Silver Emulsion

Film Reviews

Uncle Jasper reviews: Blind Fury (1989)

Blind Fury (1989)

Starring Rutger Hauer, Terry O’Quinn, Brandon Call, Noble Willingham, Lisa Blount, Nick Cassavetes, Rick Overton, Randall “Tex” Cobb, Meg Foster, Sho Kosugi

Directed By Phillip Noyce


 

Sometimes you just have to roll with your intuition. No matter how silly and bizarre your idea initially looks on paper you just gotta go on with that gut feeling, confident that there is something about it that just feels “right”. I would imagine that’s how director Phillip Noyce and writer Charles Robert Carner felt as they sat down gingerly, committing this unique slice of 80s action to celluloid.

Blind Fury is a film that once again proves just how versatile and universal the Japanese samurai film was. After the Italians made Yojimbo into a western, and George Lucas threw a little bit of The Hidden Fortress into Star Wars, I guess it was only a matter of time before we had Rutger Hauer combing American highways as a Vietnam veteran incarnation of Zatoichi, taking on the mob almost single-handedly with his walking cane which housed a razor-sharp samurai sword.

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November 11, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Action, Comedy, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: Robot Jox (1990)

Robot Jox (1990)

Starring Gary Graham, Anne-Marie Johnson, Paul Koslo, Robert Sampson, Danny Kamekona, Hilary Mason, Michael Alldredge

Directed By Stuart Gordon


 

My scarce memories of Robot Jox stem more from the trailer than from my first (and only) viewing of the film way back in the early 90s. When Will and I were scheduling reviews for the remainder of 2010, I plopped Robot Jox on there as an excuse to revisit this long forgotten gem after all of these years. Imagine my surprise when Will got back to me with the news that it was an Empire film! …Doh! Being only about 11 years old at the time, I obviously had no idea. Since Will is our resident expert on all things Charles Band, I was a little wary about taking the reigns, but he has given his blessing and I’m proud to contribute my first entry into the long running Empire / Full Moon series here at Silver Emulsion!

Any movie fan who even occasionally dips their feet into the waters of Science Fiction no doubt has seen their share of dystopian futures. You have heavy-handed, big-brother police states like 1984, rain-slicked neon cyberpunk slums ala Blade Runner, and the savage survival world of Mad Max. That’s all fine and dandy, but all we really need to solve the serious problems of the future are gigantic fucking robots stomping the balls off of each other out in the arid hills of Death Valley.

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November 8, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Action, Movie Reviews, Science Fiction, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: Challenge of the Masters (1976)

Challenge of the Masters [陸阿采與黃飛鴻] (1976)

Starring Gordon Liu Chia-Hui, Chen Kuan-Tai, Lau Kar-Leung, Kong Yeung, Wong Yu, Lau Kar Wing, Lily Li Li-Li, Fung Hak-On

Directed By Lau Kar-Leung


 

I was a little nervous on revisiting Challenge of the Masters after such a long time in-between viewings of it. It’s a film that I have a long history with since copying it off of a well-worn VHS copy back during the infancy of Blockbuster Video. Yeah, that’s how we did shit back in the days before digital distribution, instant streaming, and the rise of the World Wide Web. Back then, I had no idea what the deal with the Shaw Brothers was. I recognized Gordon Liu in a couple of other films, but directors, actors, and choreographers meant very little to me at the time. I just knew that when I saw that big, fat SB shield accompanied by the thundering fanfare, it was going to be a higher grade kung fu film than I was used to getting. Challenge of the Masters wound up becoming my favorite martial arts film of the Shaw Bros studios. Now revisiting it 17 years later, I can safely say that is an accolade which still stands.

The film is an “origin story” of sorts to the character of Wong Fei-Hung, whom Gordon Liu plays masterfully here. Jet Li did such a good job of making him seem like a righteous and invincible badass in the Once Upon a Time in China series, that it may come as a shock here to find the character portrayed as a clumsy, unsophisticated, buffoon of sorts, prone to bouts of self-pity and frequent temper tantrums. This is all for the sake of the film however, as Challenge of the Masters presents the ultimate journey in martial arts cinema by taking the “unteachable” teenage Fei-Hung and details his transformation into China’s most well-known folk hero.

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November 4, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Action, Foreign, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: C.H.U.D. (1984)

C.H.U.D. (1984)

Starring John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry, Kim Greist, John Goodman, J.C. Quinn, Michael O’Hare, Hallie Foote

Directed By Douglas Cheek


 

What was it with toxic waste, nuclear ooze, and mutated shit in the 1980s? Sure everyone usually associates the Ninja Turtles with the toxic monster craze of the time, but really they were only one of many. Films like Alligator, The Toxic Avenger, and Warning Sign kind of spawned this influx of toys, cartoons, and video games all showing kids just how much awesome stuff could result from mankind’s general neglect of his environment and a blanket disregard of chemical safety. And shit, who could argue with them? When you are grossing out girls at the lunch table with Madballs and those little plastic garbage cans with slime inside, nuclear waste seems like the coolest fucking thing in the world… Later, in order to completely confuse and baffle our youth, Captain Planet and the Planeteers was thrown into the mix, announcing to us that this toxic shit was no longer cool. Now in 2010, Captain Planet has been off the air for 18 years and counting, while preproduction has just began on The Toxic Avenger 5… you tell me what message ended up resonating more with our youth?

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November 1, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Horror, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Uncle Jasper reviews: The Killer Snakes (1974)

The Killer Snakes (1974)

Starring Kam Kwok-Leung, Maggie Lee Lam-Lam, Chan Chun, Chow Gat, Helen Ko, Lam Fung-Hung

Directed By Kuei Chi-Hung


 

With The Killer Snakes, Shaw’s go-to sleazemeister, Kuei Chi-Hung, reaches stellar new heights (or lows, depending on how sensitive you are to animal cruelty and wild forays into sexual bondage). No stranger to no-holds-barred subject matter, having made the rounds with women’s prison films (Bamboo House of Dolls), and gross-out experiments in the dark arts (Bewitched and The Boxer’s Omen), Chi-Hung plunges the viewer headfirst into his darkest and most socially unredeeming worldview yet.

The Killer Snakes, despite its disturbing imagery and horrifying ventures into only the most psychologically depraved territories, is probably one of the best non martial arts films to ever make it out of Shaw Studios. Don’t get me wrong, it is not a pleasant experience, and I highly doubt I’ll be popping this one in again anytime soon.  But you can’t deny how effective it is in eliciting some pretty heavy reactions from anybody brave enough to dive beneath its unsettling surface.

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October 28, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Foreign, Horror, Movie Reviews, Special Features, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: Oily Maniac (1976)

Oily Maniac [油鬼子] (1976)

Starring Danny Lee, Chen Ping, Lily Li Li-Li, Wa Lun, Wong Hap, Tung Lam, Ku Feng, Lau Wai-Ling, Angela Yu Chien

Directed By Ho Meng-Hua


 

This story is a rewrite of a Nanyang tall tale. It bears the moral that justice does prevail.

It also bears the moral that sexually frustrated polio victims / oil slick monsters do not take kindly to rapists, rape victims, or loose women wishing to be raped. The Oily Maniac is like a delirious cross between The Toxic Avenger, Death Wish, and Psycho. Danny Lee plays Ah Yung, a man rendered virtually impotent by his exposure to polio years prior. Now hobbling along on crutches, he is rejected by Yue, the woman he had long been carrying a torch for. In classic Shaw Brothers melodramatic fashion, he leaves her home amidst poring rain, turning back to steal one last glance through her window only to find Yue half-naked making love to her virile new partner.

Sent into a rage filled shitstorm, Ah Yung visits his uncle, who is on death row about to be executed the following day. He reveals an awesome back tattoo to Ah Yung, which he demands be copied down on paper, as it is a secret recipe for a spell which can grant superhuman strength. The woefully pathetic Ah Yung figures he has nothing to lose, picks up a pickaxe and begins digging away in the middle of his living room, which was built on a sacred burial ground or something. He proceeds to sit in the large hole, which instantly fills up with oil, transforming him into… The Oily Maniac!

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October 25, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Foreign, Horror, Movie Reviews, Special Features, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy (2007)

Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy (2007)

Starring  Mil Máscaras, Jeffrey Uhlmann, Willard E. Pugh, Richard Lynch, Gary Ambrosia, Kurt Rennin Mirtsching, Melissa Osborn, Marco Lanzagorta, El Hijo del Santo, Blue Demon Jr.

Directed By Jeff Burr, Chip Gubera


 

Wait… what?!?!

That was my initial reaction after hearing that Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy was a film that even existed. This is the 21st century. What crazy-ass, pagan-tinged astronomical event caused a Lucha Libre film to sneak out of the collective cinematic well in the year 2007? That alone would have been enough to set my head spinning, but Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy is an English language film!… made not in the crowded alleys of Mexico City, but by a bunch of stuffy engineering students from Columbia University… in Missouri! That sounds about as Mexican as a stiff Earl Grey with a stack of crumpets.

With that much working against it, I had virtually no hope for this film. None whatsoever. But preconceived notions are a bitch, and can really rob you of some of life’s best moments if you let them get in the way. Not only is Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy one of the best lucha films I have ever seen, but it is one of the greatest examples of cinematic homage ever produced. Directors Jeff Burr and Chip Gubera have forged one of the most passionate love letters to a cinematic sub genre I have ever seen. Their knowledge and familiarity with the genre shines through in virtually every frame. These guys are true fans who have picked up on every subtle nuance and convention in lucha cinema and simply ran with them… often times to insanely amusing extremes.

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October 21, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Action, Horror, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncle Jasper reviews: The Mummies of Guanajuato (1972)

The Mummies of Guanajuato [Las Momias de Guanajuato] (1972)

Starring Blue Demon, Mil Máscaras, Santo, Elsa Cárdenas, Julio Cesar, Patricia Ferrer, Manuel Leal, Jorge Pinguino, Juan Gallardo

Directed By Federico Curiel


 

This is it. The Mummies of Gunajuato is famous in lucha circles for not only being the highest grossing Mexican wrestling film of all time, but it also holds the honored distinction of being the first, and only film to ever feature the Big Three together at last, duking it out on the silver screen. Blue Demon, Mil Máscaras and the legendary Santo team up to bring down a city full of invincible mummies in what is one of the most entertaining films of the genre, despite its somewhat misleading nature.

You see, this was essentially a vehicle for Blue Demon and relative newcomer Mil Máscaras. The lucha film industry was in a funk, and in a last minute decision, Santo was brought aboard to catapult this awesome little lucha film into guaranteed blockbuster status. The great thing about this movie is that all of those last-minute backdoor business decisions actually carry over to the film itself. While Blue Demon and Mil Máscaras have been struggling for the entire movie with the mummy horde, Santo casually shows up in the last fifteen minutes or so and dispatches them all with relative ease. The film even toys with Santo’s esteemed reputation in a hilarious, self-referencing manner when halfway through the film Mil Máscaras casually suggests that the two bring Santo into the fold for help, to which Blue Demon instantly brushes aside.

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October 18, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Action, Foreign, Horror, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weekend of Horrors Day 2

Saturday had a little more going for it than the previous day, both in terms of size and content. It looked more like an actual convention instead of senior’s bingo night at the Elk’s lodge. The halls were a lot more crowded and all of the freaky motherfuckers came out of the woodwork, displaying some pretty impressive amateur makeup FX skillz… Kind of awesome unless you’re in urgent need of some restroom relief while caught behind a guy in a zombie mask hauling fake body parts in a wheelbarrow down the hall at a snail’s pace.

Will and I spent most of the day checking out some very interesting panels. Greg Nicotero kicked off the day’s festivities with a look at his recent work from the upcoming Walking Dead TV series. Having read some of the books, I still had only very limited interest in the series as I’m not much of a TV watcher. After seeing a few screened clips however, I am willing to give it a shot, as Greg’s work looks pretty impressive here. AMC is obviously giving him a little more leeway than would normally be allowed for a television series in terms of gore.

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October 17, 2010 Posted by | Extras, Horror, Special Features | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncle Jasper reviews: Las Vampiras (1969)

Las Vampiras (1969)

Starring Mil Máscaras, John Carradine, María Duval, Maura Monti, Marta Romero, Pedro Armendáriz Jr.

Directed By Federico Curiel


 

Boy, oh boy. If there’s anything I’ve always thought my lucha films were sorely lacking in, it’s impotent vampires and John Carradine. Thankfully Las Vampiras came just in the nick of time to remedy that situation. A famous character actor, hand picked out of John Ford’s legendary stock company and plopped right into the middle of the wacky world of Lucha Libre is enough to raise quite a few eyebrows. Unfortunately, the result is by far one of the worst genre offerings I have ever had the misfortune to sit through.

Sorry folks, I really was hoping for a better introduction to the films of Mil Máscaras, the final piece of the lucha holy trinity, than Las Vampiras provided me with. This movie is so careless and jumbled in terms of narrative and atmosphere that it insults the intelligence of even the most devoted follower of lucha cinema. I literally felt my brain cells popping off one by one like a bubbling vat of simmering frijoles.

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October 14, 2010 Posted by | 1960s, Action, Foreign, Horror, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments