerty is also in this, as he is in every movie that needed a bald henchman that Richard Moll had no interest in. He’s a former pro wrestler that shows up in more movies than you can imagine — everything from Paint Your Wagon to EarthquakeDeathsport and Rad.

Actually, I recognize so many people here. There’s Cec Verrell from Hell Comes to Frogtown. Beau Starr — yes, Sheriff Ben Meeker — is here. Julius Harris — Gravedigger from Darkman and Tee Hee Johnson from Live and Let Die is about the place. And Sandra Crisp, who was also known as Goddess Bunny, a drag queen star who survived a horrifying foster family and polio.

Kenneth Peters also wrote Vice Squad. No relation and no Wings Hauser.

This movie is, charitably, a mess. Fisher realized that and used it as the inspiration for the movie within her book Postcards from the Edge. But hey — you may like it. Check it out on Amazon Prime or Tubi.

REPOST: Stewardess School (1986)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This review was originally posted on our site on April 13, 2019, back when we were discussing teen sex comedies. A year later and not much has changed.

Any movie that starts with a plane crashing into downtown LA that’s played as a total farce is one I’m going to remember. Philo (Brett Cullen, who was on Falcon Crest and played Johnny Blaze’s dad in 2007’s Ghost RIder) has always wanted to be a pilot, but that crash — in a simulator — is because his contact lenses got knocked out by his friend and fellow pilot George (Donny Most, here booked as Don).

They decide that they want to stay on planes, so they enroll at Weidermeyer Academy, a stewardess school. Imagine Police Academy throughout this movie, with the teachers like Miss “Ironpants” Grummet as the older cops and the students as the cadets. Mary Cadorette — who played Vicky, the girl who finally got Jack Tripper to settle down and go from Three’s Company to Three’s a Crowd — is Kelly Johnson, an extremely clumsy girl. There’s a stereotypical gay guy. A frumpy overweight girl played by Wendie Jo Sperber, as Wendie played this role in nearly every film. There’s Wanda Polanski, a pro wrestler who just lost her latest boyfriend played by Conan the Barbarian‘s Sandahl Bergman. Julia Montgomery — yes, Betty Childs herself — plays an overly nice version of that role. Corinne Bohrer plays a punk rock girl in love with a biker (she’s a vet of these movies, appearing in Zapped!JoysticksSurf IIRevenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love and the fourth Police Academy movie). And oh yeah — Judy Landers as Sugar Dubois, a hooker with a heart of gold that’s on work release.

After going through hell, everyone graduates and gets a job at the struggling Stromboli Air. Their first flight has a blind person’s convention and a man with a bomb who doses people with LSD. Of course, our heroes have to land the plane and fix things. But don’t worry — everything works out just fine.

Voiceover artist Rob Paulsen (Pinky of Pinky and the Brain amongst 250 different animated characters and over 1000 commercials) shows up in a rare live-action role. Sherman Helmsley appears briefly as Mr. Buttersworth. And the owner of the school is played by William Bogert, who hosted the Frontline segments on Chapelle’s Show.

If you had Comedy Central in the 1990’s, there’s a good chance you saw this movie. Trust me. You did.

You can watch the whole movie on YouTube:

Last Resort (1986)

Zane Busby started her career as an editor for Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain and acted in Up In Smoke before directed this movie for Julie Corman. This is one of those movies that has a surprising cast, beyond Charles Grodin in the lead. There’s Megan Mullaly, Gerrit Graham, Jon Lovitz, Phil Hartman and Mario Van Peebles all making appearances.

George Lollar (Grodin) takes his family on vacation to Club Sand, where everyone else is having sex while he has his kids in tow. There’s also a revolution happening, a staff that could care less about hospitality and Charles Grodin being, well, Charles Grodin.

It’s also the only woke movie I’ve seen in these 80’s comedies where the other f word gets someone in trouble. About time — I knew things were intolerant back then, but it’s nice to see that some people were also willing to tell people to back off.

Man, not to pile on the Grodin downers, but this movie is the kind of film that posits the question, “Can Charles Grodin be the Chevy Chase that people love or the Chevy Chase that people hate?” Remember that Casio keyboard that Chevy would randomly play on his abortive talk show? I’m shocked Grodin wasn’t lugging it around. There’s your answer.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime and Tubi.