“It’s really a one person job.”

hanwHAVE A NICE WEEKEND

1 Stars  1974/15/80m

“Savage, brutal and horrific.”

Director: Michael Walters / Writers: John Byrum, Michael Walters & Marsha Shelness / Cast: M.B. Miller, Valerie Shepherd, Pat Joyce, Nikki Counselman, Colette Bablon, Peter Dompe.

Body Count: 3

Dire-logue: “You do exactly what I tell you! Mother – make sandwiches for everyone.”


A thoroughly depressing pre-Halloween mystery with elements of the growing stalk n’ slash opus, largely borrowing from Psycho. Young Chris has just returned from Vietnam and wants to meet up with his family, so mom, dad, sis and her college roomie gather at their island summerhouse. Family friends Donald and Joan are already there and Frank the caretaker is busy readying houses and stuff for the winter.

There’s something weird about the get together, as illustrated in sporadic flashbacks to altercations between various characters. And why was Chris wearing a disguise when he returned? Well rest easy ‘cos none of these issues are resolved before, during or even after the murders begin occurring – a whopping three of them. In the wake of one stabbing and one trowel-meets-head incident, much of the film is taken by by repetitive dialogue as people try to suss each other out after realising the killer is one of them. Though being stuck on an island with these people would surely send even Ghandi on a machete wielding rampage… Unless he hadn’t already been bored to death by the script.

The killer is eventually revealed in one of the most terminally dull ways imaginable and, after a title card mercifully informs us we’ve reached the end after the longest 74 minutes in history, there’s a six minute epilogue where a shrink explains to one of the other characters what was happening inside the killer’s head.

Worth seeing only for the sandwich-making scene where Joan says “it’s really a one person job” approximately eleven hundred times in two minutes. One brief note of a hope for the future is that Have A Nice Weekend is so rare it appears only to have ever been given one UK video release way back when. The only way I could rid myself of the thing was to hide it in a bundle of videos I gave to the YMCA store. Find anything else to do if you want a nice weekend.

Simply not cricket

ikhmryslsI KNOW HOW MANY RUNS YOU SCORED LAST SUMMER

2.5 Stars  2008/18/78m

“Mass murder… It’s just not cricket!”

Directors/Writers: Stacey Edmonds & Doug Turner / Cast: Jay Koutrae, Stacey Edmonds, Az Jackson, Aaron Scully, Alex Sideratos, David Gambin, James Winter, Brian Paul Owens, Otto Heutling, Doug Turner.

Body Count: 11


There’s no rest for the wicket in this no-budget Australian mickey take; someone is murdering cricket players with associated implements and it’s all traced back to ye olde schoolyard bullying – the victim of which is hellbent on destroying those who permanently scarred him…

For reasons that only ever occur in the slasher flick, the investigating cops decide to gather the surviving members of the school team (notably all blokes) and herd them to a remote “safehouse” in the outback. What follows is obvious to the genre: unhappy-chappie materialises and adds to the carcass count with a spiked ball, sharpened wickets and a pseudo-Krueger glove of blades. There’s a also a crotch-defender/codpiece thing with nails hammered through it, forced into one victim’s pants before he’s kicked in the bollocks! The humorous ideas for permanently bowling out the characters are evident but often flawed by the budget constraints and several scenes look padded out to push the film towards a 90 minute duration.

That said, the Australian backdrop makes for an inviting change and the dialogue is littered with chucklesome one-liners and there’s also a twist that’s not so foreseeable (probably due to the simplicity of the entire project), all of which makes the film entertaining enough. The title, however, does not guarantee any cross-over material to I Know What You Did Last Summer, its sequels or content. And watch out for that mental gratuitous shower scene featuring Miss Nude Australia!

Dream a grisly dream

nightmare_on_elm_street_three2A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS

4 Stars  1987/18/93m

“If you think you’ll get out alive, you must be dreaming.”

Director: Chuck Russell / Writers: Wes Craven, Frank Darabont, Chuck Russell & Bruce Wagner / Cast: Heather Langenkamp, Craig Wasson, Patricia Arquette, Robert Englund, Priscilla Pointer, John Saxon, Ken Sagoes, Rodney Eastman, Jennifer Rubin, Bradley Gregg, Ira Heiden, Larry Fishburne, Penelope Sudrow, Brooke Bundy, Nan Martin, Dick Cavett, Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Body Count: 6

Dire-logue: “In my dreams…I am the Wizard Master!”


A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 holds the dubious honour of being the first slasher flick I ever saw, way back when I was about 11 or 12, a group of kids together in a TV room at a camp site, an older brother’s video cassette, fear, horror, Freddy!!, nightmares of my own for about six weeks. Never will I watch a horror film again, I said.

Even now, parts of Dream Warriors still give me a familiar shiver as I hark back to all those “little slices of death” as Edgar Allan Poe’s quote begins the flick, the most slasher molded entry in the series and probably the best of the sequels. Attempting to pick up the pieces left by the misfire that was Freddy’s Revenge (the gay one – which has a charm I’ll explore further when I add it to the site), Wes Craven rejoined the production team as a co-writer and first act in his role was to bring Nancy back into the fold.

Nancy, again played by the lovely Heather Langenkampenfussenschmidt, comes to help out at the Springwood Psyche Ward where a group of nightmare plagued teenagers are failing to convince the staff of the existence of their mutual boogeyman and, more importantly, failing to stay alive. We’re inducted into tale with Kristen (Arquette), who has a particularly eerie nightmare where she’s stuck inside Nancy Thompson’s old house – now Freddy’s – and ends up with a slashed wrist.

elm3-dream-2pics

The staff, primarily made up of bitchy matriarchal type Pointer, sassy porter Fishburne and Craig Wasson’s flakey but nice doc, think it’s all down to sex, drugs and rock n’ roll and just want the kids to have a good sleep. Awww…that’s it. Nancy’s arrival is followed by two grim deaths, both of which are inexplicably written off as suicides and she, somewhat a little late, tells the remaining kids about Freddy and what he did to her six years earlier.

elm3aHelpfully/contrivedly (you choose), Kristen has the ability to pull other people into her dreams and Nancy tries to turn the kids into ‘Dream Warriors’ using their most fantastical abilities of their wildest dreams against Freddy: wheelchair dork can walk and is the Wizard Master, ex-junkie chick is bad-ass punk, black guy has super strength and Kristen can backflip all over the joint. All the while, Freddy torments Nancy from beyond, scarring poor comatose Joey in the process…

There really should be a comma after 'him'

There really should be a comma after ‘him’

Throw in a creepy nun that only Wasson can see and John Saxon’s cameo as an alcoholic Lt. Thompson and we got ourselves the best type of 80’s horror flick!

"You are the last of the Elm Street children... Again."

“You are the last of the Elm Street children… Again.”

Things manifest in a joint assault against Freddy in the group dream, some of the kids die, some don’t, the creepy-ass nun seems to know a lot about Krueger (hmmm…), mute kid speaks again and there’s a sub-Jason and the Argonauts skeleton-of-death moment that hasn’t dated so well. The vein puppet sequence and “this is your big break into TV” would likely be close to the top in the Best Deaths in Slasher Movie category when the Oscar’s finally decide that this is a base level requirement ignored for too long.

elm4a

Dream Warriors is definitively 80’s: the framing, the hair, the music, the general tone of the picture and it’s inventively brutal effects work, something the later films used as their hook when Freddy had become about as scary as a basket of kittens. Characterisations are sharper than Part 2 and the ensuing sequels and there’s still something grossly repellent about Englund as the villain, although this film was most definitely the turning point of the franchise from high-rent Friday the 13th competitor to all-out pop culture icon status where victims became interchangable and nobody cared about them. It was a massive box office hit (outperformed only by Elm Street 4 and, later, Freddy vs. Jason, smashing the hockey masked one out of the running.

elm-3-2pics

There’s a lot to like about this charismatic and occasionally downright scary film (that kids bike that rolls into Kristen’s room – argh!!! Not the mention the best use of the creepy “One, two, Freddy’s comin’ for you”… rhyme). For one thing, it’s not afraid to kill off once important players or sympathetic victims in the name of horror and, perhaps most impressively, is the end credits song by German spandex rockers Dokken, the video of which appears on the DVD as the falsetto squealings of the lead singer defeat Freddy…

dok2a

Blurbs-of-interest: Sagoes, Eastman, Bundy and, of course, Englund all returned for the next film, The Dream Master; Sagoes also appeared in The Back Lot Murders. Langenkamp returned in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare with John Saxon, who had also appeared in Welcome to Spring Break, The Baby Doll Murders, Tenebrae and the original Black Christmas. Wasson was in Schizoid. Chuck Russell previously produced Hell Night.

Harper’s Island: Episodes 12 & 13

harpersFinal body count: 31

And so it ends, the bizarre, drawn-out slasher flick that would normally only occupy a cool 85 minutes, but instead clocks in at around 546. The mystery is solved, a helluva lotta folks are dead  – but who will walk away?

Before we get to that, I’ll share some of my early suspicions and stuff. Initially, I expected Cal to be the killer. Why? Well, American films quite often cast the Brit as the villain. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that he was neither the psycho nor a coward, less pleasant when he got skewered by John Wakefield.

I thought early on that there must be more than one killer, due to the presence of the primary cast members when murders were committed elsewhere.

In my little utopic Harperian Island, I wanted to see Abby survive along with all round nice bloke Danny, Trish, Jimmy and, yeah, okay, Madison. Kids usually irritate me in these with their ability to live through anything but she had that great creepy vibe and that excellent line: “I’m not going to get to be a flower girl…Abby!”

In Episode 12, Sully and Danny manage to capture John Wakefield, incapacitate and imprison him – everybody still able to breathe breathes a sigh of relief but we know better… Wakefield requests an audience with Abby and fills in a few historical gaps and says he located his son. Suspects narrowed down to four. Is it Jimmy like everyone thinks? Nah… Been down that alley before.

S P O I L A G E   F O L L O W S . . .

After accidentally falling off a cliff (!), Trish finds a boathouse with a working radio and the group manage to summon the coastguard. Wakefield somehow breaks out and fights with Danny, managing to send him eye-first on to one of those paper-needle things (as seen in Intruder in 1988) and Shea and Madison escape. Unfortunately for the others, re-splitting up to take showers and stuff couldn’t be a more dense decision at the time and Trish puts on her wedding dress to show Henry. Coulda seen this coming… a noise outside sends him on the investigative detail and Wakefield attacks her, sending her on a woodland chase in her lovely white dress, which gets all dirty until she runs into the arms of Henry, who subsequently confesses he slipped Wakefield the key, murdered a whole loada people and then sticks a knife into her! Wakefield materialises: “Hi dad!”

Much of the finale sees Henry and his father trying to off the final five survivors before the coastguard arrives. After sending Shea and Madison off towards land in a small motorboat, Sully gets himself killed, leaving only Abby and Jimmy to figure out the truth just in time and Henry shockingly murders his own dad instead of Abby, sets fire to the church to cover up the deaths and, as far as the cops are concerned, all loose ends are tied up.

It turns out that Henry would rather be with his half-sister forever and traps her inside a house on the island where they can live in secret. Jimmy is tied up in the garage as a ploy; Henry wants him to confess to being Wakefield’s accomplice so that no harm comes Abby’s way. Of course, she has other ideas and they manage to break free, kill Henry and save the day, albeit too late for 27 of the other cast members.

So there you have it, Harper’s Island finishes. I’d switched suspects to Henry a few episodes back, given that the writers were trying to push us towards Jimmy as the killer and neither Sully nor Danny seemed to have motive (although in hindsight, remembering that Sully was Trish’s former lover, he could easily have been the killer). In truth, I doubted the killer would be female and half expected Booth might come back from beyond the grave also… Que sera.

They did the best with what was left, but, from about Episode 9 the whole thing was wearing thin. The requisite once-an-episode victim tally couldn’t fill a whole 45 minutes’ worth and flashback padding and drawn out scenes of paranoia and people walking around the woods with shotguns were getting a bit tiresome. Ergo, a mostly successful try at something different for TV but I think this might be the last we see of this format.

I liked the cast a lot, Elaine Cassidy was a good, if not standardized final girl with the usual set of issues and she was backed by some good talent. Here are the blurbs-of-interest for the roster: Katie Cassidy (Trish) was the heroine in the remake of Black Christmas and was also in the remake of When a Stranger Calls; Gina Holden (Shea) was one of the rollercoaster victims in Final Destination 3; both Brandon Jay McLaren (Danny) and Ben Cotton (Shane) were in Scar 3D; Claudette Mink (Katherine) was in both Children of the Corn: Revelation and Return to Cabin by the Lake; Chris Gauthier was one of the rave victims in Freddy vs. Jason and Richard Burgi appeared in Hostel Part II and the Friday the 13th reboot.

Not-so-cold Prey

manhuntdvdMANHUNT

2 Stars  2008/18/76m

“This year…it’s open season.”

Director: Patrik Syversen / Writers: Patrik Syversen & Nini Bull Robsahm / Cast: Henriette Bruusgaard, Jorn-Bjorn Fuller-Gee, Nini Bull Robsahm, Lasse Valdal, Janne Starup Bones, Helge Sween, Jeppe Laursen, Erlend Vetleseter.

Body Count: 9


I like mystery plots, whodunits and complex conspiracy thrillers but sometimes filmmakers take this a little too far. In the case of Norwegian Wrong Turn rip-off Manhunt, the mystery is why the hell any of what’s happening is happening?

Inexplicably set in that golden year for teen death, 1974 (so…that tagline should probably be “that year…it was open season” right?), for no other reason than to rob the characters of cellphones, I suppose, a quartet of teens in a VW Camper drive into the woods for some hiking. They stop at a diner, quarrel about picking up a traumatised young woman, pick her up, argue again, lose their keys and then get ambushed by a trio of backwoods hunters who want to kill them. Why? Shrug. No, really…why?

Perhaps the writers thought the true horror lay in the absence of motive but this factor doesn’t impress much when coupled with the less than likeable characters, all of whom have no particular story of their own save for obvious final girl Camilla, who’s going to go to a good school. It’s like I’ve known her forever.

Manhunt does succeed in creating some sub-Haute Tension style, uh… tension when Camilla is wandering alone through the dense forest while her buddies drop like flies. Strangely, she’s the only one who even attempts to fight back and offs all three psychos before staggering away. Notably, the whole film takes place in the daylight for a change, enabling us to witness some amateur pathology and hear some squishy cutting sounds.

Ultimately, it’s not a film you’d remember and, even at a mere 76 minutes, seems to drag. Cold Prey it ain’t, Texas Chain Saw it wants to be.

1 170 171 172 173 174 185