Silver Emulsion

Film Reviews

The Boxer’s Omen (1983)

The Boxer’s Omen [魔] (1983)

Starring Phillip Ko Fei, Lam Hiu Yin, Wai Ga Man, Bolo Yeung-Tze, Wang Lung-Wei, Elvis Tsui Kam Kong, Cheung Chok Chow, Leung Hak Shun, David Lam Wai, Wan Seung Lam, Lai Yau Hing, Lam Chi Tai

Directed by Kuei Chi-Hung

Expectations: High, it’s a Kuei Chi-Hung black magic movie.


Regular visitors will be familiar with the extreme exploits of director Kuei Chi-Hung, the Shaw Brothers’ resident weirdo. Films such as The Killer Snakes and Virgins of the Seven Seas show his range, but for my money his witchcraft movies are the main event. The Boxer’s Omen is a slight sequel to his previous film Bewitched, and it should open with a serious warning to anyone that could possibly be pregnant and/or have a heart condition. Kuei pulls no punches during the nearly non-stop parade of filth that constitutes The Boxer’s Omen, so fans of Hong Kong witchcraft films ready your snake gallbladders and alligator carcasses and we’ll get down to business.

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December 17, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Foreign, Good Trash, Horror, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: Chopping Mall (1986)

Chopping Mall (1986)

Starring Kelli Maroney, Tony O’Dell, John Terlesky, Russell Todd, Karrie Emerson, Barbara Crampton, Suzee Slater, Dick Miller

Directed by Jim Wynorski


As much as I’d like to tell you that Chopping Mall contains some great subtext about rabid consumerism, it really doesn’t. Search deep and you may drag out a few sketchy hints at social commentary, but apart from a short opening credit montage featuring fast food trays, bikini clad models, and other rudimentary symbols of American tawdriness and convenience-worship, it’s really just a fantastic little movie about a bunch of (mostly) unlikable young store workers being hunted down by killer robots. And by golly, that’s all you really need. A lot of potentially great films have been ruined by ambition. Chopping Mall takes ambition and shoots it in the back of the fucking neck with a mini harpoon claw.

Whereas some films come off as slaves to convention, Chopping Mall seems to revel in it. This is a veritable masterpiece of contrived cinema right here folks, and because of this it soars. Who gives a fuck if the plot is more or less directly ripped off from Dawn of the Dead? Who cares if the mall’s sporting goods store seems to only be stocked with high-powered assault rifles and tactical-edge 12 gauge shotguns? The lesson here is a simple one, people trapped in shopping malls fighting shit that wants to kill them is awesome. No need to shy away from that fact. There really is no end to the zany fun to be had here. Testosterone-addled characters spit out goofy one-liners like “Let’s go send those fuckers a Rambogram” while posturing all macho and shit. A pursued heroine has nowhere to hide except for an ill-lighted pet shop… Trying hard to remain silent, escaped snakes and hairy tarantulas climb all over her. About two-thirds of the way through, with the odds stacked against our survivors and no escape in sight, one of them conveniently gets an idea about shutting down “the main computer”. Oh man, THE MAIN COMPUTER! …of course!! Why didn’t we think about that sooner?!

Why the hell not? Allow yourself to be whisked away by convention here. This is the world of Chopping Mall. A world where a few gallons of spilled paint and a road flare can level an entire hardware store. A world where antiquated security drones vaporize a screaming woman’s head into red watermelon spray, raw hamburger, and bone splinters within the blink of an eye. I don’t even think they mention why the robots go apeshit and begin indiscriminately killing people in the first place. I don’t care. I love this movie.

December 6, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Horror, Mini-Reviews, Movie Reviews, Science Fiction, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

Uncle Jasper reviews: Vamp (1986)

Vamp (1986)

Starring Chris Makepeace, Sandy Baron, Robert Rusler, Dedee Pfeiffer, Gedde Watanabe, Grace Jones, Billy Drago

Directed By Richard Wenk


 

Let me get this out of the way. Vamp is a fucking hoot. It’s a genuinely superb horror comedy in the same vein as Fright Night and Night of the Creeps, but it oozes enough style and a quirky tongue-in-cheek swagger to really set itself apart from the pack. There are a lot of vampire films out there, and a lot of those were made in the 80s, but only one of them features the 9 foot tall, Manute Bol lookalike Grace Jones as a freaky vampire stripper who partakes in jugular snacks from young frat boys and rips the hearts out from insolent servants.

Indeed, Vamp strikes its campy tone right off the bat and runs with it. From the clever first scene you know exactly what you’re getting into. The action follows Keith and AJ, a couple of college dregs doing what they can to enter some freaky, high-brow fraternity. With their hope almost lost, they pledge to bring in booze and strippers in a last ditch attempt to gain acceptance. With the help of uber-prep Duncan (played by Gedde Watanabe of Sixteen Candles fame) the trio embark on a trip to the big city in search of the alluring “After Hours Club”. Yeah yeah, I know what you’re thinking… this is no different from the goofy college boy antics I’ve seen before in Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds. Can’t argue with that, but it’s during Vamp’s second act that things take a turn for the better.

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November 15, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Comedy, Horror, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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

Uninvited (1988)

Uninvited (1988)

Starring Toni Hudson, Eric Larson, Alex Cord, George Kennedy, Clu Gulager, Clare Carey, Rob Estes, Shari Shattuck

Directed by Greydon Clark

Expectations: Low. I don’t know anything about this except it has a killer mutated cat.


 

Well, I gotta give this movie credit. I’ve never seen a horror movie about an escaped lab cat that has a mutated version of itself living inside it that crawls out of its mouth to kill those that do it wrong. That’s about where the imagination ends in Uninvited, but with such a killer setup, it would be a shame if they wasted it. Thankfully they don’t, and the killer cat mutation stuff is fantastic, it’s just everything else surrounding it that’s kind of lame. As a low-budget horror film from the late 80s though, it should be expected that “the other stuff” is gonna be fairly sub-par.

Uninvited is yet another entry into the “stuck in a location being hunted down by an unseen killer” subgenre of horror that I mentioned in my Crash and Burn review yesterday. The subgenre is brilliant in its simplicity and absolute flexibility. It’s like Madlibs for the movies, where if you can think up a good location for the people to be stuck in, along with a creative type of killer, you’ve pretty much got yourself a winner. Films within the subgenre become instantly recognizable by these two traits alone, and simply by mentioning them you should be able to jog your friend’s memory to recall what film you’re talking about. Horror fans will forever remember Uninvited as “the one where the mutated cat kills people on a yacht.”

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November 10, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Horror, Movie Reviews, Rating: 1 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Falkenau, the Impossible (1988)

Falkenau, the Impossible [Falkenau, Vision de L’Impossible] (1988)

Starring Samuel Fuller

Directed by Emil Weiss

Expectations: High. I have been eagerly anticipating watching this since I reviewed The Big Red One a couple months back.


 

After moving to France following all the NAACP hoopla surrounding his last American film White Dog, Sam Fuller seemed to finally get the adoration and credit he always deserved at the hands of many European filmmakers and fans. One way they showed this gratitude was by making documentary films about the man, starring and narrated by Fuller himself. This is the first of these that I will be reviewing for the site and it is an apt place to start after recently looking at Fuller’s epic WWII film, The Big Red One. That film ends with the liberation of the Falkenau concentration camp, and it is this event that is the main subject of this documentary.

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November 5, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Documentary, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 & 1/2 Stars, Short, War | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ghost Warrior (1986)

Ghost Warrior (1986)
AKA Swordkill

Starring Hiroshi Fujioka, John Calvin, Janet Julian, Charles Lampkin, Frank Schuller, Bill Morey, Andy Wood, Robert Kino

Directed by J. Larry Carroll

Expectations: Low. The concept is great, but I don’t wanna get my hopes up.


 

Forget everything you know about physics and medical science and get ready for a pretty serious little movie about a frozen samurai. Yes, you read that right I said serious and frozen samurai in the same sentence. Admittedly, when I heard the premise for this film, I simultaneously squealed and cringed, as something this good has an ultimate potential to disappoint. Surprisingly, that’s not the case though as Ghost Warrior is one very enjoyable film.

Ghost Warrior is about an ancient samurai named Yoshimitsu who falls in battle in the 1500s, landing in an icy lake at the moment of his death. Through some simple twist of fate his body is preserved until the 1980s when two skiers happen into an ice cave and notice a hand frozen in a stalagmite. The body is rushed to the California Cryonics Institute where the scientists are tasked with performing an autopsy on this rare and important anthropological discovery. The head honcho has another plan though… to bring the ancient warrior back to life!

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November 2, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Drama, Fantasy, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 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