Tag Archives: after they were famous

0900-KILL

out of the darkOUT OF THE DARK

2.5 Stars  1988/18/84m

“Mother always wared her: Never talk to strangers…”

Director: Michael Schroeder / Writers: J. Gregory De Felice & Zane W. Levitt / Cast: Cameron Dye, Lynn Danielson, Karen Black, Tracey Walter, Bud Cort, Silvana Gallardo, Divine, Geoffrey Lewis, Karen Mayo-Chandler, Starr Andreeff, Karen Witter.

Body Count: 8


‘Frightening erotic’ – what?

DePalma-style outing with a creepy clown-masked nutter doing away with the girls who work for Black’s 0900 service “Suite Nothings”. Could it be the owner’s bitter and drunken ex-husband? Or how about the pervert accountant downstairs? All suspicion tends to rest on the shoulders of photographer Dye who, with girlfriend Danielson, tires to suss out the mystery for themselves.

Stylish and sometimes atmospheric, but the effect wears thin after the initial murders, and just becomes a let’s-clear-my-name do-it-yourself detective movie with a twist that isn’t revealing enough to warrant all the pondering. Still, the good use of photography, realistic characters (though Divine is only on-screen for a matter of seconds in this, his last film) and some wicked send-ups of other horror-greats fill in for some of the missing elements; especially funny is the Halloween-ripped final few minutes with post-motive speeches and plot coils galore.

Look for swift appearances by Lainie Kazan, Tab Hunter and Paul Bartel as a hooker, driver and hotel clerk respectively.

Blurbs-of-interest: Karen Black was also in Children of the Corn IV: The GatheringCurse of the Forty-NinerOliver Twisted, and Some Guy Who Kills People; Karen Witter was later in Popcorn; Tab Hunter was in Pandemonium; Paul Bartel was in Killer Party and Trick or Treats.

A time for family, forgiveness, and foul play

hfth dvdHOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

3 Stars  1972/74m

“There’s nothing more chilling than a warm family gathering.”

Director: John Llewelyn Moxey / Writer: Joseph Stefano / Cast: Eleanor Parker, Sally Field, Jill Haworth, Jessica Walter, Julie Harris, Walter Brennan, John Fink.

Body Count: 3


Psycho screenwriter Joseph Stefano penned this star-studded made-for-TV proto-slasher, which gives new meaning to uncomfortable festive family get-togethers.

Dying patriarch Benjamin Morgan instructs his eldest daughter, Alex, to gather her three sisters at the old family ranch for Christmas before he succumbs to his old age. So to the house cometh acid-tongued, trice-divorced Jo, pill and booze swilling Freddie, and sweet-natured youngest Christine, none of whom have been back to the house in some years.

Ben tells his offspring that his new wife, Elizabeth, is poisoning him to death. While Alex can’t decide if this is a desperate male-pride rejection of his age, or true due to the gossip that the woman poisoned her previous husband, the other sisters are a little more black and white, with only Christine willing to get to know her stepmother.

hfth2Before long, Jo decides to leave and is hijacked by a rain-macked, pitchfork-toting assailant outside. The next day, Freddie is drowned in the bath, a tragedy written off as either suicide or an accident waiting to happen. But suspicion runs rife and the remaining sisters can’t help but suspect Elizabeth, more so when Christine is chased through the woods by the rain-mack figure, the very coat belonging to Elizabeth. Giallo-tastic.

On TV in 1972, this mystery might’ve been a head-scratcher, but with hundreds of slasher films between then and when I saw it this week, it was no more difficult to solve than a Scooby Doo episode.

Home for the Holidays has barely a drop of blood, no real horror, and, at a thin 74 minutes, tends to drag here and there – it’s certainly not Black Christmas - but the winner here is the casting: Parker, Walter, Haworth, and Field are all on form as the sisters Morgan. The former two were reunited for another TV sort-of slasher film in 1979 in She’s Dressed to Kill, and it’s easy to see why Sean Cunningham was keen on Sally Field donning the lead role in Friday the 13th, her means-well good-girl vibe and screamability is quite similar to Adrienne King’s take on Alice, albeit with less fighting back required, though it’s worth noting Field would’ve been in her mid-thirties by then.

hfth1It’s rare to see such a competent collective of actresses working together. Menfolk are sidelined into virtual irrelevance by the film – it belongs to the quintet of leading ladies. Amusingly, Parker was older than the woman playing her father’s new wife, plus old enough to be Field’s own mother!

A mild, bleakly festive affair (hey, there’s a tree and a wreath!), with more in common with Murder, She Wrote than Silent Night, Deadly Night but intriguing in its own way and could benefit from a decent remake. If you want a fun game, count the number of ominous zooms used to create suspicion.

Meeeeerry Christmas!

The 100 Worst Slasher Films: #80-61

IMDb.com’s lowliest rated slasher films – blame the general voting public, not me!

Check out #100-81 here.

80. The Masque of the Red Death (1989)

IMDb rating: 3.2
VeVo rating: 3 Stars

Frank Stallone, Herbert Lom, and Brenda Vaccaro all crop up in this 43rd take on Poe’s tale. A young tabloid journalist cons her way into a masquerade ball at an eccentric’s Bavarian castle, where a cloaked and masked fiend begins offing the guests in a series of inventive ways. It’s the alleged ‘travesty’ to Poe that is to thank for the low rating, but it’s not a bad time killer by any degree.

79. BreadCrumbs (2011)

IMDb rating: 3.2
VeVo rating: 2.5 Stars

bc3aA film crew making a porno rock up at a house in the woods where a couple of odd teenagers keep appearing, seemingly trapped in a world of childhood fantasy. Aging star Angie (Marianne Hagan from Halloween 6) is kind to them, which ultimately helps out when people start dying. Likeable characters help this one out in the first instance, but it begin to go downhill at the halfway point.

78. Adam & Evil (2005)

IMDb rating: 3.2
VeVo rating: 2 Stars

Graduating high school friends take a camping trip and begin falling victim to a masked killer. There’s a guy called Adam, who’s the hero, so will the killer be Eve, Yvette, or Yvonne? Every trope of the genre gets a tick in the box. In the UK, the film was retitled Halloween Camp 2: Scream If You Wanna Die Faster. The ‘first’ Halloween Camp was actually Bloody Murder 2: Closing Camp. Way to confuse us, DVD people.

77. Kill Keith (2011)

IMDb rating: 3.2
VeVo rating: 2 Stars

kk3

A very British ‘comedy’ concerning early morning TV, as potential successor’s to the departure of a presenter are done away with. The Keith of the title is British institution Keith Chegwin. The artwork parodied Kill Bill, and is about the only inventive aspect to the whole affair.

76. The Choke (2005)

IMDb rating: 3.2
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

Psycho killers vs rock bands was a popular motif in the 80s and early 90s, but it wasn’t gone – only resting. Punk rock band The Choke are on the brink of a split, due to the pretty boy lead singer and guitarist going off in search of their own deal. One final gig sees them locked in Club 905 and stalked by a vengeful killer. Passably put together but excruciatingly paced and understated.

75. The Graveyard (2006)

IMDb rating: 3.2
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

A sort-of sequel to the Bloody Murder films: Yet another misjudged prank results in a death. Six years later, the others involved in it are summoned to a reunion at a closed summer camp, where a mystery killer hunts them down. Notable only for starring the guy who played Puck in Glee.

74. The Pumpkin Karver (2006)

IMDb rating: 3.2
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

pumpkin-karverNew-to-town siblings become embroiled in a killing spree at a Halloween party in the middle of nowhere, courtesy of a maniac who likes to carve his victims’ faces into Jack-O-Lanterns. The first hour is a very, very slow build towards a ride that houses about as many surprises as a broken jack in the box.

73. Knock Knock (2006)

IMDb rating: 3.2
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

“Answering the door will never be the same again,” promises the tagline for this retarded New York film, where the killer offs teens in accordance with their father’s occupation because of a prank from X years earlier… Clichéd ex-cop plotting and casual sexism only makes it more annoying.

72. Goodnight, God Bless (1987)

IMDb rating: 3.2
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

Another nail in the coffin of British horror, this begins quite daringly with a priest gunning down small children in a playground. The only surviving witness of this massacre is, along with her mother, stalked by the maniac. Some supernatural rubbish is added on, as well as a cop-falls-for-the-mother subplot. Director John Eyres would go on to helm Ripper: Letter From Hell to much improved results. One good piece of dire-logue: “When they put teeth in your mouth they ruined a perfectly good asshole.”

71. Camp Blood 2 (2000)

IMDb rating: 3.2
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

campblood2If it was unbelievable enough that there was a Camp Blood 1, this also-shot-on-cam sequel is merely a continuation of the same dreadful quality: The sole survivor of the first massacre is invited to consult as an advisor on a film being made about the original murders. To the surprise of nobody on the planet, another clown masked psycho pops up and does the usual.

70. Drive In (2000)

IMDb rating: 3.1
VeVo rating: 2.5 Stars

Billy Morrow is your garden variety hulking remedial, who’s never left his house thanks to his overbearing mother. His one connection to the outside world is watching the low-end horror movies that play at the drive in across the street. Eventually he gets out and begins killing various patrons, including burning one person’s face in hot nacho cheese at the concession stand. Cheap but cheerful, this innocuous film isn’t half as bad as others on this roster.

69. Hatchetman (2003)

IMDb rating: 3.1
VeVo rating: 2 Stars

“Mommy taking her clothes off isn’t as bad as hurting people,” says the final girl to the axe-toting murderer of girls from a pole dancing joint. He’s been chopping off their hands while the cop who happens to be dating the Courteney Cox-a-like heroine try to figure out who it is. A diluted take on the myriad of stripper-killer films that were big in the 80s, but not the worst thing ever.

68. Switch Killer (2005)

IMDb rating: 3.1
VeVo rating: 2 Stars

Girl flees her abusive ex and moves to Las Vegas, where she gets a job as a topless dancer and falls in love with another woman. Six months later, boyfriend arrives having had a sex change and stabs all manner of people to get to her. Sixteen of the 84 minute runtime is taken up by the end credits, which tells us just how much thought went into it. The director’s other slasher resume highlights, Mr Ice Cream Man and Carnage Road will feature further up the list.

67. A Night to Dismember (1983)

IMDb rating: 3.1
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

nighttodismemberIt’s not really anyone’s fault that A Night to Dismember blows harder than a Pittsburgh hooker, a studio fire destroyed so much of the original footage, that director Doris Wishman spent years re-shooting and re-cutting it. All audio had to be re-dubbed, leaving the end product a kind of headache on screen, with a narrator struggling to make sense of it all.

66. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)

IMDb rating: 3.1
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger are the superstars-to-be looking embarrassed by participating in this totally shitty fourth incarnation of the Sawyer family, with a crossdressing Leatherface. I remember so little about it there’s nothing else to write.

65. Horror 102: Endgame

IMDb rating: 3.1
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

Horror102College students who volunteered for a psychology experiment are locked inside a disused asylum where they are stalked and slain by a hooded killer. Half-a-star better than its predecessor, the non-slasher film Horror 101, both films are rated PG-13, enough to tell you there’s no point investing your time or energy.

64. Scared (2001)

IMDb rating: 3.1
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

This sorry Scream knock-off has a masked killer offing the dopey cast and crew of a slasher film (which they call ‘the next Scream‘). Every scenario presented is fresh off the millennial slasher shelf, with nothing original to offer for itself.

63. Terror At Tenkiller (1987)

IMDb rating: 3.1
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

Two gal-pals go on vacation to a house alongside Lake Tenkiller, to escape an annoying ex-boyfriend. They take jobs as waitresses at the local diner, where the other servers have a habit of walking out and never coming back. There’s absolutely no attempt to disguise the killer’s identity, but with only eight characters in the whole thing, it probably wasn’t worth trying to fool anyone.

62. Motor Home Massacre (2005)

IMDb rating: 3.1
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

Some amusing one-liners aren’t enough to save this vacation-from-hell DVD feature. Seven teens rent a clunky old Winnebago and venture off to the cursed Black Creek Park, scene of a series of murders that, of course, extends to them as soon as they arrive. It takes about an hour for anything to happen. Not the stuff of a legendary road trip.

61. Deranged

IMDb rating: 3.1
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

derangedA group of British women are invited to the bachelorette party of their eccentric Brazilian friend at her villa in Spain. Once there, the hostess apparently dies from a seizure and then somebody begins murdering the others. From the ‘mystery killer’s’ identity being on the fucking DVD cover to characters deciding to go off for sex during the carnage, this is truly deserving of its place here.

2015 Halloween Spectacular Part 2: Zombie Nightmare

zombie-nightmareZOMBIE NIGHTMARE

1.5 Stars  1987/80m

Director: Jack Bravman / Writer: David Wellington / Cast: Adam West, Frank Dietz, John Mikl Thor, Manuska Rigaud, Shawn Levy, Tia Carrere, Allan Fisher, Hamish McEwen, Manon E. Turbide, Linda Singer.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “I’m old enough to be your older sister.”


And I wanted my 666th slasher movie to special! Kinda got what I wished for.

Serving as a kind of resume urban legend for some of the big names involved, Zombie Nightmare‘s IMDb rating of 2.2 (up from around 1.8 and a place in Bottom 100) provides a fairly accurate reflection of what to expect…

BUT… bad movie lovers amongst us will enjoy this veritable feast of How Not To Make A Good Movie, from drastic changes in hair, clothes, and even actors mid-scene.

I would reckon zombie movie fans have picked up this one excitedly in the past, only to painfully discover that, title aside, and just like Zombie Island Massacre, this ain’t nothin’ but a punk ass slasher movie.

zn5Anyway, after a baseball game, the Washington family walk home, and big dad Bill tries to help a young girl being harassed by two punk ass teen, uh, punks. For his trouble, he gets himself stabbed in front of wife and young son.

Years later, young son has grown up into be-mulleted hunk Tony (Thor, of the band Thor), all round great guy, who looks after mom and is nice to all, or so we assume from his few minutes of screen time. Tony is sent to fetch groceries from the couldn’t-be-more-stereotypical Italian shopkeep, who is later referred to as Hank Peters (!). During his errand, more punk ass punks attempt to rob the store (Hank gasps “Mamma Mia!”) and Tony beats up their punk asses but is then run over by yet another group of punk ass teen punks, who just drive away. They have no collective remorse, with the guy at the wheel even saying he got a buzz from it.

zn3Shopkeep takes Tony’s body to his mom’s house and then suggests they call the police, but she has better ideas, calling in a favour from local Haitian Voodoo Priestess Molly Mokembe, who can resurrect Tony in zombie form long enough for him to seek revenge on those responsible.

So it goes, the quintet of teens are hunted down by the hulking zombie, initially sporting the same mullet but later cropped down to sensible Ken-doll hair, while he breaks necks, impales with baseball bats, or just smashes skulls into walls n’ shit. Curiously, the nasty teen most responsible – big blown out, feathered hair – goes fairly early on, leaving Tia Carrere and boyfriend to be stalked to the last.

Tony: Before and after

Tony: Before and after

As if this weren’t awesome enough ingredients for the best film y’ever saw, halfway through Adam freakin’ West turns up as the police captain, whose detective (Dietz) is hot on the trail of the killer. The murders are somehow being reported as drug-infused suicides. Of a victim, the Captain says: “He ran with a bad crowd… Running red lights, getting drunk, smoking marijuana – you know the usual bad stuff.” Yeah sounds like an epidemic.

Tony eventually rids the world of the punk ass teen punks and is free to rest in peace, but not before Zombie Nightmare plays its ace card: Adam West is one the punk ass punks who killed his dad!

zn-westBut, hey, wait a sec… The M.E. says that an earlier victim was aged around 43, whereas West was pushing 60 in 1987 – and how many years were supposed to have passed between Tony’s dad being murdered (by “teens”) and Tony being grown up? 10? 20?? 30???

Nothing really makes a lot of sense in Zombie Nightmare. At one point, things just grind to halt so we can watch two people play tennis for several minutes. But at least there’s pre-Wayne’s World Tia Carrere as one of the teens, and the ringleader was played by Shawn Levy, who went on to direct the Night at the Museum films along with numerous other Hollywood titles, whereas Zombie Nightmare‘s director, Jack Bravman, later gave us the even worse Night of the Dribbler.

  • Elsewhere, why does the priestess talk like a sheep singing a Belinda Carlisle song?
  • Why does Zombie-Tony look like he’s doing interpretive dance in the final scene?
  • Why does a near rape victim think that saying: “I’ve had enough of your childish sexual advances – go away!” would ever work?
  • Who is the hero in this film, seriously? Zombie Tony? The detective?

zn4The thrash metal soundtrack, with songs from Motorhead, Thor (of course) and a load of other bands I’ve never heard of, seems to be where the budget went. Come for the music, stay for the hair and the comedy.

Stock Background Characters 101: Evil Adults

In this feature, we examine the lesser beings of the slasher movie realm, which, if you’re making your own slasher film, could provide a good cast roster for you.

No killer or final girl profiles here, this is a celebration of those underlings who made the most of their fleeting flirtation with stardom. And usually died.

This month, we bite our tongues in the face of those EVIL ADULTS!

sbc-eviladults

Overview: What teenager doesn’t have an adult nemesis? Parents, teachers, that nasty old man who runs the local store… In slasherdom, such nefarious individuals are widespread, always telling the kids how to live, what not to do, keeping information vital to their survival from them because they were “just trying to help”… Sucky thing is, they were often right.

That I’m an adult myself (for, like, almost twenty years) should be noted. But I still act like I’m thirteen. 1991 thirteen, not 2015 thirteen.

Linguistic Snapshot: “Now listen to me, young lady, you may think you want to know what happened at the old farm out on Highway 66, but you don’t! And don’t go there either. Go to your room. Do your homework. Stay away from boys! It’s for your own good!”

Styling: Evil Adults come in many forms, so there’s no real all encompassing style, only that they’re well past their teen years and are blindly convinced they know best. Kinda like religious folk. But always pompous.

Hallmarks: Evil Adults vary in terms of their place and role in the slasher film, sometimes they can cross paths with The Oracle or the Holy Vessel (such as the über-strict Mother Superior from Silent Night, Deadly Night) and they don’t always die.

"I know what's best for you. You don't."

“I know what’s best for you. You don’t.”

Knowing or doing what they think is best is usually the one-dimension that the Evil Adult trades on: be it the parents of Elm Street who hide their dirty secret from their children, or the shrink trying to exploit his patient’s telekinetic abilities.

EA’s can also live in complete denial of the facts: The psyche ward doctors in Elm Street 3 (“young lady, your opinion is of no interest to me”) and the heroine’s uncle in Friday the 13th Part VIII, they don’t listen to the young, consigning them to a gruesome, stabby death, or they point blank refuse to accept the obvious – that Jason Voorhees is alive and is here.

Downfall: As such, the Evil Adults who do end up seeing the sharp end of the machete live merrily in denial until the last minute. Mr McCulloch of Friday VIII stands idly by barking orders at his students while their ranks are depleted, calling everyone who posits Jason is alive as an idiot, seeing decapitated heads, victims snatched away in front of him, and still gasps “it’s not possible!” when Jason is bearing down on him.

In the previous instalment, Tina’s selfish shrink first sacrifices her mother to aid his own escape, but then gets a buzzsaw to the torso.

Bride-Of-Chucky-John-Ritter

Likewise, Jade’s nasty uncle/guardian in Bride of Chucky is more hellbent on ruining her life, completely blind to the killer dolls in the picture. Yet another unpleasant father figure appears in Halloween 6, having moved his family into the Myers house, he overlooks his wife’s pleas to leave and ends up suffering an exploded head for his ignorance.

But it can work backwards, Mrs Slater, the cranky housemother of The House on Sorority Row keeps a dark secret that sees her killed, but instead of by the killer, it’s in a prank-gone-wrong that prompts the killer to start doing away with the girls responsible.

Or, the Evil Adult escapes death completely. This is the case for the aforementioned Mother Superior, horrible Dr Simms from Elm Street 3, and McGregor, the teen-hating campus cop in Graduation Day. While their on-screen demises might be gratifying, the fact that they don’t die underscores the unfairness of the situation, especially in the Elm Street film: The sins of the parents are visited on their children.

"You evil girls will pay for this! Mark my words!"

“You evil girls will pay for this! Mark my words!”

Genesis: Meddling, annoying people have always been present in the genre, from swaggering motorcycle cops throwing their weight around at Camp Crystal Lake, to sadistic gym teachers at Springwood High… There seems to be no one Adam or Eve figure from which they stem, their existence is all part of the teen experience, though at least they seem to be outnumbered by well-meaning adults who want to help.

Legacy: As long as the teen years are fraught with defiance, I-know-everything attitudes, beer, and sex, so there will always be Evil Adults looking to put an end to that fun. You might even say Michael, Jason, Freddy and the like are the faces of that discipline, correcting behaviour in a way the parents, teachers and cops couldn’t.

And they’re still thriving, as the mean camp counsellors who bully children in Return to Sleepaway Camp, as the distrustful mother who refuses to listen to her daughter in Fingerprints, or the asshole boss who can’t even remember if his staff are alive or dead in Final Destination 5, and the teachers who protected the nasty bullies in Tormented.

Drone on, Evil Adults, someone somewhere might be listening.

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