Author Archives: Hud

I Know What You Did 100 Summers Ago. In Sweden.

drowning ghost strandvaskarenDROWNING GHOST

2 Stars  2004/100m

A.k.a. Strandvaskaren (Swedish title)

Director/Writer: Mikael Hafstrom / Writer: Vada / Cast: Rebecka Hemse, Peter Eggers, Jenny Ulving, Jesper Salen, Daniel Larsson, Rebecka Ferguson, Frans Wiklund, Anders Ekborg, Kerstin Steinbach, Kjell Bergqvist.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “Three pupils were murdered a hundred years ago. We must celebrate that.”


Sweden is famous for a lot of awesome things: meatballs, Ikea, exquisite songwriting, winning Eurovision, high taxes, beautiful Nordic people…

In recent years, Sweden has become known for its gritty, slick thrillers, on TV or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, most of which revel in the dim light, stoic expressions, and a sense of melancholy.

One would be forgiven for thinking this would transfer well to the horror movie industry, much like neighbouring Norway, with the no-less-than-excellent Cold Prey series. Sadly, Drowning Ghost retains only the good look of a typical Scando-production, and is otherwise terminally dull.

Set against the backdrop of life at the exclusive Hellestad boarding school, where, one year on from the suicide of a lonely female student, a killer begins stalking and doing away with a group of over-aged students. Or could it have something to do with the hundred-year-old legend of a local farmer who slaughtered a trio of boys before drowning himself in a nearby lake? The school is home to a traditional annual celebration of the event, when the ghost of the farmer is rumoured to walk the halls…

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Studious Sara is researching the tale and uncovers factors that may connect the killings to one of the Hellestad board members’ ancestors, much to the vexation of the haughty headmistress. Sara subsequently becomes the target of practical jokes and pranks carried out by said board member’s son, with whom she was previously involved.

The identity of the sack-masked killer isn’t immediately obvious, but the film builds up little that will make you care anyway. For all the fancy camerawork, score, and overlapping plotlines, there’s really not much going on here at all.

The body count is low and many of the killing off-camera, and the only ghost that bothers to show up is one of dead expectations.

Arguably, drowning might be a more engaging experience than sitting through this exercise in tedium.

Blurb-of-interest: Rebecka Ferguson (the unquestionably stunning girlfriend of the nasty guy) went on to star in one of the Mission: Impossible sequels.

Social Commentary or Sleaze?

girlhouse 2014GIRLHOUSE

4 Stars  2014/18/101m

“Enjoy the show.”

Directors: Trevor Matthews & John Knautz / Writer: Nick Gordon / Cast: Ali Cobrin, Adam DiMarco, Slaine, Alice Hunter, Alyson Bath, Elysia Rotaru, Chasty Ballesteros, Wesley MacInnes, Erin Agostino, Nicole Fox, James Thomas.

Body Count: 15

Laughter Lines: “I’ve thought this through completely. I really don’t see how anything bad can happen.”


Sexy girls in a house decked out with cameras so guys can log on and crack one out. No! Don’t go! I know it sounds like two dozen other camcorder exploitation flicks with nothing to offer, but GirlHouse is, hugely to my surprise, a pretty solid slasher flick with some of the best production attributes this side of the millennium.

In 1988, two girls tease a tubby preteen and trick him into a one-sided game of show and tell, which ends with them laughing in his face about the size of his cock and sending him running away. A little later, the ringleader is ambushed as she cycles home down a back road and no amount of sorrys can save her from being thrown off the side of a bridge.

Just this five minute opener packs a punch absent in 90% of contemporary slasher films, evident from the effort going into building an atmosphere. Like the films of yore, the shots fragment all around the victim and we know something bad is going to leap out any second, just not from where… This simple approach, used all the time in the 80s, makes a lot of difference.

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Fast forward to the present, hard-up college girl Kylie needs money enough to agree to go and live at GirlHouse, the pornhub of the future, owned by gay Hefner-lite Gary Preston, who puts his girls up in a huge secluded mansion, location under wraps, where they’re filmed around the clock, performing little laptop shows, playing in the pool, the sauna, eating, watching TV… whatever.

One repeat customer is Loverboy, our grown up psychotic, who worships all the girls and is technically able enough to hack through the firewalls to send a photo of himself to Kylie. Her heart, however, is slowly being won over by old schoolmate Ben, who stumbles upon her online and is prompted by his Ed Sheeran-esque roommate to drive to her college and strike up a conversation.

After a girl evicted for her drug habit is permitted to stay in the house again, she finds Loverboy’s photo – not the most flattering – prints it, and sticks it up on a wall, where he eventually spies it in the background and, humiliated, loses his shit and stomps in the direction of GirlHouse.

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Before long, most the tech and security guys have been murdered (largely off-camera and always fully clothed) and Loverboy seizes control of the house functions, stalking the girls one by one while helpless patrons watch, including Ben and his roomie, who embark on Halloween: Resurrection-esque attempts to help remotely.

One girl has her fingers axed off, making it impossible for her to type in the address of the house to summon help; another is choked on a dildo; one locked in the sauna with the thermostat cranked up… What sets GirlHouse apart from the dreck that share its premise (Voyeur.com comes to mind), is the will of (most of) the girls not to just sit there naked and die: The sauna girl manages to bust out and runs straight for the pool; another thought dead waits for the killer to happen by and strikes out at him; and Kylie, when inevitably the last one alive, pulls all the feeds and lures the killer to the basement where she uses nightvision to fight back and then beats the crap out of him with a camera.

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If there’s a comment on the relationship between pornography and objectification, it’s either too vague or forgotten in a tide of blood. A quote from Ted Bundy kicks things off, though it later falls back on on cliches of sad, fat, drooling loners who hate women. That said, the menfolk prove to be the most dispensable, often blindsided and incapable when confronted with the killer. Or do the unwritten rules of voyeurism apply and the perception is that the audience don’t want to see the murders of men on screen and that it’s the girls who are to blame? Would Guyhouse work? It’s one of the oldest dilemmas to plague the genre. But the genders are equally represented when it comes to dead bodies by the end, and it’s Kylie who does all the hard work when push comes to stab.

Even if elements of the story have to cave to genre tropes to work, GirlHouse succeeds through production attributes alone, something most horror producers don’t even seem to consider, largely under the illusion that T&A and corn syrup splashed on a wall tick enough of the boxes.

Overlook the skeezier elements and there’s a solid gem lurking beneath.

Rankfest: A Nightmare on Elm Street

I just realised I said Halloween would be next but it’s all lies… So from Crystal Lake we fly west to Springwood to check out how I like my Elm Streets

9th Best: Freddy’s Dead (1991)

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With both Freddy and Jason’s ‘final’ adventures, The Final Nightmare peters out with little of the flair that made the concept so good in the first place. This was released in the UK around the same time Queen singer Freddie Mercury died, making the TV adverts staying ‘Freddy’s Dead!’ wildly inappropriate.

Best Bit: Sadly, the montage of best bits from parts 1-5.

8th: The Dream Child (1989)

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The attempt to revert to the dark roots of the series resulted in a pretty boring entry on the coattails of the most successful of the 80s installments. Although drippy heroine Alice finally comes to the fire in a non-annoying way, by this point there were way too many tie-ins, toys, music videos, and the TV show, all of which diluted any fear Krueger had injected into anybody.

Best Bit: I actually can’t think of one.

7th: The Remake (2010)

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Less Elm Street, more Emo Street as the re-imagining of the story pits a group of thoroughly depressing high schoolers against Jackie Earle Haley’s less quippy Krueger. He’s fine, and there are some good ideas floating around (the curse of the dreams is kind of passed along after each death) but, as with the Halloween remake, the cover version part of it can’t hold a candle, and seems like a cheap afterthought.

Best Bit: The opening nightmare is pretty good and Katie Cassidy is a good screamer.

6th: Freddy vs Jason (2003)

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It’s crap, especially compared to the New Nightmare, but Jason’s presence makes it avidly more watchable from an entertainment standpoint. Freddy doesn’t get to do a whole lot of slashing, but comes to the party fully equipped with a quip for every action.

Best Freddy Bit: “She was mine! Mine! Miiiiiiiine!!!”

5th: New Nightmare (1994)

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Wes Craven, pissed off with what had become of his creation, re-seized the reigns just two years before Scream came along, and completely overhauled the series, reinstating Heather Langenkamp playing herself, now tormented by the films that made her name, as Freddy comes after her family. It’s all very clever, but not much of a slasher film, running a bit too long to enjoy repeated viewings, but is undeniably an amazing example of somebody reclaiming their work.

Best Bit: John Saxon falling back into character before a perplexed Heather.

4th: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

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I hated this one in the beginning, being such a departure from the first, switching the focus to a homo-repressed teenage boy, who has recently moved into 1428 Elm Street. However, repeated viewings have unveiled much to like, from the colourful 80s tone, some laughably bad acting, and some awesome nightmare scenarios, it’s subsequently leapt up the rankings.

Best Bit: The school bus nightmare opener, relative and really well done.

3rd: The Dream Master (1988)

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The MTV Nightmare was a combination of fortuitous circumstances that led to huge box office takings: Freddy was riding the top of his pop culture wave, FX work was at a revolutionary turning point and the dream sequences were rendered with amazing innovation and creativity. Points lost for little to no grue, and a sappy, annoying final girl.

Best Bit: Debbie’s transformation into an insect.

2nd: Dream Warriors (1987)

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The ‘proper’ sequel to the events of the first film: Six years later, Nancy returns to help a group of nightmare-plagued teenagers at a psych ward where nobody seems able to understand their collective problem, writing it off as mass-hysteria. This marked the last time the adults-know-better theme was used to full effect. Freddy was also legitimately still a scary boogeyman, tormenting Patricia Arquette’s heroine in some perfectly realised nightmare situations.

Best Bit: “Welcome to primetime, bitch!” (or is it “fuck the primetime”?)

1st: The Original (1984)

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Wes Craven got everything right – with the possible exception of the end – and built New Line studios on the back of a script that had been turned down by every other studio in Hollywood. Centrally, the motif of sleep=death is up there with a shark in the water off Amity Island, but you can stay out of the sea. How long can you stay awake?

 Cleverly, the film foregoes murder after murder to focus on final girl Nancy’s battle with staying awake, something we all tried after seeing it, I’m sure. I once managed a couple of days by going through a crate of 24 Pepsi cans. Unquestionably one of the most important horror films ever made.

Best Bit: Nancy’s gradual progression from suburban any-girl to trap-manufactuing, Krueger-kicking badass.

Mourn of the dead

bloodwidowBLOOD WIDOW

1.5 Stars  2014/83m

“Die in silence.”

Director/Writer: Jeremiah Buckhalt / Writers: Chad Coup & Ian H. Davis / Cast: Danielle Lilley, Brandon Kyle Peters, Christopher de Padua, Jose Miguel Vasquez, Kelly Kilgore, Emily Cutting, Gabrielle Ann Henry.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “Come on your crazy biiiii-aaaaa-eeee-tch!” (it’s all in the delivery)


Many a horror film claims to take something or other to the next level, but Blood Widow is, for a change, telling the truth. Sadly though, what it chooses to intensify is bad acting.

Amateur night performances are part and parcel when your hobby is collecting slasher films, but this makes the actors in The Dorm That Dripped Blood look like Streep and Nicholson.

With a story almost identical to (the far superior) Mask Maker, a young couple – named fucking Hugh and Laurie!? – buy an old farmhouse, which is situated next to an abandoned girls’ school where something bad happened in the late 90s. I’m thinking it was Nu-Metal.

Friends come to party and disturb the masked psychette still living there, who uses an assortment of sharp things to gut, behead, and de-limb the newcomers. Behind the admittedly creepy doll-mask, she also has ninja-lite moves and would give many a hulking loon a run for his buck.

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After a convenient diary turns up to backfill the questions I didn’t have, the surly heroine asks the couple who sold them the place about the incident next door, they’re like “oh yeah, we should’ve told you but didn’t want to devalue the property…”

Fortunately, everyone dies and the audience exhales at the end of the terrible, terrible acting, which borders on the suspicion that the cast were trying to outdo each other in the suck stakes.

Amusingly, special makeup effects were done by a Michael Gore and, joy of joys, there’s a sequel pending.

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