Tag Archives: children are evil

Harper’s Island – Episodes 3, 4 & 5

harpersCumilative body count so far: 8

I had a little Harper-thon on Friday night and watched the last three episodes back to back. While it’s safe to say things are getting better, there’s still a sense of reservation about this series that bugs me a bit…

One of the girls who died in Episode 2 went without mention all the way through 3 and possibly 4 until somebody mentioned she’d gone back to the mainland and would return for the wedding. I’m sure this was totally omitted and it felt like the script had to backtrack to cover up something it’d forgotten…

Anyhoo, as I can’t distinguish between what happened in which of the three I watched, details could be out of chronological order here… While our final girl Abby reaquaints herself with her father, the Sheriff, father of the bride Thomas decides to send his daughter’s sleazy ex away having failed in his bid to win her affection and ruin the wedding. Henry and his frat pals charter a boat for a day of fishing and find a speedboat with a dead body aboard and a bag containing $250,000 which they bicker over, eventually ending in the most ridiculous death so far when a character dies from shooting themself in the leg and bleeding out. No murder that episode! No, just death-by-stupidity.

There’s some stuff about an affair between Trish’s stepmother and brother-in-law; a psychic comes to read for the girls’ bachelorette gig and creepy kid Madison says the spirits told her she’d never get to be a flower girl. The psychic freaks Abby out with some assembly-line cryptic rubbish: ‘you must leave, you will die, blah blah blah…’

Episode 5 was where things took a leap as Trish and her dad were accosted by a rabid dog and Abby discovered that her father is obsessed with the idea that John Wakefield (her mom’s killer) is still alive and killing elsewhere, an idea Kelly had alluded to before she was murdered. Things end with the death of one of the major characters that occurs in front of everyone else – or does it? We cut to black before it could be definitively chalked up so we’ve got to wait two damn weeks for Episode 6…

I’m still betting on the same suspect as I did in Episode 2, mainly because it’s the kind of thing American shows tend to ‘do’, but I hope it’s not that simple.

Harper’s Island – Episode 1

harpers

Body Count: 2

Now this is something you don’t see every day month year ever, a TV slasher series. Messiah kinda dipped its toes into the water, but Harper’s Island appears to be – on the evidence of the first episode – an out n’ out stalk-a-slash-a-hack-a-kill-a-thon.

OK, so episode one, entitled Whap, wasn’t actually that engaging, but it was adequate enough to beckon me back like some strange noise I heard coming from the shed one rainy night…

The titular island is reportedly 37 miles off the coast of Seattle where some dude killed a dozen or so people a few years earlier. It’s also the place where loved-up younguns Henry (guy who played, uh…Henry in Ugly Betty) and Trish (Katie Cassidy from the Black Christmas “remake”) want to get married and so invite their respective family and friends for the occasion, which looks like it’s going to take more than a couple of days. Good luck getting time off work.

Amongst the attendees is Abby (Elaine Cassidy – who reminds me of Maddy from Friday the 13th Part VII), whose mom was one of the murder victims and who hasn’t returned to Harper’s Island since. Read: the final girl. She’s Henry’s friend from childhood. Trish’s family are mega-super-rich and her Dad (Richard Burgi) doesn’t seem happy about her betrothment (!?) to former yacht-scrubber Henry and might have plans to ensure the wedding never happens.

Never mind mate, someone’s already trimming the guest list – bwa-ha-haaaa!!! Yes, the uncle who never shows is strapped to the propeller shaft beneath the boat that takes the group to the cursed isle and so goes head first into the blades as they launch – and of course, on a boat taking some forty people out to sea, not one person looks over the stern and says “ew, Cindy, like where did that blood come from?”

Various characters are introduced, who range from witless guests, family, a creepy-ass kid, evident red herrings, island dwellers who all know about Abby and one totally off-screen serial killer who dispenses with another poor schmuck before the end of the episode. It’s frankly too soon to guess who or even why, but you can bet your ass it’s something to do with the murders of olde and the rich family. We shall see… uh, unless it gets cancelled as Stateside it’s already been shifted to a rubbish weekend night slot. However, as all thirteen episodes have been shot, hopefully it’ll play out.

CRAZY EIGHTS

Crazy Eights (Horrorfest) DVDCRAZY EIGHTS

1.5 Stars  2006/15/77m

“No secret stays locked away forever.”

Director: James K. Jones / Writers: James K. Jones, Dan DeLuca, Ji-un Kwon & Patrick Moses / Cast: Dina Meyer, Traci Lords, George Newbern, Gabrielle Anwar, Frank Whaley, Dan DeLuca.

Body Count: 6

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The words ‘Traci’ and ‘Lords’ attached a serious horror film should trigger an involuntary retraction of the reaching hand as you browse HMV’s horror section. To save 77 minutes of your sanity, here’s what happens:

Title cards tell us that between the 50’s and 70’s, 600 children were ‘volunteered’ into this program where they were experimented on and most were never seen again yadda yadda… In the now, six ex-inmates gather after another old friend dies/commits suicide/bails from production and go to the now closed institute to dig up a time capsule and soon get locked in and hunted by the ghost of girl inmate they used to know.

The title refers to the name of their baseball team but has no other relevance, probably just to give the viewer some sense of mystery, as this apes so many Asian horror cliches; girl ghosts appearing in mirrors, corridors and the like. Only Meyer’s admirable struggle to do something with her restricted role is of interest as there’s next to no bloodshed or scares. You’d need to be crazy to bother with this one.

Blurbs-of-interest: Meyer was Stallone’s doomed wife in D-Tox. Anwar was later in iMurders.

VALENTINE

valentine-box-cover-2VALENTINE

3 Stars  2001/15/92m

“Love hurts.”

Director: Jamie Blanks / Writers: Tom Savage (novel), Donna Powers, Wayne Powers, Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts / Cast: David Boreanaz, Marley Shelton, Denise Richards, Jessica Capshaw, Jessica Cauffiel, Katherine Heigl, Fulvio Cecere, Daniel Cosgrove, Hedy Burress.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “Jeremy Melton couldn’t manage a water fountain without screwing up, I don’t think he’s capable of an intricate revenge plot.”


Urban Legend is my favourite entry in the 90’s slasher movie revival: it had everything I wanted from high pitched screams to a reveal right out of a Scooby Doo episode. Naturally, when I heard its director Jamie Blanks was doing another slasher flick I was, y’know, totally stoked! Valentine is – rather loosely – based on Tom Savage’s novel and harks back to that age old slasher staple of adolescent school trauma turns geek into weapon-toting psycho…

val2aThe geek in this case is Jeremy Melton, a scrawny, bespectacled, buck-toothed teen who’s only sin is to ask five girls to dance at their Junior High Valentine’s prom thingy. Three cruelly decline, one says “maybe later”, and the fifth, outcast fat girl Dorothy, accepts and is later found sucking face with Jeremy by a group of boys who assume he attacked her, which she agrees with, and then pour punch over him, strip him down to his pants and kick the crap out of poor Jeremy in the middle of the dancefloor!

val-2picsJumping ahead thirteen years, Heigl’s med student Shelley supplies ‘the Barrymore role’ of long-sequence-of-death first victim and her friends gather for her funeral. Kate (Shelton) is to-ing and fro-ing back to her jar-tapping boyfriend Adam (Boreanaz); man-magnet siren Paige (Richards) cruises through life with a trail of men after her; fun girl Lily (Cauffiel) is dating a sleazy artist and Dorothy has lost all the weight but is being sucked in by conman Campbell…

After receiving some grisly gifts and cards – including maggot infested chocolates – the girls wonder about who might be behind things and eventually put two and two together (the cards are signed JM after all!) and leave things in the hands of incapable detective Cecere, who is more interested in bedding Paige. Of course, Cherub-Jeremy crops up for more intermittent murders, taking out Lily early on and Kate’s bizarre neighbour, who meets the nasty end of a steaming hot iron. Could Jeremy have possibly grown up into Angel David Boreanaz!?

val4aThings come to a head at Dorothy’s Valentine’s party (in a massive house with lots of deserted areas, natch) when the remaining girls and a line-up of suspects are gathered. More murders occur, Denise Richards pleases a generation of teenage boys by strutting about in a bikini, a powercut empties all and sundry out, leaving Kate to step into the heroine’s shoes and face off with Cupid. It’s here where Valentine loses its way to some degree, thus opening itself up to all the critical slaggery that was piled upon it. What is in fact quite a clever twist is botched by the cutting of a scene that doesn’t appear on the DVD either and so leaves a question mark over the actual identity of the killer. We discover Jeremy is in fact there, but is he… who’s… how… what!?

valentine-hottub-shower

Ergo, look at the IMDb message boards for all the twelve-year-olds rowing over who the killer is. Those of us who’ve seen more than five slasher films should be able to figure it out with ease but Blanks misses the shot here. Nevertheless, the film works in spite of itself and is a whole lot of fun. I’m only bothered by the killer’s bizarre motives: four of the girls merely decline his offer of a dance whereas he has the shit kicked out of him by several boys who, strangely, he doesn’t factor in to his revenge plot at all… Additionally, there are male characters who, in any other film, would be killed off with extreme prejudice who make it through in one piece – the ‘wax’ scene practically leaves the doors wide open with cookies and milk to beg the killer’s appearance! Shelton is also a weak link, playing it far too angelic as the final girl to muster up much support, she’s merely the one who doesn’t die rather than struggles against the odds. Richards and Cauffiel are the most fun to watch and Cecere makes a likeable idiot.

"I love you Buff- uh, Kate."

“I love you Buff- uh, Kate.”

Blurbs-of-interest: Cauffiel played Sandra in Urban Legends: Final Cut; Heigl had the lead in Bride of Chucky; Burress was in Cabin by the Lake.

BABYSITTER WANTED

babysitter_wantedaBABYSITTER WANTED

2.5 Stars  2008/18/87m

“No experience necessary.”

Directors: Jonas Barnes & Michael Manasseri / Writer: Jonas Barnes / Cast: Sarah Thompson, Matt Dallas, Bruce Thomas, Kristen Dalton, Bill Moseley, Nana Visitor, Monty Bane, Jillian Schmitz.

Body Count: 5


Beginning like another re-telling of the old When a Stranger Calls myth, shy smalltown girl Angie needs money for college and takes a job babysitting at a secluded farm for the Stanton family’s equally shy son, Sam. Already concerned that maybe she’s being stalked, things get worse when the phone calls begin and somebody tries to break in…

Word of mouth set up a good prospect for Babysitter Wanted and the ambience was nicely working in spite of some cringey monologues and then came the midpoint twist many positive reviews alluded to. It’s different for sure and I was surprised to find that my guess wasn’t far from the truth. The film tiptoes along the outskirts of slasher film territory without ever committing itself; Angie is held captive, escapes, is captured again, cries, screams and eventually succeeds…

And here’s the spoilage. Click away now if you don’t want to know. Go on…go…

The kid, her sittee if you will, is the Son of Satan. The ‘intruder’ is a priest trying to kill him and, when the kid’s cowboy hat topples off, Angie spots little horns-a-growin’ through his hair. The parents tie her up and explain that Sam eats the flesh of virginal girls but now they must leave as more of the priest’s followers will be on route.

It bugged me that this ‘miracle twist’ was so hammy. The film was trundling along pleasantly and then this. Once revealed, there are a couple of murders; Bill Moseley’s cop comes along trying to help and there’s some good chase action but once the kid shows his true colours, muttering “hungry” as he approaches Angie with a knife, all we really want is for her to kill him with extreme prejudice! Of course they wimp out and things are left for a sequel.

I was also suspicious of the film’s motives here; Angie is a good Catholic girl, as shown when she prays with Mom (Nana Visitor, who played Mrs Voorhees in the Friday the 13th reboot) and in her dorm room. The boy she begins ‘seeing’ is also a nice religious lad and it wouldn’t surprise me if the film were funded by a smart-thinking Christian group trying to send a message to an otherwise unreachable audience demographic here… Ergo, there’s no nudity and little swearing. Weird, weird film. Coulda been better.

Blurbs-of-interest: Scott Spiegel (the doctor at the end) directed Intruder; Moseley was recently in the horrendously bad – and curiously also web-overrated – Home Sick.

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