Silver Emulsion

Film Reviews

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

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)
AKA “The Seven Brothers Meet Dracula” & “Dracula and the 7 Golden Vampires”

Starring Peter Cushing, David Chiang, Robin Stewart, Julie Ege, John Forbes-Robertson, Shih Szu, Chan Shen, Lau Kar Wing, Robert Hanna, Lau Wai Ling

Directed by Roy Ward Baker & Chang Cheh (uncredited)

Expectations: Low. It’s a team-up, I’m not expecting much.


 

For my first foray into Shaw Bros. horror, I picked the film poised to unite the two renowned cult studios of Hammer and Shaw in one great grab at the money from both studio’s fans. Honestly, I don’t know how the film’s production came about, who asked who and all that, but I do know this. The Hammer studio was a giant at the time, primarily making lavish Gothic Horror productions on small budgets with great actors. The Shaw studio was also a giant at the time, primarily making lavish Kung Fu epics on small budgets with great actors. Wait a minute… Yes, I’ve always viewed the two studios as brothers from another mother, banging out their brand of films for the huddled masses. The idea of both studios producing one movie may be too much for celluloid to contain. Realistically, the film could never live up to these kinds of expectations though, so I tried to go in with the mentality that team-ups are always less than the sum of their parts.

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October 26, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Foreign, Horror, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars, Special Features | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

Suspiria (1977)

Suspiria (1977)

Starring Jessica Harper, Udo Kier, Joan Bennett, Alida Valli, Stefania Casini, Miguel Bosé, Flavio Bucci, Barbara Magnolfi

Directed by Dario Argento

Expectations: High. It’s Suspiria, even normal people have heard of it, so I’m assuming it’s good.


 

Well I guess there’s a reason why this is so popular! Suspiria is the Italian horror film to see if you don’t care for Italian horror films, as it has enough creepiness, fear and mystery to make it one hell of an interesting movie. Argento’s previous films tend to need a bit of coaxing and mental adjusting to experience properly. I don’t mean this necessarily in a bad way, it is a natural process I go through when I venture down a new path of foreign films. I find that I need to see a few before I can understand the rhythms and the flow they move at. I don’t watch foreign movies for more of the same, and in order to properly absorb them, some leeway must be given to allow for them to grow on me. If nothing takes root after a few films, then I leave that path behind and try something new. Coming into Suspiria I was a bit unsure if I’d continue down the Giallo path, but I find myself constantly thinking back to the Argento films I’ve watched over this past month and while I might have been less than completely impressed initially, I am haunted by the inventive shots and horrific scenes contained within them. Suspiria solidifies my interest in the Italian horror genre and is probably the most immediately likable of the Argento films I have seen so far.

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October 20, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Foreign, Horror, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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

Deep Red (1975)

Deep Red [Profondo Rosso] (1975)

Starring David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia, Macha Meril, Eros Pagni, Giuliana Calandra, Glauco Mauri, Clara Calamai, Piero Mazzinghi

Directed by Dario Argento

Expectations: Moderate. After The Cat o’ Nine Tails, I am cautious but optomistic.


 

I’m starting to think that if you’ve seen one Argento film, you’ve seen them all. Deep Red may be regarded as one of the best Italian horror films of all time, but for my money, it was just a long-winded, lesser version of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. I’m also beginning to think that because these films are so similar, I’d have a much better reaction to them if I wasn’t watching them in such a short space of time. I’m hoping that the last Argento film for October breaks the cycle a bit, but so far each of the three Argento movies I’ve watched have been very similar. I skipped ahead a couple of movies so that I could get to the big guns of Argento’s filmography. I was also hoping for some sort of maturing to have taken place, but surprisingly Deep Red has a lot more in common with The Cat o’ Nine Tails than I would have thought with all the negative press that movie gets.

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October 13, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Foreign, Horror, Movie Reviews, Mystery, Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars, Thriller | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolf Man (1973)

Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolf Man [Santo y Blue Demon Contra Dracula y el Hombre Lobo] (1973)

Starring Santo, Blue Demon, Aldo Monti, Augustín Martínez Solares, Nubia Martí, María Eugenia San Martín, Wally Barron

Directed By Miguel M. Delgado


 

From the lofty, almost socially conscious heights of Santo in the Wax Museum, we dive headfirst back into familiar Santo lunacy with Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolf Man. This is latter day Santo we’re dealing with again, and if vs. the Monsters taught us anything it’s that el enmascarado de plata was finally allowed some of the finer things in life after saving the world from monsters and aliens countless times. This is an older, leisurely-minded Santo who has nicely settled into his role as superhero, ladies man, and cultural ambassador.  He has a full fledged girlfriend now named Lina, who really represents massive progress in the area of women as portrayed in Santo films. Lina can sport a sexy miniskirt like the best of them, but is also skilled in operating heavy machinery, which proves to be a major asset for an aging luchador with a penchant for supernatural combat.

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October 11, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Action, Foreign, Horror, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971)

The Cat o’ Nine Tails  [Il gatto a nove code] (1971)

Starring James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak, Horst Frank, Aldo Reggiani, Carlo Alighiero, Rada Rassimov, Tom Felleghy, Emilio Marchesini, Ugo Fangareggi

Directed by Dario Argento

Expectations: High. I’m pumped after watching his début. I hope this is good.


 

Hot off the tails of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Dario Argento concocts another horror mystery thriller to get you on the edge of your seat. That was the intention anyway. Unfortunately, The Cat o’ Nine Tails is a step back in every way, and ends up being a much less satisfying film for it. That’s not to say that it’s horrible though, it’s definitely something worth sitting down with. Just don’t expect to be enthralled every minute. The film has a bad rap with fans, critics and even Dario Argento himself, who has called it his least favorite of his films. I honestly feel that the hate is a bit misguided, as this really isn’t all that bad of a movie.

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October 6, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Foreign, Horror, Movie Reviews, Mystery, Rating: 2 Stars, Thriller | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage [L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo] (1970)

Starring Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno, Eva Renzi, Umberto Raho, Renato Romano, Giuseppe Castellano, Mario Adorf, Pino Patti, Gildo Di Marco

Directed by Dario Argento

Expectations: Moderate.


The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is the directorial début from Italian horror legend, Dario Argento. Prior to watching this I had only a limited experience with his films, mostly from  catching short glimpses of scenes in Top 100 Horror countdowns. I did see his 1982 film, Tenebre, in its entirety about ten years ago, but at the time I was unimpressed with just about everything about it. I may enjoy it more if I saw it again but as it stands now, the only thing I really remember about it was the incredible score composed by Italian prog-rockers Goblin. Easily one of my all time favorite film scores. Despite being less than impressed by the film, Tenebre intrigued the hell out of me and made want to watch some of Argento’s other films. It only took me ten years but I’m finally making good on that wish, and the wait has paid off. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is a stunningly shot film, filled to the brim with unforgettable imagery and suspense. It definitely is a flawed film overall, but it still packs a pretty sizable punch and I am happy to report that my decision to review four Argento films over the course of October seems like it will be a good one.

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September 29, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Foreign, Horror, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: The Mighty Peking Man (1977)

The Mighty Peking Man [猩猩王] (1977)

Starring Danny Lee, Evelyn Kraft, Norman Chu Siu-Kung, Lam Wai-Tiu, Ku Feng, Corey Yuen Kwai

Directed By Ho Meng-Hwa


There are definitely a lot of oddities in the Shaw Bros catalog, from the Japanese superhero inspired Super Inframan to the zany, breast milk squirting antics of Black Magic. But I don’t think any separates itself from the pack more than The Mighty Peking Man, which has about as much in common with Shaolin monks and rival kung fu schools as it does with Shakespearean comedies. If you’ve ever begged to find out what happens when a movie studio famous for its kung fu films decides to remake King Kong, then The Mighty Peking Man is just the movie for you.

We’re all familiar with the story by now. A giant gorilla living in some faraway uncharted land is captured by a bunch of ignorant humans, only interested in pimping out the oddity of nature for profit. The monster naturally breaks loose, whereupon it systematically rampages through the city, causing millions of dollars in damage before being tragically massacred… You’ll get all of that here, but I think this film has enough going for it to separate itself from all of the other imitators. This is the Shaw Studios we’re talking about here and you can bet that they’re sure to stamp their indelible charm onto the proceedings.

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September 23, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Action, Foreign, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments