Tag Archives: gore o’clock

“Sometimes we’ve got to cut ourselves just to make sure we still bleed.”

carverCARVER

3 Stars  2008/98m

“Life imitating art, art imitating death.”

Director/Writer: Franklin Guerrero Jr. / Cast: Neil Kubath, Matt Carmody, Ursula Taherian, Jonathan Rockett, Kristyn Green, David G. Holland, Erik Fones, Luke Vitale, Natasha Malinsky.

Body Count: 13


Isn’t it funny how psychos have such unique names. This is questioned in Dark Ride, indeed why is it always Jeremiah, Elias, or Isaac? And if your surname happens to be Slaughter, Gore, Knifey, Cutty, or Carver then it appears you can skip that career aptitude normalizing test (Ms Hoover: “…or cant.”)

“Yay,” it’s another Hostelian torture porn flick with shades of the Texas Chainsaw remakes, which would have you believe that it’s based on true events, this time concerning a quartet of twenty-somethings who swanned off camping, never to return…

Brothers Pete and Bryan and trying for some before-college bonding and meet up with their fun lovin’ criminals friends Zack and Rachel for the trip, where they soon run into Kate, another camper whose friend has gone AWOL (actually decapitated at the beginning).

The kids befriend the part-disabled bar owner, Billy Hall Carver, and accept free drinks and fifty bucks in return for clearing out some junk from his barn, where anti-wilderness Bryan turns up some old film reels that feature what look to be amateur slasher flicks…with very realistic effects work. The rest of the gang take no heed of his paranoia and enjoy a night of drunken partying, during which Zack meets a very icky fate at the hands of Billy’s obese brother Bobby, who first drags the boy off the can and handcuffs him to the wall, then rips the shit-covered fitting from the wall and empties its contents over the boy before taking a wrench to his genitals and squeezing until his balls burst – like, literally at the camera! I expect all male viewers crossed their legs at this point.

Meanwhile, Pete convinces his brother to return a stolen reel of the maybe-snuff-movie to the barn, where they are soon boxed in by Bobby, who is hauling a corpse back for further dismemberment and soon turns his attention to offing them one by one as they struggle in vain to find a means of escape, which leads to a painful arm-under-a-heavy-door scene, which, in addition to your crossed legs, will have you folding your arms around yourself, Carver evidently being produced by Yoga enthusiasts.

Despite its grisly nature and lots of seen-it-all-befores, it is the assembly line elements that work in favour of the picture, rather than against it, wisely avoiding the usual dumb-character pitfalls (save for a couple of fatal misjudgements). Bobby likes to kill to the tune of a cheery country song about a turkey in the straw (“hee-hee-haw”), which provides a surreal audio backdrop to the scenes of horror.

Nominating a final boy is also something a bit different to the usual fare, although his actions towards the end raise questions, with a not-so-twisted twist pulled out of the bag as if we hadn’t seen it chugging down the roads towards us ages ago… Even so, there’s some enjoyment here, thanks in main to characters who haven’t got ‘obnoxious moron’ stamped on their foreheads and nice interplay between the actors.

Light up your Crack-O-Lantern – it’s Emo-ween

halloween2HALLOWEEN II

 2.5 Stars  2009/18/118m

“Family is forever.”

Director/Writer: Rob Zombie / Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Sheri Moon Zombie, Tyler Mane, Brad Dourif, Danielle Harris, Margot Kidder, Mary Birdsong, Brea Grant, Angela Trimbur, Betsy Rue, Chase Vanek, Daniel Roebuck, Weird Al Yankovic.

Body Count: 20

Dire-logue: “Bad taste is the petrol that drives the American dream…”


When you collect slasher films you resign yourself to seeing your expectations dashed time and time again. Promo will attempt to convince you that, say, Teenage Death Camp Massacre Part VI is the best horror film in years, only for it to be about as pleasurable as rectal surgery. Annoying as this is (and do I learn? No.), the law of binary opposites means that occasionally a film will be bad-mouthed so much that you hold off watching it, only for it to turn out to be not that bad…

Rob Zombie’s Halloween II is certainly no worse than his 2007 effort to ‘re-envision’ the yarn of Michael Myers. In fact, by choosing not to remake any elements for his sequel, H2 is slightly more bearable in those terms. Be not fooled, this is by no means a great film, it barely flirts with competence at times but I was at least engaged for the most part.

Laurie and Michael are collected from the scene we left them in at the end of the 2007 film. She goes to hospital with Annie and his body is carted off in the direction of the morgue, only to be lost when the ambulance hits a cow (!) and Michael is reanimated and scoots off in search of Laurie. This is about as close as we get to 1981’s Halloween II as we’re going to find ourselves as he turns up at Haddonfield Memorial, kills some poor schmucks and chases Laurie – and then she wakes up. Was this a dream? A flashback? We’re never clear.

What is unfortunately clear is that – two years later – Laurie has become a gothic, potty-mouthed rebel who now despises Annie and Sheriff Brackett (with whom she lives), hates her shrink (Margot Kidder’s cameo), hangs out with ‘less desirables’ in a conspiracy bookstore and eventually finds out that she’s Michael’s sister, thanks to Dr Loomis’ book on Myers being promoted locally. Loomis has also changed, he’s now a self-obsessed egocentric touting his book on TV and being ridiculed by Weird Al (!!). And finally Michael, now in full hobo garb – complete with Santa-beard – follows around a vision of his Mom, his younger self and a horse (!!!) as they lure him back in the direction of Haddonfield to reunite the clan. In English, go kill Laurie.

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Wah wah wah, no one understands meeeee!

Yes, kill her. She’s a bitch! Really, she is. Whether Scout Taylor-Compton is cursed to forever appear in crappy horror remakes and their various offshoots is a mystery and she’s not entirely at fault for how the character has been written but she’s a shoo-in for most unlikeable final girl, like, EVER! Come Halloween, Laurie decides to get drunk and go partying with her scuzzy friend Harley and her quite nice friend Mya, all dressed as Rocky Horror characters. Michael comes too, kills a couple of people at the party and then chases after Laurie all over again. Thankfully, this chase doesn’t go on as long as the one in the first film but is complicated by Laurie sharing Michael’s visions of Mom and young Mikey. What? No, seriously, what???

What is good in the film is the sense of the consequential: so few movies in the genre ever look into the recovery of the survivors, their families, the profiteering that goes on. Loomis’ book-signing is good and Annie finally telling Laurie what a cow she’s become is good – she survived too! Speaking of whom, Danielle Harris is great in the role and would’ve made a far more appealing heroine this time around, hell, even Brea Grant (as Mya) racks up more sympathy in her meagre screentime.

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I expected ultra-violence here and some of the kills are needlessly protracted; there’s as much sleaze as before – strip clubs, topless girls randomly littered around the place, aggressive attitudes towards sex and nonchalant attitudes towards death, possibly Zombie’s intention, note the Direlogue choice. Halloween II is a tad amoral; but it’s okay. No more, no less. Tolerable. Michael being reduced down to a maskless nobody by the end – who frickin’ speaks - could be why so many individuals feel the series has flatlined. The announcement of a Halloween III for 2011, which is rumoured to be another reboot, means that whoever takes the reigns from here on out (and I hear it’s Todd Farmer – oh God) has their work cut out for them if they’re going to resuscitate the Myers’ franchise.

Blurbs-of-interest: Actors carried over from the first film were McDowell, Taylor-Compton, Dourif, Mane, Harris and Rob’s wife (whose role is pretty much crow-barred in); see the blurbs here for their other appearances. Brea Grant was in Midnight Movie; Margot Kidder was in Black Christmas and The Clown at Midnight; Betsy Rue was in My Bloody Valentine 3D and Groupie; Angela Trimbur was later in The Final Girls; and Daniel Roebuck was in Final Destination.

Decade of the Afraid: the Best of the 00’s – Part 1

Can 1990 seriously be twenty years ago? I feel so old! Decrepit! Call me Grandpa Voorhees. OK, so no, time is time and we can’t change it etc etc…and I was only 11 when it turned from ’89 to ’90, leaving behind the funkiest decade.

Now we kiss goodbye to the 00’s (unless you’re a pedant who insists each new decade actually begins at the “01” year). A quick filter of an Excel spreadsheet informs me that I saw 225 slasher films shot between 2000 and 2009, so while most people do their ‘best of 2009′ lists, VeVo looks back at the best – and worst – of the last ten years. Take my hand, it could get self-referential!

Firstly, there were the SEQUELS to franchises from the 80s and 90s that just kept comin’ – or in some cases took forever…

scream3The most successful slasher franchise of the era bowed out in 2000 with Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Aquette finally shutting the door on years of being stalked by Ghostface in Scream 3. Although rumours abound of a resurgence in 2010, nothing is yet set in stone.

Also out for more was Urban Legends: Final Cut, Halloween: Resurrection, Seed of Chucky and overdue returns for Jason and Freddy in, respectively, Jason X and Freddy vs. Jason, which looked like it was going to usher in some miserable years of cut-n-shut head-to-headers, thankfully, in spite of its massive success, nobody saw fit to copy it.

We waited approximately five years for Return to return_to_sleepaway_campSleepaway Camp to get it’s DVD release and then all moaned that it wasn’t very good; and as the DVD box-set extravaganza began, studios dished up cheapo sequels to fill out cardboard space, among them Urban Legends: Bloody Mary and I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, which proved that it is indeed possible to fuck a movie franchise up the arse and leave it in a violated mess in the corner.

mylittleeyeThe 00’s was also the decade of REALITY TV, kept afloat mostly (in the UK at least) by Big Brother, which stranded a dozen or so morons in a house without a psychopathic killer! Before long, slasher movie makers jumped on the bandwagon. Halloween: Resurrection came late to the party, cheapo exploitation fare such as Voyeur.com and Cruel World went for the lowest common denominator while arty stuff such as My Little Eye was so depressing that I’d rather have been forced to watch the shows proper than sit through it again…

Arguably – and this does spark “debate” (a.k.a. childish name-calling and tantrums) – the biggest thing to happen within the genre came around about 2003.

REMAKE AFTER REMAKE AFTER REMAKE

Surely it started out as something relatively innocent…:

Harried Writer: “I really don’t think we can write another one of these. What else is there to do?”

Exec: “Okay, well it’s been almost 30 years, no one will really care if we, uh, what’s the word I want to use?”

Harried Writer: “Remake?”

Exec: “Oh, no, no, no – I know – reimagine.”

Harried Writer: “That’s not a word.”

Exec: “Do it or get out.”tcm2003

And thus it came to pass. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was remadeimagined, soon after generating a sequel of its own, reinvigorating the losses made by the admittedly patchy 80s and 90s ventures and opening the floodgates for execs everywhere the pillage the catalogue of “people only remember the title”-style horror films.

I’ll admit that some worked out fine; I, for one, enjoyed the TCM redux and also Friday the 13th. The rest were made up of agreeable distractions that were fine so long as you didn’t compare them to their source material (Black Christmas, Sorority Row, House of Wax), some that slipped under the radar and others that should just burn in hell for all eternity. However you look at it, we were left with this:

remakesThe main ‘problem’ with a lot of these remakes – aside from the evidential lack of imagination infecting the industry – is that, in most cases, the nihilistic days of the early 80s horror scene are over, and in their place came a bunch of anodyne, inoffensive PG-13 rated films that barely register on the horror scale.

However, this was not true for all involved and another commonality of the decade was the sub-genre of TORTURE PORN!

From its original instalment in 2004, the Saw franchise has, like Friday the 13th back in the 80s, seen a new sequel every year. As of 2009, we’re up to Saw VI and a seventh appears on IMDb already for Halloween 2010. Not really slasher flicks, Saw and Hostel (plus its sequel), were cleverly plotted horror films with a lot of grue, death death death and crazy loons killing people in creative ways, often placing American tourists elsewhere on the globe where the locals have a few screws loose.

The Hills Have Eyes remake (plus its sequel – Dear God, how often will I have to type that?) flirted also in this darker than dark arena of extensive violence; Uwe Boll’s naff Seed and the Brazil-trip-gone-wrong saga Turistas and Wolf Creek were the closest relatives of the slasher film.

Extreme violence isn’t my thing; although some of these films were well plotted, nicely made yadda yadda, the public fascination with their forbidden horrors appeal seemed to have waned by the close of the decade.

In Part 2 (next week, alright?) – the rise of the genre in the Far East and VeVo’s best and worst slasher flicks of the decade.

Never gonna dance again

prowler-dvdTHE PROWLER

3 Stars  1981/18/85m

“It will freeze your blood.”

A.k.a. Rosemary’s Killer (UK) / The Graduation

Director: Joseph Zito / Writer: Neal F. Barbera & Glenn Leopold / Cast: Vicki Dawson, Christopher Goutman, Farley Granger, Lawrence Tierney, Cindy Weintraub, Donna Davis, Lisa Dunsheath, Timothy Wahrer.

Body Count: 8

Dire-logue: “This is everybody’s last night together. Some of us’ll never see each other again.”


Bad pacing almost kills this early slasher flick from the director of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. This unruly little feature begins with the industry standard prologue, here set waaaaay back in 1945, where young Rosemary’s Dear John letter to an American G.I. culminates in the rejected soldier gruesomely skewering her and her new lover with a pitchfork at their graduation dance.

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35 years later, Avalon Bay is set to hold its first graduation dance since that fateful evening, thus prompting the killer to don his old uniform in an effort to repeat the crime on the new kids. So far, so My Bloody Valentine. Nominal heroine Pam encounters the killer in the student dorms (unknown to her, he just killed a couple of her friends) and alerts her deputy boyfriend, Mark.

Together, they inform one of the chaperones at the dance while they begin snooping for clues, first around mansion of wheelchair bound Major Chatham, father of the long-dead Rosemary, as he grabbed Pam as she fled from the prowler. This takes a long time. A very long time.

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Back at the dance, Pam’s friend Lisa has already wandered off for a late night swim and becomes another casualty, as does the poor teacher who comes looking for her.

Pam and Mark continue to delve into the unsolved mystery of Rosemary’s murder and, without the guidance of the town’s sheriff, stumble around slower than a Mazda Premacy. To the police station they go, then to the cemetery where they find Lisa’s body in the freshly exhumed grave of Rosemary Chatham, then back to the Chatham house. All of this takes forever, which, in a slasher film is unwelcome.

Of course, Zito tries to wring suspense out of this nothingness but fails miserably. Dancing very slowly moving between shots of Pam in the car and Mark crouching down at the graveside is not scary, it’s boring. Hurry up. Kill some more people. Kill those people over there…

Finally, on the second visit of the night to the Chatham mansion, the killer puts in an appearance and chases Pam around with his pointy-pitchfork until she blasts his head clean off his shoulders.

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There are other ‘issues’ with the picture; a horny teen couple stray away from supervision so they can have sex in the basement. The camera lingers, showing them from behind objects in the foreground. A pervert watches too. We wait for him to die and then then couple. We switch to another scene (probably with Pam and Mark achieving nothing in their investigation) and the sex-couple are never featured again! Once the killer is revealed, it really turns out that his identity is secondary to the needs of the plot – it really could’ve been anyone ‘of an age’ to have committed the 1945 murder. And what the hell happened to the Major?

The low body count doesn’t do too much harm; Tom Savini’s gore-jobs here at top notch, so much so that even I questioned whether this could be a genuine snuff film at one point. The shower murder is particularly realistic and nasty, as is Lisa’s fatal throat-cuttery and the tracheotomy on the nice teacher. As with Zito’s previous film, Bloodrage and also his Friday episode, there’s more than a subtle hint of violence chiefly against young women, which was discomforting.

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The photography, score and the original artwork (above) are all ace and there are no problems with the acting abilities of those involved, although Vicki Dawson, as Pam, evidently excelled in her how-to-frown acting class. One curiosity of the film is its number of striking similarities to one Friday the 13th Part 2, so much so that even the final girls look like sisters…. See?

friday-prowler2It should probably be noted that The Prowler was shot before Friday was released (albeit several months earlier) so it’s just some kinda weird coincidence…isn’t it? I mean, Zito later directed a Jason and there’s that double-impaling. Hmmmm.

I think The Prowler is okay; it’s flawed but the technical abilities of its general look and Savini’s wonderful work means it would be ignorant of these plus-points to rate it any lower than three stars. It’s commonly viewed as a cult favourite, although be prepared for some boredom between the slashings…

Blurb-of-interest: Lawrence Tierney was in Midnight.

“Jason” lives

fridaythe13th5FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING

3.5 Stars  1985/18/87m

“If Jason still haunts you… You’re not alone.”

Director: Danny Steinmann / Writers: David Cohen, Martin Kitrosser & Danny Steinmann / Cast: Melanie Kinnaman, John Shepherd, Shavar Ross, Richard Young, Marco St. John, Corey Feldman, Carol Locatell, Jerry Pavlon, Juliette Cummins, Tiffany Helm, John Robert Dixon, Debisue Voorhees, Vernon Washington, Tom Morga.

Body Count: 22


The parallel universe in which Friday the 13th exists is a place where ones build, height and entire facial structure can change over a single day, and where knowledge of current events is so minimal that folks vacation in the same spot where dozens of murders have taken place a matter of hours earlier. Time jumps along at a merry old pace as well, as shown here. Boy-hero of The Final Chapter Tommy Jarvis sprouts from a weedy 12-year-old into a super-buff teen of no determinable age, but I’d guess between 16 and 18 – and only one year in real time since his last outing!

A New Beginning is just that (unless you count the presence of old characters); Tommy is carted off to the Pinehurst Institute for troubled teens with bad hair:

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Naturally, Pinehurst is in the middle of the woods (pine, I guess), affording many a place for a masked, unhinged psycho to stalk mentally unstable kids.

No sooner does Tommy arrive then a particularly angry resident embeds an axe into the back of a porky fellow inmate. Shortly after, locals begin falling victim to a psycho killer: An utterly surreal couple of leather-clad boys are first, then the requisite horny couple, local rednecks, and eventually the Pinehurst kids.

Is it Jason, who Tommy seems to keep seeing all over the show? The Sheriff seems to think so too, much to the chagrin of the dreadful actor who plays the mayor.

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Murders continue and when only staff member Pam and cook’s grandson Reggie remain, the killer is revealed to be the hockey masked, machete bearing legend that is JV. Can Tommy save them and stop his arch-enemy all over again? And here comes the spoiler

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No.

Because it’s not Jason, just some schmuck donning a hockey mask (complete with different design), taking revenge on Pinehurst and all who dwell there for the axe-murder…of his son!!!

This is flawed for many reasons: if Dad was so local, why was there no relationship between them? Porky’s killer was already arrested and carted off – why kill everyone but the assailant? Why have a random photo of yourself in your wallet? Oh right, in case the audience are so fucking stupid they can’t put it together.

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A New Beginning is commonly known as the worst of the Friday crop; which is a fair assessment on some levels – it’s one of the laziest films, with a body count so stupidly high (including dream sequences) that the killer virtually teleports his way around town, perfecting the chess game of slasher movie killers’ ability to always be hiding behind the right tree or picking the right bedroom to stalk a victim into…

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According to the wonderful Crystal Lake Memories book, ex-porno director Steinmann’s intense paranoid moodswings made for a tense set and some questionable sequences: Are the leather boys supposed to be gay? One of them does get a phallic road flare rammed into his mouth… There’s a vicious streak to some of the homicidal dénouements, which personify abject cruelty as the troubled teens are brutally wasted without any care for their individual stories. They’re just wastable problem kids.

As with most of the earlier instalments, the MPAA insisted on several cuts, with the BBFC advising further shots removed.

It also has the worst score out of all the movies, a swirling attack of strings that belongs in a made-for-TV hurricane movie.

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In the ‘for’ arena, Friday V showed a jump forward in terms of production quality; much of the grainy, underlit scenes of The Final Chapter have been replaced by clearer visuals. The pure 80s-ness of it all is irresistibly amusing and Kinnaman makes for a gutsy heroine with the help of Ross, of Diff’rent Strokes, and Shepherd is suitably traumatised as Tommy, even if he only utters about 20 words the whole 87 minutes.

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Probably the cheesiest Jason venture (in spite of his absence) but definitely a fun ride if you don’t care about that minor fact.

Blurbs-of-interest: Juliette Cummins appeared in Deadly Dreams, Slumber Party Massacre II and Psycho III; Debisue Voorhees was in Innocent Prey and Appointment with Fear; Tiffany Helm is the daughter of Brooke Bundy, who was in A Nightmare on Elm Streets 3 and 4; Dominick Brascia was in Rush Week and directed Evil Laugh; Mark Venturini (Victor) was in Mikey in 1992. Bob DeSimone (Billy) is the brother of Tom DeSimone, who directed Hell Night. Danny Steinmann directed The Unseen under the pseudonym Peter Foleg.

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