CRAZY EIGHTS

Crazy Eights (Horrorfest) DVDCRAZY EIGHTS

1.5 Stars  2006/15/77m

“No secret stays locked away forever.”

Director: James K. Jones / Writers: James K. Jones, Dan DeLuca, Ji-un Kwon & Patrick Moses / Cast: Dina Meyer, Traci Lords, George Newbern, Gabrielle Anwar, Frank Whaley, Dan DeLuca.

Body Count: 6


Past midnight? Trouble sleeping? Well, suffer no more! For a side-effect free night of REM sleep, try new Crazy Eights from After Dark Horrorfest.

The words ‘Traci’ and ‘Lords’ attached a serious horror film should trigger an involuntary retraction of the reaching hand as you browse HMV’s horror section. To save 77 minutes of your sanity, here’s what happens:

Title cards tell us that between the 50’s and 70’s, 600 children were ‘volunteered’ into this program where they were experimented on and most were never seen again yadda yadda… In the now, six ex-inmates gather after another old friend dies/commits suicide/bails from production and go to the now closed institute to dig up a time capsule and soon get locked in and hunted by the ghost of girl inmate they used to know.

The title refers to the name of their baseball team but has no other relevance, probably just to give the viewer some sense of mystery, as this apes so many Asian horror cliches; girl ghosts appearing in mirrors, corridors and the like. Only Meyer’s admirable struggle to do something with her restricted role is of interest as there’s next to no bloodshed or scares. You’d need to be crazy to bother with this one.

Blurbs-of-interest: Meyer was Stallone’s doomed wife in D-Tox. Anwar was later in iMurders.

VALENTINE

valentine-box-cover-2VALENTINE

3 Stars  2001/15/92m

“Love hurts.”

Director: Jamie Blanks / Writers: Tom Savage (novel), Donna Powers, Wayne Powers, Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts / Cast: David Boreanaz, Marley Shelton, Denise Richards, Jessica Capshaw, Jessica Cauffiel, Katherine Heigl, Fulvio Cecere, Daniel Cosgrove, Hedy Burress.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “Jeremy Melton couldn’t manage a water fountain without screwing up, I don’t think he’s capable of an intricate revenge plot.”


Urban Legend is my favourite entry in the 90’s slasher movie revival: it had everything I wanted from high pitched screams to a reveal right out of a Scooby Doo episode. Naturally, when I heard its director Jamie Blanks was doing another slasher flick I was, y’know, totally stoked! Valentine is – rather loosely – based on Tom Savage’s novel and harks back to that age old slasher staple of adolescent school trauma turns geek into weapon-toting psycho…

val2aThe geek in this case is Jeremy Melton, a scrawny, bespectacled, buck-toothed teen who’s only sin is to ask five girls to dance at their Junior High Valentine’s prom thingy. Three cruelly decline, one says “maybe later”, and the fifth, outcast fat girl Dorothy, accepts and is later found sucking face with Jeremy by a group of boys who assume he attacked her, which she agrees with, and then pour punch over him, strip him down to his pants and kick the crap out of poor Jeremy in the middle of the dancefloor!

val-2picsJumping ahead thirteen years, Heigl’s med student Shelley supplies ‘the Barrymore role’ of long-sequence-of-death first victim and her friends gather for her funeral. Kate (Shelton) is to-ing and fro-ing back to her jar-tapping boyfriend Adam (Boreanaz); man-magnet siren Paige (Richards) cruises through life with a trail of men after her; fun girl Lily (Cauffiel) is dating a sleazy artist and Dorothy has lost all the weight but is being sucked in by conman Campbell…

After receiving some grisly gifts and cards – including maggot infested chocolates – the girls wonder about who might be behind things and eventually put two and two together (the cards are signed JM after all!) and leave things in the hands of incapable detective Cecere, who is more interested in bedding Paige. Of course, Cherub-Jeremy crops up for more intermittent murders, taking out Lily early on and Kate’s bizarre neighbour, who meets the nasty end of a steaming hot iron. Could Jeremy have possibly grown up into Angel David Boreanaz!?

val4aThings come to a head at Dorothy’s Valentine’s party (in a massive house with lots of deserted areas, natch) when the remaining girls and a line-up of suspects are gathered. More murders occur, Denise Richards pleases a generation of teenage boys by strutting about in a bikini, a powercut empties all and sundry out, leaving Kate to step into the heroine’s shoes and face off with Cupid. It’s here where Valentine loses its way to some degree, thus opening itself up to all the critical slaggery that was piled upon it. What is in fact quite a clever twist is botched by the cutting of a scene that doesn’t appear on the DVD either and so leaves a question mark over the actual identity of the killer. We discover Jeremy is in fact there, but is he… who’s… how… what!?

valentine-hottub-shower

Ergo, look at the IMDb message boards for all the twelve-year-olds rowing over who the killer is. Those of us who’ve seen more than five slasher films should be able to figure it out with ease but Blanks misses the shot here. Nevertheless, the film works in spite of itself and is a whole lot of fun. I’m only bothered by the killer’s bizarre motives: four of the girls merely decline his offer of a dance whereas he has the shit kicked out of him by several boys who, strangely, he doesn’t factor in to his revenge plot at all… Additionally, there are male characters who, in any other film, would be killed off with extreme prejudice who make it through in one piece – the ‘wax’ scene practically leaves the doors wide open with cookies and milk to beg the killer’s appearance! Shelton is also a weak link, playing it far too angelic as the final girl to muster up much support, she’s merely the one who doesn’t die rather than struggles against the odds. Richards and Cauffiel are the most fun to watch and Cecere makes a likeable idiot.

"I love you Buff- uh, Kate."

“I love you Buff- uh, Kate.”

Blurbs-of-interest: Cauffiel played Sandra in Urban Legends: Final Cut; Heigl had the lead in Bride of Chucky; Burress was in Cabin by the Lake.

“No tee-veee…”

happyhellnight

HAPPY HELL NIGHT

3 Stars  1991/18/84m

A.k.a. Frat Fright / Hell Night (UK video)

“25 years ago he sold his soul to the devil… Now it’s time to pay.”

Director: Brian Owens / Writers: Brian Owens, Ron Paterson & Michael Fitzpatrick / Cast: Nick Gregory, Franke Hughes, Laura Carney, Darren McGavin, Charles Cragin, Janez Vrhovec, Kate Delay, Ted Clark, Jeffrey Miller, Robert Restraino.

Body Count: 12

Dire-logue: “Technical difficulties – please do not adjust your dicks.”


A rare throwback to the cliches of 80s horror, possibly rendered as such due to its startling similarities to Hell Night proper, the Linda Blair mini-masterpiece about fraternity and sorority pledges being offed by a legendary thought-dead killer. Considering this flick was titled Hell Night for its UK video release and, if you look at the title card, one might think that the producer’s tacked the word ‘Happy’ on as an afterthought once they realised just how alike it was to the older film.

So, it’s 1991 and people were far more attractive than they were in the 80’s.

hhn-cast

A Yugoslavian/Canadian production, HAPPY Hell Night also revolves around a fraternity hazing stunt and the murderous subject of a local legend. The boys of the Phi Delta Sigma frat house are looking to win the competition for the most outrageous initiation prank, which will induct house president Eric’s lil bro Sonny into the brotherhood, thanks to some poking and prodding from dad Darren McGavin, an ex Sigma with some grisly secrets…

hhn-death

As Hell Night kicks into swing, Sonny and another dorky pledge are sent off to photograph Zachary Malius, a Satanic priest rotting in a conveniently local institution for the last quarter of a century after slaughtering seven Sigma’s and a local girl. Expectedly, they fuck up their assignment and Malius totters from his cell and crashes the party, swinging a nifty ice-axe all the way! A handy powercut ensures most of the party revellers leave and there are some comical shocks; one nymphette is dim enough to handcuff herself to a bed frame and toss the key across the room, and there’s a rocking chair decapitation gag and gobs of nudity as expected.

hhn4a

In spite of its status as something of a collectible (prior to DVD at least), HAPPY Hell Night is surprisingly well made and adequately violent with a sprinkling of semi-knowns peppered throughout the crowded cast roster: Sam Rockwell plays a young McGavin and future CSI star Jorja Fox is an early victim. One of the inbreds from Wrong Turn also appears as the requisite dorky prankster. The characters are quite intriguing too; brotherly love is tested between Eric and Sonny as they’re both giving it to the same girl, who is the nominal heroine.

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However, Malius is the star, commenting on each kill as he goes with such witty repartee as ‘No TV!’, ‘No sex!’, ‘No hope of international distribution!’ He’s like an overgrown, homicidal E.T., complete with overlarge black blobs for eyes and, admittedly, quite a creepy looking dude. This was one of the first slasher flicks I ever saw and I hated it at the time, but revisits have shown that it’s a fun little timewaster with cheesy dialogue, soap-opera acting and lots of Latin prayer-sayery at the weirdo ending. Try it and see!

MATINEE

matineeMATINEE

2 Stars  1989/18/89m

A.k.a. Midnight Matinee

Director / Writer: Richard Martin / Cast: Ron White, Gillian Barber, Jeff Schultz, Beatrice Boepple, Timothy Webber, Don Davis, R. Nelson Brown, Matt Hill, William B. Davis, Kerry Sanomirsky, Stephen E. Miller.

Body Count: 5


This review almost didn’t happen. Y’see, so rare is Matinee that I could find but two pictures of the DVD cover online and both were teeny tiny pixelations. Thus, I was forced to make my own abstract version, which represents nothing to do with the content of the film, but then neither did the existing cover art…

This seldom seen Canadian TV movie begins with an almost shot-for-shot rip off of Kevin Bacon’s murder in Friday the 13th, which turns out to be part of the movie ‘Murder Camp’ that a bunch of teens are watching at a small town horror festival. As the Kevin-imposter bites it on screen, so does some chick’s boyfriend – knife through the neck, exactly the same.

Two years later, the theatre is reopened for another festival, much to the townsfolk’s objections (well, the busybodies). New cop Al Jason is dragged into things when an arsey, mulleted teen dies in a suspect accident. Could the never-caught killer have returned? Elsewhere, projectionist Marilyn is worried about her daughter Sherri’s wayward boyfriend Lawrence, who becomes the prime suspect.

But there’s also sleazy reporter Geoff (Timothy Webber), Sherri’s absent father and horror producer, who has returned for the festival or campy hanger-around Warren, who may or may not be romantically involved with the theatre owner, Earle!

More talk than terror occurs and a few non-explicit murders punctuate the tedium, with some minor tension cranked once the killer turns out to be who we all thought it was and chases their last intended victim. Good casting, but whichever way you cut it, Matinee is for slasher and/or Canuck-completists only.

Blurbs-of-interest: Timothy Webber was Mo in Terror Train; Beatrice Boepple played Amanda Krueger in Elm Street 5; Stephen E. Miller was in The Stepfather and Funeral Homeas were the rest of the Canadian population.

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