Silver Emulsion

Film Reviews

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

From Beyond (1986)

From Beyond (1986)

Starring Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ted Sorel, Ken Foree, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, Bunny Summers, Bruce McGuire

Directed by Stuart Gordon

Expectations: High. I enjoyed Gordon’s first film Re-Animator a lot.


 

To get right to the point, if you enjoyed Re-Animator and you haven’t seen this, then you’ve got one more movie to add to your queue. From Beyond is a worthy follow-up to what director Stuart Gordon achieved in Re-Animator and features the same over-the-top, gross-out hilarity. It doesn’t equal the previous film, but it gets pretty close. Like Re-Animator, this is another H.P. Lovecraft adaptation. I must admit that I’ve never read any of his work, so I don’t know how faithful this is to the original tale. If his original story is truly this whacked out though, then I definitely need to check out some of his work to fill my insatiable hunger for this kind of twisted filth. The story here has Jeffrey Combs in a similar role to his character from Re-Animator, Herbert West. Combs plays Crawford who is an assistant to a scientist creating a Resonator machine that stimulates the pineal gland in the human brain through sound waves, allowing those affected to see another layer of reality where eels and jellyfish swim in the air. It’s also highly dangerous, on one hand due to its addictiveness and on the other hand because this realm is inhabited by a no-bullshit monster that promptly twists the head off of Combs’ mentor. Combs is accused of the murder and taken to a mental hospital, where he intrigues a psychologist (Barbara Crampton) enough to talk the hospital into releasing him into her custody. They venture back to the house along with Ken Foree and attempt to recreate the event in order to prove that Combs is sane. Don’t question it, just enjoy it.

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October 19, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Horror, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

TerrorVision (1986)

TerrorVision (1986)

Starring Chad Allen, Diane Franklin, Mary Woronov, Gerrit Graham, Bert Remsen, Jon Gries, Jennifer Richards, Alejandro Rey, Randi Brooks, Frank Welker

Directed by Ted Nicolaou

Expectations: Moderate.


 

If you’re looking for a serious injection of the 1980s into your life, then look no further than this morally questionable little film, Terrorvision. Everything in this movie is dripping with the kind of Velveeta that only the 1980s could produce. The thing is, this only goes so far and unfortunately it ends up working against itself. After the initial laughs have passed, it all gets really tiring because at the heart of the matter, this really would have worked a lot better as a short.

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October 15, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Comedy, Horror, Movie Reviews, Rating: 1 & 1/2 Stars, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Troll (1986)

Troll (1986)

Starring Noah Hathaway, Michael Moriarty, Jenny Beck, June Lockhart, Sonny Bono, Shelley Hack, Phil Fondacaro, Anne Lockhart, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Gary Sandy

Directed by John Carl Buechler

Expectations: Moderate.


There’s a lot of films that are just plain bad. There are a few though that can transcend the steamy birthing pit of awful and become something truly enjoyable. Troll is one such film and it was a distinct pleasure to watch. I felt like the stars had aligned, the tides had synchronized, the rubber band at the crux of the universe had been perfectly tightened. I locked into the Troll mythos and never looked back. This is truly one of the crowning gems of the Empire International catalog.

Troll tells the story of a family moving into a new apartment building. Upon their arrival the young daughter of the clan explores the downstairs laundry room and is accosted by a troll! The troll assumes control of her body and takes her place amongst the family. Immediately it is obvious that she has changed, as she ravenously tears into an open-faced hamburger and then wigs out with the thrill of consuming meat and runs around the entire building screaming, “Ratburgers!” The troll continues its rampage throughout the film, slowly taking over the entire building, one apartment at a time.

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October 5, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Fantasy, Horror, Kids, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Re-Animator (1985)

Re-Animator (1985)

Starring Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale, Robert Sampson, Gerry Black

Directed by Stuart Gordon

Expectations: High. I’ve been building this movie up in my head for years.


Distributed by Empire International, Re-Animator is one of the hallmarks of 1980s horror cinema. Finally watching it after all these years of build up was something of an event and one that I truly enjoyed, even with my high expectations. Based on a little known story called Herbert West–Reanimator by H.P. Lovecraft, the film is so much more than the simple Frankenstein re-telling I expected it to be. Apparently Lovecraft wrote the story as a parody of Mary Shelley’s classic tale and while the filmed story differs quite a bit from the original, it can still be seen as a slight parody re-telling.

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September 7, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Good Trash, Horror, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zone Troopers (1985)

Zone Troopers (1985)

Starring Tim Thomerson, Timothy Van Patten, Art LaFleur, Biff Manard, William Paulson

Directed by Danny Bilson

Expectations: Pretty high. This is cheesy 80s Sci-Fi. I’m gonna like it.


Going into Zone Troopers I knew three things. I knew it was set during World War II, that there were crash-landed aliens, and that I was gonna love it. My information was correct and the film did not disappoint. Over the opening credits we are treated to Glenn Miller’s In the Mood, one of the most iconic and well-known swing songs of the era. It seems like an easy and somewhat lazy choice here, but as we’re going for instant time recognition, there’s nothing like In the Mood to sell the 40s. As the song ends the screen irises out, revealing a full-color science fiction magazine called Fantastic Fiction in the hands of Joey (Timothy Van Patten), a young Army private with wonder in his eyes. Another soldier, Mittens (Art LaFleur), wants to read Joey’s other book, “the one with the blonde dames from space,” but Joey traded it for a pack of Luckies. Yep, this is World War II alright.

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August 10, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Action, Good Trash, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 Stars, Science Fiction, War | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trancers (1985)

Trancers (1985)

Starring Tim Thomerson, Helen Hunt, Michael Stefani, Art LaFleur, Telma Hopkins, Richard Herd, Anne Seymour, Biff Manard

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Very high. 80s Sci-fi is hard to top for me.


Police Trooper Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) hurtles back in time to 1985 to apprehend the dangerous criminal Whistler, who is seeking out the ancestors of the future society’s city council and killing them off. Whistler can turn weak minded people into zombie-like creatures called Trancers with his psychic powers and Jack Deth is the only man crazy enough for the job. Deth is a rough and tumble, no frills badass that throws his badge to the ground in the first five minutes and writes the rules as he sees fit. For instance, right before the injection that will send him back in time, the lab techs show Deth the body of Whistler in their lab. The scientists explain that they recovered the body and brought it in so that when he brings Whistler back to the future, they will already have him in custody. Instantly I thought, “Kill him now! Don’t let his body live!” Great minds think alike as Jack Deth takes me up on my offer, whipping out his pistol and shooting the body, causing it to explode! Oh yeah!

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July 20, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ragewar (1985)

Ragewar (1985)
AKA “Ragewar: The Challenges of Excalibrate” & “The Dungeonmaster”

Starring Jeffrey Byron, Richard Moll, Leslie Wing, Phil Fondacaro, Anthony T. Genova III, Lonnie Hashimoto, Michael Steve Jones, Peter Kent, Paul Pape, Randy Popplewell, Felix Silla, W.A.S.P.

Directed by Dave Allen, Charles Band, John Carl Buechler, Steven Ford, Peter Manoogian, Ted Nicolaou, Rosemarie Turko

Expectations: High. With a title like Ragewar, it’s hard not to have high hopes.


Did you ever wear an NES Power Glove when you were a kid and pretend you were pushing buttons on it, affecting the real world? Me too, and boy have I got a movie for you!

The film opens with a short dream sequence in which our hero finds himself slowly chasing after a woman in a red dress. He follows her into a room where she has disrobed and lies on a spotlighted bed. He goes in for a kiss, but shortly after, a bunch of Tusken Raider-like mutants bust through the door, punch him out and take the girl! This has no real bearing on the main story but it sets up the film nicely. Upon US release this scene was removed in order to secure a PG-13 rating and the title was changed to The Dungeonmaster to capitalize on the success of Dungeons and Dragons, despite having zero relation to the classic pen and paper RPG.

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July 16, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Fantasy, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 Stars, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Alchemist (1984)

The Alchemist (1984)

Starring Robert Ginty, Lucinda Dooling, John Sanderford, Viola Kates Stimpson, Robert Glaudini

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Low. This looks promising, but…


The Alchemist was shot in 1981 but wasn’t released until 1984 in Europe and 1986 in the US. It has a very low-budget look to it that kind of works against my enjoyment, but there was enough here to keep me interested for most of the movie. Part of this could have been the faded VHS source I was watching. I’d love to see it on a nicely mastered DVD, but so far it has yet to be released on the format in the US.

The setup is simple. In 1871, an alchemist lures a woman to his campfire. When her husband comes to rescue her, the alchemist tricks the husband into stabbing his wife. The alchemist curses the man to live as an animal for all of eternity. The credits run over multi-colored slow-motion fire in a great, simplistic sequence. This is a pretty awesome opening and following it, I was ready for an amazing hidden gem of a film.

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July 9, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Horror, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 Stars | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ghoulies II (1988)

Ghoulies II (1988)

Starring Damon Martin, Royal Dano, Phil Fondacaro, J. Downing, Kerry Remsen, Dale Wyatt

Directed by Albert Band

Expectations: Low. There’s no way this can live up to the first one.


Ghoulies II is a film working against the odds. The first Ghoulies is a cult horror/comedy masterpiece (if you go for those sorts of things) and generally sequels to such fare are always inferior. I am happy to report that Ghoulies II is an exception to the rule. When four minutes in there’s a man with a groaning, wriggling sack over his shoulder being chased by three guys in blood-red satanist robes, you know you’re in for something…might be special, might be shit, but it’s definitely not gonna be middle of the road.

Apparently these satanists summoned the Ghoulies and the guy with the sack is making off with them to kill them. He runs into a gas station garage and throws the whole bag into a steaming toxic waste barrel. I’ve never seen a toxic waste barrel spewing fog at my local garage, but this is Ghoulies II so we’re just gonna go with it. Needless to say, the toxic waste has zero effect on the Ghoulies. They jump out and stop-motion their way over to a parked diesel rig. Soon, we’re all on our way to the carnival via the truck carrying the Satan’s Den attraction and our lovable Ghoulies.

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June 22, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Comedy, Good Trash, Horror, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments