Night Watch (2004)

Night Watch [Ночной дозор Nochnoi dozor] (2004)

Starring Konstantin Khabensky, Mariya Poroshina, Viktor Verzhbitskiy, Dmitriy Martynov

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov

Expectations: High. I had heard great things.


I don’t know how big the Russian fantasy film genre is, but I’ve now seen my first. I wish I could come out and say, “Wow, that was amazing,” but unfortunately my response is a lot more tempered than I hoped it to be. This is a movie that doesn’t really know where it wants to go with itself and thus I was left confused. That’s not to say there’s nothing good here. In fact, there’s quite a bit that is fun to watch and works well. It’s these moments of fun that make the movie frustrating because they work as a sort of carrot on a stick being held out in front of you, driving you on, but you never get the carrot.

The film is based on a 1998 novel by Sergei Lukyanenko. I haven’t read it, but from what I understand, the novel is broken into three parts and this film is based only on the first part. Just judging from the basic ideas presented in the film, I can imagine that this book is pretty good. I’ll probably check it out at some point, so I hope that this story is better on the page. To try to briefly summarize the film’s murky narrative will be a challenge, but I will do my best.

Continue reading Night Watch (2004) →

Uncle Jasper reviews: Winterbeast (1991)

Starring Tim R. Morgan, Mike Magri, Charles Majka, Bob Harlow, Lisa Breer, Dori May Kelly

Directed By Christopher Thies


Winterbeast is the total package — absolutely sublime entertainment that continues to deliver hours after the film ends. I am still reeling and giddy in delight of the heaping spoonfuls of crazy imagery and completely irrational moments that this film threw at me. We should all stop and take a moment to consider ourselves blessed that we live in a world that allows stuff like this to see the light of day. The acting, editing, and staging are so bad, and fly so deliberately in the face of film theory that it reaches levels of incoherency not seen since the French new-wave.

It’s hard to decide where to begin, but the film’s most entertaining moments are the scenes featuring one-of-a-kind stop-motion creatures brutally murdering random hikers and mountain climbers. Far from Harryhausen’s workshop scraps, these creatures actually come off as being created and animated with tremendous care. In fact, watching these things only made me long for the days when this lost cinematic art was the standard for on screen special-effects. There are about five or six different creatures, but my personal favorite was the giant, featherless zombie chicken (that actually predates Poultrygeist by 15 years). It is only when miniature clay versions of the actors are incorporated with the monsters that it comes off as trashy, but no less entertaining. Their death scenes end up looking like outtakes from old Mr. Bill shorts. I kept waiting for one of them to be torn apart while screaming “Oh noooooooo!”

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Winterbeast (1991) →

Vigilante (1983)

Vigilante (1983)
AKA Street Gang, Street Fighters

Starring Robert Forster, Fred Williamson, Richard Bright, Rutanya Alda, Don Blakely, Joseph Carberry, Willie Colón, Joe Spinell, Carol Lynley, Woody Strode

Directed by William Lustig

Expectations: Moderate. I was hoping that I’d enjoy this as much as Walking the Edge.


Vigilante opens with Fred Williamson walking out of complete darkness. He has a cigar in his mouth and ominous, droning electronic music builds in the background. Then he speaks…

“Hey. I don’t know about you guys, but me, I’ve had it up to here. There are some 40-odd homicides a day on our streets. There are over two million illegal guns in this city. Man, that’s enough guns to invade a whole damn country with. They shoot a cop in our city without even thinking twice about it. Ah, come on. I mean, you guys ride the subway. How much more of this grief we gonna stand for, huh? How many more locks we gotta put on our goddamn doors? Now we ain’t got the police, the prosecutors, the courts or the prisons. I mean, it’s over. The books don’t balance. We are a statistic. Now I’m telling you… when you can’t go to the corner and buy a pack of cigarettes after dark because you know the punks and the scum own the street when the sun goes down and our own government can’t protect its own people then I say this pal, you got a moral obligation. The right of self-preservation. Now you can run, you can hide, or you can start to live like human beings again. This is our Waterloo, baby! If you want your city back… you gotta take it. Dig it? Take it!”

Continue reading Vigilante (1983) →

Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go To College (1991)

Starring Kevin McCarthy, Evan Mackenzie, Eva La Rue, Patrick Labyorteaux, John Johnston, Billy Morrissette, Hope Marie Carlton, Marcia Wallace, Stephen Lee, Jason Scott Lee, Andrew Barach, Matthew Lillard

Directed by John Carl Buechler

Expectations: High. The first two are horror comedy gold.

On the general scale:
 (No Stars)

On the B-movie scale:
onestar


Ghoulies III is a film that offends me on a deep level because it takes something I genuinely love and completely trashes it. It reminds me of the Star Wars prequels in that way, and if there’s one thing you don’t want to do, it’s remind me of the Star Wars prequels. Ugh. As soon as I’m done with this review I’m going to disregard that this film ever existed. On that cheery note, let’s get down to business!

First off, this is a direct-to-video sequel that was not produced by a Charles Band company. As far as I can tell he had nothing to do with this film, although the director, John Carl Buechler, did make a few films with Empire International and did the FX for a ton more. He definitely has the cred to be respectable, so I can’t imagine why he agreed to make this, other than needing quick cash to pay off a loan shark or something. Realistically, there’s nothing terribly wrong here with the FX or the directing, but more with the writing choices and the direction they decided to take the series. After watching this, it isn’t hard to imagine why this is screenwriter Brent Olson’s only credit on IMDB.

Continue reading Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go To College (1991) →

A Fistful of Djangos Schedule is unveiled!

A Fistful of Djangos is on! It’s gonna be a rip-roarin’ good time!

Note: During this Silver Emulsion film festival, my regularly scheduled Tuesday posts in the Empire International/Full Moon continuing series will be moved to Fridays.

WEEK 1:


July 5th, Monday:

DJANGO (1966)

[by Will]

.

Continue reading A Fistful of Djangos Schedule is unveiled! →

Uncle Jasper reviews: Def by Temptation (1990)

Def by Temptation (1990)
AKA Black Vampires

Starring James Bond III, Kadeem Hardison, Bill Nunn, Cynthia Bond, Samuel L. Jackson

Directed By James Bond III


While Def by Temptation is relatively tame in comparison to most Troma offerings, it packs a substantial amount of meat behind its kitschy, B-vampire veneer. I was pleasantly surprised by the end of the film, and despite its heavy-handed sexuality vs. morality theme, it ultimately works due to solid, likeable performances and some well-placed humor that doesn’t deter from or belittle itself.

Writer, director, producer, and lead actor James Bond III must have been burned or completely disgusted by his turn in Hollywood though because this film stands alone in his filmography. He literally has not been heard from since its release 20 years ago. That’s a shame because genuine talent is evident here and even though his acting chops could have used a bit more polish, his character is ultimately convincing, so there isn’t much room for complaints.

Joel (James Bond III) is an aspiring minister, who at the end of his schooling in the ministry is haunted by some pretty deep-seated demons and unsettling visions of his dead parents. This is further echoed by his grandmother, who really digs out some of that slow-cooked, homespun, old southern wisdom… constantly warning him that although he is at the end of his spiritual training, he is coming to a crossroads where his faith will come up against the ultimate test.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Def by Temptation (1990) →

Mini-Review: Team America: World Police (2004)

Starring Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Kristen Miller, Masasa Moyo, Daran Norris, Maurice LaMarche, Jeremy Shada, Fred Tatasciore

Directed by Trey Parker

Expectations: High.


There’s a lot to like here, but a whole lot more to be bored by. I would have loved this if it was a short film, even a series of shorts. At about 100 minutes, it just seems to never end. The first 30 minutes are great, and honestly the rest of the movie is probably just as good, but there is a fatigue that sets in and I could only laugh at the same basic jokes so much.

My favorite part was a line in one of the songs, “I miss you as much as Michael Bay missed the mark on Pearl Harbor.” If nothing else, I’m glad that somewhere out there a song with this lyric exists. The other songs are also good, especially Kim Jong Il’s I’m So Ronrey but by the point it comes on in the film, I was so sick of the joke about how Asians have a hard time with R’s and L’s that it lessened the impact. The film is also lampooning the action film genre, and while it does a good job, for me it fell into the same traps as the films they were making fun of. For instance, the overly dramatic scenes with swelling music and heart-felt dialogue were just as boring as they are in big-budget action films. These scenes just weren’t funny enough for me and there’s a ton of them. The whole Alec Baldwin and his acting group, F.A.G., wasn’t funny either, bringing my least favorite parts of South Park to puppet form. “Look they’re in a group called Fag, it’s like they’re saying they’re all fags!” C’mon, you can do better than that.

The film is impeccably well made though. The production values are off the chart and the sets are lavish and fantastic. I still love the idea behind the whole thing, but I just wish that the script was smarter. I really should have known better when dealing with Parker & Stone, but hope got the better of me and my expectations were ultimately built up way too high.

If you’d like to read more positive takes on this film, you can click these links here to head over to Cut the Crap or Dan the Man’s website where there is no shortage of love for this one.

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