The Jar (1984)

Director: Bruce Toscano
Starring: Gary Wallace, Karin Sjöberg, Robert Gerald Witt as Jack, Dean Schoepter, Les Miller, Don Donovan .USA. 1h 25m

Often described as one of the worst of the worst, this trippy sci-fi thriller is packed with a weird psychotropic atmosphere and has an interesting concept and sterling synth soundtrack but it really does write the book on how not to make a movie, while still maintaining that under-developed charm which B Movie enthusiasts really love.

It’s not entirely clear what Toscano was going for with his movie, it starts well but once the random trippiness kicks in his main character spends so little time in the real world there’s not a lot to grasp onto, the ploy is generally simple, but there’s so much imagery which really needs explaining. With attempts to blast the audience with Altered States-esque visual conundrums with alien and religious iconography.

The star of this muddy movie is Gary Wallace who plays Paul, a motorist opens the movie by ploughing his car into another motorist, an old man who seems to be in some sort of shock. The two talk as the old man clutches a brown paper bag and insists on going back to Paul’s home instead of seeking medical attention, he comes across as a template for Grandpa Simpson. During the course of the evening the man mysteriously vanishes leaving paul along with the contents of the brown bag.

There’s no awards for working out what happens next, but the progression of the narrative begins to unwind with the mental status of Paul. After he unwraps the paper to find a jar containing a large jar with some kind of alien embryo, he assumes it’s a macabre medical anomaly, but it’s not a specimen, it’s very much alive and enjoys torturing Paul by warping reality around him. keeping him trapped in a world that he can’t make sense of or escape from. Like a demonic possession Paul is forced through the desert following monks one moment and then he’s wooing his gorgeous neighbour, Crystal (Sjöberg) the next.

Greg Wallace did his best to hold the film together but it’s virtually impossible as 70% of the movie sits in the midst of several talent less art house random events. His neighbor Crystals role was that of a caring woman, but most conversations between Wallace and Sjöberg end up with them repeating the same conversation in different settings, the only character involved in the movie for the shortest time actually seemed the most genuine was Paul’s boss, who i believe is Don Donovan he plays a pretty solid role as a caring boss and then returns for the big climax.

I feel that I get what was attempted, it’s a low budget, you can’t get the best actos, and can’t create the best effects so let’s give the audience a feast for their eyes, with some smoke, lights and psyched illusions, but if this results in the movie stagnating, then it’s time to abort mission!!

Despite the distracting arty scenes, that really distracts from what good the movie offers, there’s a pretty interesting narrative somewhere in the smoky neon lit never never land which occupies the bulk of the movie, but what could be richer with horror than a story of a man who gets hooked up with a vanishing old man and his pet demon who allows him to slip through different realities, now any director would go to town on this story no matter what their budget may be! I’m not saying that Bruce Toscano messed it up, but he just seemed to put effort into the areas of the movie which didn’t add to it’s ebullience. A lot won’t want to sit through The Jar just simply for it’s wading through molasses pace and lack of drive, but it’s worth it for the dark and violent ending and cracking 80’s electro soundtrack.

The Jar does maintain it’s unique atmosphere and is dedicated to not allowing it’s audience to sit back and relax. It feels like lots of experiences slotted together and in reflection it’s not that bad, there are worse in my honest opinion but it’s harder to watch that it should be.

Rating: 2/10

R: White Fire (1985), Future War (1997)
L: The Worst of the Worst
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