Tag Archives: before they were famous

Lyin’ on a prayer

cry wolf 2005 dvd

CRY_WOLF

2 Stars  2005/12/87m

“BeLIEve.”

Director/Writer: Jeff Wadlow / Writer: Beau Bauman / Cast: Julian Morris, Lindy Booth, Jared Padalecki, Jon Bon Jovi, Kristy Wu, Sandra McCoy, Paul James, Jesse Janzen, Gary Cole.

Body Count: 2

Laughter Lines: “Tonight you could’ve gotten laid, but instead you got fucked.”


As usual, a young blonde woman runs through the woods at night, heaving in her breaths, a flashlight behind indicating her hunter isn’t far behind. She hides, the mystery maniac loiters, produces a cellphone and calls ‘Becky’. The victim’s phone rings, revealing her whereabouts to the killer. Gunshot.

Like so many other teen horror films of this era, an aerial shot of autumnal trees reveals a posh looking, secluded school: Westlake Prep. Here, we’re introduced to Owen Matthews, a British transfer student. His first encounter is with doll-like flame-haired Dodger Allen, and later inducted into her group of friends, who meet after hours in the school’s chapel to play a game centred around lying: Who can be the most deceptive. This is Cry_Wolf‘s main thing – deception. Spoilers ensue.

cry_wolf 2005

Infatuated with Dodger from the off, Owen and she concoct a newer, better version of their game, selling a big lie to the entire faculty for the lolz. Remember 2000 campus thriller Gossip? Yeah, it’s that all over again but with knives.

Owen, Dodger, and the others invent a campus-cruising psycho called The Wolf, who wears a camo jacket and orange ski-mask, and slashes up students around Halloween. Tying it to the disappearance of the girl from the beginning only helps create an atmosphere of paranoia across the campus. Media teacher Jon Bon Jovi – yes, really – sees through the ruse and cautions serial-school-changer Owen about his behaviour.

cry_wolf 2005

A mystery game player begins sending IMs to Owen, claiming to be the actual killer, and threatens the group, his room in tossed, there’s a stranger following him and Dodger in the library, someone deposits a knife in his bag that tumbles out during class… Who is doing it? Why, etc…

Needless to say, somebody dressed in the camo and ski-mask clobber starts offing those in on the joke in the precise scenarios they dreamt up when they created their work of fiction.

cry_wolf 2005

Cry_Wolf is one of those films that thinks it’s way smarter than it actually is: Some moderate fanfare surrounded its US release that it packed an amazing twist. Well, it doesn’t. Nobody is dead beyond the girl from the start and Bon Jovi, who is Owen’s main suspect and, it turns out, the apparent slayer of woods-girl. The rest is written off as a joke on the new boy.

As it happens, Dodger has manipulated eeeeeverybody to cover up the fact that she is the killer, insanely jealous of an affair between woods-girl and Bon Jovi, she went the long way round to fool Owen into killing him. The rest of the story, The Wolf, the others being in on the gag, is all by the by.

cry_wolf 2005

So it’s ultimately one big lie of a slasher film, not a slasher film at all, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Hey, does that make it über smart? No, it makes it über fake and thus über annoying. At least April Fool’s Day was able to trade on likeable characters, not obnoxious, schemey teens who all seem to hate each other. There’s nobody really to root for: Owen’s not particularly sympathetic and drools after Dodger like a lovestruck puppy, while she is textbook bitchy girl material, and the others fulfil various SBC-101 roles with little to add.

Nicely made and casting a British lead was brave, but the amount of contrivances required for the idea to float is ridiculous to the point it makes Brenda’s big plan from Urban Legend look totally doable.

cry_wolf 2005

Blurbs-of-interest: Julian Morris was also in Sorority Row; Lindy Booth was in Wrong Turn and American Psycho II; Jared Padalecki was in House of Wax and the Friday the 13th reboot; Gary Cole was in The Town That Dreaded Sundown (remake-quel thingy).

Sexyvil

american psycho 2 all american girl mila kunis 2002

AMERICAN PSYCHO II: ALL AMERICAN GIRL

2 Stars  2002/18/85m

“Angrier. Deadlier. Sexier.”

Director: Morgan J. Freeman / Writers: Alex Sanger & Karen Craig / Cast: Mila Kunis, William Shatner, Geraint Wyn-Davies, Lindy Booth, Robin Dunne, Charles Officer.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “I’ll make sure to get you home in time for Murder She Wrote.”


Burgeoning starlet Mila Kunis is apparently not fond of her involvement in this bizarre sequel to Mary Harron’s adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel. Where that film examined the vicious world of capitalism, where male swagger competing eventually spills over into serial murder, AS2 is a straight up slasher flick.

Kunis is college freshman Rachael, whose babysitter took her along on a date with psycho killer Patrick Bateman and became his last victim before Rachael stabbed him dead with an ice pick. Undetected in this incident, Rachael successfully gets on to a criminal profiling course run by ex-FBI officer Robert Starkman (Shatner) whose one career black spot is the Bateman case.

In the week before Spring Break, Starkman is set to elect a teaching assistant for the following semester, and there’s no task Rachael won’t undertake to ensure she gets the job, which will lead her to her destiny – FBI training at Quantico. Firstly, her goal entails offing the three most likely contenders: Rich boy Brian, roommate Cassandra, and brainy Keith. Matters are further complicated by her interfering shrink who, after one session, diagnoses her as a ‘textbook sociopath’ and Rachael finds herself killing excess individuals to get her own way.

Sanger and Craig’s script shares more in common with the likes of Ripper: Letter From Hell and obsessed-femme-stalker sequel Teacher’s Pet than its predecessor. Kunis is a good soap opera style bad girl, but her narration of events severely tugs at the rug of credibility, and without the killings this would play more like an episode of Clarissa Explains It All than a serial-slasher pic.

Handsome production values go some way to distracting the viewer from what is really a wafer thin cash-in, probably rewritten to awkwardly tie in with the Bateman plot in order to get the greenlight. Still, seeing William Shatner traumatised is good for a laugh.

Blurbs-of-interest: Shatner was in Visiting Hours back in 1981; Lindy Booth was in Wrong Turn and the lead role in Cry_Wolf; Robin Dunne was in Scarecrow.

 

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.

Head Girl

night school 1980

NIGHT SCHOOL

3 Stars  1980/18/85m

“A is for Apple, B is for Bed, C is for Co-Ed, D is for Dead, F is for failing to keep your head.”

A.k.a. Terror Eyes

Director: Kenneth Hughes / Writer: Ruth Avergon / Cast: Leonard Mann, Rachel Ward, Drew Snyder, Joseph R. Sicari, Nicholas Cairis, Karen MacDonald, Elizabeth Barnitz, Annette Miller, Holly Hardman.

Body Count: 6


With only viable suspects, you won’t have to do much thinking to work out who is beneath a black motorcycle helmet beheading girls around Boston with a rather unique, boomerang-shaped blade. Although, a slow-witted peeping Tom is thrown into the mix to try and sway suspicion away from the real killer.

Nicely put-together from the director of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, with lush photography, but it never really settles into itself – is it a police thriller or a slasher pic?

Either way, accusations of misogyny could be quite fairly levelled at this one, despite having a female scribe, the eventual motive does little to defuse the women-are-nothing-more-than-vacuous-victims subtext.

night school 1980

Splatter wise, there’s a fair serving of blood for kitty to lap up, but it’s nowhere near as explicit as its residency on the Video Nasty list would have you believe: The killer leaves the decapitated heads submerged in buckets, aquariums, and kitchen sinks, but the gore is no less sloppy and amateur than a zillion other, cheaper flicks.

Rachel Ward probably looks back on his with the half the embarrassment she’d feel over The Final Terror, another title which, like this, isn’t particularly appropriate, as the school is hardly relevant. The Childcatcher is still way scarier.

Blurb-of-interest: Leonard Mann was later in Silent Night Deadly Night III.

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.

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