SCAR 3D

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SCAR 3D

2.5 Stars  2007/18/79m

Director: Jed Weintrob / Writer: Zack Ford / Cast: Angela Bettis, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Christopher Titus, Devon Graye, Brittney Wilson, Tegan Moss, Ben Cotton, Monika Mar-Lee, Al Sapienza.

Body Count: 10

Dire-logue: “Hey altar boy! Come up here and take my virginity. I’m not graduating with it!”


Released in high-definition 3D for the cinema experience, on plain-old 2D DVD, is Scar up to much sans gimmick? In true Voorheesian mediocrity, it’s a yes and no affair.

Angela Bettis helps matters no end by virtue of the fact that she takes the lead as Joan Burrows, returning to her hometown of Ovid, Colorado (despite the film being Canadian) for the first time since 1991 when she and her best friend Susie were held captive and tortured by silver-tongued serial killer Bishop (Cotton), who plays a brutal game of slashing and maiming the girls in turn until one of them caves in and tells him to kill the other.

Through a series of flashbacks that occur throughout the film, we learn Joan eventually gave the order and managed to free herself and kill Bishop with a funky organ-sucking contraption used to embalm corpses. It’s one of those wicked “yeah, get the fucker!!” scenes.

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Back in the now, no sooner does Joan arrive back home (to stay with her cop brother and his soon-to-be-graduating niece, Olympia) then identikit murders begin, targeting Olympia’s gaggle of friends. Did Bishop somehow survive? Or is Joan so traumatised that it is she behind the madness?

Scar is like a slasher film in fast forward. Everything happens in no time at all with little complication. Things end in a similar fashion to how they began, with Joan bargaining for Olympia’s life. It’s a lot like W Delta Z (more commonly known as Waz) and the torture scenes are quite intense and grotesque. Inspite of male victims outnumbering females 5 to 3, most of the killings occur off screen and we only see pretty young girls being horribly tortured, which says a lot about the project. Also, the killer’s motivation, when eventually revealed, amounts to little more than “I like killing.” Deep.

Not an awful film by any standards, it’s nicely put together with its bleeding heart grossly splattered down its sleeve – it’s just forgettable and proof that grisly effects work, 3D or not, cannot compensate for an under written story and flat characters.

Blurbs-of-interest: Bettis starred in May and the Toolbox Murders remake. Brandon McLaren is also in Harper’s Island and SlasherTucker and Dale vs Evil and Slasher; Brittney Wilson was later in Scarecrow; Ben Cotton was also in Harper’s Island, Stan Helsing, and The Tooth Fairy.

Men are from Mars, women are from crazy

unhinged-coverUNHINGED

3 Stars  1982/18/77m

“Violence beyond reason. Victims beyond help.”

Director: Don Gronquist / Writers: Don Gronquist & Reagan Ramsey / Cast: Laurel Munson, J.E. Penner, Sara Ansley, Virginia Settle, Barbara Lusch, John Morrison.

Body Count: 4

Dire-logue: “I’ll be sure to excuse myself when she breaks out the heroin.”


More of a low-key psycho thriller than an out n’ out slasher extravaganza, Unhinged has a reputation as a shitty, best-forgotten throwback to the cheapo post-Friday the 13th days of slasherama.

Teen girlfriends Terry, Nancy and Gloria are off to a rock festival when they crash their car in a rainstorm. Terry wakes up at the secluded mansion house residence of Marion Penrose and her infirm mother, who rattles around in a wheelchair, abusing Marion and going into unexplained trances at the dinner table when she becomes fascinated with the table condiments.

u1aEdith Penrose is a nasty old hag who hates men, and so Marion’s simple brother Carl is restricted to creeping around outside after dark or in the attic. With Gloria out for the count after the accident, only Terry and Nancy have to endure the rantings of the old lady, sit on the floor like children and play dominos while Marion tickles the ivory and feel generally wigged out by the whole thing.

…And who’s that eye belong to staring at the girls while they shower?

unhinged-2picsNancy elects to trek into town for help the next day and soon meets the sharp end of a giant sickle. It’s a cool, unexpected murder scene, pretty much out of the blue. One second the girl is climbing up an embankment, then next she’s being slashed at with the uber-scythe by an unidentified rainmacked psycho.

u4aBack at Penrose Towers, Terry tries to find out why Marion puts up with her mother’s shit and there are some loooooong scenes of dialogue, some more night-creeping with the creepy-eye putting in another appearance. Gloria is summarily done away with having hardly appeared in the film at all and Terry begins to grow increasingly suspicious. Needless to say, bodies are found, running and screaming ensues and Terry reprimands the culprit…or does she?

u3aHorrible mom-from-hell, creepy old house, extreme close-ups on a gorping eye – all very Psycho. The handyman is even called Norman Barnes! While there’s only a principal cast of four, it’s evident one of them must be the killer – but who? Could mandrist-mom be toddling free of her wheelchair? Is Carl more dangerous than simple? Or is Marion more repressed than we thought?

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The outcome isn’t entirely predictable, in fact it would be pretty clever if so many almanacs and reviews didn’t give it away as the film’s ‘selling point’. Unhinged‘s best asset is the constant sense of dread hanging over proceedings; there’s very little action or standardised horror staples on show, which will undoubtedly make it an endurance test for many viewers, but if you’re into curious C-movies that somehow made it on to the ‘Video Nasties List’ until 2004, then it could leave a bit of an impression.

The film was loosely remade in the UK in 2017.

BABYSITTER WANTED

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2.5 Stars  2008/18/87m

“No experience necessary.”

Directors: Jonas Barnes & Michael Manasseri / Writer: Jonas Barnes / Cast: Sarah Thompson, Matt Dallas, Bruce Thomas, Kristen Dalton, Bill Moseley, Nana Visitor, Monty Bane, Jillian Schmitz.

Body Count: 5


Beginning like another re-telling of the old When a Stranger Calls myth, shy smalltown girl Angie needs money for college and takes a job babysitting at a secluded farm for the Stanton family’s equally shy son, Sam. Already concerned that maybe she’s being stalked, things get worse when the phone calls begin and somebody tries to break in…

Word of mouth set up a good prospect for Babysitter Wanted and the ambience was nicely working in spite of some cringey monologues and then came the midpoint twist many positive reviews alluded to. It’s different for sure and I was surprised to find that my guess wasn’t far from the truth. The film tiptoes along the outskirts of slasher film territory without ever committing itself; Angie is held captive, escapes, is captured again, cries, screams and eventually succeeds…

And here’s the spoilage. Click away now if you don’t want to know. Go on…go…

The kid, her sittee if you will, is the Son of Satan. The ‘intruder’ is a priest trying to kill him and, when the kid’s cowboy hat topples off, Angie spots little horns-a-growin’ through his hair. The parents tie her up and explain that Sam eats the flesh of virginal girls but now they must leave as more of the priest’s followers will be on route.

It bugged me that this ‘miracle twist’ was so hammy. The film was trundling along pleasantly and then this. Once revealed, there are a couple of murders; Bill Moseley’s cop comes along trying to help and there’s some good chase action but once the kid shows his true colours, muttering “hungry” as he approaches Angie with a knife, all we really want is for her to kill him with extreme prejudice! Of course they wimp out and things are left for a sequel.

I was also suspicious of the film’s motives here; Angie is a good Catholic girl, as shown when she prays with Mom (Nana Visitor, who played Mrs Voorhees in the Friday the 13th reboot) and in her dorm room. The boy she begins ‘seeing’ is also a nice religious lad and it wouldn’t surprise me if the film were funded by a smart-thinking Christian group trying to send a message to an otherwise unreachable audience demographic here… Ergo, there’s no nudity and little swearing. Weird, weird film. Coulda been better.

Blurbs-of-interest: Scott Spiegel (the doctor at the end) directed Intruder; Moseley was recently in the horrendously bad – and curiously also web-overrated – Home Sick.

STAY ALIVE

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STAY ALIVE

2 Stars  2006/15/83m

“You die in the game – You die for real.”

Director: William Brent Bell / Writers: William Brent Bell & Michael Peterman / Cast: Jon Foster, Samaire Armstrong, Frankie Muniz, Sophia Bush, Milo Ventimiglia, Jimmi Simpson, Wendell Pierce, Adam Goldberg.

Body Count: 8

Dire-logue: “I just met you, like, Goddamn yesterday so kiss my ass!”


The tagline should tell you all you need to know about this lazy effort. Dorky gamers in possession of a demo release, who were foolish enough to read aloud a prayer to start the game, discover that their fate on screen neatly corresponds to their fate in the real world. Thrown into the mix is a CGI witch-slash-serial killer woman, the subject of a conveniently local urban legend.

You can just imagine a group of studio execs around a table saying, ‘you know, The Ring made a lot of money. Let’s copy it but instead of a video tape, we’ll have a video game!’ High-fives and whooping ensue as they decide to chuck in some Final Destination-type deaths and some Elm Street thematics, completed with the requisite undead female villain. Stamp it with a PG-13 rating to pull in the likely crowd and you’re done.

Given the cast features some semi-knowns; grown-up child star Muniz and a pre-Heroes Ventimiglia, it all looks so cheap and rushed. And it takes itself so damn seriously! Check the scene where the assembly line goth chick surmises the entire plot in a deadpan spiel in an attempt to convince her friends of the danger. Manufactured tat with a cash register where the heart of its artistic form should be.

HELL NIGHT

hellnight HELL NIGHT

4 Stars  1981/18/102m

“Pray for day.”

Director: Tom DeSimone / Writer: Randy Feldman / Cast: Linda Blair, Peter Barton, Vincent Van Patten, Kevin Brophy, Suki Goodwin, Jenny Neumann, Jimmy Sturtevant.

Body Count: 8

Dire-logue: “If you weren’t screamin’…and we weren’t screamin’…then somebody’s trying to mind-fuck us.”


In the cynical we-know-everything days of 2009, a film with a premise so simplistic as Hell Night is likely to be casually dismissed as ancient crap. It’s long and slow with a low body count – why bother? Because it’s one of the best slasher films going.

The Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity and its sister sorority are initiating four new pledges on their annual ‘Hell Night’. The costume party is over, we’ve met the primary cast of just seven young scholars, and we’re off to the unloved grounds of Garth Manor, where the Garth patriarch once slaughtered his entire family, save for ‘gorked out’ Andrew, who is said to still dwell within the creepy old mansion.

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Jeff, Denise, Seth and Marti are sequestered to the venue and instructed to stay in the house until dawn, when they will be let out. Once left alone by the upperclassmen, the quartet briefly explore and then pair off; Seth and Denise engage in overlong foreplay while Jeff and Marti go heart to heart and discuss their lives, the class system and various other things.

Outside, three of the senior collegiates – May, weasely Scott, and uber-prankster Peter – return to try and scare them with a range of pre-organised tricks. Ghosts appear, death-screams echo down the halls and a real killer begins stalking and slaying all those who intrude on his property! Andrew Garth lives! A few killings in, the murders are discovered and Seth manages to climb his way to freedom in a bid to summon help while Jeff and Marti look for a missing Denise and uncover the extent of the nightmare…

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Like the gothic candles that give a creepy glow to the setting, Hell Night is a real slow-burn affair. It’s nearly half an hour before the first killing and afterwards they’re spaced out to maximum tense-effect but it’s seldom boring. In the attention-deficit days we now live in, there’s no way something so relaxedly paced would ring the box office bell, but that’s the beauty of a film like Hell Night. In spite of being helmed by a noted porno director, there’s no nudity and very restrained bloodshed.

hn7aThe appeal is in the straight-forward telling of it all. It’s got classic creaky haunted house origins, aided no end by the period costumes worn by the characters, the candelabras and cobwebs, Nosferatu-influenced creeping shadows, all engineered into a (then) modern slasher narrative. Characters are also well drawn given that the entire thing is set on one night; Linda Blair, all grown up from playing Regan MacNeil, makes for an affable heroine in Marti, a mechanically gifted student. Her three companions range from misunderstood nice guy (Jeff), to surfer dude (Seth) and comical British partygirl (Denise), while the trio of pranksters have less to do. Why the two main guys are Jeff n’ Seth is something we’ll never know I guess…

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The emphasis on atmosphere is a strong selling point here; the house is creepy and the story just offbeat enough to be unsettling. “This was supposed to be a joke,” crows Marti when she and Jeff find time to reflect on the night’s events. All things considered, definitely not a film for all to enjoy. It has that nostalgic ‘this scared me as a kid’ quality going for it, something we’re unlikely to experience again. Karen Carpenter sang ‘Tryin’ To Get That Feeling Again’, Hell Night still maintains a big part of ‘that’ feeling.

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The bad news: a PG-13 remake, almost certainly similar to the dismal Prom Night redux, is due in 2010. Don’t expect any nostalgia there.

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Blurbs-of-interest: surprisingly, Blair never made another slasher film but Barton played Doug in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter; Jenny Neumann had already played the lead in Aussie theatre stalker Stage Fright. Several of the producers worked on other slasher flicks, including Halloween, and Chuck Russell directed A Nightmare On Elm Street 3.

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