Here’s the trailer for the fourth (and final?) Final Destination flick…The Final Destination. Yes, they added the ‘the’. For intensity perhaps? I mean, we already had Fast & Furious this year, right? So maybe the ‘the’ is to accentuate the finality of the film… Uh? It could be called The Final Final Destination. Could be a bit of a gamble to act like it’s the last one, ‘specially if it rakes it in. Ask Jason. Did I mention it’s in 3D too? Cool huh? Title changes aside, it looks like it might be fun.
This month, let’s take a look at those films that either pretend to be slasher films and then turn out not to be and those that tip-toe through the gardens of slasherdom and beat a hasty retreat…
Setting up like another photocopy of Halloween, a group of teens go to party in an abandoned and ‘haunted’ hospital on All Hallows’ Eve where they are tormented by creepy hallucinations and turned into zombies with sloppy insides. It’s a little bit Session 9, complete with backstory revealed in segments by the inexplicably psychic heroine – something do with with a child-molesting patient and the nurse (Dee Wallace) who sacrificed herself to stop him escaping. There’s some good atmos in the first third but come the end, everything has been over-explained the way American supernatural horror films tend to do. Only a handful of eerie images – look out for that balloon clown – make a good film not.
Why it’s not a slasher flick really: the one-by-one schtick is intact but the zombies and ghosts swallow too much of the plot.
DEATH PROOF 2007
During the early hype for Grindhouse, Quentin Tarantino stated that his half of the feature would be “a slasher film at 200 m.p.h.” with nutjob stuntman Kurt Russell offing pretty young women. The final product has a few shots that bring back memories of Halloween and its ilk, but this turns out to be anything but a stalk n’ slasher. While it’s a fun romp once – albeit bogged down with way too much of QT’s ‘trademark’ dialogue – none of the slashers I’ve ever seen were edited this badly, had this sort of narrative or as much talking. It’s sky-high budget is visible through the cracks, making it look only pretentious, with annoying characters with oversized egos, all of whom talk like frat boys. The singular car accident is the high point and the stunts and cast are good but if anything, Death Proof shows that perhaps the director everyone has a boner for is a one-trick pony unable to create anything original, only add tiresome, irrelevant dialogue.
Why it’s not a slasher flick really: opposite case to Boo here, maniac killer on site but no one-by-one opus and way too much self-indulgence.
THE HILLS HAVE EYES II 2007
The original 1977 Hills Have Eyes wasn’t a slasher flick either, more a survivalist horror film, as was it’s pretty faithful but grisly-as-hell 2006 remake, this sequel to that remake is not a remake of the cheesefest 1983 Hills Have Eyes Part II, which is a slasher flick… Confused? You will be.
Wes Craven penned this with his son and, considering how much flack the ’83 film took, he’s managed to create something far worse here… An Aliens vibe pervades, with a group of National Guard trainees (all male, bar two) investigating some missing scientists in the desert. Dipping its toes in the torture-porn sub-genre with a brutal rape scene needlessly included (as in the ’06 film) and ample gore. Dialogue consists only of ‘fuck this’, ‘fuck that’, ‘fuck you’ and we don’t give a fuck about any of them anyway… The dog-flashback alone in Craven’s version outdoes this entire film.
Why it’s not a slasher flick really: it’s a siege-fest with no real pattern emerging for the sequence of deaths, though interestingly both the female characters survive…
The granddaddy of the torture-porn (or gorno) movement, it’s not the done thing to say you like it, but Hostel is a genuinely good film, sometimes included in lists of slasher flicks. Tarantino protege Eli Roth directed the less interesting Cabin Fever and waxes lyrical about putting T&A back into horror blah blah blah…
Interestingly, the main victims here are a trio of boys who fall foul of a Slovakian operation that allows rich psychopaths to torture and kill captured youngsters for their own sadistic pleasure. Lead character Paxton is an unpleasant fellow to say the least and would be killed with prejudice in any other film. This turn-around on the standard gender politics of horror attempts to blot out any accusations of misogyny, although it’s littered with naked girls and it’s even grislier sequel traded out boys for girls and so took this as permission to show sexualised violence and get away with it.
Why it’s not a slasher flick really: there’s no single killer and more emphasis on Paxton’s escape and revenge.
Geeky wiccan Tamara is the victim of a cruel prank by a group of popular kids that ends in her death – or does it? Back at school, after burying her, the guilty party are surprised to find that Tamara’s back as a sexy siren with psychic powers at her disposal – and she’ll do anything for the love of her sympathetic English teacher.
After this I Know What You Did Last Summer-lite beginning, we expect the new foxy Tamara to start offing the other teens. However, Tamara doesn’t kill all of those who ‘killed’ her, she makes them insane, suicidal or homicidal puppets who do her bidding for her and finally corners the object of her desire and nice girl Chloe, who manage to defeat her.
Why it’s not a slasher flick really: hardly anybody is murdered, which is a waste when you’re dealing with asshole jocks and nasty cheerleaders…
Victor: Hostel is the best non-slasher film here. See it if you can deal with all manner of torture devices being used and an eyeball being cut loose.
Cumilative body count so far: 9
Nearly at the halfway point and the gore quotient is cranked up a few notches as the shock demise that occurred off screen (but not off audio) at the end of Ep. 5 is revealed in all it’s gruesome glory as a ‘head spade’ (what is this??) slices its way through the face of the father of the bride…
Hysterics ensue (not the funny sort, unless you’re watching) and Trish reveals to all that slimy bro-in-law Richard was shagging stepmom Katherine. JD discovers the body of Uncle Marty and, after convincing Henry and Abby that he didn’t rig the chandalier and taking a field trip to the Sheriff’s secret shrine to all that is John Wakefield, they resolve to digging up the body to make sure he’s really dead… They find what looks like a biology class skeleton, but they’re all convinced…
Meanwhile, Sheriff interviews the wedding party and Cal and Chloe – oblivious to the horror – make an attempt to get back the diamond ring lost in Episode 1. Today’s kill occurs at the end of the episode again, a nice grisly harpooning… It looks as if the rest of the series will be shifted into the gear of terror! Yay! …And where’s Jimmy the fisherman, eh? Hmm…
“A new class of terror.”
Director: Jon Wright / Writer: Stephen Prentice / Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Tuppence Middleton, April Pearson, Dimitri Leonidas, Calvin Dean, Tom Hopper, Larissa Wilson, Georgia King, Olly Alexander, Mary Nighy, James Floyd, Geoff Bell.
Body Count: 9
Dire-logue: “Just because she’s the head girl doesn’t mean she gives good head.”
The United Kingdom may have re-established its reputation for producing quality horror stock over the last decade or so, but few of those productions have dipped their toes into the icy waters of the slasher realm. Wilderness and Severance were probably the last examples of any profile level, and both of those seemed to lean away from the American conventions that permeate the genre…
But here we are! Union Jacks in the air, Tormented does just what we want it to: it offers up dense teens on a platter to an undead killer, in this case the chubby classmate of theirs who couldn’t take their campaign of hatred anymore and hanged himself. Tormented is a Ronseal film in this respect, though the details of Darren Mullet’s life, death and return therefrom aren’t revealed chronologically.
Instead, we begin with his funeral, marked later that evening by a party held by I-do-what-I-want type rich kid Bradley (Pettyfer), leader of a popular school clique made up of five utterly hateful scholars and wannabe-nice-guy Alexis, who takes a fancy to prissy head girl Justine, the unwitting object of the late Darren’s affections. The boys are of the typical playground bully mold, while the girls are slutty bitches who barely seem to like one another let alone anyone else… Justine is inducted into the in-crowd and soon begins to suspect that they had a hand in causing Darren’s suicide when they react particularly poignantly to a series of abusive text messages seemingly from Mullet’s phone. His geeky friend Jason? Justine’s high-brow friend Helena? Or somebody else…?
Yep, somebody else. Darren in fact. He’s back from the beyond to settle up and do away with the horrible kids good n’ proper. Ergo, gory deaths ensue, with decapiation, castration, a popped-eyeball (which is subsequently pushed back in), pencils rammed up the nose and hands lopped off with a paper guillotine – and it couldn’t happen to a bunch of more deserving individuals! Director Wright puts in enough comedy to offset the sometimes ridiculous setups; the trio of miserable Emos, desperate to out-depress eachother, a funny gender role reversal featuring a character attacked in the shower sprinting across campus in nothing but his pants, and plenty of sharp dialogue.
Tormented renders the horror of the school environment effectively and you’ll want the bullies to die just as badly as you did in Carrie, but it botches the demise of Bradley, not providing the comeuppance we want for His Nastiness and the ‘twist’ ending is a little downbeat. Nevertheless, there’s fun to be found here and it’s good that the presense of two cast members from TV’s Skins didn’t neccessitate a requirement to try and make it pretentiously cool as so many recent genre examples do; anxious to be branded anything but a slasher flick. It remembered where it came from and that means yay!
THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW
A.k.a. House of Evil (UK video)
Director/Writer: Mark Rosman / Cast: Kathryn McNeil, Eileen Davidson, Lois Kelso Hunt, Christopher Lawrence, Harley Kozak, Janis Zido, Robin Meloy, Jodi Draigie, Ellen Dorsher.
Body Count: 9
Dire-logue: “Can’t you find another place to fuck?”
Brian DePalma’s former assistant wrote and directed this predicament slasher flick, which boasts a decent score and impressive visuals and has remained criminally underrated long enough for somebody to snap up the rights for the forthcoming 2009 remake, titled just Sorority Row.
Things begin in the misty blueness of 1961, June 19th to be exact, and the birth of a child in a house. Looks and sounds painful. Twenty-one years later, the house – now the sorority of the title – is being evacuated by seven graduating sisters; Liz, Stevie, Katherine, ditzy Morgan, straight-talkin’ Diane, little girl-like Jeanie and rich bitch Vicki. Their miserable housemother, Mrs Slater, wants them out ASAP but they need to stick around to throw a graduation party…
Nothing really ever happens on June 19th – it’s not famous for anything. I know this well as it’s my birthday too! Finally somebody made a slasher flick out of it!
A watery altercation between Slater and Vicki makes the girl mad enough to plot a revenge prank to really sock it to the old beeyatch. Naturally, the prank goes askew and Mrs Slater is shot dead. The girls panic, fight, scream, cry and are eventually forced to hide the body in the unused pool when all the stuff for their party arrives. Guilt and paranoia take over as the sisters attempt to keep up their facade of all being well while the party rages on… But somebody is outside and has Mrs Slater’s iron cane and wants to insert it into those responsible for her untimely death – or is it Mrs S herself?
Well, no… We knew that really, didn’t we? But the girls don’t and they begin to fall victim to the cane-toting madman, her mentally unstable son, Eric, all the time remaining out of sight. Their party continues in the background when they come to realise Mrs Slater’s body has gone walkabout and they split to try to find her, find her, and then try to get rid of her again, electing to bury her beneath an open grave in a handy nearby cemetery…
Smart girl Katherine steps up as the reluctant heroine who wanted to call an ambulance right from the start. While Vicki leads the naive ones around trying to cover up their crime, Katherine investigates the mysterious room in the attic, avoids her dorky date and is the first to second guess the disappearances of her friends. Meanwhile, the killings continue, all carried out with the iron cane but largely bloodless and possibly cut down. Rosman reportedly didn’t want much on screen gore in the film and it doesn’t really require much to remain effective.
Things begin to wrap up with a crazy scientist, Katherine getting doped up, an eerie clown and lots of hallucinations. Rosman has gone for an almost surreal approach to his tale; from the unbelievable reaction the majority of girls have to the accident to their demises, some of which feature dizzying visuals of the pulsing corridor in the sorority house as Jeanie, dressed up like a six-year-old with ribbons in her hair, runs and stumbles before her savage death. At least half of the girls poll sympathy and it’s hard to watch them tortured, something that probably won’t be an issue in the remake, but this forms the essence of the horror so is just about forgivable.
It’s rare to see a slasher film so in touch with its medium that there’s obvious effort in making it look stunning, taking what worked in its ancestors and recycling it to better visual effect. There are flaws but not many and hopefully the film will be remastered and given the special edition treatment once the remake surfaces.