VIP’s of Slasherdom: Maddy

I’ve always loved a bespectacled girl, but in film, that just means A). she can’t see shit without her glasses or B). all she needs to do to go from plain to pretty is take off said glasses and shake her hair out a bit.

In Friday the 13th Part VII, such an arc is followed by Maddy (Diana Barrows), one of the nicer party guests at the cabin on the shores of Crystal Lake. When she voices her liking for a handsome stoner dude, her ‘best friend’ Robin tells her she needs “a little touch up work.”

So Maddy goes from this:

maddy friday the 13th part vii the new blood 1988 diana barrows

To this:

maddy friday the 13th part vii the new blood 1988 diana barrows

…but immediately goes outside to look for stoner dude (without any evidence he’d be out there) and is killed by Jason, who becomes the only person to see her rocking her new lewk.

Status: Standard DUFF in her group of friends. Everyone likes her ‘as a person’ though.

Hidden talent: Tina might be the psychic, but it was Maddy had the foresight to pack sexy clothes before she hatched the plan to give herself an aesthetic upgrade.

Why we love her: Everyone loves a trier, and slasher films of later years gave up including sympathetic characters whose gruesome deaths we’d actually feel some sense of loss over.

Twinsane

just before dawn 1981 poster

JUST BEFORE DAWN

3 Stars  1981/18/94m

“The nightmare has begun…”

Director/Writer: Jeff Lieberman / Writers: Joseph Middleton, Mark Arywitz / Cast: Deborah Benson, Gregg Henry, George Kennedy, Chris Lemmon, Ralph Seymour, Jamie Rose, Mike Kellin, Kati Powell, John Hunsaker.

Body Count: 6

Laughter Lines: “Where we’re going is no summer camp!”


This Oregon-shot campers-in-peril flick was somewhat overlooked at its late-1981 release, presumably due to the veritable tidal wave of similar films falling out of every nook, and the fact that Universal backed out of purchasing it, leaving it to be distributed by a small indie company, which tanked its chances of making a splash.

Therefore written off as just the next in a long line of Friday the 13th cash-ins, it’s a pleasant surprise that Just Before Dawn turned out to be one of the stronger examples of its era, with a very good atmosphere created by director Lieberman (who co-wrote under a pseudonym). Despite contemporaneous accusations of being too derivative of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Lieberman claimed never to have seen it at the point the film was shooting, instead taking most of his cues from Deliverance.

A quintet of teens – made up of more capable actors than usual – head into the mountains to explore the land that one of the group’s father’s has just acquired. They hike, swim, cross swaying rope bridges and scare away timid backwoods folk. But we know something had is coming, thanks to their run-in with a fleeing hunter, whose nephew copped a machete in the balls.

just before dawn 1981

Ignoring the warnings as usual, they eventually end up falling prey to a pair of inbred mountain-dwelling twin brothers (both played by Hunsaker), who treat the newcomers as toys, while George Kennedy’s ranger canters about the forest talking to his horse, Agatha.

Proceedings are overseen in a fairy standard manner, but there’s a great ending that reverses the character situation that existed at the start, with a particularly inventive method used by the final girl to claim victory over one of the loons.

Wrong Turn owes a lot to this one.

Blurbs-of-interest: Mike Kellin was Mel, the corrupt camp owner in Sleepaway Camp; George Kennedy was in Wacko; Ralph Seymour was in Killer Party; Jamie Rose was later in Playroom; Jeff Lieberman later directed Satan’s Little Helper.

Ne Pas Avoir D’enfants

inside

INSIDE

3.5 Stars  2007/18/79m

“Don’t let her inside.”

Directors: Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo / Cast: Beatrice Dalle, Alysson Paradis, Nathalie Roussel, Francois-Regis Marchasson, Ludovic Berthillot, Emmanuel Lanzi, Nicolas Davauchelle, Aymen Saidi.

Body Count: 8


Here’s a weird failure – I watched this back in 2010 and obviously thought I’d added it to the site at the time, as my go-to wad of notes just says: “see hudsonlee.com”. Spoilers!

Soooo, this’ll be an awkward review as I don’t remember a whole lot about it beyond it being ridonkulously violent and gruesome, as – Wikipedia tells me – Vanessa Paradis’ youngser sister is an about-to-pop mom, whose husband died in the car crash she survived some months earlier.

Now, on Christmas Eve, a mystery woman shows up at her door asking to use the phone. Pregnant lady – Sarah – declines and when the woman gets weird, Sarah takes her photo through the window and from that, works out she’s been being stalked by this broad for some time.

Various other people find reasons to show up: A co-worker, Sarah’s mother, police, and crazy lady dispatches them all with knitting needles n’ such until the two go at it, and it’s revealed that crazy lady was in the other car and lost her baby, so now wants Sarah’s.

If you thought Haute Tension was going mental on the gross-o-meter, give this a spin. I’ve said it before and will again, but masses of blood doesn’t a great move make, and while Inside packs a lot of tension and a nail-biting dilemma, I’ve never wanted to see it again in the decade that has elapsed, so maybe it’s a good thing I’ve forgotten much of it.

Skate n’ stalk n’ slash

schizo 1976

SCHIZO

3 Stars  1976/18/104m

“When the left had doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.”

Director: Pete Walker / Writers: David McGillvray & Murray Smith / Cast: Lynne Frederick, John Leyton, Stephanie Beacham, John Fraser, Jack Watson, Queenie Watts, Trisha Mortimer.

Body Count: 5


British sleaze-merchant Pete Walker directed this pre-Halloween stalker, which borrows more than just its titular connotations from Psycho.

The late Lynne Frederick (last wife of Peter Sellers) is professional skater Samantha, whose marriage gains enough column inches to attract the attention of silent-psycho Watson, who takes a big knife and catches the first train into London ,where he commences a campaign of creepy phone calls and day-to-day stalkage, sending the woman into despair.

But… is he the black gloved maniac who starts killing her nearest and dearest? Long term collaborator McGillivray parted ways with Walker after this film, feeling that the attempts to railroad the viewer down an alley of assumption made the fiend’s actual identity too obvious. However, compared to the avalanche of mystery-slashers that would arrive in the 1980s, Schizo is quite competent in keeping the face of the killer quite uncertain until it chooses to reveal them.

Frederick appears to struggle with some of the material, especially in the presence of the ever-fabulous Stephanie Beacham, consigned to the loyal best friend role again, who turns detective on Samantha’s behalf. There are some good murders peppered throughout: A knitting needle through the head and out of the eye, and a man skewered by machinery he falls on to. Alas, a good minute or more was scissored by the BBFC and wasn’t restored on the cut I saw.

Subtler than Walker’s previous films, Schizo serves as an interesting example of the slow gathering of elements that would be cemented by Carpenter and Cunningham shortly after, even if it’s a slightly crass Hitchcock imitation in isolation, and a reminder of how vile British wallpaper patterns were in the 1970s.

Blurb-of-interest: Jack Watson was also in Tower of Evil.

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