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BFRUSTRATINGU

jeepers creepers 3 2017

JEEPERS CREEPERS 3

2 Stars  2017/88m

“Third time’s the charm.”

Director/Writer: Victor Salva / Cast: Jonathan Breck, Stan Shaw, Gabrielle Haugh, Brandon Smith, Meg Foster, Chester Rushing, Jordan Salloum, Ryan Moore, Michael Sirow, Gina Philips.

Body Count: 14


Well…

I mean…

We waited, dude, not quite 23 years, but we waited 14 years for the next instalment of Jeepers Creepers.

We pondered the whole Cathedral rumours, the Old West prologue rumours, the Trish-and-teen-son rumours – it had become the horror film equivalent of Guns n’ Roses’ Chinese DemocracySpoilers ensue.

To quantify how Jeepers Creepers 3 (not a III to match II - most irritating) comes across, imagine that instead of another movie, they’d decided to opt for a cheap horror channel TV series. It looks like a 90 minute pilot for just such a thing. Name it Poho County or some shit, and focus on the lives of the people caught up in The Creeper’s 23-year awaited banquets.

jeepers creepers 3 2017

One might even think that the film could’ve been shot around 2008 by another director as a for-DVD stop-gap while Victor Salva worked out what direction he wanted to go in next. Y’see, Jeepers Creepers 3 is really Jeepers Creepers 1.5 – it’s set between the other two movies. WHY? What will this possibly add?

The sad answer is nothing. If anything it detracts from the mythos of the existing films, in much the same way as each Wrong Turn sequel and prequel and midquel cheapened the savage impact of the original. See that series for how the FX work became less and less convincing and more like dollar store Halloween masks for series mainstay Three-Finger. That’s not a far cry from Jeepers Creepers 3. That it was played in theaters for but one day before premiering on the SyFy channel should also be taken as a message of forewarning.

jeepers creepers 3 2017

What plot there is crowbarred into things picks up right after the winged beastie flies off with Darry Jenner. The cops try to impound the Creep Mobile but soon find it’s some kind of sentient machine, riddled with traps that cannot physically exist in the given space (unless steel spikes can bend?). The Sheriff returns – remembers the carnage from ’78 and calls in Creeper Hunter Michael, who owns a pick up with a mounted gun on it.

Hey, we’ve been here and done this!?

Elsewhere, Meg Foster and granddaughter are worrying about not having enough hay for their horse. Grandma keeps talking to someone who is revealed to be the ghost of Kenny (remember the Kenny and Darla story?), who buried something on the farm the day before he died, 23 years earlier. Granddaughter, Addie, goes to try and purchase hay, has brief flirtations with hay-purveyor Buddy, and accompanies him dropping off other orders for the afternoon.

This links on to a quartet of dirt-bikers who happen across Creeper Mobile in a field, try and break into it and end up skewered by its many traps. They’re assholes, so nobody cares.

jeepers creepers 3 2017

Meg Foster digs up the thing Kenny buried, and it’s a severed hand of the Creeper. Touching it gives you a full back catalogue of its life, what it is, where it comes from, etc. Is any of this shared with with audience? No. When the Sheriff comes by and touches it, experiencing the same intake of information is it shared? No. Neither is it used to defeat The Creeper, SO WHY BOTHER?

Addie is kidnapped by The Creeper and finds herself trussed in the back of his van with the last surviving dirt-bike kid. Why they’re wrapped in sheets and ropes before having whichever organs Mr C wants from them is just another one for the ever growing FAQ that should probably be addressed in the DVD booklet, along with ‘Why does Meg Foster look 103 years old?’

Side note: I always get Megs Foster, Ryan, and Tilly confused.

The Sheriff, Sgt Tubbs (last seen in JC1 and apparently only a day older), and the hunter guy take on the Creep Mobile, which is now also bulletproof (tires included) and can drop little mine-bombs like you get in Mario Kart. My head went into my hands for a minute here.

jeepers creepers 3 2017 gina philips

Eventually, Addie is able to escape, so I think she was supposed to be the lead? The film flits between characters so much it’s impossible to attach yourself to anybody for long enough to root for them. The Creeper goes to retrieve the hand Kenny buried and instead finds a sign that says ‘We know what you are’, shrieks into the night, and Buddy climbs aboard the schoolbus that will feature in Jeepers Creepers II.

WAIT! said I, if he has already experienced the nightmare of this creature then A). why the fuck is he going to a basketball game the very next day after 14 people have been murdered, and B). why in that next/last/whatever film does his character not speak up and say ‘oh hey, this thing attacked us yesterday!’ Retcon central.

What positives there are only orbit around it being good to see the Creeper Mobile back in play (those Jigsaw-lite traps though…), some decent photography here and there, a good score, and Breck is fine in his signature role – though that heinous red sweater needed to go. Everything else looks cheaper, drier, hugely unenthusiastic about itself. I can only think that budget constraints were so tight this was deemed a way of springboarding the franchise back into people’s minds in order to forge ahead properly in Jeepers Creepers 4, as the core demographic for teen-horror released in 2017 will only have been toddlers when the first two came out.

jeepers creepers 3 2017

Certainly, the end, where Gina Philips appears for literally about thirty seconds, hints towards a 2024-set next round, but given how long it’s taken this instalment to surface, we could be waiting till 2047.

Blurbs-of-interest: Foster was also in Stepfather II; Jonathan Breck was in The Caretaker and Mask Maker.

Baby Doll

Day Four… Getting a bit over-Chuckified by this point…

*

seed of chucky 2004SEED OF CHUCKY

3 Stars  2004/15/83m

“The family that slays together, stays together.”

Director/Writer: Don Mancini / Cast: Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Redman, Hannah Spearritt, John Waters, Billy Boyd, Steve Lawton, Jason Flemyng.

Body Count: 13

Laughter Lines: “If this is what it takes to be human, then I would rather take my chances as a supernaturally possessed doll – it’s less complicated!”


I remember a criticism of the series at the time of the release of Seed of Chucky that it’s become a joke only Don Mancini and Jennifer Tilly are in on and, despite how hilarious this outing is, they weren’t far off the mark. The horror series with some comedy had done a one-eighty and was now a comedy with some horror.

A pint-sized doll slashes its way through a British household in what’s revealed to be a dream of Shithead, a living doll imprisoned and mistreated by a ventriloquist. Shithead watches a report from the in-production movie Chucky Goes Psycho and realises Chucky and Tiffany are their parents, escapes, and makes it to Hollywood. When Shithead discovers C&T are just prop dolls, they read from the amulet they’ve had since forever and restore life to them one more time.

seed of chucky 2004

Chucky and Tiffany awake, kill a poor schmuck, and discover Shithead is without gender-decisive parts. They rename them Glen. Or Glenda. Pending their offspring’s decision. Chucky wants a son, Tiffany wants a daughter.

The trio of dolls hide out in lead-role Jennifer Tilly’s limousine and set up home at her place, planning to transfer themselves into the bodies of her and rapper-turned-director Redman. Jennifer, disillusioned with her career, plans to sleep her way into Redman’s Biblical epic, much to the disappointment of Jennifer’s PA Joan (former S Club 7 member, Spearritt), who is then subsequently fired.

Tiffany convinces Chucky to give up killing to set a better example to Glen/da, which he dishonestly agrees to, but offs Britney Spears and John Waters’ paparazzi behind her back, taking Glen/da along with him. Tiffany meanwhile, sorts out a voodoo pregnancy for Jennifer, and tries to atone for her past sins in a hilarious scene where she calls the widow of a previous victim and apologises.

seed of chucky 2004 jennifer tilly chucky

The film begins to fall to pieces towards the end as everyone falls out, Glen/da appears in drag, then wants to be a boy, or a girl, and the dolls attack each other while the now-heavily pregnant Jennifer tries to escape, eventually writing itself into a bit of an inescapable corner that Curse of Chucky largely ignored nine years later, but at least didn’t entirely retcon.

Best viewed as a dark comedy – you’ll certainly get a lot of laugh-mileage. The confusing narrative with Tilly voicing Tiffany was well as playing herself is difficult to get to grips with at various points, but the fans’ ambivalence and only moderate box office success (about half of Bride of Chucky‘s haul) kept a lid on things for almost a decade, during which threats of a remake were rife. That at least hasn’t happened yet, rubber fingers crossed.

seed of chucky 2004 hannah spearritt

Blurbs-of-interest: Tilly was also in The Caretaker; Dourif can also be found in Rob Zombie’s Halloween re-do’s, Urban Legend, Chain LetterDead Scared, Color of Night, and Trauma; Jason Flemyng (who later stated he wished he could erase this film from his resume) was in From Hell;

Valley of the Mid-Range Franchises: HOLLOW MAN

hollow man 2000HOLLOW MAN

4 Stars  2000/18/112m

“Think you’re alone? Think again.”

Director: Paul Verhoeven / Writers: Gary Scott Thompson & Andrew W. Marlowe / Cast: Kevin Bacon, Elisabeth Shue, Josh Brolin, William Devane, Kim Dickens, Greg Grunberg, Mary Randle, Joey Slotnick.

Body Count: 6


It’s doubtful the director of Total Recall and RoboCop would approve of anybody dubbing Hollow Man a slasher flick and most reviews at the time seemed oblivious to the pretty by-the-number stalk n’ slash opus that takes up the final act of a very ambitious movie.

Kevin Bacon is at centre-stage (sort of) as self-worshipping scientist Sebastian Caine, pioneer of a government project that turns living things absolutely invisible thanks to your go-to miracle serum. After initial and successful tests on animals, Caine volunteers to be the first human guinea pig in a scene that – at the time at least – was amazing enough to earn the movie an Academy nomination for best FX work (it lost to Gladiator).

He uses his new invisibility to do what most narcissistic heterosexual guys would do – he spies on his female co-workers, plays pranks on the other team members and is generally an ass.

However, when neither he nor the team can crack the restorative process, the consequences of having no reflection, no eyelids to enable sleep, and little conscience to begin with, Caine begins sliding down the rabbit hole. The latex masked made so he can be seen by the others is later removed and he discovers that former squeeze Linda (Shue) is now involved with other co-worker Matt (Brolin). Their lack of progress and Caine’s changing personality prompts a plan to confess all to the Pentagon and take their punishment for the deception.

hollow man 2000 kevin bacon

Predictably, Caine won’t have it and resolves to locking the rest of the team in their underground laboratory and killing them one by one. How’s that for a masked killer?

Gory stuff but not in the usual slashed throat / decapitated head way – the transformations in and out of invisibility are graphic as we’re given explicit glances at the interiors of the body, which isn’t so pretty – and Bacon happily goes full frontal again, levelling the objectification-by-gender table.

The FX work is the star here, and the film straddles its hybrid sensibilities between sci-fi, action and horror comfortably, almost as if it’s been concocted in a lab itself, with elements of Scream married to The Invisible Man and coated in Verhoeven’s clinical style of direction and Shue makes for a spunky heroine.

Listen out for the awesome Wonder Woman joke.

*

HOLLOW MAN II hollow man 2 2006

3 Stars  2006/15/92m

“There’s more to terror than meets the eye.”

Director: Claudio Faeh / Writers: Gary Scott Thompson & Joel Soisson / Cast: Peter Facinelli, Laura Regan, Christian Slater, David McIlwraith, William MacDonald, Sarah Deakins, Jessica Harmon, John Shaw, Bruce Dawson.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “You’ve really outdone yourself this time, usually when you people make a mess at least you can see it.”


Verhoeven returned as executive producer for this efficient enough straight-to-DVD sequel, in which the last of three invisible assassins from the DoD’s ‘Silent Knight’ operation is desperately trying to track down Laura Regan’s biologist, the only person with the knowledge to prevent his body deteriorating the same way as his predecessors.

In the meantime, he’s happy to eliminate anybody who gets in his way as well as various government high-ups responsible for his condition. For the most part, this is a chase-flick with biologist and the cop assigned to protect her on the run from Mr Invisible.

While clearly made for a helluva lot less than the first film, it’s still a handsomely put together and what visual FX are in play are done well enough, if not as CG-centric as before. Where a bit more investment could’ve helped is in the script itself, which, although armed by a good enough story built around the future of the project (events from HM1 are briefly referenced), there doesn’t seem to be very far to go with it. Perhaps it would’ve worked better as a TV show?

hollow man 2 2006

No more or less slashy than before; there’s a naked teen tryst in an early scene where, of course, when it’s time for the guy’s clothes to come off, the girl gets spooked so we only see her boobs and nothing of him. Yawn.

Blurbs-of-interest: Kevin Bacon was an early victim of Mama Voorhees in Friday the 13th; Christian Slater was in both Mindhunters and Playback; Laura Regan was the heroine in My Little Eye; Jessica Harmon was in Fear Island.

Kincaid lives!!! …for a few minutes

the back lot murders 2002

THE BACK LOT MURDERS

2.5 Stars  2002/91m

“The stage is set…”

Director/Writer: David DeFalco / Writers: Paul Arensburg, Steven Jay Bernheim / Cast: Priscilla Barnes, Charles Fleischer, Jaime Anstead, Brian Gaskill, Corey Haim, Lisa Brucker, Carrie Stevens, Heather Tindell, Dayton Knoll, Lori Dawn Messuri, Ken Sagoes, Alejandro Escos, Tom Hallick, Angela Little, Nancy O’Brien, David Solomini.

Body Count: 17

Laughter Lines: “You have assets: Use your ass and your sets.”


This production is a mess, but it’s an occasionally entertaining mess with some amusing lines – largely courtesy of Charles Fleischer as the put-upon director – and an interesting backdrop for the carnage to take place against. Mild spoilers ensue.

Your off-the-shelf horror movie rock band are about to hit it big and are shooting their debut video on a Hollywood studio back lot where The Lost World: Jurassic Park was filmed. Six months earlier, they fired their temperamental songwriter after he smashed a bottle over a barmaid’s head – will that have any bearing on what’s to come?

Also on set is the lead singer’s bimbo girlfriend Janey, whose father runs the label they’ve signed to, and bitchy PR woman Stephanie, who wants the video to be cutting edge – so much that she’s willing to cut a few other things in order to see that goal realised?

back lot murders 2002 ken sagoes

Well somebody seems hell bent on making it a video to remember, starting with a couple of special effects folks (this is one slasher flick where the black guy – Sagoes who was Kincaid in two mid-Elm Street sequels – does die first – ironically he first to die in The Dream Master as well!), and filming each slaying by camcorder.

As numbers dwindle, highly-strung, campy director Henry deals with an endless parade of morons trying to get on screen: “Wow you’re an actress? In Los Angeles? How unusual.” But the rest of the film is expanded by long dull scenes of couples exploring buildings and the Elvis-masked killer not showing up soon enough. As usual, the scantily clad babes all flash their boobs before being chased away after their boyfriend is stabbed in the back.

Dim-witted Janey is somehow nominated to be the heroine, despite the film offering up a couple of other viable options earlier on (Henry’s assistant, who I think survives by leaving, and Wendy the fog lady), leaving us without a strong heroine figure to root for, just about the only remaining girl not to take her top off.

back lot murders 2002

The late Corey Haim’s comparable bit-part would go unnoticed if you – like me – didn’t recognise him. Barnes, however, is great in her sub-Betsy Palmer turn. Despite the curiosity of the Psycho house and a few other set pieces, this is one production probably better left in the lot – especially if you happen to watch the DVD featurette where the director claims it’s a “thinking man’s horror movie”. Right.

Blurbs-of-interest: Barnes was in Stepfather III; Fleischer was the dream doctor in the original Elm Street and was also in Chain Letter.

Scream if you’ve had enough of these parodies

shriek if you know what i did last friday the 13th

SHRIEK IF YOU KNOW WHAT I DID LAST FRIDAY THE 13TH

2 Stars  2000/15/83m

“It’s a scream!”

Director: John Blanchard / Writers: Sue Bailey & Joe Nelms / Cast: Majandra Delfino, Harley Cross, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Tom Arnold, Danny Strong, Julie Benz, Simon Rex, Aimee Graham, Chris Palermo, Coolio, Shirley Jones.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “I killed my cousin, my heart’s broken, and my sister’s dead.”


In a race against the Wayans’ Scary Movie (originally titled Scream if You Know What I Did Last Halloween), you could feel a bit sorry for Shriek… as it didn’t make it past the cutting room quick enough and was consigned to a video release, while Scary Movie inexplicably carried on to generate several increasingly cringe-worthy sequels, not to mention Epic MovieDate MovieDisaster Movie ad infinitum.

Regardless of whomever got there first, Shriek… is largely a Xerox of its competitor, as we’re thrown into the lives of the exaggerated stereotypes who go to Bulimia High, who did something last summer that they’d rather forget about.

Ergo, much silliness ensues and death abounds – but not at the hands of the killer, which only makes it more annoying. In a (failed) attempt to try and be funny and original, the characters actually die from other things before the nutter has a chance to get them: Bee stings, coronaries, etc.

So there’s no murder count and 88% of the jokes are the same as in Scary Movie. To its credit though, there is an inspired parody of VH1’s old Pop-Up Video during the final chase scenes, and a couple of other almost-laughs along the way, but it all weighs down under the forehead-tappers of fart jokes, erection jokes, gay jokes, and a killer with absolutely no motive, most likely thought up at the last second.

Blurbs-of-interest: Delfino was in RSVP; Simon Rex was in several of the Scary Movie sequels.

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