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Equal opportunity objectification

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FRAT HOUSE MASSACRE

3 Stars  2008/116m

“Rush week at this college just got a lot more dangerous…”

Director/Writer: Alex Pucci / Writer: Draven Gonzalez / Cast: Jon Fleming, Rane Jameson, Niki Notarile, Chris Prangley, Lisa DiCicco, Andrew Giordano, Michael Galante, Ryan Ross, Adam Simon, Georgia Gladden, Bethany Taylor, Jim Ford.

Body Count: 28 (give or take)


This head-scratchingly odd indie film comes from the makers of Camp Daze. No, hey, don’t go – it’s nowhere near that bad!

Beginning in that wonderful year of my birth – 1978 – newly graduated high-schooler Bobby goes off to party with friends, only to end up in a coma after a car accident. His big bro, Sean, returns to college, where his Delta Iota Espilon (DIE, naturally) fraternity brothers take hazing new pledges to the extremes – they kill them.

Why? It’s never really addressed, it just is. But it begs the question: How do they replenish their numbers? The head of this sadistic snake is frat president Mark (Kerr Smith-a-like Fleming), who takes great pleasure in getting desperate freshmen to blow their own brains out or cut their own throats. Bodies are later devoured by pigs at a nearby farm.

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Sean’s guilt over his brother leads him to try and leave the frat, only to be murdered by his ‘brothers’. At the same time, Bobby awakes from his coma and, come the fall of 1979, goes off to the same college – revenge being the class he most looks forward to.

More dumb pledges are killed, Bobby gets angrier. And soon, members of the fraternity and some girlfriends begin dying ahead of a big disco party, which, we know, will see the killer go for gold.

While it all sounds run of the mill, like Camp DazeFrat House Massacre doesn’t exactly shy away from its homoerotic undertones: There’s T&A as usual, but also some frontal male nudity, lots of ass, and no shortage of hard bodied young men in nothing but tighty-whities. That said, nothing ‘gay’ happens in the film. The frat boys are a bunch of nasty misogynists, but scenes where one of them masturbates from the door whilst watching a couple have sex, and the so-close-they-might-kiss whispers in the ears Mark does to the pledges… It dances along the line, never crossing it, but flirting with the idea. Possibly an allegory for the American fraternity experience? Who knows, we don’t have them in Europe.

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The late-70s setting works well, not too far off the achievements of The House of the Devil in terms of look and feel, with all the clothing, disco tunes (courtesy of Claude Simonetti, no less), cars, and ornaments you could imagine. The only flaw is hair. Everyone’s hair gives them away as being ‘of the now’ (and Fleming’s eyebrows come to think of it).

Brutal and bloody, way too long (though I read there is a sub-100 minute cut), and confusing come the end with it’s supernatural plot device, but revenge is most certainly served, and the identity of the killer is not quite as cut n’ dried as predicted.

Blurbs-of-interest: Fleming and Taylor were both in Camp Daze; Jim Ford was in Knock Knock.

Final Face-Off: Final Nightmare vs Final Friday

Happy Star Wars day! But let’s turn our attention to a couple of less boring franchises…

jayfred-2.0Before Freddy vs Jason, New Line had officially killed both of their bad guys off in a pair of, at best, divisive ‘final’ instalments…

Disappointing box office returns for both of the 1989 sequels (Jason Takes Manhattan and The Dream Child – $14 and $22million respectively) were the writing on the wall for cinemas biggest slasher names (Michael Myers was faring even less well at the time) and so New Line purchased the rights on Jason from Paramount and decided to lay both to rest over a couple of years.

Goodbye 80s, hello 90s: Nobody wanted a masked maniac or a quippy dream stalker on the screen anymore. Well, not for a few years anyway.

First on the chopping block was Freddy. It’s worth noting that the film was released in the UK in early 1992, a matter of weeks after Queen frontman Freddy Mercury died, so his passing was unfortunately paired with a string of TV commercials bellowing “Freddy’s dead!”

FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE

2.5 Stars 1991/18/85m

“They saved the best for last.”

A.k.a. A Nightmare on Elm Street 6

Director: Rachel Talalay / Writer: Michael De Luca / Cast: Robert Englund, Lisa Zane, Lezlie Deane, Yaphet Kotto, Shon Greenblatt, Breckin Meyer, Ricky Dean Logan.

Body Count: 5


Ten years after the events of The Dream Child, Springwood is a childless burg after the relentless spate of weird deaths and ‘suicides’. Only one teenager remains, and he’s being tormented in his sleep by dreams of Freddy Krueger, who seems just a little reluctant to seal the deal and slay him.

Said teen wakes up beyond the city limits and is picked up by cops and dumped at a city juvie hall where in-house shrink-cum-social worker Maggie (Zane) works. New teen has amnesia, no I.D., and is sleep deprived. From the contents of his pockets, Maggie thinks it’s a good idea to drive him back to Springwood to jog the olde memory. It’s not a good idea at all, Maggie. It’s a bad idea.

With three juvie hall stowaways onboard, the group soon find out how weird Springwood is: Roseanne and Tom Arnold live there! Everyone else has gone loopy, there’s not a child or teenager in sight, and before long, the group are being stalked and done in by Freddy, who hitches a ride in Maggie’s subconscious (or some other unexplained shit) to escape the town where he can stalk and kill anew. ‘Inventive’ demises include a deaf kid’s head blown up when Freddy tinkers with his hearing aid and makes a lotta noise, and another is sucked into a Nintendo.

How does he do this? Well, Maggie is his daughter! Gasp! This alleged twist can be seen coming miles off, as John Doe soon suspects he is Krueger Jr., but no sooner than Maggie is introduced are her issues and ‘dreams’ are brought up. It’s pretty damn obvious it’s going to be her.

Anyway, with this knowledge, she is able to enter Freddy’s head – in 3D! –  pull him out like Nancy did all those years ago, and finish him off. Freddy is dead.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey…

*

JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY

3 Stars 1993/18/87m

“Evil has finally found a home.”

A.k.a. Friday the 13th Part IX

Director/Writer: Adam Marcus / Writers: Jay Hugeley & Dean Lorey / Cast: John D. LeMay, Kari Keegan, Steven Williams, Steven Culp, Erin Gray, Kane Hodder, Allison Smith, Billy Green Bush, Kipp Marcus, Rusty Schwimmer, Richard Gant, Leslie Jordan, Julie Michaels.

Body Count: approx 23

Laughter Lines:  “Looking to smoke some dope, have a little pre-marital sex and get slaughtered?”


A SWAT team take out Jason Voorhees, blowing him into numerous pieces. However, during the postmortem examination of his remains, his still-beating heart possesses the coroner, who takes a big bite out of it and becomes a vessel for Jason to use. Death for almost everyone else follows.

Meanwhile, Crystal Lake is celebrating the demise of their most notable resident, although news of the murders at the morgue and several others on a trail back to town worries local waitress Diana, who turns out to be Jason’s lil sister. Her daughter, Jessica, and infant granddaughter, are due to visit soon, but Diana fears the worst and contacts the baby’s oblivious father, Steven, to tell him all.

Sadly for Diana, “Jason” gets to her first, now bodyhopping at will. Steven is found with blood on his hands and arrested for the murder. In jail, he meets bounty hunter and Voorhees-expert Creighton Duke, who tells him that Jason can only be stopped by one of his bloodline and needs said family member to regain his usual form. Save Jessica and the baby, save the world. Well, Crystal Lake anyway.

Jason hops into the body of Jessica’s TV anchor boyfriend, killing half the cops in town, rampaging through a restaurant, before switching again for the big confrontation at the Voorhees house. Needless to say, Jessica is successful in killing her uncle and he is sucked into hell for good.

* * *

Both films are objectively bad, more so within their respective franchises. One the one hand, Freddy is presented in an even more watered down, high-comedy, low-scare way, with more jokes than kills, some cringey quips, and a whole lotta scattergun efforts to pad out his swan song.

Jason’s treatment is a severe retconning of what began as a B-movie about an axe murderer, now there’s not only the body-jumping mini-demon, but all manner of lore, magical daggers, and a sub-Evil Dead How to Kill Jason book in the mix. It’s barely a Friday the 13th film at all.

Next to one another – and I watched both over two days – Jason’s adventure is that tiny bit more enjoyable, BUT solely down to a couple of very good scenes, the rest is an undeniable suckfest. Freddy, on the other hand, has a good first ten or twenty minutes and some interesting origin tale stuff (undermined by the dismal 3D dream creature things), but it all seems so forced in. And at least The Final Friday doesn’t shy away from pushing it’s R-rating to the hilt, although some of it is too gooey.

Peter Jackson wrote one of the many scripts considered for The Final Nightmare, but the production team steered away from darker themes – possibly having been stung with their ill-conceived attempt to make The Dream Child a back-to-basics affair – and opt for a lighter route, which resulted in a very dry, low-body count film, where the chintzy 3D final ten minutes or so were pushed heavily in the TV spots, but ultimately are inconsequential and cheap looking. Freddy had ceased being scary after Dream Warriors, as his series outperformed the competition in bounds, but the bizarrely adopted concept of an undead child molester and killer had just become too big for its boots and no power in heaven or earth would ever make it scary again.

The film has a few cameos: Johnny Depp appears on TV frying an egg, and Alice Cooper is drafted in as Fred’s foster-dad. Breckin Meyer also marked his big screen debut here, and possibly regrets it. But if you’re going to end a film with a Greatest Hits compilation of highlights from the previous instalments, it’s going to make said movie look rubbish in comparison.

The Final Friday was shot in 1992 and shelved for almost a year, originally clocked in at two-and-a-half hours, and didn’t feature the best scene: This is, of course, the teen-campers aside. Test audiences complained there were no teenagers, so the genial little sidebar tale of two girls and a boy camping at Crystal Lake was added. All three are summarily slashed up (see this earlier Icky Way to Go), but it – as well as the opening seven or eight minutes – really recaptures the stalk n’ slash ambience of the 80s movies. After that, it’s downhill fast, although during this re-watch, I noticed the subtle (and not so) homoerotic nuances lurking beneath a few scenes; Adam Marcus allegedly ‘made up’ for the girls-only nudity rule of the previous eight movies with more naked guys and the very obscure shaving scene. Maybe Jason is gay?

jgth-1.2Of course, both characters were revived to duke it out ten years later in the phenomenally successful Freddy vs Jason, mercifully putting this pair of duds in the shadows, and both have since seen remakes that all but halted the franchises again.

I wouldn’t choose to watch either of these, and probably won’t for another decade or so, by which time I hope both will have seen at least one new film each.

Blurbs-of-interest: Beyond his Krueger role, Robert Englund was also in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie VernonHatchetHeartstopperThe Phantom of the Opera, and Urban Legend; Breckin Meyer was in Stag Night; Kane Hodder played Jason in Parts VIIX and was also in Behind the MaskChildren of the Corn V, all three Hatchet movies, and Hack!; Leslie Jordan was in Madhouse; Steven Culp had a cameo in Scream Queens; Adam Marcus later co-wrote Texas Chainsaw 3D.


Before Wolf Creek, there was…

HOUSEBOAT HORROR

1 Stars  1989/79m

“Something is about to happen on Lake Infinity.”

Directors: Kendall Flannigan & Ollie Martin / Writer: Ollie Martin / Cast: Alan Dale, Christine Jeston, Craig Alexander, Des ‘Animal’ McKenna, Gavin Wood, John Michael Howson, Louise Siversen, Peppie D’or, Steve Whittacker, Julia Tompson.

Body Count: 13

Laughter Lines: “You watch it – or I’ll kick you where your mother never kissed you!”


Back in 1989, Britain was in the midst of its obsession with Australian soap operas: Neighbours was at the top of the tree, while Home & Away perched a few branches below. I preferred Sons & Daughters - so many Mafia-like plots within a small cast, poisonous snakes in the safe, shark attacks… it had it all.

Thus, when sitting down with Houseboat Horror recently, that nostalgic era of Scott and Charlene, Helen Daniels, Madge and Harold, Bouncer the dog, and Ramsay Street – surely built on crossing Ley Lines for all its bad luck – came a-floodin’ back. So much so as Alan Dale, who played Jim Robinson in Neighbours for years, was somehow roped into appearing in the floating turd that is this movie. Ants may elect to make a houseboat out of said turd and the cycle begineth again.

A crappy rock n’ roll band and a film crew head out to Lake Infinity to shoot a music video. Naturally, the lake was the scene of a tragic fire (or some murders, I’ve already forgotten) X-years earlier. A newspaper tells us a child was horrifically burned. See where the course has been set? So laboured is this point, that early on when the group stops at a gas station, one of the attendants turns to the other and says: “Brings back memories over those movie killings a few years back…” and the world’s most obvious this-sounds-creepy synthesiser note is struck.

The group hire three ugly-ass houseboats and, after a day of fooling about with the really shitty band, are stalked and slain by a shadowy chap who lurks in the trees a lot. People are sliced with his machete, axed in the head, shot with spearguns, and even killed by a horseshoe in the eyes.

There’s very little more to say about Houseboat Horror. It’s cheap, it’s brimming with Aussie sayings of yore (people referred to as ‘dags’ who might’ve ‘shot through’) and it’s dated by an appearance of the world’s largest cell phone, which Alan Dale says into: “The two-way doesn’t work so if you want to talk to me you’ll have to do it on this walkabout phone thing.”

Some gory dispatchments and the mild distraction of different accents and vernacular highlight an otherwise awful vessel (ho ho ho) before it sinks under its own weight of crap.

Blurb-of-interest: John Michael Howson was in the 1980 Aussie horror Stage Fright.

Icky ways to go: Chain reaction

This month, our Icky Way to Go comes courtesy of almost-good movie Chain Letter, which is ironically about email. Anyhoo, in this particularly gruesome scene, the obligatory hot jock guy gets violently done in by the killer, ‘Chain Man’ (Jesus wept…) who uses Chains on those who fail to forward the Chain letter email. Chain, chain, chain.

After being hoisted up by chains in some sub-S&M game, hot jock’s tendons are slashed so he can’t run away, and yet more chains are used to sort of grind down his ocular and jaw regions. Ouch. Hot jock no more.


Right direction

WRONG TURN VI: LAST RESORT

3 Stars  2014/18/91m

Director: Valeri Milev / Writer: Frank H. Woodward / Cast: Anthony Ilott, Aqueela Zoll, Chris Jarvis, Sadie Katz, Billy Ashworth, Rollo Skinner, Roxanne Pallett, Joe Gaminara, Harry Belcher, Radoslav Parvanov, Danko Yordanov, Asen Asenov.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “Don’t you fret, lover, you’ll be in me one way or another.”


THREE STARS!? I know, right, but first, this:

Disclaimer: I was out sick the day I watched Wrong Turn VI, it’s plausible I was delirious.

The Wrong Turn franchise has become a de facto crown-snatcher of Friday the 13th: a sequel every one or two years, semi-naked teenagers, deformed backwoods killers stalking them… And, like Jason’s canon, the sixth movie here sees an improvement over the last few.

This could be due to long-time helmer Declan O’Brien stepping aside, but gone are the plywood sets and (most of) the juvenile humor that polluted Wrong Turn 5, replaced with richer production values and reducing the screentime allotted to the trio of cannibals. They’ve even changed to Roman numerals (on the film, if not the box), so perhaps they’re trying to claw back a little class?

Well, no. This is still very much a Wrong Turn flick. Again, shot in Bulgaria, and still set before the events of the 2003 original. At this rate prequels will outnumber sequels. Seven New Yorkers drive out to Virginia after failed Wall Street broker Danny (Ilott) discovers he has inherited a spa hotel, Hobb Springs, presently run by tactile brother and sister Jackson and Sally.

Danny soon becomes embroiled in their chatter about ancestry, roots, family blah blah blah, while his friends grimace at the rundown surroundings and are eventually killed off by Three Finger, Saw Tooth, and One Eye, all of whom look more like trick or treaters in dollar store Halloween masks. Elsewhere, the usual excesses of female only nudity (a fat guy’s ass does NOT count), grisly demises, and a predictable finale, are present and correct.

Moving with slightly less frenetic energy to get to the bloodletting and some gusto in nominal heroine Zoll, Last Resort at least appears to be trying something new, but how long can it go on?

  • When is this film set?
  • Where did Doug Bradley go?
  • What the fuck is all the cloaky Druid shit about???

The series might well write itself into a corner before too long, look how they had to pull the plug on Halloween as it descended down that Thorn/Druid corridor. Still, it’s better acted and more engaging than all of the installments since Dead End, which at least holds some hope out that the inevitable Wrong Turn VII might not completely suck either…

Seems since it’s release the film has gotten into a bit of bother by featuring a genuine missing persons picture of somebody who later turned up dead in Ireland!? Expect a re-cut and re-release down the line.

Blurb-of-interest: Parvanov was in Wrong Turn 4 as one of the other inbreds.

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