Tag Archives: gore o’clock

Not quite Star Trek, is it?

texas chainsaw massacre the next generation

TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION

1.5 Stars  1994/18/84m

“Still buzzin’ after all these years.”

A.k.a. Return of the Texas Chainsaw MassacreTexas Chainsaw Massacre 4

Director/Writer: Kim Henkel / Cast: Renee Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey, Robert Jacks, Tonie Perenski, Joe Stevens, Lisa Newmyer, Tyler Cone, John Harrison, James Gale.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “What if we get into a wreck and crash the car and we all died? They could write a song about it.”


Of the main body count franchises, Texas Chainsaw Massacre likely ranks my least favourite, aided to no end by this much despised fourth outing, which was intended by Kim Henkel as the ‘true sequel’ to the 1974 original.

Things start out okay with four high schoolers crashing their car on a back road on the night of their prom and end up as spare meat for a psychotic family who dwell deep in the woods. The clan is led by unhinged truck driver Vilmer (McConaughey) and his trashy girlfriend, Darla, while Leatherface spends most of the film in drag, like a bad cabaret show at a provincial gay bar. I’ve seen a few of these and can attest the likeness.

There are plenty of harks back to the original, which serve only to remind us how much more raw it was, as the junky action clunks along with horrendous continuity problems, and portrayals of psychosis that rival the drag angle in terms of high camp.

The quartet of teens are allotted little in terms of characterisation, bar dowdy final girl Jenny (Zellweger). Both actors ascended to levels of stardom far removed from this low-end flick, which was later recalled by Zellweger as being so cheaply made the actors shared a single trailer that belonged to a member of the crew. However, there’s no escaping your humble beginnings, and the fact that agencies attempted to sue the production company for reissuing this with the stars as the focus probably only brought more attention to it in the long run. Though without their subsequent good fortune, would it be remembered at all?

Written Off

the letters of death 2006

THE LETTERS OF DEATH

3 Stars  2006/89m

Director: Kapol Thongplab / Writer: ?? / Cast: Mahasamut Boonyarak, Chollada Makratal, Andy Khemplmook, Nahatal Lekbumrung, Anna Ris, Triphon Phromsuwan, Hassapol Kongslb, Boontawat Lorkearujee.

Body Count: 13


Earlier this year I did a thing about the many rip-offs of Final Destination, which garnered quite a few suggestions of films I was unaware of, including this fun Thai export, which crosses the weird accident formula of the FD series with touches of The Ring and those annoying chain letters we all received at some point during the 1980s.

Things kick off with a superb shock that I won’t give away, but American movies could learn a lot from the ejector-seat jolt and the fact that it comes out of nowhere, rather than being ruined by music or is one of those entirely fake ‘innocent person puts their hand on shoulder’ gags. Anyway, young people are dying at an alarming rate, and a group of old school friends meet when one of their buddies takes a tumble over a balcony and, in a make-sure-the-job-is-done-right moment, then hit on the head by a flowerpot.

They discover that each of them has received a letter with a hangman puzzle on it, telling them to send it on to 29 other people within a certain time frame. Unfortunately the subtitles didn’t offer the courtesy of translating the content of the letter, but this was the crux of it: Send the letter to 29 others, try to solve the hangman riddle, or die.

the letters of death 2006

As usual, most of them ignore the threat, so it’s down to nice guy underachiever Seri and awkward-girl-turned-beautiful adult Nattaya to put the pieces together. They soon discover an order to the deaths, too late to save one guy being hauled upside a crane into rebar, or another being blindsided by a flying saw blade… Some even choose suicide as a means to beat the game.

Intermittently, we’re treated to flashbacks of the group’s year in primary school, where bullied outsider Wan was tripped and took a lethal tumble down some concrete steps and never came back to school. Could he be the one who’s sending the letters? Suri, Nattaya, and chief bully Pruek poke their noses in, trying to find out what happened to Wan and where he is now. Pruek is injured in a car accident and ends up being cut in two by broken glass when Wan appears as a hallucination at the hospital and sends him running only to slip on a freshly mopped floor!

With numbers dwindling down to the last four – curiously the endangered females are last on the list, I wasn’t sure if this was to do with the class numbering system mentioned or that only the boys bullied Wan? – Suri and Nattaya travel to find their old teacher to see if he can remember Wan’s real name, which is the key to the hangman puzzle. Meanwhile, a girl drowns in a bath for unclear reasons, and another is caught in a tumbling elevator.

the letters of death 2006

The Letters of Death is a good diversion from the usual hack-n-slash opus, liberally taking cues from Final Destination left, right, and centre, but doesn’t quite pack the creativity to back up its demises: Victims are either just stupid or the offending items that kill them just break for no reason. Asian horror movies lean heavily on the mystic, so Wan is quite possibly pulling the strings from beyond. Either way, it’s not clear enough to underscore itself with a line of credibility. That said, there’s a good last-minute revelation that would see a few sequels in the canon were it successful enough. Twelve years on and nothing has come up, so I’m guessing it wasn’t.

Dinner and a movie?

wrong turn 2 dead end 2007

WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END

3 Stars  2007/18/93m

“Evil awaits.”

Director: Joe Lynch / Writers: Turi Meyer & Al Septien / Cast: Erica Leerhsen, Henry Rollins, Texas Battle, Aleksa Palladino, Daniella Alonso, Steve Braun, Matthew Currie Holmes, Crystal Lowe, Kimberly Caldwell, Wayne Robson, Ken Kirzinger, Ashlea Earl, Clint Carleton, Rorelee Tio.

Body Count: 14


A slightly overrated flick for a change, Wrong Turn 2 came courtesy of Adam Green’s buddy Joe Lynch, who throws virtually everything at his project, going OTT on the back of the straight-faced 2003 original, which pit city kids against a trio of backwoods in-breds, marrying together the best attributes of Just Before Dawn and Deliverance with a dash of post-Scream sensibility, without going too far down the ha-ha track.

Cashing on the then-zeitgeist of reality TV horror, WT2 centers around a survival show named Ultimate Survivor: Apocalypse, presented by retired marine Rollins, which sends six aesthetically pleasing youngsters into the woods to fend for themselves against production-created tasks and the like. However, they run afoul of the extended family of the cannibals from last time, including Ma, Pa, several kids – all deformed in even whackier ways than the trifecta of loonies from the first movie.

wrong turn 2 dead end 2007 henry rollins

Masses of drippy gore, a vegan being force-fed minced-person, T&A, 80s-style macho posturing, mutant incest, a backwoods birth, a meat grinder you could drive a truck through – it’s easy to see why gore fans had a lot to shout about. Elsewhere, the film toys with expectations, setting up an obvious final girl, only to kill her early on and nominate a far more rough-cut character as a proxy. Rollins owns the entire flick as the hard on the outside, soft-centered presenter, who learns early on of the threat and goes all Platoon as the situation worsens.

Lynch’s leanings towards Evil Dead-style if-it-moves-throw-a-bucket-of-blood-over-it splatstick isn’t usually my kind of thing, and Wrong Turn isn’t a series I can really get that enthusiastic about (original excepted), but if you catch this during a couple of hours where you haven’t recently, or don’t plan on imminently eating anything, it’s good for some sticky laughs.

wrong turn 2 dead end 2007 erica leehrsen

Blurbs-of-interest: Erica Leehrsen was previously in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and Lonely Joe; Daniella Alonso was in The Collector; Texas Battle and Crystal Lowe were both in Final Destination 3, and she was also in the Black Christmas remake and Children of the Corn: Revelation; Ken Kirzinger played Jason in Freddy vs Jason and played Mason in Stan Helsing.

Dog’s Dinner

madhouse 1981

MADHOUSE

2 Stars  1981/18/90m

“Julia thinks she lives alone… She doesn’t.”

A.k.a. And When She Was Bad; Flesh and the Beast; There was a Little Girl

Director/Writer: Ovidio G. Assonitis / Writers: Stephen Blakley, Peter Shepherd, Robert Gandus / Cast: Trish Everly, Michael MacRae, Dennis Robertson, Morgan Hart, Allison Biggers, Edith Ivey.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “It’s not the dead that scare me… it’s the living.”


A particularly vicious Italian-American co-production; Director Assonitis, who had previously ripped off Jaws with the endearingly naff Tentacles a few year earlier, now turns his attentions to the slasher surge with this Halloween/Psycho combo, which is certainly gutsier than many of its contemporaries, even throwing a deaf child on the heap of bodies.

Julia is a teacher for deaf children, and goes to visit her mentally ill twin sister, Mary, for the first time in seven years, as their birthday approaches. Upon finding that Mary is deformed due to an unspecified illness, Julia flees and later learns sister dearest has escaped and, with the assistance of a well-trained Rottweiler, is doing away with anybody who enters Julia’s life. Hiding away in the rooms of the empty boardinghouse Julia shares with her hippie landlady, Mary may not be the only one with questionable intentions when it comes to Julia’s wellbeing.

Things start off well in this good looking film, but as it goes it becomes annoying and by the finale it’s gotten so ridiculous with a sub-Happy Birthday to Me party-of-the-dead climax, you’ll be considering checking yourself into rehab to recover. Assonitis delivers the goods on a visual level: It’s gruesome with realistic looking dog-maulings, but is probably best saved for a drinking game movie night.

 

To Sir With Blood

bloody reunion

BLOODY REUNION

2.5 Stars  2006/93m

“Class dismissed.”

A.k.a. To Sir With Love

Director: Dae-wung Lim / Writer: Se-yeol Park / Cast: Yeong-hie Seo, Mi-hee Oh, Seong-won Jang, Dong-kyu Lee, Ji-hyeon Lee, Hyo-jun Park, Seol-ah Yu, Hyeon-Soo Yeo.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “Just go if you need to shit.”


South Korea has given us a few decent slasher films over the last few years: NightmareRecord, the awesome Death Bell and its sequel. Bloody Reunion sits nicely in the group, the title giving away much that you need to know in terms of plot. Mild spoilers follow.

A group of young adults gather at the home of their elementary school teacher, Mrs Park, whose poor health indicates this might be the last time they get to see her. The reunion has been organised by nice girl Mi-ja, who serves as a sort of live-in assistant to the woman, and the attendees include the usual types: the funny guy, the moody biker type, engaged but seemingly miserable couple, a girl who permanently keeps her shades on and talks about how good she looks these days.

Through intermittent flashbacks, we learn that Mrs Park gave birth to a deformed son who was locked in her basement after her husband, unable to deal with the child’s looks, hanged himself. It also transpires that, despite attending the party, none of the students actually really liked Mrs Park, and each recall her nastiness towards them, be it rejecting her ‘Teacher’s Day’ gifts, highlighting they were from a poor family, or mocking them for crapping themself in class.

bloody reunion 2006

Arguments ensue, weird scenes unfold, a bunny-masked loon begins stalking them with a box-cutter, making one guy swallow razor blades and stapling a girl’s eyelids (open or shut, I can’t remember). Everyone suspects fellow aide of Mrs Park, Jung-won, who was the only member of the group nice to her absent son. Hmm…

Bloody Reunion tosses us a curveball at the end, which makes things certainly more interesting, but a bit confusing in a sub-Haute Tension manner: Did that person even exist? Did any of this happen? Huh? Don’t expect all your questions to have been answered. And don’t eat the cake.

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