Meltdown

houseofwaxHOUSE OF WAX

3 Stars  2005/15/113m

“Prey. Slay. Display.”

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra / Writers: Charles Beiden, Chad Hayes & Carey W. Hayes / Cast: Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Brian Van Holt, Jared Padalecki, Paris Hilton, Jon Abrahams, Robert Ri’chard.

Body Count: 6


There are a lot of reasons that we should hate House of Wax: it’s a remake, it’s chock full of unrealistically good looking teen stars from various TV shows and Paris Hilton’s in it. Yes, America’s answer to Jodie Marsh (*shudder*) previously had a small role in the craptacular Nine Lives where she played a catty American fashionista (a stretch) and here, as girlfriend to Elisha Cuthbert’s textbook heroine, she does pretty well with the role and had to suffer much of the film’s advertising campaign centering around the opportunity to see her die!

Elisha and Paris are girlfriends to a couple of guys heading to a big football game; Jared Padalecki is Elisha’s squeeze and they are irritated by the presence of her twin brother Chad Michael Murray and his dorky buddy. Paris’s BF is – gasp! – black and doesn’t get much to do for the entire film. They camp out and the next morning find one of the cars immobile so Elisha and Jared stick around to go and find a new car part while the others skip off to their sacred game.

how1They end up in the tiny township of Ambrose, home to Trudy’s House of Wax (“it is wax – literally!”) and Jared is then captured by a looney psycho while Elisha tries to run away from the not-so-friendly gas station attendant. This all happens about fifty minutes into the film, having up until now featured very few scary things, although the DVD features a cut scene featuring the murder of a broken down motorist. Of course, we figured out ages ago that everyone in the town is made of wax and this happens to Jared, who is stripped, shaved and placed in a bizarro wax-shower thing that turns him into another model for the museum.

how6The others return and Chad and his dumbass friend go looking for his sister, split up, and one finds the gas station, the psycho therein and a finger-snipped Elisha while dumbass friend finds waxy-Jared and the sharp ends of a couple of knives that cut his head off. Paris and her BF get murdered next, hers is a protracted chase through a rusty old parking garage, reminiscent of Wendy’s chase in Prom Night, until the moment 95% of the audience bought their tickets for occurs and the killer skewers her with a rusty javelin, right through the head!

how5how2

Chad and Elisha are soon running for their lives and set a fire which begins melting the House of Wax from within, which looks pretty cool until the effects department evident got bored and just started to play around with the picture by bending it like the state-of-the-art special effects from Earthquake. In 1974.

how3Grinding on towards the two hour mark makes House of Wax a bit of a chore from time to time, but it’s actually a fun slasher romp with some neat ideas and grisly murders. Paris does okay with her “slutty blonde victim” part and the waxy finale is something we’re unlikely to see anywhere else. Most definitely not for discriminating horror fans, but if you’re game for some trashy entertainment and well-executed executions, then you could do a lot worse.

how4Blurbs-of-interest: Jared Padalecki graduated to a surviving role for the Friday the 13th remake; Jon Abrahams was in Scary Movie. Casting-bod Mary Gail Artz was an actor in Don’t Go in the Woods.

Chucky in no way endorses this product

sweetinsanitySWEET INSANITY

1 Stars  2006/15/81m

“Meet the new girl.”

A.k.a. Stranger: A Soulmate of Chucky

Director: Daniel Hess / Writers: Daniel Hess & Adam Weis / Cast: Rebekah Isaacs, Mackenzie Firgens, David Fine, Corbett Tuck, Jeff Bell, Josh McRae, Cory Knauf, Vanessa Motta, Shawn Bohigian, Christopher Ratti, Ryan Nixon, Sam Kraus.

Body Count: 9


Bargain basement video sludge with high-schooler Stacey’s parents off on vacation for the weekend, allowing a gaggle of her friends to stop by, drink beer, and get stabbed, slashed and pick-axed by a shadowy killer, who looks most likely to be either Stacey’s weird neighbour – a shamed cop who shot a kid – or is it her new gal-pal Christina, a goth chick whom only Stacey seems to be able to see…?

Bizarrely, the UK DVD for this film is titled Stranger: A Soulmate of Chucky! Look, there’s even a creepy doll on the cover…

strangerIs there a murderous doll in the film? No. Is there a creepy doll in the background? No. Does anyone mention dolls in any way, shape or form? No. This title shall forever remain a mystery, methinks.

Anyway, the ending is kind of Haute Tension-esque by way of Identity, and may require a second look to cement what the writer’s are proposing here and also because the sound is so bad the dialogue is often inaudible. A laughable film with maybe a semi-interesting idea and a decent powertool murder as all there is to recommend it. Well, not recommend… Another word that means sort of the same thing without committing myself to being responsible when you go and rent it. I stand by my one-star!

Blurb-of-interest: David Fine was also in 7eventy 5ive.

Title Recall

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.

The Final Destination trailer

May Face-off: Almost but not-quite slasher flicks

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…

boo

BOO 2005

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.

deathproofDEATH 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.

hillshaveeyes2THE 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…

hostelHOSTEL 2005

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.

tamara TAMARA 2005

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.

Harper’s Island – Episode 6

harpersCumilative 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…

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