City of the Doll

Cult of Chucky is pending. I noticed I’ve only reviewed two of the other films in the series, so let’s countdown to the release by rectifying that…

Day One:

 

child's play 1988CHILD’S PLAY

3 Stars  1988/15/84m

“You’ll wish it was only make believe!”

Director: Tom Holland / Writers: Don Mancini, John Lafia & Tom Holland / Cast: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Dinah Manoff, Brad Dourif, Jack Colvin.

Body Count: 5

Laughter Lines: “He said Aunt Maggie was a real bitch and got what she deserved!”


The inauguration of a horror icon begins here with the hokey but fun enough debut, which gives us all the information we need as to how the spirit of the Lakeshore Stranger – Charles Lee Ray – projects his soul into a talking Good Guy doll using voodoo mumbo jumbo.

Said talking doll is purchased from a homeless guy by hard-up widow Karen Barclay, for her six-year-old son Andy’s birthday. Andy is overjoyed with his new friend, and soon begins relaying the slightly odd things Chucky is apparently telling him. This is bad news for his babysitter, who receives a blow to the face from a toy hammer and tumbles out of an apartment block window.

The homicide detective from the Strangler case is assigned and immediately suspects Andy of the killing and the death of the Strangler’s accomplice soon after. Andy is packed off to a clinic for observation, blaming Chucky who, of course, just prattles off his three phrases.

child's play 1988

Karen is quick to discover that there is more to Andy’s story when she finds the batteries that came with the doll are still in the box, in what’s easily the film’s creepiest scene. She tries to convince the detective but his instinct is to believe she’s just trying to protect her son from the consequences but then stumbles upon some coincidences between the case and that of the Strangler. Da-da-daaaaa!

Chucky himself finds that the longer he stays a doll, the harder it will be to find rebirth into a human soul and the more vulnerable to harm he becomes, and the only viable soul is that of the first person he revealed his true self to – Andy.

Relatively high-end production values distinguish this film from the dying slasher genre at the end of the 80s, raking in decent profits as Jason, Freddy, and Michael experienced diminishing returns. Child’s Play achieves its distinction – and probably a chunk of its success – to avoiding most slasher movie rules, at least in this first one, with murders by accident or voodoo as opposed to the doll-with-a-blade in the sequels.

child's play 1988 hicks sarandon

A fair amount of debt should be owed to Freddy Krueger, as Chucky soon becomes efficient with his potty-mouthed one-liners in Brad Dourif’s inimitable drawl. Imitators soon appeared in the shape of Puppetmaster (and its ten sequels!), Demonic ToysDolly Dearest, and even the more recent Annabelle, proving a degree gold had indeed been unearthed.

A lot of weight also rests on the shoulders of Alex Vincent who, aged just seven, does well with the dark material without descending into territory of annoying child who the audience secretly wants to see thrown into a meat grinder (see Absurd for that kid). He also gets to utter that awesome climactic line: “This is the end, friend!” For her part, Hicks does a great job as his beleaguered Mom and defacto final girl.

child's play 1988

Mancini’s original script was far more psychologically based, with the doll serving as an excuse for Andy’s psychosis and a critique of the marketing-to-children boom in the greed-obsessed 80s. Everyone remembers the urban legend about Cabbage Patch Kids right? As it is, despite the final act descending into outright parody as the doll that just won’t fucking die, something of a modern classic in spite of itself.

Blurbs-of-interest: Hicks was another Mom-on-the-run in 1982’s Death Valley, which featured another pre-teen kid as the lead; Alex Vincent returned for the next film as well as Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky; Brad Dourif was also in Chain LetterColor of NightDead Scared, Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies, Trauma, and Urban Legend.

The 50 Best Foreign* Slasher Flicks: 10-1

Whoop! Here we go – who is numero uno?

Go back and see: #50-41; #40-31; #30-21; #20-11

10: Deep Red (Italy, 1975)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 7.7

deep red 1975Psychic Helga Ulmann senses the nearby presence of an unhinged psycho and begins to take notes in the hope of identifying them, only for them to come and cleaver her to death. This is witnessed by her musician neighbour, who then teams up with a plucky reporter to uncover the identity of the loon.

I saw this one quite late so much of its effect had blunted due to so many body count movies, but the amazing revelation that we actually have seen the killer’s face earlier on is nothing short of excellent.

*

9: Dream Home (Hong Kong, 2010)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.7

dream house 2010

Hong Kong is one of my favourite cities, and affording a penthouse with a view of its admittedly stunning harbour is of such crucial important to bank employee Sheung, that she decides a spate of murders in her desired apartment block will force the prices to drop.

Sometimes staggeringly and disturbingly violent (the murder of the pregnant woman especially), but also darkly funny in part, this slasher satire is unflinchingly forthright with its grue and handsomely produced with an engaging non-linear narrative.

*

8: Opera (Italy, 1987)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 7.1

opera 1987

When the diva breaks her leg after being hit by a car, ingenue opera star Betty is given her big chance but finds instead that she is stalked by a psychotic black-gloved murderer who is obsessed with her and tapes needles beneath her eyes to force her to watch as he kills various people in her life in Argento’s usual grisly ways.

At least partly inspired by Stagefright (and also featuring the lead actress Barbara Cupisti), this is less of a straight-up body count affair – as is always the case with DA – but nonetheless features some icky demises and the usual overdose of awesome visuals.

*

7: Anatomie (Germany, 2000)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.1

anatomie 2000

A classy combo of 70s thriller Coma and Urban Legend, brilliant anatomy student Paula becomes suspicious when a classmate who had a rare heart condition ends up on the slab before her with gum-like blood. Some investigation uncovers a secret group of doctors who dissect living patients to get a closer look at diseases before they claim their victim’s life.

Amidst mucho medical chatter, there’s a solid slasher film at work, with some particularly awesome chase scenes towards the end.

*

6: Tenebrae (Italy, 1982)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 7.2

tenebrae 1982

Argento again, as a famous American writer promoting his latest novel in Rome seems to be at the centre of a series of grisly razor blade slayings. With the help of his young protege, he investigates a possible suspect while countless sexy young women are hacked and slashed to ribbons as usual.

Tenebrae could be the most ‘American’ of Argento’s films (not that I’ve seen them all), with B-movie fixture John Saxon playing the agent of the main character. Wait for the inventive way the killer is modern-arted to death at the end.

*

5Julia’s Eyes (Spain, 2010)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.7

julia's eyes

Julia (Belen Reuda) has a degenerative sight disorder that is slowly blinding her. After her twin sister Sarah – ahead of her in the sight-loss department – apparently hangs herself, Julia suspects somebody else assisted, but every avenue she investigates seems to result in the deaths of people around her.

Mucho giallo posturing takes place in this Spanish gem, with an entirely creepy moment where a blind woman says to Julia: “There’s someone else here with you – he’s right behind you.”

*

4: A Bay of Blood (Italy, 1971)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.7

bay of blood 1971

Arguably the most important Italian giallo movie, a body count bonanza more than a little responsible for Friday the 13th‘s general outlook: Various people drawn to the home of a recently deceased countess are targeted by a killer or killers hungry for money, land, inheritance, whatever.

Nobody can be trusted and almost everyone is capable of killing to get their way, which sucks when you’re just one of a quartet of sexy teens who have no interest in any of it and just wants to party!

This has a veritable phone book of alternate titles around the world.

*

3: Haute Tension (France, 2003)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.8

haute tension 2003

While the French take credit for inventing cinema and I sat there in my film screenings wondering what the hell all the fuss was over Amelie, it can’t be denied that they scored most of a home-run with Haute Tension (a.k.a. Switchblade Romance), a straightforward slasher tale so brutal and so edge-of-your-seat it’s just wiser to sit on the floor from the beginning.

College girls Marie and Alex go to the latter’s farmhouse home for their break and the family are assaulted in the night by a nasty psycho who drives the creepiest truck this side of Duel. He offs the family and takes Alex away for nastier pursuits, unaware that Marie was even at the house. She follows to rescue her friend and spends the next hour dodging detection.

But then there’s that twist, so divisive it could end marriages. Personally I didn’t mind it, but would’ve preferred them not to try and be so clever.

*

2: Cold Prey II (Norway, 2008)

VeVo: 4.5 Stars
IMDb: 6.2

cold prey ii 2008

Showing the world how to do a proper sequel, Cold Prey II not only manages to get the leading lady back for another round with the Fjellmannen, but even has the other cast members back to play their corpses in a genuinely heartbreaking morgue identification scene.

Going down the Halloween II route, sole survivor Jannicke recovers while foolish authority types try to resuscitate the killer, who rises from his slumber to break necks, slash throats, and pulverise faces with extinguishers anew. A heartbeat behind the original in terms of tension.

*

1: Cold Prey (Norway, 2006)

VeVo: 5 Stars
IMDb: 6.4

cold prey 2006Shocker. Squeezing kilometres out of tried and tested methods, Cold Prey is quite rightfully holder of the crown of best non-American, non-Canadian, non-British, non-Irish, non-other-English-speaking-nation, non-foreign-but-pretending-to-be-American slasher movie.

Five young snowboarders take shelter at a seemingly abandoned ski-lodge after one of them breaks his leg, but find that it isn’t abandoned at all, and a hulking Jason-like figure lives there, who doesn’t take kindly to intruders.

Everything that happens has pretty much happened before in another film, but it’s all brought together so perfectly in Cold Prey you have to wonder why that Jason-in-winter Friday the 13th episode has never been forged ahead with.

* * *

So there we have it – Norway apparently produces the best non-English language slasher films. I’m a tad disappointed it was so obvious, and that both #1 and #2 were occupied by sibling films. Hey-ho.

Since starting this, there’ve been a number of other foreign language films that entered my life, and so these adorables would’ve surely featured too:

Basag Ang Pula (Philippines, 1984) – thanks to Jenny Lo!
Bloody Reunion 
(South Korea, 2006)
Cemetery of Terror (Mexico, 1985)
Death Bell 2: Bloody Camp (South Korea, 2010)
Trampa Infernal (Mexico, 1989)

The 50 Best Foreign* Slasher Flicks: 20-11

Almost there!!

Go check out: #50-41; #40-31; #30-21

20: Fear (Italy, 1981)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 5.4

fear 1981

Director Riccardo Freda, sometime mentor of Mario Bava, was already in his 70s when he helmed this comment on the slasher genre. An actor in a giallo film takes the weekend off to go visit Mom in her secluded country home, taking some friends from the film world with him. Once there, weird things happen: Girlfriend has massively long nightmares about spiders (with fingers!), the handyman dude acts all strange and stares a lot, and your off-the-shelf black-gloved maniac starts killing the newcomers one by one.

Cheesy as a slab of stilton floating in a fondue in the middle of Cheddar Gorge, Fear is a relatively obscure little gem of a flick, fun to watch and zany as fuck. Make a drinking game out of the number of times boobs ‘accidentally’ tumble out of the actresses’ blouses.

*

19: Scared (Thailand, 2005)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 5.5

scard 2005

A class trip doesn’t quite go as planned when their coach crosses a wooden bridge too flimsy to hold it, plunging everyone into the river below. The survivors clamber ashore and find a deserted hamlet that’s rigged with dozens of traps that chop, crush, and choke them to death.

Sadly, this fun little Battle Royale-inspired flick has yet to be given an international release, meaning the only available DVD comes sans subtitles, making it hard to follow and, with a crowded cast, difficult to distinguish the teen characters, although when they start fighting back, they really fucking go for the jugular.

*

18: Amsterdamned (Netherlands, 1988)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 6.5

amsterdamned 1988

At times more of a generic cop-vs-serial killer flick than a straight up slasherama: The canals of Amsterdamn (duh) are plagued by brutal slayings, including the awesome moment (above) where the hooker’s body hung beneath a canal bridge is dragged across the top of a glass-roofed tourist boat.

The film reaches new depths of desperation to try and circumvent the end we can all see coming, but is a solidly entertaining outing nonetheless.

*

17: Veritgé (France, 2009)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 5.6

vertige high lane 2009

Four old school friends and the new boyfriend of one of them embark on a climbing adventure in the Croatian mountains, trapping themselves on a trail after the bridge they cross collapses in their wake. To make matters worse, the mountain is home to a homicidal loon with a penchant for bear traps.

France’s combo of The Descent and Wrong Turn has some magnificently vertigo-inducing scenes early on, before switching into slasher gear, however it soon transpires that not everybody can be trusted. A stupid ending deflates an otherwise solid flick.

*

16: Death Bell (South Korea, 2011)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 5.7

db4

Exam results are everything at a haughty academy in Seoul, where at the end of term the Top 20 students stick around for a nerd-off, but instead find themselves being abducted and killed if their classmates can’t solve academic problems put before them in an allotted time: One boy is literally waxed to death, and a girl in shoved in a washing machine on a spin cycle.

There’s a sub-plot hoopla about the prerequisite Asian ghost-girl, which is never really resolved, but the identity of the killer was revealed in a good way, complete with flashbacks showing us just how they did it. Great stuff.

*

15: Stagefright (Italy, 1987)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 6.8

stagefright 1986

Michele Soavi’s back to basics stalk n’ slasher has a cult following and reportedly inspired Argento to create Opera soon after. Actors locked up in a theatre for an intense rehearsal become the objects of play for escaped homicidal maniac Irving Wallace, who, donning a creepy bird mask, drills, slices, and chainsaws them off the stage, until only one resourceful girl remains, and she won’t go down without a fight. Plenty of intense scenes and gory demises in this one.

*

14: Inside (France, 2007)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 6.8

inside 2007

Pregnant Sarah is about to pop and the night before she’s due to check into hospital, a mysterious woman comes a-knockin’ and then won’t go away, eventually gaining access to the house and set upon cutting the unborn child out of Sarah.

While not reaching the dizzy heights of Haute TensionInside opts for a more visceral, invasive approach, all of it relating back to the fatal car crash only Sarah and her unborn survived some months earlier. This is the kind of film even I find too intense in the heartless violence stakes, which, of course, means everyone else loves it.

*

13: Sleepless (Italy, 2001)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 6.3

sleepless dario argento 2001

Dario Argento ‘returned’ to giallo in 2001 with this usual tale of attractive young women being murdered all over the place and a man thrust into the centre of the mystery. In this case, the son of a victim killed 17 years before. The killer was caught, and is dead, so what the fuck is going on?

Argento’s flair for the visual sells it to me, but, as usual, the representation of women as dumbfucks who can’t operate simple locks, or fall over every five seconds is annoying, while their male counterparts are free to act like prize pricks and go unslashed.

*

12: Eyes of Crystal (Italy, 2004)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 6.3

eyes of crystal 2004

A millennial entry into the giallo canon, which sees a mystery taxidermist hacking people up in order to create a human doll – a bit like Pieces but with ten times the class. Two grizzled detectives investigate and try to forge a link between a college student and her stalker, and their hospitalised ex-cop friend, who keeps having flashbacks to a fire in the orphanage he grew up in.

All threads will come together by the end, and after almost two hours it’s impressive young director Eros Puglielli has kept us so entertained all that time, with imagery striking enough to give Argento et al pause.

*

11: Flashback (Germany, 1999)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 5.4

flashback 1999

A young woman who survived the attack of a sickle-wielding, dress-wearing killer as a child gets a job as a French tutor to a trio of rich siblings at their remote country home. No sooner does she arrive then do similar killings begin.

One of Germany’s earliest responses to Scream is pure fun, sullied in part by atrocious dubbing on the international DVD (subtitles > dubbing every time), with much bloodletting, an abundance of pet-i-cides, inventive murders, and a satisfying resolution.

The 50 Best Foreign* Slasher Flicks: 30-21

Up n’ up…

See #50-41 here.
And #40-31 here.

30Invitation Only (Taiwan, 2009)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 5.0

invitation only 2009

A young chauffeur is handed an invite to a high society party by his client, who doesn’t want to go and tells the guy to pose as his cousin. It turns out he and four others have been invited to be tortured in front of a bunch of super-rich voyeurs because they’ve each done something wrong.

It’s Taiwan’s answer to Hostel, with some fun moments along the way, including a particularly grim scene where a corrupt political wannabe has his balls fried with jumper cables. Ouch.

*

29A Blade in the Dark (Italy, 1983)

VeVo: 2.5 Stars
IMDb: 6.0

a blade in the dark 1983

A young composer hired to score a horror film rents a villa where the previous tenant carved something of a reputation for herself. Seems any beautiful young women who happen by for a number of contrived reasons end up slashed to pieces by a mystery killer.

Lamberto Bava directed this rather minimalist entry in to the giallo canon but, bloody demises aside, it doesn’t offer much to remember it by.

*

28Nightmare (2000, South Korea)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 5.3

nightmare 2000

Two years after the suicide of a friend, a group of young folks are haunted and murdered by her ghost. Or are they? Deservedly ranking higher than the sub-par RecordNightmare borrows heavily from the likes of The Ring and The Grudge, but the creepy visual atmos more than makes up for several plot contrivances and a confusing structure.

*

27Absurd (Italy, 1981)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 5.3

absurd 1981

This sort-of sequel to The Grim Reaper (which I’ve seen but can’t remember) pretty much goes down the copy-Halloween route of babysitters stalked by a loon, in this case an invincible bearded dude whose ability to regenerate cells is the absurdity of the title. He’s being hunted by a priest, and shows up at a house to torment bed-ridden Katya, her severely punchable little brother, Willy, and any number of babysitters and passers-by.

A resident of the infamous Video Nasties list of the 1980s, the first two slayings are pretty strong on the gore front, I mean, bald guy’s head being forced into a saw blade. Ouch.

*

26Hell’s Ground (Pakistan, 2007)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 5.7

hell's ground 2007

Pakistan’s entry into the horror canon at least spares us the musical interludes of its Indian peers, and also throws toxic zombies into the mix as a vanload of youngsters on their way to a rock festival go too deep into the woods. They also fall victim to a burka-disguised, mace-swinging psycho. What a day.

*

25Cub (Belgium, 2014)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 5.9

cub

A boy scout camp-out venture ventures too far into the Belgian forest, where the legend of a feral wooden-masked child turns out to be true. This crowd-funded flick interestingly opts to tell its tale largely from a child’s point of view, has impressive production values and some creepy moments, but ultimately retreads too-similar a path come the climactic scenes.

*

24Eyeball (Italy, 1975)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 5.9

eyeball 1975

Tourists in Barcelona are targeted by a rain-macked killer who plucks the eyes out of young women, including several of those in the tour group. As is usual in giallo pictures, all the men are suspects and all the women are in danger.

The eventual outcome is hilariously overblown, but I didn’t guess it.

*

23999-9999 (Thailand, 2002)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 5.1

999-9999 2002

Thailand’s attempt to ape Final Destination is a bit cheap in places, but ultimately an entertaining flick. After a girl is found skewered atop a flagpole, rumours abound that she called the mysterious 999-9999 hotline, which grants you anything you wish for – but with a cost.

Cue a group of pranksters asking for a Ferrari but then getting killed by a defective car wash, to lose weight and having their innards ripped out in a bizarre accident, or, in the weirdest scene, winning a space camp contest and being sucked into an anti-gravity chamber with several saw blades.

*

22Cold Prey III (Norway, 2010)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 5.1

cold prey 3 2010

The film world’s obsession with trilogies is probably responsible for this prequel, which rewinds back into the mid-80s where seven young friends go on a summer’s camping trip in the mountains, where they disturb the homicidal Fjellmannen, who was defeated with irreversible finality in Cold Prey II.

While clearly a step down from the first two films, there’s still a lot to like here, peaking in the middle with a tension cranking chase through the woods and into an abandoned cottage, and nicely drawn out characters who, unlike recent American films, aren’t assholes we want to see skewered.

*

21Evil Dead Trap (Japan, 1988)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 6.2

evil dead trap 1988

A precursor to the likes of Saw, the presenter of a late night TV show where viewers send it whacky videos receives one of a woman being gruesomely tortured and, to turn around their falling ratings, asks if she can take some colleagues to investigate the scene. Naturally, they are each caught in icky traps that skewer and bisect them, until only the presenter lady is left. All of this occurs in the first half of the movie, opening things up to some weird shit I’ve largely repressed but is nothing like any other slasher flick you’re likely to see. Avoid the sequel though.

The 50 Best Foreign* Slasher Flicks: 40-31

Up we climb… See #50-41 here.

40Kucch to Hai (India, 2003)

VeVo: 2.5 Stars
IMDb: 4.3

kucch to hai 2003

A two-and-a-half hour musical slasher movie from India, with some lines of dialogue spoken in English, but mostly in Hindi. This sanity-tester spends an hour building up to high school students finding their professor has murdered his wife and them running him over to escape, only to be stalked by a mystery killer at a ski lodge during a reunion three years later.

Scenes from I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend are ripped off shot-for-shot, while the ‘action’ is interspersed with pop songs about love, usually accompanied by music videos you’d expect Britney Spears and N Sync to have made in the 90s. Bizarrely entrancing.

*

39Record (South Korea, 2000)

VeVo: 2.5 Stars
IMDB: 4.6

record 2000

I Know What You Did Last Summer Xerox #329 hails from South Korea, where a group of high schoolers play a cruel prank on their nerdy classmate, which results in him being stabbed, burned, and then falling over a cliff!

A year later, the group are tormented by a shady figure wearing a bright orange suit, who plays games with and kills them one by one. The good girl heroine tries to work out who it is before he gets her, even though she wasn’t even involved in the prank.

Worth seeing for the awesome translations:

  • “Everybody die not long time.”
  • “You are a not get. I have found the path to outcome you.”
  • “You are nothing but a hell kite!”

*

38The Windmill Massacre (Netherlands, 2016)

VeVo: 2.5 Stars
IMDB: 4.8

windmill massacre 2016 ben batt

Dutch-but-in-English Reeker-esque shenanigans as a group of ‘sinners’ on a bus tour of Holland’s windmills are collected by a Jeepers Creepersy ghoul and sent to hell, I guess.

One of those movies that kind of spends its running time sliding down a slope of increasingly predictable situations as the plot unfolds and the novelty of Amsterdam’s backdrop is switched out for any-old-woods.

*

37School’s Out (Germany, 1999)

VeVo: 2.5 Stars
IMDB: 5.2

school's out 1999

Made-for-TV reaction to Scream with a harlequin-costumed killer scissoring teens on a scavenger hunt at their graduation party. I can’t remember a whole lot more about this one, only that it was tame and the German-speaking buddy I leant it to thought it was absolute crap.

*

36The House by the Cemetery (Italy, 1981)

VeVo: 2 Stars
IMDB: 6.2

the house by the cemetery 1981

Fulci’s apparent attempt at copying The Shining with more stab and drip concerns a family moving into ‘the old Freudstein place’ where a zombie-like dude who resides in the basement kills random babysitters, realtors, and horny teenagers who dare venture down there. The memory that sticks most is that the child was dubbed by a grown woman trying to sound like a child and, well, the results are shrill to say the least.

*

35Deep in the Woods (France, 2000)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDB: 4.2

deep in the woods 2000

A troupe of young actors are summoned to a castle in the middle of the woods to act out a version of Little Red Riding Hood for the birthday of a millionaire’s grandson. After they’re done, the horror begins as a creepy wolf-masked loon starts stalking and killing them one by one.

*

34Slaughter Night / SL8 N8 (Netherlands/Belgium, 2006)

VeVo: 2.5 Stars
IMDB: 5.3

slaughter night / sl8 n8 2006

College students take a tour of an old mine haunted by the vengeful spirit of a 19th century child killer, who possesses various members of the group in an effort to kill seven souls so he can exit hell or something. Kind of Long Time Dead by way of My Bloody Valentine.

*

33Sssshhh… (India, 2003)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDB: 4.4

ssshhh 2003

Like Kucch to Hai, this is another Indian slasher-musical, which apes Scream as the sister of a recently-murdered girl is stalked by a clown-masked killer. Then there’s the obligatory falling-in-love, lots of songs about love, and the teens bugger off to some huts on an island and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer becomes the new point of focus as they’re eventually killed off. At nearly three hours long, this one is a chore, but at least boasts some interesting scenery and cultural backdrops to set the horror up against.

*

32Dead in 3 Days (Austria, 2006)

VeVo: 2.5 Stars
IMDB: 5.5

dead in 3 days 2006

Another Euro go at the themes of I Know What You Did Last Summer, this time with a bunch of graduating friends all sent a text informing them they’ll be dead within three days. Dismissing it as a prank proves fatal, as they start dying, leaving attack-survivor Nina to piece it together and discover it all goes back to something that did as kids.

The icy backdrop provides an interesting blood-and-snow dynamic but things peter out with a weak final act. It was followed by a sequel with the confusing name Dead in 3 Days 2, which I’ve yet to see.

*

31Black Serenade (Spain, 2001)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDB: 4.5

black serenade tuno negro 2001

Spain clambered aboard the Scream bandwaggon with this collegiate mystery, which had more in common with Urban Legend than anything else: The poorest performing students at the University of Salamanca are murderized by the mythical Dark Minstrel as punishment for not ‘earning’ their place in higher education.

Transfer brainiac Alex tries to solve the mystery while she sees her new group of friends killed off for cheating in their exams. Things grind on a bit too long to a ridiculous conclusion that makes little sense given what happened up to that point.

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