• 27 Feb 2009 /  Reviews

    aprilfoolsday

    APRIL FOOL’S DAY

    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’sĀ 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 summond 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.

    afd

    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.

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  • 24 Feb 2009 /  Face off, Reviews

    As I’m still in a pleasant Friday the 13th afterglow, I thought I’d do something a bit different and celebrate the elusive, but few in number, final boys of the 12 films. Anyone who doesn’t zone out when I’m talking knows Amy Steel is my hands-down favourite final girl, but what about the 8 spunky males who survived Jason Voorhees’ rages of terror?

    FB#1: THE TOMMYS

    coreyf1johnsthomm

    Tommy Jarvis was the first non-girl to encounter JV and make it out alive. In all fairness, he was only 12 and we know Jase doesn’t kill kids (somewhat unfortunately). Tommy was first played by a pre-Gremlins, pre-Goonies, pre-drug Corey Feldman to good effect and hacked up the masked one with machete at the end of The Final Chapter.

    In the fifth movie, Feldman returned for a cameo and then grew up into John Shepard, uttered precisely 22 words in 87 minutes and looked like he was going to become the killer for the rest of the franchise. Pretty dull, but a nicely sculpted torso, one must say!

    In Jason Lives, Tommy came back for the last time and was played by the best looking of the trio, Thom Mathews, in a nice comedic way. Thom wins extra points for having the same name as his character. Unless it’s pronounced like, y’know, Fom.

    Poz: about the only recurring character outside of Jason. Slightly mental.

    Neg: Shepard was boring and the actors all looked too different.

    FB#2: REGGIE

    shavarLittle Reggie is, so far, the only black character to have survived a Friday (unless you want to be picky and point out some background characters), although he technically didn’t escape from Jason, just some schmuck playing the role.

    Diff’rent Strokes actor Shavar Ross was a highlight of A New Beginning, the film most people love to hate but I love to love. It’s sleazy as hell but a tidal wave of murders, toplessness, and little Reggie’s quips make it somewhat of a guilty pleasure.

    Poz: ethnic diversity; girly screaming moment; running “Jason” down with a tractor. Says “solid” to mean cool.

    Neg: Michael Jackson-esque sibling; red hoodie.

    FB#3: NICK

    spirtasI don’t mind saying I find Kevin Blair (or Spirtas) intensely attractive. He was the pin-up type in 88′s The New Blood, where he supposedly didn’t gel with final girl Lar Park Lincoln so well, but still managed to get away relatively unscathed.

    Nick’s the nice bloke in the group of party-hard kids vacationing at Crystal Lake for his cousin’s birthday. Said cousin is totally dead early on and Nick defends Lar against bitchy Melissa whilst trying to find dead-cuz and save the day.

    Poz: was the male lead in The Hills Have Eyes Part II (the old one), appears in soaps n’ stuff.

    Neg: beyond my geographical reach; didn’t have a lot to do besides follow Lar around.

    FB#4: SHAUN

    scottrShaun is kinda Nick Mk. II, the sensitive guy who is nice to heroine Rennie (Jensen Daggett) in one of the least interesting of the series as they all head to New York on a cruiseship. Instead of a dead cousin, Shaun’s dad gets it in the neck here and so he’s as damaged as Rennie, allowing them – and a dog – to emerge as the only survivors.

    Scott Reeves replaced an anonymous actor for the part, who was allegedly ‘too gay’.

    Poz: all-American good looks and niceness.

    Neg: again, a little dull. But that’s the problem with most of the characters in Jason Takes Manhattan.

    FB#5: STEVEN

    lemayCrystal Lake resident Steven is the ex of Jason’s long lost sister’s daughter and thus the father of her child: Jason’s great-niece. They don’t get along, then they do, then they don’t. His fingers get broken, he nearly gets dragged into hell.

    Poz: John D. LeMay had starred in the Friday the 13th TV series.

    Neg: Dorky and a bit annoying. He’s like the prankster kid we wish would die.

    FB#6: TSUNARON

    chuckcTsunaron (Chuck Campbell) is a sciencey guy who looks after the android Kay-Em in Jason X. Admittedly I don’t watch this entry much and it’s probably my least favourite of the series, but he was okay as I recall. Donned the usual nice-bloke role but was largely overshadowed by the girls. And Uber-Jason.

    Poz: also appeared as scary film-in-film guy in the fab Urban Legends: Final Cut.

    Neg: I thought he was Bruce Campbell’s brother. But he isn’t.

    FB #7: WILL

    ritter1Will (Jason Ritter) is a Springwood kid in an institute because he is still knowledgeable about Freddy Krueger. He was put there by his girlfriend’s (Monica Keena) doctor dad and manages to escape after Freddy resurrects Jason to do his bidding on Elm Street blah-de-blah blah.

    Son of the late John Ritter, he didn’t have a whole lot of depth to his Freddy vs Jason character.

    Poz: virtuous knowledge-base for inperilled (?) teens. Real name is Jason.

    Neg: Forgettable when Jason and Freddy are present.

    FB#8: CLAY

    jaredClay is in Crystal Lake looking for lost little sister Whitney, who has been captured and imprisoned by Jason due to her resemblance to a young Mrs Voorhees. He accepts help from final girl elect Jenna and they do most of the running and screaming.

    Jared Padalecki is probably the most famous final boy here, thanks to his lead role in Supernatural.

    Poz: plays the archetypal nice guy and tall enough to give Jason a run for his money when they go into combat. Got turned into a mannequin in House of Wax.

    Neg: Wayward teen past and overhanging I-am-responsible-for-her righteousness.

    Victor:

    It’s Blair/Spirtas for me – he doesn’t get in the way too much to be annoying and has his own mini-background that doesn’t deflect from the awesomeness of the final girl’s psychic ability and subsequent problems. Plus he’s hot!

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  • 21 Feb 2009 /  Reviews

    stagknight 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 tackledĀ  it in horror before now.

    stagknight2

    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.

    stagknight

    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.

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  • 13 Feb 2009 /  Reviews

    friday 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.

    Ahhh...memories

    Ahhh…memories

    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!

    friday-13th-remake

    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.

    fri2

    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!

    fri3

    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.

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  • 13 Feb 2009 /  Reviews

    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:

    Cool, huh?

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