Tag Archives: Euro-horror

The 100 Greatest* Slasher Movies Part IX: #20-11

*According to me! Me, me, me! So don’t be surprised to find a few curious omissions…

#100-91 // #90-81 // #80-71 // #70-61 // #60-51 // #50-41 // #40-31 // #30-21

20: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

In many ways the pinnacle of the Elm Street franchise, as well as the first proper horror movie I ever saw (religious parents). Wes Craven returned to help scribe Nancy’s return to the throng after the disappointing returns from the change of direction in Freddy’s Revenge (which I maintain is still a cool film). Nance comes back as an intern at a psyche ward inhabited by a bunch of Krueger-plagued teens. While the final act may falter, the first two acts represent some of the most imaginative stuff around and, for the era, progressive FX work, featuring what are likely to be some of the fan-favourite demises for the beleaguered teens…

Crowning moment: Although both the ‘vein-puppet’ and the TV-room death register high on the amazing-kill-o-meter, I’ve got to say the DVD extra of spandex-metal band Dokken’s squealy Dream Warriors music video is something else and MUST be seen.

19. Hell Night (1981)

Irwin Yablans confidently declared that Hell Night would be bigger than Halloween! However, by the time it’s summer ’81 release rolled around, log-jam and fatigue had set in and nobody really cared… Anyway, Linda Blair and collegiate pals are dared to spend one night in the gloomy Garth Manor to finalise their pledge to a fraternity/sorority combo. Alas, the legends of its ‘haunting’ by a crazed killer turn out to be true…

Check out its rendering in Lego!

Crowning moment: Once Blair’s Marti is the last girl standing, she shifts gears into heroine-overdrive and the killer’s denouement is something to behold.

18: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

Outside of horror circles, this sharp docu-satire is barely known, which is upsetting when you think about how much money Scary Movie probably made… A film crew follow Glen Echo resident Leslie Vernon as he builds up to a massacre he’s planning at an old farmhouse. From selecting his ‘survivor girl’, to dodging his ‘Ahab’ (Robert freakin’ Englund!), Leslie explains how it will all unfold, even taking a moment to discuss phallic weaponry and psychoanalysis of the heroine’s successful survival. Fucking fantastic stuff.

Crowning moment: My favourite moment will give too much away, but let’s just say the pivot point where the cameras are put down as the killing gets real is very nicely done.

17: April Fool’s Day (1986)

Privileged heiress Muffy St. John invites a group of college pals to her island home for Spring Break. They quote Boswell, play AFD jokes and start getting hunted down one by one. Or do they? While largely bloodless, April Fool’s Day is populated by a good cast of nice characters and is better directed and acted than most. I once read a genre guide that gave this film a zero, proclaiming it a cheat, while Return to Horror High received full marks. Riiiiight.

Crowning moment: Scooby Doo-style mystery solving puts Amy Steel alone in a room with a seemingly PTSD-suffering Muffy, who has a few strange things to say…

16: Wrong Turn (2003)

On a West Virginian backroad, a group of campers are stranded after a car accident and find themselves to be the prey of a trio of cannibalistic inbreds. They note the similarity of their situation to Deliverance so critics didn’t have to (but still did). What ensues is a taut chase through unknown terrain with ever depleting numbers as each and every escape plan is foiled by the psychos.

Crowning moment: The fleeing campers come across a forest clearing filled with blood-stained cars. A rare sad moment in a horror film as Elisa Dushku questions how they’ve been getting away with it.

15: Cold Prey II (2008)

Surviving snowboarder Jannicke is saved and moved to a local hospital where the local cops also bring the bodies of her dead friends and that of the Fjellmannen (killer). He, of course, isn’t quite dead, and embarks on a new spree through the corridors of the hospital, forcing Jannicke to go through it aaaaall again. Yeah, it’s pretty much Halloween II but a gazillion times more interesting. Sequels don’t come much more cohesive and committed, even getting all of the original cast back to play their own corpses.

Crowning moment: Jannicke says fuck it and decides to turn the tables and become the hunter, leading to an awesome showdown.

14: The Initiation (1983)

Sorority pledge Kelly (Daphne Zuniga) has long been plagued by a recurring nightmare. Her new college professor is interested in what it means and begins unraveling a family secret. Meanwhile, Kelly and pals break into a Houston shopping mall as their hazing prank. Unluckily for them, ‘someone’ has broken out of an asylum and is hell bent on killing everybody… Complex plotting (for a slasher film) with a mystery element that, for once, isn’t astoundingly obvious.

Crowning moment: The all-too-short confrontation between Kelly and the killer. Kitsch as they come but awesome all the same.

13: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Horror purists condemned this po-faced response to Scream but 17 years on it’s something of a minor classic (the title alone is epic), stocked with era-famous talent. Two teen couples are involved in a hit and run they they cover up; One year later they begin receiving notes and threats pertaining to their crime and, on the July 4th anniversary, a hook-wielding maniac begins stalking and killing them.

Crowning moment: Quite fittingly, as the film is essentially Prom Night all over again (despite being based on a book written in 1973), there’s a long, drawn out chase, this time featuring Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar.

12: Scream (1996)

Gasp! Not in the Top 10!? Don’t cry just yet. This genre-redefining film is awesome. Awesome. Kevin Williamson did for his characters what audiences had been doing for years – he clued them in. Before Scream, characters in slasher flicks existed like they’d never seen one (with one or two notable exceptions). Teamed with Craven, and right on the back of his series-redefining New Nightmare, they took the best parts of other films to create this satire of the whole enchilada. A party sits around watching Halloween, the ‘rules’ of horror are noted, and yet they still die. Essential viewing for any horror fan.

Crowning moment: The opening 12 minutes, yeah, it’s a total rip-off of When A Stranger Calls, but Drew Barrymore throws herself into the victim-role with unmatchable intensity.

11: My Bloody Valentine (1981)

By this point in the first cycle of stalk n’ slash, no calendar holiday was safe from the swinging blades of a deranged psychopath. Valentine’s Day was soon nabbed in this Canadian slice of sadism in which a spooky Scooby Doo-like miner pick-axes residents of the town of Valentine Bluffs, twentysomething years after “The Murders!” a private party lures him back and a trip into the mine ends up with bodies lying everywhere. The 2009 uncut release improves things tenfold with the MPAA cuts restored.

Crowning moment: Death by shower head.

The 100 Greatest* Slasher Movies Part VII: #40-31

*According to me. Me, me, me! So don’t be surprised to discover some classics are missing.

See #100-91 // #90-81 // #80-71 // #70-61 // #60-51 // #50-41

40: Malevolence (2005)

Slow, brooding, and with a low body count. Normally the stuff I hate in a slasher film, but Stevan Mena pulls off a minor miracle here: The Bodycount Art Film. A botched bank robbery sends a gang of criminals and their mother/daughter hostages to a dilapidated farmhouse inhabited by a bag-masked psycho who may or may not be the local boy who disappeared in the 80s. Tsuyoshi Kimoto’s pristine photography paints a bleak Americana and is the brightest jewel on display. Forget the shoddy prequel, Bereavement though.

Crowning moment: One of the fugitives goes to ‘look around’ outside the house. In the dark. Alone. Behind her, we see the killer lurking in the peripherals. Pure stalker stuff and excellently done.

39: Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Likely an unpopular addition, this Halloween sequel was one of the first I saw and, while it was hampered by production nightmares, it holds together quite well, and captures the ‘Hallowe’en atmos’ better than all of those that’ve followed. Michael Myers reappears in Haddonfield six years after disappearing with his niece, who has just had a baby, and now he wants it back and will kill all who stand in his way, including pre-stardom Paul Rudd, as the grown-up Tommy Wallace.

Crowning moment: “There’s someone else in the room! He’s right behind you!”

38: Psycho Beach Party (2000)

A screen adaptation of a campy stage musical (!), Lauren Ambrose is a plucky 50s teenager with multiple personalities who just wants to surf with all the hunky beach boys. But who is murdering folks with varied impairments? The surf kids, a B-movie actress, and a strangely butch female police chief are all trying to find out. One of those slashers-on-the-side affairs adorned with some recognisable faces.

Crowning moment: The Lu’au dance-off that makes the choreography of Grease look second-rate.

37: Shredder (2001)

Teenagers staying at a cabin on an out-of-bounds mountain are done in by a snowboarder-hating killer. While Iced may have been there and done that, Shredder is a cute, relentlessly likeable little slice of paradise, stocked with interesting characters who you, for a post-2000 film, surprisingly don’t hate.

Crowning moment: The recurring gag of a hanged snowboarder going around and around on the chairlift all day.

36: Flashback (1999)

Germany’s response to Scream is a ludicrous farce that is inexplicably awesome at the same time. As a young girl, Jeanette witnessed the brutal slaying of her parents (and dog) by a dress-wearing maniac. X years later, she lands a job teaching French to a trio of rich siblings while their parents are away and the killings soon begin again. While things don’t necessarily tie together come the reveal, and the dubbing on the DVD is horrific, Flashback contains enough carnage to make Jason proud. Though I can’t say I’m a fan of all the domestic pet slashery.

Crowning moment: The ‘past event’ trauma (pictured), the camera keeps with that sickle as the killer moves in on young Jeanette as she tries to reach the key suspended on a hook above the door.

35. Ripper: Letter from Hell (2001)

College students majoring in criminology are being stalked and slain by a lunatic recreating the murders of Jack the Ripper, right down to the placing of each and every stab wound. About halfway through it turns stupid (they decide going to a cabin in the woods is the best course of action) and the ending is clouded by ambiguity – in accord with the real life crimes – but Ripper can at least boast polished production, gruesome slayings (including Kelly Brook, above), and decent acting, even if it does grind on for nearly two hours.

Crowning moment: Though Jack the Ripper never killed anybody that way, a couple tumble on to a log saw conveyor they cannot escape from and look doomed to plunge face first into twin buzz saws.

34: You’re Next (2011)

Home invasion movies were briefly ‘a thing’ and they don’t come with much more ballistic action than You’re Next: A family reunion (again, in a house in the middle of nowhere) is crashed by a team of masked assassins and the besieged Davison clan have to do all they can not to die. What neither they, nor the killers, counted on was one of the guest’s innate survivalist training…

Crowning moment: I saw this at a horror festival and the blender-on-the-head moment got the biggest cheer for a reason.

33: Scream 4 (2011)

Arquette, Campbell, and Cox were all back to check in with Woodsboro a decade after the events of Scream 3: Sidney is in town promoting her self-help book, while Gale is trying to write one, and teenagers around town are falling victim to a new Ghostface-clad killer who is well-versed on the remake and reboot culture of Hollywood. The pairing of Williamson and Craven elicited mixed reviews – due mainly to the slack middle third – but the self-awareness is fully intact and the blood free-flowing.

Crowning moment: The pre-title slaughter, arguably defined by Scream and copied by everyone else, now reclaimed with chucklesome flair.

32: Mask Maker (2010)

I’ve long held the view that if you carefully selected the best parts of other slasher films and sewed them together, you’d have one awesome film: Mask Maker is it. College kids renovating an old farmhouse accidentally resurrect the undead psychopath who once dwelled there and has a penchant for slicing off people’s faces and wearing them over his own deformed features. Almost every scene is a recreation of moments from every killer-with-a-blade pic since Psycho but done very well.

Crowning moment: Final girl Jen steps into the heroine’s shoes with veritable gusto and gives the killer a real run for his money.

31: Cut (2000)

As Flashback was Germany’s answer to Scream, so Cut is Australia’s. Seems that anyone who tries to complete cheesy unfinished slasher flick Hot Blooded ends up dead. But this urban myth doesn’t stop a team of film students from hiring Molly Ringwald’s bratty actress and giving it the old college try. Expectedly, the curse strikes again and the film crew are soon being laid to waste by a wackadoo dressed as the on-screen killer. Dry Aussie humour failed to resonate for most and the film has an unfairly bad reputation.

Crowning moment: Tiny superstar Kylie Minogue’s cameo as a tyrannical film director.

The 100 Greatest* Slasher Movies Part VI: #50-41

According to me! Me, me, me! So don’t be surprised to find a few ‘classics’ missing.

See: #100-91 here // #90-81 here // #80-71 here // #70-61 here // #60-51 here

50: The House on Sorority Row (1982)

Seven college girls play one final prank on their strict housemother before they leave, which culminates in her accidental death. While they spend the day of their graduation party trying to cover up the crime, housemom’s psychotic son, secretly squirreled away in the attic until now, takes matters of revenge into his own hands using Mom’s iron walking cane. Understated, but tense, bloody, and even a little bit heartbreaking.

Crowning moment: Scaredy-cat Jeanie’s frantic chase through the empty upstairs of the house.

49: Cold Prey III (2010)

As the film industry is obsessed with trilogies, and with no way to undo that very final ending of Cold Prey II, it’s prequelville for the third (and so far final) film, which winds back the clock to 1988 and a group of youthful campers stalked through the Norwegian wilderness by the burgeoning killer.

Crowning moment: Fleeing teens find an empty house and take refuge in a hidey-hole under the floor, but they have to venture out sooner or later…

48: Hot Fuzz (2007)

“Should Hot Fuzz even be here!?” you may caw, but while primarily an action comedy, the subplot of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s follow up to Shaun of the Dead concerns a cloaked mystery killer doing away with the less favourable residents of the small English town of Sandford, where Pegg’s by-the-book bobby is the only one who thinks the deaths are anything more than accidents.

Crowning moment: Middle-English archetypes – all cucumber sandwiches and deerhunters – brandishing all manner of firearms during a shootout in the quaint village square.

47: Psycho II (1983)

The courts think that 22 years in prison has ‘fixed’ Norman Bates and release him back to his old home, with a job at the local diner. However, some people are less than satisfied with this resolution and, when murders and disappearances begin again, he is naturally the primary suspect. But nothing is ever what it seems at the Bates Motel… is it?

Crowning moment: The magnificent crane shot that floats from Norman, trapped in an attic room, to an aerial of two teenage lovers sneaking into the basement below. Even Hitchcock would’ve been dumbfounded by the pristine composition.

46: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

On one hand, this film is to blame for the glut of Hollywood horror remakes that polluted the 2000s, on the other it refused to compromise on the brutality of the story, while dipping it in glitter with slick production polish. Not being a fan of the original at all (sulk now, you won’t be seeing it appear later), and it hurts me to ‘yay’ anything with the Michael Bay stamp on it, but this is legitimately awesome.

Crowning moment: Jessica Biel and minor scream queen Eric Leerhsen are attacked in a mortally-wounded van by Leatherface, who has no problem tipping it over and going at it with his favoured weapon.

45: The Burning (1981)

Part Friday the 13th clone, part urban legend, part nihilistic gorefest: Five years after being burned beyond recognition in a joke-gone-wrong, a summer camp janitor decides to reap his revenge by pruning the kids at an upstate New York camp with a scarily huge pair of shears. A veritable dictionary of before-they-were-famous actors, look out for Holly Hunter, Jason Alexander, and Fisher Stevens amongst others.

Crowning moment: The grisly raft-attack is shocking, but the first murder is practically quivering with tension as a skinny dipper finds her clothes have been scattered about the woods…

44: Terror Train (1980)

The motivation of choice for 80s slasher movie killers was the prank gone awry… Here, a shy frat boy returns three years after a misfired gag put him in a hospital to punish those responsible as they celebrate their graduation aboard a chartered train. While you know who the killer is, there’s still an excellent mystery element at play as to just who the killer might be dressed as at any moment… And then there’s who it was all along!

Crowning moment: The maniac finally gets Jamie Lee Curtis alone in a drawn-out, tension brimming chase scene through the abandoned cars of the train.

43: Hollow Man (2000)

Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi/slasher sees arrogant scientist Kevin Bacon perfect a process that can turn animals invisible. Lacking governmental permission to move on to human trials, he takes the stuff himself. Successful though it is, the failure to get his visibility back slowly drives him insane and he embarks on a killing spree, targeting his team. Amazing FX underscore this one.

Crowning moment: Hollow Man’s first venture outside since his invisifying, and the two kids who ‘see’ him in a traffic jam.

42: Session 9 (2001)

A team of asbestos removal workmen take a job at an old mental hospital with a dodgy past. While dealing with their own issues, the venue takes its toll on each of them psychologically, and one becomes obsessed with the audio tapes of a schizophrenic former inmate. And then it’s not so long before they begin dying…

Crowning moment: Josh Lucas’ hunger for purported riches takes him back to the hospital after hours to look for riches… but there’s somebody already there…

41: Anatomy (2000)

Franka Potente is the new girl at an exclusive German medical school, where she begins to suspect something that would not adhere to the Hippocratic Oath is going on. When a recently-alive classmate appears on the slab in front of her, she begins to investigate and uncovers a bizarre sect operating at the school and taking their pick of students to experiment on.

Crowning moment: A girl flees her boyfriend’s murder with a needle-jab to the leg, which slowly freezes up her muscles until she collapses and seizes up. The killer tells her if she can crawl to a doorway inches ahead of her he’ll give her the antidote… will she? (No).

The 100 Greatest* Slasher Movies Part V: #60-51

*According to me! Me, me, me. So there’re bound to be a few classics missing.

See:
#100-91 here
#90-81 here
#80-71 here
#70-61 here

60: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

After Scream made teen slasher movies cool again for about 25 minutes in the 90s, the Halloween franchise re-grouped, ignored everything after Halloween II (upsetting fans in the process) and brought back Jamie Lee Curtis as the lovely Laurie Strode, hiding out in California. Her big bro tracks her down and slashes his way to the prep school where she works.

Crowning moment: Without a shadow of a doubt the finale in which axe-toting Laurie finally gets Michael where she wants him, until Resurrection shit all over it with its stupid-as-fuck retcon. The triple-slaying that opens the movie is pretty good too.

59: Tenebrae (1982)

Possibly Dario Argento’s most slashy work; Anthony Franciosa is a famous American writer on a book tour which, when it arrives in Rome, comes accompanied by a series of gruesome murders. Typically adorned with giallo flair, mean-spirited borderline misogynistic kills (“Male heroes with their hairy, macho bullshit” a feminist critic spouts… guess what happens to her?), and B-movie fixture John Saxon as the writer’s kitschy agent.

Crowning moment: Death-by-modern art is where it’s at.

58. The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

Feminist writer Rita Mae Brown scripted this corny flick as a send-up of the genre, only to see much of it altered to ‘suit the demographic’ as a girls’ basketball team hold a slumber party that’s crashed a power-drill favouring killer. Stupid as it is, there’s a lot of fun stuff at play and some of the original intent still seeps through the holes in the cheese.

Crowning moment: There are three final girls in this film, who all strike back at the killer together in a frenzy of awesome oestrogenic rage.

57: Killer Party (1986)

A sorority girl is possessed by a vengeful spirit at an abandoned frat house during an April Fool’s pledge party, dons a deep-sea diver suit (!?) and begins killing everyone. Dumb as it sounds, there’s a lot of fun in this well scripted, good humoured gem, which was heavily cut prior to release and is yet to see a restored version surface.

Crowning moment: The trick beginning is amusing, not least for the awesome White Sister song April (alluding to the original title The April Fool), but this one is at its best before most of the killing starts as we are acquainted with characters so likeable it’s sad to watch them die.

56: Fatal Games (1983)

A select group of promising young Olympians known as ‘The Magnificent Seven’ at an exclusive athletic academy are being done in by a hooded loon who tosses a mean javelin. White largely hated and pretty badly made, Fatal Games has an early 80s charm and would be great on a double bill with Graduation Day.

Crowning moment: The unmasking of the killer, given away in a lot of reviews, is a surreal yet awesome moment, that kicks off a great, if too short, chase scene.

55: Julia’s Eyes (2010)

Guillermo del Toro co-produced this atmospheric chiller about the titular young woman whose blind sister has mysteriously killed herself, just as Julia begins developing symptoms of the same degenerative sight disorder. In addition to this nightmare, somebody is hanging around and killing people who can provide answers to her sister’s death.

Crowning moment: A blind woman tells the Julia: “There’s someone else with you – he’s right behind you.”

54: Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Parent groups picketed theaters showing this Utah-shot festive hacker, resulting in it being pulled completely. A young man traumatised by the murder of his parents at the hands of a robber dressed as Santa and the harsh Mother Superior at his orphanage, goes mental when he is forced to don a Saint Nick costume by the toy store he works in… Death by fairy lights and antler-impalings ensue.

Crowning moment: Nasty bullies snatch sledges off a couple of kids and find that their route down a dark hill is fraught with swinging axes.

53: Deadly Blessing (1981)

An early Wes Craven slasher flick that’s often overlooked in between the vast shadows of The Hills Have Eyes and Elm Street. A series of murders occur around a sub-Amish commune where a young city woman married a member of the flock, much to the chagrin of their leader Ernest Borgnine (check that beard). Could it be a mythical incubus?

Crowning moment: Again, the left field revelation of who the killer is elevates this from a standard whodunit to a whatthefuck!? moment with some debt to old pal Sean Cunningham’s breakthrough film of the previous year.

52: Sorority Row (2009)

One of the better slasher film remakes, this overhaul of 1982’s The House on Sorority Row is like Mean Girls with a body count. After a prank goes tragically wrong, a gaggle of college girls end up tossing one of their number down a mineshaft and live with the secret until their graduation party several months later, where a cloaked maniac begins doing away with anyone who might know the truth…

Crowning moment: Bad-ass housemother Carrie Fisher with a shotgun actively hunting down the killer, and bitchy sorority president Leah Pipes’ never ending tirade of quips and put-downs.

51: Final Destination 5 (2011)

A young office worker has the foresight to save a few of his colleagues when he has an accurate premonition of a huge suspension bridge collapse. Shortly after, those who should’ve died find themselves meeting nasty ends in bizarre ‘accidents’.

Crowning moment: Sadly, the final act of this film was correctly predicted before release, softening the awesome punch of its twist, but it’s still a great full circle climax IF the producers can keep their hands off churning out more sequels.

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DERANGED

1 Stars  2012/15/79m

“How well do your know your friends?”

Director: Neil Jones / Writers: Marcia Do Vales & Oscar Carrion / Cast: Marcia Do Vales, Victoria Broom, Natalia Celino, Tabitha Quitman, Pablo Olewsky, Craig Fairbrass.

Body Count: 4


Imagine Jar Jar Binks with a Brazilian accident. Now make him a sexy human female. Give him an axe and some cheeseball dialogue. Roll it in glitter to up the camp. Now you’ve got Deranged.

In this really weird Anglo-Spanish (Spanglo?) production, bride-to-be Gabriella invites three British gal-pals over to Spain for her wild bachelorette shindig. At a house. In the middle of nowhere. With one stripper.

Friends are made up of slutty pharmacy on legs Sylvia, uptight virginal type Mary, and ‘other one’ Anna. Gabriella gets bitten by the resident guard dog, has a seizure and dies. Then someone starts killing the others.

I’m ruining nothing by telling you that Gabriella isn’t dead. After all, that’s her on the DVD cover looking all sinister and blood-spattered, so any mystery is sucked right out of it. She thinks the others all threaten her relationship and wants them gone.

Whether Jones and writer/producer/star Do Vales were trying to make it a dark comedy isn’t clear – Do Vales’ strong Brazilian accent just makes the delivery of lines like “You are [a] fucking c**t!” far more funny than they should be as she sways and lilts around with her axe. She’d make an awesome voice on The Simpsons.

Everything else is sub-par slasher cliches, from missing car keys, to red herrings, and the idiotic decision to go off and have sex amidst all the hoopla. The actors rely on inserting ‘fuck’ into so many sentences that it makes the term redundantly irksome.

Ex-Eastender Craig Fairbrass appears just twice in some tepid ‘is he involved?’ sidebar thing that leads nowhere.

Rarely is a film so accurately titled.

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