Category Archives: Reviews

X-RAY

xray3 Stars  1981/X/78m

“You have nothing to fear… Until they operate!”

A.k.a. Hospital Massacre / Be My Valentine…or Else! / Ward 13

Director: Boaz Davidson / Writers: Boaz Davidson & Marc Benim / Cast: Barbi Benton, Chip Lucia, John Warner Williams, Jon Van Ness, Den Surries, Gay Austin, Karyn Smith, Elizabeth Hoy, Billy Jacoby.

Body Count: 10


Like most of the slasher films from this era, X-Ray with all it’s also known as’s, the massacre to be is born out of the childhood trauma that opens the film. Gorky Harold gives his neighbour Susan a Valentine’s Card, which she laughs at and her brother David tears it up. Subsequently, Harold (having seen this through the window) sneaks in and murders David while Susan is out of the room.

Nineteen years later, Susan (now played by Playboy model Barbi Benton) stops by at the city hospital to pick up some test results, unaware that said results have been swapped for some really bad ones!!! The hospital staff, all demonstrating as much competence as a McDonalds trainee, practically imprison Suze in the building, telling her she needs an operation now. Now! NOW!!!

Elsewhere, doctors, nurses, receptionists and custodians are being stalked and murdered by a looney-doc, resulting in syrupy blood squirting all over the place. There’s a decapitated head in a candy box, a corridor-sized sheet that envelops a woman and a murdered administrator shoved hilariously into a closet on a wheelie chair.

Meanwhile, Susan’s doctor skulks about with a couple of slutty nurses, looking like an early Human League video gone askew and eventually enough people are dead so that only Susan and nice doc Harry remain. Are they seriously trying to fool us with that cunning cover-up? Was that the most subtle clue they had working for them? I kind’ve expected a championing twist but there…just…wasn’t.

As far as Halloween clones go, Israeli-shot X-Ray is hopelessly inept. Everything about it sucks and yet it was so much fun and never got boring, which is always a good sign for these flicks (Visiting Hours take note). That said, the version I watched may have been heavily cropped for the UK release, which was awarded an X-rating and never resubmitted.

Blurbs-of-interest: Kid actors Hoy and Jacoby were two of the homicidal sprogs from Bloody Birthday; Jon Van Ness was in Tourist Trap; director/writer Davidson primarily works as a producer for Nu Image, who make cheaper-than-chips Sci-Fi DVD films with such imaginative titles as Crocodile, Octopus and Spiders as well as crud slasher flick Skeleton Man.

BLACK SERENADE

tunonegro3 Stars  2001/103m

“Ignorance kills.”

A.k.a. Tuno Negro (Dark Minstrel)

Directors/Writers: Pedro L. Barbero & Vincente J. Martin / Cast: Silke, Jorge Sanz, Fele Martinez, Patxi Freytez, Enrique Villen, Rebeca Cobos, Eusebio Poncela, Maribel Verdu.

Body Count: 18

Dire-logue: “It was a question of survival: my dick or my life.”


The reverse of the DVD of Black Serenade details the general plot of students and death and then states that the heroine will “have to use her knowledge of Art History” to solve the mystery. Art History? What is this, the Dan Brown slasher flick? Heart sinks like stone.

In the actuality of actualness, this handsome looking Spanish film has more in common with Urban Legend than anything else, which, for me is a good thing. Beginning with ‘The Barrymore Trick’ of killing a pretty girl before the credits, we learn of a Spanish myth (which may or may not have been invented for the sake of the film) about The Dark Minstel (Tuno Negro), a kampus kruising killer who murders the poorest performing students at colleges across the country. And also newlyweds for reasons unclear.

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The yarn stems from the Minstels of the 1600s who played music to pay their education fees and, when more privileged students began getting in on the act, the original Minstels struck back and murdered them before being burned by the townspeople. This prompts the present day killer in their quest to rid the world of the failing students at Salamanca University…

Our prissy heroine Alex attracts the killer’s attention (beside being a brainiac) and her less academically gifted friends begin to fall victim to the loon, who dresses as a traditional Minstel, which conveniently fits in with the fratb0y-like students who appear at all manner of campus hootenanny’s to sing and strum banjos, then get drunk and have sex with girls.

A love triangle develops between Alex, a legend-obsessed cop Victor and I’ll-fuck-anyone-to-pass-my-exams Minstel Eduardo. At this point things became slow moving and confusing. The amount of time the film takes place over is not exactly clear and some murders seem to go totally unnoticed. Alex does indeed turn to Art History (zzzzz…) to piece the puzzle together.

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I was forced to take a module of Art History during my first semester at college and have retained approximately 0.00% of what I learnt. I’m not sure mixing high-end art theory with “low-end” stalk n’ slash chills is a winner. I’m defensive of slasher flicks so won’t be referring to them as low-end again but for the sake of accurate comparative analysis it’s the best way to make a point. This was a huge obstacle in Black Serenade, something other collegiate slashers managed to avoid: Urban Legend used a topic we’re all interested in; Ripper had the useful backdrop of criminology and most people know enough about biology so that Anatomy‘s med-students in peril didn’t confuse them. But 17th Century Art… Really?

Okay so the primary concern is the killin’. There’s a high enough body count to make the film interesting and the scene where Eduardo guides Alex and another of her admirers (called Trout…!?) around campus as the killer sends real-time video footage of him stalking his next intended victim to a computer is hair raising, but once the fiend is unmasked there are enough loose threads to sew a blanket out of. The killer’s identity is practically an impossible equation that even Alex could not solve. Maybe we’ll get a mathematical-slasher film to aide us next. Perhaps something was lost in translation or the guy or guyette typing the subs just got bored and decided to make it up (though I wish they’d stricken “c**t-struck” from the script when Victor is challenged about his devotion to Alex). I don’t know. I’ve seen the film twice now and was as confused the second time as I was the first.

Not a failure of a film but often vulnerable to the stalkings of a Dark Minstel all the same!

THE GAY BED & BREAKFAST OF TERROR

gb&bot3 Stars  2007/18/109m

“Some things should stay in the closet!”

Director/Writer: Jaymes Thompson / Cast: Mari Marks, Michael Soldier, Georgia Jean, Robert Borzych, Hilary Schwartz, Vinny Markus, Shannon Lee, Denise Heller, Derek Long, Allie Rivenbark, James Tolins, Lisa Block-Wieser, Jim Polivka, Noah Naylor.

Body Count: 12

Dire-logue: “You will no longer yearn for the engorged penis of a well-muscled man in uniform! From this point on you will embrace the light of God and dream of the sugar-sweet Holy vaginal walls of your soon-to-be wife!”


A lot of gay men like slasher flicks, they provide a kind of sanctuary where the misfit final girl (who is normally sexually repressed and ‘outside’ of the microcosm of society that she exists in) outlives the nasty cheerleaders and fag-hating jocks to best the killer and save the day.

This said, gay characters have always been few and far between, normally wasted with prejudice or revealed to be the killer of the ‘normal’ heterosexual teens, overtly camp, in drag or completely ignored altogether. Gay-centric slasher films are almost as rare: Make A Wish pandered to fantasies around lesbianism and set it to a Friday the 13th-lite baseline, Hellbent got it mostly right by playing it, ahem, “straight” and going for the octane-over-aesthetics route and now to join the ranks is a kind of mash-up of the two, it’s The Gay Bed & Breakfast of Terror

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After a cabaret song about watching out for straight people adorns the credits, several gay couples drive up to the Sahara Salvation, having left it too late to book accommodation for a gay festival. The Sahara is run by mum/daughter oddball duo Helen and Luella, and the former wants to convert a gay fella from his “Satanic ways” to be a husband to oppressed-lez Luella. There’s also Manfred; a boy-slug hybrid who lives in a cage and likes to eat sinners.

The guests include an arty lesbian couple, a drag queen and his leather-daddy BF (played by director Thompson), an older guy and his buffed boy-toy, a couple of ‘normal’ gay guys and their fag-hag and a guitar-strumming hippie lesbian. Some of them soon fall victim to Helen’s Biblical-spouting and her crucifix-shaped dagger or Manfred’s green fangs. Then there’s partner swapping, sex, flashbacks to Helen and Luella’s homicidal-prompting experiences and a bloody finale of camp carnage.

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So it’s cheap and cheery, similar to But I’m A Cheerleader in its tone and execution (‘scuse the pun) with some funny lines and mannerisms: Helen screams her anti-gay diatribe at an en-dragged intended victim, to which he responds “if God hates us so much then why did he make all the beautiful people gay!!!!” There’s a hidden shrine to Reagan and Bush, a merry lesbian nun, hot players all around and a sense that those involved were having a great time.

As entertaining as I found The Gay B&B of Terror to be, it’d be unfair to ignore its less charming elements. Gay films still appear to lean towards stereotypical characters all too easily and there are an excess of in-jokes that those unfamiliar with gay culture will be bamboozled by. This is a fun party flick, if not a little overlong, but for an audience outside of the intended demographic, it’ll sink harder than a Bible verse in a pride march.

And who’s that woman at the beginning…?

JOLLY ROGER: MASSACRE AT CUTTER’S COVE

jollyrogerJOLLY ROGER: MASSACRE AT CUTTER’S COVE

3 Stars  2005/18/77m

“Some things should stay lost at sea.”

Director: Gary Jones / Writers: Jeff Miller & Gary Jones / Cast: Rhett Giles, Tom Nagel, Kristina Korn, Tom Downey, Kim Little, Pamela Munro, Justin Brannock, Megan Lee Ethridge, Hajar Northern, Ted Cochran.

Body Count: 16

Dire-logue: “Just drinking a little, smoking a little dope and all your friends got massacred, right?”


This cheap n’ cheesy quickie from the same studio that brought us the Scarecrow films takes many cues from The Fog in a tale of a murderous pirate back from the dead to behead the present day ancestors of his treacherous crew.

Considering the studio’s choppy resume, Jolly Roger nicely outperforms the previous efforts both technically and in terms of its general enjoyability. Other films that are pilfered include Leprechaun and Jason Goes to Hell. The short running time is a plus, as the sky-high body count escalates at a nice pace to outweigh the detective efforts of the boring teen couple who witness Roger’s slaughter of their high school friends – four corpses in the first fifteen minutes!

The killer, meanwhile, yo-ho-ho’s his way through town collecting severed heads to put in his Dead Man’s Chest with pirate-themed one liners at every turn, kinda like the lovechild of Freddy Krueger and Jack Sparrow. The sword decapitations are sloppy but gory and there’s a funny hand-chop thrown in as well. Endless clichés by numbers, with generous T&A, gallons of gore (though rum is nowhere to be found, much to Roger’s chagrin) and characters so thinly drawn that they barely have enough screen time to do much but die! Not for all tastes for sure but genre completists should get a kick out of it.

Blurbs-of-interest: Gary Jones directed Boogeyman 3 and Axe Giant; Tom Nagel directed ClownTown.

EYES OF A STRANGER

eyesofastranger2 Stars  1981/81m

“He’s murdered 12 women. The 13th is about to fight back.”

Director: Ken Wiederhorn / Writers: Mark Jackson & Eric L. Bloom / Cast: Lauren Tewes, Jennifer Jason Leigh, John DiSanti, Peter DuPre, Gwen Lewis, Kitty Lunn, Timothy Hawkins, Ted Richert.

Body Count: 7


The number of coincidences that occur throughout Eyes of a Stranger is phenomenal: from the killer managing to appear anywhere necessary in order to eliminate his quarry to sudden regain of sight and speech!

Loveboat‘s Lauren Tewes is Jane, a plucky Miami anchorwoman convinced that a neighbour of hers is the man responsible for a series of local rape murders. Ignoring her lawyer-boyfriend’s advice, she does a little investigating and ends up endangering her blind, deaf and mute sis (Leigh), who was the victim of a murderous rapist as a child.

Most of Tom Savini’s gore effects were removed before the film was even released with an additional minute and a half cropped from the UK video, but it still pissed off feminist protesters to the point where they picketed movie theatres as the repulsive, slobbish maniac slaps, punches and slaughters a string of female victims (as well as a couple of guys who get in the way). The opening murder is adequately executed with some scares that aren’t so dissimilar to a certain Kevin Williamson-scribed box office hit but those that follow are sorely in need of chase action or grue. We can all see where it’s going to end up with psycho-dude (DiSanti) attacking see/speak/hear no evil girl and Lauren coming to the rescue.

Without Savini’s makeup work and so many missing links, Eyes of a Stranger is just another sleazy, dismissive throwback from the days of yore. And will somebody please explain how so many of these guys successfully crawl into the backseats of womens’ cars!?

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