Tag Archives: Canuck

Erotic dancers. Trannies. Razor psycho. Canada.

AMERICAN NIGHTMARE

3 Stars  1981/87m

“Pray you never have one.”

Director: Don McBrearty / Writers: John Sheppard, John Gault & Steven Blake / Cast: Lawrence S. Day, Lora Staley, Tom Harvey, Neil Dainard, Michael Ironside, Lenore Zann, Larry Aubrey, Alexandra Paul, Mike Coperman, Claudia Udy, Page Fletcher.

Body Count: 6

Dire-logue: “Somebody tries to kill me, I get a little nervous.”


Good old Canada, making a film called American Nightmare. Who did they think they were fooling, eh? Well, me I guess but I was only 3 in 1981 so it wasn’t a difficult feat.

Anyway, this little known flick (produced by Prom Night directed Paul Lynch) has quite a lot going on for such a timid creature. Day is a pianist who goes looking for his missing (read: murdered) little sister in ‘the city’ after she left home a year earlier, became an erotic dancer-slash-hooker and, well, vanished.

Seems that a razor-wielding psycho has it in for the girls who dance at Club 2000. Nothing’s called Blah 2000 anymore, is it? Feels like we live so futuristically. High on the killer’s list is the beautiful Louise, who reluctantly joins forces with the out-of-towner, who more than proves he can take care of himself in the big bad city.

The real ‘American nightmare’ comes in the form of the tone; almost exclusively set in the sleazy world of pimps and pornography. The camera exploits its victims as society and, ultimately, the killer has – putting them on show for the voyeuristic pleasures of the slobbering men who come to the shows – and then brutally slaying them.

The film holds more than a hint of misogyny and homophobia to it as all the female characters are shown nude and the only male victim is a gay transvestite – dubbed the ‘degenerates’ of society. The only victims are the girls and the gay – not even the pimps and pervert motel owners fall victim to the razor.

Thankfully, once the mystery has agreeably unfolded, the ‘sleaze’ and ‘degeneration’ binds itself neatly to the so-thought upstanding members of the city who have deep involvement in the murders.

There’s an amusing scene where genre-regular Lenore Zann is stalked by the killer, who hisses her name – Tina – from the shadows, just as Freddy Krueger would do in a few years’ time.

A very interesting and unfortunately rare piece of horror with a cringetastically good twist and a cast of good soon-to-be’s, including future Baywatch hottie Alexandra Paul.

Blurbs-of-interest: Michael Ironside was also in Visiting Hours, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, Children of the Corn: Revelation, Fallen Angels and Reeker; Zann was also in Visiting Hours and Happy Birthday to Me. The 2000 movie of the same name is not a remake.

Don’t waste those cookies!

CHRISTINA’S HOUSE

 3 Stars  1999/18/93m

“There’s nowhere to hide.”

Director: Gavin Wilding / Writer: Stewart Allison / Cast: Allison Lange, Brandon Fehr, Brad Rowe, John Savage, Lorne Stewart, Crystal Bublé, Jerry Wasserman.

Body Count: 5


This low-key, incoherent Canadian flick plays more like an after school teen thriller with a little more flesh and profanity spooned on.

Beginning with the unexpected murder of a girl scout selling cookies door to door, who calls at the Tarling house, home to hardworking but concerningly fond-of-his-dauhter dad Jim, friendless video game addict Bobby, and sexy teen Christina, who is struggling with fitting in at a new school and her boyfriend’s sexual demands.

Having relocated to be closer to their institutionalized mom, the Tarling kids – particularly Christina – find their large new house slightly eerie, a place where objects disappear and reappear at will, strange noises are heard coming from the attic and sandwiches make themselves. Is Christina going mad? Her bratty brother thinks so, and best friend Karen (Michael Bublé’s sister, Crystal) just wants to party.

When the boyfriend’s ex is found dead in the shallow body of water in front of the house, Christina doesn’t know who the finger of suspicion should be pointed at: her dad is acting weirder than ever, or could her beau’s temper gotten the better of him? And there’s also the introvert handyman, Howie, who seems to crop up from nowhere at any given time. The super-sweary sheriff (Wasserman) loiters around, shouting “shut the fuck up!” at every possible opportunity. In truth, it can only be one of two characters as part of the killer’s face can be seen during the opening murder.

These gloomy moments aside, Christina’s House is a rather barren horror film that could’ve used a bit more stab-and-drip. The situation is partially corrected by a good final third, once the killer and his ridiculous motive are revealed. Strictly a single-watch deal, but it’s still better than Wilding’s later foray into slasherdom, The Wisher.

Blurb-of-interest: Jerry Wasserman can be seen in shoddy SyFy flick Scarecrow and also The Editor.

Rubbish films that don’t deserve long reviews

…And no screencaps either, God damn it! They suck, so adding what I believe to be ‘good shots’ from any of them might only pique your interest. And then you’ll go and watch them, realise I was right all along and come back yelling at me.

We’re going in order of what I think looks best.

MASK OF MURDER

1.5 Stars 1985/18/84m

“Who is innocent… Who is guilty… Who is safe… Who is next…?”

Director: Arne Mattson / Writer: Volodia Semitjov / Cast: Rdo Taylor, Christopher Lee, Valerie Perrine, Sam Cook, Terrence Hardiman, Frank Brennan.

Body Count: 7


Look at those big-hitters: Christopher Lee! Rod Taylor! The guy who played The Demon Headmaster in The Demon Headmaster!

Lee reportedly turned down the role of Doc Loomis in Halloween and was perhaps therefore under the illusion that taking a clone of that role for this Scando-Canadian production might bathe that wound. How they sucked Taylor in is a mystery. Maybe Lee brought him in. Maybe Lee was already stuck like his legs were in a combine harvester and he held on to Taylor until both were dragged to their deaths career nadirs.

They and Sam Cook are cops in a small Canadian town where a loon in a shitty cotton mask is slicing the throats of young women. They find him and shoot him dead but only a few days later copycat killings begin – but whoooo could it beeeee?

Trouble is, MoM can’t make up its mind over being a slasher film or a cop film. The victims are presented as non-speaking plebs or women who ‘had it coming’ and there’s no heroine to speak of, no chase scenes, nada. We do get to see some frontal male nudity (gasp!) and there’s a boring subplot about an affair going on between one of the cops and the wife of the other one who isn’t Christopher Lee, because he’s in hospital for most of it.

The obnoxious twist ending is smug as can be but it doesn’t elevate this above being a bad combo meal of seasoned professionals surrounded by rank amateurs that has the audacity to rip off the far superior He Knows You’re Alone.

Blurbs-of-shame: Lee was in Sleepy Hollow and the even worse Funny Man.

* * *

TABOO

2002/15/77m  1 Stars

“Would you ever…?”

Director: Max Makowski / Writer: Gary Fisher / Cast: January Jones, Nick Stahl, Amber Benson, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Lori Heuring, Derek Hamilton.

Body Count: 6


Six egotistical Cruel Intentions-type college brats gather at a remote mansion on New Year’s Eve where they engage in a polite game of Taboo, which entails writing answers to some risque questions like Would you have sex with a minor? Would you have sex for money? blah blah blah…

At midnight, a package containing five cards arrives, labelled Prostitute, Homosexual, Infidel, Rapist and Hypocrite (ooh, that one’s gonna sting!) Lo and behold, bodies start stacking up, each found with the appropriate card.

However, all of this happens too early to fool us and it’s all revealed to be a gag at the expense of Jones, the only one not to get a card and has apparently been blackmailing the others. When they seemingly forgive her and move on, Hypocrite flips, takes a shotgun and begins offing the others. Told you it was gonna sting.

With the cheater-weapon in play, Taboo is a very boring stalk n’ shoot with next to no grue and it ends with an entirely dull poison murder-suicide pact thing. But at least they’re all dead.

Buffy alumni Amber Benson is endearing as the ever-wrecked Piper but she truly deserves better exposure than this crap, which fails to impress on any scale, becoming taboo itself for reasons of taste.

Blurb-of-shame: Derek Hamilton was Eddie in Ripper: Letter from Hell.

* * *

BLEED

1.5 Stars  2002/18/82m

“Join the club.”

Directors: Devin Hamilton & Dennis Peterson / Writer: Devin Hamilton / Cast: Debbie Rochon, Allen Nabors, Danny Wolske, Orly Tepper, Laura Nativo, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Julie Strain, Brinke Stevens.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “You wanna see tits? Well here they are and fuck you!”


Another post-Screamie with all the budget of a shopping trip to Aldi that has lonely new girl in LA Maddy (Rochon) seduced by her boss and then inducted into his snobby circle of friends who fool her into thinking they’re all part of The Murder Club and have each offed a stranger to surf the adrenalin rush.

Poor naive Maddy takes it the wrong way and kills a woman she has a ruckus with. The others regroup and decide what they should do but by then the white-masked psycho who, until now, has been chopping up various extras starts doing away with them in their homes.

Is it Maddy? After all her mom (Brinke in a flashback) and dad chucked her out years earlier? No. It’s someone else.

The trouble with Bleed is that it’s an out and out retread filmed almost entirely in back yards and apartments with dialogue exchanges used to staple the plot holes together; for instance, Maddy goes on one date with her boss and is invited to a party the next day where a group of complete strangers decide to let her in on their “big secret!”

In spite of some production polish and the ever-lovely Rochon, Bleed sucks out more tolerance than claret.

Blurbs-of-shame: Rochon has also been in American Nightmare, Blood Relic, Final Examination and Head Cheerleader, Dead Cheerleader; Julie Strain was in Psycho Cop Returns.

* * *

SMALL TOWN FOLK

2007/15/87m  1 Stars

“Welcome to Grockleton.”

Director: Peter Stanley-Ward / Writers: Natalie Conway & Peter Stanley-Ward / Cast: Greg Martin, Chris R. Wright, Simon Stanley-Ward, Hannah Flint, Dan Palmer, Jon Nicholas, James Ford, Sophie Rundle, Tamaryn Payne, Warwick Davis.

Body Count: 16


Cheap shows for pre-schoolers often include effects work that looks like a crayon drawing has been scanned into a Mac and then actors are superimposed over the top of it. Fine. Baby Susie isn’t going to get angry with crap production values at her age. But in a horror film…? Just… No.

Had it not taken four years to create and been funded by the cast and crew, this would unquestionably be a native of half-star city.

Unexplained men near the town of Grockleton in the New Forest kidnap women to procreate ‘their kind’ and murder any men who get in the way. Enter a married couple “on an adventure” and some local teens fooling around in the woods and… and… and fuck it, I don’t know what was going on.

As it was originally intended to be a short, there just ain’t enough her to justify history’s longest 87 minutes. There are more than half a dozen killers running around cracking misfired jokes, tormenting Grockles (non-locals) and talking in a bizarre thespian sub-language.

I’d wager 95% of the budget went on securing the three-minute Warwick Davis cameo that bookends the story. Britain’s Got Talent – yeah? Where is it when you need it?

Blurb-of-shame: Dan Palmer was in the marginally more amusing Freak Out.

* * *

URBAN MASSACRE

1.5 Stars  2002/15/84m

“A real life horror.”

Director: Dale Resteghini / Writers: Dale Resteghini & Carl Washington / Cast: Demetrius Gibbs, Erin O’Donnell, Badia Stewart, Ross Filler, Leroy Jones, Rosario M. Gancitano, Wayne Mogel, G-Flex.

Body Count: 9


In the 80’s, mucho slasher filmage associated itself with hair metal and, in several examples, featured doomed rock bands pitted against a loon with a blade. So time (sadly) moves on and thus this millennial slasher centres around the fortunes of growing rap quintet The Supernatchrals, who find various members of their entourage are being knocked off by a maniac dressed as a clown – as they always seem to be in urban bodycount pics.

For a shot-on-video feature, Urban Massacre doesn’t look bad but, unless you’re well versed in rap and hip-hop (safe to say I’m not), much of the dialogue – largely consisting of ‘fuck you’, ‘fuck him’, ‘fuck that’ – will be lost on you.

While intermittent rap numbers and “statements” on the companion culture to downright racism are testing, at the end the feisty fivesome (three guys, two gals) literally have the killer pinned down, stop, look at the camera and tell the audience they will not unmask him as we will have to wait for ‘Part Two’.

FUCK THAT.

Given this 11th hour atrocity – especially when the pre-credits practically spelt out the identity and motive – all points gained immediately return to zero. It’s insulting and hypocritical, especially as the characters have spent eighty minutes whining about racial injustice and forcing their shit brand of “music” on us, yet they’ve seen fit to halt the film completely and cut back to another cruddy rap number.

For slasher-but-not-rap fans (me), the chubby white MC in the group occasionally spouts pointless horror movie trivia but everything else is about as memorable – and credible – as Vanilla Ice’s last album.

Crystal Lake revisited. Without the lake.

bgoiBIKINI GIRLS ON ICE

3.5 Stars  2009/18/82m

“These girls are so hot, a maniac killer must put them on ice.”

Director: Geoff Klein / Writers: Geoff Klein & Jeff Ross / Cast: Cindel Chartrand, Danielle Doetsch, Ivan Peric, Christina Sciortino, William Jarand, Caroline Faille, Jarek Gader, Kerri Taylor, Suzi Lorraine.

Body Count: 12


The very basic outlay of a slasher film is something so generically simple that there’s no shortage of camcorder toting idiots around who think they can make one with a gaggle of nubile hotties, some tits, some blood and a hulking retard for a killer. It’s little surprise most of these films suck. What most of these budding filmmakers seem to miss is that even the cheapest of the early 80s progenitors contained a degree of workmanship and talent, a genuine enthusiasm for the project and not just the chance to get half a dozen girls to strip under the illusion it’s art.

A film with the word ‘bikini’ in the title should really adhere to this parade of shitness and yet, even before I’d seen the box or the trailer for Bikini Girls on Ice, I had a feeling it would be different…and it is.bgoi1

What BGOI has that these other misfires lack is a splash of colour and functions as an apparent love letter to your average Friday the 13th sequel, something it resembles in tone and composition from time to time. The best analogy I can make is to that film itself – the scene where Marcie is stood in front of the sinks and the camera slowly approaches was what won me over. Bikini Girls reminds me of that scene.

An all-female college soccer team on their way to a charity bikini car wash break down at the abandoned garage where, just the night before, an unrelated bikini chick was murdered. With repairs to their bus likely to take some time, the group decides to have the car wash there, once in a while wandering off, calling out the name of someone they cannot find and falling victim to the greasy homicidal mechanic who resides out back and looks like Sawyer from Lost after a particularly bad run in with The Others.bgoi2

After some of the girls decide to leave, the remaining numbers quickly shrink until clear heroine Jenna and her friend are the only ones left and then it’s botched escape attempts and into the killer’s lair.

The girls are largely indistinguishable from one another and I identified them only via bikini-top colours: black boobs was the bitchy nasty one, blue boobs was Jenna’s BFF, yellow boobs and heart-pattern boobs were faux lesbians. There are a couple of horny guys chucked in, some French tourists, an old man who warns them they’re doomed if they stay, some sporadic sex between heart-pattern boobs and a patron and very little actual boobage – something many of the other reviews I read seemed peeved about. Were I not such a big ‘mo it might bug me too, I guess.

bgoi4bgoi3

Anyway, why did it earn three n’ a half, uh, bigguns? I was more than likely overtly generous because it reminded me of how I felt about the early Jason films: the setting, lush colours, dumb behaviour that isn’t too idiotic, largely likeable characters and back to basics filmmaking that works. Slow tracking shots, fragmentation, claustrophobic meandering through shelves, hidey-holes, a full moon above. But mostly, no pretenses, it’s straight down the line, making the most of what it has rather than striving to appear as something more.

There’s always room for improvement: I’d have liked the killer to have worn a creepy mask and maybe have a motive and it was a little light on bloodletting, with most kills obscured by the camera placing or off-camera completely. These are minor flaws, it’s certainly no drier than the cut editions of Fridays we had here in the 80s.

bgoi5Ultimately it sounds like I’m championing it too much probably but it hit the spot for the most part: fun without being glib or downbeat, amusing without resorting to parody and sometimes tense without looking like every other DTV bodycount flick of the last ten years.

“It’s Curtains for you, Maggsie!”

curtainsCURTAINS

2.5 Stars  1983/18/89m

“Six beautiful girls trying to get ahead… When the curtains fall, five will be dead.”

Director: Richard Ciupka [as Jonathan Stryker] / Writer: Robert Guza Jr. / Cast: John Vernon, Samantha Eggar, Lynne Griffin, Linda Thorson, Anne Ditchburn, Sandee Currie [as Sandra Warren], Lesleh Donaldson, Deborah Burgess, Michael Wincott.

Body Count: 8

Dire-logue: “I don’t want to talk…I want to act!” – believe me, dear, that’s all we want too.


The legacy of this Canadian production from SimCom, who were behind Prom Night and its first sequel, is made out of tales of endless re-shoots, re-casting, director storm-outs and general production nightmares for all. So much so that it began filming in 1980 and wasn’t released for nearly three years!

What remains is a likable affair, albeit flawed, with plenty of that signature Canadian appeal intact, even if little else is.

curt2Vernon is smarmy director Jonathan Stryker, who wants choice leading lady Samantha Sherwood (Eggar) to sit in an institution in order to prep for the coveted title role in his new film, Audra. While she languishes in the asylum – which seems only to be home to women who giggle and act like little girls all day – he pretty much forgets about her. “The project has been temporarily been shelved,” he utters somewhat ironically, before deciding to hold open casting at a remote snowbound house for six potential Audras.

curt1curt7One starlet is murdered before she can even leave home, after a premonition-filled dream regarding the creepy doll that is set to show its face at each murder scene as the film goes on. Her competition continue without her, among them a has-been actress (Thorson), a dancer, a young ice-skater, Griffin’s ‘kooky’ comedienne, and a random one who doesn’t do or say much but is one of the last to die.

While Stryker sleazes his way through them, sleeping with some, ignoring others, Samantha Sherwood shows up unannounced, claiming the role to be hers and generally acting like a diva whenever she feels like it. There’s also a guy who appears to be some sort of janitor, they either don’t say or I stopped listening to gaze at my fish tank. Either/Or. Anyway, he doesn’t say much either.

Ice-skating girl is the next to go in one of the film’s better sequences. She’s up at dawn for a habitual skate and is ambushed firstly by the creepy-ass doll, which has the ability to attach itself to people without explanation, and then by a hag-masked loon with a sickle, who evidently trained to out-skate a professional should the need arise. Coincidentally, as ice-skating girl is played by then genre-regular Lesleh Donaldson, the scene bears several similarities to Donaldson’s murder in Happy Birthday to Me.

curt4Stryker works with the remaining actresses, pretty much by serving his own perverse desires, attempting to make them make-out or seduce him, and disbelieves has-been woman when she finds ice-skater girl’s severed head in the toilet. The two of them are then shot dead and the remaining girls, mute-janitor man, and Samantha are left on the hitlist. Or all this could’ve happened in a slightly different order – fish tank again.

As it is, there’s a long chase for ‘Other Girl’ (played by Sandee Currie from Terror Train) that shares a lot in common with Prom Night, helped indubitably by the similar score from Zaza, which cuts so fine a line between this and his work on the earlier film that I questioned whether he’d just handed over the master tapes and told them to go for it.

curt6curt5

Finally, the killer is revealed in quite a flat manner, their motive seemingly non-existent, their ability to have spearheaded such an intricate plan, get kicked and punched and not be bruised left out of the picture as all good slasher films should do! Is it a bad ending? Yes and no. The character was a good fit but there’s also the feeling that too many re-writes screwed up some original vision which was a lot more concise.

Curtains punches above its weight in this respect: there’s a sense that somebody on a train going from Toronto to Vancouver who thought they were making a chic thriller, collided with somebody on a train going in the opposite direction who just wanted to churn out another cheap slasher film. Sifting through the debris of this crash, Curtains was found, wounded but alive.

curt3What a stupid analogy that whole train thing was. We should be thankful the film was finished at all. It’s got some bad moments, dim lighting and a largely indistinguishable cast of ladies but then there’s the score and that ice-skating slo-mo flash of brilliance in there too. I’d say remake it, but then I think of Black Christmas. And Prom Night. And My Bloody Valentine 3D.

Blurbs-of-interest: Lynne Griffin played Clare Harrison in Black Christmas; Donaldson was also in Funeral Home; Wincott played Kelly’s nasty boyfriend Drew in Prom Night. Zaza also scored the original My Bloody Valentine.

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