Los Chicos Cero

trampa infernal hell's trap 1989

TRAMPA INFERNAL

3 Stars  1989/77m

A.k.a. Hell’s Trap

Director/Writer: Pedro Galindo III / Writer: Santiago Galindo / Cast: Pedro Fernandez, Edith Gonzalez, Toño Mauri, Charley Valentino, Armando Galvan, Marisol Santa Cruz, Adriana Vega, Alfredo Gutierrez, Alberto Mejia Baron ‘Alfin’.

Body Count: 7


Prior to this, the only other Mexican slasher film I’d seen was Don’t Panic, directed by Rubèn Galindo, Pedro’s grandson, way back in the mid-90s. Suckfest.

Fortunately, Trampa Infernal - ‘Hell Trap’ – is a far more interesting little cut n’ shut of The Zero Boys and The Final Terror, with a bit of Elm Street thrown in.

I can read and speak enough Spanish to get by, but the tempo at which it’s spoken often leaves me lagging, so I was happy to find that I could translate the subtitles on the video into English, presenting me with some awesome stuff about Aimee Teegarden, one million peso horses, Barack Obama, and all manner of confused sentences of the “scattered rainfall has admitted that very good principle and raped the last video viaduct” quality. Amazing.

trampa infernal 1989

It mattered not, the subs were just about decipherable enough to work out the basic plot: Big-haired Nacho (!) and Mauricio are paint-ball enemies. Yeah, that’s a thing. So pissed is Mauricio that Nacho beats him during their last round, he challenges him to a hunt-off: A bear that has slain a few hunters in the woods is the target – first to kill it has the biggest balls ever, etc. Nacho’s girlfriend Alejandra is against it, but goes anyway, as does his tubby pal Charly, and Mauricio’s buddy, plus their ditzy girlfriends.

Naturally it soon transpires there is no bear, but an insane war-vet who wears a mask not a million miles removed from Michael Myers’, and stalks the woods with a razor-fingered glove (!!), guns, and other teen-obliterating items.

trampa infernal 1989

The subtitles ceased to exist once the teens reached the forest, but it was pretty simple to follow that they started getting wasted – ditzy girls first – and then when escape proved futile, fought back, numbers dwindle more and so on and so forth, until the predictable ones are left to save themselves and stop the killer, who it seems is named Jesse? Ooh, frightening.

In spite of its dire lack of originality, there’s still some good stuff going on here. Bad-ass opening credits come with a mock ki-ki-ki-ma-ma-ma sound effect; The murder in the truck is well done and quite brutal; And you can’t help but laugh as a girl wanders about the trees yelling ‘Nacho’ over and over. Plus clocking in at 77 minutes means it doesn’t get boring.

trampa infernal 1989

I doubt I’ll remember much of this one in a decade, but as far as pass-time A-Teamy Mexi-horror goes, this is a fun romp.

Children: Still evil.

mikey 1992

MIKEY

2 Stars  1992/92m

“Remember – Jason and Freddy were kids once, too.”

Director: Dennis Dimster-Denk / Writer: Jonathan Glassner / Cast: Josie Bissett, Brian Bonsall, Ashley Laurence, Mimi Craven, John Diehl, Whitby Hertford, Lyman Ward, David Rogge, Mark Venturini.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “Psychotic? So now we have Ted Bundy Jr., is that it?”


I love this artwork, total Hand That Rocks the Cradle weave-snatcher.

Mikey holds the moderately interesting status of being one of very few films still banned in the UK. That is to say, it was originally rejected in 1993 due to a case of two ten-year-old boys abducting and murdering a toddler and simply never resubmitted for release.

It matters not, seen The Stepfather and any of the early-90s psycho nanny/neighbour/roommate flick and you’ve seen Mikey, which has the unremarkable caveat of the loony toon being a nine-year-old serial adoptee. I’ll say it early, The Good Son did it way better.

The Stepfather seems to provide the template here, as things begin with Mikey, dissatisfied with his family’s attitude towards discipline, drowns his little sister, electrocutes mom in the tub, and sets up a Home Alone stunt to send dad through a glass window before finishing him off with a baseball bat. He then hides in the closet and turns on the tears when the cops come.

mikey 1992 brian bonsall

Mikey is re-adopted by Neil and Rachel Trenton in Arizona, enrolled in school, and develops a crush on his classmate/neighbour’s big sister, Jessie.

The first adult to suspect all isn’t right is his teacher, Miss Gilder, who takes his violent drawings to the principal, catches him in several lies and concludes he’s a sociopath in about four minutes.

Mikey frames Jessie’s boyfriend for the death of their cat and when she takes him back, he repeats the electrocution gag, prompting Miss Gilder to crowbar her way past the closed adoption to find out just where the little shit came from.

Outed as a maniac in the making, Mikey does away with the adults who pose a threat and somehow manages to set up a Happy Birthday to Me-esque tableau of three corpses around a dinner table. A tiny nine-year-old was able to drag, lift, and pose three corpses more than twice his size and weight. OK. Bet dad regrets teaching him archery.

mikey 1992 brian bonsall

As soon as the film began I knew how it would end, with the requisite HE’S STILL OUT THERE!!!! scene where a couple of new schmucks adopt the ‘amnesia-suffering child found wandering the highway’. So Hollywood shouldn’t revel in the death of a kid on screen, but c’mon, we had to grow tired of Macaulay Culkin and that Xerox from Problem Child, just shove the little fucker down a well.

Too derivative to be anything more than a passing interest, but at least Bonsall does well in the title role, equal parts manipulatively convincing and unhinged, even if the post-slasher dialogue is too hammy to pack a punch: “What’s your favourite movie?” / “Freddy Krueger, Nightmare on Elm Street.”

Blurbs-of-interest: Bonsall was famous for playing the youngest child in Family Ties, and going from infant to age five over one summer; Josie Bissett was in All-American Murder; Ashley Laurance was the final girl in several of the Hellraiser movies; Whitby Hertford played Alice’s son in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 and was the kid Sam Neill yells at in Jurassic Park; Mimi Craven – Wes’s daughter – played a nurse in the original Elm Street; the late Mark Venturini was the angry dude who axed up Joey in Friday the 13th Part V.

Canadian Horror Story

slasher guilty party 2017

SLASHER: GUILTY PARTY

2 Stars  2017/394m

Director: Felipe Rodriguez / Writer: Aaron Martin / Cast: Leslie Hope, Lovell Adams-Gray, Paula Brancati, Jim Watson, Kaitlyn Leeb, Rebecca Liddiard, Christopher Jacot, Joanne Vannicola, Paulino Nunes, Madison Cheeatow, Sebastian Pigott, Ty Olsson, Melinda Shankar.

Body Count: 18

Laughter Lines: “Why do I always get stuck with the Jason Voorhees types?”


It’s a whole new story for Season 2, although one or two actors return for new roles. Some spoilers follow.

Camp Montega, 2012: Six camp counsellors drive into the woods to party at the end of their summer tenure, but instead of good times, five of them decide to put the sixth on trial for being a manipulative bitch. The girl, Talvinder, is charged with screwing the boyfriend of one, ruining the chances of a summer romance of another, and teasing another into doing her work for her. The situation escalates, an assault occurs, and poor Talvinder ends up with her skull smashed in with a rock.

Five years later – never four, never six – the threat of a development unearthing the hidden skeleton spurns an awkward roadtrip back to the area to move the bones before they’re discovered. The camp, closed down in the wake of Talvinder’s unsolved disappearance, has been transformed into the ‘We Are One’ commune, home to a small group of people with various emotional issues who live outside of society.

slasher guilty party 2017

In the dead of winter, they allow the newcomers to stay in a cabin for the weekend, and it’s not long before a parka ski-jacket and be-goggled lunatic shows up on a skidoo and begins laying waste to everyone in a variety of gruesome ways. Really gruesome: One guy is chainsawed to pieces while naked, another is drilled with an auger, eyes are gouged out, people are immolated, run over with the skidoo… There’s also a fairly graphic male-on-male rape scene.

With victims not limited to the five responsible for Talvinder’s disappearance, the episodes take a sort of sub-Lost tack and go into flashback territory, revealing bits about the lives of various characters before coming to the area, and pretty much informing us that virtually all of them are murderous assholes, one way or another. The commune folk number amongst them an ex-con who killed and took the place of a new resident, a nasty lawyer, and the victim of a gay bashing who fatally turned the tables on his attacker.

slasher guilty party 2017

The main problem in Slasher is that almost none of the characters are likeable. Guilt-racked Peter comes close to becoming our first black final guy, but is overshadowed by the actions of those around him, who are purely selfish and hell-bound.

I also pegged the identity of the killer by the second episode. I mean, the only semi-known in the cast who has lingered virtually in the background for all episodes and excused a flashback scene of their own… The misdirection is feebly handled and things grind uncomfortably into Identity waters, which is almost clever, but having seen that film – and several like it – obvious to the literate viewer.

The first series may have been a bit clunky, but it felt like a series. Guilty Party has the plot of an 87-minute B-movie stretched to its limits over six-and-a-half hours, pumped with more filler than a warehouse full of battery farm chickens. The gory killings are well done and shocking, but that really is all it has going for it. Uneven writing results in characters who act like asshats one episode then switch to being practical and pleasant for the next two and depriving us of any real central hero figure to root for.

slasher guilty party 2017

This was a chore and a half to get through. I’d imagine a shrinking budget from the move to Netflix from the defunct Chiller network threw a spanner in the works to some extent, but what achievements the first series had over its smallscreen rivals has been pummelled to dust. Or rather snow.

Those Friday the 13th-in-the-snow hi-jinks we want are not to be found here.

Halloween: The Ever-Changing Myers House

Property is a big deal, and who wouldn’t renovate their home over the years. But Haddonfield’s real estate market must be really lively for the cursed Myers house, scene of a murder in ’63, ’89, ’95, and ’02, to morph and grow and change as it does over the years.

Look at it in 1963: Pleasant, small, boxy timber-frame family home.

myers house 1963 halloween

Jump forward to the year I was born, 1978, for Halloween and Halloween II and it needs a little lovin':

myers house 1978 halloween

Its next appearance was in Halloween 5, where it had somehow grown into a mansion of Garth Manor proportions – complete with extra storey and turret-room thingy:

myers house 1989 halloween 5

Relatives of Laurie Strode were living in it six years later, guess they disliked the turret-room thingy and shrunk it back down to two floors:

myers house 1995 halloween 6

The house was able to rest for a few years until Dangertainment came-a-filmin’ in 2002, where the neighbouring house used to be there’s now a driveway and garage that never existed at the beginning, but otherwise looking like it used to. Due to them building it on a stage, you never enjoy a shot of the whole frontage:

myers house 2002 halloween resurrectionIn conclusion: Did the location scouts for Halloween 5 even watch the previous films?

H A P P Y   H A L L O W E E N !

Let’s go round again

happy death day 2017

HAPPY DEATH DAY

3 Stars  2017/15/96m

Get up. Live your day. Get killed. Again.”

Director: Christopher Landon / Writer: Scott Lobdell / Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Charles Aitken, Caleb Spillyards, Blaine Kern III, Rob Mello.

Body Count: 8… kinda


It would be impossible to forego mentioning Groundhog Day in the same breath as Happy Death Day - ostensibly the same idea, but staple-gunned to a slasher-lite opus.

This film provided a rare opportunity for me to go to a horror movie with VeVo’s lover, who is largely against bloody violence for entertainment, but hates Bill Murray to the point where they could use this film to project those feelings on to and imagine it was him being murdered over and over again…

At Bayfield College, self-centered sorority girl Tree (short for Teresa) wakes up hungover in the dorm room of sweet-natured Carter, grabs her clothes and a Tylenol, and is outta there. She walks by a girl trying to sign her up for an environmental campaign, sprinklers soaking a couple, a frat boy keeling over, a needy ex, and gets home to her sorority, where the bitchy house president Danielle is quippy with her, and finally rejects her nice roommate’s attempt to give her a birthday cupcake.

happy death day 2017

Tree goes through her day, classes, getting naughty with her professor, and then heads off for a frat party. Alone. Down dark areas of the campus. In a short tunnel, Tree encounters a creepy music box playing ‘Happy Birthday’ and is attacked and killed by a loon in a baby-faced mask that matches the school mascot.

Then she wakes up in the dorm bed. As most of us probably would, Tree stumbles through the day writing it all off as deja vu. This time, she sees the music box and goes the other way, making it to the frat house, where it turns out the party is a surprise for her birthday and, this time, ventures off upstairs with a guy, who is murdered before she is attacked a second time and killed with a shattered bong.

happy death day 2017 jessica rothe

Then she wakes up again. And again. And again. Tree is knifed, struck with a baseball bat, drowned, and hit by a bus as she tries to work out who it is who’s after her and why. With Carter’s help – after she’s convinced him each morning – Tree knocks names off the list of suspects and goes about making reparations to her unruly life, reconnecting with her estranged Dad, apologising to her suffering roommate, and ending the affair with her teacher.

But who is trying to kill her and why? Happy Death Day‘s eventual revelation is a tad contrived, but at the same time I didn’t guess it correctly, so perhaps I’m just being picky. It helps that Tree’s resurrections aren’t unlimited – each time she wakes up she’s weaker than yesterday, so the clock is ticking on solving the mystery before she’s gone for good.

happy death day 2017 jessica rothe

While almost entirely bloodless (it was a PG-13 Stateside), what murders there are besides Tree’s happen mostly to schmucks who get in the way of the killer and are undone each new dawn, resulting in a ‘real’ murder count of, well, none. It’s still a slasher film of sorts, in the same way April Fool’s Day is, despite not being… kinda?

Katie Cassidy-a-like Rothe is great in the lead role – balancing comic timing with final girl aplomb and going from nasty victim-type to appreciative heroine over the runtime. Rachel Matthews as bitchy Danielle is also a hoot and gets most of the best lines.

happy death day 2017 jessica rothe

A fun diversion, checking most the boxes Camp Daze failed to, and a surprising box office success that will hopefully trailblaze the way for some more theatrical slasher flicks, although whether audiences will embrace straight-up stalk n’ slash over this kind of concept remains to be seen.

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