Murder on the Dancefloor

discopath 2013


2.5 Stars  2013/81m

“Disco isn’t dead, but you might be.”

Director/Writer: Renaud Gauthier / Cast: Jeremie Earp Lavergne, Sandrine Bisson, Ivan Freud, Ingrid Falaise, Katherine Cleland, Mathieu Lapage, Francois Aubin, Pierre Lenoir.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “Calm down miss, YOUR FRIEND IS DEAD!”

There are precisely two awesome scenes in this uneven French Canadian flick, which posits that a guy who saw his dad electrocuted by recording equipment is driven to murder nightclub babes anytime he hears the pulsating rhythms of disco music.

In 1976, our loon-to-be Duane is fired from his diner job in NYC and hooks up with a girl who takes him to Seventh Heaven nightclub where he loses it to what sounds like a Hi-NRG disco mix of Flight of the Bumblebee and attacks his date. As she tries to escape, Duane ends up accosting her beneath the light-up dancefloor, where she shrieks hysterically, pounding her hands against the underside of the platform while people shake n’ shimmy inches above her head.

discopath 2013

It really is a great scenario, executed well, ending with a nice zoom out of her face, barely visible under the floor until it’s eclipsed by spinning and twirling revellers.

Duane flees New York for Montreal and things skip ahead to 1980 where we find him posing as a deaf-mute handyman at an all girl’s Catholic school, attempting to block out the tempting bops of Donna Summer and the Village People with secret ear plugs. When school empties out for the weekend, he hears two loitering girls playing – gasp! – disco music and doing naked lesbian things, slashes them up with a broken 45 and takes their heads.

discopath 2013

He’s also kidnapped a teacher from a discotheque and is holding her captive in a basement somewhere while he dances around her, buck naked, swinging the two decapitated heads about like fire poi.

Cops investigate. The original NYC detective reads about it and travels to Montreal. Duane crashes a televised show called Discomania and strangles a girl, all shown via strobe lights, which is the other awesome scene.

Then, and I don’t know what the fuck this was about, Duane disguises himself as a nun to ram cars from the funeral procession of the murdered girls and a teacher while the Kiss classic I Was Made for Lovin’ You plays from an eight-track. Cops chase, Duane throws himself off a parking garage.

discopath 2013

The film is essentially over after about 73 minutes with no real resolution or explanation, no real main character to speak of, just a bunch of scenes spliced together that either don’t drive the plot at all (the priest yelling during the funeral service?) or occur with no raison d’etre. Why give so much screentime to the other teacher if she dies so randomly by electrocuting herself? Why not kill off the priest who wanted to pull a Mayor Vaughn and re-open the school before the killer was caught?

A weird experience if ever there was, but the two dancefloor murder scenes and some eyebrow raising male nudity save it from being tossed into the Disco Demolition Night bonfire.

Blurb-of-interest: Gauthier also directed the 2019 waterslide slasher pic Aquaslash.

*Gasp!* It’s you!

Murder She Wrote is a flickbook of interesting actors, from big names, to has-beens, but also all manner of folks who had – or would do – a slasher pic or two.

In an episode titled Sticks & Stones, our favourite movie mom Mrs Voorhees turned up. The late, great Betsy Palmer played one of three members of a development committee who wanted to build luxury condos on some land. Of course, the person who owned said land was – gasp! – murdered, and only Jessica has the patience to work out who. Seriously, when does this woman write?

betsy palmer murder she wroteSadly, Betsy wasn’t the killer this time, but she did return to the series a few years later in another role, so fingers crossed for a thick blue sweater and some kiddie voices telling her to kill people.

Girls on top

tragedy girls 2017


3.5 Stars  2017/99m

“Friends who slay together, stay together.”

Director: Tyler McIntyre / Writers: Juston Olson, Chris Lee Hill, Tyler McIntyre / Cast: Brianna Hildebrand, Alexandra Shipp, Jack Quaid, Kevin Durand, Timothy V. Murphy, Craig Robinson, Savannah Jayde, Josh Hutcherson, Nicky Whelan, Elise Neal, Andy Bethea, Keith Hudson, Katie Stottlemire.

Body Count: 9 (+123)

Laughter Lines: “This is some serious Final Destination shit!”

A teen couple make out in a muscle car on a lonely bridge. The girl hears a noise outside. They ignore it. The noise sounds again. She convinces the boy to go check and a hulking figure buries a machete in his face and chases down the girl. He runs into a wire and a second girl appears, they taser him and drag him back to their garage where they explain they’ve been baiting him for months and need him to work with them so they can gain followers of their true crime blog @tragedygirls.

tragedy girls alexandra shipp brianna hildebrand 2017

Sadie and McKayla are the titular BFFs, who will do anything to draw attention to their social media presence, hoping that their insights into the later-named Rosedale Ripper will catapult them into the spotlight. But real life isn’t that easy and it’s assumed the first victim is a runaway (for reasons unknown they destroyed the body in lye), and their next is written off as a motorcycle accident. Irked by the slow take-up, the girls ensure that victim 3 cannot be mistaken for anything other than a murder.

While the girls continue to hold their pet killer, Lowell, captive, Sadie becomes close to Sheriff’s son Jordan, who begins to suspect McKayla knows more about what’s going on than she’s letting on – and things go from bad to worse when Lowell escapes and has them firmly in his crosshairs.

tragedy girls 2017

More complications ensue as the girls try to clean up their mess, stay alive, and eventually fall out when Sadie is hailed as a singular hero when she fights off Lowell’s next attack, prompting McKayla to take the game into her own hands.

Tragedy Girls is a fine looking product, stirring in elements of Mean Girls to its slasher groundwork, and satire of the shallowness of external validation culture. As a comedy, it’s acid tongued good times, with a disturbing painted-on smile to its couple of psycho leads. The horror end of things doesn’t quite take flight so well, despite some grisly denouements throughout (the woodwork class and gym scenes – the latter featuring the awesome Craig Robinson – are great), but little else. Durand is a hoot as the captive wannabe psycho, as his threats to the girls are met with emasculating giggles, and both leads sell their friends-till-the-end bond well.

tragedy girls 2017 brianna hildebrand alexandra shipp

Creepily, Brianna Hildebrand looks like the long lost twin of my friend Alisha, so I’ll be treading carefully around her for a bit.

Blurbs-of-interest: Josh Hutcherson was in Detention; Elise Neal was Sid’s roomie in Scream 2.

VIP’s of Slasherdom: Chewie

While I often opine that the 2009 Friday the 13th reboot peaked in the opening 20 minutes, with the rest of the film merely a serviceable slasher yarn, one character really stood out in the group of college kids on the conveyor belt of death… It’s Chewie! (who I thought was named Troy for ages).

aaron yoo friday the 13th 2009

“Shoot the boooooot!”

Why is he there? Dorm-dwelling collegiate, bong-enthusiast, best bud of Lawrence, and pretend-friend to the arsey rich host, Trent, Chewie is on the trip for the chance to see how the other half live. Not because he likes Trent or anything. Duh.

What does he want? Like most boys who visit the shores of Crystal Lake, Chewie just wants to get stoned and get laid, preferably by Bree, but admits he has more chance of fucking a penguin.

Why we love him: Yoo was able to inject so much into what amount to probably less than 15 minutes of screentime with pitch perfect delivery of lines, even babbling to himself as he drunkenly explores the toolshed and helps himself to rich folks’ wine.

Or treat?

trick 2019


3 Stars  2019/101m

“Always choose treat.”

Director/Writer: Patrick Lussier / Writer: Todd Farmer / Cast: Omar Epps, Ellen Adair, Kristina Reyes, Jamie Kennedy, Tom Atkins, Thom Niemann, Kya Taylor Brickhouse, Max Miller, Jerome Charvet, Dani Shay, Todd Farmer.

Body Count: 32

The third sibling of Hell Fest and Haunt? Spoilers ensue!

At a Halloween house party in 2015, a game of spin the knife ends up with pumpkin-masked Patrick ‘Trick’ Weaver, taking the blade to others in attendance, before he’s stabbed with a fire poker. In hospital, he manages to escape his handcuffs, attack homicide detective Mike Denver (Epps), and off a few more schmucks before being shot out of a window by Denver and the local sheriff (Adair). But when they get down to ground level, the body is gone, nobody really knows who he is, he has no address, no social media profiles, and no parents…

trick 2019

At a Halloween dance in a nearby town ion 2016, Trick reappears and knives a few more patrons; in 2017 he lays yet more teens to waste at a party; and in 2018 comes after some detectives on his trail (those in denial it was the same killer, of course), leading to Denver being forced to retire early. In 2019, he returns to the original town where it looks like Trick might be back – or could it be one of his many twisted online fans?

While deputies walk into traps, surviving friends of the original killings, Cheryl and Nikki, take Nikki’s niece and nephew (or friend’s kids. Can’t remember) to the horror maze owned by local curmudgeon Mr Talbott (Tom Atkins) and naturally Trick kills and replaces a maze actor so he can run amok, seemingly in an effort to finish off those who escaped before. Curiously, one of whom, Troy, who is still in high school in his head and falsely took credit for stabbing Trick with the poker, just vanishes from the film entirely.

trick 2019 jamie kennedy ellen adair omar epps

Things culminate with another game of spin the knife before the big twist is revealed. The trick, if you will. Anyone who’s read Kevin Williamson’s original idea for Scream 3 or seen The Following should see where it’s going, although it made effective use of the in-plain-sight angle and, because I was waiting for the more obvious revelation that ultimately came later, I wasn’t expecting it.

The trick elevates Trick somewhat, but it’s sloppily realised and leans heavily on chance, which makes it feel contrived and a bit obnoxious, in the same way that Scully was always just outside the door when aliens would appear in The X-Files; the first couple of times you go with it, but later it just pisses you off, the same as the script necessitates characters to make stupid decisions – even when told not to, deputies pursue the killer into an inescapable space. The concept just feels a decade or more out of date, and attempts to divert the audience from the neutered presence of Jamie Kennedy only serve to shine the light more in his direction. As soon as his character was acknowledged, I knew he’d be involved in one way or another.

trick 2019 kya taylor brickhouse

Even with a body count that spirals into the thirties, there are no chase scenes. Most victims are pounced on and stabbed while that wet-lettuce-dropped-on-the-floor squelch sound dominates the audio. The opportunity to go for laughs is avoided to the point where its po-faced seriousness almost becomes the joke, stubbornly trying to avoid the high camp that its pedalling with the outrageous things occurring on the screen. Trick is certainly no treat, but there’s enough sugar so that you won’t completely spit it out in disgust.

Blurbs-of-interest: Lussier and Farmer previously collabed on My Bloody Valentine 3D and the unproduced Halloween III script; Farmer also wrote Jason X; Omar Epps was in Scream 2, with Jamie Kennedy, who was also in the original; Tom Atkins was in MBV 3D and Maniac Cop.

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