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The 100 Worst Slasher Films: #100-81

Following the almighty undertaking that was The 100 Greatest Slasher Films, a few people asked if there would be a list of the 100 Worst films.

I was reluctant to do this for a couple of reasons. Mainly, no matter how awful any film, somebody somewhere has put their all into it, and seeing it declared the worst thing ever wouldn’t be nice for them to read. That said, if I’ve already reviewed it and given in one star, what’s the difference, right?

Also, deciding if Drive-In Massacre is worse than Ax ‘Em is no easy task either. One film can be well made but exponentially boring, whereas the cheapest Nokia-filmed crap can at least be fun to revel in.

So, I decided to go about it differently, and take all the films I’ve seen, cross-reference them with their IMDb ratings and present the 100 Worst films according to the great unwashed.

As we will see, some things in life are unfair, while others are just destined… Hold on.

100. Fatal Pulse (1988)

IMDb rating: 3.4 out of 10
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

Sorority bimbos are being stalked by a shadowy psycho, who has the ability to cut throats with vinyl records! Bra’s are commonly slashed open first, of course. And nobody thinks to move out of the fucking house when the girl in the next room was murdered the previous night! Pure shite.

99. Blood Cult (1985)

IMDb rating: 3.4
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

BloodCult1Sorority bimbos are being stalked by a shadowy psycho – are we seeing a theme already!? Blood Cult is one of several films that claimed to be the first made-for-video-on-purpose. Like, who cares? It’s still total crap no matter the intentions. If you’d made a decent film, boast away… Severed fingers in a salad bowl is the ‘high’ point.

98. Small Town Folk (2007)

IMDb rating: 3.4
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

1.5 actually seems generous from my memory of this wretched British production. A 3-minute cameo by Leprechaun Warwick Davis cannot rescue the other 84 minutes, which is comprised of some of the most nauseating “FX” work I’ve ever seen.

97. Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan (2012)

IMDb rating: 3.4
VeVo rating: 2 Stars

ag1aWayward teens on one of those back-to-nature punishment weekends meander into the territory of an axe-toting giant who, uh, axes them. A SyFy-esque production, death by horrendous CGI effects is to blame. But the film does start off okay, with a few laughs to be had before the killing even begins.

96. Study Hell (2004)

IMDb rating: 3.3
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

A strange Canadian slasher take on The Breakfast Club, with five archetypes on Saturday detention tormented by their PTSD-suffering teacher, who decides to kill them all. Cheap production qualities from the same home as Dark Fields, which we will see a little later.

95. StagKnight (2007)

IMDb rating: 3.3
VeVo rating: 3 Stars

stagknight2The first one to mourn the inclusion of, StagKnight pits a group of bachelor party guys against a resurrected Templar Knight during paintball in the British countryside. Anglo-humour probably sinks this for international audiences. With a bigger budget this could have been on par with Shaun of the Dead. Boo you, IMDb voters!

94. Slaughtered (2009)

IMDb rating: 3.3
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

From Britain we go down under to Australia for #94, where a pub lock-in locks in a group of patrons with a psycho killer. With a budget likely no more than a round of beers and a script scribbled on the back of a beer mat, Slaughtered has very little to entice, but could be okay if you made a drinking game out of it…

93. Scar (2005)

IMDb rating: 3.3
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

A film so boring I can remember nothing about it beyond Dee Wallace Stone being in it. Notes tell me it’s about the ghost of a rape victim who appears and axes horny woodsmen, while two teens look for clues about the death of their friend a year earlier. I’m also reminded of how bored I was at the time i might just fall asleep at the keybocsrsthajlgvma

92. The Prey (1980)

IMDb rating: 3.3
VeVo rating: 2 Stars

prey1Our first loss from the golden era, this basic campers-in-peril flick has the guy who played Lurch in The Addams Family offing the usual bunch of over-aged teens during a hike into the woods. I didn’t find it so bad, but then I never watched it again either…

91. The Jackhammer Massacre (2003)

IMDb rating: 3.3
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

Bloke does drugs, bloke goes mad, bloke attacks various people with a jackhammer. Bloke is conveniently named Jack.

90. Heebie Jeebies (2004)

IMDb rating: 3.3
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

Not to be confused with Jeepers Creepers, this is actually an anthology with a slasher opus built around it to join up each story. A girl who can dream the future has bad premonitions about her highschool friends so does the only logical thing – invites them to a shoddy old house in the middle of nowhere. Groan.

89. Hayride (2012)

IMDb rating: 3.3
VeVo rating: 2 Stars

HAY1An average effort about an Alabama Halloween Haunted Hayride attraction crashed by an escaped lunatic who stabs his way through the actors on the big night. Low-end production values aren’t great, but there’s far worse around that this doesn’t really deserve to be in the 100 Worst.

88. Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain (2003)

IMDb rating: 3.3
VeVo rating: 3 Stars

Another one not deserving of its place here, in spite of production problems throughout its shoot, the first half of Samhain carries pleasant echoes of Friday the 13th-era shenanigans, but begins to fall to pieces once the meat of the story, concerning Descent-like creatures eating tourists in Ireland, is underway. It’s also decked out with big name porno actors.

87. Dark Walker (2003)

IMDb rating: 3.3
VeVo rating: 2 Stars

Another Halloween attraction becomes a slaughterhouse when it’s built atop a patch of cursed ground. Like many other bad decisions, the teens employed to work at the place refuse to leave after several murders, citing that they need the cash, evidently more than they need their own head.

86. Cut (2010)

IMDb rating: 3.3
VeVo rating: 2 Stars

cut1aAs the likes of Blood Cult pride themselves on being the first made-for-video film, Cut is proud to be the first film shot entirely in one continuous take. Trivia informs us it took 36 takes to get it right, which, when you think about it would be super annoying if someone screwed up at the last second… Anyway, people in a house are tormented by clown-faced loons and Gremlins‘ Zach Galligan is in it.

85. A Crack in the Floor (2001)

IMDb rating: 3.3
VeVo rating: 2 Stars

Three teen couples go camping in the wrong part of the woods and disturb a Jason-like hermit who lives beneath the floor of a cabin. Playing like a tribute to Friday the 13th Part III in particular, it’s innocuous stuff with that muscle guy from Saved By the Bell and Gary Busey as a deranged- Gary Busey playing himself.

84. The Cheerleader Massacre (2003)

IMDb rating: 3.3
VeVo rating: 2.5 Stars

Posing at Slumber Party Massacre IV and directed by Jim Wynorski, this features genre-fixture Brinke Stevens as the grown-up victim from the 1982 film, apparently not dead after all, and a group of cheerleaders who take shelter from a snowstorm at a cabin… By now I’m sure y’all can guess the rest.

83. Blood Reaper (2004)

IMDb rating: 3.3
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

It’s Brinke again! Though even she looks bored in this seen-it-all-before tale of campers going where they shouldn’t. 80 minutes of people meandering slowly through trees and little else. Points almost awarded for electing the plus-size girl as the final girl, but then they go and ruin that too.

82. Silent Bloodnight (2006)

IMDb rating: 3.2
VeVo rating: 1.5 Stars

silent3aIn bad-movie terms, Silent Bloodnight is a goldmine of laughter. An Austrian film where the actors (attempt to) speak English opens things up to some hilarious dialogue: “Something unexplained has happened!” wails the frightened heroine at one point. The laidback European approach means there’s full frontal nudity for BOTH genders.

81. Shadows Run Black (1981)

IMDb rating: 3.2
VeVo rating: 1 Stars

Kevin Costner’s secret shame. He only has a small red herring role in this piss poor Halloween wannabe that features a ski-masked killer doing in naked chicks who’ve dared to dabble in drugs. Misogynistic garbage. Costner’s name is suspiciously absent from the credits, which appear to be real-time typed as the credits roll.

To Sir With Love. And Murder.

tp1TEACHER’S PET

2 Stars  2000/18/89m

A.k.a. Devil in the Flesh 2

“She’s not your average student.”

Director: Marcus Spiegel / Writer: Richard Brandes / Cast: Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Jsu Garcia, Katherine Kendall, Jeanette Brox, Bill Gratton, Todd Robert Anderson, Christiana Frank, Sarah Lancaster.

Body Count: 6


While it may shock some to comprehend how Rose McGowan girl-stalker-slasher flick Devil in the Flesh did enough to spawn its own sequel, accept now that Rose has morphed into Jodi Lyn O’Keefe as Debbie Strang, the older-man-loving bunny boiler in what’s essentially Debbie Does College.

While McGowan was off being Mrs Marilyn Manson and thus skipped the sequel, Jodi instead becomes the syringe and hairdryer-toting schizo who begins by escaping your garden variety low-security sanitarium to kill and replace Sarah Lancaster’s college-bound rich kid and takes a creative writing course led by sub-Clooney tutor Garcia (known to us as Rod from A Nightmare on Elm Street).

Problems arise when her temper gets the better of her and she kills a few extras until she is eventually found out and the slapdash finale that recycles the ending of both the first film and also Urban Legend, before staple-gunning an unexceptional twist on to it.

As the first round, the film cannot seem to decide if it wants to be an all-out dead teenager affair or a sultry thriller, so things end up back in T&A county with only a handful of interesting elements: Brox is good as O’Keefe’s nerdy roommate Laney (ironically the name of the school dork who dated O’Keefe’s character’s boyfriend in She’s All That), who is set up as the possible heroine, but replaced by the far less interesting Kendall.

If you can look past these sorts of TV-movie irks, Teacher’s Pet is entertaining enough straight-to-video fodder.

Blurbs-of-interest: O’Keefe was Sara in Halloween H20; Sarah Lancaster was in Lovers Lane; Jsu Garcia previously acted as Nick Corri for his Elm Street role.

Honor and obey

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POSSESSION: UNTIL DEATH DO YOU PART

1 Stars  1987/93m

Directors: Lloyd A. Simandl & Michael Mazo / Writers: Lyne J. Grantham & Lloyd A. Simandl / Cast: John Robert Johnston, Melissa Martin, Cat Williams, Leanne Jaheny, Samra Wolfin, April Alkins, Geraldine Farrell, Monica Marko, Rupert Grant, Shane Carlsson.

Body Count: 14

Laughter Lines: “There won’t be anybody up there – we’ll be ALL. BY. OURSELVES.”


Irredeemably boring T&A fare, notable only for starring the bitchy girl, Tamara, from Jason Takes Manhattan as the final girl.

She, Madeline (Sharlene Martin, credited here as Melissa), is abducted one night by a whiny-voiced, mother-fixated loon, Frankie, who takes girls home, forces them to dress in Mom’s clothes, and, if they’re not ‘nice’ enough, are murdered.

Madeline succeeds in escaping, but the police are almost completely apathetic, and it’s her gang of indistinguishably cloney gal-pals who suggest driving around to look for the guy, whom they run into almost straight away. Ill-prepared for this venture, they flee, cops intervene, Frankie escapes in a rowing boat WHICH EXPLODES WHEN SHOT AT.

An exploding wooden rowing boat.

Shortly thereafter, the girls – who might be escorts, it was unclear – go to a strip club and arrange for a couple of the suspiciously camp dancers to join them up at so-and-so’s uncle’s cabin in the woods for a bachelorette party.

Acting, hair, and fashion choices - about the only things you'll remember from Possession

Bad acting, hair, and fashion choices – about the only things you’ll remember from Possession

Predictably, Frankie ain’t dead and soon comes looking for Madeline once again, offing a couple of her friends who didn’t go on the trip, but hangs around long enough to hear an answerphone message that conveniently gives the full address of the cabin. Lord.

The girls party, make out with the gay strippers, Frankie comes along. That’s about all you need to know. It’s bodaciously unexciting, replete with clichés so dense you’d need a Humvee to plough through them: One girl goes off on her own to photograph trees! The car won’t start. The girl who had a bath conveniently never pulled the plug so the killer can drown her in it. It doesn’t stop.

Even when the killer’s presence is discovered, the last girls standing abandon the comparable fortitude of the cabin (which has a push-bar door!?) to run into the woods, where the killer, disabled by a speargun arrow while they flee, somehow teleports in front of them to jump out from behind a tree, and so they run BACK to the fucking cabin where there’s a gun!

Said woods are mysterious and wild, we know this because every time a character walks through them pan pipe music plays. This might mean something if the killer were a Native American rather than a camp-voiced suburban mama’s boy.

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Brimming over with protracted T&A scenes that go thusly: Girl has shower, girl lathers up own boobs for ages, girl dresses up in kinky clothes, girl is stabbed >>> Girl has bath, girl washes self, girl dresses and paints own nails, girl is drowned in bath she never bothered emptying >>> Girl has shower, girl soaps up boobs, girl’s throat is cut in shower. Somebody somewhere does not want women to exercise good hygiene, or worse, has some real issues with their gender, note when one young woman talks about a guy she met and her friend replies: “You were in a BAR?” Why the hell not? She’s young and vivacious, should she only be allowed in the kitchen or the convent?

A plodding, dullard of a feature with absolutely nothing to recommend it unless pastel fashions, awful hair, and naked chicks in the shower is enough. With fourteen bodies dropped, there’s hardly even any grue to speak of.

This is a film nobody need possess.

Blurb-of-interest: Director Simandl also helmed the equally barren Ripper 2: Letters from Within.

Valley of the (not so) Cheapjack Franchises: The Texas Chainsaw Remakes

Probably unpopularly, all of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre canon ranks as one of my least favourite series’ in horror. The 1974-1994 set (plus that godawful 2013 instalment) do next to nothing for me, but what of the Platinum Dunes/Michael Bay ‘re-imaginings’?

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THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE

3.5 Stars  2003/18/95m

“What you know about fear…doesn’t even come close.”

Director: Marcus Nispel / Writer: Scott Kosar / Cast: Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour, Erica Leerhsen, Jonathan Tucker, Mike Vogel, R. Lee Ermey, Andrew Bryniarski, Terrence Evans, Marietta Marich.

Body Count: 7


Michael Bay has much to answer for, and I imagine a mob of horror fans would crucify him for being the poster boy of the remake era, which was a quiet zone of horror filmmaking around 2003, until the announcement of a “re-imagining” of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Twelve years on, it’s an easy equation to comprehend. The 1974 film was notorious, banned in numerous countries, and had a name that is far more suggestive than any of the content. Sooner or later, someone was going to say “Enough with sequels! Remake it!”

Fortunately for me, I have no strong feelings towards the original. I first saw it at a midnight screening in the late 90s and it was a headache of a film. My friend turned to me halfway through and said: “This is probably the most fucked up thing I’ve ever seen.” I found it entertaining enough, but not the monstrosity we all expected (same with The Exorcist, which also lost its UK ban in the same time period), and nothing I really cared about seeing again.

Authentic 70s names: Erin, Andy, Pepper, Morgan, Kemper

Our authentic 70s characters: Erin, Andy, Pepper, Morgan, Kemper

The 2003 over-do remains traceably loyal to the ‘true’ story: A van of five teenagers, on their way back from Mexico and on to see Lynyrd Skynyrd, roll into a nightmare. Stopping to help out a girl walking down the road is the grave error they make, as she wastes little time in putting a pistol in her mouth. They find that summoning help is difficult and the locals seem less than fazed about their dilemma, one which they soon argue about: Leave the body and scram, or wait for help?

From here, the Dead Teenager conventions come into play: Two of the group go to the creepy house nearby where one vanishes, looking for him reveals Leatherface, who gives chase wielding the titular weapon. Toss in the imitation-Sheriff (inimitably played by R. Lee Ermey), who the kids wrongly trust, and they sink deeper into the nightmare.

tcm-house

Before long it’s all down to off-the-marks final girl Erin (Biel), whose luck just keeps getting worse: Everybody she calls on for help is part of the extended family of loons, and she’s soon at their mercy until she manages to escape. From there, it’s abrasive cat and mouse scenes as Leatherface stalks her through the woods, an abandoned shack, eventually to the abattoir.

Whereas the old film pre-dated our understanding of killed-one-by-one plot structure, and is therefore only arguably a slasher film at all, there is no such uncertainty in the remake: We know Erin is going to be the last one standing, we know the others will be laid to waste (it’s just a case of picking the order in which they go), and we hope she’s able to exact a gruesome revenge on her captors.

tcm-van-attack

So everything works on a mechanical level, but the over-stylized look of the film begins to work against it after awhile, and the fact that Wrong Turn had been released just a few months earlier hoovers up much of the ‘originality’ of the ‘re-imagining': Dirt, grime, rednecks who don’t give a shit.

Everything is very dark and earthy, supposedly to give it an authentic look, but at times it goes too far, while it clashes with the youngsters, who aren’t convincingly ’70s kids’ at all, no matter if you deduct cellphones and brand names, the language they use and even their names are too contemporary to wash. Gunnar Hansen – the original Leatherface – pointed out that the film was shot at chest-level to keep Jessica Biel’s bust in the frame as much as possible, not to mention the moments where her white blouse gets very, very wet.

tcm-women

Roger Ebert famously gave this film a rare no-stars, and his reasoning is valid enough, but it’s still a solid remake, not too entrenched in the cynicism which was to come with every other horror title they began stuffing through the machine. It’s just that they ‘re-imagined’ it with too little subtlety, so it’s more of a box-ticking exercise than a grafted horror experience.

Blame it for ushering in the dawn of the remake, but enjoy it for breaking out of the tame, studio-slick horror that was beginning to wane in the wake of Scream.

 *

texas_chainsaw_massacre_the_beginning_xlg

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING

2 Stars 2006/18/92m

“Witness the birth of fear.”

Director: Jonathan Liebesman / Writers: Sheldon Turner & David J. Schow / Cast: Jordana Brewster, Matthew Bomer, Diora Baird, Taylor Handley, R. Lee Ermey, Andrew Bryniarski, Lee Tergesen, Terrence Evans, Marietta Marich, Kathy Lamkin, Cyia Batten, Lew Temple.

Body Count: 10


While I remember going to see this at the movies with my pal Earl, I don’t remember buying the DVD, but there it was on my shelf, possibly unwatched.

As the 2003 film ended the trail of horror left by Leatherface and the Hewitts, the only logical next step to cash-in on its success was to go back… back to “The Beginning”. Ish.

Starting with a very brief 1939-set intro that sees Thomas Hewitt born in a meat-packing factory, while the credits whirr, there are old sepia photos and doctor’s notes about his deformity and within minutes it’s 1969 and Tommy loses his job at the slaughterhouse when it’s closed down as the town dies (economically, it’s not chainsawed to pieces).

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He flips and kills the owner, leading to his clan intervening and ultimately shooting the local Sheriff (“the only law enforcement left”) and taking up cannibalism in the blink of an eye.

Elsewhere, a jeep of two couples heading to Austin where brothers Eric and Dean are going to enlist and be carted off to Vietnam, hurtles towards the Hewitt residence. With their girlfriends in tow for one last weekend of fun, it all goes to shit when they’re accosted by a motorcycling robber, hit a cow at high speed, and crash.

They believe they’re in luck when ‘the Sheriff’ turns up almost immediately, but when he guns down the would-be robber, something seems just a bit more than ‘off’. Eric’s girlfriend, Chrissie, was hurtled into the long grass in the crash and hides while her friends are assaulted and driven away to be tortured and eaten.

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The rest of the film is largely a re-tread (pre-tread?): Chrissie sneaks her way into the house to try and save them, but is too late and eventually ends up caught and invited to dinner, in a scene reminiscent of the 1974 film that was never ‘re-imagined’ into the remake. So samey is it, that she’s chased through the woods to the slaughterhouse for the finale! And, being that we know the Hewitts weren’t caught for a few more years, things don’t look good for anybody surviving this one.

Production values are high, as before, this time with Jonathan Liebesman’s slightly more grounded direction, but whatever appealed to me in 2006 has since gone: Watching the film in 2015 was a pure endurance test. On the one hand it brings nothing new to the table, a few explanations of character attributes aren’t reason enough to make a whole new movie, and it also made contact with, and crossed, my ‘line’.

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My ‘line’ exists where fun entertainment ends and cruelty begins. While the 2003 film wasn’t exactly doing cartwheels of joy, it was exhilarating without being stupidly violent; Here, the film practically revels in demonstrating how gross it is, with peeled off faces, blood rain, chainsaw vivisections… But not an ounce of a good time. A scene in which a dying character says they can no longer feel their limbs and are cold is upsetting, not exhilarating.

Plenty of people will say “well, that’s real horror” etc., but horror is like comedy – we all find different things acceptable or funny. A horror film without the re-equilibrium is just depressing, which is why the first one gets a pass and this doesn’t. There’s no element of mystery or surprise, and rooting for a survivor is futile – The Beginning is just killing for the sake of it.

The film skates over how quickly the family turns from struggling to evil, embracing their newfound cannibalism in what must be no longer than twenty-four hours, and the script makes Ermey the focal point over and above both Leatherface and the tormented teenagers, unable to realise that what made him so good before was moderation. He’s a one-liner away from Freddy Krueger levels of camp at times.

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In the much thinner plus column, Jordana Brewster is a solid heroine, slightly more believable than Jessica Biel was as a child of the time. She has an opportunity to escape without being detected, but is loyal that she goes back to try and save a friend she can hear screaming elsewhere. It’s that pivot scene that tells us a lot about her character – she’s admirably unselfish, regardless of the eventual cost.

A depressing experience in all, although better than the original sequels and the 2013 film, serving only to compound my resistance to this series as a whole: It’s just not very good.

Blurbs-of-interest: Erica Leerhsen was also in Wrong Turn 2 (ha!) and Lonely Joe; Terrence Evans was in The Pumpkin Karver; Diora Baird was in the even worse Stan Helsing; Lee Tergesen was in The Collection; Cyia Batten was in Killer Movie; Andrew Bryniarski was in The Curse of El Charro; Marcus Nispel directed the Friday the 13th remake; Jonathan Liebesman directed Darkness Falls.

In the event of an emergency, run to the nearest carousel

HOUSE OF DEATH

2.5 Stars 1981/18/89m

“He wants their bodies …in pieces.”

A.k.a. Death Screams

Director: David Nelson / Writer: Paul C. Elliott / Cast:  Susan Kiger, Martin Tucker, William T. Hicks, Jennifer Chase, Jody Kay, John Kohler, Andria Savio, Kurt Rector, Josh Gamble, Helene Tryon, Mary Fran Lyman, Hans Manship, Monica Boston, Mike Brown, Sharon Alley.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “If his brains were TNT he couldn’t muster a good fart!”


Beware thy spoilers

This junky, but okay Friday the 13th copy starts as all good slasher films should, with a young couple’s lovemaking interrupted by murder. In this instance, they’re somehow doing it on a motorcycle (!?) when some fiend comes along and, it seems in the dim lighting that plagues this production, strangles both with the same noose, before disposing of their bodies in the river.

The plunge of their corpses into water – in flicky slo-mo – is accompanied with an overwrought score that looks like a cheap attempt at a Bond movie credit sequence. Unlike most scratchy-string slasher scores (try saying that five times), it sounds like a whole orchestra was drafted in to provide music for House of Death.

Cut to Anywheresville, USA, where the locals are enjoying the carnival at the end of summer: Highschool coach Neil is sad to see two of his favourite students about to leave for college, shop girl Lilly is… well, not much really; dumpy Sheriff Avery is keeping law, and the usual gaggle of over-aged actors pretend to be the local teen contingent.

Coach Neil takes a shine to Lilly and asks her on a date, much to the chagrin of some random girl (I called her Headband Girl), who jealously covers his car in shaving foam and then wanders away from the crowds, only to be shot in the back with an arrow. She flees, seemingly running away from the carnival, to a disused carousel. Now, I know the first thing I’d do if wounded in such a way would be to seek out the nearest merry-go-round, so she’s clearly a smart girl. Or not, as once in the ‘safety’ of the carousel, it starts turning and someone is able to asphyxiate her with a plastic bag. She dies in about three seconds. See this former Ridiculous Scene O’ the Month here.

For what seems like weeks, we watch the over-aged teens on rides, on the bouncy castle, ferris wheel, in the funhouse… Eventually they decide tonight is right for an end-of-summer party near the lake. Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s slow son Casey flits about, adhering to Robert Downey Jr’s speech about ‘going full retard’ in Tropic Thunder. Naturally, he is a major suspect. Lilly is cajoled into attending the camp-out, hoping that Neil will also go. What kind of pot-smokin’, pre-marital-sex-having teens invite their teacher?

A touch of equal opportunity objectification: House of Death has it all!

After an hour, one of the group goes skinny dipping and the bodies of the two pre-credits victims (seen throughout the film floating downstream) collide with her, the killing can finally begin. The others, thinking she’s just left, go to the cemetery to tell ghost stories but get rained out, seeking shelter in an abandoned house. THE house. The one from the title. It finally debuts 73 minutes into the 89 minute film.

There are 16 minutes remaining to kill eight characters, subdue the loon, and roll the credits. Get a move on.

Unlike, say, The Final Terror, the killer does at least shift his ass into gear and swiftly does away with most of them, but it becomes a meta slasher flick, what should’ve been spread over at least 45 minutes is crammed into 14: There’s a beheading, a throat slashing, and one guy dies from both hands being chopped off. Last to go is the town slut, Ramona, who falls through a rotten staircase: As the others try to heave her free, she’s cut in half at the waist.

But wait… Wasn’t the killer outside the front door, literally ten seconds earlier? Yes, but House of Death isn’t bothered about such liberties… Hell, the fucking house only just bothered to show up.

With the good kids and Lilly left, the killer bursts forth and we get maybe ten seconds to work out who it is and why they did it. Lots has been made of the bad edit in this scene, and one earlier, which had us believe said character was dead, but on this viewing, I just about heard the name called out before the guy is taken down with a cut throat, tumble through a second storey glass window, and then an exploded head, courtesy of the just-in-time sheriff.

What gives, House of Death? Don’t ask me, and don’t look for answers in either of the available UK DVD releases, both are cut, despite what the boxes say, and both have been placed on the DVD out of order: For instance, rather than the reels going 1, 2, 3, 4, it goes 1, 2, 4, 3. If you’re a smart cookie, you could re-author it on to a new disc, otherwie just buy American.

“…And nobody had a fucking clue what had just happened.”

So it’s under-lit, badly chopped, and the slasher part of it only lasts a few minutes, but House of Death is similar in tone to Final Exam or The Slumber Party Massacre: it’s just pure stalk n’ slash silliness. Had the mystery element been amped up and the editor been a little harsher in the early scenes, it could be a minor cult classic.

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