Tag Archives: gore o’clock

Giallo Movie

THE EDITOR

3.5 Stars  2014/106m

Directors/Writers: Adam Brooks & Matthew Kennedy / Writer: Conor Sweeney / Cast: Paz de la Huerta, Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy, Conor Sweeney, Sheila Campbell, Tristan Risk, Samantha Gill, Lance ‘The Snake’ Cartwright, Jerry Wasserman, Udo Kier.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “In ancient Roman times, editors were considered to be bridges to the netherworld…”


Disclaimer: I watched The Editor at the FrightFest Allnighter at approximately 5am the other week. Fatigue – and the imprint of boredom left by previous feature, The Pact II – was setting in, so there maybe a few lapses in memory. #forgiveness.

‘Parody’ has become a bit of a dirty word in film, thanks almost entirely to the tsunami of crap that washed ashore under the name Epic/Disaster/Date Movie. Slapdash productions poking fun at current trends, thus rendering them horrifically dated within weeks.

In horror, Scary Movie was the prime culprit, albeit not the first; in the 80s there was Student Bodies, Wacko, Class Reunion, Pandemonium, Saturday the 14th and so on. We could blame Airplane! if it weren’t so damn good.

So to call The Editor a parody of the Italian giallo movement wouldn’t be quite right: There are no zeitgeist smug jokes, fart gags, and – crucially – the filmmakers are clearly creating a love letter rather than a complacent piss-take.

Giallo is a sub-genre of horror I’m not that well-versed in: Argento and Bava is about as deep as I’ve dipped my toes, but that didn’t matter, I’ve seen enough to be able to appreciate most of the laughs here, and who would ever tire of black-gloved mystery killers toting chainsaws in the foreground while oblivious couples go at it a few feet out of focus?

Co-Director/Writer Brooks plays the title role, as Rey Ciso, a once-glorified editor who cut his own fingers off and is now (or then, if we’re to assume this is set in the 70s or 80s from the mise-en-scene) consigned to editing tacky horror films with a glove of wooden fingertips.

When the cast and crew of his present production begin to get murdered on and around the set, the local inspector (other co-director/writer Kennedy) is convinced Rey is behind it, as each victim is found with wounds mimicking the missing fingers. Suspects for the rest of us include the pushy producer, Rey’s has-been actress wife (“If he died, I would cry and cry and cry and cry and cry and cry…”), his pretty apprentice editor, and an ambitious actor. In fact, it could be just about anybody.

The murders continue, including axings, knifes to the throat, chainsawing, all interspersed with amusing flashbacks of bizarre al fresco lovemaking, clips of the dreadful looking film, spiders that appear from nowhere, and what giallo would be complete without the awful dubbing?

Some moments are truly inspired, from the fashions to background personnel walking around naked (as we’re led to believe was so common in Italy in the late 1970s), the mistranslations and badly delivered dubbing (“She was the best! The best! The beeeeeest!”) and awful effects work of the film-within-the-film.

Toss in hysterical-blindness, car chases, a bro-mance that becomes strangely homoerotic, surprising male nudity, and you have everything you’d expect from the genre.

The only flaw lies in its length. The Editor is in need of a bit of an edit, cruising past the 100 minute mark and, while the best film of the five I sat through at the Allnighter, it began to drag towards the climax. So I want to see it again, which is more than can be said for most horror films of late. There’s a lotta love in this film, and seemingly a lotta love for it. Deservedly so.

Shots of this composition never get boring

Blurbs-of-interest: Paz de la Huerta was in The Tripper; Jerry Wasserman was in Christina’s House and Scarecrow; Udo Kier was in Pray for Morning.

Funhouse. Without the fun part.

DARK RIDE

2.5 Stars  2006/18/94m

“The last ride you’ll ever take!”

Director / Writer: Craig Singer / Writer: Robert Dean Klein / Cast: Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Patrick Renna, Alex Solowitz, David Rogers, Jennifer Kelly Tisdale, Andrea Bogart, Brittney Coyle, Chelsey Coyle, Dave Warden.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “Why does it always have to be Jonah… or Jason… or Jedidiah? I mean why can’t it be Bob, or Gus, or even Chris?”


It’s The Funhouse revisited when six road-tripping college kids stop over at the abandoned ‘Dark Ride’ (to the rest of us: ghost train) of Asbury Park Pier, New Jersey (through obviously Santa Monica Pier), to take a look at the place where twin sisters were murdered in 1989 by the psychotic who happened to escape from his institution a fortnight earlier… Hilarity turns to horror as the masked maniac breaks up their party by knocking them off in textbook slasher movie style.

Dark Ride was one of the ‘After Dark Horrorfest’ titles, and so gained a limited theatrical release. Quite why it was chosen for the festival of films ‘too intense’ remains a bit of a mystery as there’s very little here that hasn’t been seen or done on multiple previous occasions and with a bit more flair as well. While Craig Singer is a competent director and makes good use of visual effects and has some nice setups to toy with, the script is so paint-by-numbers that virtually nothing that happens is a surprise.

A major problem lies in the characters: Sigler (of The Sopranos) isn’t a particularly likeable heroine and her friends are nothing but a string of stereotypes who bitch and moan about everything with the exception of film-nerd Bill (Renna), who just doesn’t belong at all. The production team have evidently made a beeline for an authentic old-school feel with their film, but have overlooked the requirement for happy, bouncy teens the audience might care about seeing sliced and diced, rather than a bunch of snotty brats who don’t have a single nice thing to say to one another.

Another detracting factor is that, after the opening scare, it takes an hour for the massacre proper to kick off, but at least when it does it’s garnished with some grisly demises, including a sticky cranial split. The Jason-like killer, Jonah, also has one of the creepier masks in some time, but you can just smell that last-minute twist coming, especially as one particular character hasn’t been seen in a while…

How to rank it? Well, it’d be the better half of a double bill with the not dissimilar See No Evil.

ABBA: Never underestimate their global impact on horror

 

 

Sleepaway the 13th

CAMP DREAD

3 Stars  2014/18/90m

“Pitch your tent, dig your grave.”

Director/Writer: B. Harrison Smith / Cast: Eric Roberts, Felissa Rose, Nicole Cinaglia, Joe Raffa, Alexander Mandell, Montana Marks, Ashley Sumner, Gnomi Gre, Dave Raphaely, Angel Valerio, Brian Gallagher, Danielle Harris, Angel Sanchez, Kyle Patrick Brennan.

Body Count: 14

Laughter Lines: “We all know that work dried up for you after three shit films and you got tired of stalkers sending you come-stained fan letters.”


Ignore that cover and that tagline: There were no tents anywhere in this production. It’s pure summer camp goodness through n’ through!

In spite of a dismal 3.8 rating on IMDb, some clunky editing, and titles that look like they were typed out on an early Spectrum computer, Camp Dread is actually a pretty good, high-slaughter count apparent homage to Sleepaway Camp (with touches of Friday the 13th; witness a character named Adrienne) – filmed at a camp that looks suspiciously like Camp Arawak, and featuring Felissa Rose in a central role!

So it goes, washed up actor Eric Roberts plays washed up director Julian Barrett, who found fame in the 80s with the Summer Camp series of cheap slasher films, which starred Rachel Steele (Rose), but relations became bad between those involved and the series stalled to its end.

Now, with the chance to direct a remake, Julian presents a group of legally-tangled young folks (all over 21!)  with the chance to win $1million if they attend the old camp from the film for counselling sessions with actress-turned-therapist Rachel. They’ll be filmed for the duration on CCTV cameras and the will be ‘killed’ by production assistants. The last one standing walks away with the cash.

Of course, the ‘killings’ are less eliminations, more genuine slayings, with arrows in the eye, poisoned sandwiches, and being beaten to death with a false leg atop the options… Has one of the jittery contestants snapped? Is Julian behind it all?

Rachel soon becomes suspicious as the disappearances mount up, and discovers in-depth profiles on all the kids, some of whom have quite violent histories.

Numbers continue to dwindle until the usual nice couple are left, though at this point Camp Dread elects to reveal its apparent ‘twist’, which the seasoned viewer will see coming. It’s obnoxiously juvenile and quite annoying, pulling the rug of probability out from beneath itself, piling twist upon twist on top of everything until it goes beyond a stretch of credibility to a full blown bolt across the line.

Still, when it comes to making me happy, you can rarely go wrong with a summer camp slasher film: Most of the palatable elements are in place, the characters not too objectionable, the locus quaint and used wisely, and the murders mercifully CG-free and bloody without being excessive.

Danielle Harris, despite her star billing, appears for all of five minutes as the local Sheriff, but Felissa is in it for the long haul and is, as expected, awesome.

Blurbs-of-interest: Eric Roberts was also in Groupie; Felissa Rose was Angela in Sleepaway Camp and Return to…; Danielle Harris began her impressive slasher movie career in Halloween‘s 4 & 5, Rob Zombie’s remake and its sequel, Urban Legend, Hatchet’s II & III, Blood Night, and ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2.

Say what!?

SCARED

3.5 Stars  2005/82m

Director/Writer:  Pakphum Wonqjinda / Writer:  Prachya Pinkaew / Cast: Borvornipoch Jaikunta, Napapa Tantrakul, Chitjun Rujiphan, Amonphan Gongtragan, Sumonrat Wattanaselarat, Thandthai Auramornrat, Wongtep Kunrattanawat, Sudprach Aungtrakul, Park Wannasiri.

Body Count: 18


Detailing the plot of this grisly Thai dead-teenager flick could prove problematic, ’cause the DVD has no English subtitles, despite the film itself coming with English translations of the credits.

A large group of freshmen students set off on a hazing trip, which runs into entry problems and they foolishly follow the advice of a local vagrant who knows of a bridge they can cross to their destination. About half the kids decide to give it a go and end up stranded when the rickety old bridge collapses, taking their bus, the driver, and several of their friends to the bottom of the river…

 

scaredcollage4

Clambering ashore and splitting into two groups after some kind of disagreement amongst themselves, three boys quickly fall into a variety of lethal traps that skewer and impale them. The other, larger group (mostly girls) finds a deserted old town, but also cross paths with a brutal killer, who uses car windows, exhaust fumes, and regular garden tools to do them in – nearly every slaying here is bloody.

Thailand has taken a few ‘stabs’ at creating gory slashfests before, ranging from the entertaining but cheap 999-9999, to the predictable and dull Crying Tree. Scared is probably their best effort yet, fusing ideas lifted from the Final Destination films (the bridge collapse is well choreographed, with a nasty pole-through-the-face for the unlucky bus driver), old school kids-in-the-woods slashers, and ending in a cruel twist that’s reminiscent of Battle Royale.

scaredcollage3

There are some memorable gore-drenched moments, especially when the shyer kids fight back: A girl goes for a maniac with a corn-saw, clearly having seen enough violence for one day.

The lack of subtitles and linguistic differences mean that characters become indistinguishable when we don’t really know their names in the first place, though there are some genuinely sad moments as kids find their dead friends and weep for them, but with a plot this simple, you’ll be having such a good time you won’t even notice!

Porn of the dead

EVIL BREED: THE LEGEND OF SAMHAIN

3 Stars  2003/18/78m

A.k.a. Samhain

“Evil roams the woods.” Director/Writer:

Christian Viel / Writer: William R. Mariani / Cast: Bobbie Phillips, Brandi-Ann Milbradt, Ginger Lynn Allen, Jenna Jameson, Chasey Lain, Richard Grieco, Howard Rosenstein, Phil Price, Gillian Leigh, Heidi Hawkins, Neil Napier.

Body Count: 13

Laughter Lines: “If you leave, you’ll disappear just like every other B-movie character does.”


Production problems plagued this Canadian gorefest, originally titled the pitheir Samhain before much of it was re-shot without the director’s input and reportedly the final cut is a far cry from the original vision.

Stocked with porn industry heavyweights, the first half of Evil Breed is surprisingly decent, rekindling a particular Friday the 13th vibe, with a group of horny, over-aged teenagers in the Irish woods (studying druids or something) and getting offed by a family of not-so-mythical inbred primevals.

Chasey Lain and Richard Grieco are the first to go in the obligatory pre-credits slaughter – quite why so many North Americans are camping in Ireland at the same time is a mystery. Then it’s pretty much death after death for the remaining characters, including a neat knife-in-the-mouth and a decapitation-by-wire, but the sight of one poor schmuck getting his intestines ripped out through his ass is a bit of a stretch the mind is less willing to reach. Elsewhere, Jenna Jameson is gutted by one of the cannibals, who then attempts to chow down on one of her silicone implants!

Considering 13 seconds were scissored by the BBFC, there’s still a hell of a lot of gore on show, but a good half of the killings occur off camera, leaving a lot of unanswered questions, while the cobbled-together footage jumps all over trying to sustain the plot.

The nostalgic approach to the midriff earns this three stars.

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