Scream if you’ve had enough of these parodies

shriek if you know what i did last friday the 13th

SHRIEK IF YOU KNOW WHAT I DID LAST FRIDAY THE 13TH

2 Stars  2000/15/83m

“It’s a scream!”

Director: John Blanchard / Writers: Sue Bailey & Joe Nelms / Cast: Majandra Delfino, Harley Cross, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Tom Arnold, Danny Strong, Julie Benz, Simon Rex, Aimee Graham, Chris Palermo, Coolio, Shirley Jones.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “I killed my cousin, my heart’s broken, and my sister’s dead.”


In a race against the Wayans’ Scary Movie (originally titled Scream if You Know What I Did Last Halloween), you could feel a bit sorry for Shriek… as it didn’t make it past the cutting room quick enough and was consigned to a video release, while Scary Movie inexplicably carried on to generate several increasingly cringe-worthy sequels, not to mention Epic MovieDate MovieDisaster Movie ad infinitum.

Regardless of whomever got there first, Shriek… is largely a Xerox of its competitor, as we’re thrown into the lives of the exaggerated stereotypes who go to Bulimia High, who did something last summer that they’d rather forget about.

Ergo, much silliness ensues and death abounds – but not at the hands of the killer, which only makes it more annoying. In a (failed) attempt to try and be funny and original, the characters actually die from other things before the nutter has a chance to get them: Bee stings, coronaries, etc.

So there’s no murder count and 88% of the jokes are the same as in Scary Movie. To its credit though, there is an inspired parody of VH1’s old Pop-Up Video during the final chase scenes, and a couple of other almost-laughs along the way, but it all weighs down under the forehead-tappers of fart jokes, erection jokes, gay jokes, and a killer with absolutely no motive, most likely thought up at the last second.

Blurbs-of-interest: Delfino was in RSVP; Simon Rex was in several of the Scary Movie sequels.

Piano Keys and Problematic Killers

a blade in the dark 1983

A BLADE IN THE DARK

2.5 Stars  1983/18/104m

A.k.a. House of the Dark Stairway

Director: Lamberto Bava / Writers: Dardano Sacchelli & Elisa Briganti / Cast: Andrea Occhipinti, Anny Papa, Lara Naszinski, Michele Soavi, Valeria Cavelli, Fabiola Toledo, Stanko Molnar.

Body Count: 7


Giallo prestige Lamberto Bava merged the Italian genre prerequisites with American slasher cliches efficiently enough in this excessively violent title, which always seems a little forgotten in the scheme of things.

Occhipinti plays Bruno, a young composer commissioed by a director to score a horror movie. He rents a roomy, minimalist villa where the former tenant – the mysterious Linda – seems to have left something of a reputation imprinted.

When a stock beautiful young woman stops by to collect a her diary but then disappears, Bruno suspects something bad may have happened to her. His moody and secretive girlfriend Julia is more concerned with him seeing her perform in a play, and the groundskeeper Giovanni (for once not presented as mentally challenged!) likes to mind his own beeswax.

A friend of the missing girl then comes by and also vanishes, prompting Bruno to convince himself that the elusive Linda is somehow to blame …and also something to do with the plot of the movie he’s scoring.

Some genuinely tense set-ups distinguish A Blade in the Dark from its contemporaries, but it’s the near-repulsive violence that will loiter in your memory, as the heel-wearing killer dispatches victims with a nasty array of weaponry. Echoes of Dressed to Kill dominate the finale as well as a macabre twist to the final girl vs psycho sequence, but it’s ultimately flawed by its length and watered down story.

Blurb-of-interest: Michele Soavi directed Stagefright in 1986 and also acted in Absurd and Opera.

The Hellish Initiation Hazing Pledge Night Night

dead scared the hazing 2004

DEAD SCARED

3 Stars  2004/15/84m

“Best friends are hard to keep… alive.”

A.k.a. The Hazing

Director/Writer: Rolfe Kanefsky / Cast: Tiffany Shepis, Nectar Rose, Parry Shen, Brad Dourif, Jeremy Maxwell, Philip Andrew, David Tom, Charmaine DeGrate.

Body Count: 14

Laughter Lines: “You don’t understand, man! The book is evil!” / “And it will be punished – we’ll all take turns spanking it later, OK?”


On the surface, Dead Scared looks like just another cheap video flick that appeared in the post-Scream binge. So it comes as a pleasant surprise that the film manages to transcend its budgetary constrictions with a witty writing and sharp, sassy dialogue.

The fact that it doesn’t stick to the slasher rules like flypaper is also a plus, as it serves up a cut n’ shut plot reminiscent of both The Evil Dead and Hell Night: Five college pledges embark on a scavenger hunt set for them by senior members of their respective sorority/fraternity houses, which is to end with a night spent at an abandoned house where a murder occurred a zillion years earlier.

Too bad that two of them end up accidentally killing a creepy professor (Dourif) after they discover he’s into some dark rituals. Once gathered at the house, it transpired that he’s not so dead after all and his spirit possesses one of the pledges and sends them on a quest of gory carnage, with people being turned into mannequins or biting their own tongues off.

dead scared the hazing 2004

As the numbers dwindle, the final trio of teens are left to establish re-equilibrium. In a similar way to the previous year’s Detour (which also featured Shepis in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her cameo), it’s the characters who initially appeared least likely to survive who emerge victorious, with Rose as a man-eater who pretends to be a bimbo to get the guy she wants where she wants him.

Although short on fresh ideas for this type of venture, creator Kanefsky inks some great moments and exchanges and the plucky cast turn in surprisingly good performances, with Dourif’s comic charm elevating his comparatively minimal screentime to be the most memorable.

Blurbs-of-interest: Dourif voiced Chucky in all six Child’s Play outings, and was also in Trauma, Urban LegendChain Letter, and both of Rob Zombie’s Halloween re-do’s; Parry Shen was in all three Hatchet movies; Tiffany Shepis was also in Basement JackBloody Murder 2Home Sick, and Scarecrow; David Tom was in Stepfather III.

Face Lift/Rip.

scarred 2004

SCARRED

2.5 Stars  2004/18/84m

“They’re dying for her new look.”

Directors/Writers: Jon Hoffman & Dave Rock / Cast: Julian Berlin, Jonny Mack, Charity Shea, Hannah Leigh, David Austin, George Williams, Maxine Bahns, Pia Scott.

Body Count: 9

Laughter Lines: “We have a better chance if we split up.”


The declaration that “there’s a story about these woods…” sets into motion a series of events that dooms a family camping trip into the wilderness.

According to the park ranger who utters the line – and corresponding flashbacks – a backwoods hick who beat his wife regularly, caught her with a deformed trapper and, after knifing him, became enraged when wifey announced she was pregnant and later gave birth to a girl with the same skin condition. Years of barely suppressed rage later, he cut off the child’s face before burning down his house. Now, twenty years later, the child prowls the forest slicing the faces off pretty girls to mask her own.

Although Scarred explores no new territory, the first two thirds of the film are well enough aced by a game cast and the internal troubles of their secular family unit – they’re being forced to bond with dad’s new trophy wife – are explored thoughtfully.

When the feral killer turns up, things unfold in a slightly different manner than usual, with the freshly de-faced victims still alive and wandering deliriously around the forest. The third act sees formerly bitchy daughter Kim take the reigns of heroine and eventually save the day, albeit via a laughable confrontation with the killer, which goes down the Amy Steel route of posing as Mom to fool the nutter.

scarred 2004

T&A is off the menu and many of the killings occur off screen, although the scene where we witness just how a face is ripped off a shrieking victim is pretty intense. Ultimately another rent-a-psycho-with-a-particular-penchant video film, but ignore the (unintentional?) comedy and it’s a very watchable one at any rate.

Blurbs-of-interest: David Austin and Charity Shea were also in The Pumpkin Karver.

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