Tag Archives: children are evil

To Sir With Blood

bloody reunion

BLOODY REUNION

2.5 Stars  2006/93m

“Class dismissed.”

A.k.a. To Sir With Love

Director: Dae-wung Lim / Writer: Se-yeol Park / Cast: Yeong-hie Seo, Mi-hee Oh, Seong-won Jang, Dong-kyu Lee, Ji-hyeon Lee, Hyo-jun Park, Seol-ah Yu, Hyeon-Soo Yeo.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “Just go if you need to shit.”


South Korea has given us a few decent slasher films over the last few years: NightmareRecord, the awesome Death Bell and its sequel. Bloody Reunion sits nicely in the group, the title giving away much that you need to know in terms of plot. Mild spoilers follow.

A group of young adults gather at the home of their elementary school teacher, Mrs Park, whose poor health indicates this might be the last time they get to see her. The reunion has been organised by nice girl Mi-ja, who serves as a sort of live-in assistant to the woman, and the attendees include the usual types: the funny guy, the moody biker type, engaged but seemingly miserable couple, a girl who permanently keeps her shades on and talks about how good she looks these days.

Through intermittent flashbacks, we learn that Mrs Park gave birth to a deformed son who was locked in her basement after her husband, unable to deal with the child’s looks, hanged himself. It also transpires that, despite attending the party, none of the students actually really liked Mrs Park, and each recall her nastiness towards them, be it rejecting her ‘Teacher’s Day’ gifts, highlighting they were from a poor family, or mocking them for crapping themself in class.

bloody reunion 2006

Arguments ensue, weird scenes unfold, a bunny-masked loon begins stalking them with a box-cutter, making one guy swallow razor blades and stapling a girl’s eyelids (open or shut, I can’t remember). Everyone suspects fellow aide of Mrs Park, Jung-won, who was the only member of the group nice to her absent son. Hmm…

Bloody Reunion tosses us a curveball at the end, which makes things certainly more interesting, but a bit confusing in a sub-Haute Tension manner: Did that person even exist? Did any of this happen? Huh? Don’t expect all your questions to have been answered. And don’t eat the cake.

Children: Still evil.

mikey 1992

MIKEY

2 Stars  1992/92m

“Remember – Jason and Freddy were kids once, too.”

Director: Dennis Dimster-Denk / Writer: Jonathan Glassner / Cast: Josie Bissett, Brian Bonsall, Ashley Laurence, Mimi Craven, John Diehl, Whitby Hertford, Lyman Ward, David Rogge, Mark Venturini.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “Psychotic? So now we have Ted Bundy Jr., is that it?”


I love this artwork, total Hand That Rocks the Cradle weave-snatcher.

Mikey holds the moderately interesting status of being one of very few films still banned in the UK. That is to say, it was originally rejected in 1993 due to a case of two ten-year-old boys abducting and murdering a toddler and simply never resubmitted for release.

It matters not, seen The Stepfather and any of the early-90s psycho nanny/neighbour/roommate flick and you’ve seen Mikey, which has the unremarkable caveat of the loony toon being a nine-year-old serial adoptee. I’ll say it early, The Good Son did it way better.

The Stepfather seems to provide the template here, as things begin with Mikey, dissatisfied with his family’s attitude towards discipline, drowns his little sister, electrocutes mom in the tub, and sets up a Home Alone stunt to send dad through a glass window before finishing him off with a baseball bat. He then hides in the closet and turns on the tears when the cops come.

mikey 1992 brian bonsall

Mikey is re-adopted by Neil and Rachel Trenton in Arizona, enrolled in school, and develops a crush on his classmate/neighbour’s big sister, Jessie.

The first adult to suspect all isn’t right is his teacher, Miss Gilder, who takes his violent drawings to the principal, catches him in several lies and concludes he’s a sociopath in about four minutes.

Mikey frames Jessie’s boyfriend for the death of their cat and when she takes him back, he repeats the electrocution gag, prompting Miss Gilder to crowbar her way past the closed adoption to find out just where the little shit came from.

Outed as a maniac in the making, Mikey does away with the adults who pose a threat and somehow manages to set up a Happy Birthday to Me-esque tableau of three corpses around a dinner table. A tiny nine-year-old was able to drag, lift, and pose three corpses more than twice his size and weight. OK. Bet dad regrets teaching him archery.

mikey 1992 brian bonsall

As soon as the film began I knew how it would end, with the requisite HE’S STILL OUT THERE!!!! scene where a couple of new schmucks adopt the ‘amnesia-suffering child found wandering the highway’. So Hollywood shouldn’t revel in the death of a kid on screen, but c’mon, we had to grow tired of Macaulay Culkin and that Xerox from Problem Child, just shove the little fucker down a well.

Too derivative to be anything more than a passing interest, but at least Bonsall does well in the title role, equal parts manipulatively convincing and unhinged, even if the post-slasher dialogue is too hammy to pack a punch: “What’s your favourite movie?” / “Freddy Krueger, Nightmare on Elm Street.”

Blurbs-of-interest: Bonsall was famous for playing the youngest child in Family Ties, and going from infant to age five over one summer; Josie Bissett was in All-American Murder; Ashley Laurance was the final girl in several of the Hellraiser movies; Whitby Hertford played Alice’s son in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 and was the kid Sam Neill yells at in Jurassic Park; Mimi Craven – Wes’s daughter – played a nurse in the original Elm Street; the late Mark Venturini was the angry dude who axed up Joey in Friday the 13th Part V.

Baby Doll

Day Four… Getting a bit over-Chuckified by this point…

*

seed of chucky 2004SEED OF CHUCKY

3 Stars  2004/15/83m

“The family that slays together, stays together.”

Director/Writer: Don Mancini / Cast: Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Redman, Hannah Spearritt, John Waters, Billy Boyd, Steve Lawton, Jason Flemyng.

Body Count: 13

Laughter Lines: “If this is what it takes to be human, then I would rather take my chances as a supernaturally possessed doll – it’s less complicated!”


I remember a criticism of the series at the time of the release of Seed of Chucky that it’s become a joke only Don Mancini and Jennifer Tilly are in on and, despite how hilarious this outing is, they weren’t far off the mark. The horror series with some comedy had done a one-eighty and was now a comedy with some horror.

A pint-sized doll slashes its way through a British household in what’s revealed to be a dream of Shithead, a living doll imprisoned and mistreated by a ventriloquist. Shithead watches a report from the in-production movie Chucky Goes Psycho and realises Chucky and Tiffany are their parents, escapes, and makes it to Hollywood. When Shithead discovers C&T are just prop dolls, they read from the amulet they’ve had since forever and restore life to them one more time.

seed of chucky 2004

Chucky and Tiffany awake, kill a poor schmuck, and discover Shithead is without gender-decisive parts. They rename them Glen. Or Glenda. Pending their offspring’s decision. Chucky wants a son, Tiffany wants a daughter.

The trio of dolls hide out in lead-role Jennifer Tilly’s limousine and set up home at her place, planning to transfer themselves into the bodies of her and rapper-turned-director Redman. Jennifer, disillusioned with her career, plans to sleep her way into Redman’s Biblical epic, much to the disappointment of Jennifer’s PA Joan (former S Club 7 member, Spearritt), who is then subsequently fired.

Tiffany convinces Chucky to give up killing to set a better example to Glen/da, which he dishonestly agrees to, but offs Britney Spears and John Waters’ paparazzi behind her back, taking Glen/da along with him. Tiffany meanwhile, sorts out a voodoo pregnancy for Jennifer, and tries to atone for her past sins in a hilarious scene where she calls the widow of a previous victim and apologises.

seed of chucky 2004 jennifer tilly chucky

The film begins to fall to pieces towards the end as everyone falls out, Glen/da appears in drag, then wants to be a boy, or a girl, and the dolls attack each other while the now-heavily pregnant Jennifer tries to escape, eventually writing itself into a bit of an inescapable corner that Curse of Chucky largely ignored nine years later, but at least didn’t entirely retcon.

Best viewed as a dark comedy – you’ll certainly get a lot of laugh-mileage. The confusing narrative with Tilly voicing Tiffany was well as playing herself is difficult to get to grips with at various points, but the fans’ ambivalence and only moderate box office success (about half of Bride of Chucky‘s haul) kept a lid on things for almost a decade, during which threats of a remake were rife. That at least hasn’t happened yet, rubber fingers crossed.

seed of chucky 2004 hannah spearritt

Blurbs-of-interest: Tilly was also in The Caretaker and, in 1989, Far From Home; Dourif can also be found in Rob Zombie’s Halloween re-do’s, Urban Legend, Chain LetterDead Scared, Color of Night, and Trauma; Jason Flemyng (who later stated he wished he could erase this film from his resume) was in From Hell;

Valley of the Mid-Range Franchises: The Stepfather

For a long time I didn’t really consider The Stepfather movies to be slasher flicks: Slightly too-highbrow (the first one, at least) and more in common with the rush of late-80s demented family member/one night stand/roommate/nanny thrillers.

However, the titular character does kill his way through the three movies, laying to waste those who disrupt his vision of familial bliss. That the films are less about a string of victims and more focused on the facade created by the stepfather is relevant, but they’re cool films so let’s love them anyway…

the stepfather 1987THE STEPFATHER

3.5 Stars  1987/18/85m

“Jerry Blake loves taking care of the family. Any family.”

Director: Joseph Ruben / Writers: Carolyn Lefcourt, Brian Garfield & Donald E. Westlake / Cast: Terry O’Quinn, Jill Schoelen, Shelley Hack, Stephen Shellen, Charles Lanyer, Stephen E. Miller.

Body Count: 4

Laughter Lines: (to the grieving sibling of a murder victim) “Why don’t you get on with the rest of your life and forget about it?”


As the product of a family where the parents have stayed together for over 40 years, I don’t have much insight into what it’s like to grow up with a single parent and have a prospective new partner enter the scene, disrupting the routine that you likely cling on to in the wake of a divorce or loss.

I can only imagine what it must be like to have someone try to be your new best friend, especially if they glow with a plastic Ward Cleaver aura, one that feels so forced that, in the wake of films like this, you’d automatically suspect them of having some literal skeletons in their closet.

For Stephanie Maine (then-burgeoning scream queen Jill Schoelen), this is a nightmare come true as, after her father’s death, her mother has remarried Jerry Blake – smilin’ family guy, realtor, doting dad, unhinged psychopath. Beyond the expected issues of coping with her loss, Stephanie gets expelled from school and blames all of her problems on Jerry and his transparent attempts to reach her: The usual ‘champ’, ‘slugger’ platitudes, buying her a puppy etc…

step1-2

Of course, we know better having seen ‘Jerry’ dramatically alter his appearance and walk out on his slain previous family in the prologue, slipping effortlessly into a new life.

At a party hosted by the family, Stephanie gets a glimpse of Jerry’s hidden persona as he throws an anger hissy in the basement where he thinks he’s out of sight. Over hearing the tale of the still uncaptured family-slayer, Stephanie begins to believe Jerry is that guy.

Like the thrillers that came in its wake, a large midsection of The Stepfather concerns Jerry thwarting Stephanie’s attempts to out him, while mother Susan looks on, thinking all is rosy. He also finds time to murder Steph’s shrink and mocking up an accident, the event that eventually brings them closer, that is until he flips about her kissing her crush on the doorstep.

stepfather 1987 jill schoelen

Jerry finally decides enough is enough and begins sculpting a new life in preparation for getting shot of Susan and Stephanie and starting anew elsewhere, but unfortunately for him, not only does he confuse his identities, but the brother of his last wife has been busy tracking him down and is about to show up with a gun in hand. Things shunt into slasher gear when Stephanie is attacked and has to save herself.

O’Quinn’s commitment to what could easily have been a campy, over-hammed role as Dad is what carries both this and the sequel beyond the contrivances of the plot (more pertinent in the follow-up). His natural intensity, later seen in Lost, and a talent for balancing his below-the-surface psychotic tendencies with the outward guy-next-door charm is genuinely unsettling – the way he posits “maybe they disappointed him?” as a possible motive for the murders is chilling – and a series of glares serves to remind the viewer that we know a lot more than his family and friends.

stepfather 1987 terry o'quinn

The many stares of the Stepfather

For her part, Schoelen oozes likeability – as she did in all her horror roles – and rises to the challenge of final girl-dom with aplomb, using broken mirror shards and sledges to her advantage. The only weird thing about it is that, despite being in her early twenties during production, her brief topless shower moment seems wrong as her character is said to be fifteen. It’s buoyed in a way by some frontal nudity of O’Quinn, courtesy of a reflection in a mirror, but still seems weird.

A fine film, albeit with a narrative that’s been aped too many times to reap its rightful returns, but it seems over a little too soon and, I think, could work well in mini-series format if they ever wanted to resurrect it. Oh wait, they did…

.

stepfather ii make room for daddy

STEPFATHER II

3 Stars  1989/18/88m

A.k.a. Stepfather 2: Make Room for Daddy

“Tonight – Daddy’s coming home to slice more than just the cake!”

Director: Jeff Burr / Writer: John Auerbach / Cast: Terry O’Quinn, Meg Foster, Caroline Williams, Jonathan Brandis, Henry Brown, Mitchell Laurance.

Body Count: 5


Having miraculously survived the wounds inflicted on him at the end of the first film, Jerry is now locked up in an institution in Puget Sound, where the new doctor, Dr Danvers, is keen to help him and find out his real identity – but we know Jerry will have other plans.

After winning the doc’s trust, he dispatches him and a security guard before making his escape and rocking up in a Los Angeles suburb ‘for the family’ where he sets himself up as Dr Gene Clifford, a therapist specialising in familial stuff.

Before long, Gene is involved with local divorcee Carol and her sad son Todd. While he disappears her ex husband forever into a compactor, Carol’s friend Matty (Williams) begins to suspect the good doctor is not all he seems, using her access as local mail handler to find out that the actual Gene Clifford is not only dead, but was also black.

stepfather 2 terry o'quinn

Of course, Jerry/Gene isn’t going to let anybody ruin his plans for suburban family bliss and engineers her out of the picture so he can hurry up and wed Carol. A violent climax at the aborted wedding ramps things up the camp-o-meter a fair way, but, as before, O’Quinn’s performance always teeters on the brink.

The infamous Weinstein’s insisted on more gore for this follow-up, which O’Quinn flat out refused to participate in, which explains some of the insert-shots of various pools of blood etc, moving the property closer to a sort of Freddy-down-the-block slasher series, which probably explains why the leading man opted out of returning for any more rounds.

Either way, Meg Foster’s eyes are still the scariest thing in this film.

.

stepfather III

STEPFATHER III

3 Stars  1992/18/106m

A.k.a. Stepfather 3: Father’s Day

Director: Guy Magar / Writers: GM & Marc B. Ray / Cast: Robert Wightman, Priscilla Barnes, Season Hubley, David Tom, John Ingle, Dennis Paladino, Stephen Mendel, Mario Roccozzo.

Body Count: 5

Laughter Lines: “Maybe he’s not who he says he is?” / “Yeah, well with any luck maybe he’s Kevin Costner or Tom Cruise?”


Terry O’Quinn’s (wise) decision to not return to the series, probably for fear of being typecast, means that this third and very final entry required the biggest convolution of all: Plastic surgery.

That’s right, fresh from escaping from the same institution again, Family Guy gets back-alley surgery from a greasy, chain-smoking dude who then gets his throat cut with a surgical saw for his trouble.

Nine months later, ‘Keith Grant’ is the new guy in the small town of Deerview, working at the plant nursery, volunteering to dress up as the Easter Bunny at a church fete, and hunting for a new mother-child combo to call his own. Although, Stepfather III smells like it’s trying to create some kind of mystery as to who it is who’s had surgery, but entirely fails to disguise it in any way.

stepfather 3

Said schmuckette is Christine (Barnes), amicably divorced and with wheelchair-bound son Andy, whose condition is psychosomatic (so we all know he’ll rise up outta that thing at the perfect moment). After three dates, Keith and Christine are married, but detective-mad Andy is suspicious of his new stepfather.

The perfect family illusion Keith has been desperate for begins to shatter when Andy goes to stay with his father for awhile, leading psychodad to begin courting another single mom, Jennifer, and hatching plans to get rid of Christine, but abandons them when Andy comes back earlier than planned.

Andy, meanwhile, becomes convinced Keith is Jerry Blake/Gene/whoever else, and recruits Father Brennan to help him prove it, but of course those who get in the way end up shoveled to death, raked, or driven off the road.

A woodchipper-tastic finale brings forth the moment when Andy finally lifts his feet from the wheelchair, accompanied by some rousing superhero music, and he’s forced to finish ‘dad’ off with some ferocity, ensuring there’s no amount of plastic surgery that can resurrect the Stepfather for Part 4.

stepfather 3

The video sequel needs to be trimmed along with Keith’s plants, clocking in about 15 minutes longer than necessary, but Wightman does fine in O’Quinn’s big shoes, though the script leans towards tacky elements here and there and Christine is the most naive of the Stepfather’s victims to date. In fact, all through the series women are made to look a bit dumb, eager to get married ASAP despite knowing fuck all about this man, and it’s down to the children to strike the final blow at the end. Hope they use those guilt coupons wisely going forward.

.

THE STEPFATHERthe stepfather remake 2009

2009/15/101m  2 Stars

“Daddy’s home.”

Director: Nelson McCormick / Writer: J.S. Cardone / Cast: Dylan Walsh, Sela Ward, Penn Badgley, Amber Heard, Sherry Stringfield, Paige Turco, Jon Tenney.

Body Count: 7


I saw this once ages ago and can’t remember much about it, beyond the fatal error of switching out the final girl to a final boy, a guy from a military background, no less – where’s the fear for our hero(ine) in that?

At the time it was just the latest in the factory line of people-remember-this-title-so-let’s-remake-it churn-outs, written by Cardone, who had also penned the risible Prom Night upchuck (directed by McCormick) and, back in ’81, The Slayer. O’Quinn was reportedly offered a cameo and sensibly said no. Sela Ward has an utterly thankless role as the new wife and Amber Heard spends most of the running time in a bikini, highlighting just how little thought went into this watered-down PG-13 retread.

No.

* * *

So, a quality series in terms of production values. O’Quinn was definitely the high point and the conservative/anti-conservative subtext of the whole thing is interesting even today, with all this “I like tradition,” rhetoric Steppie likes the spout.

As a slasher series, it’s definitely low-key, with far more emphasis on the character’s manipulative psychosis over a blade-wielding maniac chasing skimpy babes, which is refreshing in a way. Remember it next time you’re messaged on Tinder.

stepfather 2009

Blurbs-of-interest: Jill Schoelen was also in Cutting ClassThe Phantom of the OperaPopcorn, and When a Stranger Calls Back; Stephen Shellen was also in American Gothic; Stephen E. Miller was in Funeral Home and Matinee; Jeff Burr directed Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and Night of the Scarecrow; Caroline Williams had final girl duties in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and was also in Hatchet III; Guy Magar later directed Children of the Corn: Revelation; Priscilla Barnes was in The Back Lot Murders; David Tom was in Dead Scared; Stephen Mendel was in Jack Frost; Amber Heard was the title character in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane.

He Who Walks Behind the Ever Changing Story

children of the corn 7 revelationCHILDREN OF THE CORN: REVELATION

2 Stars  2001/15/79m

“The all-new terror-filled chapter!”

A.k.a. Children of the Corn 7

Director: Guy Magar / Writer: S.J. Smith / Cast: Claudette Mink, Kyle Cassie, Michael Ironside, Troy Yorke, Crystal Lowe, Michael Rogers, Taylor Hobbs, Jeff Ballard, Sean Smith.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “I do not believe that your grandmother was abducted by a group of hyper-religious kids.”


When people level criticisms at the canon-issues in Friday the 13th or Halloween, point them in the direction of Children of the Corn, a film series with more identity issues than a Trump immigration manifest.

I do wonder if Stephen King has sat down with all the sequels and stared in disbelief that his short story has ushered in such a long-running franchise.

In this seventh installment, Claudette Mink is pretty much Little Red Riding Hood, as she rocks up at the dilapidated apartment complex looking for her missing Grandma, who suddenly became religious after years of atheism. The area is littered with creepy ass children – well, the same two for the most part – who glare as she walks by and eventually come around murdering the other eccentric residents of the condos.

Ironside bit-parts it as a scarred priest who fleetingly namechecks the much-missed Gatlin and He Who Walks Behind the Rows as the force responsible for the mass-suicide of a kiddie-cult on the same sport sixty years earlier – guess which missing geriatric was the sole survivor?

children of the corn revelation

Good visuals and a few creepy set-ups early on are impressive, but as ever with this series, it stalls to a flat, fizzle of an ending and then just sort of stops, leaving the obligatory couple of survivors who won’t turn up again in the next one (2011’s really bad Genesis). The rest is the usual rural looking kids with Biblical names, their leader, disbelieving authority figures, and random corn left all over the shop.

Blurbs-of-interest: Claudette Mink was also in Return to Cabin by the Lake and Harper’s Island; Michael Ironside was also in American Nightmare (1981), Fallen AngelsHello Mary Lou: Prom Night IIReeker, and Visiting Hours; Crystal Lowe was later in Final Destination 3Black Christmas, and Wrong Turn 2; Guy Magar directed Stepfather III.

1 2 3 11