Tag Archives: after they were famous

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.

Rent goes up, occupancy goes down

the landlady 1997 talia shire

THE LANDLADY

2.5 Stars  1997/15/92m

“Evil doesn’t knock. It has a key.”

Director: Rob Malenfant / Writers: Brent Thompson, George Saunders, Frank Rehwaldt / Cast: Talia Shire, Jack Coleman, Bruce Weitz, Dee Freeman, Susie Singer, Melissa Behr, Bette Ford, Courtney Gains, Nathan Legrand, Clement Von Franckenstein.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “You can’t even be quiet when you’re dead.”


“Adrian!” Mrs Rocky plays the downtrodden puritan housewife who gets away with poisoning her unfaithful husband, and then moves to the Los Angeles apartment complex she inherited from her late aunt. Here, she takes an obsessive Stepfather-like fancy to her neighbour Patrick (Coleman, later that annoying glasses guy in Heroes), and goes about getting rid of the tenants and acquaintances who prevent their romance from blooming.

Highlights include a scene where she forces Patrick’s girlfriend to answer a questionnaire about him at gunpoint, and her frequent amiable chats with herself.

The remaining tenants begin to suspect that something ain’t quite right with their new landlady and the whole thing collapses into a Misery drawn tied-to-a-bed finale before an unlikely heroine emerges to save Patrick’s bacon.

As with many other female-infatuation slashers, our wackadoo here seems to direct most of her fury at other women, whom she brands whores (technically only true in one case) while the male vics have quick and convenient demises.

Still, Shire’s off-her-rocker performance mostly compensates for any plot shortcomings.

Blurb-of-interest: Courtney Gains played Malachai in the original Children of the Corn.

Make America Gory Again

uncle sam 1996

UNCLE SAM

3 Stars  1996/18/86m

“He wants you… DEAD!”

Director: Larry Cohen / Writer: William Lustig / Cast: Christopher Ogden, Isaac Hayes, Anne Tremko, Leslie Neale, David ‘Shark’ Fralick, Matthew Flint, Tim Grimm, Robert Forster, Bo Hopkins, Timothy Bottoms, P.J. Soles, Thom McFadden, Zachary McLemore

Body Count: 13


This pre-Scream-rules cheap n’ cheerful holiday hacker from the creators of the Maniac Cop trilogy is about as subtle as politics is honest, but is nevertheless kinda endearing in it’s own cheesy way.

We begin with the obligatory flashback to an unspecified moment in time in Kuwait where two soldiers discover the bodies of a helicopter crew shot down in ‘friendly fire’. The remains of one of the men is shipped back to his hometown of Twin Rivers three years later (where it’s been all this time I don’t know) where his widow is living with his sister, whose son Jody is obsessed by his Uncle Sam and with joining the troops.

For no particular reason, Sam’s corpse – in the living room of the house! – is reanimated, dons an Uncle Sam costume put aside for the July 4th celebrations the next day, and goes about destroying those who aren’t patriotic enough  (“people who don’t respect the American way of life should have the butts kicked”) including swastika-spraying teens, crooked congressmen, pacifists and dope-smokers.

The body count goes ballistic and things get pretty gory and there’s a psychic blind kid in a wheelchair, which is always good! But the most compelling thing is that cast rota, stocked with big names for such a little known Troma-esque movie. Isaac Hayes is fitfully amusing as a surviving soldier and P.J. Soles has a short but sweet role as a neurotic mother.

The biggest mystery is why no one really seems to care when people are killed. Both the widow and her sister’s boyfriends end up as dog meat and neither seem all that bothered! A curious oddity that seems fitting again with the bizarre administrative situation in the US of A at present.

Blurbs-of-interest: P.J. Soles was Lynda in Halloween, but also had the lead role in Innocent Prey and a part in The Tooth Fairy; Robert Forster was also in Maniac Cop 3 and the Psycho remake; David ‘Shark’ Fralick was later in Spiker; Isaac Hayes had a part in Return to Sleepaway Camp; Bo Hopkins was also in A Crack in the Floor and Sweet Sixteen; William Lustig also directed Maniac.

“You piss me off!”

fall down dead 2007FALL DOWN DEAD

2 Stars  2007/94m

“Seven strangers. Trapped. Hunted. Carved.”

Director: Jon Keeyes / Writer: Roy Sallows / Cast: Dominique Swain, Muhmet Günsür, Udo Kier, David Carradine, R. Keith Harris, Monica Dean, Austin James, Karine Darrah.

Body Count: 8


In 2006-07 I went backpacking around Asia for six months and, with a lot of time on buses, waiting at train stations etc., devoured an awful lotta books, trading them in at backpacker stops and hostels. I was particularly into James Patterson’s Alex Cross series at the time, finishing a book in about three days usually.

However, anyone who has read this series will surely attest that the awesome beginnings of Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls soon descended into my-first-psycho-thriller crap Double Cross and The Big Bad Wolf. (Mary Mary was the last one I got any mileage out of).

Anyway, the serial-murder-by-numbers nonsense this once great series has become is like a blueprint for Fall Down Dead, a film so dated I could swear somebody found an unsold giallo script from 1978 in a drawer and filmed it without bothering to bring it up to date.

The Picasso Killer is busy slashing up the women of some nameless big city, which is also victim to recurring power outages. He removes parts of their skin or whatever and uses it in his art, blah blah blah. One night, forward-thinking waitress Christie is assaulted by a homeless guy and does what all victims should: She runs into a dark alley.

fall down dead 2007

There, she finds a woman dying of razor wounds and is accosted by the Picasso Killer, eventually getting a security guard at the Hitchcock Building to let her in. A couple of detectives show up just as another blackout occurs, knocking out the phones and lights, essentially locking them in, plus a couple of office workers having after-hours nudie time, and a cleaner, inside the building. With the killer. On Christmas Eve.

Fall Down Dead is one of those late night cable affairs where you can pick out who will die and in what order from the moment they grace the screen. Somehow it made it to a theatrical release in certain parts of the world! Areas where they still think Patterson is anything but a marketing brand in the guise of a serious writer, I guess.

Suffice to say, Picasso slashes or shoots (aww…) his way through everyone who isn’t Christie or the down-on-his-luck cop until it’s a cat and mouse game.

Kier’s accent and would’ve-been-scary-pre-Lecter performance saves things from total meltdown, but just about everything else should warrant a title change to Fail Down Dead: Swain, who began her career in the title role of Lolita, and then Face/Off, is cookie-cutter single-mom-working-as-waitress stuff, but the script is so steeped in its mandated view of gender politics that she can’t fire a gun and needs a man to save her at every turn.

fall down dead 2007

The other characters are just as contrived, from the troubled cop, to the happy cop, the Latino cleaner who clutches her rosary beads and whines instead of kicking the killer in the balls and running for it, David Carradine’s crotchety nightwatchman, and the sex-couple with as much depth as a petrie dish. They also come complete with Captain Obvious dialogue: “I can’t believe the power went off – now I have to walk down all those flights of stairs.”

Kier’s theatrics towards the end are amusing (“You piss me off!” he growls when Christie won’t just surrender and let him slash to to ribbons), but sadly even he can’t resuscitate this lost cause.

Blurbs-of-interest: Kier was also in Pray for Morning and (apparently, but I didn’t notice) Rob Zombie’s Halloween plus The Editor; Carradine was in Children of the Corn VDetention, and Trick or Treats; Jon Keeyes also directed American Nightmare.

COTC: C20

children of the corn 666 isacc's returnCHILDREN OF THE CORN 666: ISAAC’S RETURN

2 Stars  1999/18/79m

Director: Kari Skogland / Writers: Tim Sulka & John Franklin / Cast: Nancy Allen, Natalie Ramsey, John Franklin, Paul Popowich, Alex Koromzay, Stacy Keach, John Patrick White, Sydney Bennet.

Body Count: 8


I wouldn’t blame you if you thought there were 665 other Corn movies before this one. Certainly feels that way.

There’s a few ‘names’ in what seems like it was intended to be the Halloween H20 moment for the ever-goalpost-moving Children of the Corn series, which has gone through more metamorphoses than Kim Kardashian’s butt.

Teen Hannah (Ramsey) drives her banged-up old convertible to Gatlin to find her mother, Rachel, a member of the first-incarnation of the cult (she was the girl who attacked Burt and Vicky with the sickle at the end). On route she picks up a creepy preacher guy who literally disappears from the passenger seat after quoting a few cryptic Bible verses.

She locates the local hospice to research her adoption history, some oddballs, is nearly run off the road, and has recurring visions of corn, dead birds, and a shadowy figure.

Meanwhile, original preacher Isaac (looking like Jonathan from Buffy) wakes from his nineteen-year coma intent of providing safe passage for another prophecy about first born this, sacred birthright that, which will entail his son getting it on with Hannah to create something or other that was lost into a web of confusing dialogue.

In spite of the title suffix, Franklin doesn’t get that much screentime and achieves very little. He Who Walks Behind the Rows puts in an appearance (finally!), and there’s some gooey slayings, but the body count only gets going with minutes left on the clock.

children of the corn 666 isaac's return

Director Skogland overhauls the general look of the series, giving Gatlin a dusty, ghost town appearance and pours on the visual grit thick, with a washed-out colourless look to proceedings. It just makes it a bit emo and boring, with no real group of set-upon protagonists beyond Ramsey, who carries most of the film capably enough, propped up by Allen and Keach.

The big twist arrived undercooked and is done with in minutes and considering the roots of the series, there’s hardly a child in sight, and those we do see are just skipping about in the corn not bothering anyone.

If this was an attempt to springboard the series back into cinemas, gotta wonder if there was much of a demand for that in the first place, but COTC 666 adds very little to an already clogged and dizzy franchise, compounded by the next one having even less in common with this arc.

Blurbs-of-interest: Natalie Ramsey was Brittany Murphy’s friend in Cherry Falls; Stacy Keach was in The Hollow.

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