Category Archives: Valley of the Cheapjack Franchises

Valley of the Cheapjack Franchises: SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT

This is about as high-budget as Valley of the… is going to get, parts 1 to 3 of the Silent Night, Deadly Night five-piece franchise. Part 4: Initiation (a.k.a. Bugs) is not a slasher film and Part 5: The Toy Maker, allegedly belongs alongside Halloween III in the kill-kids-with-toys subset.

So, une, deux and trois… Yule be sorry!

SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT

3.5 Stars  1984/18/85m

“You’ve made it through Halloween, now try and survive Christmas.”

Director: Charles E. Sellier Jr. / Writer: Michael Hickey / Cast: Lilyan Chauvin, Gilmer McCormick, Robert Brian Wilson, H.E.D. Redford, Toni Nero, Britt Leach, Nancy Borgenicht, Randy Stumpf, Linnea Quigley, Leo Geter, Will Hare, Danny Wagner, Tara Buckman, Jeff Hansen, Jonathon Best.

Body Count: 13

Dire-logue: “Children, listen to me. I know that you’re very upset and I understand. But I want you to stop that moping. We’re gonna sing.”


There’s no such thing as bud publicity, they say. Well, rewind your mind back to Utah, circa Christmas ’84 and the release of this Santa-slasher certainly whipped up a shit-storm of angry parents who picketed and protested after TV commercials showed a scary Santa and a couple of kids cried. What does this teach us as a society? That it’s alright to deceive your own child by leading them to believe a magical old man visits each and every house in one night to leave presents before unveiling the lie a few years later but said lie cannot be exposed via a film for non-children…

OK, so the producers were stupid to include the killer Santa in the ads or play them too early in the day – but if parents are allowing their kids to be raised by the idiot box then they surely must take some responsibility if they want to continue spinning their ‘inoffensive’ lie.

While the film suffered from the backlash and was withdrawn, Silent Night gained cult status enough in the later years and is now freely available in all its uncut glory. Suck on that, puritans!

Billy didn’t just love Farrah Fawcett…he wanted to BE her

Anyway, the film itself – gadzooks it’s a sleazy little number! A nuclear Mom-Pop-two-kids family go and visit Grandpa at the rest home and he tells little Billy that Santa is evil and likes to punish and if you see him – run, little Billy, run to the salt flats! Unfortunately, Billy’s new-found Santa-phobia is compacted when an actual real life killer Santa shoots dad, rapes mom and slashes her throat and tries to kill him too.

Traumatic past-event in the can, we’d normally skip forward to the adult years where something triggers Billy’s psycho-spree but, instead, Silent Night somewhat refreshingly opts to build on Billy’s to-be-fucked-up mental state as he and baby bro Ricky grow up at an orphanage overseen by an immensely strict Mother Superior (Chauvin – who is all kinds of awesome evil). Mama Soop delights in punishing bad kids and forcing Billy to sit on Santa’s lap at the annual Christmas party, which doesn’t end well.

Another ten years later, Billy has grown into a tall, athletic teen (Wilson) who is found a job at a toy store by kindly Sister Margaret (McCormick) and a montage of happy smiling Billy working takes us to the festive season where he has to stand in for the in-store Santa and his psychosis unravels and he massacres his ‘naughty’ co-workers before going off on a murder spree, ‘punishing’ a pair of teen lovers and a nasty bully on route back to the orphanage to get even with the now-wheelchair bound nasty nun.

It’s reputation aside, Silent Night is actually a lot better than most other yuletide slasher movies (Black Christmas excepted, of course), it’s examination of the killer’s state of mind far more thought out than your common-or-garden wronged-nerd looney toon and the ensuing slay-fest is pure Friday the 13th, with grisly demises by fairy lights, bow and arrow and notably Linnea Quigley being impaled on a pair of deer antlers! The sweaty Wilson does it all with an impish sneer that would make even Jason envious.

The climax, however, appears rushed and doesn’t exactly pan out as you’d expect, although an indignant Mother Superior continues to chew up the scenery with her delivery and the kids at the orphanage are nothing short of adorable – though the poor angels were probably traumatised by seeing no less than two Santa’s gunned down before their eyes within minutes of each other…

The two-on-one DVD (with Part 2 on the flip) incorporates the restored cut footage with a little more gore and flesh.

* * *

SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2

1987/89m  2.5 Stars

“Prayers won’t save you in the silent part of this night…”

Director: Lee Harry / Writers: Lee Harry, Joseph H. Earle, Dennis Patterson & Lawrence Appelbaum / Cast: Eric Freeman, James L. Newman, Elizabeth Kaitan [as Cayton], Jean Miller, Darrell Guilbeau, Kenneth Brian James, Frank Novak, Randy Baughman.

Body Count: 13

Dire-logue: “You tend to get paranoid when everyone around you gets dead.”


GARBAGE DAY!!! If nothing else, this bizarro sequel will be remembered for the almost viral status of those two words, which the killer shouts at some poor bit-parter who is gunned down whilst taking out the trash. It’s truly something that needs to be seen to be appreciated.

Often hailed as the worst in the series, Silent Night Part 2 began life as a project for the producers, who were asked to re-cut the events of the first film in an attempt to regain some of the revenue lost after all the moral guardians succeeded in eradicating it from theaters. Merging the footage with new film creates an awkward situation: the entire first half is made up of ‘flashbacks’ to Part 1 interspersed with scenes of Billy’s now as-traumatised little brother Ricky (Freeman), who tells his story to shrink Newman.

Some 40 minutes in, after we’re done recapping the events of the first film, little Ricky grows up with a fear of red things and Christmas and a low-tolerance for people who act like assholes, such as violent loan sharks, cinema blabbermouths, his girlfriend’s ex and, finally, a random selection of poor ‘burb dwellers who get shot down before the now immensely beefed-up Ricky is caught and carted off to the asylum, but that won’t stop him from going after the wheelchair-bound Mother Superior. Who is no longer played by Lilyan Chauvin. And is now hideously scarred. And no longer has her accent.

There’s far less Christmas-themed carnage this time around though, Ricky’s serial killing career doesn’t much relate beyond providing additional victims, who are killed by jumper cables in the mouth, being repeatedly run over and, most memorably, impaling someone with an umbrella, which then opens.

The DVD commentary from director Lee Harry, writer Joe Earle and actor James Newman only confirms that not too much on this project was taken seriously, although it’s worth noting that there’s a peppering of decently composed shots amidst the trash, which is plentiful as Freeman gleefully over acts with intense eyebrow acrobatics and a hilariously wicked laugh. This and some other (intentionally?) funny bits coupled with the unforgettable “garbage day!” moment, Part 2 is a weird viewing experience but nevertheless an entertaining one.

* * *

SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT III: BETTER WATCH OUT!

2 Stars  1989/90m

“When your nightmare ends, the real terror begins.”

Director: Monte Hellman / Writers: Steven Gaydos & Carlos Lazlo / Cast: Samantha Scully, Bill Moseley, Robert Culp, Richard Beymer, Eric Da Re, Laura Herring, Elizabeth Hoffman.

Body Count: 8


The final slasher flick of the series is stock late-80s stuff in which the comatose Ricky is revived to deck the halls with blood n’ guts thanks to his inexplicable psychic link with blind heroine Scully. Of course, when awake it is she he begins to stalk, doing away with hangers-on as he goes.

Not much to celebrate this Christmas, but it’s kind of satisfying to know that the moaning, whinging parents’ groups didn’t totally get their way as the series grinds on – although the distinct lack of Santa is disappointing. Instead, Ricky (now played by genre icon Moseley) wanders around sans clobber with a plexi-glass bowl on his head filled with fluid.

There’s some bloodshed to lap up and a variety of subtle jokes but it’s just not as fun as the first two. I saw it years and years ago just the once and have hazy memories of the psychic Grandma (extent of ability: “the phone’s gonna ring.”) and heroine’s brother’s girlfriend saying; “Chris tells me you’re psychic?” / “He tells me you give good head.” But that’s it for entertainment.

Santa’s coming! …For you!!!

Overall blurbs-of-interest: Robert Culp was in another Santa slasher, Santa’s Slay; Leo Geter was in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; Elizabeth Kaitan was Robin in Friday the 13th Part VII and was a bit-parter in Silent Madness; Britt Leach was in Night Warning; Leonard Mann was in Night School; Bill Moseley turns up in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and the 2013 sequel, Home Sick and Blood Night; Linnea Quigley’s other slasher credits include Graduation Day, Kolobos, Jack-OSpring Break Massacre and a shower scene in Fatal Games; the toy story employee shot with the arrow was the nurse at the start of Halloween 4.

Valley of the Cheapjack Franchises: HORROR 101

More cheapo “chills” at the expense of my time and money exploring the films that I only advise you to avoid – this time I stroll down the memory lane populated by the dismally boring Horror 101 and it’s sensationally titled sequel, Horror 102, which came to me some time ago in a double pack with a freebie third film called Museum of the Dead.

horror101

HORROR 101

1 Stars  2000/89m

Director: James Glenn Dudelson / Writers: Valorie Connally, Jenny McPhee & Daniel Miller / Cast: Bo Derek, Justin Urich, Josh Holland, Lisa Gordon, Brigitta Dau, Paityn James, Michael Moon, Scott Rinker, Jason Wolk.

Body Count: uh…


A weird one for VeVo as Horror 101 is one of those sonofabitch films that merely pretends it’s a slasher film, revealing that it’s some PG-13 film club production shot in four hours when it’s already too late!

To be truthful, I can’t remember much about Horror 101 other than the wake of anger I was left treading water in once my DVD player kind of spat the disc out in disgust. I don’t keep notes on non-slasher films so I’ll try and sum it up for you in as detailed a manner as I can:

Film class stays after hours for some seminar on horror. Or the emotion of fear. They have made some films of their own. Nobody likes one of the guys who is outcasty and therefore suspicious. Bo Derek is their teacher. They all begin wandering off to investigate strange noises or look for whomever wandered off to investigate a strange noise three minutes earlier.

BUT, people aren’t stabbed or sliced – they just vanish into thin air until a grandiose twist is unveiled. But it sucks. It really sucks and I stared slack-jawed at the screen asking some higher force why it was that somebody would every create this abortion of horror.

Weirdly, outcasty guy was played by Justin Urich, who also appeared in this film called Serial Killing 101, which also turned out not to be a slasher film despite pretending to be one also. That strangeness aside, play hookie and skip class.

*

horror102HORROR 102: ENDGAME

 2004/89m  1.5 Stars

“Winner kills all.”

Director/Writer: Ana Clavell / Cast: Melissa Frederick, Anna Lerbom, Jeremy Aldridge, Simon Zonatto, Michael Moon, Christopher Hawkins, Shasa Dabner, Lukas Langer, Joshua Allen Heck.

Body Count: 8

Dire-logue: “What are you gonna do, marinate me?”


Yes, it’s better – by half a star. But that’s only because it’s enough of a slasher flick to count. So don’t skip out merrily thinking you’ll be entertained by repeated viewings.

This time, a group of mixed students have agreed to take part in a psychology experiment as an act of atonement for a variety of campus misdemeanours. They’re to spend an unspecified amount of time in the closed down Bellepark Asylum, where they’re duly stalked and slain by a hooded killer. I only noticed then typing out the cast roster that one of the actors from 101 returned to a different role.

While the most measly of measly margins better than 101, it’s nevertheless an endurance test: murders are largely off-camera or shot in such a way as to restrict the bloodshed in order to pass for a PG-13 rating again and there’s some nonsensical gibberish about hauntings and LSD trips thanks to laced-bread!

Characters are the usual hodge-podge of genre stereotypes and, at one point, one of them takes charge and tells everyone to stay together before announcing he’s going to check on somebody else alone… What aids the film in the end is the twist, which is not as predictable as it initially seems but it’d still need a goddamn miracle to scrape even a complete second star.

Valley of the Cheapjack Franchises: BLOODY MURDER

Another cheapjacker that jacks Friday the 13th for its material: Bloody Murder and its sequel and spin-off are probably the most blatant photocopies of Jason’s adventures at camp going, so much so that there’s even a backstory concerning a hockey-masked psycho killer…

bm1BLOODY MURDER

1.5 Stars  1999/15/84m

A.k.a. Scream Bloody Murder (UK)

“They thought it was just a game.”

Director: Ralph Portillo / Writer: John R. Stevenson / Cast: Jessica Morris, Christelle Ford, Patrick Cavanaugh, Michael Stone, Peter Guillemette, Justin Martin, Dale Smigelski, Tracy Pacheco, Lindsey Leigh, William Winter, Michael Proshaka.

Body Count: 6

Dire-logue: “If it comes down to it, I’m willing to be with you carnally.”


Teenage counsellors fixing up Camp Placid Pines hear the legends of Trevor Moorhouse, a hockey-masked, chainsaw-for-an-arm maniac who likes to disembowel the local population. Nevertheless, they decide to play a bizarre game of hide n’ seek (called Bloody Murder) and shortly after some of them – I stress some – start disappearing, thus giving rebirth to the legends and allowing drippy heroine Julie to do a bit of detective work.

Some really shameless elements are lobbed into the mix with a so-called red-herring suspect that a toddler could figure out, and a Randy clone who makes the group watch Sleepover Camp Massacre XIV (actually clips from the just-as-crummy Fever Lake) and goes so far as to comment on the prolonged running time of the movie being “unusual for films of this genre.” The prime suspect happens to be named Jason. How much groaning can you exhibit during 84 minutes?

Julie – whose dad went to the camp years earlier – uses her laptop to figure out the mystery but the killer turns out to be someone else who we didn’t really pay much attention to… Up to this point, the film offers up clues to keep you looking the other way, but the whole production is juvenile, almost goreless, and lazy, with the worst news coming in the form of a dumb twist that virtually promises a sequel.

One good line: “My older sister swears she knows someone whose brother disappeared up here years ago…” And that, my friends, is how rumours get started.

bloodymurder2BLOODY MURDER 2: CLOSING CAMP

2002/15/82m  2.5 Stars

A.k.a. Halloween Camp

“The second cut is the deepest.”

Director: Rob Spera / Writer: John Stevenson / Cast: Katy Woodruff, Amanda Magarian, Kelly Gunning, Arthur Benjamin, Tiffany Shepis, Ray Smith, Tom Mullen, Lane Anderson.

Body Count: 8


Extraordinarily, Bloody Murder did something right to generate this decent follow up, easily the best of its ropey franchise, which takes us back to Camp Placid Pines five years after the previous incident (and ironically the same number of years that separate the events of the first two Friday the 13th films).

This time, the teen counsellors have made it through the summer, bid farewell to the campers and are now locking down the place for the off-season. Amongst the group is Tracy, whose brother Jason disappeared first time round, a fact she feels the need to remind everybody of to the point ad nauseam. Stories of Trevor Moorhouse circulate and are dismissed as sub-standard summer camp myths by the know-all who becomes the first victim of a masked, machete-favouring killer in a ghoulish plastic mask.

It should have been easy to avoid the potholes the first film continually buckled its wheels into, and Closing Camp starts out sticking to the genre rules like flypaper with the standard teens having sex, wandering off and getting slaughtered amidst repeated nods to ‘the rules’ of horror movies, yet again featuring the black guy who bemoans that he won’t last long.

This all entertains for the most part but the after-school theatrics of Tracy’s detective work mar the payoff as similar turns did in the first film and as the film moves into the third day with several deaths and disappearances, you wonder why the remaining kids aren’t just put up in a local hotel instead of hanging around the death camp and – unbelievably – splitting up to look for clues!

Once this season’s killer is revealed and the motive spurted like Betsy Palmer’s outtakes, it’s followed by almost exactly the same twist as first time around! Strangely, the film elects a sort of secondary final girl who survives along with Tracy and, as was the case in #1, there is only one female fatality. What is this, BM, pro-feminist slashing?

Merit for half-succeeding in getting it right…if only they’d continued with the same enthusiastic outlook.

graveyardTHE GRAVEYARD

1.5 Stars  2006/84m

A.k.a. Bloody Murder 3

“Fear is buried here.”

Director: Michael Feifer / Writer: Michael Hurst / Cast: Lindsay Ballew, Markus Potter, Patrick Scott Lewis, Lief Lillehaugen, Erin Michelle, Trish Coren, Chris Stewart, Eva Derrek, Natalie Denise Sperl, Sam Bologna, Mark Salling.

Body Count: 8


Another teen prank goes fatally wrong in this sequelly-spin-off instalment of the “series”. Puck from Glee is the victim after a fake scare in a cemetery, which ends with him impaling himself.

Several years later, his six friends reunite at Camp Placid Pines, where a masked killer who holds them equally responsible begins the olde eliminado game. Good girl Michelle tries to keep things together and re-acclimate Bobby – who took all the blame and spent five years inside – to the rest of the group, while ringleader Jack seems more interested in reigniting his failed relationship with Allie, even after his new girlfriend goes missing (read: is murdered in the shower).

Cue red-herrings tossed in at every given opportunity, although it’s pretty damn obvious who the killer is before long and it seems physically impossible for them to have flit between murders and group searches for missing buddies. Other characters appear only to be killed off minutes later and, of course, no modern DTV slasher flick would be complete without T&A and a butch lesbian. There’s also a crap Sheriff who prioritises a burglary over an alleged murder and is credited for saving the day at the end!

Any credibility gained in the so-so Bloody Murder 2 is tossed into the campfire, thanks to dire plotting and god-awful dialogue, which rarely strays beyond “quit screwing around” mentality but casually throws a “maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon…” into the mix as things go from bad to worse for the viewer of this rubbish. I never thought I’d miss Trevor Moorhouse…

Overall-blurbs-of-interest: genre regular Tiffany Shepis was also in Dead Scared, Home Sick and Scarecrow as well as a blink cameo in Detour; Mark ‘Puck’ Salling was also in Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering.

halloweencamp2

Bloody Murder 2 was re-titled Halloween Camp for UK DVD and was ‘followed’ by Adam & Evil under the bizarro name of Halloween Camp 2: Scream if You Wanna Die Faster! ‘Trevor vs. Jason’ indeed…

Valley of the Cheapjack Franchises: CAMP BLOOD

Camp Crystal Lake was known as Camp Blood by the locals, ‘cos of all the, y’know, DEATH. A film called Camp Blood peaked my interest over a decade ago when browsing the bottom shelf of the horror section. It’s time to avoid that section no more once again as I save you from suffering through another stack o’ shite slash…

campbloodCAMP BLOOD

1 Stars 1999/18/73m

“Wide open with nowhere to run.”

Director/Writer: Brad Sykes / Cast: Jennifer Ritchkoff, Michael Taylor, Tim Young, Bethany Zolt, Courtney Taylor, Joe Hagerty.

Body Count: 11


If I’d made this film, I’d forgive you for calling it a pile of shit. I would, honestly. Whether Brad Sykes would forgive you – or indeed me – is another matter…

The title alone informs us that this is going to rip of Friday the 13th to some extent, but there’s also some Blair Witch in there too. Within two minutes we’re privy to some gratuitous nudity and the obligatory slashing that occurs everytime somebody disrobes in the woods. Try it and see!

Four city folk drive out into the woods to spend the weekend at Camp Blackwood but are, of course, stalked and slain by a clow-masked, machete-toting loon. Every predictable element is tossed into this shit salad: the insane old man who declares them to be doomed, a crappy legend that’s about as frightening as goldfish (but still manages to necessitate dialogue such as “I just can’t stop thinking about that story…”), characters who jog as slowly as possible away from the looming killer, cell phones fail, walking near a twig means you’ve sprained your ankle and therefore you can’t walk… It’s unrelenting.

By far the worst thing occurs when the final girl escapes and is accused of being behind it all and the other actors who played her now-dead friends don new roles as cops and nurses etc with barely any attempt to alter their appearances. Jason wept…

*

campblood2CAMP BLOOD 2

2000/18/75m  1 Stars

“It’s not over!”

Director/Writer: Brad Sykes / Cast: Jennifer Ritchkoff. Garett Clancy, Missy Hansen, Mark Overholt, Jane Johnson, Timothy Patrick, Ken X, Lisa Marie Bolick, Courtney Burr.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “Sometimes it feels like I’m dead too.”


Before torture-porn there was torture-quality. As if one of these films wasn’t bad enough, the same ‘production’ team return for another helping of the same with absolutely no lessons learnt from their previous outing.

One year after surviving the Camp Blackwood slayings, a director with as little talent as Brad Sykes invites sole survivor / prime suspect Tricia – who has been locked away in an asylum that has an inch-thick wooden door to keep her confined – to be the ‘technical advisor’ on his screen immortalisation of the events according to her statement.

Without any explanation whatsoever, the doctors just let her leave without a chaperone, an electronic tag or a T-shirt that says “Hi there! If I go mental and try to kill you, return me to Loonsville Asylum!”

So she goes along on the shoot and another clown-masked nutter, who’s already done away with some horny teens, comes a stalkin’. Tricia, three actors and the entire crew of three become the victims of more dreadful killing, including machete in the mouth and a person who dies from a severed hand.

More attempted in-jokes – one character is named Adrienne Palmer – and a rushed open ending, in which the killer survives first degree burns that don’t even singe their hair and multiple machete slashes and then gives the clown mask to Tricia who wanders off into the woods with it. That’s the freakin’ end!

There is a third movie, which is called Within the Woods. I point blank refuse.

Blurbs-of-interest: Courtney Taylor played Mary Lou Maloney in Prom Night III, hence one of the characters is called Mary Lou. Tim Young was in Scarecrow, the other cheapjack franchise!

Valley of the Cheapjack Franchises: SCARECROW

Call me good, call me bad, call me anything you want baby… Today, lazy will do. Yes, it’s three reviews in one hit. Why? Well, is there any point in really going into detail over a trio of films with about as many distinguishing features as Tom Sizemore’s career prospectus? Avoid thy Blockbuster bottom shelf no more – it’s the Scarecrow “trilogy”…

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SCARECROW

2.5 Stars  2003/18/87m

“You’ve never been stalked like this…”

Director: Emmanuel Itier / Writers: Jason White, Emmanuel Itier & Bill Cunningham / Cast: Tim Young, Tiffany Shepis, Aristide Sumatra, Todd Rex, Jen Richey, John Moore, Jason Simon, Roxanna Bina, Mark Irvingsen, Belinda Gavin, Sonja Ecker.

Body Count: 17

Dire-logue: “This town…this place…evil lurks here.”


Lonely teenage dork Lester is to his school what a Rubik’s Cube is to a cow: useless. Possibly because he looks 35, he is tormented by the popular kids until be makes a friend in Sheriff’s daughter Judy, played by Pink-lite Shepis. But when Lester sees her kissing one of his bullies, he storms home and picks a fight with his mom’s trailer-trash boyfriend, who ends up strangling Lester in a nearby cornfield, beneath its scarecrow centrepiece and setting it up to look like a suicide.

A short time later, a back-flipping, wise-cracking scarecrow, now possessed by Lester’s vengeful spirit, returns to town to get his own back. Most of the murders are sloppy sickle deaths but there’s also a spade in the neck and death-by-frying-pan. Curiously, there’s only one female victim, Lester’s nasty teacher who gets a board-pointer in the head, odd considering the abundance of female characters.

The Troma-rooted production department do their best to make this outing look good and for the most part they manage to paper over the budget cracks efficiently enough, but poor acting and odious retorts from the rather piss-poor looking foe turn it all into a damp squib. All the same, it’s a cheap night out kinda deal (considering it was shot in 8 days!), which gives thanks to Dario Argento and several famous horror icons in the credits! Bless.

scarecrow2

SCARECROW SLAYER

2003/18/87m 1 Stars

“He cuts to the chase.”

Director: David Michael Latt / Writers: Bill Cunningham, David Michael Latt & Joel Newman / Cast: Tony Todd, Nicole Kingston, David Castro, Steven Schultz, Scott Carson, Todd Rex, Jessica Mattson, Elizabeth Perry, Steven Glinn, Scott Stepp.

Body Count: 17

Dire-logue: “You know, you have a real small penis for a guy who’s a real big dick!”


Scarecrow uno may have been cheap but it looks like a billion dollar project compared to its skid row follow-up, with which was shot back to back. Tony Todd – appearing purely for the paycheque, I must assume – is a nutty farmer who saw his daddy impaled on a pitchfork by a scarecrow when he was a sprog and has since guarded his own ‘crow with a frenzied grin on his face.

When two frat pledges show up with the intention of stealing it, he accidentally shoots one of them dead. Dead dude’s soul is sucked into the scarecrow and he spends the rest of the film following around his Jennifer Love Hewitt-after-bad-reconstructive-surgery girlfriend, killing randoms for no identifiable rhyme or reason. Maybe when you become a scarecrow that looks as convincing as a nine-year-old’s homemade Halloween costume the trauma is just too much to take?

Dorky Lester had motive but the scarecrow here, mercifully devoid of one-liners, has no reason to do anything it does. The other frat boy, Karl, who’s a little bit special in an eerie way, spends most of the time trying to persuade people to go back to the field and fails to react credibly to almost everything that occurs. Karl sacrifices himself and somehow becomes another scarecrow and the film ends with the two of them duking it out like two kids making a home movie tribute for their WWF fandom.

CGI gore-jobs, horrible acting and some of the most stupid characters on celluloid digital ass-rape any enjoyment out of this one, although Jessica Mattson supplies a couple of light chuckles as the ditsy girlfriend of a frat brother. But that’s it.

scarecrow3

SCARECROW GONE WILD

2.5 Stars  2004/15/88m

“He’s the death of the party!”

Director/Writer: Brian Katkin / Cast: Matthew Linhardt, Samantha Aisling, Caleb Roehrig, David Zelina, Ken Shamrock, Kristina Sheldon, Tara Platt, Jeff Rector, Lisa Robert, Travis Parker, Lindsay Douglas, Sean Flynn, Eric Forte, Steve Worley.

Body Count: 15

Dire-logue: “If I hear the words “let’s split up,” I will bitch-slap the both of you.”


The ropey plastic scarecrow returns for its third and final outing and manages to improve on the horrendous effort that was Scarecrow Slayer: a college football team initiate four new players by carting them out to a cornfield…blah blah blah…mythical killer scarecrow…blah blah…one of them lashes out…blah blah blah…slips into diabetic coma…blah…becomes the scarecrow…blah blah…

The rest of the team and their bimbo girlfriends head off to the beach for Spring Break where carnage of a pavlovian extent unfolds as the scarecrow turns up (yes… it’s a scarecrow on the beach) and sickles them all. The duo of good kids figure out that they need to bring their friend out of his coma to stop all the killin’ but for everyone else it’s just too damn late.

Like the first two films and many other cheapo efforts, the script is hampered by annoying melodramatic altercations between the testosterone-fuelled cast members (“who are you calling bitch, bitch?”) but thankfully they all die. The scarecrow even runs one of them over in a truck! The overlong finale tries to add some tension and fortunately the happily-ever-after ending is skewered in a barrage of gory violence a few (screen) weeks after the massacre (which everyone else has forgotten about).

No more Scarecrow films have turned up yet, but when you’ve sent the damn thing to a beach and had it drive a fucking pickup truck, what can you do next? Scarecrow on the Moon? Scarecrow at the Louvre? For a good scarecrow slasher film, seek out Night of the Scarecrow (not to be confused with Dark Night of the Scarecrow) or if you want something even worse than Scarecrow Slayer, try Dark Harvest.

Blurbs-of-interest: Tim Young was in Camp Blood; Belinda Gavin was in Final Examination; Mark Irvingsen was in When a Killer Calls; low-end horror queen Tiffany Shepis has also been in Bloody Murder 2: Closing Camp, Dead Scared, Home Sick and had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role in Detour. Tara Platt was in Back Slash. Tony Todd was also in Hatchet, it’s sequel, and the first two Final Destination films (as well as contributing a voice to the third) and also iMurders and Jack the Reaper. Brian Katkin also directed Slaughter Studios.

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