Ne Pas Avoir D’enfants

inside

INSIDE

3.5 Stars  2007/18/79m

“Don’t let her inside.”

Directors: Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo / Cast: Beatrice Dalle, Alysson Paradis, Nathalie Roussel, Francois-Regis Marchasson, Ludovic Berthillot, Emmanuel Lanzi, Nicolas Davauchelle, Aymen Saidi.

Body Count: 8


Here’s a weird failure – I watched this back in 2010 and obviously thought I’d added it to the site at the time, as my go-to wad of notes just says: “see hudsonlee.com”. Spoilers!

Soooo, this’ll be an awkward review as I don’t remember a whole lot about it beyond it being ridonkulously violent and gruesome, as – Wikipedia tells me – Vanessa Paradis’ youngser sister is an about-to-pop mom, whose husband died in the car crash she survived some months earlier.

Now, on Christmas Eve, a mystery woman shows up at her door asking to use the phone. Pregnant lady – Sarah – declines and when the woman gets weird, Sarah takes her photo through the window and from that, works out she’s been being stalked by this broad for some time.

Various other people find reasons to show up: A co-worker, Sarah’s mother, police, and crazy lady dispatches them all with knitting needles n’ such until the two go at it, and it’s revealed that crazy lady was in the other car and lost her baby, so now wants Sarah’s.

If you thought Haute Tension was going mental on the gross-o-meter, give this a spin. I’ve said it before and will again, but masses of blood doesn’t a great move make, and while Inside packs a lot of tension and a nail-biting dilemma, I’ve never wanted to see it again in the decade that has elapsed, so maybe it’s a good thing I’ve forgotten much of it.

Skate n’ stalk n’ slash

schizo 1976

SCHIZO

3 Stars  1976/18/104m

“When the left had doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.”

Director: Pete Walker / Writers: David McGillvray & Murray Smith / Cast: Lynne Frederick, John Leyton, Stephanie Beacham, John Fraser, Jack Watson, Queenie Watts, Trisha Mortimer.

Body Count: 5


British sleaze-merchant Pete Walker directed this pre-Halloween stalker, which borrows more than just its titular connotations from Psycho.

The late Lynne Frederick (last wife of Peter Sellers) is professional skater Samantha, whose marriage gains enough column inches to attract the attention of silent-psycho Watson, who takes a big knife and catches the first train into London ,where he commences a campaign of creepy phone calls and day-to-day stalkage, sending the woman into despair.

But… is he the black gloved maniac who starts killing her nearest and dearest? Long term collaborator McGillivray parted ways with Walker after this film, feeling that the attempts to railroad the viewer down an alley of assumption made the fiend’s actual identity too obvious. However, compared to the avalanche of mystery-slashers that would arrive in the 1980s, Schizo is quite competent in keeping the face of the killer quite uncertain until it chooses to reveal them.

Frederick appears to struggle with some of the material, especially in the presence of the ever-fabulous Stephanie Beacham, consigned to the loyal best friend role again, who turns detective on Samantha’s behalf. There are some good murders peppered throughout: A knitting needle through the head and out of the eye, and a man skewered by machinery he falls on to. Alas, a good minute or more was scissored by the BBFC and wasn’t restored on the cut I saw.

Subtler than Walker’s previous films, Schizo serves as an interesting example of the slow gathering of elements that would be cemented by Carpenter and Cunningham shortly after, even if it’s a slightly crass Hitchcock imitation in isolation, and a reminder of how vile British wallpaper patterns were in the 1970s.

Blurb-of-interest: Jack Watson was also in Tower of Evil.

Jack the Ripper Retelling #357

from hell 2001

FROM HELL

3.5 Stars  2001/18/117m

“Only the legend will survive.”

Directors: Albert Hughes & Allen Hughes / Writers: Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell, Terry Hayes & Rafael Yglesias / Cast: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane, Ian Richardson, Jason Flemyng, Katrin Cartlidge, Terence Harvey, Susan Lynch, Paul Rhys, Lesley Sharp.

Body Count: 8


If there is any sort of afterlife where the dead can observe the goings-on on Earth, I imagine whoever Jack the Ripper was, he’s chuckling at the sheer number of books, films, and documentaries about him. This time, the tale is grafted into a bleak slasher-cum-mystery box office hit, courtesy of twin-bro directors Albert and Allen Hughes, from the novel by Moore and Campbell.

Johnny Depp – along way from his humble Elm Street victim beginnings – is Abberline, an East End inspector with psychic abilities, who is assigned to find out who killed a local prostitute. True to the events of 1888, the murders continue and Abberline is drawn into the potentially dangerous possibility that the killer is part of a larger conspiracy that could harm the face of the Monarchy.

With a little help from final victim-to-be Mary Kelly (Graham) and the Queen’s ageing surgeon, Abberline begins piecing together the puzzle against the wishes of his pompous superiors, who frown at the theory that a ‘well-bred’ individual might be responsible. Meanwhile, gruesome slayings continue and the reality of the brutal dissections is rammed home – a ferocious throat-slashing sticks out – and the final notoriously stomach-churning act of evil is mercifully hardly shown.

from hell 2001 heather graham

The outcome is satisfying in terms of the world the film operates in, considering it’s unlikely the identity of the real Ripper will ever be 100% certain. The downbeat conclusion suits the grimy backdrop of Whitechapel and the observations of class differences in the era, but the almost I Know What You Did Last Summer-ness of the secret that the victims share requires some stretching of the imagination, that makes this “not just a slasher movie” movie feel more like a slasher movie.

Written out like this, the plot sounds quite stupid, but high-brow big screen slasher films, no matter how opaque they attempt to be, makes From Hell one of the more interesting variables on the genre conventions. Do not confuse with other JTR-pillaging slasher of 2001 Ripper: Letter from Hell.

Blurbs-of-interest: Depp appeared in another period-set slash-a-like Sleepy Hollow; Heather Graham played Casey in Stab in Scream 2; Jason Flemyng was in Seed of Chucky; Terence Harvey was in the 1989 slasher take on The Phantom of the Opera.

The Dolls of Death

tourist trap 1979

TOURIST TRAP

3 Stars  1979/15/90m

“Every year young people disappear…”

Director/Writer: David Schmoeller / Writer: J. Larry Carroll / Cast: Chuck Connors, Jocelyn Jones, Jon Van Ness, Tanya Roberts, Robin Sherwood, Keith McDermott, Dawn Jeffory.

Body Count: 6


Technically one of the very first post-Halloween teen horror pics to emerge, Tourist Trap was actually shot shortly before John Carpenter started rolling on his genre-confirming film, but was released in March of 1979, by which point Halloween had happened.

Co-produced by Irwin Yablans, TT draws a significant amount of inspiration from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre instead, with five youngsters (including a future Charlie’s Angel) diverted from a backroad to Slausen’s Lost Oasis due to car trouble. They’re welcomed by the happy-go-lucky owner, who shows them his brother’s mechanical mannequins and allows them to hang around while one of their number drives off to town in a borrowed truck to find assistance.

The three girls let curiosity get the better of them and individually wander off to explore the big house out back. They soon discover that it’s inhabited by a masked loon who also has psychic powers, which he uses to kill them, until nice-girl Molly is left to save the day.

The absence of Friday the 13th-styled influences is interesting in Tourist Trap, especially as certain sequences would feel right at home on the shores of Camp Crystal Lake, with characters rambling around in the dark telling their friends to quit trying to scare them. An obvious lack of significant budget sometimes gets in the way and the film has a fair whack of padding to reach the 90-minute finish line, but ultimately its surreal embellishments outweigh the negatives, utilising the creepiness of the dummies in the shadows to the maximum effect.

Given the cult-like status of this, I’m surprised it wasn’t immediately snatched up during the remake craze of the 2000s (possible because House of Wax got there first) but never say never!

Blurb-of-interest: Jon Van Ness was later in X-Ray.

Daddy Issues

trauma 1993TRAUMA

3 Stars  1993/18/102m

“Some nightmare haunt you. Some can kill you.”

Director/Writer: Dario Argento / Writers: T.E.D. Klein, Franco Ferrrini & Gianni Romoli / Cast: Asia Argento, Christopher Rydell, Piper Laurie, Frederic Forrest, James Russo, Brad Dourif, Hope Alexander-Willis, Cory Garvin.

Body Count: 11


Disclaimer: Giallo is not a horror sub-genre I’m that familiar with. I spin the more slasher-esque films and generally like them, but don’t get all angry if I don’t fall over myself screaming their praises. I can hear my Italian grandmother rolling in her grave.

The archetypal Argento excesses of gore and sex are somewhat played down in this later venture, a confusing flick shot in Minneapolis and starring his daughter, Asia, as an anorexic teenager named Aura, who escapes from the clinic where she’s being treated and returns home on the night her parents are beheaded by a loon known oh-so-subtley as the Headhunter.

Aura is taken in by TV crewmember David, and together they embark on solving the cases ahead of the cops (a-head of. LOL. LOL. LOLLYMCLOLLOL). The killer – who uses a retracting wire device that nearly squeezes the heads off of his quarry – is after the group of nurses and doctor who are hiding a bad secret. As usual, sexy long-haired women are the chief victims of the killer’s fury and most of the unlucky victims who get in his way are also female.

trauma 1993

The eventual revelation of who it is and why wraps up some of the hanging questions, but Trauma changes its mind several times and doesn’t bother dropping any hints or building of its backstory until it’s absolutely necessary, because the killer is now unmasked and, well, people wanna know, yo.

All the same, Argento’s signature directorial approach is played to the hilt, with flawlessly engaging photography throughout (yeah, that head down the shaft is… well… you’ll see), although why he chooses to shoot his own daughter topless is a curiosity best not speculated upon ’round these parts.

The same highs of Tenebrae and Opera aren’t hit, but definitely an engaging flick and one of the few high-end 90s body count films that came before Scream.

Blurbs-of-interest: Argento’s other slasher-esque films include OperaPhenomena (a.k.a. Creepers), Sleepless, and Tenebrae; Brad Dourif was the voice of Chucky in all Child’s Play films to date, and is also in Chain LetterColor of NightDead ScaredUrban Legend, and both of Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies.

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