Uncle Jasper reviews: Pray for Death (1985)

Pray for Death (1985)

Starring Sho Kosugi, James Booth, Donna Kei Benz, Norman Burton, Kane Kosugi, Shane Kosugi, Matthew Faison, Parley Baer

Directed By Gordon Hessler


Digging into the archives here at Silver Emulsion brought a staggering discovery to my attention. Although we have done our best to bring you reviews of classy motion picture entertainment on a regular basis, we are still far from perfect and definitely have a long way to go in our quest for celluloid gold. In our first six months we have covered a whole slew of classics but have sadly remained deficient in one of the greatest genres of film known to mankind. No I’m not talking about film noir, westerns, or Hollywood musicals. I’m talking fucking Ninjas! And when I’m talking fucking Ninjas, I am of course talking Sho Kosugi.

For those not in the know, Sho Kosugi is pretty much the Henry Ford of ninja lore. What child of the 80s could not remember begging mom and dad to buy a couple of those cheap ass plastic ninja swords in the supermarket toy aisle, banging them together with friends until they bent in half, sadly drooping along while they carried out stealth assaults? Who cannot remember the deluge of ninja related video games and TV shows at the time? That was all courtesy of Sho Kosugi and a little movie from 1983 titled Revenge of the Ninja.

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The Big Red One: The Reconstruction (1980/2004)

The Big Red One: The Reconstruction (1980/2004)

Starring Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Bobby Di Cicco, Kelly Ward, Siegfried Rauch, Marthe Villalonga

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: High. Been wanting to see this restoration since it came out.


This may be one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever written. Above all, I want to do justice to the film and to the memory of the Fightin’ First, the Big Red One. Like never before, after viewing Sam Fuller’s The Big Red One, I feel that I grasp the immensity of their service in World War II and their contribution to the war effort. Viewing the film takes the audience on the journey with the soldiers, almost like an embedded reporter out to capture the reality of the situation. It is remarkable and somewhat unfathomable that with so much death surrounding them, these men were able to come out as survivors. The Big Red One is a film that creeps up on you in subtle ways and before you know it, you realize that you absolutely love it.

Sam Fuller brings distinct credibility to the film, himself a member of the Big Red One during the times covered in the film. The film forgoes a distinct plot and takes on an episodic format that plays out like a war diary. It’s rather ironic that this type of semi-fragmented film actually ends up packing in more narrative, character arcs and genuine excitement than most traditional films. After recently viewing Saving Private Ryan again, I was a bit worried about watching this so close after. Both films cover the Normandy beach invasion and have similar themes.

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Uncle Jasper reviews: The Mighty Peking Man (1977)

The Mighty Peking Man [猩猩王] (1977)

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

Directed By Ho Meng-Hua


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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Silver Lode (1954)

Silver Lode (1954)

Starring John Payne, Lizabeth Scott, Dan Duryea, Dolores Moran, Emile Meyer, Robert Warwick, John Hudson, Harry Carey Jr., Alan Hale Jr., Stuart Whitman

Directed by Allan Dwan

Expectations: Moderate.


What would you think if someone you knew was accused of murder? It is an interesting question and is the basis of the plot of Silver Lode. It’s the 4th of July and Dan Ballard (John Payne) is about to get married. In the middle of the ceremony, Marshall McCarty (Dan Duryea) busts in with a group of deputies and accuses Ballard of murdering his brother and taking $20,000 bones from him. Ballard argues to allow him two hours to clear his name and he is given it, based on the goodwill he has built up over the last two years with the townspeople.

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Beyond Re-Animator (2003)

Starring Jeffrey Combs, Jason Barry, Bárbara Elorrieta, Elsa Pataky, Santiago Segura, Simón Andreu, Tommy Dean Musset,

Directed by Brian Yuzna

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
twostar


Let me just start off by saying that Beyond Re-Animator is a lot better than I expected, but it still doesn’t come close to the original. It’s about as good as the previous entry, Bride of Re-Animator, but arguments could be made and it all really comes down to preference anyway. Overall, I preferred this one to the last one if only because the story was different and wasn’t so much of a cookie-cutter redo of the original.

The film opens with a boy and his friend camping outside their house. Some strange noises prompt them to investigate. The noises turn out to be a lurking zombie with no jaw and one hell of a tongue, who kills the kid’s sister right in front of him and then tries to guzzle down the milk left on the counter. The cops come and arrest the man responsible who was found playing around in the adjacent graveyard, one Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs). As he’s put into the police cruiser, he drops a syringe of reagent which the kid retrieves. Fourteen years later the child has struggled to figure out how that sister-killing zombie was possible and it leads him to the medical profession. He gets a job at the prison where West is held and the two start up a relationship similar to the West/Cain dynamic of the first two films.

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Uncle Jasper reviews: Maniac Cop (1988)

Maniac Cop (1988)

Starring Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins, Laurene Landon, Richard Roundtree, William Smith, Robert Z’Dar

Directed By William Lustig


 

As the 1980’s were drawing to a close, video store horror aisles were beginning to lose some of that blood-splattered luster and morbid creativity that spurred a whole generation of gleefully degenerate filmmakers. Both the Friday the 13th and the Halloween series had been putting the slasher formula through its paces and although it never gets old watching a half-naked camp counselor run through the woods only to be beheaded by some machete wielding nutjob, horror fans were begging for a breath of fresh air.

Rather than resting on their laurels and being quite content with cranking out yet another by-the-numbers slasher film, William Lustig and famed B-grade writer Larry Cohen took a few of your typical genre conventions and stood them on their heads. Trading in the usual spooky woods for the dark alleys of New York City and the typical abused child turned homicidal psychopath for a warped civil servant, Lustig and Cohen were able to escape the standard ho-hum frills of the genre and bring a little something extra to the table. As a result, Maniac Cop offers not only a fresh take on a tried and true formula but also offers a unique look at police brutality taken to its nastiest and most horrendous extremes.

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Temple Grandin (2010)

Temple Grandin (2010)

Starring Claire Danes, Catherine O’Hara, Julia Ormond, David Strathairn

Directed by Mick Jackson

Expectations: Moderate. It’s a TV movie, how good can it be?


Going into this one, I had virtually no knowledge of who Temple Grandin is, and I come out of the film filled with respect and admiration. She is a person who refuses to be stopped by a closed door, a brave woman in a world that doesn’t completely understand her. She has accomplished more than most “normal” people despite her autism and must truly be applauded for her work in the fields of autism and animal rights.

Temple Grandin opens with Temple (Claire Danes) coming to live on a ranch with her aunt (Catherine O’Hara) in preparation for her first days at college. Temple is a high-functioning autistic and becomes fascinated with the cattle at the ranch. One day she sees the cattle being put into a machine that holds them still so that they can be inoculated. At first, she is scared of the machine but becomes accepting when she sees that the cow feels comforted by the security it affords. She soon takes to the machine herself, as she avoids almost all physical human contact, and it gives her the security of a hug without the fear of actually touching another person.

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