Uncle Jasper reviews: Santo and Blue Demon vs. The Monsters (1969)

Santo and Blue Demon vs. The Monsters [Santo y Blue Demon contra los Monstruos] (1969)
AKA Santo and Blue Demon Against the Monsters

Starring Santo, Blue Demon, Jorge Rado, Carlos Ancira, Hedy Blue, Rafael Munoz, Manuel Leal, Vicente Lara, Gerardo Zepeda, Fernando Rosales, David Alvizu, Elsa Maria Tako, Yolanda Ponce

Directed By Gilberto Martinez Solares


From the moment you hear the slithering organ music and watch Santo, Blue Demon, and the rogues’ gallery of hilariously bad awesome looking monsters climb a hillside and momentarily pose for their starring credit, you feel like you might have a winner. Moments later, when an evil hunchbacked dwarf wearing a bowler comes sneaking out of a graveyard with his army of green, face-painted zombies, you know you are locked into some serious shit.

Welcome to the wonderful world of lucha libre. A world where badass, big motherfuckers in masks and three-piece suits canvas the byways of Mexico in convertibles with sexy young Latinas by their side. A world where everybody and anything is a potential adversary, be it dwarves, aliens, Nazis, sea monsters, vampires, women, and even vampire women. In this particular outing Santo finds himself up against the diabolical Dr. Hadler, who hates Santo and Blue Demon for reasons the filmmakers didn’t deem too important to mention. The Doctor, along with his dwarf henchman Waldo, kidnap Blue Demon, who was caught investigating the suspicious looking castle, and in an obvious attempt to give the audience a chance to see Santo fight his friend, clone an evil version of him. With Evil Blue Demon now at his command, the doctor proceeds to recruit a who’s who of legendary monsters to fight alongside him…

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Zatoichi the Fugitive (1963)

J.P. and I are back with a double shot review of the fourth Zatoichi film, Zatoichi the Fugitive. When you’re done here, make sure you head over to his site to read his thoughts on the film (link at the bottom of my review).


Zatoichi the Fugitive [座頭市兇状旅] (1963)
AKA Zatoichi 4

Starring Shintaro Katsu, Miwa Takada, Masayo Banri, Toru Abe, Junichiro Narita, Katsuhiko Kobayashi

Directed by Tokuzo Tanaka

Expectations: Moderate.


I love samurai films. I’ve heard great things about the Zatoichi series over the years, but I have yet to really dive head first into the world of the blind masseur. About five years ago, I saw the first film in the series and I was underwhelmed. Zatoichi had been built up to me as this amazing series of films, but I found the first film to be slow and just okay. I liked it enough to remain interested in the series, but I had shelved it in my mind for future times. Sometime between then and now, I saw the 2003 Takeshi Kitano remake. I used to really like his films, but again I was underwhelmed with his remake. I don’t remember a lot about it, but I do remember hating the very obvious computer generated blood effects in the film. Get a bag of blood and splatter it around. C’mon.

So going into Zatoichi the Fugitive I was hoping that it would reignite my interest in the series and show me what everyone was going on about. The first thing I noticed was that this film was in color. I had expected black & white like the first, so this was a welcome surprise. I love black & white cinematography more than most, don’t get me wrong, but after seeing this film, color is the correct choice for Zatoichi. The one downfall of using color though, is that for the fights I come in expecting blood-letting and Zatoichi the Fugitive is very sparse in that department.

Continue reading Zatoichi the Fugitive (1963) →

Mini-Review: Turtles Can Fly (2004)

Turtles Can Fly [Lakposhtha parvaz mikonand] (2004)

Starring Soran Ebrahim, Avaz Latif, Hiresh Feysal Rahman

Directed by Bahman Ghobadi


This is a good film, more for its power to stay with you, instead of its level of entertainment. It’s the eve of America’s invasion of Iraq and Kurdish refugees struggle with their television antennas to hear some small bits of news. Three wandering children; a girl, a possibly clairvoyant teenage boy with no arms and a blind toddler come to the camp in search of refuge. The film really isn’t about the plot though. Director Bahman Ghobadi seeks to paint a picture of what these villagers feel and endure on the brink of war.

It moves at a slow pace, but this is a haunting film, filled with amazing, wide-angle cinematography of the Iraqi landscape. All of the children (who aren’t trained actors) are outstanding and show a level of depth not generally present in child actors. The film ends on a perfect, understated note, skillfully illustrating disillusionment and the fragility of life. It is a tragedy and an emotionally heavy film.

Recommended if you’re in right mood.

Uncle Jasper reviews: [REC] (2007)

Starring Manuela Velasco, Javier Botet, Manuel Bronchud, Martha Carbonell, Claudia Font, Vicente Gil

Directed by Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza


On all accounts I should not have liked this movie. I am not a fan of the whole shaky camcorder pseudo-documentary horror genre. I am an old-school Romero zombie fan who still can’t justify a world where fast “infected zombies” have a place. I guess that makes REC all the more amazing.  I was a doubter, but Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza proved me wrong and demonstrated that if done right, shaky-cam filmmaking not only has a place, but can really up the ante in terms of genuine horror.

Something has to be said of the pacing and the way REC uses it to great effect. The movie starts off slow, and borderline mundane. A pretty, young news reporter, Angela and her cameraman Pablo are filming a “Cops” type TV series with a group of fire fighters. Realizing that her assignment is less exciting than it appears, she desperately tries to drum up some kind of interest and goes into great detail reporting on exciting aspects of the fire fighter’s lives such as empty briefing rooms, what they eat for dinner, and how big their suits are. Even when the fire fighters get what seems like a routine call and shit starts to go south, the film gets very interesting, yet the pacing still leaves plenty of time to react and wrap your head around the situation.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: [REC] (2007) →

The Lovely Bones (2009)

Starring Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Rose McIver, Michael Imperioli, Christian Thomas Ashdale, Reece Ritchie, Charlie Saxton, Amanda Michalka

Directed by Peter Jackson

Expectations: Moderate. I heard bad things, but I love Peter Jackson so there’s no way I’m not watching this.


This is a tough movie for me to review. Emotionally, I loved it. It hit me hard and continues to resonate in the days following. Technically, I have some issues with it. Ultimately, for me, the emotional weight of the movie is far greater than any technical problems I had, and I am judging it a bit harsher anyway because of my Peter Jackson fanboy status. I’ve seen every one of his films and I enjoy them all. Yes, I even like Meet the Feebles.

Set in 1973, the film tells the story of Susie Salmon, a fourteen-year-old girl who blissfully walks home one day with the prospect of her first kiss consuming her mind. Instead, her neighbor rapes and murders her. Her spirit leaves her body and she continues to look down on her family from the afterlife. With The Lovely Bones, Jackson returns to a smaller type of movie similar to his 1994 film, Heavenly Creatures. My problem with some of Jackson’s choices in filming this movie is that instead of being in “small-movie mode,” he still seems like he’s in “big-effects-movie mode” having just come from Lord of the Rings and King Kong.

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Zombieland (2009)

Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard, Mike White, Bill Murray

Directed by Ruben Fleischer

Expectations: Lowest possible. Modern zombie movies generally rub me the wrong way, but I’m stupid and I keep watching them.


This is not a zombie movie. I repeat, this is not a zombie movie. If you love traditional zombie films such as the George Romero classics, you are better off just re-watching one of those. From what the film shows us, hardly any zombies inhabit Zombieland. Most of the “excitement” coming from the fights and betrayals that play out between the male and female survivors. Even the apocalypse cannot settle the battle of the sexes. All kidding aside, this is absolutely the antithesis of what a good zombie movie should be. It is a stupid attempt at making a zombie comedy, but instead of being clever (like Shaun of the Dead) this just disappoints repeatedly.

Rarely is the survival of the characters an issue and therein lies the problem. Survival should be the main theme of any zombie tale because the zombie horde is ever-growing and as one of the last remaining humans you must constantly tap into the primal instincts of fight or flight. Your nerves fray as you know that sooner or later, you will become one of them. None of that comes into play in Zombieland. Sure, the main character has these survival rules he’s constantly telling the viewer about, but the rules are nothing more than fluff to draw your attention away from the almost complete lack of honest zombie danger.

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Uncle Jasper reviews: Friday Foster (1975)

Allow me to introduce my buddy, Uncle Jasper. He’s gonna chime in from time to time with a review, so give him a big welcome. First up, Friday Foster with Pam Grier!


Starring Pam Grier, Yaphet Kotto, Carl Weathers, Scatman Crothers, Eartha Kitt and Godfrey Cambridge

Directed By Arthur Marks


I admit it, by the end of this movie I had no fucking clue what was going on… Some convoluted plot about a bunch of white dudes in afro wigs conspiring to take out all of the nation’s black leaders. But my God, if the merit of a film lies in its ability to entertain, then this is a masterpiece in the same league as Dolemite and Fantasy Mission Force.

Look, all you need to know is that Pam Grier has never looked better and Yaphet Kotto has never been more charming. I swear to God, every time he flashed that goofy-ass gap-toothed grin of his I kept thinking how much he resembled a black Ernest Borgnine. He and Pam make an awesome duo and I would have loved to see them share the screen more often. Scatman Crothers is somewhere in there as a pervy priest, and the black dude from The Love Boat is great as the neighborhood pimp (“You have to admit… my shit is HEAVY!!” he tells Pam). Somewhere in the middle you have Eartha Kitt as an over the top fashion designer and Carl Weathers backing a delivery truck into some effeminate dude in a phone booth, crushing him to death. Whew! What a cast they rounded up for this one! It plays like the Grand Hotel of 1970s black cinema.

This film would be one of Pam’s last for American International. It is nowhere near as raw as Coffy and lacks the urgency of Foxy Brown, but it would be silly to even compare them. The point of this movie isn’t to provoke outrage, it’s a party movie that just wants us all to look good and have fun. I’m not saying that Friday Foster is the superior film, but Pam does have a little more breathing room here and it’s nice to see her in the arms of a suave millionaire for a change instead of being hog-tied and raped by some drunken hillbilly.

This movie has enough car chases, rooftop fights, machine guns and titties to overcome any shortcoming it may have in terms of plot. In fact, this film stares plot straight in the face and laughs at it. Anybody willing enough to not take it too seriously will be greatly rewarded.

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