Tag Archives: Friday the 13th

EVIL LAUGH

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2 Stars  1986/88m

“Ten years ago something terrible happened in this house… This weekend it’s about to happen again!”

Director: Dominick Brascia / Writers: Dominick Brascia & Steven Baio / Cast: Kim McKamy, Steven Baio, Jerold Pearson, Jody Gibson, Myles O’Brien, Tony Griffin, Karen O’Bryan, Howard Weiss, Susan Grant, Gary Hays.

Body Count: 12

Dire-logue: “Don’t kill me! Kill Connie – she’s upstairs!”


Aside from having one of the best covers going, Evil Laugh also has a great backstory: the ‘present day’ teens, led by Scott Baio’s bro Steven, are staying in a condo that was converted from a foster home. A decade earlier, the children in the home falsely accused one of the carers of molesting them. Understandably peeved, he returned once in the clear and cut the throats of the children and set the place on fire. Cooooool.

I used to know Howie Weiss, who played Mr Burns, who didn’t exactly have the fondest of memories making the film. Possibly because he got a machete in the balls! He’s a celeb columnist now. In some ways, the film plays like the proto-Scream, with one dorky film character spouting slasher movie clauses once the killin’ begins.

Med students go to ye olde foster home OF DEATH for a weekend to scope it out as one of them is thinking of buying and restoring it. But they’re stalked n’ slain by the creepy killer, who even manages to do away with one poor fella by microwaving his head – despite the door remaining open! Once revealed, the fiend’s motive pays homage to the film Evil Laugh so clearly wants to be. Unfortunately, its endearingly naff qualities of lame set-ups and sloppy gore effects ensured that never came to be.

At least there’s the sometimes clever one-liners, the VIDEO MONTAGE of the thirties-pretending-to-be-teens group cleaning their house in their super-80s tight shorts, tucked in vests and big, big hair. Despite managing to both suck and blow, this is one any genre fan should try to see.

Blurbs-of-interest: Kim McKamy was also in Dreamaniac; director Brascia played Joey, the kid who got axed up by his ‘friend’, in Friday the 13th Part V and was also in Rush Week.

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III

friday33.5 Stars  1982/18/91m

“A new dimension in terror!”

A.k.a. Friday the 13th Part 3: 3D

Director: Steve Miner / Writers: Martin Kitrosser & Carol Watson / Cast: Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Richard Brooker, Tracie Savage, Jeffrey Rogers, Catherine Parks, Larry Zerner, Rachel Howard, David Katims.

Bodycount: 12

Dire-logue: “You get on top of me…or I could get on top of you?”


To everything there is a season blah, blah, blah… By the summer of ’82, the slasher cycle had peaked commercially and the critics were getting pissed at the veritable tidal wave of cheap-ass flicks trying to emulate the success of the original set. Friday the 13th Part 2 raked in a huge amount of cash for its tiny budget, opening up the prospect of a Jason-led franchise to huge profits. Thus, it begat the third entry, which was given the added bonus of being shot in 3D, the form of the moment…

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Directed again by Steve Miner, this was where things started to get just a little bit silly. Continuity was launched out of the window by relocating from New England to California, where Crystal Lake now appears less green and lush, more yellowy-brown and muddy. This does not stop a group of teenage friends from driving out to a ranch on the lake for a weekend. There’s pregnant couple Debbie and Andy, stoners Chili and Chuck, chubby prankster Shelly, his blind date Vera, and finally Chris, who is returning to the ranch for the first time in years after “something happened to her.”

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At the ranch is Rick, Chris’s horny hook-up for the weekend, who wants nothing more than to jump her bones. The group seem oblivious to what happened at Camp Packanack and the deaths of a shopkeeper and his wife the previous evening but Chris keeps seeing things, barn doors that swing closed and stuff, while a shady stalker hangs about at the side of the frame (in place of the point of view shots used in the first two films).

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Shelly and Vera take a trip into town and end up crossing swords with a trio of leather-clad, chain-swingin’ bikers, who follow them back to the ranch where they intend to burn down the barn but are intercepted by Jason, who gets them first. As night falls, Chris and Rick take off for some alone time and Shelly tries to connect with a reluctant Vera, who resists his come-on and so becomes the victim of another practical joke involving a hockey mask…

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“You want fame? Well this is where you start paying…in pitchforks.”

After all manner of things are thrust towards the camera (spliffs, juggling balls, a yo-yo…), Jason acquires the mask by forces unseen (for now) and begins stalking and killing the friends in cheesy 3D-ized fashion, using a speargun, a poker, electricity and his soon-to-be inseperable machete. Blood gushes in amounts limited by imposed cuts (more so for the UK until the DVD release restored them) and an eyeball is popped until Chris is the only one left alive and must go up against Jason, who turns out to be the same man who attacked her at the lake a couple of years earlier, all on her own.

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Friday the 13th Part III shows a definite drop in the quality of its storytelling than the previous films, probably since it was clear the low-budget would allow for a huge return, less creative effort was invested than before. The story, therefore, suffers in the face of this and the requirements of the 3D effects, with evidently took precedence over any plot turns and acting. It’s like open-mic night as the teen cast struggle with making their dialogue believable.

There’s also a reliance on recycling motifs from 1 and 2; Kevin Bacon’s infamous murder is re-staged, bodies fly through windows and fall out of trees and the ‘shock ending’ is practically a shot-for-shot retread of the canoe gag. An alternate ending that involved a dream-decapitation was, for some reason, done away with. The existing ending does house a decent scare as Jason appears at a window without his mask, hissing at Chris. That part wigged me out for a few years… Jason’s make-up is so different from the Farmer Ted get-up of Part 2, as is his alleged escape from the cabin (removing the machete from his shoulder before the shock ending, where it was still firmly embedded there) that it looks like nobody involved could even remember the preceding film!

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Even in the throes of terror, Dana never forgot the dance moves to ‘Tragedy’…

Friday 3 is still fun; it’s cheesy and funny with enough of its own charm to raise a smile, serving as the first in the series that didn’t seem bothered by everything that went before it. Curiously, although it pairs nicely with the fourth film, The Final Chapter, that film used almost the same plot again, sans the reliance of 3D trickery. It’s gotta be seen, it’s Jason after all and everyone should see how he originally got his hockey mask!

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Blurbs-of-interest: Dana Kimmell was also in Sweet Sixteen; Steve Miner later directed Halloween H20Twisted Nightmare was shot at the same location.

“You’re bad! You’re all bad!”

twistednightmare-japanTWISTED NIGHTMARE

1.5 Stars  1982/18/91m

“Before the world existed, there was a power…an evil power.”

A.k.a. Ancient Evil

Director/Writer: Paul Hunt / Cast: Rhonda Gray, Cleve Hall, Robert Padilla, Brad Bartrum, Natalie Main, Darryl Tong, Noble ‘Kid’ Chissell, Scott King, Devon Jenkins, Heather Sullivan, Kenneth Roper Jr., Juliet Martin, Marc Copage, Christin Dante, Jim Gosling, Phillip Bardowell, Donna Correa.

Body Count: 16

Dire-logue: “Hey, let’s go and explore the barn.”


Must apologise for the cover being Japanese, it’s not easy to find much about this immensely strange film, but my UK VHS copy had the same artwork many moons ago when I still had a copy. What wouldn’t I do to get it back… Actually, nothing, it sucked.

Originally shot in 1982 at the same ranch where Friday the 13th Part III was filmed (if you believe IMDb trivia sections, but as I recall it looked similar), Twisted Nightmare was withheld until 1987. Why? Well, read on and see if you can guess…

The plot is as follows: a group of “teens” at a lakeside camp – Camp Paradise (wait till you see it) –  tease Matthew, who’s retarded (movie retarded, this is, which means he can barely walk without flopping everywhere). He tells them they’re “all bad” and runs away to the barn, only to reappear as a ball of fire and dies…but the body is never found. Hmmm. Two years later, the teens are invited back to camp where, ding ding!, a disfigured character begins murdering them one after the other.

The camp caretaker tells some of the “teens” that the camp is built atop an ancient Indian burial ground. I shit you not. This gives it power, power gives Matthew death-dodging power, Matthew-kill-everyone.

However pathetic things sound, Twisted Nightmare is a bad movie addict’s wet dream: one guy says he’s leaving in a shot where he’s wearing that trademark 80’s sweater-over-the-shoulders, only for it to completely gone in the very next shot! With way too many characters to keep track of, an aged Sheriff who’s head is literally pushed off his shoulders, a final girl who only achieves said status by being stuck in a toolshed for half the film before driving away having contributed nothing to her own survival, this is a film best left to masochists and de-taste-ified collectors.

Blurb-of-interest: Devon Jenkins was in Slumber Party Massacre III.

APPOINTMENT WITH FEAR

appt1 Stars  1986/15/91m

“Trapped in a world where death is not the end!”

Director: Ramzi Thomas (as Alan Smithee) / Writers: Ramzi Thomas & Bruce Meade / Cast: Michele Little, Michael Wyle, Kerry Remsen, Douglas Rowe, Garrick Dowhen, Debisue Voorhees, Pamela Bach, Vincent Barbour, Danny Dayton.

Body Count: 5


Abject weirdness and boredom collide in your common-or-garden mid-80’s cosmic-slasher flick featuring chick from random Friday the 13th sequel. That’s Appointment with Fear in a sentence.

A woman is fatally stabbed – after putting up as much of a fight as grass does against a lawnmower – and, before she dies, gives her baby son to autistic freakshow Heather, who paints a blue visor around her own eyes and pretends she’s in a jar. Yes, really. Heather and her friends have a party at a deluxe post-modern arty house in the middle of nowhere that is, of course, crashed by the killer.

The twist here is that said killer is actually in a coma at a state mental hospital and only his spirit roams free to kill because he has been possessed by an ancient Egyptian tree-god. Again: yes, really. Tree-god demands he kills his infant in order to gain another year as a god. This must be the only slasher film I’ve ever seen where the final girl (Little) uses one of those portable listening device satellite-thingies to evade the killer’s advances. She’s an annoying, slightly evil looking girl for a heroine. This factor, accompanied by crud production values, the director choosing to credit himself as Alan Smithee, and the enigma that is Heather and her invisible jar, make this an appointment to skip.

Blurbs-of-interest: Debisue Voorhees played Tina in Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning and was also in Innocent Prey; it was produced by the late Moustapha Akkad who, of course, oversaw most of the Halloween franchise.

MADMAN

madmandvd

3 Stars  1981/18/88m

“They thought they were alone.”

A.k.a. Madman Marz / Campfire Tale / The Legend Lives

Director/Writer: Joe Giannone / Cast: Alexis Dubin, Tony Fish, Harriett Bass, Seth Jones, Jan Claire, Alex Murphy, Jimmy Steele, Carl Fredericks, Michael Sullivan, Paul Ehlers.

Body Count: 10

Dire-logue: (into the night) “No Marz! Do not listen – we mean you no harm!”


It would be all too easy to say: “that Madman, you know the one, that’s a rip-off of Friday the 13th that is!” then take our pitchforks and torches and burn it out. This was an early one for me, a film I just had to see after reading the words “summer”, “camp” and “slasher” in The Splatter Movie Guide. It took a good few months to track down a copy in the hazy days of VHS when uncertificated slasher flicks were rarer than UFO sightings. In fact, so difficult was this film to locate (along with Graduation Day, its sibling quarry at the time), I placed a TransAtlantic call to the Director’s Guild of America to try and contact the director, only to be told he was not a member… Eventually, a Free-Ad located both films a few miles down the road thanks to a handy collector! Glee of this magnitude ensues:

madman4Initially, I was unimpressed with this kind of hackneyed wannabe but, as time and experience has shown me that there are worse things a plenty set to celluloid, Madman has earned an out-of-the-way place in my heart for its ornate creepiness, thanks in large part to its ornate crud-ness. Of course, now everything ever photographed in the history of everything is on DVD, I can no longer wear that badge I had made that said “I saw Madman while it was still a rare, out of print, properly unrated C-movie.”

As were most of the best first wave of slasher films, Madman was shot back in 1981 and originally planned to use the well-worn campfire story of ‘Crospy, the killer janitor’ but, having learnt that a certain other summer camp slasher was using that story, was rescripted into what it now is. Set entirely on one night, a factor which adds to its unsettling aura, we begin with the requisite scene I never tire of in the genre: the campfire story.

madman1Well, it’s more of a campfire song, as head counsellor at a camp for ‘gifted kids’ (of whom there are but six) T.P. sings the intro to the tale of Madman Marz, a farmer who axed his wife and kids to death and was hanged by the townsfolk, only to have disappeared come daybreak. The woods are his, leave him be, says camp owner Max – if you say his name above a whisper…he’ll come for you. The kids and their Crystal Lake-reject counsellors (of whom there are but six) play scared yadda yadda until cocky teen Jimmy decides to scream and yell that Marz should come and get him. Biiiiiig mistake, my fluffy-haired friend.

As it’s the last night of camp, the kids are put to bed and the counsellors chatter and go off for sex, including a 70’s porn-lite hot tub scene between T.P. and his Squaw of choice, Betsy. What they don’t know is that Jimmy saw a shadow in the trees and went off to explore the forest, happening upon the run down Marz household just a click or two away… When his absence is finally noted and Max is off in town chugging beers, T.P. opts to go looking for him, unaware that the drunkard camp chef has already been slashed to death.

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Madman‘s midriff becomes a bit of a drag, truth be told, and relies too heavily on the cliche of one counsellor going out into the woods to look for the one who disappeared looking for the one who disappeared before that one et cetera… Of course, we know better and witness T.P. hanged and his neck broken (all thanks to the arrogance of having a monogrammed belt-buckle). Dave then found him and got his head chopped off. Then Stacy finds him and is decapitated by the hood of the camp truck.

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Eventually, Betsy has the sense to dispatch two of the remaining counsellors to go looking for them. “It’s just a final night joke,” they merrily assume and enter the woods and split up to look for them. It’s this golden scene that leads into the most memorable aspect of the film: Ellie. Frizzy-haired Ellie is the feeble girl who hysterically screams a lot but doesn’t help much. Amidst all the horror unfolding around her, she always looks like she’s smiling…

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“I’ve won the lottery!”

When her boyfriend is yanked out of the cab (and she sits there doing nothing, eventually reaching out once his feet are disappearing), Ellie runs squealing back to camp and can’t find Betsy anywhere – but Marz finds her! A drawn-out cat n’ mouse opus unfurls as the dunagree-wearin’ backwoodsman knocks down doors to get to her and she hides in a fridge. Yes, a fridge. A refrigerator. A cool box. Foolishly, she hobbles out and towards the open door where a big-ass axe is waiting for her and, even in death, she still looks overjoyed about it.

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“…of DEATH!!”

Betsy eventually stumbles upon the carnage and tries to escape with the kids in the bus, opting to go back and get Jimmy, who still hasn’t returned and her final quest leads her to the ol’ Marz homestead and the grisly contents of its basement. I’ll not give away the ending but it’s safe to say they expected to do a sequel that never came to be.

madman11In terms of plotting, Madman does nothing we don’t expect it to (save, perhaps, for some circumstances at the end) but this ain’t always a bad thing: sometimes you just want a straight up coffee without having to go through the rigmarole of it being tall, skinny or a mocca-locca-wocca-chino or whatever. The late Giannone directs competently (and strangely this was his only feature) and makes the necessary scenes appropriately scary by distorting the killer’s features or keeping his head out of shot. Madman also boasts an organic, primal scare factor that the happy, bouncy scapes of Crystal Lake and Camp Stonewater don’t even have. The camp looks real, a bit run down and we only ever see it in the dark, helped by the fact that the film was shot in the winter months. There’s no need for a rainstorm here, we feel the cold from the characters’ trudges into the trees, all wrapped up warm, longing for the sanctuary of the open fire back at the cabin.

You can’t have everything though; when you take receipt of the goods, there’s still the annoying packing material to get through and the cheapness of the production sometimes goes against it, as does the abundance of cliched contrivances: that golden rule of Thou Shalt Not Walk Slowly Backwards is transgressed many a time here.

Some have complained that the cast roster isn’t exactly littered with the silicone-chested beauties of the post-MTV generation and hunky Ryan Phillippe-lite men, though this is merely a distraction, as the axe-swinging horror that ensues isn’t likely to discriminate based on aesthetic appeal, although several of the ‘teen counsellors’ do look like they’ve got a cupboard full of “You’re 30!” mugs, Alexis Dubin included, who is actually Gaylen Ross from Dawn of the Dead, and turned 31 in 1981. Very few of the players have appeared in anything significant since – but who cares – they were in Madman!

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Not a personal favourite, but definitely worthy of the sub-cult following it has harvested over the years and an essential flick for lovers of summer camp slaughterthons, it would make a good double bill with backwoods-brother Friday the 13th Part 2. And there’s still Ellie, of course…

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