Uncle Jasper reviews: Slither (2006)

Starring Elizabeth Banks, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker, Gregg Henry, Tania Saulnier, Jenna Fischer, Brenda James

Directed By James Gunn


Slither isn’t going to win any awards for originality. It wears its inspirations pretty clearly on its sleeve. Fans of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers and Basket Case will no doubt find themselves on familiar ground here. It’s what writer/director James Gunn does in this familiar territory that makes this movie so damn special. Slither turns back the clock and  manages to conjure up some of that old ’80s video store magic when almost any low-budget pick from the horror aisles was guaranteed to be a surefire hit. But wait, this is a Hollywood film… made in the 2000’s… it has no right to be this fucking good.

A veteran of Troma Entertainment, Gunn stays true to his roots and somehow manages to circumvent the bland thrills and commercial impotence of modern Hollywood horror by giving us something we haven’t seen since we filed away our last issue of Fangoria magazine years ago. Gunn is able to deliver the goods because he is an obvious longtime fan himself. Equal parts raucous comedy and schlocky horror, Slither manages to blend these genres smoothly without falling into the common trap of one suffering at the cost of the other. Not many films are able to successfully pull this off. I’m instantly reminded of Evil Dead II here and maybe only a handful of others. A true product of one fan’s love for the genre, Slither shows no shame for what it is, and in fact, revels in it. It’s crass, gross, sleazy, and loud and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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The Crossing (2000)

Starring Jeff Daniels, Roger Rees, Sebastian Roché, Steven McCarthy

Directed by Robert Harmon

Expectations: Low. I’m hoping this will educate me a bit on what led to Washington’s Crossing.


I’m currently taking a History class and a couple of the assignments are to write film reviews. I decided that I wouldn’t let these reviews just fade into the ether, instead posting them here as well as turning them in as homework. Because of this, the reviews will be slightly different than the normal type of stuff I put out, as the professor has laid out a few questions that need to be answered that I don’t generally ask myself. I’ve also edited this a bit to be a little more in line with this website. Anyway, enjoy… or not. Whatever.

The film opens with a short narration, setting the scene for those not intensely familiar with the material. As suspected, The Crossing seeks to dramatize the events surrounding George Washington’s decision to cross the Delaware River during the American Revolution. It looks to convey the risk-taking nature of Washington and his creative way of problem solving. Crossing the river was an unexpected tactic and one that could have gone completely wrong. The opening narration is followed by a scene of a cannon getting stuck in a ditch on the side of the road. Washington commands the men to leave it and continue on without, illustrating to the viewer just how desperate the American forces were. They’re on the run from the British, slowly breaking down and losing numbers. The film effectively shows how Washington chose to attack the Hessian camp in Trenton by crossing the river at night, despite all good odds. It proves the point how someone backed up against a wall, with no good options, will do their best to survive and continue fighting. The British, being the super-powered confident force, just didn’t have that kind of resolve backing them up.

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Mini-Review: To Die For (1995)

Starring Nicole Kidman, Joaquin Phoenix, Alison Folland, Matt Dillon, Casey Affleck, Illeana Douglas, Dan Hedaya

Directed by Gus Van Sant

Expectations: None.


This is a mildly entertaining movie about a pretty girl who has high aspirations to be on television. She’ll do anything. Simple enough. Usually with this type of film, there’s some level of intrigue, but this is not the case with To Die For. The film is told through a pseudo-documentary style and you know pretty much what happens in the first couple of minutes. I’m okay with that, as long as the characters are interesting, but I’m sorry to say that they aren’t. Nicole Kidman’s character is the only one even remotely absorbing and she does well in her role, with some exceptional moments. Most of the other players are overacted caricatures of American stereotypes with Matt Dillon and Joaquin Phoenix battling for the main offender trophy. Illeana Douglas is the best of the supporting cast, but then I always enjoy her in anything, so I could be biased.

This is all coupled with Gus Van Sant’s ugly, boring camera work and editing, making it readily apparent that this one just wasn’t made for me. I can say one thing about Van Sant’s work, he’s consistent. His shot selection never ceases to frustrate and annoy me. I had seen this before when it came out and I didn’t like it then. I like it less now. Avoid it, unless you generally like Van Sant’s work or you want to see Joaquin Phoenix or Casey Affleck in early roles.

Uncle Jasper reviews: Violent Shit (1987)

Violent Shit (1987)
AKA Maniac 2001: Violent Shit

Starring Andreas Schnaas, Gabi Bäzner, Wolfgang Hinz, Volker Mechter, Christian Biallas, Uwe Boldt

Directed by Andreas Schnaas


We at Silver Emulsion occasionally circle the globe in order to bring you only the best in classy, foreign entertainment. We find that sometimes it takes a different cultural approach to the human condition in order to broaden perspectives and break down social barriers. Sometimes we also feel that breast dismemberment and rape by kitchen knife are criminally underrepresented in contemporary cinema. Which is why we have braved the frosty woods of Germany to bring you today’s exercise in cinematic subtlety, Andreas Schnaas’ 1987 direct to video classic, Violent Shit.

Violent Shit is definitely a film that lives up to its namesake. It’s not so much a movie as it is a string of outrageously brutal scenes featuring… well, violent shit. The amusing opening credits contain such nuanced gems as “Starring K. The Butcher Shitter” and “Produced By the Violent Shitters.” Yes sir, from the moment it begins Schnaas isn’t afraid to let you know that his movie is indeed full of shit.

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Goodfellas (1990)

Starring Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Expectations: High. Love it, does it hold up?


If someone were to tell me that they thought Goodfellas was Scorsese’s best film, I really couldn’t argue with them. I might not agree but it is a completely valid position, as Goodfellas is one of the best films of the 1990s and still holds up today. The film is just as skillfully made as you remember it being, 20 years later. Goodfellas opens in the middle of the story, in the middle of a scene even, after some minimalist but effective Saul Bass titles. Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci drive through the dark of night when strange sounds come from the back of the car. They pull over and open the trunk, revealing a bloody mess of a man. Joe Pesci violently stabs him repeatedly before De Niro opens fire. Liotta chimes in via voiceover, “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” This scene serves as an introduction to the film, but repeat viewers will recognize it also as one of the most important moments in these character’s lives, defining and shaping everything that ultimately comes to each of them.

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Trancers II: The Return of Jack Deth (1991)

Trancers II: The Return of Jack Deth (1991)
AKA Future Cop II

Starring Tim Thomerson, Helen Hunt, Megan Ward, Biff Manard, Martine Beswick, Jeffrey Combs, Alyson Croft, Telma Hopkins, Art LaFleur

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Moderate. It’s a sequel.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:
twohalfstar


Six years after the original, Charles Band got around to making another Trancers film. He successfully reunites the entire cast of part one, as well as a few new faces. By this point, Empire International had collapsed and his new company, Full Moon Entertainment, had risen from its ashes to bring us more of the Charles Band brand of campy flicks I love. Trancers 2, just like in real life, picks up six years after the events of the original and Jack Deth is still stranded in the past, 1991 to be exact. Using the current year as the setting works really well, because acknowledging the production year allows the film to age a lot better. Instead of picking some arbitrary number for the time, we are treated to 1991, 1991 style. The Raiders are forever the Los Angeles Raiders and passenger vans come in two varieties, the Chevy Astro and the Ford Aerostar. Oh, it’s good to be back.

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Uncle Jasper reviews: Carnosaur (1993)

Carnosaur (1993)
AKA Carnosaurus

Starring Diane Ladd, Raphael Sbarge, Jennifer Runyon, Harrison Page, Ned Bellamy, Clint Howard, Frank Novak

Directed By Adam Simon


Hi folks. Welcome to today’s installment of “Shit My Dad Used to Rent.” Today we have 1993’s ultra-schlocky Dino-ploitation classic, Carnosaur. Now let’s not bullshit ourselves here, there is only one reason this film ever saw the light of day. Cranked out and released less than a year after Steven Spielberg’s mega blockbuster Jurassic Park, Carnosaur sought to take a T-Rex-sized bite out of the dino-mania propagated by that smash hit. Surprisingly, it is based on an Australian novel written six years before Michael Crichton’s bestseller ever saw the light of day, even though the film itself reeks of a shameless cash-in attempt.

But for a kid going through dinosaur withdrawal after Spielberg’s hit disappeared from theaters, imagine the shit-eating grin I must have had on my face when my dad brought this one home. I was a little put off by the ghetto-looking rubber T-Rex on the VHS sleeve, but with a title like Carnosaur it seemed like a dream come true. This would be Jurassic Park with a darker edge. As much as I loved watching Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum run away from those carnivorous monsters, Jurassic Park had a severe shortage of what I think we all really wanted to see: dinosaurs eating people. I understand toning it down in order to secure that coveted PG-13 rating, but without blood and guts it amounted to a fun and suspenseful adventure, not the dino-horror film I think I was initially hoping for. But fuck it dudes, who needed Jurassic Park? I had Carnosaur now!

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Carnosaur (1993) →

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