“But ya can’t go back…”

As the 90s teen horror set turns twenty and we see the ‘teen’ actors appearing in bit-parts on TV playing parents, it’s nice to look back on how much the genre propped itself up on its brethren in terms of marketing – don’t you miss the standard aesthetic?poster-faces2“You know the drill people – line up in a triangular formation. Final girls to the front!”

Challenge yourself to a game of spot the stars: Kelly Brook, James McAvoy, Isla Fisher, and 2 x Eva Mendes.

The Chinese Chainsaw Massace

the deadly camp 1999


1 Stars  1999/81m

Director/Writer: Bowie Lau / Cast: Anthony Wong, Benny Lai, Winnie Leung, Samuel Leung, Lam Tsz Sin, Chak Pui Wan, Ling Ling Chui, Cham Nam Wing, Andy Tsang.

Body Count: 13

I spent a fair whack of time asking about the movie when I backpacked around China in 2006-07 and nobody had heard of it – but were practically brimming over with all manner of American straight-to-DVD horror films to distract me with instead. This may well have been the universe looking out for me as, twelve years later, getting through this pretty abysmal flick made the 81 minutes feel like twelve years.

In spite of being made in 1999, if the mentions of cellphones and DV cameras were removed, you might think this was unearthed from 1984, as three teen couples take a boat out to a deserted island for “3 nights of partying!!” but run afoul of a bandage-masked dweller of the jungle who doesn’t take kindly to intruders and rocks a mean chainsaw (where is he getting the gas for it?)

Also on the isle are four smugglers looking for their missing friends (‘sawed up in the prologue), posing as ‘condom salesmen’ (a trade which they even have a song about), who accidentally set fire to the mentally disabled son of bandage-dude, who then hunts them down to take revenge.

deadly camp 1999

Eventually, things turn into a sort of pre-Wrong Turn turn as two of the group are captured. Despite hearing them scream, the others decide to wait on the beach until the boat comes back! When the killer comes to them instead, they flee into the trees for a showdown, until athletic lead Ken goes all MacGuyver with tentpoles, rocks, rope, and a radio playing a slushy ballad to bait the killer in.

The Mandarin to English translations are mostly reliable, albeit with a few cute grammatical slips (“it’s so scaring!”), some surprising nudity, and a really awkward scene where a captured victim attempts to teach the killer’s son to masturbate in preparation for raping the guy’s own girlfriend!

Sadly, the low-end production values, bizarre tangents (the ‘erotic jokes’ scene is just… well, you wait n’ see), and shallow characters do nothing to help an already years out of date plot that sadly wasn’t a reaction to the Scream-smart resurgence.

deadly camp 1999

This was one sentence I actually understood from the Mandarin I learned – and used repeatedly – for my trip.


malevolence 3 killer 2018 dvd


3 Stars  2018/89m

Director/Writer: Stevan Mena / Cast: Katie Gibson, Kevin McKelvy, Jay Cohen, Alli Caudle, Kelsey Deanne, Scott Kay, Todd Litzinger, Andy Striph, Victoria Mena, Reed Davis, Ashley Wolfe, Adrienne Barbeau, Graceann Dorse.

Body Count: 12

Laughter Lines: “I had to hold his thing so he wouldn’t piss on himself when he went to the bathroom. He probably would’ve complained if he still had his voicebox.”

Malevolence was a film I raved about in the 00s – a showcasing of what can be achieved on low budget via a filmmaker with an eye for great visual setups, even if we’d seen many of them before. Curiously, I’ve yet to review it here. The 2010 prequel, Bereavement, was as handsome, but a sadly dull affair, albeit furnished with a couple of names. Truth be told, I’d all but forgotten about the series when this popped up out of nowhere. The final part of a trilogy that you have to watch as 2 then 1 then 3.

Perhaps Mena took on board some critiques that the first film wasn’t slashy enough and so almost goes ballistic in body count terms for the closing (?) chapter, which picks up right where the first one left off (I’ve waited 15 years to find out what happened after that closet door opened!) – Martin Bristol is on the run, having offed a couple of bank robbers and various nubile teen girls over the years.

malevolence 3 killer 2018

With the FBI looking for him, Martin stalks the surrounding locus of his old homestead, now occupied by three college girls: He offs their sleazy landlord with a lawnmower blade to the head, various neighbours, boyfriends, and finally starts stalking the girls. Devoted violinist Ellie is looking after the neighbour’s daughter, Victoria, after her mom vanishes (read: has been stabbed) and slips into the final girl shoes to escape.

Meanwhile, the feds have tracked down Martin’s mother, living with grandma (the always welcome Barbeau), as they think he’ll naturally navigate himself home again.

Where the original film favoured Friday the 13th Part 2 stylings, things shift to look like Halloween was the primary influence. In fact, with no explanation, the lay viewer might be fooled into thinking they’re actually watching an also-ran from the late 80s given the overarching look of it, with mucho boiler-suited shoulders creeping into the side of the frame and from-head-down creeping.

malevolence 3 killer 2018

As before, acting and dialogue is occasionally a little amateurish and the script too humourless given how dependent on now-laughable clichés it is. Those genre fans looking for modern horror to embrace the tropes of olde in an un-ironic fashion should lap this up as it ticks just about every box from visual composition to a tinkering score that Harry Manfredini could’ve delivered, via a sea of people looking for the missing knife that was just there a moment ago and nobody locking any doors then complaining when people appear from nowhere, squealing “How did you get in!?”

Given that it announces itself as the final part of the series, the ending is also something of a flatline, with the expected reunion of mother and son unwisely written off as a dream sequence and leaving things open for another ten more if Mena so desires.

malevolence 3 killer 2018

All the fun of the fear

hell fest 2018


3 Stars  2018/18/89m

“Fun going in. Hell getting out.”

Director: Gregory Plotkin / Writers: William Penick, Christopher Sey, Stephen Susco, Seth M. Sherwood, Blair Butler, Akela Cooper / Cast: Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Christian James, Matt Mercurio, Roby Attal, Tony Todd, Stephen Conroy.

Body Count: 6

A surprise big screen slasher flick that came along just before Halloween, undoubtedly cashing in on the success of Happy Death Day (albeit in a super limited release in Europe). This straightforward loon-stalks-teens-at-the-fair fare contains almost zero surprises, but is nicely pieced together and can boast some decent practical FX work.

The hooded and masked assailant has a penchant for stabbing shrieking girls at interactive horror events. Bystanders think they’re watching actors, who’s gonna help? Student Natalie returns to her hometown for the weekend and ends up dragged along by her best friend Brooke, annoyingly enthusiastic Taylor, their respective boyfriends, and her own crush Gavin. They go through mazes, on ghost trains, act a little more scared than is likely, and Natalie is creeped out by hoodie man, who keeps turning up wherever they go, until it turns out there are a dozen or so actors in the same mask.

hell fest 2018

Against all conceivable odds, this guy succeeds in trapping each of the gang alone in a crowded park for long enough to stab, hammer, and syringe them to death, all the time anxious to get his paws on Natalie – though curiously squandering a couple of opportunities to do so for no apparent reason. His teleporting abilities notwithstanding, there are some tense situations here and there and a good turn from Forysth as the heroine: She beats him with a weapon until the thing breaks, rather than the customary one smack before dropping it.

755 slasher movies before this have left me a little jaded and I could see where it was headed at every turn, possibly diluted by the whopping six credited writers – a case of too many cooks in the kitchen? Though it turned a moderate profit, I doubt Hell Fest II will be gracing our screens anytime soon, but in the realms of does-what-it-says-on-the-box plotting, there’s enough to like here from the remnants of The FunhouseDark Ride, and a few lesser Halloween haunted house walk-throughs..

hell fest 2018 bex taylor-klaus

Blurbs-of-interest: Bex Taylor-Klaus was audrey in Scream – The TV Series (Seasons 1-2); Tony Todd was Candyman, Bludworth in Final Destination‘s 12, and 5Hatchet and its first sequeliMurdersJack the Reaper, and Scarecrow Slayer.

Hatchet: H10

victor crowley hatchet 4 2017


3 Stars  2017/18/80m

A.k.a. Hatchet 4

“Return to his swamp.”

Director/Writer: Adam Green / Cast: Parry Shen, Kane Hodder, Laura Ortiz, Dave Sheridan, Krystal Joy Brown, Felissa Rose, Brian Quinn, Tiffany Shepis, Chase Williamson, Katie Booth, Tyler Mane, Danielle Harris.

Body Count: 16

Laughter Lines: “The guy’s so full of shit, he could open a shit restaurant with… shit.”

The Hatchet series and I aren’t the best of buddies: The first one was so-so, the second one an enjoyable improvement (not least because I was sat just a few feet from the leading cast members and Adam Green where it was screened), and the less said about the third one the better. So, it was with considerable hesitance I approached the ten year anniversary one, a sort of H20 for much-abused Parry Shen, who, with Kane Hodder, is the only cast member to grace all four instalments.

Adam Green always seems to be bursting with enthusiasm whenever I’ve seen him interviewed at various FrightFest thingies, so I’d hate to not like his output. Fortunately, Victor Crowley is quite possibly the best of the series so far. That’s not to say j’adored every single one of the 80 minutes, but it certainly struck the best balance between grue and LOL moments, which give it an endearing appeal. Its three predecessors had it too, but the wit is sharper this time around.

victor crowley 2017 parry shen krystal joy brown hatchet 4

Andrew Yong (Shen) was the only survivor of the Honey Island Swamp massacre of 2007 (his paramedic role in the third one) and has cashed in where possible and written a book about his experiences. Naturally, various conspiracists think he was the killer and that Victor Crowley is just the same old legend it always was. After appearing on the daytime talk show hosted by his bitchy ex-wife Sabrina (Brown), his walking pharmacy publicist Kathleen (the ever-adorbs Felissa Rose) convinces him to say yes to the offer of $1million to fly over the swamp while they film is reaction to returning there.

Anyone who’s seen Jurassic Park III will know what’s going to happen. The plane crashes, killing some of those aboard, and stranding the rest right in the spot where Crowley prowled and, thanks to a young filmmaker, is resurrected after the voodoo curse that brought him back before is inadvertently recited via a YouTube clip on someone’s phone.

victor crowley 2017 felissa rose

The remainder of Victor Crowley is a dilemma flick where those stuck inside the slowly sinking fuselage try to work out their escape route without being on the receiving end of an axe, belt-sander (“somebody actually left a belt-sander out here for ten years!”), or their own hand being inserted up their… well, you’ll see. Each and every contrivance gets its own gag to play off the myriad of convenient turns that most slasher flicks take, showcasing Green’s considerable comic timing as a writer (learned from Holliston, no doubt); the film drips with as many jokes as it does body parts and Green is clearly having a ball attending to each and every facet – though the male nudity to equal out the usual T&A excesses was a choice.

Where to go from here? Given the mid-credits scene, we could well be seeing a fifth film before too long, but how many more horror faces can Green possibly knock off? Here we see Tyler Mane, Tiffany Shepis, and Felissa Rose in peril, joining the ranks of Robert Englund, Tony Todd, Caroline Williams, Zach Galligan, John Carl Buechler, Derek Mears, and Josh Leonard. Coming early to the (probable) wave of reunited scream queens and killers a la Halloween is a smart move – perhaps Tobin Bell, Heather Donahue, and some Saw or Final Destination cast members next time?

victor crowley 2017 laura ortiz kane hodder hatchet 4

Blurbs-of-interest: Parry Shen and Tiffany Shepis were both in Dead Scared; Shepis was also in Basement JackBloody Murder 2Scarecrow, and Home Sick; Dave Sheridan was in Scary Movie; Felissa Rose was Angela in the original Sleepaway Camp and its third sequel, and also was in Camp Dread (with Danielle Harris); Tyler Mane was Michael Myers in both of Rob Zombie’s Halloween films; Danielle Harris was in Halloween‘s 4 and 5, plus both Rob Zombie films, Blood NightChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2See No Evil 2Urban Legend, and was an extra in The Town That Dreaded Sundown; Kane Hodder was Jason in Friday the 13th‘s 7-10, and appears in Children of the Corn VBehind the Mask, and Hack!; Joe Lynch who directed Wrong Turn 2, cameos as one of the pilots (the other is Adam Green).

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