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80s in August: 1980

I didn’t watch this trailer before the movie…

Hawk the Slayer

Year: 1980
Runtime: 1h 30m
Rated: PG

Director: Terry Marcel

Writers: Terry Marcel, Harry Robertson

Stars: Jack Palance, John Terry, Bernard Bresslaw

“I am no messenger. But I will give you a message. The message of DEATH!”

Streamed on: Tubi

Initial: Hadn’t seen it! I was six when it came out and, since it isn’t a fantasy movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, my parents didn’t even rent it on video (as far as I remember).

Production Notes: Ferdy Mayne is only three years older than Jack Palance, who plays his son.

What Did I Think:
Hawk the Slayer is not good, but it is probably a better D&D movie than the one that came out in out in 2000. That’s not saying much; the bar is pretty low. There are obvious Tolkien/D&D tropes going on here as Hawk gathers up a party of old friends to help him defeat his evil older brother.

The acting is either severely understated (see: John Terry) or scene-chewingly loud (see: Jack Palance). Gord the Giant (Bernard Bresslaw) and Baldin the Dwarf (Peter O’Farrell) almost have chemistry, but not quite. The effects are bad, even for 1980. All the action scenes are obscured by fog, smoke, or snow, so it has that going for it…

Battle Beyond the Stars

Year: 1980
Runtime: 1h 44m
Rated: PG

Director: Jimmy T. Murakami

Writers: John Sayles, Anne Dyer

Stars: George Peppard, Robert Vaughn, Richard Thomas

“I’m hiring mercenaries to protect against an invasion, but food and shelter is all we can offer in payment. All of our wealth is in our culture.”

Streamed on: Tubi

Initial: I thought I had seen this movie, but I think I was confusing it with The Last Starfighter (1984).

Production Notes: This Roger Corman production set in motion some of the most well-regarded science fiction films/talents of the 1980s: James Cameron was employed as an art director. Gale Ann Hurd was the production manager. They would later direct/produce The Terminator (1984) and Aliens (1986). And if the score sounds familiar, this was James Horner’s first major film before going on to score Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) and Aliens.

What Did I Think:
It’s not terrible for an obvious post-Star Wars (1977) cash-grab. The cast includes several name actors, though I believe Richard Thomas’ The Waltons fame had already waned. The plot is basically The Magnificent Seven (1960) in space. The most interesting bit is Shad (Richard Thomas) gathering up mercenaries. Unfortunately, that’s not even half the run time. The space battles repetitive and, therefore, not very interesting. Anything involving female characters is a bit cringey. The model effects aren’t too bad, though.


Year: 1980
Runtime: 1h 46m
Rated: R

Director: Dario Argento

Writers: Dario Argento, Thomas De Quincey, Daria Nicolodi

Stars: Leigh McCloskey, Irene Miracle, Eleonora Giorgi

“Mater Tenebrarum, the Mother of Darkness, who is the youngest and cruelest of the three, controls New York.”

Streamed on: Tubi

Initial: I have a confession to make. While I’m something of a horror fan, I haven’t watched many of Dario Argento’s films. I know him mostly by reputation. Inferno lived up to my expectation of shadowy silhouettes, weird camera angles, and gloved hands.

Production Notes: Director Mario Bava worked on the effects and handled some of the direction while Agento was suffering from hepatitis.

What Did I Think:
Of these three films from 1980, Inferno definitely looks the best. While I find many of Argento’s shot selections and cuts to be confounding, he has a great visual style. But, my goodness, this movie moves slowly. There are some effective tense scenes, but occasionally things are so slow and quiet, I nearly nodded off.

The concept of the Three Mothers is a great setup for a trilogy. Inferno happens to be the middle movie, preceded by Suspiria (1977) and followed by Mother of Tears (2007). I liked Inferno enough to give Argento a few more chances.

Other Genre Movies from 1980: The Empire Strikes Back, Flash Gordon, Altered States, Superman II, Somewhere in Time, The Changeling, The Fog, Friday the 13th, The Shining


Writer, publisher. Hobbies include reading, studying magic & illusions from a historical/theoretical perspective, and playing ultimate frisbee.

2 thoughts on “80s in August: 1980

  1. Have not seen the first two…never even heard of the first one. It’s weird because we were one of the first people in my town to own a VCR so we saw A LOT of movies. Unless I’ve just blocked them from my memory. lol
    Huge Dario Argento fan so I have seen Inferno and Mother of Tears. Suspiria is one of my favorite movies. I first saw it when I was pretty young. Scared the crap out of me, but stayed with me. I’ve watched it many times over the years. The remake was interesting.

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