Tag Archives: Canuck

KILLER PARTY

killerparty

KILLER PARTY

3.5 Stars  1986/18/88m

“DEADicated to the class of ’86.”

A.k.a. Fool’s Night / The April Fool

Director: William Fruet / Writer: Barney Cohen / Cast: Elaine Wilkes, Sherry Willis-Burch, Joanna Johnson, Martin Hewitt, Ralph Seymour, Woody Brown, Alicia Fleer, Paul Bartel, Deborah Hancock, Terri Hawkes.

Body Count: 11

Direlogue: “…And now your yearly film on the dangers of hazing.”


It’s a real shame that lots of these old B-movies haven’t yet made it to international DVD distribution, that’s why there’re sod all screen shots of it here as I have no idea how to cull those from my love-worn VHS copy.

Killer Party is a curious little gem with few fans. Reportedly shot in 1984 and then shelved for two years before MGM cut out most of the bloodletting and gave it a minimal release, like most of the Canadian slasher films of this era, it’s a fun pic with likable characters and a good sense of humour mixed in with the horror, which, here concerns college gal-pals Phoebe, lovable nerd Viva and the hesitant Jennifer and their attempts to get into Sigma Alpha Pi – “the best sorority on campus”. Hi-jinks and pranks are to culminate in the girls’ acceptance at “goat night” (!?), which will be held at the requisite haunted frat house, where a lone gravestone sits in the overgrown yard for a brother who died in a hazing prank two decades earlier…

Murders begin to plague the campus and, once the party is in full swing, a psycho dressed as – of all things – a deep sea diver – stalks and slays those left in the ol’ house… This flimsy-sounding plot doesn’t do Killer Party much justice: from the double-fake opening, featuring a film-within-a-film-within-a-music-video (White Sister’s 80s-tastic April – which is available on iTunes), to the demonic possession outcome via Paul Bartel as a pompous lecturer and the kinda-sweet romance that develops between Jennifer and cute frat boy Blake, all panning out well thanks to well-written dialogue and a self-effacing sense of humour, most of it spoofing the ridiculousness of fraternity/sorority initiations (the goats-eye ceremony is great).

Veronica: “Phoebe…”

Phoebe: “Hi!”

Veronica: “Kitchen!”

Phoebe: “Bye…”

Working against the film is probably the cut n’ shut nature of the editing: most of the violence takes place in the last thirty minutes, much of it confused and disempowered by the removal of money shots and there are some characters who completely disappear from the film altogether. There’s also a curious heirarchy to the credits, with Martin Hewitt and Ralph Seymour getting first billing, despite their comparatively small roles compared to our plucky heroines. Ultimately, it’s this trio of spunky girls that makes Killer Party a real party flick with a few familiar faces to spot for genre aficionados and doesn’t have to stoop to dire cliches to make you laugh at it – although the credits’ song – which sounds like Bananarama suffering with avian influenza – leaves a lot to be desired. Any way you look at it, this film’s cool for being so un-cool and you should go and find a copy.

Blurbs-of-interest: Director Fruet helmed Funeral Home in 1980; writer Cohen scribed Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (which was directed by Joseph Zito – Bartel’s character is called Professor Zito); Sherry Willis-Burch played dippy Janet in Final Exam; Terri Hawkes later appeared in Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II; Ralph Seymour was in Just Before Dawn; Howard Busgang (the Bee Boy with specs) was Ed in Terror Train.

“No tee-veee…”

happyhellnight

HAPPY HELL NIGHT

3 Stars  1991/18/84m

A.k.a. Frat Fright / Hell Night (UK video)

“25 years ago he sold his soul to the devil… Now it’s time to pay.”

Director: Brian Owens / Writers: Brian Owens, Ron Paterson & Michael Fitzpatrick / Cast: Nick Gregory, Franke Hughes, Laura Carney, Darren McGavin, Charles Cragin, Janez Vrhovec, Kate Delay, Ted Clark, Jeffrey Miller, Robert Restraino.

Body Count: 12

Dire-logue: “Technical difficulties – please do not adjust your dicks.”


A rare throwback to the cliches of 80s horror, possibly rendered as such due to its startling similarities to Hell Night proper, the Linda Blair mini-masterpiece about fraternity and sorority pledges being offed by a legendary thought-dead killer. Considering this flick was titled Hell Night for its UK video release and, if you look at the title card, one might think that the producer’s tacked the word ‘Happy’ on as an afterthought once they realised just how alike it was to the older film.

So, it’s 1991 and people were far more attractive than they were in the 80’s.

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A Yugoslavian/Canadian production, HAPPY Hell Night also revolves around a fraternity hazing stunt and the murderous subject of a local legend. The boys of the Phi Delta Sigma frat house are looking to win the competition for the most outrageous initiation prank, which will induct house president Eric’s lil bro Sonny into the brotherhood, thanks to some poking and prodding from dad Darren McGavin, an ex Sigma with some grisly secrets…

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As Hell Night kicks into swing, Sonny and another dorky pledge are sent off to photograph Zachary Malius, a Satanic priest rotting in a conveniently local institution for the last quarter of a century after slaughtering seven Sigma’s and a local girl. Expectedly, they fuck up their assignment and Malius totters from his cell and crashes the party, swinging a nifty ice-axe all the way! A handy powercut ensures most of the party revellers leave and there are some comical shocks; one nymphette is dim enough to handcuff herself to a bed frame and toss the key across the room, and there’s a rocking chair decapitation gag and gobs of nudity as expected.

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In spite of its status as something of a collectible (prior to DVD at least), HAPPY Hell Night is surprisingly well made and adequately violent with a sprinkling of semi-knowns peppered throughout the crowded cast roster: Sam Rockwell plays a young McGavin and future CSI star Jorja Fox is an early victim. One of the inbreds from Wrong Turn also appears as the requisite dorky prankster. The characters are quite intriguing too; brotherly love is tested between Eric and Sonny as they’re both giving it to the same girl, who is the nominal heroine.

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However, Malius is the star, commenting on each kill as he goes with such witty repartee as ‘No TV!’, ‘No sex!’, ‘No hope of international distribution!’ He’s like an overgrown, homicidal E.T., complete with overlarge black blobs for eyes and, admittedly, quite a creepy looking dude. This was one of the first slasher flicks I ever saw and I hated it at the time, but revisits have shown that it’s a fun little timewaster with cheesy dialogue, soap-opera acting and lots of Latin prayer-sayery at the weirdo ending. Try it and see!

MATINEE

matineeMATINEE

2 Stars  1989/18/89m

A.k.a. Midnight Matinee

Director / Writer: Richard Martin / Cast: Ron White, Gillian Barber, Jeff Schultz, Beatrice Boepple, Timothy Webber, Don Davis, R. Nelson Brown, Matt Hill, William B. Davis, Kerry Sanomirsky, Stephen E. Miller.

Body Count: 5


This review almost didn’t happen. Y’see, so rare is Matinee that I could find but two pictures of the DVD cover online and both were teeny tiny pixelations. Thus, I was forced to make my own abstract version, which represents nothing to do with the content of the film, but then neither did the existing cover art…

This seldom seen Canadian TV movie begins with an almost shot-for-shot rip off of Kevin Bacon’s murder in Friday the 13th, which turns out to be part of the movie ‘Murder Camp’ that a bunch of teens are watching at a small town horror festival. As the Kevin-imposter bites it on screen, so does some chick’s boyfriend – knife through the neck, exactly the same.

Two years later, the theatre is reopened for another festival, much to the townsfolk’s objections (well, the busybodies). New cop Al Jason is dragged into things when an arsey, mulleted teen dies in a suspect accident. Could the never-caught killer have returned? Elsewhere, projectionist Marilyn is worried about her daughter Sherri’s wayward boyfriend Lawrence, who becomes the prime suspect.

But there’s also sleazy reporter Geoff (Timothy Webber), Sherri’s absent father and horror producer, who has returned for the festival or campy hanger-around Warren, who may or may not be romantically involved with the theatre owner, Earle!

More talk than terror occurs and a few non-explicit murders punctuate the tedium, with some minor tension cranked once the killer turns out to be who we all thought it was and chases their last intended victim. Good casting, but whichever way you cut it, Matinee is for slasher and/or Canuck-completists only.

Blurbs-of-interest: Timothy Webber was Mo in Terror Train; Beatrice Boepple played Amanda Krueger in Elm Street 5; Stephen E. Miller was in The Stepfather and Funeral Homeas were the rest of the Canadian population.

Hearts will bleed

mbvdvdart2MY BLOODY VALENTINE

4.5 Stars  1981/18/94m

“There’s more than one way to lose your heart.”

Director: George Mihalka / Writer: John Beaird / Cast: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Don Francks, Cynthia Dale, Keith Knight, Alf Humphreys, Larry Reynolds, Terry Waterland, Jack van Evera, Helene Udy, Gina Dick, Patricia Hamilton, Tom Kovacs, Carl Morette, Jim Murchison, Rob Stein.

Body Count: 12

Dire-logue: “You gotta come just to see the dress I’m wearing! Cut down to there, slit up to here! I may not get out alive!”

First-rate Fatality: Oh so many in this version, but death-by-showerhead has it.


Part Deux for Final Girl’s Film Club. Cut or uncut, My Bloody Valentine rocks. However, it rocks more now that those infamous thought-they’d-never-see-the-light-of-day scissored gambits of gore can not only be seen but inserted back into the film!

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Canada had already produced uber-slasher Black Christmas and also the disco-fabness of Prom Night, but with MBV came a slight variation on the form. This time there were no middle class teenagers biting the blade in the ‘burbs, at camp or school. Here, we have blue collar workers in their mine-dependent town (aptly named Valentine Bluffs) being stalked by a goggle-masked, heavy breathing killer whom everyone assumes to be Harry Warden, sole survivor of a Valentine’s Day mine cave-in two decades earlier. Warden went mad, killed the mine supervisors and disappeared, leaving a message to the locals that they should never host a Valentine’s Dance again at the risk of his pick-axe swinging return…

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The local Sheriff and the Mayor cover up a couple of murders and cancel the “first dance in 20 years” after human hearts are sent their way in candy boxes. The younger folks – gruff miners and their girlfriends – opt to secretly party on down at the mine instead and celebrate love n’ stuff. Amidst the madness, there’s a love triangle developing between miners TJ, Axel and weepy blonde Sarah. For reasons unclear, TJ had left town suddenly, which put pay to his relationship with Sarah and allowed Axel to move in on her. Now he’s back (“and working in the mine”), things are a little tense between the trio.

Patty and Sarah rethink their choice in boyfriends

Patty and Sarah rethink their choice in boyfriends

Maniac-miner predictably crashes the Valentine’s party and begins offing anybody who senselessly wanders off on their tod; forcing their faces into boiling pots or skewering them head-first on to shower heads. Before these victims are discovered, three couples head off for a midnight tour of the mine, thus trapping themselves below the surface with the town psycho. More killings ensue until only those involved in the love triangle remain. Is one of them the killer? Or did Harry Warden return? Only a battle of the pick-axes will reveal the dreadful truth.

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When I first saw this back in the mid-90s, I was genuinely surprised by the revelation that occurs at the end, meaning among other things that sometimes I can be a bit thick and also that the creators of My Bloody Valentine had realised a script that houses surprises that have been thought through more than, say, the other half of this daily-double, Friday the 13th.

mbv3aSpeaking of Friday, here’s a film which also contains quite a mean streak, emphasised by the presence of the cut footage. Many films were forced to pull their gory punches in the wake of the MPAA clampdown in 1980 and, subsequently, some suffered greatly for it, cut or not. Now, at last, thanks in large part to the 2009 3D remake, Lionsgate pressed the right buttons at Paramount to polish the excised footage and reinsert it. Visually it’s obvious the celluloid hasn’t maintained its original quality but who the hell cares!? Given the choice I’d accept a few smudges and grains anyday over risking never seeing some of this stuff. It’s frakkin’ gold! Elevates the film to the point I added an extra half-star to my rating.

Unquestionably better than its cynical and nonsensical remake, My Bloody Valentine is one of the top slasher films of its day (and, indeed, ever) and anybody intending to gather a decent cross-section of titles that illustrate how much fun the slasher flick is, should not discount it.

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Blurbs-of-interest: Lori Hallier turned up many moons later in Heartstopper; Gina Dick has a small part in fellow-Canadian slasher from ’81, Happy Birthday to Me. Alf Humphreys and Jack Van Evera had already been in minimalist sorta-slasher Funeral Home.

EVIL JUDGMENT

EVIL JUDGMENT

2 Stars  1981/93m

“A homicidal maniac bcomes judge, jury and…executioner!”

Director: Claude Castravelli / Writers: Claude Castravelli & Vittorio Montesano / Cast: Pamela Collyer, Jack Langedyk, Roland Nincheri, Nanette Workman, Suzanne De Laurentis, Walter Massey, Septimiu Sever, Sam Stone.

Body Count: 8

Dire-logue: Dino – “You know, where I come from they strap hookers to a mule and run ‘em out of town.” April – “Yeah, is that how your mother came to America?”


My third Let’s-Celebrate-Halloween-by-the-medium-of-VHS outing.

I possess a strange fantasy about living in Canada. But maybe it’s not all trees, lakes, and Celine Dion. At least, if the Canadian embassy handed out copies of Evil Judgment instead of DVDs showing video of the a fore mentioned things, I might change my mind and go for Australia instead. Hmm…don’t like the sound of those killer spiders.

EJ isn’t a dire film. Canada makes good slasher films as it happens. Except for Study Hell. Alas, this is no Prom Night or My Bloody Valentine. This possibly explains why it wasn’t released until 1984. Unlike those other films, EJ is an ambitious little tike, deciding to take a handful of stalk n’ kill and shove it in the mouth of some gritty cop thriller and sprinke a Mafia plotline overhead. When I was young I didn’t think the Mafia was real. Chalk that up there with the Canadian life-plan.

Anyway, Janet is a bit of a wimpy, naive waitress who moans enough about her lack of cash that hooker gal-pal April talkes her into accompanying her on a little menage a trois at some wealthy judge’s mansion for $200. Janet reluctantly goes but soon regrets it when both April and the judge get their throats slashed.

She wakes up in hospital and is told by arsey detective Armstrong that she tried to kill herself. ‘Bullshit,’ she says, ‘I so escaped from a psycho looney killer!’ He’s all; ‘who’d believe a junkie whore?’ and she’s like; ‘I’m a waitress, man!’ The only person who seems to take her seriously is her hot n’ cold boyfriend Dino, who’s the dude with the Mafia connections.

The killer returns to try and do away with Janet and she and Dino decide to play Fred and Daphne and soon discover a whole conspiracy to do with the murdered judge, Armstrong and some botched trial. I lost interest here for a while until the killings were reignited. The assailant finally puts in an appearance and here I paid my dues for not paying attention as I wasn’t sure who he was or what was going on. I’ll blame the aged VHS copy and the tracking on my player. I don’t feel like watching it again.

The main shortcoming in EJ is the acting. Or, lack of. Pam Collyer, as Janet, isn’t so much bad, more that she feels the need to annunciate each and every word of her dialogue, robbing it all of any tension or meaning. The film’s rarity meant it escaped being scissored and there are some grisly throat slashings chucked in (mainly women of course) and, with a higher budget and more taut scribing, this could have been a minor cult classic. As it is, there’s not much her to earn a recommendation from me. Of course, feel free not to pay heed and dive in headfirst, it’s what I’d do. And should ‘judgment’ have a second E? J-U-D-G-E-M-E-N-T ?

Blurbs-of-interest: Roland Nincheri (Armstrong) had walk-on parts in Visiting Hours and Terror Train.

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