Silver Emulsion

Film Reviews

Laserblast (1978)

Laserblast (1978)

Starring Kim Milford, Cheryl Smith, Gianni Russo, Ron Masak, Dennis Burkley, Barry Cutler, Mike Bobenko, Eddie Deezen, Keenan Wynn, Roddy McDowall

Directed by Michael Rae

Expectations: Low. The boring pace of End of the World leaves a bad taste in my mouth.


Laserblast reportedly had a budget of $280,000, and producer Charles Band knew just where to spend it. Virtually every penny was sunk straight into entertainment and a finale that delivers slow-motion explosion after slow-motion explosion, further proving that the worth of a movie can exist on explosions alone. Add in some killer stop-motion aliens and a giant laserblaster as cherries on top and we’ve got ourselves a movie!

Laserblast opens as a crazed freak with a giant laserblaster on his arm jumps around in the desert. An alien ship lands and two upright-walking turtles without shells get out and pull their own, smaller laser guns. A short fight ensues, but the aliens are too clever and end up singeing the dude into fine black ash. They board their ship and set out for the far-reaches of the galaxy, but they forgot one thing. The human’s giant laserblaster!

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November 30, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Good Trash, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 Stars, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: T.N.T. Jackson (1975)

T.N.T. Jackson (1975)

Starring Jeannie Bell, Stan Shaw, Chiquito, Pat Anderson, Ken Metcalfe, Imelda Ilanan, Leo Martinez

Directed by Cirio Santiago


T.N.T. Jackson may well be the most generic exploitation film of any genre that I have ever seen. Far from a negative criticism, this movie actually seems to benefit from touching on virtually every genre cliché and fleeting convention in the vernacular of grindhouse cinema. From bouncy afros, bouncy boobs, and lines of guys in white uniforms practicing karate punches, this film has you covered.

It’s also a lesson in bang for your buck economy, as T.N.T. manages to cram it all into a wonderfully slim, 71 minute running time, making this essentially one of the prime, go-to films for those hungry blaxploitation fiends in dire need of a quick fix. You want heroin dealers, kung fu fights, and titties? Then by golly, T.N.T. Jackson is set to deliver.

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November 29, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Action, Blaxploitation, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mini-Review: Splice (2010)

Splice (2010)

Starring Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chanéac, Brandon McGibbon, Simona Maicanescu, David Hewlett, Abigail Chu

Directed by Vincenzo Natali

Expectations: Low.


Splice starts off rather well, peaks about forty minutes in, and then slowly declines until the last fifteen minutes or so. At this point it reaches the cliff of the Grand Canyon and jumps off into oblivion. Despite this bullshit final reel, Splice is actually pretty enjoyable for the most part and is surprisingly shocking at times, even to my depraved mind. Throughout the film the story hinted and teased that it might go down a certain path, but being a studio picture I thought it wouldn’t dare actually do it. They do go there and it’s shocking both visually and morally when they do. When you really think about what you’re witnessing, it’s some twisted shit and I wouldn’t have expected a major Hollywood picture to be this fucked up. It’s a shame that the script wasn’t as good as it could have been, because Splice isn’t too far away from being great, at least in the idea department. The elements are clearly here but the weak, plodding script lacks tension and genuine narrative flow. Even still, Splice is a lot better than I expected it to be.

Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley are both adequate as the genetic research couple, but the star of the show is really Delphine Chanéac as their creation. Without revealing too much, she manages to encompass the questioning nature of her character and the mannerisms associated with her unique situation. The FX are great as well, as director Vincenzo Natali wisely has the masters at KNB providing killer practical FX that get as much screen time as their CG counterparts. The integration between the two is very well done and helps to sell the over-the-top plot to even the most jaded viewer. KNB’s work dominates the majority of close-up FX shots, allowing the intense details of the physical models to inform your mind when the less detailed CG versions take the reigns for the medium-range shots. Natali’s shot selection and framing is also excellent and adds quite a bit of intrigue and interest to the film through clever camerawork and beautiful cinematography.

The final reel is pretty piss-poor though, as it’s pretty clear that they had run out of ideas half an hour earlier. Any goodwill built up over the course of the film is quickly dissipated and the film ends with a telegraphed, bullshit moment that was only inserted so a sequel could be churned out if the film proved successful. Oh well, it was pretty fun while it lasted.

November 27, 2010 Posted by | 2010s, Horror, Mini-Reviews, Movie Reviews, Rating: 1 & 1/2 Stars, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: ThanksKilling (2009)

ThanksKilling (2009)

Starring Lindsey Anderson, General Bastard, Natasha Cordova, Ryan Francis, Chuck Lamb, Lance Predmore, Aaron Ringhiser-Carlson

Directed By Jordan Downey


WOO HOO!! LOOK AT ME, I’M A KILLER TURKEY WITH A ‘TUDE!!!!! AW FUCK BITCH!! NICE TITS BITCH!! YOU JUST GOT STUFFED BITCH!!! GOBBLE GOBBLE MOTHERFUCKER!!!

Watching a film like Thankskilling is about as subtle as being mercilessly kicked in the balls by a screaming dwarf amped up on amphetamines with laserbeam eyes and rusty carpenter nails for teeth. We get it, we get it!! It’s a fucking killer turkey… and he curses!! I’m no dunce, and I know what this film is trying to be, but it fails… over and over and over again. This is the cinematic equivalent to watching a screaming lobster boiled alive, what should be a quick and painless process seems to drag on for an eternity until the sheer agony of it all becomes unbearable.

After opening on an almost Troma-worthy high note, this movie goes to pieces faster than a thanksgiving turkey stuffed with napalm. When you hear the same joke uttered three times within 30 minutes you can’t help but feel like these guys are just desperately grabbing for straws here. It’s embarrassing. From top to bottom this unfunny pile of shit literally had me cringing at moments. You can’t help but feel physical discomfort at the sheer awkwardness of it all. At one point a college student is fooled by the killer turkey wearing her dad’s skin as a mask, ala Leatherface. Not only is it stupid but the scene drags on about three minutes longer than is necessary. That awkward and uncouth spirit runs itself through the course of the entire film. What you essentially have is a silly joke run into the ground until it’s almost begging you to put it out of its misery. It’s almost as if the “Jeez you got a big pussy, Jeez you got a big pussy” guy from Predator made his own feature-length film.

Anybody can come up with an amusing concept, but not just anybody should take said concept and turn it into a 70 minute long motion picture. I can say that a kung fu priest would be funny (and it is, in the right hands), but that doesn’t mean that I’m gonna go out and make a feature-length film about it. Save that shtick for those who are capable, the Lloyd Kaufmans or Peter Jacksons of the world.

Maybe this shit would be funny if I was sparking a massive doobie or suffering from catatonic schizophrenia or something. I just don’t know. Whatever you do this Thanksgiving, enjoy yourself and be thankful that you didn’t have the heinous task of sitting through Thankskilling for review.

November 25, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Comedy, Horror, Mini-Reviews, Movie Reviews, Trash, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Starring Steve Martin, John Candy, Laila Robins, Dylan Baker, Olivia Burnette, Larry Hankin, Richard Herd, Matthew Lawrence, Edie McClurg, Ben Stein, Michael McKean, Kevin Bacon

Directed by John Hughes

Expectations: One of my favorite films. I relish the chance to watch it again.


John Candy is Del Griffith. Traveling shower curtain ring salesman.

Steve Martin is Neal Page. Uptight advertising executive.

Two guys who never would have given a passing thought to each other are thrown together by chance amidst the holiday rush to get home for Thanksgiving. Without a doubt, Planes, Trains and Automobiles is one of my favorite comedies of all time. It hits all the right notes and even in adulthood it remains funny and solid throughout, perhaps even moreso. It has been my go-to Thanksgiving movie for a number of years and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. What makes it so endearing and memorable, in addition to its clever situations and jokes, are the rewarding, heartfelt characters played by two wonderful actors.

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November 24, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

End of the World (1977)

End of the World (1977)

Starring Christopher Lee, Sue Lyon, Kirk Scott, Dean Jagger, Lew Ayres, Macdonald Carey, Liz Ross

Directed by John Hayes

Expectations: Low, but it has Christopher Lee so that’s something.


Plainly put, End of the World is awful. Just wanted to get that out-of-the-way. It’s awful in one of the worst ways a movie can be awful too. It’s excruciatingly boring. So boring that the entire film is summed up within the Netflix summary paragraph, leaving out only minor occurrences. Next to nothing happens in this one, but surprisingly the movie ends on such a high note that I can’t help but think back fondly on the experience. This is the other 1977 film about first contact with alien lifeforms, and actually was released a few months before the more famous film.

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November 23, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Movie Reviews, Rating: 1/2 Star, Science Fiction, Trash | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncle Jasper reviews: Witchboard (1986)

Witchboard (1986)

Starring Todd Allen, Tawny Kitaen, Stephen Nichols, Clare Bristol, Burke Byrnes, Kathleen Wilhoite

Directed By Kevin S. Tenny


Before Kevin Tenny brought us Night of the Demons he gave us Witchboard, the first film of the semi-famed second-tier horror franchise. Witchboard is a surprisingly solid horror film (and unexpected homoerotic soap opera) that succeeds without resorting to much gore. I usually carry pretty high expectations in terms of gratuitous blood and guts in horror films of the era. The fact that Witchboard gets a pass in spite of its splatter deficit says a lot I think.

I think one of the most amazing things however, is that the film manages to carry itself with enough dignity and well crafted scares despite being completely riddled from top to bottom with unlikable characters. Honestly, I don’t think anybody in this film is exempt from being a front-runner for 1986’s Asshole of the Year™ award (which ultimately went to Oliver North). You have the moody drunk carpenter, the-know-it-all elitist douche, the hormonal junkie sexpot, and the obnoxious hermaphrodite psychic. I suppose the film wants you to identify with one of these characters, but to me the only one worth rooting for was the axe murdering spirit, who at least had the common decency to put the business end of a giant hatchet in a few of these miserable bastards.

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November 22, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Horror, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mini-Review: Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jon Favreau

Directed by Jon Favreau

Expectations: Low.


 

I’ve tried to write something about Iron Man 2 for the past week or so and every time I get a couple of paragraphs in I lose interest. This is an adequate analogy for the film as it’s fun while you’re watching it, but there’s absolutely no substance backing it up. It’s a blockbuster, so I don’t necessarily need substance but Iron Man 2 fails to make it up with the killer action sequences and mind-numbing explosions that you expect. It has its share to be sure, but none of them are all that great. Probably my favorite moment of the film was watching Robert Downey Jr. work with his holographic hand-controlled computer interface, which was a fun advancement on the tech seen in Minority Report.

Overall, I liked the cotton candy of Iron Man 2 though. Mickey Rourke, despite a poor accent, is a great addition to the cast. It’s unfortunate that his part in the film is rather minor, as he has to share the villain limelight with Stark’s failing heart. As much as I love Don Cheadle, he is a step down from Terence Howard for this role. Cheadle seems much too soft, but does come into his own by the end of the film, when both Downey and him are suited up and ready to go. Scarlet Johansson is another wasted person, completely superfluous to the film and the story. It’s nice to lay the seeds of The Avengers movie within this film, but for me the S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff was pretty forced. Fuck it though, Sam Jackson as Nick Fury was fairly fulfilling and promises good things to come.

If you liked Iron Man, give this one a go with your brain set to mild indifference. If you go in riding high, you will only be disappointed with this sequel. It fulfills the childhood dreams of watching dudes in robot suits shoot lasers and shit, but not much else. The character relationships are incredibly shallow here and seem to marginally move past what was laid out in the first film. It’s fun and I enjoyed it quite a bit, but it definitely leaves you wanting.

November 19, 2010 Posted by | 2010s, Action, Mini-Reviews, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: Chinatown Kid (1977)

Chinatown Kid [唐人街功夫小子] (1977)

Starring Alexander Fu Sheng, Sun Chien, Shirley Yu, Susan Shaw Yin-Yin, Kuo Chui, Lo Meng, Wang Lung-Wei, Jenny Tseng

Directed By Chang Cheh


 

I’m afraid that this review was a little bungled from the start. This is what happens when you wind up with a bad copy of a film slated for review and are left with no alternatives but to move ahead…

Any true old school kung fu movie fan has no doubt been in sustained elation since the Shaw Bros catalog had been obtained and dramatically restored by those fine folks over at Celestial Pictures almost ten years ago now. It’s been a nice decade of film viewing for fans of the legendary studio, no longer forced to waddle through 7th generation muddy pan & scan copies of their favorite martial arts classics. It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved, as I think nobody can complain about the work done on preserving the integrity and beauty of these fine films.

Then we have Chinatown Kid, which proves to be the proverbial one that got away when this whole deal went down. Not to say that the film doesn’t look amazing, the restoration here is every bit as beautiful as Celestial’s other remastering efforts. The problem is that Celestial went through its arduous, painstaking lengths only to wind up remastering THE WRONG FILM!

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November 18, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Action, Foreign, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Girl Who Played With Fire (2009)

The Girl Who Played With Fire [Flickan som lekte med elden] (2009)

Starring Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Tehilla Blad, Lena Endre, Peter Andersson, Per Oscarsson, Sofia Ledarp, Yasmine Garbi, Georgi Staykov, Annika Hallin

Directed by Daniel Alfredson

Expectations: Low. I didn’t really like the first one that much, but just enough to give this a shot.


 

I wasn’t shy about my indifference to the first film in this series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but despite that I had an urge to see the follow-up. The character of Lisbeth Salander is an intriguing one and I hoped that with a different story surrounding her, I might connect more with the film. This is essentially exactly what happened with The Girl Who Played With Fire and I’m glad I took the plunge.

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November 17, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Action, Drama, Foreign, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars, Thriller | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment