The Longest Day

slasher solstice 2019 netflix

SLASHER: SOLSTICE

2 Stars  2018/368m

Director: Adam MacDonald / Writers: Ian Carpenter, Lucie Pagé, J.P. Larocque / Cast: Baraka Rahmani, Lisa Berry, Salvatore Antonio, Dean McDermott, Mercedes Morris, Gabriel Darku, Joanne Vannicola, Paula Brancati, Ilan Muallem, Erin Karpluk, Jim Watson, Rosie Simon, Robert Cormier, Patrice Goodman.

Body Count: 19

Laughter Lines: “He jacked cars. He was a hood – he ended up *on* one.”


Season 3 of the Canadian stalk n’ slash anthology opts for a sort of 24 approach, setting each episode over three hours of the longest day of the year, while a mystery killer hacks, burns, and dissects their way through the residents of the Clayborne apartment building, a year to the day after bisexual man-whore Kit was stabbed to death there. So, in a similar move to 2012’s Tower Block, the other inhabitants failed to help the dying man and are so systematically eliminated.

slasher solstice 2019

Solstice employs an interesting character approach that caused mucho online moaning of its ‘liberal SJW agenda': We have a Muslim final girl, Saadia, left alone for a few days while her parents are out of town, her best friend Jen, who’s is being raised along with her brother, Connor, by unhinged lesbian stepmom Amber; Angel, bereaved sometime boyfriend of Kit, who is having an affair with Joe, who is with desperate-for-attention blogger Violet. Deep breath in. And then there’s white supremacist Dan, his very slutty daughter Cassidy; annoying artisan coffee shop owning hipster Xander, and his aesxual girlfriend Amy.

Virtually all of these people have hideous personalities, so when the aggressive wife-beating guy down the hall has his head axed off on the street in broad daylight and left on the hood of the car he stole, the detectives who still haven’t solved Kit’s murder are back on the scene.

slasher solstice 2019

Throughout the day, the detestable individuals are murdered in a variety of particularly gruesome ways: Face forced into a toilet bowl of acid, boiling water poured down a glass tube directly into the throat, a biology teacher dissected like a frog… The killer is inventive with their weapons to say the least. But who is it? And why? And why is it that these same assholes who were submitting noise complaints suddenly now can’t hear the screams of someone having their face forced into a blender next door?

Intermittent flashbacks inform us that Kit was a huge dick who pissed off virtually everyone, from receiving oral sex in the corridor, to sleeping with various co-residents – or trying to – and breaking hearts wherever he goes. Then there’s the matter of the woman who posted a bad Tweet about it, was flamed and threatened, until she burnt herself to death in front of everybody.

slasher solstice 2019

While marginally less aggressive in its horribly drawn characters than Guilty Party was, Solstice doesn’t do itself in favours either. A handful of the teens aside, everyone else is only capable of shitting over everyone else, from Violet’s slappable gossipmongering, the requisite high school twat who mocks the suicide and calls Saadia a terrorist, and the anti-everybody rants of the bigot – it’s as if the writers are either incapable of, or too afraid to write people we might, heaven forbid, care about or root for.

More actors return in new roles than from season 1 to 2, but if they’re going to forge ahead with further adventures, they really need to invest some time in building a universe where people are capable of more emotions than just hate.

Blurb-of-interest: Erin Karpluk was in Ripper 2: Letters from Within.

The Dog’s Bollocks

wilderness 2006

WILDERNESS

4 Stars  2006/15/91m

“It’s not about revenge. It’s about punishment.”

Director: Michael J. Bassett / Writer: Dario Poloni / Cast: Sean Pertwee, Alex Reid, Toby Kebbell, Stephen Wright, Lenora Crichlow, Luke Neal, Ben McKay, Karly Greene, Adam Deacon, Richie Campbell, Stephen Don.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “So you want me to go out there alone to find another guy out there’s alone, when nobody’s supposed to go out there alone?”


Bollocks = slang term for testicles; also slang for an untruth or lie; The Dog’s Bollocks = something awesome, based on concept that if a dog can lick his own bollocks, they must be tasty.

Coming along during a little renaissance of gritty British horror (28 Days Later…Dog SoldiersThe Descent, and the same director’s Deathwatch), this grisly Anglo/Irish sibling of Wrong Turn with a side of The Final Terror, sees a group of youth detention / juvie hall lads packed off to a remote island for ‘character building’ after their campaign of relentless bullying ends with the suicide of a weaker dorm mate.

Caught up in the blame is newcomer Callum (Kebbell), who just wants to keep his head down, do his time, and live his life, but Hitler Youth type Steve is keen to be as disruptive as possible, much to the chagrin of grizzled guard Jed (Pertwee, givin’ all that). Despite the island being ‘uninhabited’, the group run into a similar outing from a girls’ reform school, with ex-soldier Louise (Reid, from The Descent) leading two wayward girls through the forest. There’s also a reclusive hobo about, who is soon found with his throat chewed out – last person seen stood over the body? Callum.

wilderness 2006 sean pertwee

Only Louise considers that something else is going on, but everyone else is quickly convinced when another of the group disappears, save for a bitten off arm, and Jed is crossbowed to a tree, while a quartet of attack dogs sprint on to the scene and eat him alive. It soon becomes clear somebody is taking revenge for the juvie hall suicide, and has a degree of military training on his side.

wilderness 2006 sean pertwee

The teens are soon on their own, fighting with each other, switching allegiances, and dodging the savage dogs. Callum goes all Lord of the Flies crazy, while Steve is shunned by the others for his selfishness and inability to contribute in any positive way, which results in him killing his only friend. It eventually all comes down to Callum versus the vengeful psychopath, who is an interesting flip on the Mrs Voorhees template. A further minor twist thrown in to give the second survivor something to do while the big boys fight.

wilderness 2006

Wilderness was moderately pre-cut for language to avoid an 18 certificate, but the liberal bloodletting was left intact, which is a surprise given we have people ripped apart by dogs, decapitated, immolated, and falling face first into bear traps. It’s all gruesome stuff, offset by the fact that most of the characters aren’t written much beyond their criminal archetypes, so their sticky demises aren’t particularly undeserved. Louise is the exception in the film, demonstrating smarts and concern for her charges – so it’s obvious she won’t make it out – while some of the young cast members are a bit too well-spoken to convince as thuggish dog fodder.

wilderness 2006 stephen wight

These minor flaws aside, Wilderness holds its own in the brutality stakes. It’s a kick-ass little venture that pretty much went under the radar upon release. Contemporaneous reviews were lukewarm at best and it’s easy to understand why the po-faced, blood-splattered look of it wouldn’t go down with critics as well as, say, Severance, which employed comedy as a bedfellow to its horrors. I prefer this approach though.

wilderness 2006 alex reid toby kebbell

Blurbs-of-interest: Pertwee was in Botched; Adam Deacon was later in Comedown.

Jason and the Boys

A lot is made about final girls here, there and everywhere, but less so about final boys, who are a rarer creature.

In terms of the biggest slasher franchise, quite a few young men have actually made it out intact alongside the Ginnys, Chrises, and Trishes. Yup, let’s pay tribute to the Final Boys of Friday the 13th

*

paul holt john furey friday the 13th part 2 1981

Paul Holt (John Furey)

Does Paul survive Jason’s debut rampage at the counsellor training camp in Part 2? Who knows? Nobody it seems, almost 40 years on there’s been no definitive answer. Rumours that John Furey walked off the set before he could shoot his final scenes have since been denied by everyone involved, so it’s likely it will remain a legend, Ginny …a legend.

*

tommy jarvis corey feldman friday the 13th the final chapter 1984

Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman)

Nobody with a Y chromosome definitively survived Friday the 13th‘s Parts 1-3 and it’s therefore quite interesting that the first male to escape death at the hands of the J-man (or his mom) was a 12-year-old. Hmm.

Horror freak and hobby crafty Tommy – reportedly an homage to make-up king Tom Savini – is quick to suss out a way to fool Jason, thus saving his sister and himself from the business end of a machete.

*

tommy jarvis john shepherd friday the 13th part v a new beginning 1985

Tommy Jarvis 2.0 (John Shepherd)

Some years after the events of The Final Chapter, a still traumatised Tommy is sent off to a youth clinic where a ghoul in a hockey mask begins laying waste to the other residents. In spite of his demons, Tommy has clearly found the time to put in a lot of work at the gym. Despite being the lead, Shepherd mutters only 22 words over the course of the whole film.

*

reggie shavar ross friday the 13th part v a new beginning 1985

Reggie the Reckless (Shavar Ross)

A visitor to the Pinehurst clinic of A New Begininng, Reggie is a bright spot in this much-hated entry: A sassy little kid, possibly a proxy for younger Tommy, who takes on the “mystery killer” with a construction vehicle, but also serves to get manhandled a lot so Tommy, or heroine Pam, can attack the killer as they free him.

*

tommy jarvis thom mathews friday the 13th part vi jason lives 1986

Tommy Jarvis 3.0 (Thom Mathews)

Mathews took over the role for Jason Lives an unspecified amount of time after Part V‘s events, though I tend to see most timelines put him around age 25. Figuring that the only way to banish Jason from his head once and for all is to burn his corpse, he inadvertently ends up resurrecting him and, actually, being responsible for the scores of murders that follow over the ensuing films. Way to go, Tom.

*

nick kevin blair spirtas friday the 13th part vii the new blood 1988

Nick (Kevin Spirtas)

Party guest at his cousin’s failed surprise birthday bash in The New Blood, Nick rebuffs the come-ons of bitchy Melissa to fall for telekinetic girl-next-door Tina, who has just resurrected Jason from his watery grave. He doesn’t do a whole lot to help put him back, but of the Crystal Lake FB’s he’s easily the one you’d never get bored of staring at.

*

sean scott reeves friday the 13th part viii jason takes manhattan 1989

Sean Robertson (Scott Reeves)

If you and your graduating class got a celebratory cruise to New York City, would you really want to go on your dad’s vessel? No, but Sean is a good son who can’t live up to pop’s expectations, but is forced to take the captain’s role when Jason bloodlessly hacks his way through everybody else on the ship.

Nod also to Toby the dog, who survives the carnage!

*

steven freeman jon d. lemay jason goes to hell the final friday 1993

Steven Freeman (John D. LeMay)

Unwitting nephew-by-marriage of Jason Voorhees, Steven also has no clue he’s a father until his ex rocks back into town with their baby, just as a resurrected-through-other-bodies Jason is also planning a homecoming, culminating in a fierce battle for the soul of the surviving members of the Voorhees bloodline to send Jason to hell. He’s one of the few characters ever to wear glasses and not die (although he loses them part way through).

LeMay is notable for having played a different role in the unrelated Friday the 13th TV series.

*

tsunaron chuck campbell jason x 2001

Tsunaron (Chuck Campbell)

Intergalactic student from the year 2455, Tsunaron’s survival in Jason X is a bit of an afterthought as, unlike most other final guys in the franchise, he’s neither related to nor romantically involved with the final girl, and kind of just happens to be in the right place at the right time. His love for android Kay-Em might qualify I guess, as she technically survives, albeit as a decapitated robot head.

*

will jason ritter freddy vs jason 2003

Will Rollins (Jason Ritter)

Institutionalized Springwood teen Will exists on a diet of Hypnocil and refusing to deny the truth of Freddy Krueger. But when his love Lori finds herself at the centre of Jason’s reign of terror – orchestrated by Krueger – Will breaks out to rescue her, and the two of them end up as the last kids standing in the crossfire of their battle.

*

clay miller jared padalecki friday the 13th 2009

Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki)

Supernatural star Padalecki had already done House of Wax and Cry_Wolf before landing the role of lead guy in the 2009 Friday reboot, which sees him frantically searching for his missing sister, Whitney, employing the help of Crystal Lake vacationer, Jenna, while following clues and discovering the legend of Jason Voorhees is true!

Well done guys, you all made it! Except maybe you, Paul : /

Slashifying the Classics Part II: Poe

masqueTHE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH

3 Stars  1989/18/89m

“Death is the life and soul of the party.”

Director: Alan Birkinshaw / Writers: Edgar Allan Poe & Michael J. Murray / Cast: Herbert Lom, Michelle McBride, Frank Stallone, Brenda Vaccaro, Christina Lunde, Simon Poland, Christobel d’Ortez, Foziah Davidson, Lindsay Reardon, Godfrey Charles.

Body Count: 10


Shot in South Africa, this is one of two adaptations of Poe’s story shot in 1989, morphed into a masquerade ball slasher pic by screenwriter Michael Murray. In this version, a red caped and masked fiend sends a group of attendees to the slab.

Pretty McBride is a journalist who snuck in to try and get some snaps and a story from loudmouth soap star Vaccaro at the final party of the mysterious Ludwig (Lom) in his creepy Bavarian castle. Those up for the chop include actors, designers, and doctors with whom he is somewhat intimately associated. They’re offed by sword, axe, and even razor sharp pendulum.

Frank Stallone gets top billing for his rather marginal part, but McBride carries the weight of the film as the sympathetic – and ever so slightly simpleminded – heroine. Lom is good in his is he/isn’t he role of host.

Most observers have dismissed this as a travesty to Poe’s work, but if an interesting take on the tale, marred by the revelation of the rather comedic killer, which unearths a couple more twists before a rather satisfying end to their evildoings. Silly laughs do divert proceedings time and again, although there’s one honest gag at the end of the credits which is worth hanging on for.

Blurb-of-interest: Birkinshaw directed British oddity Killer’s Moon in 1978.

Slashifying the Classics

phantom of the opera 1989 robert englund

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

3.5 Stars  1989/18/89m

“Only love and music are forever.”

Director: Dwight H. Little / Writers: Gaston Leroux & Duke Sandefur / Cast: Robert Englund, Jill Schoelen, Alex Hyde-White, Bill Nighy, Stephanie Lawrence, Terence Harvey, Nathan Lewis, Peter Clapham, Molly Shannon.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “Everybody dies. I only choose the time and place for a few.”


Robert Englund likely sailed through any audition process to play another homicidal burn victim, in the 83rd take on the Gaston Leroux novel – although any associations with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical are mercifully absent.

One-time scream queen Jill Schoelen is Christine, a young operative vocalist who spins back to her previous life in nineteenth century London after a bang on the head at an audition. When the Phantom scares the wits out of the Faust Diva, Christine takes over, while the Phantom knocks off anyone who gets in the way of her success.

Largely shot in Budapest, the slasher elements are brought to the fore, with victims decapitated, gutted, and impaled in several gruesome scenes, that were significantly cut down to avoid an X-rating. The producer almost bankrupted himself pouring money into the film, which subsequently tanked.

phantom of the opera 1989 jill schoelen robert englund

Despite this, Englund looks to relish flexing his acting muscle without having a razor glove attached to him, and Elemer Ragalyi’s lush photography fashions a fine looking film. The cast, too, is peppered with recognisable faces and before-they-were-famous names. Perhaps the concept of and upgraded slasher film or downgraded classic, depending how you look at it, is what killed it in the end, but at least it makes for an arty and credible diversion from the usual teens-at-a-party slasher fare. A sequel planned to take place in New York (The Phantom Takes Manhattan?) starring Englund was eventually canned.

Blurbs-of-interest: Aside from playing Freddy Krueger in eight movies, Englund can also be found in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie VernonHatchetHeartstopper, and Urban Legend; Schoelen was in The StepfatherCutting Class, and Popcorn; Terence Harvey was later in similar 19th century slasher variant From Hell; Dwight H. Little directed Halloween 4 the previous year.

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