Tag Archives: before they were famous

January Joust: Crap Killers

Despite film boxes stating otherwise, not every psycho killer can be Jason or Michael. In every trade there are crappy workers – fast food joints, education, social work… We hope that these people realise they’re just not cut out to live their dreams, y’know, like when Simon Cowell stamps all over someones ambition on The X Factor / American Idol*. It’s the same in the slasher realm. No matter how they might try, some killers are doomed to fail…

Big ol’ spoilers loiter hereabouts!

thefinalterrorTHE FINAL TERROR 1981

Killer: Eggar’s Mother

Why so crap? In spite of stalking about a dozen people round the forest for a couple of days, this bush-guised, hook-knife-handed mama only manages to off a measly five of them. Now, five isn’t that bad by comparison, but her methods are pretty crud (tin can lids on tree branches!?) and success rate worse: she can’t even slash Daryl Hannah’s throat effectively. And then she dies by walking into one of her own traps. Duh.

Cowell-ism: “At this stage in the competition, this just isn’t good enough. Do you want to be the next Leon Jackson???”

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dangerous gameDANGEROUS GAME 1989

Killer: Officer Murphy

Why so crap? Oirish-cop-in-Australia Murphy manages to trap five teenagers in a department store for the best part of their Friday night out, even kidnaps two of them and kills a third. But that’s it. After one murder he flakes and starts blurting that he “didn’t mean it” la la la. Save it for the judge, pal! The spoiled rich teens prove more than a match for him and merrily escape while he staggers off all beaten and bruised.

Cowell-ism: “I honestly expected more from the Irish. I don’t see you as any competition for Westlife.”

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shriek-if-you-knowSHRIEK IF YOU KNOW WHAT I DID LAST FRIDAY THE 13TH 2000

Killer: Doughy

Why so crap? Aided with gusto by the fact that the film is pretty crap on its own, the killer here, “Doughy” (…groan), fares even worse than Murphy by failing to kill anybody. He’s a wannabe. He shows up, mask, weapon, motive all ready to go and then the intended corpse goes and dies by some freak accident, i.e. fatal bee stings, a handy coronary, or more commonly by tripping over things.

Cowell-ism: “I just didn’t get it. Was it supposed to be funny?”

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freakFREAK 1997

Killer: Keller. Killer-Keller-Killer-Keller-Bo-Fella-Banana-Fo-Fannah-Fella-Keller.

Why so crap? Nine years after starting out the same way as most of these guys do, by offing his nasty mom, “catatonic” Keller-Keller-Bo-Fella escapes whilst being transported to a new hospital and cross paths with a couple of recently orphaned sisters who’re driving to their new home. He kills a grand total of two people before kidnapping the younger sister so that big sis and transport-driver-guy have to come to the rescue. Freak‘s budget is about $3.75 so they probably couldn’t afford extra victims, but the film isn’t so bad otherwise.

Cowell-ism: “Look, I can see you’re trying but this just isn’t good enough, we’re looking for a worldwide star here, the bandage look isn’t working for you.”

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berserkerBERSERKER 1987

Killer: Pappy Nyquist

Why so crap? Oh just piss off 1987. What did you do for anyone? Nothing. And take your shit misogynistic horror films with you! Yeah, you too George ‘Buck’ Flower as some freakin’ Viking-bear-thing that shreds campers to death but CAN’T KILL ANY OF THE ANNOYING CAST MEMBERS, JUST THE YOUNG, NUBILE ONES AND SOME OLD PEOPLE!!!

Cowell-ism: “1987? Leona was two by then and already better than you.”

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thewisherTHE WISHER 2002

Killer: Shane

Why so crap? Another half-assed attempt on behalf of the sappy Emo killer to suck up to horror-fixated heroine Mary by granting her wishes. Her dad dies, her mouthy friend gets her tongue cut out and then she wishes the killer slice himself up – which he does. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

Cowell-ism: “My only wish is that you had more talent and I was convincingly heterosexual.”

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christmas_evilYOU BETTER WATCH OUT (Christmas Evil) 1980

Killer: Harry Stadling

Why so crap? If… this… film… were… any… slower… it… would… bore… a… can… of… Red Bull… to… death… After the slowest descent into madness ever recorded on film, toy-worker Harry’s obsession with Christmas (spying on the neighbourhood kids to make sure they’re being good) spills over when he kills a work colleague who disses the season and three people outside a church who laugh at his Santa costume. Then he flies away in a van.

Cowell-ism: “All I want for Christmas is for you to go away so only I can ruin it for everyone by forcing one of my boringly inoffensive contest winners to take a cover version of a song everybody once loved to Number One after I adorn it with a children’s choir and some strings and make everyone who ever gave a shit about the sanctity of musical individuality want to kill themselves.”

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WINNER LOSER: The crappest killer ‘award’ goes to Eggar’s Ma. Such opportunity, such a big cast…wasted!

Closing Cowell-ism: “Well, I’m not surprised. Leona could do this in her sleep.”

*delete appropriately to whichever one clogs up your viewing schedule.

Sex and the Shitty

doomasylumDOOM ASYLUM

1.5 Stars  1987/79m

“It’ll send shivers up your funny bone!”

Director: Richard Friedman / Writers: Richard Friedman, Steve Menkin & Rick Marx / Cast: Patty Mullen, Ruth Collins, Kristin Davis, William Hay, Michael Rogen, Harrison White, Kenny L. Price, Dawn Alvan, Farin.

Body Count: 11

Dire-logue: “Come on Kiki, it’ll be alright…at least I think it’ll be alright.”


A long standing member on my to-see list, my buddy Ross of the fab Anchorwoman in Peril cheerily sent me his copy, I suspect dancing and cackling all the way to the post box as he finally got rid of it!

Anyway, Doom Asylum is infamous now as being the requisite resume shame for Kristin Davis, who played Charlotte York in Sex and the City – and still does so in the spin-off movies. Davis plays Jane, the big-specced know-it-all friend of Kiki, whose mom Judy died in a car accident a decade earlier that also killed Judy’s hotshot lawyer boyfriend Mitch, who then un-died on the pathology table, albeit a little too late to have prevented his face being partially cut off and killed the doctors doing the post-mortem.

Kiki and her friends – Jane, dorky Dennis, loverman Darnell and her indecisive boyfriend Mike – take a road trip out to the scene of the accident and then the institutey-hospital whatever-it-was. Why they go there is never really explained but when the titles looked like this, all hope of credibility, explanation or valuable intellectual subtext went out the window:

dooma1So far, so Slaughter High. Well, visually anyway. The kids decide to lie around in the sun outside, Kiki starts calling Mike Mom and one by one they venture into the building, which is the rehearsal space for volatile all-girl rockband Tina and the Tots. However, hurled insults between rival groups are the least of their worries when the wisecracking Mitch begins stalking and killing them one by one by one by one etc…

dooma4dooma3Doom Asylum is undeniably shite. It really is crap, further fuelling my theory that 1987 was the recipient of some kind of horror curse that rendered all slasher films made that year crud. Not so, you ponder? Watch Berserker, watch Terror at Tenkiller and Blood Lake – go on, watch them and report back!

There is some mercy in Doom Asylum‘s awareness of its ornate crapness: the killer’s comments are rubbish but Mike’s indecisive nature raises a couple of minor chuckles: “You’re in a lot of trouble, Torpedo Tits. I’m gonna get you for this. Well…maybe not me, but the cops will!” Then there’s Kristin Davis, who acts acceptably given the ‘demands’ of her role and the vile blue leotard she spends most of the movie in… She meets a gruesome death towards the end of proceedings if you’re keen to fast forward to that moment.

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Dear Lord, that’s horrendous. If she even remembers making this film, let alone owns a copy of it, I’d be staggered.

Blurbs-of-interest: director Friedman also helmed the much better Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge as well as some episodes of Friday the 13th the TV series.

Remake Rumble: And may all your Christmases be Black…

Less a Face-off, more a comparative analysis between the original and its – ugh – remake/reimagining/reboot/whatever (…delete as applicable), some I liked, some I loathed and some I somehow preferred to the original!

blackchristmas5 Stars  1974/18/98m

“If this picture doesn’t make your skin crawl…it’s on TOO TIGHT.”

A.k.a. Silent Night, Evil Night / Stranger in the House (TV)

Director: Bob Clark / Writer: Roy Moore / Cast: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Andrea Martin, Marian Waldman, James Edmond, Douglas McGrath, Art Hindle, Lynne Griffin, Michael Rapport.

Body Count: 6

Dire-logue: “Darling…you can’t rape a townie.”


Outside of the horror buff realm, as far as most people are concerned, Halloween is wholly responsible for taking what Psycho had and turning it into what Friday the 13th was. Of course there’s no point arguing this, there are about a gazillion possible films and filmmakers whose auteur style may have influenced the later films that finally chiselled the slasher movie shaped cookie-cutter into place, but in terms of the North American market, one film that was so cruelly overlooked for many a season was Bob Clark’s ’74 masterpiece (and it truly is), Black Christmas

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A simple paragraph of the synopsis might fool you into believing this flick could’ve been made anytime in the 80s and called something like Christmas Co-Ed Sorority of Blood or something: the girls on Belmont Street are being tormented by bizarre and random phonecalls, in which one or more voices scream obscenities and threaten to kill them. Some think it’s a frat joke, others are unnerved. Unbeknownst to the residents of the sorority, the calls are being made from the attic where a mystery stalker is hiding, sneaking down to commit murders before each new call.

At the centre of it all is Jess (Hussey), who is melancholy having found out she is pregnant, much to the joy of her highly-strung boyfriend Peter, but Jess has decided on an abortion. Her friend Phyl (Martin) is understanding; Barb (Kidder) is more often than not drunk and housemother Mrs Mac is too busy hiding her own alcoholism. After their friend Claire disappears, the police are finally involved and tap the house phone to see if they can figure out a connection between the calls and the vanishing…

black christmas 1974 margot kidder olivia hussey andrea martin lynne griffin

blackxmas


*2006/15/81m  3 Stars

“Let the slay ride begin.”

Director/Writer: Glen Morgan / Cast: Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Andrea Martin, Oliver Hudson, Kristen Cloke, Lacey Chabert, Crystal Lowe, Robert Mann, Dean Friss.

Body Count: 17

Dire-logue: “I’m really not okay with any of this. I mean – buying a present for a serial killer?”


In the sad-eyed days of “let’s remake everything,” nothing is sacred and so it was no surprise that the 2006 emergence of this film, “from the makers of Final Destination,” took everything that was engaging and scary about the original and over-explained it all to the point of rendering everything the exact opposite of scary.

The Delta Alpha Kappa sorority house was once the home of the Lenz family who, we learn through flashbacks, were dysfunctional and abusive: mom gave birth to Billy, whose skin was yellow for no apparent reason and a few years later she and her boyfriend murdered her husband and buried him under the house. Some years after that, she became pregnant with Billy’s child-sister, a girl called Agnes, who Billy attacked some Christmases later, pulling out one of her eyes and murdering mom and step-dad in the process before being carted off to the looney toons bin.

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Billy breaks out on Christmas Eve and returns to the sorority to kill all those who live there who are, of course, numerous nubile college girls, far greater in number than in the original. As disappearances graduate to decapitations and eye-plucked slayings, the girls and their housemother, Ms Mac (played by Andrea Martin from the original), find all escape attempts thwarted and eventually have to fight back…

* * *

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So, there’s no real competition of merits here – the original film is leagues ahead of the remake in almost every department (save for body count and bloodletting); but it’s interesting to take a look at the two side by side (as I did over the last few days in fits and starts).

Black Christmas ’74 is a slow burner; an intensely creepy affair with an accent on performances, characterisation and the general cloud of dread that hovers above Belmont Street after the disappearance of sweet-natured Claire Harrison (Griffin). Her sorority gal-pals do all they can to try and aid her helpless father in finding out what’s happened to her, all the while dealing with their own problems – Jess’s pregnancy, Barb’s alcohol abuse and Phyl’s seasonal cold. When the cops finally connect the dots and discover the killer has been in the house all along, only Jess remains, forced to decide between walking out the front door to safety or going back for her friends.

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This decision is at the core of Black Christmas ’06, which gets straight in on the action with a girl – also named Clair (sans ‘e’) – ‘disappearing’. In fact, she’s murdered before the actress playing her gets to utter a single word! Out with the slow burn, in for the kills! Set entirely on one night (bar flashbacks), and condensed down to a fleeting 81 minutes, the girls start dropping like fumigated flies; along with the flashback victims, staff at the institute from where Billy escapes… The cops have no presence here until it’s all over: the girls are stuck at the house, believing the killer to be outside. They receive precisely two vaguely obscene calls and spend the rest of their time bitching at each other before having their eyeballs ripped out.

Perhaps it could be read as a cultural or social experiment: the ’74 girls are all there for one another (even Barb), almost always polite and drawn as real people, whereas their modern day counterparts hardly get along at all, make snide comments, refuse to join in with festivities and largely think only of saving their own skin. Only Kelli is deemed worthy of survival; she has a fraction more of a ‘story’ than the other girls – something about coming from a small family – and is the first one to refuse to leave without finding their missing friends.

black christmas 2006 katie cassidy

Even the lesser roles in BC ’74 are rewarding, from the guy who directs Mr Harrison to the sorority to dim-witted Sergeant Nash, who falls for Barb’s Fellatio-phone-exchange gag without ever realising what it means! Claire’s worried dad is also well drawn, from his initial concerns over the type of influence the sorority environment has over his daughter to his keeling over with shock at the end.

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Because the original film pre-dated the accepted conventions of the genre it helped usher in, there’s no standardised finale for Black Christmas ’74; Jess does not meet the killer for more than a few seconds and never sees his face. In the update, Kelli, along with Clair’s older sister Leigh (Cloke) and her wayward boyfriend Kyle confront the killer together and there’s a drawn out struggle that continues once the survivors are transferred to hospital. However, Kelli’s gusto as the final girl is flawed by her lack of presence: she doesn’t ‘stand out’ like Jamie Lee Curtis or Amy Steel – she’s merely the one who’s still alive at the end, more a fault of the violence-obsessed script than Katie Cassidy’s fine performance.

The first film is infamous for its open ending. In fact most slasher movies attempt an infamous parting word but most pale when compared to the we’ll-just-never-know imprint left by the unresolved mystery of the film. BC 2006 attempted to overcompensate for this by fully describing the killer’s (Billy) upbringing, his psychosis and then showing him repeatedly throughout the film before revealing that an obvious second killer is his incestual sister-daughter Agnes (curiously played by a bloke), their names decided upon from the only names uttered by the caller from the original film. Many fans have pondered the backstory based on what was said down the phone by the lunatic and, it seems, Glen Morgan has decided to take it all literally.

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Coming from “the makers of Final Destination” means that there are a lot of joins between the two: items and objects fall into doorways and prevent security gates from closing, strategically placed icicles fatally skewer unwitting victims and there are even a few cast members carried over. It’s too easy to be cynical about the remake age destroying what horror could be squeezed out of some situations but, as usual, cellphones don’t work efficiently, the police can’t get to the house for two hours and far more time is spent casually observing product placement than building tension of likeable characters we don’t want to see dead. Maybe that’s what you get from having sixteen producers, as well as a choice of alternate endings and cuts that vary from region to region (the UK version had a completely different finale).

The best way to view the remake of Black Christmas is to detach any thoughts of it actually being a remake: you’ll only be angry with it. On its own, the newer film is a fun slasher flick that, while never boring, has next to no credibility but a good cast roster of familiar faces and a great defibrillator denouement. The 1974 film is neo-perfect, a scary story on film if ever there were; great characters that we care about (remember that, when we used to care about slasher film kids?), Margot Kidder, John Saxon and Olivia Hussey too; one of most intensely delicate murder scenes ever witnessed (we’re talkin’ ’bout the kids choir soundtracking a killing occurring elsewhere in the house) and a premonition of slashers’ future…?

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The many blurbs-of-interest: 1974: Olivia Hussey had a cameo in Ice Cream Man; Margot Kidder was in The Clown at Midnight; John Saxon was later in A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s 1 and 3, Tenebrae, Welcome to Spring Break and The Baby Doll Murders; Marian Waldman was also in Phobia; Lynne Griffin was in Curtains. 2006: Katie Cassidy was also in remakes of When a Stranger Calls and A Nightmare on Elm Street and also TV-slasherama Harper’s Island; Kristen Cloke was in the original Final Destination; Crystal Lowe was in Children of the Corn: Revelation, Final Destination 3 and Wrong Turn 2; Mary Elizabeth Winstead was also in Final Destination 3 and Tarantino’s botched wannabe-slasher Death Proof; Lacey Chabert later had the lead role in shoddy SyFy flick Scarecrow; Oliver Hudson was in Scream Queens; Director Morgan and producer James Wong were involved in the first and third FD films. Bob Clark was executive producer on the remake.

December Duel: Har-De-Har-STAB!

Christmas is coming: time for joy and laughter and, if you’re me, horror films of death. But how to mix these things together and please the visiting familials? Oh yeah, the sub-sub-genre of the slasher parody.

Parody films are very hit and miss at the best of times (Airplane! excluded). And as slasher films largely unconciously parody themselves in the ornate crudness of their very situations, what’s left to take the piss out of?

Let’s dip our hands into the comical waters of slasher mickey-taking and see what we can dredge up from the bottom…

studentbodsSTUDENT BODIES 1981

The hilarious story: sexy teen couples at Lamab High are being laid to waste by a commentating maniac in squelchy boots. Can super-goody-two-shoes heroine Toby solve the mystery?

Funny stuff: things start well with an amusing When A Stranger Calls-type opening; death by paperclips; death by eggplant; half-funny fart gag; Toby’s overt final girlisms.

Unfunny stuff: pretty much everything else; the stupid twist-within-a-dream ending where they evidently took the audience to have a combined IQ of 19.

VV’s amusedness: 43% – “I’m laughing on the inside.”

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national-lampoons-class-reunionNATIONAL LAMPOON’S CLASS REUNION 1982

The hilarious story: the class of ’72 from Lizzie Borden High gather for their deca-reunion where the kid they played a Terror Train-type prank on is now a paper bag-masked psycho killer. Of the cast of twenty-five odd folks, he kills four. Four.

Funny stuff: Anne Ramsay is present as the school cook and there’s a recurring demonic possession joke that made my lip curl…

Unfunny stuff: there’s some real shit gags in this, it’s no wonder nobody’s ever heard of this one, National Lampoon tag or not! The lead guy was a wanker who I waiting to see die in a myriad of horrible griz. Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion is way better.

VV’s amusedness: 22% – “we are not amused.”

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pandemomiumPANDEMONIUM 1982

The hilarious story: Bambi’s cheerleader academy was shut down after a rash of cheericides in the 60s, including the ultimate shish-ka-bobbed spirit squad. Having decided to re-open “the old camp,” Bambi finds that her new class of students (three of them guys!) are being tormented by another cheericidal manaic! Only telekinetic cheer-wannabe Candy has the smarts (and power) to stop the madness…

Funny stuff: the cheerleaders are called Candy, Sandy, Mandy, Andy, Randy and Glenn. Glenn Dandy. The Carrie poking is amusing and the cast, featuring Carol Kane, Judge Reinhold, Debralee Scott, pre-PeeWee Paul Reubens and Eve Arden is great. It was originally to be called Thursday the 12th until Saturday the 14th came along but had sod all to do with Camp Crystal Lake.

Unfunny stuff: with any of-the-moment parody, it’s going to be dated as soon as it’s finished, so lots of it has little relevance 27 years down the line but, on the whole, Pandemonium holds up pretty well. “If I can’t be a cheerleader…no one can be a cheerleader!”

VV’s amusedness: 71% – “it was like this one time, at band cheerleader camp and it was so funny.”

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wackoWACKO 1983

The hilarious story: 13 years after seeing her older sister sliced and diced by the Halloween Prom Night Lawnmower Killer of Hitchcock High, virginal Mary Graves finds herself stalked by the very same killer as her own Halloween Prom approaches.

Funny stuff: One of the best lines in slasherdom when Mary’s mother receives a letter from the killer: “it’s Halloween, it’s Prom Night, there’s a psycho on the loose so don’t open the door, don’t answer the phone, don’t look in the attic, don’t go to the bathroom, don’t go into the ocean and don’t go into space ‘cos no one can hear you scream!”

Unfunny stuff: as with most of these things, the film spends too long trying to be relevant to the time period, which takes away from the slashing. ‘Wacky’ teachers and parents disappear and reappear frequently. George Kennedy getting a pie in the face for aping Hitchcock is the final ‘hilarious’ twist.

VV’s amusedness: 28% – “I smiled tolerantly and we parted.”

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scarymovieSCARY MOVIE 2000

The hilarious story: Six high school friends are stalked and tormented by a cloaked fiend who might just be the fisherman they ran over last Halloween, while a nosey reporter investigates the spree of killings that begins.

Funny stuff: if you watch this right after watching Scream, it’s funny. Any other time and you’re likely to tilt your head and squint your eyes trying to work out if you should laugh or not.  The Matrix and Blair Witch Project take-offs were funny at the time but the recreation of “the Jada Pinkett moment” from Scream 2 is the best part. The working title Scream if You Know What I Did Last Halloween was far better.

Unfunny stuff: the film wanes like a dying plant, eventually flopping flaccidly like a disappointing bedtime partner. Eww. And Marlon Wayans as Shorty – what the fuck is the point of his character? Talk about family favours!

I went on a date to see Scary Movie 2. We never spoke again.

VV’s amusedness: 55% – “you used to be funny but now you only make me cringe.”

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shriek-if-you-knowSHRIEK IF YOU KNOW WHAT I DID LAST FRIDAY THE 13TH 2000

The hilarious story: almost exactly the same as Scary Movie (with which this film was the competition but took too long to complete): the teens of – groan - Bulimia High are stalked by a killer who knows what they did last summer etc… Only here, the killer is so inept that the victims die from bee stings and coronaries before he can get his hands on them.

Funny stuff: the ‘Pop Up Video’ part near the end is actually funny. Coolio dies.

Unfunny stuff: fart jokes, erection jokes, gay jokes = all shit jokes. The lead character is called Dawson Deary. Pass me the razor blades…

VV’s amusedness: 24% – “oh look, it’s Funny’s cousin, Not Funny.”

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club_dreadCLUB DREAD 2004

The hilarious story: at Coconut Pete’s Costa Rican island resort (a sort of 18-30’s thing), a machete-toting killer is offing staff members, forcing those remaining to act ‘normally’. Is it the island’s mythical ‘Machete Phil?’

Funny stuff: Bill Paxton is great as Coconut Pete and there’s some good stalking and slashing sequences, the best of which involves a victim trying to get away in a golf buggy, eventually out-walked by the killer.

Unfunny stuff: The Broken Lizard comedy troupe evidently think they’re a lot funnier than they actually are, director Jay Chandrasekhar as queeny tennis boach Puttman is the best and Kevin Heffernan’s new-boy masseur makes a likeable hero but the others are just plain annoying. Clocking in at a whopping 113 minutes (the DVD version), Club Dread drags out some of its lame gags to the bitter end.

VV’s amusedness: 69% – “hi-de-hi-de-hi, ho-de-ho-de-ho, go go go to the holiday rock!”

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VICTOR: It can only be Pandemonium, the film with the crappest title but the least amount of crap gags.

HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE

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3 Stars  1980/18/90m

“Every girl is frightened the night before her wedding. But this time…there’s good reason!”

Director: Armand Mastroianni / Writer: Scott Parker / Cast: Don Scardino, Caitlin O’ Heaney, Elizabeth Kemp, Lewis Arlt, Tom Rolfing, Patsy Pease, James Rebhorn, Tom Hanks, Dana Barron, Paul Gleason.

Body Count: 7 or 9 depending how you look at it…


A minor early entry in the stalker cycle, which flatters the legacy of Halloween by blatantly copying it right down to the tinkering piano score… Lazy for sure, but there’s more to He Knows You’re Alone than just recreations of other films. Some spoilers follow…

Beginning with a trick involving two young women watching a cheesy slasher film (which features Russell Todd from Friday the 13th Part 2), one girl ventures off to the bathroom and thinks she’s being followed. She leaves without washing her hands and tells her nonchalant friend she doesn’t like the film and wants to go, unaware of the man shuffling into the row behind, sitting down right behind her… As the on-screen killer sickles a victim to death, the sweaty-browed, wide-eyed man behind rams a knife through the back of the chair, killing dirty-hands. The rip-off score comes in and we follow a Police Squad flashing light to the scene…

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It’s revealed that dirty-hands was soon due to be married, catching the attention of the mustached Detective Gamble, who is obsessed with the case. We then switch to a jolly bus trip with the killer, Ray, who flashes back to the time he crashed his ex-beau’s (we assume) wedding and knifed her before she could walk down the aisle. Her hubby to be? Gamble! Yup, there’s a bride-hating-killer on the loose!

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Pretty Amy Jensen (O’Heaney), is another engaged girl who is actually having immense second thoughts about her upcoming wedding to her jerky fiancé Phil, who is off to celebrate his bachelor weekend and cheat on Amy. In some ways, Ray’s coincidental eavesdropping as his bus pulls in is a god-send as it will certainly make her re-think who she throws the bouquet to…

Ray, who operates without the disguise of a mask or any particular niche weapon, begins turning up in Amy’s life all over the show: he appears at windows, fairgrounds, the ice cream store, fixedly glaring at her and kills his spare time by stalking and slaying various luckless schmucks, starting with the dress-fitter and escalating to her gal-pals Joyce and Nancy.

Marvin excelled at the floating head trick...

Marvin impressed Amy with his floating head trick…

Inbetween stalkings, Amy’s perky ex-boyfriend Marvin turns up and begins begging her to marry him rather than Phil, aided by the recommendations of Nancy, Joyce and Amy’s kid sister, while Detective Gamble discovers that Amy is Ray’s next intended bride of butcherdom. We also meet Tom Hanks, who is Nancy’s date to the fairground where Amy is further tormented by her paranoia. He’s a psych major who prattles on about fear, horror films and rollercoasters while we think about his possible impending death…

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Elliott ‘impressed’ Nancy by going on about the psychology of fear for aaaaaaages…

Alas, it’s not to be. ‘Elliott’ only appears in two scenes before Amy finally comes face to face with Ray, only after he’s cut off Nancy’s head and left it in the fishtank! The final half hour sees Amy escape to the morgue where Marvin works with both the killer and Gamble in hot pursuit. How will it end? Who will survive? Will Amy end up marrying Ray!?

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He Knows You’re Alone is a tame affair with next to no blood or gore, instead opting for well-crafted stalking scenarios and lots of focus-pulling camera work as the killer appears and then disappears behind trees, crowds and people in the foreground. “Homages” to Halloween come thick and fast: Joyce and her married lover are killed similarly to Lynda and Bob in Carpenter’s film (“go fix the lights, I’ll stay here,” replacing “get me a beer.”), Nancy even resembles Jamie Lee Curtis, and the ever-silent Ray hops the roof of Amy’s car, smashing his fist through the driver side window to grope around for her…

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Things end curiously though; Gamble arrives but is entirely ineffectual and killed almost straight away, while the killer’s fate is only to be locked inside a room in the morgue! No exposition, no injuries bar a single gunshot wound. This makes the otherwise likeable Amy a tad useless as the final girl, her survival is far more incidental, strange considering that at one point she attempts to hide from the killer inside her own sweater… She’s simply the one who doesn’t die, allowing for a full-circle twist ending that’s kinda neat.

Amy uses her chameleon-like abilities to hide from the killer.

Amy uses her chameleon-like abilities to hide from the killer.

One of the few elements not Xeroxed from Halloween is the killer himself; as Ray, Tom Rolfing (who sadly died in 1990) is both too young and too handsome to be a dribbling maniac, having topped my Sexy Psychos list, it’s a similar crux to the wretched Prom Night “remake” where the supposed maniac just looks too regular, albeit here, Rolfing’s intense eyes and ability to execute one cold stare allegedly landed him the part. Needless to say, even out of place, he’s one of the best parts to this clunky stalker thriller, which will bore the pants of some but hopefully engage the genre aficionados and appreciators of low budget films shot with passion.

Blurbs-of-interest: O’Heaney had already trodden the slasher boards in 1976’s dire Savage Weekend (credited there as Kathleen Heaney); look out for Paul Gleason as Gamble’s detective buddy and, most interestingly, the script supervisor was Vera Dika, who wrote the great academic analysis of the genre formula, Games of Terror, in 1990.

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