Tag Archives: Euro-horror

The Evil English

nine lives 2002 paris hilton

NINE LIVES

1.5 Stars  2002/18/82m

“Their number is up.”

Director/Writer: Andrew Green / Cast: James Nicolle, Amelia Warner, Paris Hilton, James Schlesinger, Patrick Kennedy, Ben Peyton, Vivienne Harvey, Rosie Fellner, Lex Shrapnel.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “Tim wouldn’t turn into a psycho killer over a bobble hat!”


I don’t really do patriotism. In fact, given my nation’s rather humiliating stance when it comes to tourism, football hooliganism, and more recently this Brexit idiocy, I’ve taken to adopting a foreign accent rather than be identified as English. SPOILERS follow.

Anyway, this slack possession-slasher gathers nine ex-public school friends at a remote Scottish mansion for a birthday celebration and soon fall victim to an English-hating spirit, who possesses members of the group to kill one another.

Suffice to say, without Paris Hilton’s involvement – she stretches herself to play a shallow American valley-girl – it would likely never have seen the light of day at all. The spirit is clearly so focused, it kills her first!?

Although proceedings start off okay, with some creepy ghost action – rapping noises coming from an empty hall etc – once the first murder is discovered, things fall apart quicker than a Paris Hilton album. And I once listened to one of those.

Admit it, you WANT them to die gruesomely.

Admit it, you WANT them to die gruesomely.

If you thought Hilton’s acting chops were limited, she’s Oscar worthy when compared to some of her co-stars, who encompass the combined talent of a GCSE drama class. Our heroine, Laura, is unsympathetic, dumb, and downright annoying. It is she who suggests people split up, and who also almost clairvoyantly pinpoints what is going on without a shred of evidence beyond a throwaway conversation she had about existentialism. Nine Lives shouldn’t meddle in such affairs.

Notable only for switching to a final boy once Laura turns the knife on herself to end the terror (yay!). The boy survives because he’s Scottish! Yeah. I know.

The spirit never puts in an appearance, but still gets a credit and by the time you make it to the credits – if you do – you’ll be wanting to gouge your own eyes out.

Blurb-of-interest: We all remember Paris in House of Wax a few years after this tripe.

Piano Keys and Problematic Killers

a blade in the dark 1983

A BLADE IN THE DARK

2.5 Stars  1983/18/104m

A.k.a. House of the Dark Stairway

Director: Lamberto Bava / Writers: Dardano Sacchelli & Elisa Briganti / Cast: Andrea Occhipinti, Anny Papa, Lara Naszinski, Michele Soavi, Valeria Cavelli, Fabiola Toledo, Stanko Molnar.

Body Count: 7


Giallo prestige Lamberto Bava merged the Italian genre prerequisites with American slasher cliches efficiently enough in this excessively violent title, which always seems a little forgotten in the scheme of things.

Occhipinti plays Bruno, a young composer commissioed by a director to score a horror movie. He rents a roomy, minimalist villa where the former tenant – the mysterious Linda – seems to have left something of a reputation imprinted.

When a stock beautiful young woman stops by to collect a her diary but then disappears, Bruno suspects something bad may have happened to her. His moody and secretive girlfriend Julia is more concerned with him seeing her perform in a play, and the groundskeeper Giovanni (for once not presented as mentally challenged!) likes to mind his own beeswax.

A friend of the missing girl then comes by and also vanishes, prompting Bruno to convince himself that the elusive Linda is somehow to blame …and also something to do with the plot of the movie he’s scoring.

Some genuinely tense set-ups distinguish A Blade in the Dark from its contemporaries, but it’s the near-repulsive violence that will loiter in your memory, as the heel-wearing killer dispatches victims with a nasty array of weaponry. Echoes of Dressed to Kill dominate the finale as well as a macabre twist to the final girl vs psycho sequence, but it’s ultimately flawed by its length and watered down story.

Blurb-of-interest: Michele Soavi directed Stagefright in 1986 and also acted in Absurd and Opera.

Heating Up

cold prey ii dvd

COLD PREY II

4.5 Stars  2008/15/86m

“Revenge is best served cold.”

A.k.a. Cold Prey: Resurrection

Director: Mats Stenberg / Writers: Thomas Moldestad, Martin Sundland, Roar Uthaug, Axel Hellstenius, Marius Vibe / Cast: Ingrid Bolso Berdad, Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik, Kim Arne Hagen, Fridtjov Saheim, Per Schaaning, Johanna Morck, Mats Eldoen, Andreas Cappelen, Robert Follin.

Body Count: 8


In terms of creating a sequel that picks up immediately after the events of the first filmCold Prey II gets a big fat tick for getting it right.

While on the surface it will appear as little more than a Halloween II rip off, the continuity in play stomps that film to dust, as does the ratcheted up tension, equalling the first film when it comes to edge of your seat fear for people walking around the dark, empty corridors of a clinic.

A day or so after surviving the attack of the hulking Fjellmannen, Jannicke is rescued by a patrol car after her group’s car is reported as being seen abandoned in the mountains. She wakes up later in the soon-to-be-closed clinic in town, police and staff at the foot of her bed anxious to know what happened.

cold prey ii 2008 ingrid bolso berdad

While she recovers, the cops locate the crevasse where the bodies were dumped and repatriate them to the morgue. Meanwhile, the skeleton staff at the clinic are preparing to move on to new lives: Future doctor Camilla is struggling with the desires of her boyfriend, Ole, and fighting off the flirtation of Herman, the remaining doc, and nurse Audhild wants to party and perhaps get it on with rookie cop Svarre, who’s stationed at the clinic while the others investigate the ski lodge of death.

Jannicke asks if she can see her friends, resulting in the sad scene where she gets to say goodbye, with all the previous actors returning to play their dead selves, but the fifth body bag that contains their killer is also there and later, when being prepped for embalming, it appears he’s not so dead after all and the medics stick by their oath and resuscitate.

cold prey ii 2008

Of course, you can never keep a slasher movie killer down, and he’s soon up and slashing, bludgeoning, and breaking the necks of anybody unlucky enough to cross his path. Jannicke is soon engaged in another game of hide and seek, trying to save pre-teen Daniel from being pick-axed, while the police chief tries to learn the truth behind the identity of the Fjellmannan.

Despite Jannicke’s protests, nobody listens and people keep going into the clinic to try and shoot him, until he gets away and heads back to the lodge for the final scrap.

Cold Prey II is, to the original, as Aliens is to Alien - the budget has been cranked and with it the action and special effects inserts. Jannicke’s yearn to survive has been traded with a thirst for violent revenge, and she’s thrown around, through glass tables and into walls a lot more than the first time. She also shares some of the final girl duties with Camilla, who supplies the running and hiding side of affairs early on – though I think in the interests of the film’s emotional punch, she should’ve been made another victim. Ooh, harsh.

cold prey ii

An amazing accomplishment for a sequel of any stature, it really is a continuation rather than a retread, addressing lots of those ‘well, what happened next?’ questions that crop up: We see the cops/rescue squad photographing and cataloguing the victims, the beginning of the official investigation, and Jannicke’s gradual ‘comedown’ – it’s just all thwarted by the reactivation of the killer. Things also end properly and very finally, with Cold Prey III sensibly opting to go back to days of olde and act as the origin tale.

Go to hell (it’s in Holland)

windmill massacre dvd UK 18THE WINDMILL MASSACRE

2.5 Stars  2016/18/85m

“This isn’t Hell – it’s Holland.”

Director/Writer: Nick Jongerius / Writers: Suzy Quid & Chris W. Mitchell / Cast: Charlotte Beaumont, Patrick Baladi, Bart Klever, Noah Taylor, Fiona Hampton, Tanroh Ishida, Adam Thomas Wright, Ben Batt.

Body Count: 9


I love the Dutch, so happy, but The Netherlands haven’t contributed much in the way of slasher films over the years. In fact, I think the last time their shores were home to a hack n’ slash killer was 1988’s rather good Amsterdamned.

The Windmill Massacre begins looking like it’ll be a great companion piece to Iceland’s Harpoon: Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre: Both are in English, with a hotch-potch of characters from various nations boarding a tourist trip that ends up escorting them to hell.

While Harpoon culminated in pivoting black humour in its series of gory denouements, The Windmill Massacre switches from straight up stalk n’ slash to something more aligned with the likes of ReekerGhost Ship, or – ugh – Jack the Reaper.

Among the doomed tourists who board the Happy Holland minibus to tour windmills is Australian au pair Jennifer, who’s on the run from the police after she lied to her host family about her identity, ’cause she did something bad; Jack, a British squaddie laying low because he did something bad; arsey businessman Douglas (naturally British) and his teenage son Curt; struggling French photographer Ruby; Japanese student Takashi, who keeps talking of his late grandmother; and secretive artist Nicholas, who is having flashbacks to something bad he did.

windmill massacre 2016 charlotte beaumont

Yeah, they’re all sinners in some capacity, and when the bus breaks down on a back road miles from anywhere and somehow topples into a pond, the group are forced to take shelter in an old shack. Jennifer tries to convince the others that there’s a sickle-wielding monster in the woods who killed one of the others, but the fact her empty prescription bottle rolled down the bus earlier means nobody believes her. Haemophiliac Curt gets cut and needs medical attention, which repeatedly sends people to go looking for help at the rundown windmill nearby.

One by one, they’re done in by a sub-Jeepers Creepers ghoul who provides neat hallucinations related to their sin, slaughters them and hangs them out to dry in the windmill. Numbers dwindle as each sin is exposed, leading to a bloodthirsty, downbeat climax, which at least the film had the balls to follow through with.

windmill massacre 2016 ben batt

Unfortunately, I saw nearly every plot twist coming. Not the film’s fault, but familiarity breeds contempt, and I wasn’t particularly invested in anything or anybody, no matter how inventive they tried to make it, like killing off the assumed hero first. Nicely made, but the homeland’s charms aren’t utilised enough to make it any more than mildly diverting.

Blurb-of-interest: Patrick Baladi was in Demons Never Die.

Some films I frankly can’t be bothered to say much about

I’m just tired, okay?

butchered 2003 dvd

BUTCHERED

2 Stars  2003/18/76m

A.k.a. BludgeonThe Hazing

Director: Joe Castro / Writer: Eric Spudic / Cast: Susan Smythe, Elina Madison, Phoebe Dollar, Juliet Bradford, Ben Belack, Christopher Michaels, Adam Crone, Tracy Ray, David Alan Graf.

Body Count: 10


What did they do to the eyes of everyone on that cover?

The sophomoric slasher effort from the production group behind Maniacal. Although again shot on video, Butchered generally has slightly better production values and a better script.

Whereas the earlier film played like a student’s take on Halloween with a million and one references to other slasher pics, this time around Hell Night seems to be up for the Xerox treatment as college students Lynette and Barbara agree to spend the night in an old manor house to pledge their sorority (which only has two sisters anyway). We already know that a maniac hiding behind a creepy Darkness Falls­-like mask lurks in the walls of the house, which is due to be converted into a theme park ghost house, as a luckless derelict and the new owner find out.

The sorority sisters and their horny boyfriends turn up to scare the pair witless and end up as additional prey for the killer, who, according to an inexplicably well-informed pizza boy, is the mute daughter of the last owners. Andrew Garth she is not, but there are some amusing kills, including a machete in the mouth and a repetition of the bashed-in head as seen in Maniacal.

Cheap and cheerful with a definite love for its genre, just in need of a cash injection.

*

the driller killer 1979

THE DRILLER KILLER

2 Stars  1979/18/96m

“It will shatter you!”

Director: Abel Ferrara / Writer: N.G. St. John / Cast: Jimmy Laine, Carolyn Marz, Baybi Day, Harry Schultz, Rhodney Montreal.

Body Count: 13

Laughter Lines: “I’ll tell you what you know about: You know how to bitch, and how to eat, and how to bitch, and how to shit, and how to bitch!”


One of the grand daddies of the ‘Video Nasty’ saga in 80s Britain, this is a grimy study of a highly strung artist (played by director Ferrara under the pseudonym Jimmy Laine) living with his girlfriend and a permanently-wasted bimbo spiralling into insanity, as phone bills, abortion charges, his never-finished painting, and the crappy punk rock band rehearsing downstairs at all hours push him closer to the brink.

Acquiring a Porto-Pak, he takes a power drill to the homeless residents of New York City, boring holes into them to vent his fury at the world. Appearing shortly before the slasher movie outburst of 1980, The Driller Killer doesn’t adhere very closely to the genre rules that would soon make themselves known through popular examples: The main character is the killer, and there is no offbeat motive set deep in the past. Instead, irritations slowly build up until he boils over and runs around town offing eight hobo’s in one night!

The intact version of the film was eventually released on DVD in the UK in 2002 and, aside from maybe two of the drillings, isn’t the blood feast it was painted to be by hysterical moral guardians of the Whitehouse ilk. On the contrary, the scene in which the three roommates indulge in the world’s grossest pizza is far more stomach churning than anything the drill gets up to.

Unfortunately, the flippant scenes of essentially unrelated happenings serve only to annoy and steer the focus away from what could be an interesting character portrait.

*

freak out 2005

FREAK OUT

2.5 Stars  2005/15/99m

“It’s cheap n’ nasty!”

Director/Writer: Christian James / Writer: Dan Palmer / Cast: James Heathcote, Dan Palmer, Yazz Fetto, Nicola Connell, Chilli Gold, James Hicks, James King.

Body Count: 22-ish

Laughter Lines: “I don’t like horror films anymore, they’re for babies.”


A camp, vegetarian psychopath is adopted by horror loving nerd, Merv (Heathcote), and his slacker buddy Onkey (Palmer – who co-wrote). They attempt to turn him into a maniac killer of Jason proportions.

This film successfully skewers many genre clichés and turns them on their head, but is ultimately toppled by its inherent cheapness, which makes it look like a drawn out sketch show clip. The unrelenting satiric Brit humour is hit-and-miss and shares common ground with the fly-on-the-wall like approach that made the likes of The Office and Green Wing successful, albeit on a more juvenile level here.

The best laughs come courtesy of the killer himself, known only as Looney, who is never without his orange jumpsuit, potato sack headdress, hockey mask and carries a spatula as his weapon of choice – his polite observations (in a voice that sounds like Bungle the Bear from Rainbow) and apparent obsession with Larry Hagman supply ongoing chuckles.

Considering the 99 minute run time, the three secular killing sprees are over in seconds with little concern for convincing effects work although there is a high body count and plenty of sloppy gore.

Ultimately, Freak Out parodies the less obvious of slasher movie conventions with fair success, but The Hand of Death Part 25 did the job better. Worth the once over for some cheap laughs – most notably the scene with The Blair Witch Project stage play.

*

NEXT OF KINnext of kin 1982

3 Stars  1982/86m

“Some films take their audience to the brink of terror… This one crosses the border.”

Director/Writer: Tony Williams / Writer: Michael Heath / Cast: Jackie Kerin, John Jarratt, Alex Scott, Gerda Nicolson, Charles McCallum, Bernadette Gibson, Robert Ratti, Debra Lawrance.

Body Count: 8


Spooky goings on abound at the Montclare Retirement Home, a lush estate recently inherited by Linda (Kerin) after her mother passes away: A resident is found at the bottom of the bathtub, and our heroine keeps seeing a mysterious figure hanging about on the grounds, finding her taps have been left on in her sink and her bath, and in an especially eerie moment, someone breathing on a separate house telephone during a call… Is she going mad?

Some of her questions are answered in her late mother’s diaries that fear ‘something evil’ is lurking about the place and the local Doctor is being quite secretive about some of the past events that occurred. Drawing quite heavily from Black Christmas, the slashing in this film doesn’t kick in until the hour mark, instead substituting violence to build a respectable level of tension and define even the most ancillary characters enough to fear for their safety.

Moments familiar from Halloween, The Shining, and Psycho help with the somewhat rushed climax (where the sound of the running down the halls is used to great effect). The finale goes a bit awry although Linda finally kicks-ass, there are still several loose ends that are never made any tighter, but this is one little gem that has somehow remained out of circulation for a while.

Look out for a pre-Mick Taylor John Jarratt.

*

slaughter night sl8 n8 2006

SLAUGHTER NIGHT

2.5 Stars  2006/90m

A.k.a. SL8 N8 (Slacht Nacht)

Directors/Writers: Frank van Geloven & Edwin Visser / Cast: Victoria Koblenko, Kurt Rogiers, Jop Joris, Steve Hooi, Linda van der Steen, Carolina Dijkhuizen, Serge-Henri Valcke, Emiel Sandtke, Lara Toorop.

Body Count: 12


In the mid-1800s, a child murder named Andries Martiens terrorised a region of Holland, decapitating seven children in an attempt to utilise black magic that would help him enter and exit hell. He was caught before he could off his eighth and final victim.

In the present, Kristel and her father are involved in a car accident one night: She survives, he doesn’t. Guilt-ridden, Kristel volunteers to collect some of his belongings from his office in nearby Belgium and takes four college friends with her. She discovers her late dad was penning a book on Martiens and had become fixated with a local mine where the killer had been recruited as a sort-of working suicide bomber, to rid the mines of excess methane by going in with a live flame. Death row inmates who survived this task were pardoned, but not in his case and Martiens was duly executed.

Kristel is advised to ‘take the tour’ of the mine and drags her pals along with her. Spooky occurrences abound and the party are stranded below ground where they unwisely decide to tinker with the Ouija board that Kristel’s father owned. This dumbfounded act unleashes Martiens’ vengeful spirit, which snappily possesses one of the group and uses them to start offing the others, leaping to a new host if the poor schmuck is killed. There’s lots of blah about the occult, uncollected inheritance, treasure, and a few grisly kills sprinkled throughout.

The Netherlands isn’t famous for its horror output. Amsterdamned (which one of the cast members here was in) was passably entertaining, as is SL8 N8, which, in Dutch, translates to the English title and neatly ties in the need to eight victims etc…

A sort of Long Time Dead by way of My Bloody Valentine affair. In Dutch. Okay once.

Blurbs-of-interest: Butchered: Elina Madison was in Curse of the Forty-Niner; Joe Castro directed Maniacal and The Jackhammer MassacreFreak Out: Dan Palmer was in Small Town FolkNext of Kin: John Jarratt played Mick Taylor in the Wolf Creek movies and TV series, and was also in NeedleSlaughter Night: Serge-Henri Valcke was in Amsterdamned.

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