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“Scream 4″

final stab 2001FINAL STAB

3 Stars  2001/18/78m

“Last one alive wins.”

A.k.a. Final ScreamScream 4

Director/Writer: David DeCoteau / Writer: Matthew Jason Walsh / Cast: Melissa Renee Martin, Jamie Gannon, Erinn Carter, Chris Boyd, Bradley Stryker, Laila Reece Landon, Forrest Cochran, Michael Lutz, Donnie Eichar, Scott Hudson, Brannon Gould, Britt Soderberg.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “Why don’t you go find a phone, some help at a nearby farmhouse, or a fucking tampon?”


I wrung some enjoyment from this cheapo cash-in that was marketed as Scream 4 in some territories.

Trash director DeCoteau takes on the post-modern slasher trend that has more in common with April Fool’s Day than it does Wes Craven’s films, putting rich college kids in an abandoned mansion with a bloody history.

Kristen (Carter), the self-confessed “Queen bitch of deception” plans on driving her estranged-sister’s unhinged boyfriend off the deep end by staging a murder mystery evening. Expectedly, her plans are hijacked by a real killer – identically dressed, of course – starts to do away with the players one by one.

The usual cliches come thick n’ fast, most repeated the victims assuming the killer is the actor employed by Kristen (who was a Skeet Ulrich-a-like!) and the olde thinking bodies are their buds playing dead.

DeCoteau inserts his signature homoerotic sequences, with one guy parading about in a pair of very small, very tight shorts, and a secret fling between two of the ‘straight’ male characters. Nearly all victims are cute college guys, while the largely empowered female roles are occupied by Kristen, her naive sis Angela, a the shallow, dopey other girl/victim.

Mucho film title dropping and a motive that amounts to “I like horror movies” are where the Scream comparisons start and end, with a few explanations as to the ‘rules’, but ultimately it’s a cheaper, less amusing Cut, but a fun one if you catch it in the right mood.

Blurbs-of-interest: Brannon Gould was in Maniacal; DeCoteau’s other slasher credit is Dreamaniac.

Slither n’ Slash

venom 2005 dvd

VENOM

3.5 Stars  2005/15/87m

“He never hurt a soul until the day he died.”

Director: Jim Gillespie / Writers: Flint Dille, John Zuur Platten & Brandon Boyce / Cast: Agnes Bruckner, Jonathan Jackson, Rick Cramer, Laura Ramsey, Meagan Good, D.J. Cotrona, Pawel Szajda, Bijou Phillips, Davetta Sherwood, Method Man.

Body Count: 12

Laughter Lines: “You stole it?” / “Well, I wasn’t gonna buy it, it’s too ugly! I felt bad taking a nice one – I have a conscience.”


Kevin Williamson produced this ill-failed feature, for which he was reunited with I Know What You Did Last Summer director Gillespie. It ended up being released within days of Hurricane Katrina – not good for a Louisiana-shot, voodoo-centric teen horror film. Predictably it tanked, raking less than $1million.

In spite of this misfortune, Venom is a handsome critter, which benefits from above average production design, and a brutality absent in other recent slasher films. And there weren’t many around theatrically in 2005. Initially, the film was conceived as a backstory for a pending video game, Backwater, which featured an antagonist known as Mr Jangles. Whether that ever surfaced I do not know.

venom 2005 meagan good agnes bruckner

A mambo priestess in the deep south retrieves a suitcase full of snakes possessed by the evil of people whose bad mojo they’ve sucked out in a ‘milking ceremony’. Whilst transporting it to safety, she, grimy local mechanic/outcast Ray Sawyer, and sexy teens Eden and Eric, are involved in an accident on a bridge, which culminates with the hulking Ray trapped inside the sinking car with the loose snakes.

Ray’s body is retrieved and the mambo also dies from her injuries, but the former is soon up and about, killing the coroner, Method Man’s deputy (what happened to him!?), and a string of teens leading back to the mambo’s house, where her granddaughter CeCe (Good, who is, uh, good) is mourning her loss.

venom 2005

Meanwhile, the demon-formerly-known-as-Ray sandblasts a light-fingered teen to death before heading in the direction of the house where the depleting teens gather to comfort CeCe. After finding their VW Beetle turned on its head (at least it wasn’t completely trashed, gorgeous thing that it is) the assault begins with a ripped-off arm, death-by-crowbar, and even house-wrenched-in-half when CeCe’s voodoo powder-scattering blocks his entry.

Venom goes to some lengths to provide creative demises for all involved, but by doing so adheres to that is-it/isn’t-it true stereotype of killing the black characters first: The first three murdered aren’t white and the ripe opportunity to finally cast a black girl as the heroine is squandered.

venom 2005 bijou phillips

That said, Agnes Bruckner, as Eden, does just fine with the role – running and retaliating where required and I’d forgotten just how long the third act of Girl vs. demon-formerly-known-as-Ray carries on, so her dues are well and truly paid.

Despite reliance on some real contrivances – one of the teens is Ray’s illegitimate son, perfect to make a voodoo doll with – there’s much to enjoy here, from the swampland locus (although why does nobody have a southern accent?) to the comparably luxury production qualities. The characters blue together somewhat, with little to them beyond final girl Eden wanting to go be a doctor in New York, her boyfriend moaning about it, the gay boy, the drunk boy, and a host of ‘other ones’.

venom 2005

Venom isn’t likely to be regarded as a classic by any metric, but it’s definitely worth a look for its surface gloss appeal alone, which is rare in low-end slasher fare, and some MTV hyper-edits aside, ticks all the boxes a fun horror ride should.

Blurbs-of-interest: Gillespie also directed D-Tox; Laura Ramsey was in Cruel World.

VIP’s of Slasherdom: Radish

Being brutally honest, there’s not much going on in Final Exam. Sure, I love it and it made it to the Top 100 ’round here, but as far as seminal 80s slasher films go, it’s probably not going to be remembered by many.

The reason I like it, apart from superbly likeable final girl Courtney, is that it put more effort into character than many contemporaries. And as such, we celebrate one of its most memorable facets – Radish.

final exam radish 1981 joel s. rice

 “It’s happening… the psychopaths are here!”

What’s he do?: Radish is the know-all type at Lanier College, celebrating the end of his exams by opening a bottle of Bourbon (was it Bourbon? I can’t remember) and finally working up the nerve to tell best friend Courtney that he kinda, sorta, might like her…

But isn’t he…? Textually, no, and I’ve no idea if Joel S. Rice is, but you wouldn’t need much in the way of intuitive deduction skills to conclude it from his camp delivery and general… ‘swishyness’. VeVo does not discriminate though (duh!)

Why we love him: Radish goes all out to save the day, after failing to convince the police of the threat, his first thought is to save Courtney – which doesn’t end so well for him.

Seems that Rice went on to enjoy a notable career as a producer. Bonus yays.

Never go back

reunion of terrorROT: REUNION OF TERROR

1 Stars  2008/79m

“Traditions were made to be broken.”

Director/Writer: Michael A. Hoffman / Writers: Meghan Jones, Justin Powell, Bill Cassinelli / Cast: Christian Anderson, L.J. O’Neal, Monique Barajas, Hallie Bird, Mark Carducci, Nori Jill Phillips, John Shumski.

Body Count: 9

Laughter Lines: “I don’t know about you, but I’m harder than Chinese arithmetic.”


The IMDb blurb for this tells us: “a secret is uncovered which reveals one of the most controversial and brutal twist endings in cinematic history.”

In order to investigate this thoroughly, unavoidable SPOILERS must follow.

Six high school friends reunite some years after school at a cabin in the woods, rented by one of them, who is nowhere to be found. Previously, a couple of lesbians were murdered while camping in the same woods.

The game warden keeps turning up, there’s no food, and the hitchhiker one of the party brings along doesn’t get on with the other girls. Then people start disappearing.

The assailant gathers most of them and kills them together, meaning little killing happens for most of the running time.

And that controversial, brutal twist? The killer is punishing the others because they gave his girlfriend a ride home years ago and afterwards she was raped, contracted HIV, and died. Yeah, totally their fault. This is topped by him infecting the lone survivor (a guy for once) and a total misrepresentation of what having HIV means (“it’s a death sentence!”)

Absolute crap from start to finish.

Blurbs-of-interest: Hoffman directed the equally risible Spring Break MassacreSigma Die! and Girls Gone Dead. Both Anderson and Shumski were in the former two.

Clone Zone

sigma die! 2007

SIGMA DIE!

1 Stars  2007/76m

Director: Michael A. Hoffman / Writer: Meghan Jones / Cast: Reggie Bannister, Joe Estevez, Brinke Stevens, Aly Hartman, Christian Anderson, Heather Zagone, Nikie Zambo, Katie Kiefel, Jeff Pride, Nick Bubb, Brian Parillo, Tony DeGuide, John Shumski.

Body Count: 12

Bigots Paradise: “If I ever decide to hire a woman, remind me to check between her legs first.”


A precursor to Spring Break Massacre, which may as well be the exact same film. So much so, I wondered if it had just been repackaged under a different name a year later. Sadly not the case.

Instead, this outdated piece of shit begins with a quick meta-slasher tour through a teen party, crashed by an alien-masked killer who quickly does away with several of them in the space of about ten minutes.

Then we skip back to ‘one day earlier’. Why, exactly? We already know what’s going to happen. There is no cleverly threaded twist going on in Sigma Die! that necessitates a flashback 24 hours. It also means we get to see much of the massacre scene again, evidence that the film probably clocked in at about 63 minutes before this stroke of editing genius came into the picture.

There’s a legend of a twenty-year-old (never nineteen, never twenty-one) murder mystery, after a frat boy was embarrassed to be found dressed in lingerie: “He’s a queer!” they all guffaw.

In the present, ‘he’ is revealed to be Brinke Stevens, back for revenge on the grown frat boys who humiliated her. They never moved away, of course. Any ‘sluts’ who happen to get in the way are fair game.

So in Reunion of Terror, HIV was dumbed down to a death sentence, in Sigma Die! gender dysmorphic issues equate to homicidal tendencies, and all girls are sluts who walk around with nothing on who are willing to have sex for a drag on a joint. It’s okay for hot girls to experiment with being gay, but boys throw around the word ‘fag’ at the drop of a hat.

Not to mention gutter-born production qualities, barely any comprehension of what a decent slasher film requires, this production group should just sidestep into exploitation porn, as that’s all they seem to give a fuck about. Seriously – fuck off.

Blurbs-of-shame: Bannister, Hartman, Anderson, Pride, and Shumski were all in Spring Break Massacre, and Anderson and Shumski were also in Reunion of Terror; Bannister was also in Bloody Bloody Bible Camp; Joe Estevez was in The CatcherScar, and Axe Giant; Brinke Stevens can be seen in American NightmareBleedBlood ReaperThe Cheerleader MassacreFatal GamesJack-O, and most importantly The Slumber Party Massacre.

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