Category Archives: Reviews

THE HILLS RUN RED

thehillsrunreddvd3 Stars  2009/18/81m

Director: Dave Parker / Writers: John Dombrow, John Carchietta & David J. Schow / Cast: Sophie Monk, Tad Hilgenbrinck, Janet Montgomery, Alex Wyndham, William Sadler, Raicho Vasilev.

Body Count: at least 19

Dire-logue: “The characters always head out to the middle of nowhere, right? Suddenly their cars, their cell phones, their technology can’t save them and nobody ever brings a fucking gun!”


Mucho hype surrounded this film before it was unveiled at various horror festivals, it’s ‘back to basics,’ ‘gives horror fans what they want,’ blah blah best thing since sliced cheerleaders la la la…

It’s a slasher film about a 1982 slasher film, The Hills Run Red, which was withdrawn soon after its release and never seen again, along with the director and most of the cast. Horror geek Tyler is obsessed with finding the original reels and making a documentary about it, so after tracking down bit-parter and director’s daughter Alexa, now a heroin junkie lapdancer, he and his girlfriend Serina and best bud Lalo (who are secretly screwing), drive off in search of the house where the film was originally shot.

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No sooner than setting up camp, the killer from the film – Babyface – appears and saves the kids from a trio of rednecks who happened by to torment them and kidnaps Alexa, prompting the others to give chase to try and save her. Here, things twist off in to a place that sees the wings splinter off this flight, which sends it into a long nosedive from an altitude of intense slasherama to indulgent torture-porn-lite with a disatisfying conclusion. This also means that character expectations are switched and those we thought would most certainly survive or die…might not.

Until the twist is made evident, The Hills Run Red flirts with four-star truimphance: it’s slick, well-paced, bloody without being stupidly gory and engaging, a straight-up stalk n’ slasher from the days of yore, precisely what the mission statement appeared to be. It becomes another Texas Chainsaw wannabe with an overabundance of psychos, sleaze, unimpressive motives and a downbeat twist ending. And so it ends up in three-star land, a respectable showing for any B-movie of the stomp-and-kill ilk, perhaps a bit of a disappointment for genre aficionados who were hoping for the mooted next great horror icon…who looks a bit like the loon from Dark Ride to me.

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Blurbs-of-interest: bizarrely, the last new slasher flick I watched, Wrong Turn 3, not only starred Janet Montgomery, but was also shot in the same locale of Bulgaria and featured a horde of British actors doing American accents. Alex Wyndham was also in Red Mist.

WRONG TURN 3: LEFT FOR DEAD

wrongturn3WRONG TURN 3: LEFT FOR DEAD

1.5 Stars  2009/92m

“What you don’t see will kill you.”

Director: Declan O’Brien / Writer: Connor James Delaney / Cast: Tom Frederic, Janet Montgomery, Tamer Hassan, Gil Kolirin, Tom McKay, Christian Contreras, Jake Curran, Chucky Venice, Bill Moody, Borislav Iliev.

Body Count: 15

Dire-logue: “He’s out there… I can feel him. He’s been following us. He’s close.”


How to take one of the best survivalist slasher films in the last few years and drive into an almost aggressively bad DVD series in three easy films…

I watched half of Wrong Turn 3 yesterday and the rest today. In between, I took my dog out for a walk in a close by field. There was a creepy dense fog and, save for my dog’s flashing collar darting about in the mist, all I had to light my way was a blue-strobe LED ghost that squeaks ‘woooo’ when you press it. With mutant inbred cannibals on my mind, every blob in the dark could’ve been a psycho with an axe… Every sloppy thing I stepped in could’ve been gory entrails – but turned out to be cow shit.

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Having just finished the film, there was nothing to fear. The South Downs ain’t West Virginia. In fact West Virginia ain’t West Virginia here either as for WT3 they outsourced the project to Bulgaria and used an almost exclusively British cast!

Things start okay with a quartet of “all-American teens” kayaking down a river. They stop to set up camp and one couple goes to fetch wood while the others get jiggy. Boobs appear within minutes and seconds later there’s an arrow sticking out of the boob and through boob-girl’s boyfriend’s hand. Three of the teens are offed within the first seven minutes, all quite gorily: one guy gets skewered through the gob and the other trips a trap that pays tribute to the hacked-in-half opener from Wrong Turn 2, this time splitting the guy into three pieces. It’s impressive for all of five seconds until the world’s worst CGI kicks in…

wrongturn3splitAfter the remaining girl, Alex, escapes, we move to a prison where officer Nate’s last day on the job (yawn…) is made worse with the news that he has to chaperone several prisoners on a transfer to another facility to thwart a rumoured escape attempt by Mexican gangster Chavez. We know he’s Mexican because he calls everyone ‘Puta,’ which, I learnt, is the equivalent of whore. The route between venues is altered to allow the solo-working inbred to run the bus off the road, let the prisoners gain control and send the group running into the woods, where Alex soon leaps out, all screams and immediate expositions…

The group discover an old armoured truck full of cash and continue yelling at one another and swearing amidst aimlessly wandering into all of the hick’s savage traps, including a sliced off face, a vertical spear impaling and a skull cracked open and its lid removed like a boiled egg… We’re only supposed to care about Alex, Nate and the one trustworthy con who swears he didn’t commit the murder he’s inside for. But I didn’t really. They were such cookie-cutter good guys that they were boring, with none of the situational flair that Eliza Dushku and Desmond Harrington had in the original film.

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Also absent is a sense of futility: in the first film there was a real sense of doom for the teens-in-peril, that they wouldn’t get out of this. Plus they were nice kids out for a good time. The second film at least had the sense to try and make its leads affable enough to root for but all the characters in Wrong Turn 3 blur into a gross soup of I-don’t-care proportions. The only character I cared about the was the police dog and that didn’t end well.

Three-Finger, now working alone after his son (assumedly the grown up baby from the end of Dead End) is done away with by the felons, is played by a Bulgarian stuntman who looks like he’s wearing a third-rate plastic Halloween mask and also has the Hiro Nakamurian ability to teleport after he is ‘killed’ by Nate and Alex, who take his truck and drive for several minutes, finding him further down the road than they’ve managed to get!

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But perhaps the worst thing is like a blast from the past. But the past that came before the 80s, the 70s, before Jesus! Remember in old studio films when there was a character in a car, they drove in front of a screen and lackies rocked the vehicle from either side, that’s what they do in Wrong Turn 3 – the bus, the truck, check that fucking background! How low was the budget?

Sucky story, sucky characters, sucky prosthetics, vile CGI, crap actors, a grand total of three female characters… The sweet memory of seeing Wrong Turn back in ’03 feels like it has been raped by a backwoods inbred.

Blurbs-of-interest: Tom Frederic was the doomed boyfriend in the even worse Blood Trails. Janet Montgomery was also in The Hills Run Red – also shot in 2009, also shot in Bulgaria, also lots of trees. Declan O’Brien returned to direct Wrong Turn 4 in 2011.

October Opposition: Mike Myers vs. Michael Myers

Friends of my folks have a son called Michael Myers, so this could have been a ménage a trois of sorts… Anyhoo, never since the prospect of Chris Evans (sexy Hollywood star) versus Chris Evans (gorky UK radio dweeb who spent most of the 90s with his head wedged in the Gallagher brothers respective arses) has a big-hitter of the namesakes been so exciting. For me, anyway. Maybe you have more exciting things to be excited about, excitoface.

So, let’s start with Myers, the older, MICHAEL:

michaelmyersHere he is then, the first of the seminal slasher movie boogeymen (unless you want to count Leatherface), born in 1957 (ironically the same year major rival Jason Voorhees ‘drowned’ in Crystal Lake), stabbed big sis Judith at the age of six, locked away for fifteen years before escaping, returning to hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, to stab lil sis Laurie. Underestimates Laurie’s ability to survive said stabbing and goes into coma for a decade. Returns time and time again throughout late 80s and 90s before being wiped clean by Hollywood, losing his head, regaining his head, wiped again and reignited as a white trash shadow of his former self…

And MIKE…?

mikemyersBorn in ’63 (the year other Mike stabbed sis), but in the land of pleasantry that is Canada. Did not dress up as a clown to kill sister and was not, as far as his biog states, locked up at Smith’s Grove for a decade and a half…

Instead, Myers went to Saturday Night Live, created the character of Wayne Campbell, spun that into a movie, spun a sequel outta that, languished in a bit of a non-place for a few years before becoming ultra-starry from the Austin Powers films and as the voice of Shrek.

INCARNATIONS

Michael started out as a cute clown, quickly became a creepy clown, killer creepy clown, and was then unmasked as six-year-old killer creepy clown.

michaelclownHe then donned a bleached William Shatner Halloween mask for the look pictured above, only until Laurie managed to pull it from his face on the solitary occasion we’ve ever seen Michael unmasked (with the possible exception of Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, which I haven’t seen yet).

michaelunmaskedWhat a good looking young man he almost coulda sorta been if, y’know, he wasn’t a mute psycho obsessed with knifing his bloodline to death for reasons never really explained, unless you’re into that Thorn crap they tried to palm us off with in Halloween 6.

After that, for sequels H20 and Resurrection, Michael was given a slightly smoothed out look and then, when Rob Zombie was charged with re-starting the entire franchise, he became White Trash Michael in need of shampoo. Sad times.

remakemichael

In a slightly sunnier part of the universe, Mike Myers started out as geeky-metaller Wayne Campbell who, with best bud Garth Elgar, presented Wayne’s World, which was made into a film called, uh, Wayne’s World about the show being picked up by evil big-shot Rob Lowe and exploited. Nothing much happens but the film makes me piss myself with laughter 17 years after I saw it at the movies, largely remembered by all for the time I pulled a bendy straw out of a sipper-flask during quite a silent moment, thus resembling a kind of thunder-fart in the cinema…

wayneWayne and Garth returned for a not-as-good sequel in 1993 before vanishing for good. Rumour was that Myers and Dana Carvey could not agree over who got the best gags and fell out.

Still, for Mike there was hit-and-miss comedy So I Married an Axe Murderer, which almost sounds like a slasher flick. But isn’t. Then four years later he returned as James Bond-wannabe Austin Powers, British, dentally-challenged, 60’s trapped spy for MI5/6/7/whatever, to save the world from the arguably funnier Dr Evil…drevil

As well as playing the Blofeld-lite role of Dr Evil, Mike also played Scottish assassin Fat Bastard and Dutch big-bad Goldmember.

After three Austin Powers films (with a fourth in the pipeline), Myers voiced green ogre Shrek for the Disney franchise and attempted to kick-start a new character in 2008 with The Love Guru, but nobody seemed to care about it.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Michael: can never be dethroned as the original stalk n’ slasher, amassing (across the original set of films) a staggering 69 victims, plus another twenty or so in the remake.

Mike: The Austin Powers films were phenomenally successful, turning Myers into an A-lister, but Wayne’s World will always be my favourite of his!

LOW POINTS

Michael: Halloween III didn’t involve Michael at all. Halloween 5 was boring and the remake (and probably its sequel) may well have ruined his appeal for good.

Mike: Goldmember wasn’t very funny. Did anyone actually see The Cat in the Hat?

FUTURE PROSPECTS

Michael: A “third” (albeit eleventh really) Halloween film is planned for a 3D release in 2010. What this will add to the crumbling towerblock that once was the greatest slasher series going is unknown, besides 3D boobs. As it’s going to be written by Todd Farmer, odds are it will make next to no sense and be riddled with plotholes and contrivances. See Jason X or My Bloody Valentine 3D for evidentiary support.

Mike: if Austin Powers 4 happens, it’ll doubtlessly be huge, as will the inevitable next Shrek outing, but otherwise things are looking a bit quiet in the Myers’ yard of late… Hmmm.

VICTOR: For the first time, I’m going against my slasher loyalties and giving it to Mike Myers as Michael has been reduced to a trailer park caricature of his once great self thanks to corporate greed and lack of imagination. But it’d be nice if Mike Myers took up a cameo in the next Halloween outing…

WELCOME TO SPRING BREAK

welcometospringbrak3 Stars  1988/91m

A.k.a. Nightmare Beach

Director: Harry Kirkpatrick / Writers: Umberto Lenzi & Vittorio Rambaldi / Cast: Nicholas De Toth, Sarah Buxton, John Saxon, Rawley Valverde, Lance Le Gault, Michael Parks, Fred Buck, Luis Valderama, Yamilet Hildago.

Body Count: 11

Dire-logue: “Welcome to spring break: the annual migration of the idiot.”


The leader of a biker gang is sent to the electric chair in the same week than 100,000 students descend on Venice Beach for their annual Spring Break knees up, sparking a series of intertwined events that begins with the electrocution of a pretty hitcher by a dark-visored biker…

Best buds Skip and Ronnie, meanwhile, have arrived for the week and start it off by upsetting The Demons, the biker gang to whom the recently departed (?) belonged, while pervert cop John Saxon skulks about threatening to send everyone to prison. Electrocutions continue with the leather-clad killer doing away with young vacationers and the odd local who gets in the way, including a girl who’s using her room to earn some college cash by screwing older men and the slasher movie fixture, the prankster, who pretends he’s dead one too many times…

Ronnie gets himself burnt beyond recognition and Skip teams up with waitress Gail, twin sister of dead biker’s victim, and they discover that the Mayor, Saxon’s ropey cop and a local doctor are covering up the truth and will do whatever they can to prevent the feisty duo from bringing it out into the open.

Lenzi, was actually fired from the movie at the start of production but stuck around as an advisor for his replacement, Kirkpatrick. Sadly, this leaves only a hell of a lot of unanswered questions and should-be victims who simply disappear from the story when, by rights, they should be frazzled to DEATH!!! There is, however, a sense of Nancy Drew fun to it all that doesn’t appear in contemporary mystery-slashers, marred only by the ridiculous outcome of the plot secrets and some cheesy 80’s music to top it off.

Blurbs-of-interest: B-movie fixture John Saxon was also in Elm Streets 1 and 3 and the New Nightmare; Tenebrae, The Baby Doll Murders and Black Christmas; Nicholas De Toth became a film editor who worked on some big Hollywood productions such as X Men Origins: Wolverine, Die Hard 4.0 and Terminator 3; Umberto Lenzi directed giallo gem Eyeball.

THE CARETAKER

caretaker2.5 Stars  2008/18/82m

“Not all love stories have a happy ending.”

Director: Bryce Fridrik Olson / Writer: Jackie Linder Olson / Cast: Kira Verrastro, Jennifer Freeman, James Immekus, Andrew St. John, Jennifer Tilly, Victoria Vande Vegte, Diego Torres, Judd Nelson, Jonathan Breck, Will Stiles, Lola Davidson.

Body Count: 9


The Zone Horror channel has given me the opportunity to see quite a few slasher films since I first had access to it about a year ago. Plenty of these films are bad – The Gingerdead Man, Crazy Eights – and some have been pleasant surprises – StagKnight, Pray for Morning. The Caretaker lands somewhere inbetween. It’s one of those instantly forgettable B-movies populated by fresh faced, enthusiastic thespians and a couple of has-beens signed on for the pay-cheque…

Here, Jennifer Tilly and Judd Nelson graduate from their 80’s teen roles to being “the adults” – namely a nympho teacher with a penchant for low-cut tops and a concerned father of the obvious final girl respectively. Elsewhere, Jonathan Breck (The Creeper from Jeepers Creepers) has a limited, but effective role as a questionable limo driver taking three teen boys and their dates to an abandoned house at a grapefruit grove (orchard?) where an old legend about a psychotic caretaker who kept his beautiful wife shackled in their house, then murdered her family and eventually her when she tried to leg it with their newborn daughter.

caretakercast

In a sort of diet-Hell Night evolution, it turns out those sent to make scary noises from outside have already been murdered and now those inside are to fall victim to the disguised killer, who uses a tweaked fruit picker to skewer everyone to death. One girl says she is bored by everything and opts to walk back to town – and survives! Another girl – in her prom dress – attempts to take off on a quad bike before she is clothes-lined off of it. There’s also fruit-picker to the dick, grapefruit asphyxiation and an overdose of juvenile fart-gag humour. Squeaky Tilly plays it charismatically, further cementing my theory that she and Cyndi Lauper are in fact the same person.

The outcome is pointedly obvious when you make a quick reckie of Judd Nelson’s overall screentime and the number of years between the past murders, all equating to a resolution that’s about as difficult to establish as a three-brick Lego set. Tame, passable teen horror for a boring evening you don’t mind forgetting about.

Blurbs-of-interest: Breck later played the loon in Mask Maker. Will Stiles was also in Circle.

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