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Road to Nowhere

munger road 2011

MUNGER ROAD

2 Stars  2011/18/82m

A.k.a. The Wrong Road

Director/Writer: Nicholas Smith / Cast: Bruce Davison, Randall Batinkoff, Trevor Morgan, Brooke Peoples, Hallock Beals, Lauren Storm, Art Fox.

Body Count: 3


If you’ve ever been stuck in a car in a traffic jam, that feeling of hopeless tedium will sum up what watching Munger Road is like – a film so slow and plodding that a nineteen mile tailback would probably be more engaging. Major spoilers follow.

OK, so the budget was like $200,000, and Nick Smith has at least made a good looking film, but the story isn’t sufficient to fill out a 20-minute anthology segment, let alone an 81 minute feature. And we kinda already had this story in 2006’s Fingerprints.

Legend has it a busload of kids were killed when a train hit their school bus blah years ago, and if your car should come to a halt on the tracks, little ghostly handprints will appear and push you to safety. Uninteresting bro’s Corey and Scott want to catch this phenomenon on tape and sell it to some reality show, so talk girlfriends Rachel and Joe into going along with them.

Meanwhile, a serial killer who murdered six kids in the area has escaped and the local chief (Davison) and his deputy are looking for him before an influx of visitors for a carnival arrive.

munger road 2011

The teens conduct their experiment but then find the car powers out down the road, stranding them there, and there’s also no cell reception. Corey opts to hike back down the road to where they had signal and summon help. Scott, meanwhile, plays back their footage and sees that there was somebody stood behind the car when they drove away initially. Joe then goes to find Corey, Scott and Rachel stay in the car and are tormented by creepy occurrences.

Ultimately, anyone killed is done so entirely off camera. The cops finally reach the old farmhouse where Joe has ended up after being attacked and spared by the killer. They rescue her and get a call saying the escaped guy died the day before, Harry Warden-style. So who is it? Well, the film ends with a kick-in-the-balls ‘To be continued’. This was in 2011, seven years have passed and no sequel has appeared. Awesome.

Cumulatively, there are maybe 15-20 seconds of unsettling visuals here, the rest is a monumental waste of time. Mush together bits of My Bloody ValentineDead EndWind ChillFingerprints, and The Gallows and this is the swill you’re left with.

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*

class reunion massacre 1976 the redeemer

CLASS REUNION MASSACRE

1 Stars  1976/18/84m

“No more pencils, no more books, no more students…”

A.k.a. The Redeemer; The Redeemer: Son of Satan

Director: Constantine S. Gochis / Writer: William Vernick / Cast: T.G. Finkbinder, Gyr Patterson, Damien Knight, Nick Carter, Nikki Barthen, Jeanetta Arnette, Michael Holdensworth.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “You mustn’t make me chase you – I could die of a heart attack!”


The words most commonly associated with this pre-Halloween outing are surely “what the fuck!?” ’76 wasn’t such a good year for the slasher film; with the much-needed influence of John Carpenter and Sean Cunningham’s groundbreakers replaced by the lamentable likes of Blood Voyage and Drive-In Massacre. It’s not very assuring to state that this is probably the best from that year.

After an unthinkably long and boring shot of a quarry lake and a few credits, a hand rises from the water and a mop-topped child wearing flares and a nasty sweater appears and gets on a passing bus that takes him off to church where he is in the choir. Is it supposed to be abstract? Or is it just mental? What the fuck 1.

Meanwhile, a stranger murders the caretaker of an abandoned school and moulds a mask of his face, then cuts out the yearbook pictures of his six chosen sinners who need to be redeemed for various non-descript reasons. Things finally get underway as the Class of ’67 return for their nine year reunion (What the fuck 2) discover they’re: A) alone, say “where is everybody?” three times in about ten seconds; B) locked in and; C) begin to die by blow-torch, shotgun, knife in the head and drowning.

When lesbian Kirsten is the only one left, you expect a long chase before she gets her own back on the killer… but no. Killer then goes back to the church where the flares-and-sweater boy is, and returns to the lake at the end. What the fuck 3.

Explanations? Drugs would seem to the prime suspect. The film manages to achieve absolutely nothing and so just comes across like a Christian propaganda film. I’m guessing that the hordes of other graduates from ’67 were absolutely delightful in every thinkable way then? Hope their nine year reunions were more fun.

*

STAGE FRIGHTstage fright 1980 nightmares

2 Stars  1980/80m

“Screams of terror silenced only by the splintering of glass!”

A.k.a. Nightmares

Director: John Lamond / Writers: Colin Eggleston, John Lamond & John Michael Howson / Cast: Jenny Neumann, Gary Sweet, Nina Landis, Max Phipps, John Michael Howson, Briony Behets, Edmund Pegge, Sue Jones, Adele Lewin.

Body Count: 8


An erratically paced and schlocky Aussie production that plays as a kind of homage to Hitchcock, with a killer who favours shards of broken glass to do away with the cast of an independent theatrical production called A Comedy of Death.

Could the nutter be no other than schizophrenic beauty Helen (Neumann, pre-Hell Night decapitation) whose nasty daddy blamed her for causing the car accident that killed her mother seventeen years previously?

There’s not a whole lot of mystery going on here so the supposed ‘twist’ is no more than an invitation for the viewer to groan at the lack of imagination the writer has shown. Nevertheless, it’s not all bad. Stage Fright has a mixture of impressive and wonky performances from its cast, which ties in quite ironically with some of the rantings of hack director Phipps, who is tormented by bitter gay critic Howson (both of whom are expected to meet with the sharp ends of a smashed window sooner or later…)

The UK pre-certificate release is notably shorter than the rest of the world’s, even skipping a couple of early murders and leaving a yawn-worthy long gap between the assembly-line ‘trauma from the past’ opener and the first murder; and the incessant POV work in the backstage area becomes annoying. An amusing take on the Psycho shower-scene in the rain is an eyebrow-raiser towards the end but the film is just way too weird to be more than a passing interest for genre dorks.

*

frightmare 1981 the horror star

FRIGHTMARE

2 Stars  1983/83m

“He was terrifying in life. But even more in DEATH!”

A.k.a. The Horror Star

Director/Writer: Norman Thaddeus Vane / Cast: Ferdinand Mayne, Jennifer Starrett, Luca Bercovici, Nita Talbot, Barbara Pilavin, Jeffrey Combs, Carlene Olson, Scott Thomson, Donna McDaniel, Alan Stock.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “We did something bad! I know something is after me!”


There are so many extraneous elements in this one… A group of film students decide to steal the body of recently departed Christopher Lee-esque star Conrad Razkoff from his extravagant mausoleum, and use him as the centerpiece for a party.

Disgusted by the theft, Conrad’s wife employs a medium to communicate with his spirit and inadvertently brings him back to life to kill his captors. Although it sounds pretty inventive when compared to the stack of its contemporaries – more so as it was shot in 1981 and left for two years.

The paper-thin teen characters are dispatched in quick succession, some by Conrad’s puzzlingly unwarranted psychic abilities, some hands-on, but in all cases with little blood. Under-lit scenes plague this film from start to finish – most of which is set in a gothic mansion that the kids inexplicably have access to, but the scenery is sorely underused. It looks a little like Hell Night but isn’t half as good.

*

PLAYROOMplayroom 1989 a.k.a. schizo

2 Stars  1989/18/84m

“Last stop… is hell.”

A.k.a. Schizo

Director: Manny Coto / Writers: Jackie Earle Haley & Keaton Jones / Cast: Chris McDonald, Lisa Aliff, James Purcell, Jamie Rose, Vincent Schiavelli, Aron Eisenberg, Petar Bozovic.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “He sounded like the fucking Exorcist!


Passable supernatural slasher from the same director as Dr Giggles, and co-written by the future Freddy Krueger! Nicely shot in the former Yugoslavia, where Chris Hayden’s family were murdered years earlier during his father’s archaeological dig of an old tomb. Haunted by fractured memories, Chris is attracted back to the site and takes his magazine editor girlfriend, a photographer, and photographer’s vacuous model significant other.

No sooner do they arrive then his ‘imaginary’ childhood friend Daniel reappears to torment him. Is Daniel actually an immortal Prince who took pleasure in torturing local peasants with a variety of nasty devices set up in the hidden chamber Chris’s father died searching for?

Chris eventually locates Daniel’s ‘playroom’ and the fun begins when he offs his cohorts, while girlfriend Jenny is abducted by the man accused and incarcerated for the murders (late professional weirdo Schiavelli) who has escaped to put an end to the madness.

Although there’s a fair bit going on plotwise, Playroom doesn’t go anywhere with its ideas, quickly doing away with the handful of victims before a laughable store window mannequin (representing Daniel’s true form) stalks Jenny for a short while, and Chris prances around with his pickaxe before his gory comeuppance. The stock threat-isn’t-over ending is a letdown considering how annoying Daniel is, but this is one room that should be off limits hereafter.

*

sleepy hollow 1999SLEEPY HOLLOW

2.5 Stars  1999/15/102m

“Heads will roll.”

Director: Tim Burton / Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker / Cast: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Marc Pickering, Jeffrey Jones, Ian McDiarmid, Michael Gough, Christopher Lee, Lisa Marie, Steven Waddington, Claire Skinner.

Body Count: 17


Gothic fantasy movies just don’t come more lush than Tim Burton’s efforts, and in this thinly disguised slasher film,  based on the novel by Washington Irving, a legendary headless horseman lops off the noggins of the inhabitants of the small north eastern town of Sleepy Hollow in 1799.

Johnny Depp (looking much more comfortable than his debut in A Nightmare On Elm Street) plays Ichabod Crane, the constable from New York sent to solve the mystery. As it turns out, the horseman is in fact real and is being controlled by whomever has stolen the skull from his grave. Gorgeous Christina Ricci is his beau, and together with Marc Pickering as the orphaned son of a recent victim, they make an attractive team.

The entire supporting cast ends up decapitated by the murderous ghoul, played to the hilt with some fabulous FX and gory enough slayings. The only drawback is that it lacks a certain something in that when it does get going, it’s never for long enough to excite, and the plays for laughs become too frequent, especially when it could have been really eerie. Apart from that, this is everything you’d expect from a gored-up Tim Burton flick.

Blurbs-of-interest: Stage Fright: Briony Behets and writer Colin Eggleston were later in Cassandra; John Michael Howson was in Houseboat HorrorFrightmare: Luca Bercovici was later in Stag Night; Jeffrey Combs was in Castle Freak and I Still Know What You Did Last SummerPlayroom: Aron Eisenberg was in The Horror Show; Chris McDonald was in The Collection; Jamie Rose was in Just Before Dawn; Vincent Schiavelli was in MiloSleepy Hollow: Depp was in From Hell; Christopher Lee was in Funny Man and Mask of Murder; Lisa Marie was in Silent Night; Marc Pickering was in Kill Keith; Casper Van Dien was in Skeleton Man.

El asesino y los zombies y los adolescentes en Halloween

cemetery of terror 1985CEMETERY OF TERROR

3.5 Stars  1985/91m

A.k.a. Cementerio del TerrorZombie Apocalypse

Director/Writer: Rubén Galindo Jr. / Cast: Hugo Stieglitz, Raúl Meraz, José Gómez Parcero, Cervando Manzetti, Edna Bolkan, Andrés Garcia Jr., René Cardona III, Erika Buenfil, Jacqueline Castro, Eduardo Capetillo, María Rebeca, Usi Valesco, Leo Villanueva, César Adrian Sanchez, César Valesco.

Body Count: 9


I can only hope/imagine that early production meetings for this project when kinda like this:

Señor Producerio: “Let’s do a zombie movie!”
Señor Investorio: “No, slasher movies are where the $$$ is. We’re doing one of those!”
Señor Producerio: “Zombie!”
Señor Investorio: “Slasher!”
Rubén Galindo Jr: “Amigos! Por favor… Let’s do both?”

80s horror movies don’t come much more fun than this kitchen-sink Mexican export, which shamelessly decides to throw basically everything into the pot and gleefully play in the mess. Though the a.k.a. title Zombie Apocalypse is a stretch and probably pissed off more than a few z-fans.

A stubby-fingered Devil-worshipping psycho killer known as Devlon is finally shot and killed by cops after claiming one last victim. His ex-Doctor is blamed by the police Captain for everything, but the Doc is hellbent on seeing the body cremated before anything else can occur. Nobody listens. Sigh.

cemetery of terror 1985

Meanwhile, three teen couples go waterskiing on a lake and then the boys arrange a private party at a mansion house to try and get into their respective girlfriends’ pants. Turns out they miss-sold the fiesta, and it’s actually just the six of them in the Mexican sister home to Garth Manor. Massively unimpressed by this, the girls demand to leave, but Jorge finds a creepy old book belonging to Devlon in the attic, and convinces his buddies to try a little Halloween night seance. Oh yeah, it’s also Halloween.

Elsewhere, some children are going trick-or-treating and plan to visit the cemetery, one of whom sports an awesome jacket with Michael Jackson on the back. More from them later.

The stupid teens drive to a morgue and choose guess which body for their prank? For reasons unknown the girls play along as Jorge reads from the book with the body lying on a grave back at the cemetery. Then it begins raining, so they bail. Too late though as Devlon has been resurrected and doesn’t take kindly to the home invasion of big-haired teens and their loud party choons.

Meanwhile, the five children arrive at the cemetery and explore.

cemetery of terror 1985

Re-meanwhile, Devlon begins eliminating the sexy-teens one by one, slashing them up with his bare hands, disemboweling some, and using some spooky mojo to possess an axe into whacking another guy in the face. These scenes pleasantly reminded me of Hell Night for some reason: Primal killer with claw-fingers, spooky old mansion house…

The Doc and the police Captain spend forever driving around when El Capitan is informed by his missus that their kids are missing. Doc steals the car and goes off looking for Devlon. The next few times we see him he’s just driving around achieving nothing while people are dying all over the place.

The children are soon spooked by a sudden flashfire coming from a grave and peg it, only for the dead to start rising around them at every turn. Why this happens now I’m not sure, maybe Devlon did something with the book? But the kids run to the house, find bodies, scream, doors lock themselves, Devlon appears, they run back into the cemetery, more zombies… It goes on a bit, this section, until the Doc rocks up (finally!) and informs the kids they need to destroy the book.

cemetery of terror 1985

Cemetery of Terror is like a 91-minute parody of 80s horror movies, with almost every cliche checked off the list (bar nudity, curiously) but boring it is not. In spite of the overlong scenes of the five kids running and shrieking – Galindo should’ve gone all out and killed one or two of them off – this is one full salad, with a full moon, creepy mist, a storm, falling trees, mausoleums and crypts galore. Throw in the gratuitous over-acting and it’s like a cross between a Simpsons ‘Treehouse of Horror’ segment and one of those interactive Halloween walkthroughs done right.

Blurb-of-interest: Galindo also directed Don’t Panic.

Loser Kills All

cruel world 2005

CRUEL WORLD

2 Stars  2005/85m

“On this show, you get voted killed off.”

Director: Kelsey T. Howard / Writers: Ed Hansen, Paul Lawrence & Paul T. Murray / Cast: Edward Furlong, Daniel Franzese, Laura Ramsey, Andrew Keegan, Susan Ward, Joel Michaely, Nate Parker, Nicole Bilderback, Aimee Garcia, Brian Geraghty, Sanoe Lake, Jaime Pressly, Sam Page.

Body Count: 10


Reality TV reject Furlong is so incensed by his national humiliation that he decides to produce his own show, housing nine college kids and giving them a series of bizarre tasks to carry out, which either see them eliminated or ‘sent home’. And by ‘sent home’ we mean the Angela Baker definition thereof.

He starts by murdering the woman who rejected him on a show called Lovers Lane. This is much-emblazoned star Jaime Pressly. I’m not really sure what she’s famous for, but the artwork makes a big deal out of her sub-Barrymore role in this.

Four guys and five girls enter the house – all of them walking stereotypes of the laziest kind: The fiery Latino girl, southern belle, bitchy backstabbing (literally) gay, slow-but-kind Utah farmboy… After a task pushes her too far, one girl opts to quit and is kicked into the pool and drowned; Another is voted out, driven away, and buried alive; A third chased by Furlong’s hulking, mentally-challenged brother (Franzese, who was in Mean Girls around the same time) and is locked in a shed, never to be heard from again.

cruel world 2005

Eventually, the dwindling contestants catch on, find bodies, and are forced into further challenges: Two guys have a caged fight to the death, then they’re made to stand on cones for hours on end… All very Survivor.

Cruel World has some good ideas but lacks the budget or creative team to see them through. Is it satirical? OK, so where’s the wit and barb? Is it horror? OK, why are most of the kills so dry? In its inability to choose what it wants (hey! maybe that’s a super-clever reference to the rejection of the killer!!) it ends up a mess. There is a well done decapitation of a contestant who escapes, and many of the actors went on to better things, but like any reality has-been it’s almost instantly forgettable and no more deserving of your time than My Little Eye, Kolobos, Voyeur.com

Blurbs-of-interest: Laura Ramsey was in Venom; Aimee Garcia was in 7eventy 5ive; Brian Geraghty was in the 2010 Open House.

Los Chicos Cero

trampa infernal hell's trap 1989

TRAMPA INFERNAL

3 Stars  1989/77m

A.k.a. Hell’s Trap

Director/Writer: Pedro Galindo III / Writer: Santiago Galindo / Cast: Pedro Fernandez, Edith Gonzalez, Toño Mauri, Charley Valentino, Armando Galvan, Marisol Santa Cruz, Adriana Vega, Alfredo Gutierrez, Alberto Mejia Baron ‘Alfin’.

Body Count: 7


Prior to this, the only other Mexican slasher film I’d seen was Don’t Panic, directed by Rubèn Galindo, Pedro’s grandson, way back in the mid-90s. Suckfest.

Fortunately, Trampa Infernal - ‘Hell Trap’ – is a far more interesting little cut n’ shut of The Zero Boys and The Final Terror, with a bit of Elm Street thrown in.

I can read and speak enough Spanish to get by, but the tempo at which it’s spoken often leaves me lagging, so I was happy to find that I could translate the subtitles on the video into English, presenting me with some awesome stuff about Aimee Teegarden, one million peso horses, Barack Obama, and all manner of confused sentences of the “scattered rainfall has admitted that very good principle and raped the last video viaduct” quality. Amazing.

trampa infernal 1989

It mattered not, the subs were just about decipherable enough to work out the basic plot: Big-haired Nacho (!) and Mauricio are paint-ball enemies. Yeah, that’s a thing. So pissed is Mauricio that Nacho beats him during their last round, he challenges him to a hunt-off: A bear that has slain a few hunters in the woods is the target – first to kill it has the biggest balls ever, etc. Nacho’s girlfriend Alejandra is against it, but goes anyway, as does his tubby pal Charly, and Mauricio’s buddy, plus their ditzy girlfriends.

Naturally it soon transpires there is no bear, but an insane war-vet who wears a mask not a million miles removed from Michael Myers’, and stalks the woods with a razor-fingered glove (!!), guns, and other teen-obliterating items.

trampa infernal 1989

The subtitles ceased to exist once the teens reached the forest, but it was pretty simple to follow that they started getting wasted – ditzy girls first – and then when escape proved futile, fought back, numbers dwindle more and so on and so forth, until the predictable ones are left to save themselves and stop the killer, who it seems is named Jesse? Ooh, frightening.

In spite of its dire lack of originality, there’s still some good stuff going on here. Bad-ass opening credits come with a mock ki-ki-ki-ma-ma-ma sound effect; The murder in the truck is well done and quite brutal; And you can’t help but laugh as a girl wanders about the trees yelling ‘Nacho’ over and over. Plus clocking in at 77 minutes means it doesn’t get boring.

trampa infernal 1989

I doubt I’ll remember much of this one in a decade, but as far as pass-time A-Teamy Mexi-horror goes, this is a fun romp.

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