Tag Archives: children are evil

Blame it on the girls

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2.5 Stars  2015/98m

Director/Writer: Tara Subkoff / Cast: Chloë Sevigny, Timothy Hutton, Sadie Seelert, Bridget McGarry, Hayley Murphy, Mina Sundwall, Emma Adler, Blue Lindberg, Taryn Manning, Natasha Lyonne, Balthazar Getty.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “If he’s so rich, why does he dress like that? He looks like Hitler.”


I read an article a couple of years ago where psychologists stated that childhood ‘ends’ at age 11. Hence, while all manner of organisations, parents’ groups, and what have you bleat on about protecting the children, up until they’re, say, sixteen, the kids have all but stopped being kids.

#Horror is a weird and difficult film to classify. Creator Subkoff conceived the idea based on a conversation with a friends daughter, who, when asked what horror was to her, filled Subkoff in on her cyberbullying experiences.

In the film, 12-year-old scholarship girl Sam is sort-of invited to a slumber party at rich girl Sofia Cox’s arty house in the middle of nowhere, one snowy December day. Sam’s only friend is Cat, who it seems has become slightly unhinged since the death of her mother, and whose father is ultra-controlling.

The other four girls are, like the hostess, nasty children of equally nasty parents, who spend their time bitching about how their last house was bigger and, uniformally, cannot be without their phones for more than a matter of seconds, with which they video or photograph everything, competing in a social media site that gives them points based on popularity. It’s all that matters.

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The girls communicate via the medium of put-down (their rule is that if anybody laughs, it’s not mean), bubbling over until Cat is thrown out by the others after she goes too far insulting the requisite tubby girl. Sam convinces the others to lock away their phones for an hour while Sofia’s mother (Sevigny) is at an AA meeting. At this point, they’re forced to open up and have a sub-Breakfast Club conversation about parents who ignore them, divorces, first periods, first kisses… But it doesn’t last: “There’s nothing to do without our phones.”

Cat’s father crashes in looking for his daughter, trying to scare some sense into the girls. Sam goes to look for Cat in vain, and discovers the body of Sofia’s father, who was slashed up at the beginning and, eventually, the killer goes after the girls in the last twenty minutes or so.

Unpleasant characters abound, both adult and child, with Sam the only halfway decent one, and even she shies away from doing the right thing at the right time, so desperate to fit in she goes along with the others’ cruelty.

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Mixed to bad reviews are indicative of a problematic film, mainly because it doesn’t adhere to any set genre and only becomes a slasher film at the very end, but the message is clear that social media is the big villain over and above any nut in a mask, that tweens, girls in particular it would seem, are so vulnerable they’re willing to sacrifice any real friendships in favour of ‘likes’.

A cross between Welcome to the Dollhouse and last year’s Facebook-kills flick Unfriended, with a few visual elements of Scott Pilgrim. Just remember it’s an art film before a horror film, title be damned. And fortunately my 12-year-old niece can just about be pried apart from her phone.

Blurbs-of-interest: Taryn Manning was also in Groupie; Natasha Lyonne was in Madhouse; Balthazar Getty was in The Tripper.

The Kids Aren’t Alright

deadkidsDEAD KIDS

3 Stars

1981/18/95m

“Good kids turned killers!”

A.k.a. Strange Behavior; Human Experiments; Small Town Massacre

Director/Writer: Michael Laughlin / Writer: Bill Condon / Cast: Michael Murphy, Louise Fletcher, Dan Shor, Fiona Lewis, Arthur Dignam, Dey Young, Marc McClure, Scott Brady, Charles Lane, Beryl Te Wiata, Jim Boelson.

Body Count: 5

Laughter Lines: “Here are the files from the college: 135 overweight girls.”


Strange Behavior is probably the best known title for this New Zealandianianian production, but Dead Kids is just too good a name. It’s like the producers thought “why bother with a calendar date or some schmancy As Night Falls pretense… let’s just call it what it is!”

Anyway, this is anything but your average guy-with-a-weapon fare, although things begin with a teenager in a house when the power goes out, but it soon morphs into a sorta Frankenstein Meets Friday the 13th situation, as the local teen populace of Galesburg, Illinois (though clearly NZ) who have volunteered in a weird mind-control experiment, are programmed to kill various locals.

Why this is happening isn’t crystal (lake) clear, but from the trivial dialogue scenes, we can piece together just enough to implicate an eeeeeevil scientist who was thought to be dead, probably taking revenge on the most influential families in town (mayor, police chief etc). There are more characters than necessary, many of whom appear only for a couple of lines before never again contributing to the story but are considered (by the credits at least) to be the main players

There are still some neat scenes and a good, if obvious, twist. The blood flows like wine at a Strictly Come Dancing season premiere party for 40-something women, most notably when the neighbourhood babysitter-cum-busybody drops in to make a snack for an 11-year-old, whom she finds in the bathtub being carved up by a teenage girl. Kudos for the malice – not many films would have the stones to show that on screen.

Look out also for the cringe-tastic dance routine at the party, which rivals any of the dreadful moves that Jamie Lee Curtis and Casey Stevens donned in Prom Night.

A quirky, weird experience of a film, but one worth seeing either way.

Blurb-of-interest: Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen!) was in Pandemonium.

Where Tin Tin fears to tread

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CUB

3 Stars  2014/84m

A.k.a. Welp / Camp Evil

Director/Writer: Jonas Govaerts / Writer: Roel Mondelaers / Cast: Maurcie Luijten, Evelien Bosmans, Titus De Voogdt, Stef Aerts, Jan Hammenecker, Gill Eeckelaert, Louis Lemmens.

Body Count: 17


The surface of this crowd-funded Belgian campers-in-the-woods horror may scream Friday the 13th at the top of its lungs, but the comparable text pretty much ends there. Europe has kicked ass creating quality slasher films for some time now, subverting standardized clichés and presenting things in a divertingly multicultural light.

Disappointingly, Cub doesn’t quite live up to the standards of, say, Haute Tension or Cold Prey, and the viewing arc followed the saddening Starts-Amazing-and-Gradually-Loses-its-Way trajectory.

Still, there’s a lot to like in this tale of a pack of boy scouts from Antwerp, their three pack leaders (including obligatory hot blonde girl, Jasmijn), whose jamboree into the wilderness plants them in the centre of a nightmare, when their nominated site is unavailable to them, thanks to a couple of jerks with a quad-buggy, and they have to go further into the creepy woods.

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An exchange with a rotund cop informs us that a nearby bus factory closed down, suicides followed, and the locals are superstitious of the woods. Add to this the legend of Kai, the Werewolf Boy told by the Akela, and suggestible, possibly-traumatised outcast Sam eats it up.

Of course, the legend is true. Sort of. A wood-masked feral child is indeed lurking, stealing things from the camp, and a handful of murders ensue: The fat cop vanishes, and one of the buggy-jerks runs into a Goonies-style trap that ultimately pins a beehive into his torso and his torso into a tree. Cool.

The final third of the film gradually deteriorates as the tidbits we’ve been thrown about what’s in the woods is kept too ambiguous to comprehend, and a twist that can be seen coming through the trees some way off, recalling the rather stupid sudden-change-of-allegiance resolution in Texas Chainsaw 3D.

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But the film is particularly nicely shot, well acted, and has plenty of neat moments, with demises by rustic sub-Saw traps, and the balls to go after the boy scouts, which most films would shy away from, but it never seems to really reach its full potential, giving away a particularly decent moment in the prologue that should’ve been saved to the end.

For a change from the usual cowgirl slasher conventions, Cub is a worthwhile one-time venture.

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TRICK OR TREATS

1 Stars  1982/92m

“…when Halloween night stopped being fun!”

Director/Writer: Gary Graver / Cast: Jackelyn Giroux, Peter Jason, Chris Graver, Carrie Snodgress, David Carradine, Stave Railsback, Jillian Kesner, Paul Bartel.

Body Count: 3 (!)

Laughter Lines: “These horror movies… they make me scared to drive home alone at night!”


“When Halloween night stopped being fun,” goes the tagline. Darn tootin’. Short of falling ass-first on a running power drill, I can’t think of a less fun way to spend Halloween night, or any other given night, than watching Trick or Treats.

Carrie Snodgress gets her husband carted off to an institution in the opening scene. Why? No clue, ToT doesn’t care about in-filling its plot holes. The scene is slapstick heavy, with two orderlies struggling with the flailing hubby, who tries to climb a tree at one point to escape. They all end up falling in the pool. The only thing missing was a table of cream pies.

‘Several years later’, struggling actress-cum-babysitter Linda (Giroux) accepts a Halloween night job to look after the couple’s horrible, horrible son, while Mom and her new squeeze (Carradine), head off to a party. Meanwhile, Hubby has broken out of the institute disguised as a female nurse, and is heading home to murder his wife and anyone else who gets in his way and nobody else.

Yeah that’s right, this is the slasher movie without any slashing. Hubby punches out a security guard rather than stabs him, threatens a couple of homeless guys (one of whom is horror-fixture Bartel), and eventually mistakenly kills a random blonde chick whom he mistakes for his wife.

This might sound okay, but nothing remotely resembling a threat of violence happens for well over an hour into the 92 minute film. Until then, it’s a never ending cycle of the bratty kid playing a prank on Linda, that she always falls for, and some trick or treaters coming to the door. Again. And again. And again. Until death. Your death. From boredom.

With just 15 minutes remaining, Hubby finally catches up with Linda, thinking her to be Carrie Snodgress, and chases her a bit. Although the film is so darkly turned out you may as well close your eyes and rest for all the good they’ll do you open.

A fittingly annoying twist for a fittingly annoying child in the world’s most disappointing ‘slasher’ film is the shitty icing on this cake. A cake made of the shittiest shit one might dredge up from a shit-filled canal in Shitsville, Tennessee.

Blurbs-of-interest: Carradine was in Children of the Corn V and Detention (2010); Steve Railsback was in Deadly Games and Slash; Paul Bartel was in Killer Party. Graver later directed the equally awful Moon in Scorpio.

Sequel Showdown: 7s, 8s, 9s, and 10s

As there are so few entries left (prequels will come next time), I decided to group the final ten titles into one globular post: A piece of discarded gum with various hockey masks, knives, razor-gloves, and creepy children stuck to it.

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The Sevens: Children of the Corn: Revelation; Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

A fairly decent group here… The Corn movies were getting stranger and stranger, but the producers of this seventh outing at least managed to inject a small vial of… let’s call it ‘dis-settlement’ rather than creepiness. Jason’s seventh stomp through the woods (fifth, if we’re going to be really pedantic about it) pit him against a Carrie-lite chick with telekinetic powers. Halloween H20 reunited Jamie Lee Curtis with her psychotic big-bro as a reaction to Scream. And Wes Craven had the final laugh by making a Freddy film about Freddy films.

It’s actually difficult to choose… Corn can get the boot first, naturally, but between the three mainstays, we’ve got a naff-but-fun soggy sequel, a reboot that harshly ignored all the work people did in previous films, and an inventively scary but kinda draggy chiller with little-to-no slashing at all. Hmmm…

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The Eights: Children of the Corn: Genesis; Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan; Halloween: Resurrection; Freddy vs. Jason (I know, I know, it’s both an 8 and an 11, but I’m tired and hungry).

Genesis is so bad it hurts. Goodbye. Followed swifty by the worst of the original Paramount Fridays. Even a non-gorehound like me needed a little claret on show to liven this one up… Halloween: Resurrection not only concocted the most stupid fucking way of bringing back Michael Myers, it also has Busta Rhymes in it. BUT… as a cheesy standalone slasher movie, I do like it. Then there’s the WWE smackdown of the other two slasher movie heavyweights.

More hmmm-ing required…

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Nine and Ten: Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday; Jason X

With only two films this should be easy. Both suck in terms of their franchise, but which sucks more? Hell went all Hidden with this demon-spirit of J-man but had an awesome opening few minutes and that camping scene. X, on the other hand, tried to do something different. It failed, but at least they tried. There were a couple of chuckles too

The Finalists:

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Not a great pot to choose from, really… New Nightmare is technically the best made, but how often do I want to sit down and watch it? Almost never. So Halloween: H20 succeeds it. On the basis I didn’t want to be Halloweened out, I plumped for Freddy vs Jason, and the good scenes in Jason Goes to Hell just beat out the good scenes from Jason X, so the former takes the glory. Albeit as short lived as a visitor to Camp Crystal Lake, because it’s not gonna win.

The Winner:

Best of a bad bunch, it might be. Halloween H20 is decent fare, but the whole “3 to 6 never happened” stuff is unforgivable. Jamie Lee’s return buoys it, the low body count tips it in the opposite direction again, so does Josh Hartnett, but it’s way better than Jason Goes to Hell and just about pips Freddy vs Jason in qualitative terms.

Bit of a dull winner, but a winner nonetheless.

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