Tag Archives: accents from hell

The Laugh/Barf Principle


2 Stars  2006/18/81m

“It’s not a remake. It’s not a sequel. And it’s not based on a Japanese one.”

Director/Writer: Adam Green / Cast: Joel David Moore, Tamara Feldman, Deon Richmond, Kane Hodder, Mercedes McNab, Parry Shen, Joleigh Fioreavanti, Patrika Darbo, Richard Riehle, Joel Murray, Robert Englund, Joshua Leonard, Tony Todd.

Body Count: 11

Dire-logue: “It’s not working – are you sure the number is 9-1-1?”

‘Old School American Horror’ sayeth the cover… Hatchet opened to a lot of eager reviews of the “best thing since sliced head bread” variety from various horror ‘ficionados and so, when it eventually washed up on our shores in October of 2007, I was hoping it would remove the sour aftertaste of Rob Zombie’s Halloween right out of there like a keg of Listerine.

On paper it should be perfect: Hodder, Todd, Englund, a true slasher movie fan at the helm, the woods, lost group of tourists, local myth of psycho killer, and still Hatchet and I just didn’t get along. It’s like a blind date set up by your friend who thinks you’ll be perfect for each other but then it turns out that maybe they just don’t know you that well.

Anyway, enough of that tripe, what’s it about?

Recently dumped college boy Moore is dragging his heels around New Orleans Mardi Gras, much to the annoyance of his frat buddies (including director Green in the cap) and opts to take a haunted swamp tour he heard about, accompanied reluctantly by best pal Richmond.

Turned away by Tony Todd’s two minute cameo, they find fake-accented Parry Shen is willing to take them, along with a retired couple, a porno director and his two bickering starlets and a mysteriously quiet local chick who’s looking for her croc hunting Pa and bro (Englund and Leonard) who were offed in the prologue. Their guide soon proves himself incompetent by grounding the tour boat and a croc attack leaves the group staggering around the woods when they happen upon the house allegedly inhabited by a legendary ghoul…

After a flashback tale of poor Victor Crowley, a horrendously malformed child looked after solely by his father (Hodder, out of makeup for a change) who was tormented by local kids who torched his house while the boy was still inside and a botched rescue attempt by daddy left him with an axe in the face… Nominal heroine Feldman tries to guide the group elsewhere but is too late and the hulking Crowley quickly sets about doing away with them one by one.

Hatchet does what we expect it to; the tourists are ripped limb from limb, hacked, sawn, skewered and beheaded with liberal lashings of gore, all of it CG-free, which is admirable, although at times the less-is-more route would have been advisable, although the film was released at a time when ‘horror’ was being cut down to PG-13 levels of acceptability to suck in a younger audience, Hatchet provided a sort of nihilistic flip-off to them and piled on the grue. And the tits.

It was mostly the misbalanced frat-style comedy that shot it in the foot for me. The gags are obvious as Richmond does the typical token black dude thing while McNab is dumber than a box of hair (“call the police, they’ll send the cops!”) and Moore is just the unlucky schmuck. Shen comes out of it the best – possibly the reason he returned for the sequel as a different character – and Feldman is a functional, if not a little lifeless heroine, replaced in Hatchet II by the preferable Danielle Harris.

Green’s skills markedly improved by the time the follow up surfaced in 2010, achieving where most sequels fail by completely outdoing the original film. That’s not to say Hatchet is a bad film, it’s just a bit…juvenile? Who knows, maybe it was supposed to be, but it’s bookended plot means that it geographically goes almost nowhere, seemingly set in a patch of woods about thirty feet in diameter. As if unsure whether he wants to shock us or make us laugh, even Green himself seemed to be aware of the flaws during the screening of the second film at FrightFest, a product he was evidently more at home with making and is consequently far more accomplished.

Blurbs-of-interest: Deon Richmond was in Scream 3; Parry Shen was also in Dead Scared; Josh Leonard had the lead in Madhouse. Mercedes McNab used to play dim-witted cheerleader (and then equally incompetent vampire) Harmony in Buffy. Richard Riehle was in The Watermen and Texas Chainsaw 3D. John Carl Buechler, director of Friday the 13th Part VII and makeup artist on a gazillion other films cameod as Jack Cracker (and had a bigger role in Hatchet II). Hodder, Englund and Todd’s services to the genre are huge and I hope at the very least you know which three icons they’re most famous for playing.

Britain’s Got “Talent”


1 Stars  1987/18/87m

“Your nightmare has arrived…”

A.k.a. Lucifer (UK video)

Director: John Eyres / Writer: Ed Ancoats / Cast: Emma Sutton, Frank Rozelaar Green, Jared Morgan, Jane Price, Alan Rowlands, David Charles, Alister Meikle.

Body Count: 12

Dire-logue: “When they put teeth in your mouth they ruined a perfectly good asshole.”

Britain in the 80s: new romantics, Thatcher, miners strikes, fluffy perms and shit-feeble attempts to recreate the American slasher film – regardless of the evident talent strike also in force…

Things begin brutally: a priest – face off camera – strolls along past a school playground toying with his Rosary beads while kids toss a ball around beyond. Priest enters, stabs a teacher and then shoots a bunch of kids. Little kids. Like six or seven years old. Like the Mini-Pops. Harsh.

Five kids die and there’s only one eyewitness in Mandy, the little girl who saw the whole thing happen and only survived because the gun ran out of ammo. It’s now up to gorky American detective Green to put a stop to the madness and fall in love with Mandy’s mum (Sutton) along the way.

The killer priest, meanwhile, offs a random nightclubber and a poor dog before returning to get Mandy, seeing nowt wrong in stabbing the clueless coppers who stand in between.

Director Eyres later went on to make Ripper: Letter from Hell, which is about as far removed from this piece of festering turd as you can get. It’s horribly put together, with scenes so padded and inconsequential that the dialogue is often muted in favour of coma-flirting elevator muzak. The romantic sub-plot is lousy: detective dude ‘fesses his love for Mrs Mandy after two dates, to which we are cordially dragged along kicking and screaming. And the police ‘investigation’ looks like The Bill made several casting redundancies.

After battling through enough tedium to put a can of Red Bull to sleep, the killer is cornered and shot out of a window, the sting in the tail being that we get to see his face, which is pretty pointless as it’s already on the cover of the video box.

Do we ever find out who he is? No.

Why did he shoot up the school? Don’t know.

Well, what can you tell me? I miss Caramac.

There’s piss-all resolution and time that could’ve been used setting up potential suspects was instead wasted on the long date sequences, overdubbed by a jaw-droppingly atrocious ballad sung by Eyres himself!

Eject it and say Goodbye, Fuck Off Forever.

Jigsaw has a lot to answer for

steeltrapSTEEL TRAP

2 Stars  2007/18/89m

“Surviving each floor is the name of the game.”

Director: Luis Cámara / Writers: Luis Cámera & Gabrielle Galanter / Cast: Georgia MacKenzie, Mark Wilson, Julia Ballard, Pascal Langdale, Joanna Bobin, Adam Rayner, Annabelle Wallis, Frank Maier.

Body Count: 7

Dire-logue: “Living well’s pretty good but I’d say killing people is the best revenge, really.”

At a New Year’s Eve party for media types in a skyscraper, several people receive a text message inviting them down for the “real party” on a lower floor. They attend and find insulting place names that call them loser, two-faced, pig, heartless etc and clues that send them off on a scavenger hunt.

Amongst the group are a TV chef, a failing rock star, a sycophantic agent and a bitching couple and they begin to fall victim to a shiny-masked killer who slices, hangs, axes and stabs them one by one.

Much of the content of this German production is lifted right out of the Saw franchise with TV monitors galore, cryptic clues left by the killer and would-be ‘sensational’ twist ending, which becomes more and more predictable as the cast is shrunk down to the last few stragglers, most of whom begin to suspect each other – is one of them in on it, or is it all part of some bigger game?

Well, the Dire-logue should clue you in on the motives of the villain when things finally unravel – it’s all a big revenge scheme for an ex-nerd who is offing all the people who made their life a misery before they found success. To be fair to it, I quite enjoyed the exposition, ridiculous though it was and the actual ending is something you don’t see all over the place.

Steel Trap is let down by uneven performances from a chiefly British cast affecting American accents, unlikeable characters and some really stupid dialogue. At one point, a guy attempts to dial out on his cell phone to find that the signal is blocked: “Signal is blocked! What does that mean!?” to which his whiny girlfriend replies – in all seriousness, you understand – “it means he blocked the signal!” And it’s this kind of idiocy which sums things up perfectly.

The Hills Have Glam Metal, Big Hair & Swedish Accents


1.5 Stars  1985/18/85m

“The mountains echoed with the screams of terror.”

Director: Mike Jackson [Mats Helge] / Writers: Mike Jackson & Anna Wolf / Cast: Jeff Harding, Naomi Keneda, Michael Fitzpatrick, Brad Powell, Harriet Tobinson, Peter Merrill, Tina Shaw, Frances Kelly, Karina Lee, Helena Jacks.

Body Count: 18

Dire-logue: “Look at their women – evil! They deserve to die.”

I love 80s nostalgia. Even though I can’t remember much before 1987, I always look back and smile, while listening to We Built This City. However, all rose-tinted hindsight is usually just a front for some black clouds, for us: Thatcher, yuppie-culture, the Sinclair C5 and Spandau Ballet. The legions of straight to video horror films that also belong in this category can also include this dismal Swedish affair, Blood Tracks, which uses one of the lowest form of horror cliches – thrash metal – as the centrepiece for a Hills Have Eyes-rip set in the mountains.

Solid Gold, a bad marriage of Kiss and Aerosmith on a bad hair day, are to shoot their new promo video in the snowy mountains of your stock small town where, forty years earlier, a woman stuck a knife in the back of her abusive husband and fled to the hills with her sons.

These socially-starved freaks, naturally now deformed and homicidal, aren’t too impressed by sheer amount of trespassing hair – likely causing a solar eclipse – and set about doing away with Solid Gold and their entourage, including their airhead dancers/girlfriends after they are stranded by an avalanche, which fails to stop the female cast members prancing around nude.

Why are there no remotely interesting horror movies about heavy metal bands and death? Seriously, none of them are any good. To make things worse, the film has been developed with such a low exposition that it’s near impossible to see what’s happening nor tell any of the characters apart. The band all look the same, as do the dancers and everyone else dies so early on it makes no difference.

Badly dubbed into English, I later read that Solid Gold were, in reality, a real life band called Easy Action! I wonder if even they still possess a copy of this turkey.

I can forgive Sweden for this faux pas; they gave us Volvo’s, ABBA, Roxette and decent Eurovision entries most years. I expect multiple copies of Blood Tracks are stacked up in a sauna somewhere…

Shoot first, work out plot later


3 Stars  2009/15/86m

“There’s nothing like a brush with death to make you feel alive.”

Director: Daniel Benmayor / Writer: Mario Schoendorff / Cast: Jennifer Matter, Brendan Mackey, Patrick Regis, Iaione Perez, Neil Maskell, Anna Casas, Peter Vives Newey, Claudia Bassols, Felix Pring.

Body Count: 11

Dire-logue: “Look man, we might’ve just met, but right now we need to stick together!”

If you’ve ever been paintballing it’s likely you’ve encountered some the archetypes commonly associated with shooting-things-for-fun. I went a couple of years ago and we beheld the stag-do lads (the groom was made to wear a dress) and the militia wannabes who like to take such things a tad seriously… Needless to say, I was crap as it, succeeding only in eliminating trees from the competition.

In the grand tradition of doing-what-it-says-on-the-box, Paintball is a film about paintball – an obvious development for death-in-the-woods film, but not one that hasn’t been explored before. Jason took out some dorky execs in Friday the 13th Part VI and bachelor-party-boneheads were hunted by a Templar Knight in StagKnight just a couple of years back.

This Spanish film (in English) puts eight international paintball fanatics – four of each gender – into Redball Woods, “Europe’s largest paintball sanctuary” where they’re given 24 hours to capture four flags and annihilate the opposing team. Names are bandied around but with everyone in masks it’s impossible to work out who’s who and all dialogue for now is yelled commands from nominated leader David.

Before long, the team are attacked by someone who has better weapons than they do – including real bullets it seems as one lagging schmuck is quickly killed off. So begins their plight as a largely off-camera hunter picks them off one after the other, watching through night-vision goggles so all the violence is polarised and spurts of blood appear bright white.

At around the halfway point, Paintball does the opposite to what most modern horror flicks do – it gets better instead of worse, escalating steadily towards the interesting climax. The first third was crowded with annoying characters (we had the token fat American guy, the brash sub-Vasquez chick, and the black guy) and had frenetic, near impossible to watch camera work.

However, it soon becomes apparent that we’re not dealing with just another I-hate-people psycho; the killer is under instruction from a group of people with a vested interest in watching people die. Echoes of Battle Royale, Wilderness and now Hostel come together as the final numbers dwindle and the killer rebels and decides to kill his way, leaving last survivor – female, natch – to be ‘adopted’ by the controllers, who shepherd both her and the killer together for a final theatrical confrontation. The winner will be granted freedom…right?

In spite of some nice accents, there’s little European flavour in Paintball: none of the lush photography that made The Orphanage so nice and sod all tension a la Cold Prey and Haute Tension. But there is something good about it, something that might have worked out better if the film were in more experienced hands. As it is, the first third is so dismal that the temptation to turn off was overwhelming. If you can make it to the midway twist, you might enjoy it.

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