Tag Archives: after they were famous

Les mis

STAGE FRIGHT

2 Stars  2014/89m

“Sing your heart out!”

Director/Writer: Jerome Sable / Cast: Allie MacDonald, Meat Loaf Aday, Minnie Driver, Douglas Smith, Brandon Uranowitz, Kent Nolan, Thomas Alderson, Ephraim Ellis, Melanie Leishman, James McGowan.

Body Count: 7*

Laughter Lines: “What Japanese tradition involves covering your face all in white?” / “Bukkake!”


The third (possibly fourth) slasher film called Stage Fright, the concept for this alone virtually had my spraying my shorts with anticipation: A killer stalking a musical theater summer camp! A MUSICAL THEATER SUMMER CAMP! If you want nothing more than to see the Glee kids to die, this might go some way to quenching that bloodthirst.

Alas, similarly aroused reader, I was repeatedly reminded of the title of my favourite Skunk Anansie song. Squander. Whenever Skin wails “why squander, squander, squander, squaaaaaan-derrrrr?” I shall forever be reminded of this fucked up opportunity.

Things begin curiously like The Clown at Midnight, with stage queen Minnie Driver moidered in the dressing room by a masked assailant after a performance of The Haunting of the Opera. Her two young children, Buddy and Camilla, and lover Roger (Meat Loaf) survive her.

A decade later, Meat Loaf’s Summer Camp for Musical Theater Roger’s summer camp, Center Stage, attracts a bus full of excitable teens who sing about their arrival, being themselves etc: “I’m gay, but not in that waaaay” vs “I don’t get hard at T&A”. It’s chucklesome, but the tune isn’t memorable enough to have you humming it all day.

Camilla and Buddy, kitchen workers at the camp, want to move on with their lives, but then the season’s choice production turns out to be a Japanese-themed take on The Haunting of the Opera, and Camilla – looking like Mary Elizabeth Winstead – cannot resist following in her mother’s footsteps, ultimately winning a share of the lead role, with bitchy contender Liz.

A good 40 minutes of rehearsal wastes the chance of building any characters up: We learn few names, even less about the main players, and the killer barely registers, occasionally seen toiling in his subterranean dungeon, wallpapered with headshots that enrage him. Eventually, he pops up and kills somebody the day before opening night, sparking hysteria until Meat Loaf sings a song about the show having to go on.

Campers are convinced and Camilla takes to the stage while the killer begins eliminating various cast members and crew in the wings, but this is all occurs in about ten to fifteen minutes, is devoid of any stalking thrills or much bloodletting, and yields to a protracted unmasking ceremony where the obvious lunatic goes through the usual spiel of motive, all the while the stage show is crumbling…

First off, I don’t hate musicals. I’m by no means a fan, but I find them inoffensive. And Glee was good for about half a season. Meat Loaf, I love. Summer camp movies, I really love. So why does this fall on its ass so hard?

Simply put, it can’t seem to decide which of the two genres it wants to be more: The musical side of it frequently crosses into cringeworthy with no major ensemble dance pieces or memorable songs that drive the plot rather than reflect it; the horror side of it is stuck firmly in second gear.

A mix of 2003 musical theater camp movie Camp and Sleepaway Camp is how it should feel, but too much time is lost on third-tier plots like the sleazy teen director trying to get into Camilla’s pants, or the repetitive rehearsal montage. The characters were boring archetypes, the killer’s identity plainly obvious, and the tacked-on “X years later” prologue completely superfluous.

I’m depressed at how off target this ended up. Now I’m off to put that song on repeat till I feel better.

Blurbs-of-interest: Meat Loaf was in Wishcraft; Douglas Smith was in Santa’s Slay.

A Rose by any other name

DEVIL IN THE FLESH

2.5 Stars  1998/15/88m

“She’s a hot cold-blooded killer.”

A.k.a. Dearly Devoted (UK)

Director: Steve Cohen / Writers: Kurt Anderson, Kelly Carlin-McCall, Richard Brandes, Steve Cohen, Michael Michand / Cast: Rose McGowan, Alex McArthur, Peg Shirley, J.C. Brandy, Phil Morris, Robert Silver, Sherrie Rose, Julia Nickson, Ryan Bittle, Krissy Carlson.

Body Count: 7


“You wanna play Psycho Killer? Can I be the helpless victim? Oh, let’s see… No, please don’t kill me Mr Ghostface, I wanna be in the sequel!” So go Rose McGowan’s awesome lines as Tatum in Scream.

But where did she go after? Not that anybody from that film hit the stratospheric heights of stardom Drew Barrymore ascended to… I mean, where are Skeet Ulrich and Jamie Kennedy!?

Rose ended up here, in this obsessed-woman film that’s about ten years behind the curve, and yet managed to spawn a sequel going by the moniker Teacher’s Pet starring fellow ex-slasher-franchisee Jodi Lyn O’Keefe.

Rose is Debbie Strang, an unhinged teen who develops intense crushes on her male teachers to the point where destroying those who stand in her way becomes her favourite pastime. After burning her first love to death along with her mom, Deb is packed off to live with Piper Laurie-esque grandmother, who calls her a slut once too many times and is thus sent off with the goodwill donations.

While nicely put together and featuring a likeable performance from McGowan, the dialogue is too often feeble and there are a lot of loose ends fluttering – such as the fate of the social worker who’s struck with the kettle?

Okay fare but a bit of a waste of its lead’s talent.

Blurbs-of-interest: J.C. Brandy took over Danielle Harris’ role as Jamie Lloyd for Halloween 6; Ryan Bittle was in The Clown at Midnight.

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One shot

CUT

2 Stars  2010/18/70m

“No second chances.”

Director/Writer: Alexander Williams / Cast: Zach Galligan, Lauri Brewster, Dominic Burns, Simon Phillips, River George, Michael Socha, Danielle Lloyd.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “I was trying to rescue you!” / “With a spoon!?”


A cheap UK home invasion slasher film this might be, but Cut prides itself on being the first horror film shot in one continuous take. …Though if you scour the IMDb boards, there’s a claim it’s not. Nevertheless, trivia notes that it took 36 takes to get it right, when, you consider it’s an hour long production, that’s pretty impressive stuff.

Anyway, technical declarations aside, Cut begins amusingly enough with a babysitter (reality ‘star’ Lloyd) annoyed by her charge, who tells her the clown at the end of her bed keeps talking to her. When babysitter speaks with the mother, she says: “There is no lifesize clown doll at the end of the bed! Get out of the house!”

The TV goes off, this is just the film-within-a-film opener: Five people at a remote house banter, order pizza, and talk about a secret a bit… Noises from outside unnerve them, garden gnomes are shattered, car keys missing, phone out of use etc… And then a group of clown-faced psychos invade and begin killing them.

Gremlins‘ Zach Galligan leads the cast, who do okay with the one-take schtick, which, after 35 previous attempts, must’ve left them pretty damn bored of remembering their cues. But it works out alright.

Points are deducted for echoey sound and audio levels that prevented me finding out what the killers’ motive actually was… Someone screwed over someone else. That’s all I got.

Blurb-of-interest: Galligan was in the frankly far worse Hatchet III.

The Ice Cream Man Liveth!

SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE

3.5 Stars  2011/15/94m

Director: Jack Perez / Writer: Ryan Levin / Cast: Kevin Corrigan, Barry Bostwick, Karen Black, Lucy Davis, Leo Fitzpatrick, Ariel Gade, Eric Price.

Body Count: 4

Laughter Lines: “She’s looks old enough to me! How old are you, nineteen?” / “Eleven.”


Remember when The Sixth Sense came out and everybody was dying to tell each other the twist but risked ruining the experience for those who hadn’t seen it? If I go into too much detail about Some Guy Who Kills People, I’ll ruin it for you.

Not that there’s a massive revelation at the end of this film that’ll have you going: “Woah! Totally far out, man! Didn’t see that one coming!” But the journey through this film is one that takes you to places not necessarily unexpected, just at odds with what IS expected.

Thus, the film follows one Ken Boyd (Corrigan, who is perfect), ice-cream parlor employee who was released from an institution not that long ago after a suicide attempt. Flashbacks inform us that years before he was kidnapped and beaten up by a quartet of high school jocks who he, as the team mascot, had managed to humiliate.

Life sucks for Ken. His bossy mom (Black) has no problem voicing her disappointment in him in between her romps with the local sheriff (Bostwick), his boss has him dress up as a giant ice cream cone to hand out leaflets on the street or hawk their wares at the party of one of Ken’s bullies of yore… …who is found with an axe in his head the next morning.

At the same time, Ken’s 11-year-old daughter Amy randomly turns up in his life and, alienated by her religious parents, moves in with him and his mom, hoping for the role model she’s always dreamt of. Despite Ken’s social ineptitude, general silence, and jittery manner, he begins to cheer up about life, more so when he starts dating British-totty Stephanie (Davis, from The Office).

Murders continue as each of the grown-up assholes are tracked down by Ken and then hacked to pieces, slashed up in the cab of their truck, or hunted in the dark of an outdoors store. Unbeknownst to him, Amy has followed him and finds him stood over the latest body… Where it goes from here, I’ll leave you to discover on your own.

I found Some Guy Who Kills People in Poundland, so it cost me almost nothing and I expected very little from it; another of those cheap-ass “horror-comedies” that is neither scary, nor amusing. While SGWKP can’t really lay claim to being frightening or LOL-funny, there’s a production and artistic quality on show that has it striding ahead of most other examples.

The laughs are sarcastic and subtle, with Bostwick great as the weary sheriff and Ariel Gade proves she has more acting chops than most kids-what-can-act (plus she’s not annoying), while Corrigan, whose familiarly is down to numerous appearances in various well-known TV series’, carries off his part with considerable believability, weighing calculating serial killer and misunderstood sad guy in equal measure.

Slasher shenanigans play second fiddle to other elements here, but it’s bloody when required, self aware, not pleased with itself, and occasionally tender.

Blurbs-of-interest: The late Karen Black can be found as the mom in Children of the Corn IV, Oliver Twisted, and is also in Out of the Dark and Curse of the Forty-Niner.

The olde “cross out the faces of the victims” clincher… or is it?

All good things must end. Not so good things also.

HATCHET III

1 Stars  2013/18/81m

Director: B.J. McDonnell / Writer: Adam Green / Cast: Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan, Caroline Williams, Robert Diago DoQui, Parry Shen, Derek Mears, Rileah Vanderbilt, Cody Blue Snider, Jason Trost, Diane Ayala Goldner, Sean Whalen.

Body Count: at least 21


Another of my FrightFest previews, Adam Green came back to introduce the third and mercifully final entry in his Hatchet franchise, which, given his comments when he came to talk about Hatchet II a few years ago, he seems quite keen to move on from.

Handing the directorial reigns over to buddy B.J. McDonnell will likely be the thing most disappointed viewers will blame, but the sad fact is that Hatchet was never very good in the first place. Deduct the awesome cameos and Green’s unrelenting enthusiasm for latex-over-CG and it’s merely a sorrowful also-ran with too many jokes and too little suspense.

Thus, this one plays like something of an afterthought: Marybeth kills the fuck out of Victor Crowley several times at the start and then totters to the local cop shop where they suspect her of mass murder and lock her up, while cops and paramedics boat out to the swamp to literally pick up the pieces of all those tourists and game hunters Crowley disembowled in the first two movies.

Nobody believes Marybeth with the exception of Amanda Pearlman (Williams), handy ex-wife of Zach Galligan’s sheriff and firm advocate of the truth behind the legend. She convinces a deputy to take her and Marybeth to get the ashes of Victor Crowley Sr., which will reportedly stop the horror forever. Pressing eject also works.

At the swamp, Crowley miraculously resurrects himself and kills everyone except Parry Shen, who apparently isn’t related to the other two Parry Shens. Arms are ripped off, heads spun on stumps, spines removed… It would be icky if we hadn’t been down this river twice already.

Some SWAT people come in, lead by Derek Mears, who, of course, doesn’t believe bullets can’t stop Crowley, and the two former Jasons duke it out for a couple of minutes.

Eventually, Marybeth appears, Amanda tries to address the killer, more people die, and the ashes are put to their intended use, erasing Crowley from existence and ending the franchise like a damp firework.

Tellingly, the audience were far less receptive than they were for the Hatchet II screening; the series has largely regressed beyond its juvenile beginnings to something that plays as if all sense of irony from the Scream generation never happened. There were plenty of horror-comedies in the late 80s and early 90s that would sit alongside this without looking out of place; Shocker and the Child’s Play sequels come to mind.

Also curiously absent was the previously obligatory sex scene – the only nudity we bare bear witness to is Marybeth in the shower, and that’s framed so’s not to give much away. Not that a SWAT team responding to a mass killing would pause for nudieness but it doesn’t usually stop them. Otherwise, it’s a chaotic blend of shooting at Crowley, nameless extras being taken out, and the fragments of the urn-plan.

A real downer of a series closer, especially after how much better the second film was after the first.

Blurbs-of-interest: In addition to taking over the role in Hatchet II, Danielle Harris was in Halloween‘s 4 and 5, plus Rob Zombie’s two remakes, Urban Legend, Blood Night, and ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2. Kane Hodder played Jason in Friday the 13th Parts VII-X and can also be seen in Hack!, Children of the Corn V, and Behind the Mask. Caroline Williams was Stretch in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Derek Mears is Jason in the 2009 Friday the 13th. Parry Shen was in Dead Scared. Sean Whalen was in Laid to Rest. Zach Galligan turned up in continuous-take neo-slasher Cut.

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