Tag Archives: before they were famous

Some films I frankly can’t be bothered to say much about

I’m just tired, okay?

butchered 2003 dvd

BUTCHERED

2 Stars  2003/18/76m

A.k.a. BludgeonThe Hazing

Director: Joe Castro / Writer: Eric Spudic / Cast: Susan Smythe, Elina Madison, Phoebe Dollar, Juliet Bradford, Ben Belack, Christopher Michaels, Adam Crone, Tracy Ray, David Alan Graf.

Body Count: 10


What did they do to the eyes of everyone on that cover?

The sophomoric slasher effort from the production group behind Maniacal. Although again shot on video, Butchered generally has slightly better production values and a better script.

Whereas the earlier film played like a student’s take on Halloween with a million and one references to other slasher pics, this time around Hell Night seems to be up for the Xerox treatment as college students Lynette and Barbara agree to spend the night in an old manor house to pledge their sorority (which only has two sisters anyway). We already know that a maniac hiding behind a creepy Darkness Falls­-like mask lurks in the walls of the house, which is due to be converted into a theme park ghost house, as a luckless derelict and the new owner find out.

The sorority sisters and their horny boyfriends turn up to scare the pair witless and end up as additional prey for the killer, who, according to an inexplicably well-informed pizza boy, is the mute daughter of the last owners. Andrew Garth she is not, but there are some amusing kills, including a machete in the mouth and a repetition of the bashed-in head as seen in Maniacal.

Cheap and cheerful with a definite love for its genre, just in need of a cash injection.

*

the driller killer 1979

THE DRILLER KILLER

2 Stars  1979/18/96m

“It will shatter you!”

Director: Abel Ferrara / Writer: N.G. St. John / Cast: Jimmy Laine, Carolyn Marz, Baybi Day, Harry Schultz, Rhodney Montreal.

Body Count: 13

Laughter Lines: “I’ll tell you what you know about: You know how to bitch, and how to eat, and how to bitch, and how to shit, and how to bitch!”


One of the grand daddies of the ‘Video Nasty’ saga in 80s Britain, this is a grimy study of a highly strung artist (played by director Ferrara under the pseudonym Jimmy Laine) living with his girlfriend and a permanently-wasted bimbo spiralling into insanity, as phone bills, abortion charges, his never-finished painting, and the crappy punk rock band rehearsing downstairs at all hours push him closer to the brink.

Acquiring a Porto-Pak, he takes a power drill to the homeless residents of New York City, boring holes into them to vent his fury at the world. Appearing shortly before the slasher movie outburst of 1980, The Driller Killer doesn’t adhere very closely to the genre rules that would soon make themselves known through popular examples: The main character is the killer, and there is no offbeat motive set deep in the past. Instead, irritations slowly build up until he boils over and runs around town offing eight hobo’s in one night!

The intact version of the film was eventually released on DVD in the UK in 2002 and, aside from maybe two of the drillings, isn’t the blood feast it was painted to be by hysterical moral guardians of the Whitehouse ilk. On the contrary, the scene in which the three roommates indulge in the world’s grossest pizza is far more stomach churning than anything the drill gets up to.

Unfortunately, the flippant scenes of essentially unrelated happenings serve only to annoy and steer the focus away from what could be an interesting character portrait.

*

freak out 2005

FREAK OUT

2.5 Stars  2005/15/99m

“It’s cheap n’ nasty!”

Director/Writer: Christian James / Writer: Dan Palmer / Cast: James Heathcote, Dan Palmer, Yazz Fetto, Nicola Connell, Chilli Gold, James Hicks, James King.

Body Count: 22-ish

Laughter Lines: “I don’t like horror films anymore, they’re for babies.”


A camp, vegetarian psychopath is adopted by horror loving nerd, Merv (Heathcote), and his slacker buddy Onkey (Palmer – who co-wrote). They attempt to turn him into a maniac killer of Jason proportions.

This film successfully skewers many genre clichés and turns them on their head, but is ultimately toppled by its inherent cheapness, which makes it look like a drawn out sketch show clip. The unrelenting satiric Brit humour is hit-and-miss and shares common ground with the fly-on-the-wall like approach that made the likes of The Office and Green Wing successful, albeit on a more juvenile level here.

The best laughs come courtesy of the killer himself, known only as Looney, who is never without his orange jumpsuit, potato sack headdress, hockey mask and carries a spatula as his weapon of choice – his polite observations (in a voice that sounds like Bungle the Bear from Rainbow) and apparent obsession with Larry Hagman supply ongoing chuckles.

Considering the 99 minute run time, the three secular killing sprees are over in seconds with little concern for convincing effects work although there is a high body count and plenty of sloppy gore.

Ultimately, Freak Out parodies the less obvious of slasher movie conventions with fair success, but The Hand of Death Part 25 did the job better. Worth the once over for some cheap laughs – most notably the scene with The Blair Witch Project stage play.

*

NEXT OF KINnext of kin 1982

3 Stars  1982/86m

“Some films take their audience to the brink of terror… This one crosses the border.”

Director/Writer: Tony Williams / Writer: Michael Heath / Cast: Jackie Kerin, John Jarratt, Alex Scott, Gerda Nicolson, Charles McCallum, Bernadette Gibson, Robert Ratti, Debra Lawrance.

Body Count: 8


Spooky goings on abound at the Montclare Retirement Home, a lush estate recently inherited by Linda (Kerin) after her mother passes away: A resident is found at the bottom of the bathtub, and our heroine keeps seeing a mysterious figure hanging about on the grounds, finding her taps have been left on in her sink and her bath, and in an especially eerie moment, someone breathing on a separate house telephone during a call… Is she going mad?

Some of her questions are answered in her late mother’s diaries that fear ‘something evil’ is lurking about the place and the local Doctor is being quite secretive about some of the past events that occurred. Drawing quite heavily from Black Christmas, the slashing in this film doesn’t kick in until the hour mark, instead substituting violence to build a respectable level of tension and define even the most ancillary characters enough to fear for their safety.

Moments familiar from Halloween, The Shining, and Psycho help with the somewhat rushed climax (where the sound of the running down the halls is used to great effect). The finale goes a bit awry although Linda finally kicks-ass, there are still several loose ends that are never made any tighter, but this is one little gem that has somehow remained out of circulation for a while.

Look out for a pre-Mick Taylor John Jarratt.

*

slaughter night sl8 n8 2006

SLAUGHTER NIGHT

2.5 Stars  2006/90m

A.k.a. SL8 N8 (Slacht Nacht)

Directors/Writers: Frank van Geloven & Edwin Visser / Cast: Victoria Koblenko, Kurt Rogiers, Jop Joris, Steve Hooi, Linda van der Steen, Carolina Dijkhuizen, Serge-Henri Valcke, Emiel Sandtke, Lara Toorop.

Body Count: 12


In the mid-1800s, a child murder named Andries Martiens terrorised a region of Holland, decapitating seven children in an attempt to utilise black magic that would help him enter and exit hell. He was caught before he could off his eighth and final victim.

In the present, Kristel and her father are involved in a car accident one night: She survives, he doesn’t. Guilt-ridden, Kristel volunteers to collect some of his belongings from his office in nearby Belgium and takes four college friends with her. She discovers her late dad was penning a book on Martiens and had become fixated with a local mine where the killer had been recruited as a sort-of working suicide bomber, to rid the mines of excess methane by going in with a live flame. Death row inmates who survived this task were pardoned, but not in his case and Martiens was duly executed.

Kristel is advised to ‘take the tour’ of the mine and drags her pals along with her. Spooky occurrences abound and the party are stranded below ground where they unwisely decide to tinker with the Ouija board that Kristel’s father owned. This dumbfounded act unleashes Martiens’ vengeful spirit, which snappily possesses one of the group and uses them to start offing the others, leaping to a new host if the poor schmuck is killed. There’s lots of blah about the occult, uncollected inheritance, treasure, and a few grisly kills sprinkled throughout.

The Netherlands isn’t famous for its horror output. Amsterdamned (which one of the cast members here was in) was passably entertaining, as is SL8 N8, which, in Dutch, translates to the English title and neatly ties in the need to eight victims etc…

A sort of Long Time Dead by way of My Bloody Valentine affair. In Dutch. Okay once.

Blurbs-of-interest: Butchered: Elina Madison was in Curse of the Forty-Niner; Joe Castro directed Maniacal and The Jackhammer MassacreFreak Out: Dan Palmer was in Small Town FolkNext of Kin: John Jarratt played Mick Taylor in the Wolf Creek movies and TV series, and was also in NeedleSlaughter Night: Serge-Henri Valcke was in Amsterdamned.

…Something beginning with overrated

my little eye dvd

MY LITTLE EYE

2 Stars  2002/18/92m

“Fear is not knowing. Terror is finding out.”

Director: Marc Evans / Writers: David Hilton & James Watkins / Cast: Laura Regan, Sean C.W. Johnson, Kris Lemche, Jennifer Sky, Stephen O’Reilly, Bradley Cooper, Nick Mennell.

Body Count: 4


Trailers for My Little Eye looked awesome back in the early 00s, and I went to see it around the same time that the similarly-themed Halloween: Resurrection floated to the surface.

Kind of an awkward marriage between parts of The Blair Witch Project and Big Brother - then at the peak of its popularity – five young hopefuls are plonked in a house in the middle of nowhere (a nowhere covered by an inescapable blanket of snow) for six months with the promise of a million dollars each if none of them leave before it’s over.

As they near the end of their stay, the shady producers begin sending stranger and stranger supplies to the house, such as bricks, a gun, a hammer. that prompt the residents to try and delve deeper into the agenda, amped up when a hiker happens by and claims he’s never heard of the show.

They discover they are guinea pigs to a secret circle of sadistic millionaires who want to see live murders and one of them turns out to be a well-placed psycho who’s happy to start doing the rest of them in until whiney heroine Emma takes him on.

my little eye 2002

In synch with hordes of other it’s-real-no-it’s-not slashers including Kolobos and Voyeur.com, a large spoonful of the film is presented via obscure camera angles as the slow build keeps the audience waiting for that mind-blowing revelation… There are a couple of suitably eerie moments on route, but instead of a huge twist, things just peter out with an annoying and bleak twist ending that succeeds only in cementing the hour-long build up as a waste of time.

Biggest mystery: If the whole thing was just an elaborate trap, why wait six months before killing everyone on the same day?

Blurbs-of-interest: Laura Regan was in Hollow Man II; Kris Lemche was in Final Destination 3; Nick Mennell was in the Friday the 13th reboot; apparently Bradley Cooper did a few films nobody ever heard of.

I Know What You Did 100 Summers Ago. In Sweden.

drowning ghost strandvaskarenDROWNING GHOST

2 Stars  2004/100m

A.k.a. Strandvaskaren (Swedish title)

Director/Writer: Mikael Hafstrom / Writer: Vada / Cast: Rebecka Hemse, Peter Eggers, Jenny Ulving, Jesper Salen, Daniel Larsson, Rebecka Ferguson, Frans Wiklund, Anders Ekborg, Kerstin Steinbach, Kjell Bergqvist.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “Three pupils were murdered a hundred years ago. We must celebrate that.”


Sweden is famous for a lot of awesome things: meatballs, Ikea, exquisite songwriting, winning Eurovision, high taxes, beautiful Nordic people…

In recent years, Sweden has become known for its gritty, slick thrillers, on TV or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, most of which revel in the dim light, stoic expressions, and a sense of melancholy.

One would be forgiven for thinking this would transfer well to the horror movie industry, much like neighbouring Norway, with the no-less-than-excellent Cold Prey series. Sadly, Drowning Ghost retains only the good look of a typical Scando-production, and is otherwise terminally dull.

Set against the backdrop of life at the exclusive Hellestad boarding school, where, one year on from the suicide of a lonely female student, a killer begins stalking and doing away with a group of over-aged students. Or could it have something to do with the hundred-year-old legend of a local farmer who slaughtered a trio of boys before drowning himself in a nearby lake? The school is home to a traditional annual celebration of the event, when the ghost of the farmer is rumoured to walk the halls…

dg1

Studious Sara is researching the tale and uncovers factors that may connect the killings to one of the Hellestad board members’ ancestors, much to the vexation of the haughty headmistress. Sara subsequently becomes the target of practical jokes and pranks carried out by said board member’s son, with whom she was previously involved.

The identity of the sack-masked killer isn’t immediately obvious, but the film builds up little that will make you care anyway. For all the fancy camerawork, score, and overlapping plotlines, there’s really not much going on here at all.

The body count is low and many of the killing off-camera, and the only ghost that bothers to show up is one of dead expectations.

Arguably, drowning might be a more engaging experience than sitting through this exercise in tedium.

Blurb-of-interest: Rebecka Ferguson (the unquestionably stunning girlfriend of the nasty guy) went on to star in one of the Mission: Impossible sequels.

Doctor Death

surgeon1994THE SURGEON

2 Stars  1994/18/96m

“First Jason… Then Freddy… Finally, a professional.”

A.k.a. Exquisite Tenderness; Clinic

Director: Carl Schenkel / Writers: Patrick Cirillo & Bernard Slowe / Cast: Isabel Glasser, James Remar, Sean Haberle, Peter Boyle, Malcolm McDowell, Charles Dance, Beverly Todd, Charles Bailey Gates, Walter Olkewicz, Mother Love.

Body Count: 8


What a cast! How could it go wrong? It can’t …right?

A doctor secretly working on a breakthrough serum that would end physical suffering is fired for his experiments on the patients, goes mad, and returns to take revenge on the people responsible for shutting him down. It’s up to nosy docs Glasser and Remar to put a stop to the carnage before it’s too late.

Not too much going on in the way of thrills and there’s precious little slashing to be seen, plus the killer’s identity is revealed too soon into the movie, robbing it of a possible extra twist – and so we’re left with a slick but standardised medical thriller, the only original remaining plot feature of which is the killer’s ability to overcome his injuries by injecting himself with his own serum thus making him invincible. There’s also full frontal male nudity, courtesy of Dexter’s dad Remar.

As far as hospital slashers go, Cold Prey II and Halloween II are yet to be beat.

Blurbs-of-interest: McDowell later played Dr Loomis in Rob Zombie’s Halloween re-thingies, and was also the sheriff in Silent Night; Walter Olkewicz was in Milo.

The Blood Baths

pooldvdTHE POOL

3.5 Stars  2001/15/92m

“Evil has surfaced.”

A.k.a. Swimming Pool: Der Tod Felert Mit

Director/Writer: Boris von Sychowski / Writers: Lorenz Stassen & Ryan Carrassi / Cast: Kristen Miller, Elena Uhlig, Thorsten Grasshoff, John Hopkins, James McAvoy, Jason Liggett, Jonah Lotan, Isla Fisher, Cordelia Bugeja, Maximilian Grill, Lynda Rybová, Bryan Carney.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “Forget it, Frank, I’d put an end to your sex life before it even got started.”


Beware! Spoilers ahead.

The triangular formation of pretty young faces tells us where the influence for this collaborative European venture hails from. The Pool even starts with the old girl-tormented-in-house routine, as a planned dinner date is crashed by a skull-masked machete-swinging schizo.

At the International Highschool of Prague, exams wrap up and everyone wants to party, which is the big thing for rich, popular man-about-campus Gregor, who is renowned for his amazing secret after-parties. Obv heroine/American Sarah is smart and nice, everyone’s friend blah blah blah, while her German BFF, Carmen, is the promiscuous siren. There’s also Scottish bloke, British bloke, American bloke, German bloke, Australian girl, Czech girl, and girl-whose-accent-I-couldn’t-place.

pool7Scottish bloke and Australian girl are boyfriend/girlfriend, and also happen to be played by bona fide Hollywood A-listers to be James McAvoy and Isla Fisher. No big name should go without having been in a teen horror film before hitting the big time. It’s law. Anyway, She’s screwed up her final and is a bad mood, which lends well to her storming off and being the next one to meet Mr Skullface, who stalks her through the woods in an effectively pumped chase scene.

After the official school graduation ball thingy, the gang meet up and Gregor leads them convoy style to a pool complex outside the city. Swimsuits are provided, nobody knows they’re there, and they successfully jimmy their way into the bar. Awesome times ahead.

Well, awesome times would be ahead were it not for one of the group having stopped taking their meds, slaughtering his own stepsister, and is now among them at the party. But who, who? A grumpy detective in on the case, but he inexplicably speaks English to his Czech colleagues and says “damn kids” a lot. He’ll be useful.

pool1Sarah doesn’t swim and she doesn’t talk about it. Although later, when the issue is forced, her big secret warrants a one-line exposition of “oh… is that it?” gravitas. She lets the others have fun, flirt, pair off, la de da…

Up next is the infamous waterslide murder. An inventive set piece I’m sure we’ve all worried about at one time or another while sliding down the inside of a plastic tube towards God-knows-what. What if there’s crap in the splash pool? Or a dead body? *gasp* what is something sharp penetrated the floor of the slide!? See the results in this old Icky Way To Go. Ouch.

The murders are discovered and the group find that they are locked inside. Spitting into two groups, as numbers deplete, Sarah’s friends try to convince her that Gregor (elsewhere) is the most likely suspect. He brought them there. He made loads of suspicious statements earlier. One half of the group attempts to escape through the venting system, only for the killer to start piercing it with the machete.

pool2By this point it’s fairly obvious who the killer is, and it was a bit of a ‘that old chestnut’ situation as it’s revealed to be – yawn – the British guy, but the actor does a fine job of camping it up as he goes head to head with hydrophobic Sarah.

One distinguishing feature of The Pool is that not everyone else dies, there’s quite a number left intact by the time the credits roll. It’s helpful, as it offsets the weight on Kristen Miller’s shoulders, as she’s something of a cookie-cutter final girl, all deep trauma and niceties. Normally, the promiscuous girl who, it turns out, bedded Sarah’s boyfriend, would be sliced in no time, but she actually ends up saving the day here.

pool4The refresher comes from the cross section of accents and looks; the film was initially going to be a German-language homegrown production (evidenced by three of the five surviving characters being German), but cottoned on to the global market well enough, is produced with enough gloss to rank well as one of many Scream knock-offs, and doesn’t shy away from the bloodletting in favour of laughs. One eyebrow-raiser is the “advanced age” of several of these “teens” – some of them look like they should be thinking about retirement rather than graduation.

A fun diversion, aided abundantly by Prague’s beautiful scenery, and some ambitious ideas. The sort-of sequel is merely a re-edited Do You Wanna Know a Secret? with some new scenes tossed into the salad. As there’s no way in hell I’ll ever subject myself to that film again, I’ve not exposed myself to it.

Take a dip.

Blurb-of-interest: Miller was the bitchy girl, Cindy, in Cherry Falls.

pool6

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