Like it’s 1981

It certainly took a while (most of this year), but my latest year-based movie marathon (previously 1967, 1968, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1990) is now done. 1981 was certainly an interesting year, and there was a lot more I wanted to watch than in 1980 — in the end I capped it at the 24 films you see listed below, but there were still a few more on my list, but I just felt like it was time to move on. The other thing that happened this year was that I stopped doing my mini write-ups on this blog, and instead started doing them on the Letterboxd site — so all of the films listed below link to those reviews, which have the bonus that I give them a star-rating as well. So if you’re curious to see what I thought of all these films, I invite you to click through the titles, and you can also follow me on Letterboxd for all of the movie reviews I share there (since I started using the site, I now review every film I watch, not just the ones that are part of my movie marathons). And in terms of marathons, what’s next? Well, that would be 1991, which I will kick off soon.

  1. American Pop
  2. Death Hunt
  3. Excalibur
  4. Escape from New York
  5. For Your Eyes Only
  6. Friday the 13th Part 2
  7. Halloween II
  8. Heavy Metal
  9. History of the World Part 1
  10. My Bloody Valentine
  11. Night Hawks
  12. Omen III: The Final Conflict
  13. Outland
  14. Porky’s
  15. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  16. Scanners
  17. Stripes
  18. The Cannonball Run
  19. The Decline of Western Civilization
  20. The Evil Dead
  21. The Funhouse
  22. The Howling
  23. The Road Warrior
  24. Time Bandits
Debaser Film

My Bloody Valentine (1981)

I definitely remember the VHS box art for this movie, from when I was a kid, but I don’t think I ever got around to watching it — I wasn’t as much of a horror fan back then as I am now. Also, I didn’t know that this is a Canadian film — and after wondering where it was shot because the area and accents felt so familiar, I found out that it was shot in Nova Scotia, not far from where I grew up (in nearby New Brunswick). As for the movie, I thought it was a pretty decent 80s slasher flick — the deaths are pretty gruesome, and the setting (in and around working mines) is actually novel I felt, as is the age of the victims (young adults instead of teens). The setup at the end is also great, and I’m a bit surprised that the reception was apparently pretty negative at the time, and so we never got a sequel (just a remake a couple of decades later). All in all, not a fantastic film or anything, but it was enjoyable to watch.

Debaser Film


Even before I started watching this I was fully expecting it to be problematic, and oh boy, it sure was. I mean, yes, it’s a product of its time, and rampant sexism and misogyny is pretty much par for the course when it comes to that era’s comedies — especially anything that revolves around teens or college students. At first I was even taken aback by some raw examples of anti-Semitism, although that turns out to be a plot point that becomes surprisingly progressive. Did I laugh? A bit, and of course I was looking forward to that “classic” shower scene. Oh, and what a weird freeze-frame ending.

Debaser Film

Halloween II (1981)

This was a lot better than I was expecting — it had been so long since I’d last seen it that I really didn’t remember much, other than the fact that it infamously reveals the family connection between Myers and Strode (that has now been eliminated with the new films, that act as direct sequels to the original film only). What I especially like is that it’s a direct continuation of the first film, and basically continues straight from the last scene of that movie, with the action taking place on the same night. The one thing I don’t quite like is that at this point, as far as I can tell, there’s nothing supernatural about Myers, but he gets drilled with so many bullets that it’s really hard to accept that he keeps going. But hey, it’s still a thrilling ride, I love that small town Halloween night setting, and the Carpenter theme song is still one of the best and most effective movie theme songs of all time. Oh, and Carpenter doesn’t direct it, but it’s still written and produced by him.

Debaser Film

The Final Conflict

I’ve always been a pretty big fan of the Omen movies, and have revisited them a few times over the years. I remember liking the third film as well, even though it takes a bit turn by aging our young Damien, presenting him as an adult — and we also finally veer towards the climax that sees the second coming of Christ, and what our good ol’ son of Satan can do to stop him. It’s still a decent film, with some great sequences throughout, but I find the ending to be a bit too anticlimactic. Seems like Damien is defeated just too quickly and easily, and that scene with the awakening of Christ comes off as a bit cheesy. But I still enjoyed it, and still think that Sam Neill is great as adult Damien.

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I didn’t have particularly fond memories of this movie — I’m sure that kid me was probably expecting Bond in space, and that’s definitely not what this is. It’s basically a slow-paced crime drama in space (or more specifically, in a mining colony on the moon of Io), and one that I ended up quite enjoying. Connery plays the role of the marshal well, and I liked the slow build towards the confrontation that we get near the end. I can’t remember if this was generally well reviewed when it originally came out, but I’d say it’s probably underrated, and a decent crime film with the novelty of a sci-fi backdrop.

Debaser Film

Mad Max 2

Although I knew it as The Road Warrior, the title it had in North America. What a fantastic movie, I absolutely loved revisiting it. It definitely has the same energy that I loved so much in Fury Road, and so it’s quite impressive when you consider the year it came out. The driving scenes and stunts are just so exhilarating, and those bad dudes so iconic — yes, Vernon Wells of course, but even the muscled up main bad dude with the goalie mask. I’d say it’s one of the better films from 1981, no doubt.

Debaser Film

The Cannonball Run

I loved this movie when I was a kid, and I’m sure I watched it countless times — at least, that’s what it felt like when I watched it again now. But wow, talk about being problematic. Jackie Chan plays a Japanese racer while speaking Cantonese with the odd Japanese word slipped in here and there? I did not remember that. It’s definitely a comedy film of the era, worts and all, but I’ll say that I still found a nostalgic satisfaction in watching it. And they really went all out with the James Bond parody — no wonder the Bond producers were angry (and further Bond actor contracts prevented this sort of thing happening again). Oh, and why the hell does the race start with a punch card and so staggered start, but it ends with an all-out run to who punches in first at the end? Probably best not to ask.

Debaser Film

Escape from New York

That opening theme song is still so great — I did want to hear it more during the entirety of the film, but then again, there’s something satisfying about the fact that it only plays again at the very end. This is still a very enjoyable film, although I’m a pretty big John Carpenter fan, so I’m definitely biased. It’s just such a neat idea and setting for a film, simple and effective, and it all just works. Great cast too. Makes me look forward to when it’s time for my 1996 movie marathon so I can watch Escape from LA (which I don’t remember fondly, but I’m still curious to watch again).

Debaser Film


I don’t think I had ever actually seen this movie, other than that now famous head exploding scene (at least in GIF form). All in all, it’s not bad — I won’t say I loved it, and it dragged on a bit at times, and the acting is iffy (and McGoohan was apparently mostly drunk on set), but there’s still enough to like here, especially the psychic battle near the end, and the end itself. I’m glad I finally took the time to watch it.