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Regress

SPRING BREAK MASSACRE

1 Stars  2008/77m

“Party till you drop DEAD.”

Director: Rex Kramer [Michael A. Hoffman] / Writers: Meghan Jones & Michael A. Hoffman / Cast: Reggie Bannister, Sarah Minnich, Joh Shumski, Leanne Vanmaulle, Erin Meyers, Ally Hartman, Renee Darmiento, Toni Buena, Rick Federman, Jeff Pride, Jeff Hayden, Christian Anderson, Linnea Quigley, Bob Farster, Curtis Taylor.

Body Count: 16

Laughter Lines: “I’ve seen enough of these slumber party slasher flicks to know what’s going on.”


Three teens at the world’s most boring party decide to play with a Ouija board while they do shots. When the girl demands the two chaps leave, she gets her throat slashed and the murder is blamed on the pizza delivery guy who stumbles in and finds the body.

Ten years later (not nine, not eleven) the usual denomination of mid-western college kids throw a slumber party. Boyfriends attempt to crash. Tits. Girl-on-girl rubbish. Horny neighbour who keeps turning up at the door. Eventually, death for the majority of them. Who is it? Who cares? Certainly not the writers.

Pitched as an homage to the Slumber Party & Sorority House Massacre franchises, the DVD cover is about as close as it gets. The rest is a no-budget dullard of a product, with characters so stupid and vacuous there’s zero sympathy for their plight, something at least most of those older films could lay claim to.

Yeah OK, it was shot with one camera over about a week, but c’mon, it’s time that girls in slasher flicks were at least as capable as their real life counterparts. Has Scream been entirely forgotten? These ARE the stupid girls Sidney Prescott refers to in her anti-slasher film rant. Boys, of course, remain clothed where it counts and are afforded largely off-camera demises.

Bannister and Quigley muddle through largely unscathed and the final girl acts quite well, but everybody else blurs into a mass of amateur-night forgettableness. A kind-of sequel, Girls Gone Dead, followed in 2012. I won’t be bothering.

Blurbs-of-interest: Bannister was also in Bloody Bloody Bible Camp; low-end horror icon Linnea Quigley can be found in Graduation Day, Silent Night Deadly Night, Fatal GamesKolobos, and Jack-O.

Children of the railroad crossing

FINGERPRINTS

3.5 Stars 2006/18/92m

“Even the dead leave them.”

Director: Harry Basil / Writers: Brian Cleveland & Jason Cleveland / Cast:  Leah Pipes, Kristin Cavallari, Josh Henderson, Andrew Lawrence, Lou Diamond Phillips, Sally Kirkland, Geoffrey Lewis, Sydnee Harlan, Ashley Wyatt, Ginger Gilmartin, Darryl Cox.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines:  “A hair test is the only way to be sure that you’re drug free!”


In the small town on Emerald, Texas, in March 1957, a school bus is hit by a train at a level crossing, killing all onboard. In the years that follow, an urban legend is developed that states if you park on the tracks with the car in neutral, the ghosts of the dead children will push you to safety, leaving tiny handprints behind.

This is naturally laughed off by newcomer Melanie (Leah Pipes, pre-Sorority Row), when her sister Crystal (Cavallari) drives her to their new hometown after a stint in rehab. Her nasty mom doesn’t trust her with anything, but Crystal introduces her to the local high school rabble, one of whom decides to put the local legend to the test, nearly killing a car load of them in the process. At the last second, Mel sees a young girl (one we saw killed at the start) stood on the tracks. Twilight Zone music please.

As she tries to settle in as the new girl, battling her overbearing mother, high school bitches, and frickin’ Lou Diamond Phillips for a guidance counsellor, a couple of horny classmates get themselves skewered by a shadowy killer dressed as a railway conductor.

Mel finds herself haunted by the little girl, who clearly wants help, Sixth Sense-style. When she confides in Lou Diamond Phillips, he tells Mom, who of course goes off the deep end, even more so when the cops suspect Mel in the disappearances of the horny classmates: “You are going to your room for the rest of your life!”

Slowly, some people come around the accepting the legend is real – although its origins, it seems, have been completely made up and Fingerprints ventures down a path not too dissimilar to Elm Street, with mob-vengeance, vital information hidden from the next generation, and cover-ups. Melanie is thrown into the centre when the conductor kidnaps Crystal; finds out the truth and unmasks the lunatic. Happy days.

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The plot sounds overwrought and perhaps it is. Fingerprints is only a slasher film in the secondary sense, first and foremost it’s a tame ghost story, the gruesome slayings are a bit of an afterthought. Without them though, there’d be less motivation for the final girl to act, and it would simply be a fattened-up episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Good production unities, the Krueger-lite revelations, and eventual identity of the killer (plus their rather awesome flip out) more than make up for a bit of a slow start. It won’t please gorehounds by any means, but there’s a decent little flick here.

Blurbs-of-interest: Sally Kirkland was in Fatal Games way back in the 80s, and also Jack the Reaper; Josh Henderson was in the dreadful April Fool’s Day remake; Geoffrey Lewis was in Out of the Dark.

The Hollywood Hills Have Eyes

HOLLYWOOD’S NEW BLOOD

1.5 Stars  1989/77m

“Where acting dead can be fatal.”

Director/Writer: James Shyman / Cast: Bobby Johnson, Francine Lapensee, Joe Balogh, Martie Allyne, Al Valletta, Lynne Pirtle, Ken Denny, Kent Abrams, Allen Francis, George Spellman, Donna Lynn.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “Memories don’t die as easy as people.”


Marginally less of an endurance test than The Last Slumber Party, still Hollywood’s New Blood, at a meagre 77 minutes (10 of which are credits and an unwanted recap of the ‘best bits’), feels longer than a Star Wars marathon.

Young folks at an ‘acting seminar’ at the woods by Storm Lake, outside of L.A. (looking suspiciously like Griffith Park) are set upon by a trio of brothers, thought to have burned to death in an accident years earlier. They’re pissed and they hate actors.

Firstly, the great irony of Hollywood’s New Blood is that these people are attending an acting class, yet unaware of the genre they’re in. At one point, a guy finds the body of his pal tied to a tree and just grunts like he missed a pin at bowling, then stumbles across two more slain corpses and strides off without so much as a shrug.

Mucho wandering around the same small patch of trees under the same shot of a full moon or the same exterior shot of the cabin they were all in… This is the type of movie where people can’t see a shady figure who’s standing two feet away.

The villains, on the other hand, look like a cross between the greasy family from Pete’s Dragon or extras from The Fog, who’ve accidentally stumbled on to the wrong set.

Small points are earned for mullets, death-by-skull (!) and the earlier amazing moment where one of the characters finds said skull and takes it for a little show and tell: “This is no animal – these bones are human.” No shit. It’s a motherfucking SKULL.

You can at least have a good chuckle watching Hollywood’s New Blood, suffering through the dreadful title song that goes over the Greatest Hits compendium after the actual 67 minute film has ended, which is more than can be said for some other examples from the era.

Blurb-of-interest: Joe Balogh was in MoonStalker.

Die mittelmäßigen film

SCHOOL’S OUT

2.5 Stars  1999/94m

“This class is dying to graduate.”

Director: Robert Sigl / Writer: Kal Meyer / Cast: Katharina Wackernagel, Niels Bruno Schmidt, Marlene Meyer-Dunker, Nils Nellessen, Rita Lengyel, Urs Remond, Sandra Leonhard, Enie van de Maiglockjes, Raphael Vogt.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “Wine in a plastic class is like a blowjob with a condom.”


The native title of this German made-for-TV stalker flick translates as Scream! For I Will Kill You!, which clues us in on where many of its ideas came from.

At their high school graduation party, a quintet of teen friends concoct some spider-themed pranks for their teachers as a sort of final goodbye treat for themselves. Nina and Tom are having relationship troubles; Anne is worried she may have contracted AIDS, and Philip and Eva just want to party! But what happened to Jessica? Why didn’t she ever turn up? Could it have something to do with the escape of a psychopathic killer from an institution eleven years after he stabbed several women with a huge pair of scissors… Scissors very similar to the pair Eva bought along with her to aid the group’s prank setup?

Before long, the kids are being stalked and skewered by a masked maniac in a harlequin costume, replete with requisite snippers. The first hour of this slickly pieced-together number is involving and nostalgic for early 80s campus slashers. However, once good-girl Nina is safe and sound in the arms of her detective uncle, the wheels begin to work loose as she and fellow survivor Philip try to suss out what really happened, a curiosity which takes them back to school and forces them into a deadly confrontation.

While its TV origins may be responsible for the tame quotient of grue, School’s Out is still better than many American features that have gotten wider international exposure, making it a worth a look for genre masochists.

Followed by a sequel: Dead Island: School’s Out 2.

Dream a subtitled dream

NIGHTMARE

3 Stars  2000/98m

A.k.a. Horror Game Movie; Scissors; Gawi

Director/Writer: Byeong-ki Ahn / Cast: Gyu-ri Kim, Ji-won Ha, Jeong-yun Choi, Jun-Sang Yu, Ji-tae Yu, Hye-yeong Ju, Jun-Jeong.

Body Count: 6


About the 500th Ring-inspired horror film to come from the East, but fused with slasher movie rules and a story very similar to the same country’s/same year’s Record, concerning a clique of young friends with a dreadful secret that literally comes back to haunt them.

The first forty minutes’ groundwork builds the story, concerning the suicide of Kyung-ah, an introvert member of the gang, who was revealed to be the legendary jinxed child of a small town where a couple of the friends used to live, and where rotten luck befell everyone around the girl.

When her best friend – understandably upset at the betrayal – asks her to keep out of her life, Kyung-ah throws herself from the top of a building and dies… or does she? Two years down the line, guilty-party Sun-ae, who revealed the truth in the first place, returns from a stint in a US institution, believing that Kyung-ah is haunting her and looking for revenge on the group. Meanwhile, sweet natured heroine Hye-jin recurrently encounters the child-ghost of her old friend, and the ancillary members of the group begin dying in strange ways.

While the plot is certainly competent and more imaginative than Record, it sometimes becomes confusing as to what era we’re in and, once the eventual truth surrounding Kyung-ah’s death is revealed, regurgitates several questions and highlights the liberties taken by writer/director Ahn.

The spooky twist ending also requires a vast suspension of belief and mirrors the ends of contemporary J-Horror successes such as The Grudge and Phone. Now if we could only marry the visual atmosphere created here with the ‘classic’ American genre rules, that would be the stuff dreams are made of.

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