Tag Archives: children are evil

What the Dickens!?

olivertwistedOLIVER TWISTED

3 Stars 1997/15/104m

“The family secret is out…”

Director: Dean Gates / Writer: G. Patrick Charuhas / Cast: Signe Kiesel, Jason McMahan, Brian Agmes, Karen Black, Erik Estrada, Dave Kramer, Dianne M. Grant, Heather Hageman, Manuel Guevara Jr.

Body Count: 9


With a title like that, I was expecting some psychotronic re-telling of the Dickens classic. Unfortunately though, we’re not treated to the gory demises of Fagan, the Artful Dodger or Oliver Twist (how annoying was that kid?) and instead it’s a modest Halloween copy from Florida.

Institutionalised plate-headed Oliver goes into a coma after being sunk by two anaesthetic darts after he murders two of the hospital staff. Refusing to take him back, he is instead sent to reside with his aunt and her two kids – one of whom is called Olivia. I think we all know where this is going…

“Livvy’s” bratty brother Jeff becomes obsessed with Oliver, who remains zonked out in the spare room while Livvy herself starts having odd premonitions of murders which, she believes, aren’t real. The mailman gets his hand chopped off with a machete when Oliver wakes up and goes walkabout and then two teen couples are invited over the celebrate Livvy’s birthday for no other purpose than to serve as thwacking material for Oliver.

Bargain basement productions values notwithstanding, there’s a good score and one neat scene that, albeit ripped off from Dressed to Kill, cranks the tension towards the finale. From the look of it though, this could well have been shot in the mid-80s with its drained colour and naive teenager-cum-blade-targets, Karen Black and freakin’ Erik Estrada (as mom and meddling doctor respectively). Neither of them have much to do and probably wish they were back on the set of Airport ’75

The blindingly obvious twist is nicely played out, although we’re never informed of the source of Livvy’s flashbacks to the baby in the tub, nor what happened to Oliver in the first place that landed him residence in the asylum… Even with these unexplained oddities, overlong running time and some dreadful hairstyles, it’s still more fun than sitting through the musical Oliver! any day…

Blurbs-of-interest: Karen Black can also be found in Some Guy Who Kills People, Children of the Corn IV, Out of the Dark, and Curse of the Forty-Niner.

CHILDREN OF THE CORN II: THE FINAL SACRIFICE

cotc23 Stars  1992/18/89m

“These children are home alone too. But their parents are never coming back.”

Director: David F. Price / Writers: A.L. Katz & Gilbert Adler / Cast: Terence Knox, Paul Scherrer, Ryan Bollman, Ned Romero, Rosalind Allen, Christie Clark, Wallace Merck.

Body Count: 29 – estimated

Direlogue: “There’s something out there, there’s something evil – it’s gotten a hold of our children!”


The first of the countless ‘crap from the corn’ follow-ups to 1984’s King-adap Children of the Corn, in which couple Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton were tormented by a cult of evil kiddies who worship a corn-dwelling monster they call He Who Walks Behind the Rows. It sank critically but obviously did something right to have amassed six follow-ups of varying competence and a truly horrendous TV remake.

The Final Sacrifice is a stupid film but nevertheless an entertaining one, picking up the story just days after the events of the then eight-years-gone original. The mass-parenticide of Gatlin is discovered and the liberated children are bussed off to nearby Hemingford while the investigation takes place. Tabloid journo Knox arrives in town with his estranged, obnoxious, chipmunk-faced son to get a scoop.

Meanwhile, repatriated corn child Micah is ‘possessed’ by something and becomes the new leader of the kids, all dressed in 1800s peasant clothes and with dork-ass names like Mortichai and Jedediah (it would’ve been great if just one was called, I dunno, Shane?) Micah is a tad effeminate and therefore, in lazy film terms, evil. He preaches his adult-hate to the others (“we’ve seen their world, it is evil, blah blah, corn, blah, He Who Walks Behind the blah…”) and they begin offing the over-19’s of Hemingford.

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Chipmunk-face hooks up with local blonde hottie and his dad follows suit with B&B-owner Rosalind Allen and her ealry 90s Wilson Phillips hair, while the brats start their spree o’death, crushing a crazy old lady beneath her house in what seems like the most contrived method of sending up The Wizard of Oz they could conjure up. The nosebleed-from-hell (albeit in a church) is grisly and the electric wheelchair kill is funny as fuck but things begin to get boring as credibility is stretched thinner than Victoria Beckham’s waistline.

Journo-man meets an all-knowing Native American, who has lots to say about his ancestors, being at one with spirits and stuff and they decide to blame everything on a contaminated corn crop. Micah recruits Chipmunk-face and decides to sacrifice hot-girl and Wilson Phillips-head, setting it all up for a ‘do the right thing’ ending, which involves Micah shouting lots of crappy dialogue, him turning into some horned-demon thingy, and being sucked into the blades of a combine harvester.

The entire Children of the Corn franchise is ropier than a lasso contest, with even less film-to-film consistency than Friday the 13th, but it maintains a sort of late night, fuck all else to watch charm with an effective score of choral properties, cheap scares and dead-eyed kids killing their folks in sometimes inventive ways. II is more fun than most of those that followed (#5 was pretty good too), a slasher off-shoot with the ever-elusive He Who Walks Behind the Rows being referenced yet never explained or seen. This film is like junk-food, empty and worthless, full of crap but it tastes good!

Blurbs-of-interest: Wallace Merck was one of the paintballers in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives; Christie Clark was Jesse’s little sister in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2; the nosebleed guy (Joe Inscoe), played the principal in Cherry Falls.

“All my troubles seemed so far away…”

Yesterday I found some much-needed me-time and settled down with a few films. But in some karmic revelation, my choice of cinema seemed cursed. Cursed to tell me I’d have been better off at work! This is evidently my fault for watching SyFy ‘originals’…

First up was OPEN GRAVES

ogsmall

2 Stars  2009/85m

Director: Álvaro de Arminán / Writers: Bruce A. Taylor & Roderick Taylor / Cast: Mike Vogel, Eliza Dushku, Ethan Rains, Lindsay Caroline Robba, Naike Rivelli, Ander Pardo, Boris Martinez, Alex O’Dogherty, Gary Piquer.

Body Count: 7


There was a trailer hanging around for this at least a year ago. It looked pretty good. It started pretty good with American surfer buddies Jason and Tomas trying to pick up Eliza Dushku, whilst on an extended break in Spain.

They and four others sit down to play a board game called Mamba, which is, of course, cursed. They roll the dice, pick cards, cards have cryptic messages about their fate. They’re out. The eventual winner will be granted whatever he/she most desires… Once the game is over, those who were ‘killed’ start dying for real.

Naturally, the non-Americans all die first: one guy falls over a cliff edge (after sliding down barbed wire – ouch!), lands on the rocks and is immobilised so that the resident crabs scamper over and start eating him. The next guy is chased by ten-dozen Black Mamba snakes and resolves that climbing a stack of logs will save him until he falls back into them.

A model turns old over night and another chick dies in a fiery car crash. It’s all kinds of Final Destination-lite with a fraction of the flair and imagination and it’s down to leads Mike Vogel and Dushku to play the game till the end in order to win it and wish everything un-happened.

Open Graves was tolerable enough but just doesn’t go anywhere… The CGI effects are dreadful and the ending is naff, plus the cheating guy never really gets his just desserts, which is all we’ve been waiting for.

With that done, I turned to the sorta-remake, CHILDREN OF THE CORN, alleging a ‘proper’ screen treatment of Stephen King’s tale.

poster_children-corn-syfy

1 Stars  2009/92m

Director/Writer: Donald P. Borchers / Cast: David Anders, Kandyse McClure, Daniel Newman, Preston Bailey.

Body Count: 8


King apparently disliked the cheesecake 1984 attempt to make his short opus into a horror film. Christ knows what he’d make of this shite.

David Anders and Kandyse McClure are married couple Burt and Vicki, driving through Nebraska in 1975, arguing about everything when they mow down a kid in the road. They end up stranded in the deserted town of Gatlin where the children have slain all the adults in tribute to He Who Walks Behind the Rows, a god living in the corn field.

Unlike the ’84 film, there are no good kids, no flashbacks to the murders and zero sympathy for anyone involved. Anders does alright with Burt but McClure is cast as such an unpleasant bitch that it’s impossible to care at all when she is killed by the army of brats.

Afterwards, Burt runs around the corn for ages (but gets to slay a couple of the corn-sprogs), the kids murmur endlessly about dreams in their stupid, forced accents. Little Preston Bailey – stepson of Dexter - not only drowns in his ridiculously oversized hat but also under the weight of the role of Isaac, apparent preacher of adult-icide. Henchman Malichai is also pretty lame, not a patch on Courtney Gains’ take in the original.

Burt dies too but we don’t see how or know why and the credits roll. I stared open-mouthed questioning why the last 90 minutes existed and there was a two-minute coda after the credits showing some of the kids blah-ing on about the corn some more but still nothing happened.

If King’s story is this boring, it’s no wonder they tried to spruce it up back in the 80’s. All of the straight-to-video sequels are better than this crap. Check out Final Girl for some other reviews on this pinnacle of filmmaking.

I’d class neither of these flicks as slasher films per se, although both shared some turf.

This summarises my Thursday, hereafter referred to as Black Thursday. Actually, I watched Bring It On: Fight to the Finish (with Christina Milian!) as well but that doesn’t really belong here…

That’s a mighty big ‘THE’

thefinaldestination THE FINAL DESTINATION

2 Stars  2009/15/82m

“Rest in pieces.”

A.k.a. Final Destination 4

Director: David R. Ellis / Writer: Eric Bress / Cast: Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten, Haley Webb, Nick Zano, Mykelti Williamson, Krista Allen, Andrew Fiscella, Justin Welborn, Jackson Walker.

Body Count: 10 (+51)

Dire-logue: “Sorry for being blunt but… Your life’s in danger and I think you’re gonna die.”


Curtain down time for New Line’s death by…well, death franchise? The absence of a numerical suffix in favour of that big old ‘THE’ seems to suggest that the series is bowing out after nine years, four movies and half a dozen or so tie-in novels (one of which I almost had the chance to write…).

Alas, all good things come to an end. Arguably, all that was good in Final Destination-dom came to an end when the credits rolled at the end of the second movie as the third attempted a re-start with a new cast and tale of doom, only to shoot itself in the foot with an over-abundance of sadism for laughs. That said, it was still a decent flick, something that can’t be said for numero quatro, a 3D-ized experience so over-simplified that it looks as if the script were written by a group of thirteen-year-olds high on E numbers.

As per usual, things begin with a big accident and death en masse, this time occurring at a racetrack/speedway where quartet of youthful friends Nick, Lori, Janet and Hunt escape their grisly deaths after Nick has a premonition that an accident on the track will send all manner of car parts flying into the audience, sticking and squashing punters until the place begins to collapse on top of them. As in all the films, he who has the vision is last to die in it, conveniently allowing us to witness that oh-so-important order-of-death list… Along with the kids, a handful of other characters make it out for temporary further living, several of whom aren’t even allotted names that register: there’s “Racist” (as well as “Racist’s Wife”), “Cowboy” and, my favourite, “MILF/Samantha”.

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A creative sequence of credits that CGI-ify deaths from previous films intercepts while the audience laugh at the frankly comical ways the “characters” were done away with at the raceway and re-adjust their 3D specs for the onslaught. People begin to die in a variety of bizarre and/or ironic ways, always gorily, sometimes with humorous trimmings, although killing off the nice soccer mom was callous and cruel, especially as her two sons were annoying and in close proximity enough to have been done away with…

In between deaths, Nick has pop-up visions of what will kill the next victim. Lori and he try to convince their friends who, of course, take no notice. The only person who believes them is Mykelti Williamson’s security guard, a widower with an alcohol problem, making him the sole “character” with any - and I mean any - information given about his life. They intervene, save a life, think they’re safe, toast to it, realise they aren’t and it all ends very strangely with some sort of second premonition that, when thwarted, proves it was an entirely meaningless effects boaster designed to pad out the minimal running time.

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OK, so there’s stuff to laugh at, the car wash scene is clever and an ass is sucked out, plus there’s plenty of dire-logue: Nick tells Lori it feels as if there’s something in the room with him. Yes, Nick, your girlfriend. She’s right there, touching you… You’re talking to her. The set-ups to each death are amusing, albeit somewhat unrelaxed and rushed and the 3D supplies some additional goo to fly at the audience.

But why, in four films, has no one ever questioned what force opposes Death and dishes out these premonitions and further hints? Why has nobody tried a seance or gone to a spiritualist or a gypsy to try and break the curse? The original film may have toyed with pop-psychology theories of our mortality but with each film comes more cynicism, thanks in main to characters so underdeveloped they aren’t all afforded names, let alone backstories, parents, jobs and lives. They serve only to be cut to pieces by shrapnel.

In this sense, The Final Destination reminded me of the original Japanese Ju-On: The Grudge, a film pieced together by vignettes of the haunty-housey stuff. Instead now, we get unrelated people dying in entertaining ways punctuated by dull scenes of Nick, Lori and George talking about it. There’s no mourning, no sadness. Hell, after Hunt dies he’s never mentioned again!

At the end of it all, what sucks outweighs what’s fun, but how can you complain going into a film like this – what did I expect, Oscar-worthy acting and high drama? Well, GSCE-level acting and any drama would’ve sufficed. The CGI wasn’t that impressive, the usually creative deaths weren’t that creative and the script was pure crap. And yes, I could have done better. I imagine it’ll end up on my DVD shelf next to 1, 2 and 3 once it’s on sale in a couple of years but it’s time New Line laid this one to rest.

Blurbs-of-interest: Bobby Campo was later in Scream – The TV Series; Andrew Fiscella was in the Prom Night remake; Phil Austin, husband of the ‘MILF’ was in Chain Letter.

August Face-Off: Films we wish had psycho killers in them…

I go to the movies a lot, sometimes to see a good ol’ slasher flick but, alas, there aren’t enough of them about to fill the schedules. It’s not 1981 anymore… I like other genres too, a good comedy, thriller, even a happy-clappy musical is good for the soul – but there are times when I’m bored or I don’t like the cast and I just wish that Jason Voorhees had a cameo…

OCEAN’S ELEVEN

oceans11

Tagline: “They were having so much fun it was illegal – now…they must pay!”

Why it needs a psycho: Ugh…just the pretension of it all, “look at us, we’ve got the biggest stars ponsing around in suits acting so smart, wah wah wah!” Clooney and Damon, I don’t mind so much in their other roles but this heist was in need of a duffel bag full of blades.

What should happen: feeling the thieves have transgressed the accepted commandment of “thou shalt not steal”, one of Ocean’s Eleven decides the only way to stop the sin is to kill off the others one by one!

Who survives? Being that Julia Roberts is the only female cast member, technically she should be the heroine here, but maybe, to save us from the even worse sequels, they should all just die.

First-rate Fatality: a severed head spinning on a Roulette Wheel. Ideally Pitt’s.

*

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL

hsmTagline: “Singing… Dancing… Slashing!”

Why it needs a psycho: The merchandising is the main sin here, everywhere you look there’s High School Musical books, cards, games, clothes… I’m pretty sure I saw HSM toilet paper recently… And, oh God, all those primary colours! My eyes!

What should happen: Troy and Gabriella fall in love, sing songs, play basketball etc. and Sharpay’s jealousy brims over into a homicidal rage and she starts by offing their latch-on friends, turning those pearly-white grins into screams of fear!

Who survives? The dorky girl Kelsi and Sharpay have an Alice vs. Mrs Voorhees-style fight centre stage in the auditorium and Gabriella maims Sharpay, believing she has killed her…but no… Zac Efron, however, is gone.

First-rate Fatality: During a super-happy, mega-energy basketball song n’ dance, Sharpay scissors off Troy’s head and slam dunks it, bringing a decisive end to the song.

*

DISTURBIA

disturbiaTagline: “Everyone who lives next door to Shia LaBeouf becomes a killer…”

Why it needs a psycho: Shia LaBeouf is in it.

What should happen: Kale (!?) and his Mom move to a new house, Sarah Roemer lives next door. David Morse lives across the street and kills various extras and, it turns out, killed Shia’s dad in the prologue. Somehow. Despite not knowing who they were.

Who survives? Aaron Yoo and Shia’s Mom (as a favour to her).

First-rate Fatality: in-between takes, Shia hangs around trying to be noticed by fans, enraging David Morse, who, still in character, suffocates Shia with a facefull of Curly Kale in a twist of vege-centric irony.

*

AMERICAN PIE

americanpieTagline: “There’s something about your first time… It’s also your last!”

Why it needs a psycho: Great film it maybe, but it kick-started the endless parade of naff rip-offs. Also, these teens are all trying to get laid and we know what that means to your common-or-garden maniac killer…

What should happen: The Sherminator is pushed too far after he pisses his pants at the prom and crashes the after party at Stifler’s house, stalking and killing those caught with their pants down…

Who survives? Alyson Hannigan.

First-rate Fatality: after striking out with Alison, Jim tries it on with a handy apple pie, only Sherman has made a surprise filling of acid leading to penile meltdown.

*

CAMP ROCK

camprock

Tagline: “Don’t fit in. Stand out. Then DIE!”

Why it needs a psycho: I’ve not seen this film but it looks like it wants to be High School Musical: The Next Generation, plus it’s set at a summer camp!

What should happen: a masked psycho discovers the Jonas Brothers’ claims of purity are ruses to bed the girls at camp, takes exception to this and decides to kill everybody.

Who survives? I dunno, some nice but dorky girl nobody talks to.

First-rate Fatality: The main Jonas Brother is subject to thrash metal blasted into his ears until we see a gooey headsplosion!

*

MEAN GIRLS

meangirlsTagline: “Where blood is pink and filled with glitter!”

Why it needs a psycho: The girls are mean, super mean. They should die. Well… any film that features a clip from Friday the 13th Part 2 earns some respect. Plus Rachel McAdams is great and Lacey Chabert attempted a slasher in the “hmmm”-worthy Black Christmas remake.

What should happen: a dorky girl who’s been made fun of one too many times and features prominently in the Burn Book decides to eliminate the Plastics and their respective boy-toys.

First-rate Fatality: lip gloss laced with acid.

*

Victor: despite wanting to see Shia LaBeouf’s grim demise on screen, I like the Camp Rock idea the best…

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