Trancers (1985)

Trancers (1985)
AKA Cop Tronic, Future Cop, Future Cops

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.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

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!

Continue reading Trancers (1985) →

Uncle Jasper reviews: Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. (1991)

Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. (1991)
AKA Kabukiman

Starring Rick Gianasi, Susan Byun, Bill Weeden, Thomas Crnkovich, Larry Robinson, Noble Lee Lester, Brick Bronsky, Pamela Alster, Fumio Furuya

Directed by: Lloyd Kaufman, Michael Herz

Baby murders! Disembowelment! Cocaine! Gratuitous sex! …all within the first three minutes! You guessed it. It’s time for another classic from our friends at Troma Entertainment.

Don’t let that fool you though. Sgt. Kabukiman is actually a pretty mild shot from the Troma cannon. If you want your gore, titties, and trademark tasteless imagery, you’ll get it here. Just don’t go in expecting a stomach-churning, gender-bending workout on the scale of Poultrygeist or Terror Firmer. This is why I nominate Sgt. Kabukiman as an excellent choice for those seeking a decent entry-level Troma film. Trust me, after this one you’ll know if you want to dive deeper into this stuff.

Sgt. Kabukiman obviously derives its influence from campy, ham-fisted superhero action like the Adam West Batman series of the 1960s. There’s a lot of goofy-ass cartoon humor littered throughout, and while that’s usually the thing I look forward to least from the folks at Troma, it actually seems to serve the material a little better here. Fans shouldn’t worry too much though. You’ll still get moments of silly and disgusting over the top gore, as well as the complete lack of social consciousness you laid your hard-earned bucks down for.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. (1991) →

A Fistful of Djangos… Final Words!

Will Silver

The first true Silver Emulsion Film Festival is over and I’m experiencing both relief and sadness. It was great fun and a good challenge and we managed to pull it off. We’ll definitely be doing more of these in the future, so check back periodically for updates on that. Now that it’s all over, I wanted Jasper and I to give a brief overview of the eight films we covered, sort of a digest version, encompassing our feelings about the eight films as a whole and against one another.

Far and away and unsurprisingly, Django is the best of the bunch. It is original in its take on Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, which itself has its roots in the literary work of Dashiell Hammett. It fascinates me to think of just how many films can be made off of this relatively simple story. Corbucci sets his film apart by maintaining an artistic vision throughout, painting his canvas with sharp characters, gratuitous violence and threads of social commentary. Unlike a lot of spaghetti westerns, Django innovates and redefines what a western can be. I’m looking forward to proceeding deeper into Corbucci’s catalog and hopefully discovering some more gems.

As for the imitators, I mostly enjoyed them. I was surprised that none of the films used the coffin or a machine gun at all, which makes me think that a lot of these were simply retitled or rewritten to contain the name Django to drum up business. Honestly, I would have liked to see at least one of them dragging a coffin, but because it is such a unique idea I don’t know that any of the films could have pulled it off with any of the same panache that Franco Nero did. If I try to imagine Anthony Steffen or Ivan Rassimov dragging a coffin in their respective movies, it doesn’t even work in my head so it’s probably for the best that they didn’t go that route. Although, for comedic purposes I wouldn’t mind seeing George Eastman from Django Kills Softly, dragging around a hefty coffin, all the while sporting that jovial toothy grin of his.

Hit the break to see my ordered list of the films and Uncle Jasper’s take on it all.

Continue reading A Fistful of Djangos… Final Words! →

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.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

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.

Continue reading Ragewar (1985) →

Uncle Jasper reviews: Django, Kill… If You Live, Shoot! (1967)

Django, Kill… If You Live, Shoot! [Se Sei Vivo Spara] (1967)
AKA Django Kill

Starring Tomas Milian, Ray Lovelock, Piero Lulli, Milo Quesada, Roberto Camardiel, Marilu Tolo, Miguel Serrano, Angel Silva

Directed By Giulio Questi

What better way to end our Fistful of Djangos film festival than with a film that has absolutely nothing to do with the original or its many rip-offs? Django Kill is a Django film in title only. Although far from perfect, it is a welcome change of pace as we feel Django fatigue beginning to set in over here at Silver Emulsion.

Django Kill is without a doubt the most graphically violent and flat-out bizarre spaghetti western I have ever seen. Initially it conjures up a supernatural tone much like that of Django the Bastard, but soon becomes so saturated in surreal imagery and dreamlike symbolism that it manages to transcend definition. Our hero, a half-breed Mexican who is only referred to as “The Stranger,” is double crossed by his outlaw cohorts during a gold heist. He is ordered at gunpoint to dig his own grave and is shot dead. Later that night he literally rises from his grave and is taken in by a couple of Indian mystics, who come to revere him as a deity, claiming that he has been one of the few who have managed to visit the land of the dead and return to our land of the living. They make him a collection of gold bullets to strike down his enemies with and accompany him to the next town, which they refer to only as “The Unhappy Place.”

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Django, Kill… If You Live, Shoot! (1967) →

$10,000 Blood Money (1967)

$10,000 Blood Money [10.000 dollari per un massacro] (1967)
AKA Guns of Violence, $10,000 Dollars for a Massacre

Starring Gianni Garko (billed as Gary Hudson), Fidel Gonzáles, Loredana Nusciak, Adriana Ambesi, Pinuccio Ardia, Fernando Sancho, Claudio Camaso, Franco Lantieri

Directed by Romolo Guerrieri

Expectations: Moderate. I had heard this was good, but I am treading lightly.

Finally, I get to review a Django clone film that actually has its own complete identity. This is truly a great spaghetti western and while it doesn’t approach the same caliber as Leone or Corbucci, it’s still on the short list of spaghetti westerns that might be enjoyed by a general audience.

The thing that really sets this film apart from the other Django clones is the characters. The focus is on the relationship between Django, a bounty hunter who has no problems working on both sides of the law, and Manuel, a true criminal who terrorizes those that stand in his way. Both characters have a level of depth that makes them likeable, hateable and just downright interesting all at the same time. At its heart this Western is not an action picture, as a lot of the other Django clones are trying to be. The story is character driven and a lot of its entertainment value comes from the constant back and forth play between Django and Manuel. On top of that are some good gun battles that counterpoint the character drama with some fun action.

Continue reading $10,000 Blood Money (1967) →

Uncle Jasper reviews: Django and Sartana are Coming… It’s the End (1970)

Django and Sartana are Coming… It’s the End [Arrivano Django e Sartana… è la fine] (1970)
AKA Django and Sartana… Showdown in the West, Final Conflict… Django Against Sartana, Sartana If Your Left Arm Offends, Cut It Off

Starring Hunt Powers, Gordon Mitchell, Victoriano Gazzara, Simone Blondell, Dennis Colt, Celso Faria

Directed By Demofilo Fidani

A beautiful woman has been kidnapped by outlaws, are you a bad enough dude to rescue the beautiful woman?

So sums up the gripping plot you will find in Demofilo Fidani’s ultra-low budget Django and Sartana are Coming… It’s the End. Yes, I’ve seen 8-bit NES games with more intricate storylines than the one you will find here. Make no bones about it, this is welfare Django. This is the kind of Django you go out and spend your booklet of food stamps on because Franco Nero and Anthony Steffen Django are way above your price range.  This is government-issued Django… loaded with high-fructose corn syrup and bad for your heart. But god dammit, this is all the Django we have for you today, so let’s make the best of it, eh?

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Django and Sartana are Coming… It’s the End (1970) →

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