Tag Archives: before they were famous

The 100 Worst Slasher Films: #20-1

worst-stripMy belated Christmas-slash-New Year’s gift to you is the entire countdown of IMDb’s worst ranked slasher films from the 673 I’ve enjoyed/endured.

It saddens me to think of the days spent watching some of these dreadful, dreadful films. If nothing more, I hope this list provides you with a warning of what the avoid next time you’re in the mood for a stack of dead teenagers…

Regardé:

See full commentary for #100-81

100. Fatal Pulse (1988)
99. Blood Cult (1985)
98. Small Town Folk (2007)
97. Axe Giant (2012)
96. Study Hell (2004)
95. StagKnight (2007)
94. Slaughtered (2009)
93. Scar (2005)
92. The Prey (1980)
91. The Jackhammer Massacre (2003)

90. Heebie Jeebies (2004)
89. Hayride (2012)
88. Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain (2005)
87. Dark Walker (2003)
86. Cut (2010)
85. A Crack in the Floor (2000)
84. Cheerleader Massacre (2003)
83. Blood Reaper (2004)
82. Silent Bloodnight (2006)
81. Shadows Run Black (1981)

Commentary for #80-61

80. The Masque of the Red Death (1989)
79. BreadCrumbs (2011)
78. Adam & Evil (2004)
77. Kill Keith (2011)
76. The Choke (2005)
75. The Graveyard (2006)
74. The Pumpkin Karver (2006)
73. Knock Knock (2006)
72. Goodnight, God Bless (1987)
71. Camp Blood 2 (2000)

70. Drive In (2000)
69. Hatchetman (2003)
68. Switch Killer (2005)
67. A Night to Dismember (1983)
66. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)
65. Horror 102: Endgame (2004)
64. Scared (2001)
63. Terror at Tenkiller (1987)
62. Motorhome Massacre (2006)
61. Deranged (2012)

Commentary for #60-41

60. Bikini Girls on Ice (2009)
59. Dead Above Ground (2002)
58. Camp Blood (1999)
57. The Catcher (1997)
56. The Curse of El Charro (2005)
55. Scarecrow Gone Wild (2004)
54. Paranoid (2000)
53. The Watermen (2011)
52. Blood Sisters (1985)
51. Detention (2010)

50. Seed (2007)
49. Hollow Gate (1988)
48. Splatter University (1984)
47. Devon’s Ghost: Legend of the Bloody Boy (2005)
46. Do You Wanna Know a Secret? (2001)
45. Final Examination (2003)
44. Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove (2005)
43. Snapped (2005)
42. The Retreat (2005)
41. Memorial Day (1999)

Commentary for #40-21

40. Beyond Remedy (2009)
39. Bloody Murder (1999)
38. Dr Chopper (2005)
37. Bunnyman (2010)
36. Drive In Massacre (1976)
35. The Greenskeeper (2003)
34. Dark Harvest (2004)
33. The Last Slumber Party (1988)
32. Scream (1981)
31. Zombie Island Massacre (1984)

30. Jack-O (1995)
29. Mr Ice Cream Man (1991)
28. Hazard Jack (2013)
27. Stupid Teenagers Must Die! (2007)
26. Roadside Massacre (2012)
25. The Bagman (2002)
24. Carnage Road (2000)
23. Hollywood’s New Blood (1988)
22. The Fear: Resurrection (1999)
21. Night of the Dribbler (1990)

Leaving us with the twenty worst received slasher films I’ve seen according to public opinion.

Wait no longer, fresh in at #20…

20. Blood Lake (1987)

IMDb rating: 2.6
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

Three teen couples (actually one couple are like 13) vacation at a shack by a lake, where a Dom DeLuise-a-like killer lays some of them to waste. Two of them to be exact. And maybe two or three other victims? I can’t remember, but this video-made film has poverty row stamped all over it.

19. Killjoy (2000)

IMDb rating: 2.5
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

killjoyUrban/ghetto slasher films feature heavily up this end of the worst list. An undercurrent of racism? Possibly, but none of the films are objectively any good. In this one, a sub-Beetlejuice vengeance demon is summoned by a dork who is repeatedly beaten up by the nasty local crew. At only 72 minutes, at least it’s over pretty quick.

18. Appointment with Fear (1986)

IMDb rating: 2.5
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

A man who has sold his soul to some Egyptian tree god kills his wife and goes after his infant son, who has been left in the care of the autistic neighbour, Heather, who has a band of purple make-up around her eyes and pretends she lives inside a jar. At a house in the desert, teens are dispatched until the evil-eyed final girl can rescue the bub and defeat the killer. Debisue Voorhees from Friday V pops in for her usual topless scene, and there’s decent use of one of those handheld satellite-hearing-from-afar thingies, but everything else blows.

17. Movie House Massacre (1984)

IMDb rating: 2.5
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

mhm1Teens working at a rundown old cinema where a fire killed loads of people years before are stalked and knifed by the ghost of a geriatric usher, who had murdered the ticket girl the night of the fire. Demented in every possible way, if it’s supposed to be a comedy it ain’t funny. Mary Woronov has a small role (despite top billing) as the bitchy manager’s assistant. Look out for a girl who dies from sliding down a wall!?

16. Spiker (2007)

IMDb rating: 2.4
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

A mute, Albino serial killer who stabs his victims with railroad spikes escapes custody and returns to his old haunt where three teen couples are having themselves a party. All usual tropes are checked off the list.

15. Scarecrow Slayer (2003)

IMDb rating: 2.4
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

The second outing of the shoddy Scarecrow series sees Tony Todd as a paranoid farmer who accidentally shoots a teenager, whose soul is transferred into the scarecrow and goes on a killing spree. By far the worst of the ‘series’, topped off with WWE wrestling between two scarecrows. One good line: “You know, you have a real small penis for a guy who’s a real big dick!”

14. Nine Lives (2002)

IMDb rating: 2.3
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

ninelivesParis Hilton is the first to die in this rubbish flick set in a Scottish manor house where a English-hating ghost kills off nine ex-public school friends. But Paris is American. Uh? A final boy emerges as he’s Scottish and immune to it. Painful from start to finish.

13. Dark Fields (2003)

IMDb rating: 2.3
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

Five teens on their way to a concert get car trouble and end up stuck in the house of a madman. Zero thrills in this cheap video project from the folks who later doubled the misery with Study Hell.

12. The Slaughterhouse Massacre (2005)

IMDb rating: 2.3
VeVo rating: 0.5 Stars

Two annoying couples explore an old abattoir where a man blah blah killed blah was lynched blah… Of course the loon’s name is Marty Sickle. This is the very worst – outstaying its welcome by forever, pandering to girl-on-girl filler because it’s so fucking empty.

11. Zombie Nightmare (1987)

IMDb rating: 2.2
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

zn5Adam West and Tia Carrere star in this demented voodoo revenge slasher, in which a be-mulleted jock is killed by a group of reckless teens in a hit and run, resurrected by the local Haitian priestess, and sets about evening the score. A bad movie dream, with totally different actors playing the zombie in various scenes, cringey acting, but a sense of inoffensive 80s stupidity.

10. Sweet Insanity (2006)

IMDb rating: 2.2
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

Girl’s parents go away for the weekend. Girl has friends over. Friends get stabbed. Cheapo Haute Tension-esque climax is confusing and the audio track is so bad it’s nearly impossible to comprehend what’s going on anyway. Retitled Stranger: A Soul Mate of Chucky for the UK, with a doll on the cover, even though there is no killer doll, no spooky doll, and no mention of dolls in the entire film.

9. Deadtime (2012)

IMDb rating: 2.2
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

dt2Another rock band stalked by another killer whilst making a video for their big comeback. The only distinguishable thing about this one is that it’s British, but this helps none, as it traipses through a bog of bad production unities and a ridiculously annoying killer.

8. Grim Weekend (2003)

IMDb rating: 2.2
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

City folk go to a cabin in the woods, picking up a sexy hitchhiker on the way, where they are tormented by a clown with an axe. Horrible production values and obnoxious characters abound.

7. Cutthroat Alley (2003)

IMDb rating: 2.1
VeVo rating: 2 Stars

The ‘black guy dies first’ cliché is flipped in this urban LA slasher: Most of the cast are black but the white guy gets the blade first. Members of a street gang are being targeted by the masked psycho just as one ex-member is about to go to college after successfully turning his life around. Can he work out who it is before he’s next? A bit more surface polish than the other ‘ghetto’ slasher films make it more bearable and not so deserving of its place here.

6. Skeleton Man (2004)

IMDb rating: 2.0
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

A bizarre fusion of 80s action tropes and supernatural slashings as a Delta force team are sent to South America to put a stop to the skeleton-faced figure who is killing everyone. The body count almost reaches 40, a helicopter is shot down with a bow and arrow, Michael Rooker and Casper Van Dien are in it… An unbelievable film experience.

5. Alice in Murderland (2010)

IMDb rating: 2.0
VeVo rating: 0.5 Stars

alice1Sub-cheap rubbish with sorority girls throwing a birthday party in an old abandoned something or other… Alice is 21. Her mother died exactly twenty years ago that night, aged 21. They theme the party Alice in Wonderland. The killer dresses up as one of the characters from the book. An 86-minute endurance test.

4. Dead End Road (2004)

IMDb rating: 1.9
VeVo rating: 2 Stars

A killer who bases his murders on the works of Edgar Allan Poe does in various unfortunates in this cheap, but not awful film. There’s a good twist on The Tell-Tale Heart at the beginning, a pitchfork in the face, a decapitated head churned out of the bowling ball conveyer-return thingy. It’s low end for sure, but there’s worse.

3. Voyeur.com (2000)

IMDb rating: 1.6
VeVo rating: 2 Stars

College girls are invited to live in a house and be filmed 24/7 by sleazy low-end producers. Their plans for fame are thwarted by a masked killer who does everyone in. All the usual sex, bi-curiousity, pot-smoking stuff occurs and the killer turns out to be the shy girl heroine.

2. Urban Massacre (2002)

IMDb rating: 1.6
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

The entourage of growing rap quintet The Supernatchrals are being offed by another clown masked killer. What it is with urban slasher movies and clowns I do not know… but this one isn’t so bad until the end where the group have the killer cornered, lean in to unmask him and then stop, look at the camera and tell us we have to wait for the sequel. What. The. Fuck.

1: THE WORST RATED SLASHER FILM ON IMDb

Ax ‘Em (1992)

IMDb rating: 1.2
VeVo rating: 0.5 Stars

ax-emAn unsurprising victor, Ax ‘Em is quite deserving of its worst-of-the-worst title. Made by a talentless crew, what you can pick up about the story is a group of friends go to a house in the woods where a killer is at work, using strange metal spring things to kill folks with. Again, it tries to reverse the race suppositions by killing off the while characters and leaving about a dozen black people running around between the trees. Only a few of them die, others just vanish from the film altogether. This is less than camcorder made-a-film-on-vacation quality, it’s head-scratchingly strange, with absolutely no apparent knowledge of filmmaking on show. As someones own private film they made with friends, fine, it will give them a laugh at their ten year reunion, but to give it any kind of home video release…? Unfathomably awful, there are not enough sublatives in our language to justify how bad it is.

*

So there we have it… The 100 Worst. Of course, there are hordes of titles with mysteriously favourable rankings that didn’t make the list, and some that are frankly better than they may seem. Karma.

And the best, you caw, well they’re right here!

 

A time for family, forgiveness, and foul play

hfth dvdHOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

3 Stars  1972/74m

“There’s nothing more chilling than a warm family gathering.”

Director: John Llewelyn Moxey / Writer: Joseph Stefano / Cast: Eleanor Parker, Sally Field, Jill Haworth, Jessica Walter, Julie Harris, Walter Brennan, John Fink.

Body Count: 3


Psycho screenwriter Joseph Stefano penned this star-studded made-for-TV proto-slasher, which gives new meaning to uncomfortable festive family get-togethers.

Dying patriarch Benjamin Morgan instructs his eldest daughter, Alex, to gather her three sisters at the old family ranch for Christmas before he succumbs to his old age. So to the house cometh acid-tongued, trice-divorced Jo, pill and booze swilling Freddie, and sweet-natured youngest Christine, none of whom have been back to the house in some years.

Ben tells his offspring that his new wife, Elizabeth, is poisoning him to death. While Alex can’t decide if this is a desperate male-pride rejection of his age, or true due to the gossip that the woman poisoned her previous husband, the other sisters are a little more black and white, with only Christine willing to get to know her stepmother.

hfth2Before long, Jo decides to leave and is hijacked by a rain-macked, pitchfork-toting assailant outside. The next day, Freddie is drowned in the bath, a tragedy written off as either suicide or an accident waiting to happen. But suspicion runs rife and the remaining sisters can’t help but suspect Elizabeth, more so when Christine is chased through the woods by the rain-mack figure, the very coat belonging to Elizabeth. Giallo-tastic.

On TV in 1972, this mystery might’ve been a head-scratcher, but with hundreds of slasher films between then and when I saw it this week, it was no more difficult to solve than a Scooby Doo episode.

Home for the Holidays has barely a drop of blood, no real horror, and, at a thin 74 minutes, tends to drag here and there – it’s certainly not Black Christmas - but the winner here is the casting: Parker, Walter, Haworth, and Field are all on form as the sisters Morgan. The former two were reunited for another TV sort-of slasher film in 1979 in She’s Dressed to Kill, and it’s easy to see why Sean Cunningham was keen on Sally Field donning the lead role in Friday the 13th, her means-well good-girl vibe and screamability is quite similar to Adrienne King’s take on Alice, albeit with less fighting back required, though it’s worth noting Field would’ve been in her mid-thirties by then.

hfth1It’s rare to see such a competent collective of actresses working together. Menfolk are sidelined into virtual irrelevance by the film – it belongs to the quintet of leading ladies. Amusingly, Parker was older than the woman playing her father’s new wife, plus old enough to be Field’s own mother!

A mild, bleakly festive affair (hey, there’s a tree and a wreath!), with more in common with Murder, She Wrote than Silent Night, Deadly Night but intriguing in its own way and could benefit from a decent remake. If you want a fun game, count the number of ominous zooms used to create suspicion.

Meeeeerry Christmas!

2015 Halloween Spectacular Part 2: Zombie Nightmare

zombie-nightmareZOMBIE NIGHTMARE

1.5 Stars  1987/80m

Director: Jack Bravman / Writer: David Wellington / Cast: Adam West, Frank Dietz, John Mikl Thor, Manuska Rigaud, Shawn Levy, Tia Carrere, Allan Fisher, Hamish McEwen, Manon E. Turbide, Linda Singer.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “I’m old enough to be your older sister.”


And I wanted my 666th slasher movie to special! Kinda got what I wished for.

Serving as a kind of resume urban legend for some of the big names involved, Zombie Nightmare‘s IMDb rating of 2.2 (up from around 1.8 and a place in Bottom 100) provides a fairly accurate reflection of what to expect…

BUT… bad movie lovers amongst us will enjoy this veritable feast of How Not To Make A Good Movie, from drastic changes in hair, clothes, and even actors mid-scene.

I would reckon zombie movie fans have picked up this one excitedly in the past, only to painfully discover that, title aside, and just like Zombie Island Massacre, this ain’t nothin’ but a punk ass slasher movie.

zn5Anyway, after a baseball game, the Washington family walk home, and big dad Bill tries to help a young girl being harassed by two punk ass teen, uh, punks. For his trouble, he gets himself stabbed in front of wife and young son.

Years later, young son has grown up into be-mulleted hunk Tony (Thor, of the band Thor), all round great guy, who looks after mom and is nice to all, or so we assume from his few minutes of screen time. Tony is sent to fetch groceries from the couldn’t-be-more-stereotypical Italian shopkeep, who is later referred to as Hank Peters (!). During his errand, more punk ass punks attempt to rob the store (Hank gasps “Mamma Mia!”) and Tony beats up their punk asses but is then run over by yet another group of punk ass teen punks, who just drive away. They have no collective remorse, with the guy at the wheel even saying he got a buzz from it.

zn3Shopkeep takes Tony’s body to his mom’s house and then suggests they call the police, but she has better ideas, calling in a favour from local Haitian Voodoo Priestess Molly Mokembe, who can resurrect Tony in zombie form long enough for him to seek revenge on those responsible.

So it goes, the quintet of teens are hunted down by the hulking zombie, initially sporting the same mullet but later cropped down to sensible Ken-doll hair, while he breaks necks, impales with baseball bats, or just smashes skulls into walls n’ shit. Curiously, the nasty teen most responsible – big blown out, feathered hair – goes fairly early on, leaving Tia Carrere and boyfriend to be stalked to the last.

Tony: Before and after

Tony: Before and after

As if this weren’t awesome enough ingredients for the best film y’ever saw, halfway through Adam freakin’ West turns up as the police captain, whose detective (Dietz) is hot on the trail of the killer. The murders are somehow being reported as drug-infused suicides. Of a victim, the Captain says: “He ran with a bad crowd… Running red lights, getting drunk, smoking marijuana – you know the usual bad stuff.” Yeah sounds like an epidemic.

Tony eventually rids the world of the punk ass teen punks and is free to rest in peace, but not before Zombie Nightmare plays its ace card: Adam West is one the punk ass punks who killed his dad!

zn-westBut, hey, wait a sec… The M.E. says that an earlier victim was aged around 43, whereas West was pushing 60 in 1987 – and how many years were supposed to have passed between Tony’s dad being murdered (by “teens”) and Tony being grown up? 10? 20?? 30???

Nothing really makes a lot of sense in Zombie Nightmare. At one point, things just grind to halt so we can watch two people play tennis for several minutes. But at least there’s pre-Wayne’s World Tia Carrere as one of the teens, and the ringleader was played by Shawn Levy, who went on to direct the Night at the Museum films along with numerous other Hollywood titles, whereas Zombie Nightmare‘s director, Jack Bravman, later gave us the even worse Night of the Dribbler.

  • Elsewhere, why does the priestess talk like a sheep singing a Belinda Carlisle song?
  • Why does Zombie-Tony look like he’s doing interpretive dance in the final scene?
  • Why does a near rape victim think that saying: “I’ve had enough of your childish sexual advances – go away!” would ever work?
  • Who is the hero in this film, seriously? Zombie Tony? The detective?

zn4The thrash metal soundtrack, with songs from Motorhead, Thor (of course) and a load of other bands I’ve never heard of, seems to be where the budget went. Come for the music, stay for the hair and the comedy.

10 Final Boys We Like

Final Boys are never going to be as awesome as Final Girls, hence we don’t love them like we love Final Girls. But these guys did quite well with the job at hand…

devon-sawa-fd1Alex Browning (Devon Sawa)
Final Destination (2000)

High school inbetweener Alex is thrust into the shoes of Final Boy-dom when he has an out-of-the-blue premonition the flight he and his French Club will explode minutes after takeoff. Saving himself and six others doesn’t make him the hero, but instead, as he puts it “everyone in my school thinks I’m a freak.”

Perhaps not being a straight-up slasher film is what allows three of the five Final Destination films to work with a male lead. Sawa’s Average Joe is appealing because of the way he teeters between both social groups and his own sanity.

Death-valley-1982-movie-1Billy (Peter Billingsley)
Death Valley (1982)

Just as Danielle Harris would become the pre-teen final girl in the later Halloween sequels, little Milky Bar kid Peter Billingsley was the unlikely hero of strange way-out-west slasher flick Death Valley, when a family vacation is foiled by him literally meandering into a murder scene, finding a trinket the killer wants, and finding himself stalked by said loon in pursuit of it.

Billingsley was already an accomplished child actor by the time he was in this (and also older than he looked) and so isn’t cursed by overacting and, even better, lacks the brattiness usually on show when kids are front and center.

elm4-300xJesse Walsh (Mark Patton)
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

Jesse’s family move into 1428 Elm Street five years after Nancy Thompson lived there and he soon finds his dreams invaded by Freddy, who wants to possess him and turn him into an agent of death.

Freddy’s Revenge could well be the most analysed slasher film of the 80s, and Jesse is commonly seen as a repressed gay, whose body Freddy wants, and only a kiss from a girl can save him etc… If you watch the awesome documentary Never Sleep Again, Mark Patton is a little embarrassed by his performance but, if nothing else, at least they tried something new rather than just retread the original film, and he’s an important part of that, thus fully deserving his place here.

burning-alfredAlfred (Brian Backer)
The Burning (1981)

Included more out of relevance than respect, Alfred was possibly the first final boy in a big screen slasher. At Camp Stonewater, he’s the nerdy misfit, who spies on girls while they shower, plays weird pranks, and whines a lot. He’s also the only one to suspect someone is prowling around the peripheries of the camp. Naturally, nobody believes him until he finds a couple of dead bodies and proves it.

The Burning is already quite a misogynistic outing before shoving aside the notion of a final girl and putting Alfred into the role instead. He’s essentially saved by the hunky male counsellor, as would a girl in the same situation it seems, meaning his gender is far more incidental as he adds nothing that a girl wouldn’t. None of this is the fault of Backer, however, who put in a great performance as Mark Ratner in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

tumblr_m6yz8w2VUd1r9wksko1_400Alex Grey (Tim Conlon)
Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (1989)

Another Alex and quite similar to his Final Destination namesake. This Alex, a sub-Ferris Bueller type in both looks and attitude, has a hot girlfriend but no direction until he somehow becomes the boy toy of undead Prom Queen from hell Mary Lou Maloney. For a while, she improves his social standing no end, but once a hell bitch, always a hell bitch…

Prom Night III‘s comic-horror baseline works well for Conlon’s likable schtick as the put-upon hero: He’s witty and funny, being pulled in two directions, one by an angel, the other by the devil.

hellbent-shining_0Eddie (Dylan Fergus)
Hellbent (2004)

The ‘first gay slasher film’ featured a masked muscle man scything gay chaps around West Hollywood during Halloween night celebrations, when everyone is in costume and a hot guy in nothing but tight pants and a horned mask won’t rouse suspicion.

At the center of the mania is civilian police employee Eddie, who just wants a decent night out with his friends, all of whom soon start falling victim to the loon. Usual hetero conventions are simply flipped in this case, and Eddie runs and hides with veritable Jamie Lee gusto, saved at one point by the virtue of having a false eye!

wolf-creek-2-03Paul Hammersmith (Ryan Corr)
Wolf Creek 2 (2013)

British surf bum Paul is minding his own business when he’s embroiled in a nightmare of Mick Taylor’s making, stopping to rescue a girl who has escaped the bushman’s clutches for long enough to make it to the road. After she’s killed, Paul has a target on his back and Taylor will stop at nothing to reclaim his victim.

Both Wolf Creek films feature male sole survivors, although the first one has little to do with anything the guy does, and Paul is put through all the usual torture that final girls endure: Everyone he approaches for help is killed, he’s captured, strapped to a chair, tortured (by song and weapon), escapes, but does that thing where he scuppers the opportunity to finalise the killer’s exit from this mortal coil… So much for all those who say final boys would be better. And the British character lived! Whoop!

Weston-in-Wishcraft-michael-weston-12955368-608-336Brett Bumpers (Michael Weston)
Wishcraft (2001)

High school dork Brett receives an enchanted bull’s dick through the mail with a note saying it grants three wishes, which he eventually discovers to be true. Meanwhile, classmates of his are being picked off by a cloaked killer. Are the two connected? Duh.

The rise of the nerd theme in Wishcraft is satisfying on its own, even though Brett isn’t initially in any danger, he’s soon forced into combat with the unmasked killer and, with one wish left, ascends to hero level pretty quickly.

Andy-Barclay-chucky-5551046-700-383Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent/Justin Whalin)
Child’s Play 1-3 (1988-1992)

Poor Andy Barclay cannot rid himself of final boy duties no matter what he does. As the first human to discover the secret of possessed Good Guy doll Chucky, Andy is thus the only one who can be a vessel for the killer’s soul. After surviving round one, a new foster home cannot provide shelter in Child’s Play 2, and even a military academy provides no refuge in the third film…

Unlike Billy in Death Valley, hero duties could only go to a child in this franchise, and Vincent did extremely well with the material, even better was his cameo in Curse of Chucky. He’s at his best in Child’s Play 2 with the assistance of a teen foster sister who fulfills the legwork and screaming quota.

tommyTommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman/John Shepard/Thom Mathews)
Friday the 13th Parts IV-VI (1984-1986)

In The Final Chapter, Tommy Jarvis is just a monster-loving kid who has the bad luck of living by Crystal Lake and ends up – with big sister Trish – bringing down Jason who, by that point, had murdered a good 30 schmucks over the previous few days. In A New Beginning, Tommy is older, traumatised by what happened and sent to a halfway house where a hockey-masked psycho goes to task chopping up his new friends. In Jason Lives, an undecided amount of time later, Tommy returns to Crystal Lake to burn Jason’s corpse, but ends up accidentally resurrecting him and spends the rest of the movie trying to undo his error.

While Feldman as the horror-nut was a logical move to ‘end’ the series on in 1984, Thom Mathews is easily my favourite incarnation of the character, a complete 360 on Shepard’s brooding portrayal, Tommy ’86 is like a totally different guy, replete with comic timing and a touch of slapstick to his ever-doomed attempts to stop Jason.

But, in terms of final boys through history, the name Tommy Jarvis is probably at the top of the tree.

Murder, She Wrote: The Prep School Years

deadlylessonsDEADLY LESSONS

2.5 Stars  1983/94m

“Kiss the girls and make them sigh. Hunt them down and watch them die.”

Director: William Wiard / Writer: Jennifer A. Miller / Cast: Donna Reed, Larry Wilcox, Diane Franklin, Ally Sheedy, David Ackroyd, Renée Jones, Bill Paxton, Vicki Kriegler, Nancy Cartwright, Deena Freeman, Sally Klein, Donald Hotton.

Body Count: 3

Laughter Lines: “If we get caught we’re dead… Sorry, poor choice of words.”


Look. At. That. Cast. Bill Paxton! Ally Sheedy! Diane Franklin! Sissy from Jason Lives! The future voice of Bart Simpson! Deadly Lessons is the TV movie that just gives, gives, gives!

The first words uttered tell us all we need to know: “I’ve never been to a boarding school before, but this is one of the best schools in the country and they’re giving me a free scholarship! I just hope the other girls like me!”

These come from Stephanie (Franklin) to her cab driver as they approach the prestigious Starkwater Hall prep, where she’s joining the summer session early along with a small group of other girls who need to buck up their ideas.

dl2

Ally Sheedy, Vicki Kriegler, and Diane Franklin go corpse spotting

No sooner does Stephanie arrive, than one of bitchy girls is found drowned in the lake. Everyone says it’s an accident bar local detective Russ Kemper, who doesn’t take kindly to headmistress Miss Wade’s insistence that the school is not damaged by bad press.

Stephanie, meanwhile, begins to play detective, thanks in part to her obsession with a Clue-esque boardgame called Evidence. Suspects include the horse riding teacher, the stable boy (Paxton), other teachers, the requisite creepy handyman, plus all the girls who hated the victim, and victim No. 2…

There’s not a spot of blood to be seen in all of Deadly Lessons, it really is as if we’re watching Jessica Fletcher’s youthful memoirs for all the red herrings, questionable performances, and absence of violence. All that was missing was that judgmental shake of the head thing she did after the killer freely admitted how and why they did it – although in this case, the mystery is not so easy to solve.

dl5

A pre-Simpsons Nancy Cartwright and pre-Jason Renée Jones

Without a doubt, the primary appeal is in the cast, from Sheedy’s pre-Breakfast Club rich girl, to Nancy Cartwright’s (Bart!!) unwanted over-eater, though you wonder how many highlight it on their respective resumes. This could be shown on TV any Saturday afternoon and cause zero offense. An interesting one time affair, but not a class you’d want to repeat.

No home video release (beyond a German one under the name High School Killer) has surfaced, hence the significant lack of artwork.

Blurbs-of-interest: Paxton was also in Night Warning, Mortuary, and later Club Dread; Jones was perky camp counsellor Sissy in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.

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