School’s Out. Again.

death bell 2 bloody camp dvd 2010

DEATH BELL 2: BLOODY CAMP

3.5 Stars  2010/86m

Director: Seon-dong Yu / Writers: Park Hye-min, Lee Jeong-hwa, Lee Gong-ju / Cast: Ji-Yeon Park, Jeong-eum Hwang, Su-ro Kim, Ah-Jin Choi, Shi-yoon Yoon, Chang-wuk Ji, Hyun-Sang Kwon, Bo-ra Nam, Yoon Seung-ah, Ho Jun Son, Eun-Bin Park

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “How many white girls have you slept with in the States?”


In the 2008 original, top students at a school are forced into Crystal Maze-like traps that kill them should their classmates fail to figure out the brainteaser presented to them.

Well, it’s pretty much a complete retread for round 2, so much so the film runs exactly the same duration and one of the cast members returns, albeit in a different role.

At the end of the school year, the top 30 students at a school are kept back for a week to participate in a study camp to duke it out in the class rankings. We learn that shy Se-hee’s step-sister Cheong-tae apparently committed suicide some time earlier in the school’s swimming pool.

During a late-night study session, the students awake (I’m not sure if they were drugged?) to find the words “When an innocent mother is killed, what son would not avenge her death?” written on the blackboard and moments later a dead body falls through the ceiling. A tanoy announcement informs the group that they will start dying one by one if they cannot figure out what’s happening and why.

death bell 2 bloody camp 2010

Strict teacher Mr Cha and shy newcomer Miss Park do their best to keep everyone calm, but one straggler is slashed up by a motorbike with blades affixed to the wheels, that continually rides up and down the corridor he’s trapped in; a girl’s medication is swapped for poison; another is taken down by a rigged nail-gun trap and Se-hee experiences flashbacks of her life with the late Cheong-tae, whom she secretly despised.

More deaths occur with a couple of puzzles to thwart them that brainiac Se-hee solves, and it becomes clear that those being knocked off are in some way involved with the suicide.

Death Bell 2 is so identical to Death Bell 1 that you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching the same film. In fact I began watching the original for several minutes before I realised the discs were mislabelled: Dead girl, mournful friend/final girl, smart kids locked in the school…

death bell 2 bloody camp 2010

The reveal is not as smart but the film can at least boast great visuals, acting, and structure: K-horror unfolds in a non-linear style, with past event flashbacks intermittently appearing to back-fill the story but not always in chronological order. It makes for a fascinating, long-arc style process you’d expect in a TV series.

More character development would help here, as some individuals are barely allotted names before they either die or vanish from the film completely.

Christmasogyny

all through the house 2016

ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE

2 Stars  2016/89m

“There is a creature stirring.”

Director/Writer: Todd Nunes / Cast: Ashley Mary Nunes, Melynda Kiring, Jason Ray Schumacher, Danica Riner, Natalie Montera, Lito Velasco, Cathy Garrett, Jessica Cameron.

Body Count: 12

Laughter Lines: “Jonathan Curtis ruined my childhood!” / “Strange how you lost your virginity to him…”


Nicely put together but ultimately disappointing chapter in the Killer Santa subgenre, which plays enough like the recent Silent Night remake to make a dog tilt its head in confusion. Spoilers follow.

Non-descript girl Rachel (who is she? what does she do?) drops by to see her potty-mouthed wheelchair-bound grandmother during the holidays, and is cajoled into helping the slightly kooky neighbour Mrs Garrett put up decorations later that night, after some last minute shopping with her gal-pals, who tag along to help out.

Meanwhile, a wackadoo in a Santa outfit and admittedly creepy grey mask is slashing and shearing various locals, chopping the dicks off the male victims, both of whom are ambushed while prepping for sex. Most of the slain are scantily-clad women as usual, including yet another pair of yawn-inducing token lesbians. Seriously, when will this fucking annoying trope end? It’s in everything.

all through the house 2016

Rachel wants to find out the truth about her mother, who she believes abandoned her, and also about Mrs Garrett’s housebound daughter, Jamie, who vanished fifteen years earlier. It’s all related of course, people are keeping secrets, blah blah blah. More women are slashed up until Rachel stumbles into the trap the (obvious) antagonist has set, and the overlong final act/chase/exposition tick-tocks by.

By the end it’s the same old same old domineering mother-raises-genderless-child nonsense. Naturally, this makes the killer angry towards women, but not men. How about an asshole Dad for once who makes his offspring pissed at jackass guys rather than bimbo babes? At the start, it looked as if All Through the Night might elevate itself above the pitfalls that plague low-end slasher films, its better-than-usual production unities aiding to some degree, but the gore FX are overdone and the sexism is uncomfortable.

all through the house 2016Blurb-of-interest: Jessica Cameron was in The Sleeper.

 

Ghost of Krampus Past

12 deaths of christmas 2017 mother krampus

12 DEATHS OF CHRISTMAS

2 Stars  2017/18/91m

A.k.a. Mother Krampus

“Deck the halls with blood and bodies.”

Director: James Klass / Writer: Scott Jeffrey / Cast: Claire-Maria Fox, Tony Manders, Faye Goodwin, Tara MacGowran, Tom Bowen, Michelle Archer, Dottie James, Sian Crisp, Oliver Ebsworth.

Body Count: 13


It doesn’t bother me that some films are made with budgets so low they can only disappoint in the same way that the attractive looking gift under the tree turns out to be a hand-me-down Bible your sister used to own (this happened to me one year).

What royally pisses me off is that more effort appears to go into creating box art designed almost to dupe the casual HMV browser into picking up said film. The DVD cover for 12 Deaths of Christmas is significantly more interesting than the 91 minutes of content. And those 5-star reviews? Two of them I cannot even find anywhere and is ‘mind numbingly terrifying’ really a superlative? Not a good start.

Anyway – let’s breathe, sip some Rekoderlig, and regroup. An overlong narrator-title-card combo tells us that kids were murdered in 1921 in the English town of Belgrave. It happened again in 1992, and the locals blamed and hanged local hag Molly insert-spooky-surname-here. Twenty-five years later, all little Amy wants for Christmas is for her parents to get back together. Classmate Callum has a crush on her. Grandpa’s got a not-so-secret drinking problem.

12 deaths of christmas 2017 mother krampus

A new rash of child disappearances has begun to plague the town (the first such scene stirs up nice echoes of IT), and a group of people who Know What You They Did Last Christmas gather at the church to ponder the possibility that Molly has returned to collect on the hex she put on them before her death. Some say ‘yeah, whatevs!’, others are scared. Children continue to disappear.

There’s an amusing scene where a vile child dares her babysitter to scare her, so said teen girl tells her the legend of Frau Perchta, which is the standard Candyman say-the-name-X-times-in-front-of-mirror gag (fitfully, the girl knows of this and comments on it). But it works, and the hag manifests. Most LOL-ingly, the babysitter sends the child from their hiding place to get to the phone while she stays concealed!

The second half of the film is set pretty much entirely with Amy’s family on Christmas Day, when Dad does come over, but brings his new girlfriend with. Witch attacks. Revelations. Twist. Blah blah blah.

12 deaths of christmas 2017 mother krampus

In spite of the title, the ’12 deaths’ are just about cobbled together from flashback scenes, missing kids who we only assume are toast as they’re never seen again, and otherwise most scenes of violence are directed at younger women, a facet of the genre that irritates me no end. The new girlfriend is clearly destined to die as soon as she walks on set, and although Dad left Mum and daughter for her, he lives on for quite a while longer, while she is stabbed, tied up, and carved to shit with an electric knife. Then there are the non-murder deaths: Accidental kills, those committed by parties other than the killer etc. Fuck, I’ve run out of cider.

While brave to cash in on the post-Krampus wave (the film is known as Mother Krampus across the pond), the £££ needed to do the tale justice sadly just isn’t there, and the film suffers because of it – although it’s sufficiently well acted (even – gasp! – the child actors do well). Brings to mind the similar-looking Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming from a few years back.

Blurb-of-interest: Michelle Archer was in the remake of Unhinged.

La luna de la mierda

bloody moon 1981

BLOODY MOON

1 Stars  1981/18/85m

“Don’t panic, it only happens once in a [Bloody Moon]”

A.k.a. Die Sage Des Todes (The Legend of Death)

Director: Jesus Franco / Writer: Rayo Casablanca / Cast: Olivia Pascal, Christoph Moosbrugger, Nadja Gerganoff, Jasmin Losensky, Corinna Gillwald, Ann-Beate Engelke, Peter Exacoustos, Maria Rubio, Alexander Waechter

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “If we could just get rid of everyone around us… then things could go back to how they were.”


If Bloody Moon was intended to be the Scary Movie of its day, I might be able to see past the fact it has a 5.3 rating on IMDb, but it’s seemingly played straight, rendering it one of the more misogynistic and unarguably awful exports of the early days. I imagine its residency on the Video Nasties list of the 80s has probably afforded it some credibility it’s entirely unworthy of.

A German-Spanish co-production, things begin with a disco at a Spanish language school, where a facially-scarred man procures a Mickey Mouse mask and fools a girl into thinking he’s someone else and then, when sex clearly fails, he settles for stabbing the girl with scissors instead in a scene that really plays into the accusations of woman-hating rhetoric in the genre: She gargles orgasmically as goes at her over and over in a play on sex he’s incapable of performing.

Five years later, the man – Miguel – is released into the custody of his sister, Manuela, who runs the language school, much to the chagrin of her aunt/owner, the wheelchair bound hag, Countess Maria Gonzales. They enjoy an incestual relationship they wish to keep quiet – see Laughter Lines.

bloody moon 1981

No sooner does new student Angela rock up, the bouncy look-a-like girls of the school start getting murdered in graphically stupid ways. There’s little character development to show, they gossip about caretaker Antonio being the best lover on campus (there’s a second mentally deficient caretaker as well, of course). He asks Angela why she’s there and she replies she can speak fluent Spanish, and reels off a bunch of Schwarzenegger phrases. If she’s fluent – why is she there?

Angela is to room in the bungalow where the murder took place five years before. You know, the one where the perpetrator has been allowed back to live in the very same place? First to go is her friend Ava, who asks to borrow a sweater and then gets stabbed through the boob. Angela finds the body, screams, and of course by the time help comes, it’s gone, there’s no blood, and the murder mystery she’s reading is blamed for a nightmare. Her own clothes also change mid-scene from nightgown to floral print sweater.

When Ava doesn’t show for class, Angela worries, and in a pre-I Still Know What You Did Last Summer karaoke-machine moment, her language recording is interrupted with a message saying “I’m going to kill you and chop you up” etc. Of course, when teech comes over, no such voices.

bloody moon 1981

Angela then goes down to the harbour to look for Ava and a falling rock nearly kills her. She flags down two motorcycle cops who direct her to the warning on the sign. Her reply: “What good does a sign do when I can’t understand it?” Strike two against her fluency declaration.

Back at school, other girl Inga pretends to be having sex but isn’t. The other girls laugh at her through the window and she’s all like “I’ll have the best sex ever – you’ll see!!” and in the next scene she’s going past Angela down at the harbour in a car with the killer!? He drives her to some crumbling old mill and she allows him to tie her to a slab, saying “Hey I normally wouldn’t do this, but OK, as it’s you…” and then: “I still don’t know what you look like, why don’t you take off your mask?”

I mean, fucking hell, COME ON? She willingly goes off with a non-speaking masked guy to an abandoned place in the middle of nowhere and allows him to tie her up.

bloody moon 1981

Anyway, the slab thingy moves and a buzz-saw comes along, takes forever getting there, while some spying little kid tries to intervene and save her, the head comes off eventually and it’s anti-climactic and crap FX-wise. But then Franco throws in something a bit taboo: The fleeing child is cruelly run over by the killer.

Aaaaand back to the school again: Angela is convinced the killer is after her and barricades herself in her room and stabs a mannequin. Where the fuck did that come from, you ask? Like many goings-on here, it’s left unexplained. Laura says Angela reads too many scary books and offers to go get some drinks from the ‘Disco Club’ at the school (!??) but is killed with some garden-prong-thingy on her way back.

The killer attacks and Miguel tries to save the day, while Angela flees for help. The revelations that follow seem more at home in a soap opera than a horror film, but suffice to say, there’s more bloodletting, double-crossing, the obvious identity of the killer is revealed, and somebody utters this priceless line: “He came at me, you remember that! And just be damn sure to remember it.”

bloody moon 1981

Took me awhile but I realised the left image isn’t the shears making contact with her face, merely a promo shot cannily reproduced from the actual scene on the right.

Bloody Moon is just stitched together failed scenes; a slasher film based on the most rudimentary understanding of the genre where girls are either naked or stupid and nothing more, shot on the cheap with little care going into a cohesive script and hardly any visual flair ether – look out for the zoom where a chair obscures the subject’s face. The dubbing is also one of the more comically bad efforts out there (“just let yourself melt into my arms!”), and the moon isn’t even shown, let alone bloody in any way.

Undistilled crap from start to finish.

“Keep that weird man away from my girls!”

basag ang pula 1984

BASAG ANG PULA

3 Stars  1984/118m

Title Translation: Crazy

Director: Ben G. Yalung / Writer: Tony A. Calvento / Cast: Maria ‘Snooky’ Serna, Ace Vergel, Liza Lorena, Armida Siguion Reyna, Angela Perez, George Estregan, Bomber Moran, Arnold Mendoza, Debraliz Velasote.

Body Count: 16


Despite some years backpacking, I never got as far as the Philippines so know next to nothing about the place – go see the awesome Kaijunu at Sticky Red to learn things. But wonderful site comment-depositor Jenny Lo alerted me to both the existence of this film, and where to watch it.

Like some Indian and Pakistani films, this is presented largely in its regional language – Tagalog – with maybe 15-20% of dialogue uttered in English. Tagalog sounds a little similar to Spanish. Is it? I dunno.

Anyway, a couple of people are murdered and their moustached, itinerant killer, Fernando, who then attacks some necking teenagers, but only succeeds in killing the boy, while the girl alerts the cops and the hunt is on. He hides out in a school bus, killing the driver and hiding at the back, with the body, while numerous perky schoolgirls clamber aboard for a graduation trip.

basag ang pula 1984

For reasons not explained in English, they all get off the bus and wait for morning to go, by which time Fernando has decided to pose as the driver to flee town, and accompanies the class to a remote camp where they’re going to learn to grow as people n’ shit, under the guidance of strict headmistress, Nida.

Fernando is transfixed by nice girl Chiqui, who either is, or looks like a girlfriend of his from before. I think the latter. There’s a flashback where Fernando is shot by some gangsters who try to rape her.

He eventually flips and kills some of the girls and a boyfriend who rocks up. Meanwhile, Nida is having weird sub-lesbian encounters with a girl, while the others squeal over a ouija board as a storm rages outside.

The next night, one of the teachers catches Fernando in the act and we have about 25 schoolgirls running and shrieking at once. He’s kidnapped Chiqui, and there’s a very, very long dialogue scene – all in Tagalog – which I took to be her saying he needed to chill the fuck out. This gives the police time to come, and the final 20 minutes consists of marksmen hunting Fernando through the woods.

basag ang pula 1984

High bodycount, blood (though the version I saw was very aged and drained of colour), teens smoking pot, playing with spirit boards, lesbian teacher-student goings on… Basag Ang Pula ticks just about every box its American counterparts did, and were it a US production, it would doubtlessly be viewed as a classic. As it is, the film is so obscure it doesn’t even have the minimum five votes on IMDb. Super fun.

 

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