Monthly Archives: February 2009

The Joke’s on You



1 Stars  2008/15/88m

“She has a killer party planned.”

Directors: The Butcher Brothers / Writers: Michael Wigart & The Butcher Brothers / Cast: Taylor Cole, Josh Henderson, Scout Taylor-Compton, Joe Egender, Joseph McKelheer, Samuel Child, Jennifer Siebel, Sabrina Aldridge.

Bodycount: …is any of it real?

Dire-logue: “This is supposed to celebrate someone coming out, not going out!”

Snotty rich sibs Desiree and Blaine hold a coming-out party for Scout Taylor-Compton’s high-society debutante, which is ruined when an April Fool’s prank on Desiree’s rival, Milan (!), ends up with the poor girl toppling over a mezzanine to land atop a grand piano and totally dying.

One year later to the day, those involved in the joke are summoned to Milan’s graveside where they are confronted with a letter, supposedly from the dead girl, stating that they will each die throughout the course of the day unless the person responsible turns themselves in to the police.

Is it/isn’t it a joke dialogue ensues and, true to her word, the group begin perishing in bizarre ‘accidents’ until numbers are whittled down to the final three and a couple of twists are glued to the end for those dim-bulbed enough to misunderstand the concept of prank-themed slasher films.


By far the worst of the remake scrum, AFD ’08, ignores everything that made the ’86 original so much fun and turns it into a cynical after-school drama production with the most unlikeable characters you could imagine. Ponsing around in their shiny cars and designer clothes, we want these bastards dead! It’s got far more in common with Cruel Intentions than any horror movie, has no heart or soul, no sense of fun, no blood, no suspense – it’s simply devoid of merit. And the twist is simply groanworthy. I wanted to attack my TV screen with a hammer at the end of this.

Scout Taylor-Compton is surely becoming some sort of slasher-remake jinx after trying to fill Jamie Lee Curtis’ shoes for Rob Zombie’s depressing Halloween redux. An obnoxious, insulting film if ever there was. The joke is most certainly on the audience.



3 Stars  2007/79m

“Sex, drugs, guns and one killer knight out…”

Director: Simon Cathcart / Writers: Simon Cathcart & Rob Mercer / Cast: Simeon Willis, James Hillier, Jocelyn Osorio, Sandra Dickinson, Martin Bayfied, Simon Cathcart, Brian McNeill, Joe Montana, J.C. Mac, Jason Hyde, Harry Athwal, Tony Tang, Danielle Mason, Santos De Castro.

Body Count: 11

First-rate Fatality: Sword through the mouth and out the arse! Ouch.

Recently, I had the disctinct displeasure of watching a Brit-slasher flick called Small Town Folk. It was a vignette stretched to feature length that required a stretch of patience to get through it. So, when sitting down to watch StagKnight last night I had similar reservations.

Blissfully, StagKnight looks like Halloween by comparison. Evidently shot with next to no budget in place, financial constraints are compensated for by a quirky sense of humour and a central premise so very simple it’s a wonder nobody has ever tackled  it in horror before now.


Dorky historian Brian’s stag night with the Weekend Warriors’ paintball team is taking place around the back of nowhere at an inn owned by sub-wiccan Fay (Dickinson) and her Egor-like son William (ex-rugby giant Bayfield). She tricks the group into performing a chant that resurrects a Templar Knight and subsequently opens up access to a cauldron of eternal life-serum or some such twaddle. It’s never made clear really. But we’re strictly here for the slashing…

After they’re bored of the strippers and pranks, the guys opt for a nightgame of Paintball and split into two teams to enter the woods where, of course, our Templar Knight is waiting with his big sword. Meanwhile, reluctant stripper Blossom is cast early into the nightmare when she and the crazy driver crash into the Knight’s tomb and she escapes wearing an important artefact that will assist in Fay’s plan to get to the cauldron.

The Knight soon begins taking out the players in a variety of ways until the inevitable showdown in the tomb. Victims are impaled, skewered, have their faces punched to oblivion and choked on paintballs. It’s impressive but the dim lighting and CG-mist makes things difficult to see from time to time and we never get a really good look at the Knight himself.


Bayfield and Dickinson are good, as is Willis as Brian and James Hillier as the sleazy exec-type. The crowded background cast have less to do with their one-note roles, including Korean guy, American guy, comedy Indian guy and camp gay bloke, but serve their purpose as Knight-fodder well enough for it not to matter. With a larger wad of cash at its disposal, StagKnight could have been on a par with Shaun of the Dead and is currently in limbo awaiting a DVD release. At least it never tempts you to hit fast forward which is more than can be said for a lot of contemporary horror comedies. A fun little timewaster and maybe a predecessor to HenKnight with a gun-toting bride?

Blurb-of-interest: James Hillier was Spencer in Long Time Dead.

FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009)

friday-the-13th-poster-3FRIDAY THE 13TH

4 Stars  2009/18/101m

“Welcome to Crystal Lake.”

Director: Marcus Nispel / Writers: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift & Mark Wheaton / Cast: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle, Aaron Yoo, Derek Mears, Julianna Guill, Arlen Escarpeta, Willa Ford, Ryan Hansen, Richard Burgi, Nick Mennell, Jonathan Sadowski, Ben Feldman, America Olivo, Kyle Davis.

Body Count: 14

Direlogue: “I have more chance of fucking a penguin than that girl.”

I. Loved. It.

How do you remake a non-classic classic? If something has only gained ‘credibility’ through a kind of kitsch nostalgia, much like my rants about Fame, can upping the budget and trying to play down some of the genre pitfalls actually change the core essence? After all, you can’t polish a turd – but you can roll it in glitter!

As stated numerous times, to me Friday the 13th is anything but a turd. I genuinely consider it to be at the very least competently made. People may laugh, but most people haven’t seen 473 other slasher films to compare it to.


Here, Bay and his Platinum Dunes house of horror remakes (previously destroying The Amityville Horror and The Hitcher) could be seen as a curse as much as a blessing when it comes to Jason Voorhees. Their take on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre impressed me, but then I’ve never liked the original so it wasn’t difficult. But here was a film I loved. Argh. I was shaking throughout the ads and trailers. But at least they didn’t let Todd Farmer near this one.

OK, so remember Jason Goes to Hell? Remember it wasn’t very much loved? Hey, I like the film but we all know there are only a few good scenes: the beginning and the kids who go camping. Friday ’09 is very much like those two scenarios, it’s mega-nostalgic in its photography, characters, setups and the like. This be good, this be!


As it goes, the events of the original film don’t re-occur here, it’s not a remake as such. We begin at Camp Crystal Lake in 1980 and the fate of Mrs Voorhees (a perfectly cast but oddly named Nana Visitor) and skip to ‘the present’ where five campers hike into Jason’s wilderness, a couple of whom discover his home while he slaughters their friends, killing all but nice girl Whitney (Righetti) because she resembles Mama Voorhees. Six weeks later, Whitney’s brother Clay (Padalecki) comes to town looking for her, coinciding with seven college kids out to party at the condo of rich snob Trent’s dad.

While the college kids serve as interim victims for Jason, Clay and second nice girl Jenna (Panabaker) discover the remains of Camp Crystal Lake and also that there’s a psycho living there, a psycho who has recently donned a hockey mask he found whilst slashing up a local. The expected massacre ensues and all roads lead to the bro-sis reunion and foiled escapes from Jase.


jasonThere are a few areas that could have been improved upon, most evidently is the total lack of need for this to be anything but another sequel. This should be called Friday the 13th Part 12, paving the way to the thirteenth 13th. The scribes pull a Halloween H20 on us, re-writing the in-between after the first movie and essentially taking the best bits from 2, 3 and 4 in the hope of kick-starting a revival.

But as far as complaints go, that’s the main issue. Everything else is business as usual (ka-ching!) The paperthin teens are cut to pieces in a variety of surprisingly not-so-inventive ways, there’s more nudity than anything since A New Beginning and the requisite rainstorm eventually enters the equation in the final reel. No shots of the moon though!

As the main characters, Padalecki, Panabaker and Righetti are all effectively able and it’s nice to see Richard Burgi (albeit fleetingly) as ‘The Cop’. Aaron Yoo makes the best impression out of the doomed teens, whilst the other five range from the annoying moaner, via the token black guy to the two hot chicks who disrobe but look, sound and walk exactly the same!


So, we got drug smokin’ kids, a campfire story, rain, assorted weapons, likeable leads and a Jason who runs for the first since since 1984! There’s a fitting body count of 13 (one more if you count Mrs V in the prelude) and hope of a sequel. Thus, I cannot conceal my joy that this project was undertaken and, ahem, executed so well.

Blurbs-of-interest: Jared Padalecki got waxed in, uh, House of Wax and was also in Cry_Wolf; Nick Mennell appeared in My Little Eye and also Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake (as Bob). America Olivo was Britt in Circle and Elijah Wood’s mommy in the 2012 remake of Maniac.

Jason Lives!

I booked today off about six weeks ago. I drove about 30 miles to the nearest cinema playing it (for which I could use my unlimited card). I sat down. I waited. I seemed to be unable to breathe functionally. I had to nip to the bathroom after the grisly first act. I loved the rest of it equally (which surprised me). I’ll be going again next week for sure!

Review to follow soon. I’ve already written two and need a break.

But here’s a heads up:

4 Stars  Cool, huh?

Hearts will bleed


4.5 Stars  1981/18/94m

“There’s more than one way to lose your heart.”

Director: George Mihalka / Writer: John Beaird / Cast: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Don Francks, Cynthia Dale, Keith Knight, Alf Humphreys, Larry Reynolds, Terry Waterland, Jack van Evera, Helene Udy, Gina Dick, Patricia Hamilton, Tom Kovacs, Carl Morette, Jim Murchison, Rob Stein.

Body Count: 12

Dire-logue: “You gotta come just to see the dress I’m wearing! Cut down to there, slit up to here! I may not get out alive!”

First-rate Fatality: Oh so many in this version, but death-by-showerhead has it.

Part Deux for Final Girl’s Film Club. Cut or uncut, My Bloody Valentine rocks. However, it rocks more now that those infamous thought-they’d-never-see-the-light-of-day scissored gambits of gore can not only be seen but inserted back into the film!

Canada had already produced uber-slasher Black Christmas and also the disco-fabness of Prom Night, but with MBV came a slight variation on the form. This time there were no middle class teenagers biting the blade in the ‘burbs, at camp or school. Here, we have blue collar workers in their mine-dependent town (aptly named Valentine Bluffs) being stalked by a goggle-masked, heavy breathing killer whom everyone assumes to be Harry Warden, sole survivor of a Valentine’s Day mine cave-in two decades earlier. Warden went mad, killed the mine supervisors and disappeared, leaving a message to the locals that they should never host a Valentine’s Dance again at the risk of his pick-axe swinging return…

The local Sheriff and the Mayor cover up a couple of murders and cancel the “first dance in 20 years” after human hearts are sent their way in candy boxes. The younger folks – gruff miners and their girlfriends – opt to secretly party on down at the mine instead and celebrate love n’ stuff. Amidst the madness, there’s a love triangle developing between miners TJ, Axel and weepy blonde Sarah. For reasons unclear, TJ had left town suddenly, which put pay to his relationship with Sarah and allowed Axel to move in on her. Now he’s back (“and working in the mine”), things are a little tense between the trio.

Patty and Sarah rethink their choice in boyfriends

Patty and Sarah rethink their choice in boyfriends

Maniac-miner predictably crashes the Valentine’s party and begins offing anybody who senselessly wanders off on their tod; forcing their faces into boiling pots or skewering them head-first on to shower heads. Before these victims are discovered, three couples head off for a midnight tour of the mine, thus trapping themselves below the surface with the town psycho. More killings ensue until only those involved in the love triangle remain. Is one of them the killer? Or did Harry Warden return? Only a battle of the pick-axes will reveal the dreadful truth.


When I first saw this back in the mid-90s, I was genuinely surprised by the revelation that occurs at the end, meaning among other things that sometimes I can be a bit thick and also that the creators of My Bloody Valentine had realised a script that houses surprises that have been thought through more than, say, the other half of this daily-double, Friday the 13th.

mbv3aSpeaking of Friday, here’s a film which also contains quite a mean streak, emphasised by the presence of the cut footage. Many films were forced to pull their gory punches in the wake of the MPAA clampdown in 1980 and, subsequently, some suffered greatly for it, cut or not. Now, at last, thanks in large part to the 2009 3D remake, Lionsgate pressed the right buttons at Paramount to polish the excised footage and reinsert it. Visually it’s obvious the celluloid hasn’t maintained its original quality but who the hell cares!? Given the choice I’d accept a few smudges and grains anyday over risking never seeing some of this stuff. It’s frakkin’ gold! Elevates the film to the point I added an extra half-star to my rating.

Unquestionably better than it’s cynical and nonsensical remake, My Bloody Valentine is one of the top slasher films of its day (and, indeed, ever) and anybody intending to gather a decent cross-section of titles that illustrate how much fun the slasher flick is, should not discount it.

Blurbs-of-interest: Lori Hallier turned up many moons later in Heartstopper; Gina Dick has a small part in fellow-Canadian slasher from ’81, Happy Birthday to Me. Alf Humphreys had already been in minimalist sorta-slasher Funeral Home.

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