Hair Don’ts II: The Revenge of Aqua Net

Somehow, since last time it’s taken ages to accrue more terrible hairstyles, but here they are:

bad hair final exam 1981

“The Walking Bouffant,” modelled by Final Exam (1981) Matthew Perry-esque frat dude.

I worry about how much hairspray went into creating this bonfire mound of hair, worsened by the centre parting and general volume. It lends well to the character’s general smarminess and eventual knife through the torso.

grotesque 1987 bad hair

“Wind Shear,” by Gang Member from Grotesque (1987)

Looks like actress Bunky Jones – also modelling a huge do in Hide and Go Shriek that same year – stuck her head out the window on the freeway and was hit in the face by a blueberry pie.

sleepaway camp judy bad hair

“The Cricked-Neck Counterbalancer,” sported by Judy in Sleepaway Camp (1983)

The entire 80s Sleepaway Camp franchise is full of fashion faux pas’ and bad hair, and it’s possibly Judy started it all by pulling her entire mane of thick, dry hair into a side-ponytail, which must have had consequences for her skeletal musculo something something.

child's play 3 bad hair

“What ever happened to Tiffany?” on random girl from Child’s Play 3 (1991)

Shaggy perm, scrunchie on top, was this look still around in ’91? I guess so. Perhaps Chucky was too weirded out by it, because this chick exits the film intact.

bad hair girls nite out 1982

“2-for-1 on Bad Hair,” with Pryor from Girls Nite Out (1982)

A classic 80s mullet and 90s curtains together at last, somehow before either became fashionable, on Hal Holbrook’s son as the is-he-or-isn’t-he killer, who understandably would’ve donned that bear costume after glancing in the mirror at this atrocity.

bad hair trampa infernal

“Perm-A-Mullet,” by lead-guy in Trampa Infernal (1989)

This guy is the hero, aided probably by extra protection afforded to the skull by the thickness of his curly mullet. I need to go to Mexico and see if they still have this do.

bad hair grotesque 1987

“The Morning After,” by Shelly in Grotesque (1987)

Grotesque – surely named for the hair-don’ts that litter it – strikes again, with another of the punkz, who looks like she lapsed into a two-week coma under a hairdryer.

christine elise child's play 2 1990

“Push it all aside,” with Kyle from Child’s Play 2 (1990)

Probably the least offensive ‘do on the list, but this is a nice compensation for Judy’s heavy list to one side, with Kyle pushing it all to the other, but with less length to slowly pull her neck over.

bad hair bloodstained shadow

“Insane Asylum Special,” for deranged son of nurse in The Bloodstained Shadow (1978)

It may be hard to see clearly, but this poor chap has a standard buzz-cut on top and then a sort of mullet at the sides. The character was kept in a room on a remote island off Italy, so maybe that’s how they rolled there in the late 70s.

linda blair bad hair grotesque 1988

“The Career Flatliner,” from Dame Linda Blair in Grotesque (1987)

Maybe she was possessed by a demon again, as that’s surely the only explanation for this hairspray-OD’d combo of several terrible mid-80s styles, which I fear still exist at roadhouses in the square States.

Omicidio Ha Scritto

bloodstained shadow 1978

THE BLOODSTAINED SHADOW

2.5 Stars  1978/109m

Original Title: Solamente Nero

Director/Writer: Antonio Bido / Writers: Domenico Malan & Marisa Andalo / Cast: Lino Capolicchio, Stefania Casini, Craig Hill, Massimo Serato, Juliette Mayniel, Luigi Casellato, Sergio Mioni.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “I’m beginning to be frightened again – take me away from here!”


Imagine this as a kind of feature length pilot of Italian Murder, She Wrote, with Capolicchio as a Professor taking time out of his hectic life in Rome to visit his big brother, a priest on one of the small islands off Venice, where a school girl’s murder years earlier remains unsolved.

On his first night there, big-bro witnesses a murder occur outside his window and begins to receive threatening letters from the apparent killer. The victim, a self-professed medium, and her small group of regulars, including a Count who habitually forces himself upon young boys, a nurse providing illegal abortions, and – gasp! – an atheist doctor, are the ones to find themselves hunted down by the black-gloved, face-never-on-screen killer.

bloodstained shadow 1978

Prof. – who looks just like Howard from The Big Bang Theory – joins forces with artist Sandra, who has a painting that ‘speaks to him’ and finds herself caught up in the drama. Together, they go boating, have sex, and talk about paintings a lot. Meanwhile, the Count gets run through with an antique sword, and the threatening notes keep arriving at the church.

Clocking in just shy of two hours, The Bloodstained Shadow grinds on quite relentlessly, but there are some good scenes – the canal murder-by-boat is inventive, and there are some proto-slasher POV stalking sequences to crank the tension, but throw Angela Lansbury into the mix and this could pass for another trip for Jessica Fletcher to visit her nephew’s cousin’s college roommate’s aunt’s dogsitter and become embroiled in a murder. But you’ll probably clock the killer within the first twenty minutes.

Watch out for the world’s only jump scare-by-accordion.

Scream 19

braxton butcher 2015

BRAXTON BUTCHER

3 Stars  2015/15/111m

“Every town has secrets.”

A.k.a. The Butchering (USA)

Director/Writer: Leo McGuigan / Cast: Shaun Blaney, Jenna Byrne, Andrew Stanford, Diona Doherty, Ciaran McCourt, Vicky Allen, Joshua Colquhoun, Rachel Morton, Philip Rafferty, Natalie Curran, Stephanie Donaghue, Odhran McNulty, Brandon McCaffrey.

Body Count: 16

Laughter Lines: “Ready to be the final girl?”


During the rehearsal of a prank in Braxton Butcher, one character turns to another and says: “It’s too Scream 3, it should be more Scream 2.” And that pretty much sums up what this cute homage is all about. Leo McGuigan, only nineteen when he directed this, is clearly on Team VeVo in terms of ranking the Scream flicks in realising the second one is the best one. Minor spoilers ensue.

It’s a well established fact that the sexiest accent in the world is Irish. Those with a keener ear will be able to delineate between regions therein; but spades being spades, everyone in this film could drop my pants any second with just a few brief utterances. Ahem, anyway…

Cops are called to the Miller house in the small NI town of Braxton after the neighbours hear screams. There, they find Mom and Dad slain, laid out on the bed, their teenage son, Tommy, nowhere to be found. Instead he’s busy crashing a party at the town hall, where he slashes up a number of classmates, leaving survivors Ryan and Cora.

braxton butcher 2015

Ten years later – never nine, never eleven – the two have drifted apart: Ryan has grown up to become a detective, and Cora presents a local radio show. In a curveball turn of events, she and her bratty teen sister are slashed up by a mask and Parka wearing loon, leaving Ryan to investigate with the help of his new partner, Will.

News of the murder fascinates the local teens, who show no sign of calling off their town hall throwdown, even when their own peers begin getting sliced up. Ryan’s seventeen-year-old niece Julie is thrust into the centre of things, as she has a sort of Sidney-Billy on-off romance with Danny, who has been dating bitchy girl Claudia, who is seeing Oliver on the site, despite the fact he’s with Sarah. Confusing.

braxton butcher 2015

Clocking in just shy of two hours is ambitious for any slasher film, and Braxton veers into being quite talky here and there, with a lot of characters to keep track of, but McGuigan has clearly studied what works on a visual level and pushed these elements to the forefront, most commonly extended scenes of characters being stalked or chased. Sure, the budget is probably quite far south of Wes Craven’s but this is still leagues ahead of other recent British efforts that looked like local am-dram groups rented a camera and wrote a stalk n’ slash script in an afternoon: “Yeah, it just needs tits, lesbians, and some ketchup!”

The actors are all game – screaming at the right moments and not really making all the idiotic decisions expected of them in this genre, although the killer opts to terrorise female victims with more drawn out cat and mousery than the boys, who are largely victims of quick stab n’ go drive-bys. Vicky Allen is a hoot as bitchy Claudia, who would have VICTIM stamped on her forehead in any other film, but here is given the chance to redeem herself as the situation heads south.

braxton butcher 2015

I read a couple of effusive reviews that had me thinking I was about to see the next Cold Prey, which isn’t quite the case, but considering McGuigan’s tender age and the effort he and the crew appears to have put in, seeing beyond the usual pitfalls of making a teen-horror film, this deserves more exposure, if not only to see what is likely the beginnings of an impressive career.

“All who stay – WILL DIE!”

the tooth fairy 2006

THE TOOTH FAIRY

3 Stars  2006/89m

“The childhood fairytale becomes your worst nightmare!”

Director: Chuck Bowman / Writers: Stephen J. Cannell, Cory Strode, Cookie Rae Brown, Daniel Farrands, Carolyn Davis / Cast: Lochlyn Munro, Chandra West, Nicole Munoz, Carrie Anne Fleming, Stave Bacic, P.J. Soles, Peter New, Ben Cotton, Jesse Hutch, Jianna Ballard, Sonya Salomea, Karin Konovsal.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “Mark my words – all who stay WILL DIE!”


A strange, but endearing alternate take on The Tooth Fairy as a children-hunting killer in the wake of Darkness Falls, which was an unprecedented success with its PG-13 rating. It should be therefore no surprise that a gored-up knock-off would appear soon after.

In 1949, a couple of boys visit an old house where an alleged witch lives. She knows when you’ll lose your baby teeth and offers gifts in exchange for them. With the promise of a shiny new bike, one of the boys enters the house but sees the hag’s face and is chopped up for his trouble, with the other boy legging it.

Fifty-seven years later – yay! not ten or twenty for once – ex-city doc Peter (Munro) has bought the same house and is renovating it into a country inn. For the weekend arrives girlfriend Darcy (West, who may well have been cast for her likeness to Emma Caulfield), and her 10-year-old daughter Pam, who quickly befriends the ghost of a local girl, who fills her in on the legend. On the way back from this, Pam falls off her bike and knocks her final baby tooth out! Gasp.

tooth fairy 2006

While Peter and Darcy battle a couple of hicks in town, Pam becomes convinced The Tooth Fairy is after her – fueled by P.J. Soles as the requisite neighbour in a cloak who tells them they’ll all die, initially in an Irish accent that soon fades into generic American twang. Nevertheless, a series of gooey deaths ensue as promised: The hunky help is fed into a woodchipper, a kooky psychic is nail-gunned to a wall, a dick is sliced off, decapitation… This is anything but the off-camera kills of Darkness Falls. In truth, it probably has more in common with the same year’s Fingerprints.

Where The Tooth Fairy succeeds is in its slightly more invested characterisations and subsequent dialogue: Peter’s old buddy rocks up with his aura-sensing girlfriend, who utters awesome things like “a transcendent evil has been awakened in this house,” and “your personal landscape is a manuscript written by your actions – when you fight you always lose more than you redeem.” Munoz impresses as the pre-teen heroine, although exchanges between the child actors are sometimes clunky, the Are You Afraid of the Dark-stylings are more enabling in this case.

the tooth fairy 2006

Things become slightly undone as the final edges towards its finale, with ridiculous decision-making shoehorned in to up the body count, undermining the good work done at the start. It’s all forgivable though, given the effort clearly put in by the filmmakers to create something with characters we don’t instantly hate.

Blurbs-of-interest: Lochlyn Munro was in Hack!, Scary Movie and Freddy vs Jason, along with Jesse Hutch; Nicole Munoz was in Scarecrow (2013); P.J. Soles was Lynda in Halloween, and can also be seen in Innocent Prey and Uncle Sam; Ben Cotton was in Harper’s Island, Scar, and Stan Helsing; Chuck Bowman previously directed Dead Above Ground.

Not quite Star Trek, is it?

texas chainsaw massacre the next generation

TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION

1.5 Stars  1994/18/84m

“Still buzzin’ after all these years.”

A.k.a. Return of the Texas Chainsaw MassacreTexas Chainsaw Massacre 4

Director/Writer: Kim Henkel / Cast: Renee Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey, Robert Jacks, Tonie Perenski, Joe Stevens, Lisa Newmyer, Tyler Cone, John Harrison, James Gale.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “What if we get into a wreck and crash the car and we all died? They could write a song about it.”


Of the main body count franchises, Texas Chainsaw Massacre likely ranks my least favourite, aided to no end by this much despised fourth outing, which was intended by Kim Henkel as the ‘true sequel’ to the 1974 original.

Things start out okay with four high schoolers crashing their car on a back road on the night of their prom and end up as spare meat for a psychotic family who dwell deep in the woods. The clan is led by unhinged truck driver Vilmer (McConaughey) and his trashy girlfriend, Darla, while Leatherface spends most of the film in drag, like a bad cabaret show at a provincial gay bar. I’ve seen a few of these and can attest the likeness.

There are plenty of harks back to the original, which serve only to remind us how much more raw it was, as the junky action clunks along with horrendous continuity problems, and portrayals of psychosis that rival the drag angle in terms of high camp.

The quartet of teens are allotted little in terms of characterisation, bar dowdy final girl Jenny (Zellweger). Both actors ascended to levels of stardom far removed from this low-end flick, which was later recalled by Zellweger as being so cheaply made the actors shared a single trailer that belonged to a member of the crew. However, there’s no escaping your humble beginnings, and the fact that agencies attempted to sue the production company for reissuing this with the stars as the focus probably only brought more attention to it in the long run. Though without their subsequent good fortune, would it be remembered at all?

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