Tag Archives: accents from hell

More rubbish films that don’t deserve long reviews

Would you believe that quite a lot of slasher films suck? No, me either. I expect brilliance in everything. But as before, some slasher films have failed me. Failed miserably. And thus, they don’t warrant any more of my ludicrously precious time than they’ve already sucked away with their suckiness. Sucks to them!

BLOOD TRAILS

1.5 Stars  2006/18/87m

“You can’t outride death.”

Director/Writer: Robert Krause / Cast: Rebecca R. Palmer, Ben Price, Tom Frederic, J.J. Straub.

Body Count: 7


A terminally dull German film masquerading as American by casting British actors effecting bad accents.

Moody bicycle courier Anne is approached by her estranged ex, Michael, and agrees to get out of the city for some fresh air after a particularly bizarre sexual encounter with unhinged traffic cop, Chris.

Now, if you were a fisherman by trade, would you go on a fishing holiday? No. Still, Anne being a bit of a simpleton, she and Michael decide to go mountain biking deep in the woods. Guess who shows up and manages to cut Michael’s throat with a bike tyre via a nifty Matrix-style in-air skid?

After this development, about twenty minutes in, the rest of Blood Trails consists of Anne pedalling away; Anne sitting on rocks; Anne crouching behind trees on lookout… Everything takes forever to unfold, supposedly in the name of tension building but, if anything, if there was ever an excuse to fast forward, this was it.

At one point, Anne comes across two forest workers, neither of whom utter a single word despite the obvious fact that the woman is traumatized and that the tree they were sawing down fell on her! It matters not, as Chris soon floats in and kills them.

Minimal interest kicks in as Anne attempts to escape but it all goes out the window with a stupid finale in which the unarmed killer manages to shoot two cops who turn up out of the blue for no reason.

It looks like helmer/scribbler Krause was trying to create a ‘true’ survivalist horror but the film spends too much time with an unsympathetic simpleton of a heroine who makes some of the most ridiculous decisions in slasher movie history, i.e. you have a car at your disposal, which you could run down the killer with but instead get out and cycle away. Says it all.

Blurb-of-shame: Tom Frederic was in Wrong Turn 3.

WHISPERKILL

 1988/15/90m  1 Stars

“Shhh… You’re next.”

A.k.a. A Whisper Kills

Director: Christian I. Nyby II / Writer: John Robert Bensink / Cast: Loni Anderson, Joe Penny, June Lockhart, James Sutorius, Jeremy Slate, Joe Leter.

Body Count: 4


It’s great that this made-for-cable “mystery” doesn’t give away the killer’s identity on the DVD box, isn’t it? Oh look, it’s obviously a female in a film with only two female characters.

Bad-movie-fixture Loni Anderson is the owner-slash-editor of newspaper in the small town where a ski-masked fiend is first making murmured phone calls to the people who later get stabbed.

Like others of its ilk, Whisperkill is laced with stock soft-focus erotic scenes between Anderson and leading man – and suspect – Joe Penny. Meanwhile, the real killer knocks off a few of her male acquaintances and the rest is fattened up by crummy sex-scenes until the identity of the “mystery killer” is revealed for us all to go “oh, for fuck’s sake!” at.

Commits the unforgivable sin of being boring as well as crap.

THE DEADLY INTRUDER

1 Stars  1986/18/84m

“Someone out there is watching you… Don’t unlock your door.”

Director: John McCauley / Writer: Tony Crupi / Cast: Molly Cheek, Chris Holder, Tony Crupi, Danny Bonnaduce, Laura Melton, Styart Whitman, Danny Greene, Marcy Hansen, Santos Morales.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “Cooking without garlic is like making love without foreplay.”


Another escapee from an asylum arrives in another small town (Midvale, pop. 18,000) and begins laying the locals to waste. This truly horrible film has the audacity to declare itself “in the Hitchcock tradition” on the back of the box but could not be further from Hitch’s style if it boarded a rocket to Jupiter. And I wish it had.

Things kick off in a fairly pacey Friday the 13th way with seven murders in the first 35 minutes before the rot begins to set in. The rest of the plotless plot centres around screechy heroine Jessie, who throws a party for some friends (two of whom never make it) where she is introduced to Bob, a magazine writer from Canada working in a local clothes store to “get the working man’s perspective.”

And while nobody but Jessie and friends believe him, there’s a homeless drifter loitering outside the windows, wandering aimlessly with a sickle, looking like a psychotic Paul McCartney. Said hobo abducts Jessie that night and ties her up in a shack about 30 feet away from her house!

A good third of the film is taken up by this senselessness that never goes anywhere as we decide who is now more likely to be the killer: Wino McCartney or Bob? The outcome is anything but a surprise and the obnoxious twist that somehow anticipates the sequel-that-never-was is the only scary thing that happens in The Deadly Intruder.

There is no merit to this film with the possible exception of seeing Danny Bonaduce of The Partridge Family murdered with prejudice. Add this to the ghastly repetitive synth score and it hurts like fingernails down the chalkboard OF MY SOUL!

SNAPPED

2005/15/80m  1.5 Stars

“Picture yourself dead.”

Directors: Jeffrey Prosserman & Julian Van Mil / Writers: Steve Abbott, Michael Bien, Prosserman & Van Mil / Cast: Tiffany Knight, Michael Bien, Joe Costa, Natalie Van Rensburg, Peter Soltesz, Sara-Jean Villa, Brett Rabinowitz, Lindsey Veenendaal.

Body Count: 10

Dire-logue: “So, you’re solution to my dilemma being ‘all men are dicks so stick yours in me’?”


I like weird things: cold toast with Vegemite, sideburns, Dr Pepper and Eurovision. Snapped is a weird film, really weird. But I didn’t like it. Sorry, Snapped and all ye affiliated with you.

Tiffany Knight is the curiously named Amy Mechanic, a struggling photographer who lands a well-paid new job for a mystery client. Without any credible explanation, Amy begins bludgeoning and hacking up bystanders in her life and taking pictures of the bodies to win the praise of oddball gallery rep Virgo.

Much of the build up to her ‘snapping’ (get it?) concerns the split from her junkie painter boyfriend and moving into the basement of bitchy best friend, Rose, whose own boyfriend is getting visits from an ass-kicking female loan shark. None of these things are of much importance, merely devices to bring more pitiless victims into Amy’s path.

Like so many post-millennial slashers, Snapped suffers from an overabundance of assholey characters we don’t care about, rather than nice folk battling for survival, rendering it the kind of picture you shouldn’t stop to gaze upon, let alone attempt to figure out the ridiculous twist ending, which makes even less sense!

BLOOD REAPER

1 Stars  2004/18/80m

“The legend has just become a bloody reality…”

Director: Lory-Michael Ringuette / Writers: Douglas Hensley, Ringuette & Michael J. Stewart / Cast: Cameron McHarg, Alison Moon, Jerri Badenhop, Mark Siegel, Charlene Amoia, Lory-Michael Ringuette, Brinke Stevens, Bernard Mann.

Body Count: 10


As if the barrel-scraping of Camp Blood and its shoddy sequel was actually a challenge to other filmmakers, here’s another shot-on-video campers-in-peril quickie with equally abysmal results.

More youngsters ignore warnings of a mythical killer living in the woods blah, blah, blah. They go camping anyway, blah, blah, blah. Even Brinke Stevens – who gets top billing for her seven minute cameo – looks glazed with disappointment that it’s come to this.

Long, boring sequences of individuals milling silently amongst trees while the camera bobs behind branches pad out the eighty minutes, while the audience pleads for someone to put us out of our misery. There’s an almost eye-opening innovation of electing the chubby girl as the heroine but, alas, they make it not so and kill her with a sharp log.

The intermittent gory murders are sloppy and unrealistic, reproducing everything we’ve seen elsewhere in better films and they even try to recreate the famous Ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma sound of Jason and toss in a plinky-plonky Halloween-style theme to lighten proceedings but all it does it remind us that Blood Reaper will never live up to those standards.

Hippie Hippie Shake n’ Slash

THE TRIPPER

3 Stars  2006/18/94m

“Move over Jason. Look out Freddie. Heeere’s Ronnie!”

Director: David Arquette / Writers: Arquette & Joe Harris / Cast: Jaime King, Lukas Haas, Thomas Jane, Paul Reubens, Jason Mewes, Balthazar Getty, Marsha Thomason, Stephen Hrath, Paz de la Huerta, Richmond Arquette, Rick Overton, Redmond Gleeson, Chris Nelson, David Arquette, Courteney Cox.

Body Count: at least 23

Dire-logue: “Sir, will you spank me? My father never spanked me. I’m in desperate need of discipline.”


As actress Marsha Thomason points out in one of the DVD extras, being British, we have limited knowledge of American politics. Furthermore, while I have clear memories of Ronald Reagan being President, all that he did or didn’t do was eclipsed for us by what Maggie Thatcher was doing here.

Therefore, I may have entirely missed the point David Arquette was trying to make with The Tripper, which is essentially about the hippie revellers at a Free Love Festival being indiscriminately chopped up by an axe-wielding loon in a suit and Reagan mask. The why and what-are-you-getting-at? is what prevents things from making total sense – for Marsha and me at least.

Three peace-lovin’ couples in an old Mystery Machine-type van rock up to the event expecting to have the drug-fuelled time of their lives, but shy newcomer Samantha is paranoid that her controlling Republican ex may have followed them there, while her new beau Ivan keeps getting off his face and the others just want to have sex and get fucked up. Meanwhile, local Sheriff Thomas Jane is battling with the corrupt mayor and bogus organiser Paul Reubens and a growing stack of dead hippies. Are they being done away with by the now-grown little kid who went apeshit with a chainsaw in the prologue? Yes. Yes they are.

While Arquette (who has a small role as one of a trio of rednecks) may have mastered his character of Dewey in the Scream films, as a director he’s quite noticeably unfocused, erratically going from scene to scene without any cohesive plotting: we don’t know where characters are or what they’re doing most of the time and many of the scenes appear to be constructed around a target joke rather than have it appear incidental.

That’s not to say The Tripper fails, it’s still quite funny, liberally bloody and doesn’t shy away from jabbing at errors Reagan evidently made during his time in charge but the whole project lacks clarity. Is the objective to underscore the evils of Republicans? To try and reassert the point of the Free Love movement? A comment of capitalism, that nobody can really be trusted? Or is it just a simpleton slasher flick?

Where The Tripper unquestionably succeeds is in its cast rota: Arquette ropes in family and friends who gleefully make the best of their roles: Jane is great as the beleaguered man in charge and getting Jason Mewes to do what he does best (having cameoed as Jay in Scream 3) is always good; Courteney Cox has a small bit as an animal loving flower child. Only Lukas Haas and Balthazar Getty seem wasted (not in that sense) by the slim nature of their parts. The latter’s red herring status is completely screwed up by the fact that we pretty much know who the killer is from the outset.

I’ve watched the film three times since I picked it up and each time I’m reminded of how gorgeous California is and how awkward The Tripper plays out. It’s a bewildering film with context perhaps too upfront and deep-rooted for a bodycount pic but serves as a sort of rest-stop between Screams 3 and 4. But then maybe I just don’t get it and when somebody makes a sequel about Thatcher offing miners up north I’ll have an epiphany and give it another go.

At very least, it’s worth watching just to prove that sometimes, sometimes you get full frontal male nudity in these things.

Blurbs-of-interest: Lukas Haas and Marsha Thomason were in Long Time Dead together; Jaime King was in My Bloody Valentine 3D; Jason Mewes played a stoner (again) in RSVP; Paul Reubens was in Pandemonium; Chris Nelson was leter in ChromeSull: Laid to Rest 2; Paz de la Huerta was in The Editor.

Murder, Midgets & Misogyny

SLEEPLESS

3.5 Stars  2001/18/113m

Director: Dario Argento / Writers: Argento, Franco Ferrini & Carlo Lucarelli / Cast: Max von Sydow, Stefano Dionisi, Chiara Caselli, Gabriele Lavia, Rossella Falk, Paolo Maria Scalondro, Roberto Zibetti, Roberto Accornero, Barbara Lerici, Guido Morbello, Massimo Sarchielli.

Body Count: 12


This review is dedicated to Ross of the excellent Anchorwoman in Peril!, a real Gift-Horsley who began overseeing his New Year’s resolution of familiarising me with Italian giallo – a resolution made on my behalf by Ross. But if such involuntary resolutions produce free DVDs then bring on 2012.

I’m not particularly unfamiliar with giallo, I’ve seen maybe two dozen or so films from the slashier end of the subset but I’ve yet to see one that’s, you know, massively converted me into some loose-lipped advocate of Italiano horror. Yeah, even Suspiria - it was okay. But anyway, on to the freebie that was Sleepless

Compared to the other Argento slasher flicks I’ve seen (Tenebrae, Opera, Phenomena, Trauma), it’s functional in terms of plotting, no more or less so than the others but where it truly succeeds – indeed where all the aforementioned examples succeed – is in the visuals. Slasher films would be so much richer a subgenre were all directors as focused on presentation as Argento is. The plot, however, doesn’t offer much we haven’t seen before, albeit an interesting and engaging little mystery…

A long-thought solved case of serial murder that occurred around Turin in 1983 – credited to dead dwarfed writer of twisted horror Vincenzo de Fabritiis – begin to reoccur seventeen years later when a hooker accidentally makes off with a dossier of the killer’s handiwork. In what’s clearly the film’s best sequence, she is tormented and murdered on the completely empty train back to the city, as is her roommate, and the old killings begin all over again.

Retired and aged detective Moretti (von Sydow) who investigated the original murders is brought back into the fold and contacts the grown up son of one of the previous victims (who suffered a grisly case of death-by-broken-clarinet) and the pair begin looking into the possibility that Vincenzo isn’t actually dead.

More slayings ensue, each of them left with a paper cut-out of a farm animal that corresponds to an old poem while Giacomo (the son) reconnects with his old flame, much to the annoyance of her dorky boyfriend. But who is the killer? What is his motive? Why are all the female characters in the film so fucking stupid?

I mean, really… what keeps me at arms-length with Argento’s work is his portrayal of women as dumbfucks who can’t operate locks on doors, fall over a lot, and drop the contents of their over-stuffed purses, leave their things behind so they have to go back for them, say they don’t require company walking home but then act all skittish and jump out of their skin at every little sound… Meanwhile, the ranks of idiotic male counterparts go largely unpunished despite acting like prize pricks – they’re exempted from the slashes of the killer’s blade. It’s annoying and goes against the the story by crowbarring these unlikely simpletons into the complex nature of what’s actually going on.

This issue brushed aside, Sleepless is an above average slasher film with a nice surprise ending that, for once, isn’t direly predictable, aided by the film having limitless background characters who could be the killer. The connection to the murders two decades earlier is neatly tied off in a believable way and it pretty much all makes sense. How hardcore fans of Argento’s see this alongside his earlier, more famous, more bloodthirsty work is a mystery to me but I can say with certainty that I liked it, I just wish the man himself would turn out a film where the victims were primarily stupid men and the women saved the day, or some gay blokes – hey, it could happen!

One final word on it, there was a brief laugh out loud moment when, almost out of nowhere, this person appeared:

She just…pops up, spinning to the camera before we cut back to something else. Look how happy she is. And she’s a waitress. Isn’t she supposed to be surly and annoyed? It looks like she works in one of those ‘theme’ establishments so at the very least she should be hocking up phlegm globs in the fries. Again, Argento’s talent for representing folk fails on this count.

Accents & Axings

RETURN OF THE FAMILY MAN

2.5 Stars  1989/18/87m

“He’s coming home to bury the hatchet.”

Director: John Murlowski / Writers: John Fox & John Murlowski / Cast: Ron Smerczak, Liam Cundill, Michelle Constant, Adrian Galley, Terence Reis, Debra Kaye, Kurt Egelhof, Victoria Bawcombe, Dominique Moser.

Body Count: 33 – yes, thirty-three

Dire-logue: “In England, shagging means fucking.”


Holy homicide, Batman! I’ve seen some weird ones but this South African export might just outdo the lot of ‘em.

Beginning with a totally superfluous shoot-out between some drug dealers, pizza delivery boy-slash-witness Alden decides to take an early vacation by joining friends Vickie and Brian, who are going away to try and mend their failing relationship. Turns out that the lush mansion they booked is not only a dilapidated heap that has also been let to another mixed-bag of teenage tourists but also was the childhood home of a cheeky mass-murderer known as The Family Man. ‘Cos he likes the kill families, I guess.

By nothing more than one of those only-in-a-slasher-film coincidences, said killer escapes from his prison bus after a decade incarcerated and immediately heads home to dwell on macabre memories. What ensues is fairly predictable…or is it?

Once the teens discover that a couple of their friends have been deadified, things go all A-Team and they make some gadget-traps meant to give the maniac a dose of his own medicine. Logically, they fail and he bumps off a few more before the survivors get their own back.

It was a while ago that I saw it but I recall it being one of those films that pretends it’s all been made in the USA when regional accents clearly tell us otherwise. However, to further confuse matters (and audiences of a discriminating ear), the tourist teens number among them natives of France, India, Ireland and an English guy who appears to be an early prototype of Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer - complete with peroxide blonde hair, black punk clobber and an attitude to match (see Direlogue).

The sky-high bodycount, a sure runner for the highest ever in the genre, isn’t all down to the killer but serves as a good distraction to the otherwise tried and tested elements of the film, which is pretty much a watch once affair.

The Vegan Voorhees Pre-Halloween Horrorfest Part III

So Groupie was mediocre and The Collector depressed me – next it was on to A Night to Dismember, which I’d heard “things” about, the same way you “hear” “things” about Camp Crystal Lake. Well you would if it existed.

A NIGHT TO DISMEMBER

1.5 Stars  1983/69m

Director: Doris Wishman / Writer: Judith J. Kushner / Cast: Samantha Fox, Diane Cummins, Bill Szarka, Saul Meth, Miriam Meth, Frankie Sabat, Chris Smith.

Body Count: 15

Dire-logue: “Someone was calling her – the voice seemed to be coming from the hat box.”


According to the IMDb, according to director Doris Wishman – according to the DVD commentary, the main reason A Night to Dismember sucks harder than a Portsmouth hooker is that a disgruntled lab employee burnt most of the negatives, leaving Wishman to spend some years re-shooting and re-cutting the film into the 69 minute end product.

If you could ever get a headache on to celluloid than this is surely it. There is no original sound, it was all re-recorded and dubbed back on with the haywire plot strung together (or attempted to be) by a narration leaving next to no dialogue for the people on screen.

So the story goes, in October 1986 the Kent family pretty much all get murdered after daughter Vicki (Samantha Fox – no, not that Samantha Fox) is released from an asylum where she had been residing for the past five years after murdering two local boys. Her brother Billy hates her and tries to make her crazy by dressing up in cheapo masks and emerging from a lake to follow her like a zombie.

Some people die pretty much from being lightly tapped by either a machete or the preferred axe. At one juncture, a loving couple are slain with the former weapon, their decapitations seen as shadows against a wall, both are quite literally prodded by the blade and their heads just tumble off. Then, in the next shot, their killer places the featureless plastic head of a mannequin in a fireplace, which we are asked to believe is the noggin of the woman! It’s plain white! It has no hair! Later, a decapitated head actually gets stuck to the axe blade.

Narrator man – supposed to be a detective – babbles on and watches Vicki through a window:

– “Vicki saw me through the shades and started to dance. It had been a long time since any man had paid any attention to her.”

And then he tells us about Vicki’s dream:

– “Vicki felt as though someone faceless was making love to her in bright flashing colours that were changing from one second to the next.”

nighttodismemberSome other people are murdered and then Vicki’s immediate family members begin dying. Here, the actor playing Billy’s hair changes from shot to shot. And I mean changes. It’s a short back and sides one second and then flopping around his shoulders the next, clearly after at least a year’s growth.

The killer is revealed to be Mary shortly afterwards and she is almost immediately haunted by the ghosts of her murder victims. So she runs into the woods. Then into the cellar where she hears a voice coming from a hat box (see Dire-logue). Then she packs a case and leaves and murders a taxi driver. What was her motive? Fucked if I know!

So Vicki was innocent after all but ends up getting strangled by the detective when she starts tapping him with the axe in self defence. Things end with the narrator telling us he knew all the juicy details because the entire family kept diaries.

Wow. 69 minutes has never dragged as much but if you’re really hunting for bad, bad movies then drop anchor here, it’s truly unbelievable. Everything seems to have gone wrong: the music changes completely in a snap from sort of jazzy gameshow theme to tuneless stringy shrieks but almost never attuned to what’s supposed to be happening on screen; the effects work is horrible and the camera work all over the place. Considering the title is a play on A Night to Remember, you’d be hard pressed to ever forget this. Technically speaking the worst film I’ve ever seen but at least it wasn’t a completely uninteresting experience…

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