Tag Archives: Euro-horror

What have you been smoking?

amster

AMSTERDAMNED

3 Stars  1988/18/109m

“Be glad you’re afraid… It means you’re still alive.”

Director/Writer: Dick Maas / Cast: Huub Stapel, Monique van de Ven, Serge-Henri Valcke, Hidde Maas, Wim Zomer, Tannake Hartzuiker, Tatum Dagelet, Edwin Bakker.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “No more money means no more pussy – and I won’t go Dutch!”


Who could hate the city of Amsterdam? Canals, flowers, the Heineken museum, hookers sticking their asses up against the glass of their windows, pot-laced brownies, uh… Anne Frank’s house?

Although the end reaches for new depths of desperation to avoid a resolution you can see coming miles away through fields of tulips and windmills, this Dutch police thriller-cum-slasher movie is entertaining anyway. When a series of brutal slaughters plagues the canals of Amsterdam, your standard single-father, sleeps-late, has tough daughter, cop is assigned to finding the maniac.

That’s it for plot, director Maas tosses in plenty of action and some pretty good set-ups but can’t escape heavy influence from either A Nightmare On Elm Street or Jaws (!). Good scenes include a prostitute’s corpse hanging from the underside of a bridge that a glass-topped tourist barge ventures beneath, and a James Bond-like boat chase through the canals.

Absorb that dreadful Euro-pop song that graces the credits sequence as well, possibly the scariest thing in the film.

amsterdamned 1988Blurb-of-interest: Serge-Henri Valcke was later in Slaughter Night (SL8 N8).

 

 

 

Dub Stop.

flashback 2000

FLASHBACK

3.5 Stars  2000/18/94m

Director: Michael Karen / Writer: Jimmy Sangster & Natalie Scharf / Cast: Valerie Niehaus, Xaver Hutter, Alexandra Neldel, Simone Hanselmann, Erich Schleyer, Katja Woywood, Elke Sommer, Nicola Etzelstorfer, Christian Nathe, Fabian Zapatka.

Body Count: 12

Laughter Lines: “Why do parents always think their kids will get killed if they vacation alone?”


The teen-horror revival of the late 90s (“this type of movie is very popular right now!”) naturally spilled over to regional European imitations of Scream, of which this German slasher is likely the most fun.

Blah years ago (probably ten, as is the norm), a psycho wearing galoshes, a woman’s wig and a heinous floral dress is on the loose, first offing a couple of sexy teens on a train, and then entering the home of the Fielmann family, where he slaughters the parents and dog of young Jeanette, who later developed amnesia and cannot remember what happened after the loon cornered her by the door (the key is on a hook out of her reach).

flashback 1999

In the present, Jeanette is offered a position by her shrink, teaching three spoiled teenage siblings French at their remote chalet in the mountains, while their father is away on business, scuppering their summer of partying. No sooner does she arrive then we begin seeing a cross-dressing, sickle-toting stranger everywhere (starting when she’s taken to see The Relic in a movie theater more raucous than the one in Scream 2), and it’s not much longer before friends of the three siblings, as well as domestic pets, begin getting hacked up a cross-dressing, sickle-toting stranger.

Jeanette, meanwhile, becomes romantically entangled with the brother, Leon, much to the annoyance of Elke Sommer’s cranky housekeeper. She also begins to dream back to the murders, remembering a little more every time. There’s a whole thing about ‘the secret in the barn’ and a mid-point twist that’s partly confusing given what’s already supposed to have occurred by this point, its attempted explanation by a throw-away line is a little desperate.

flashback 2000

Plot convolutions aside, Flashback has some super awesome ‘classic’ visuals, with the camera at weapon-level as the killer closes in on victims, a fun chairlift murder, a long chase involving a guy for once (poor dude cops a sickle in balls and has to limp away holding them together), and death-by-pool-cover for the person who earlier said “no one ever died in our pool!” The relatively high-end production values elevate this above most Euro-slashers, though it loyally checks every box on its way, with a particularly vicious streak in hacking and blending cute animals as well as obnoxious teenagers.

Most releases of the film outside its homeland suffer from pretty horrendous dubbing, which gives the film an unintentional (?) cheesiness thanks to the less than committed American voice actors and verbatim translation, which turns regular Germanic sentences into bizarre gibberish – we’re talking Bloody Moon levels of poor here.

flashback 2000

There’s also some distractingly odd slapstick humor thrown in, with one poor guy repeatedly getting gunked in blood from various bodies that turn up, and a running gag about a body in a car. But when your killer is a guy in wellies and the dress grandma was buried in, it’s hard to play it too po-faced.

Worth a look but probably much better in German with subtitles – if such a version is out there.

Tueur de conte de fées

deep in the woods 2000

DEEP IN THE WOODS

3.5 Stars  2000/18/84m

“Don’t go there alone.”

Director/Writer: Lionel Delplanque / Writer: Annabel Perrichon / Cast: Clotilde Courau, Clement Sibony, Vincent Lecoeur, Alexia Stresi, Maud Buquet, Francois Berleand, Denis Lavant, Thibault Truffert.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “It’s not my fault those bitches got killed!”


Promoted in its native France as a contemporary to Scream, this lushly produced twist on Little Red Riding Hood (titled Promenons-nous dance les bois – A Stroll in the Woods) concerns five young actors who are hired by Baron de Fersen to perform their offbeat version of said fairytale to him and his autistic grandson, Nicolas, at their manor in the forest. Deep in the forest.

One play performance, some weird dreams and gratuitous amounts of semi-tasteful nudity later, somebody dons the creepy-ass wolf costume from the play and goes after the thespians one by one. Characters number among them lesbian lovers (…le sigh), a pervert groundskeeper who cuts up a wild animal in the film’s grossest sequence, and a mysterious policeman who turns up out of the blue, claiming to be looking for an AWOL rapist.

Directed with the kind of expert visual flair the French are famed for, the style here leaves many genre directors far behind, flawed only by some weak characters and a killer who can barely scrape the remnants of a motive together. Sharper scripting and a little more clarity would’ve been welcome (though perhaps the latter was lost in translation), but perhaps the misty-eyed dream-like quality of the whole thing is kind of its point.

Express Elevator to Hell… going down

botched 2007

BOTCHED

3 Stars  2007/15/91m

“Russian Mafia, insane hostages, twin serial killers… Ritchie Donovan’s luck has run out.”

Director: Kit Ryan / Writers: Derek Boyle, Eamon Friel, Raymond Friel / Cast: Stephen Dorff, Jaime Murray, Bronagh Gallagher, Geoff Bell, Hugh O’Conor, Jamie Foreman, Russell Smith, Sean Pertwee, Norma Sheahan, Gene Rooney, Edward Duly Baker.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “You have to get the police – various people are trying to kill me.”


Definitely a first for a slasher movie – a virtuoso mix of gore and slapstick comedy, with Dorff as an American grafter caught up in the theft of a sacred Russian artifact. Things descend into chaos when one of his comrades kills somebody and then the thieves and an elevator full of passengers gets stuck on a secret floor in a Moscow building.

Believing the police are on to them, the trio of crap crooks try to bargain their way to freedom with the release of a hostage, who ends up decapitated by a pair of giant shears. It becomes clear that it’s someone other than the cops keeping them at bay – someone with a cache of weaponry, all of it destined to hack, slash, and skewer through the cast.

botched 2007

If this weren’t bad enough, a group of three seemingly nervous religious women decide to take over the situation and turn the tables on the hostages, a jittery journalist joins forces with a wannabe commando security guard, leaving Dorff with a sexy Junior VP (Murray) to go about things the smart way.

The plot makes a few surprising turns as more above the Ivan the Terrible-lite killer and his purpose is revealed, all of it peppered with some great lines, fart gags, and Three Stooges physical comedy, all the while parodying the likes of Hostel with a very British sense of humour. Botched is like nothing you’ve seen before and definitely not for all tastes, but an entertaining hour and half however you cut, hack, or gut it.

Blurbs-of-interest: Sean Pertwee was in Wilderness; Geoff Bell was also in Tormented and Comedown.

…56 years later

lake bodom 2017

LAKE BODOM

3 Stars  2016/85m

A.k.a. Bodom (original title)

Director/Writer: Taneli Mustonen / Writer: Aleksi Hyvärinen / Cast: Nelly Hirst-Gee, Mimosa Willamo, Mikael Gabriel, Santeri Helinheimo Mäntylä.

Body Count: 3


I’ve lost count of the number of horror movies that claim to be ‘based on true events’ over the years, which usually means the source event has been evolved by producers thirsty to bend it into a tellable tale, be it Ed Gein into Psycho and/or The Texas Chain Saw MassacreWolf Creek, or even the folklore used in Urban Legend - at least here, the Lake Bodom murders actually occurred.

In 1960, two teen couples were attacked while camping out at the Finnish beauty spot; three of them were fatally injured, the fourth survived to become the prime suspect, eventually arrested 44 years after the fact, and acquitted, meaning the killer is effectively still undetected.

The story fascinates slightly morbid high schooler Atte, who, with his buddy Elias, dupe gal-pals Nora and Ida into accompanying them to a party at a lakeside cabin his family owns, to be joined by other friends the next day. This is all a ruse for him to investigate his theory on what actually happened 56 years earlier (yay! it’s not 5, 10, or 20 years!), and there’s no cabin either. The girls don’t have meltdowns over it, but are peeved. Atte, it seems, wants to reenact the crimes to gauge the likelihood that he’s got it solved.

lake bodom 2016

As darkness falls and they sit about the campfire by the lake, tiny hints suggest that there might be someone else there – was that a flashlight amongst the trees across the lake? Oppressed religious girl, Ida, is still sore over nude photos of her taken when she was drunk at a party and were seen by the entire school – but who took them?

Lake Bodom tosses a twist into the mechanics halfway through (I half-guessed it), but with so long left, what next? A second twist, unlikely as it is, shifts the film into its Wolf Creek gear, with an excellently original tow-truck scene of terror. It doesn’t go to lengths to explain the connection between what’s going on and the 1960 murders, wisely leaving that cloaked in mystery, as the original killings probably always will be.

lake bodom 2016

Beautifully lensed, with shades of Cold Prey alongside echoes of Haute Tension – European slasher films tend to go further with their production quality, rarely turning out shot-on-video cheapies, and stepping away from tying up every loose end. Nevertheless, it feels like the opportunity to make an amazing straight-up teen slasher film is squandered by the plotting, which is undeniably contrived, and leaning towards disproportionately torturing the female characters.

An exercise in brilliant craftsmanship behind the camera, which is worth it alone.

1 2 3 17