Review Index



Very, very stupid straight-to-video horror from the eighties. Iím all for the type of surreal weirdness this film provides, but thereís no excuse for incompetent filmmaking.

The Package
     The best thing about 1984ís THE JAR? The Magnum Video box cover (it has yet to be released on DVD) with its irresistible tagline ďIt Blows the Lid off Terror.Ē
     Incidentally, the Colorado lensed THE JAR marks the only film credit Iíve been able to locate for director Bruce Toscano, writer George Bradley, cinematographer Cameron MacLeod and lead actor Gary Wallace--and I canít say Iím surprised!

The Story
     One night a bearded dork named Paul picks up a severely injured man on the road and takes him back to his apartment. The injured man quickly disappears and in his place leaves a paper bag, which when unwrapped reveals a jar containing a pickled monster fetus.
     Over the course of the night Paul is assailed with horrific hallucinations: his bathtub filling with blood, a stabbing, a crucifixion, etc. The following day he disposes of the jar in a back alley trash bin but the visions continue, and the following night the jar turns back up in Paulís apartment. He smashes it, which does nothing to stem the flow of hallucinations.
     Paulís life falls apart, with his peeved boss visiting his apartment to ask why he hasnít come to work and a potential love interest named Crystal put off by Paulís weird manner. After hallucinating that heís on another planet manned by cloak-wearing freaks, as well as the jungles of (I assume) Vietnam, Paul finally comes to in the arms of CrystalÖor so he thinks!

The Direction
     I understand that one must be forgiving when viewing a low budget horror film--especially this one, whose makers attempted to create something unique and interesting--but here thereís just too much to forgive!
     Stilted acting is a constant in no-budget horror movies, but the performances in THE JAR are downright appalling. Another annoyance is the tacky synthesizer music, which is blared at full volume over seemingly every scene. Thereís also the fact that the whole thing is extremely poorly photographed, with the protagonists always positioned at the outer edges of the frame.
     To be sure, the material is promising, and could have made for an interesting surreal chiller. That, however, would require a skilled director and a decent budget, and THE JAR clearly had neither.

Vital Statistics

Nocturna International Limited/Magnum Entertainment

Director: Bruce Toscano
Screenplay: George Bradley
Cinematography: Cameron MacLeod
Editing: Bruce Toscano
Cast: Gary Wallace, Karin Sjoberg, Robert Gerald Witt, Dean Schoepter, Les Miller, Don Donovan