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Doctor Death

surgeon1994THE SURGEON

2 Stars  1994/18/96m

“First Jason… Then Freddy… Finally, a professional.”

A.k.a. Exquisite Tenderness; Clinic

Director: Carl Schenkel / Writers: Patrick Cirillo & Bernard Slowe / Cast: Isabel Glasser, James Remar, Sean Haberle, Peter Boyle, Malcolm McDowell, Charles Dance, Beverly Todd, Charles Bailey Gates, Walter Olkewicz, Mother Love.

Body Count: 8


What a cast! How could it go wrong? It can’t …right?

A doctor secretly working on a breakthrough serum that would end physical suffering is fired for his experiments on the patients, goes mad, and returns to take revenge on the people responsible for shutting him down. It’s up to nosy docs Glasser and Remar to put a stop to the carnage before it’s too late.

Not too much going on in the way of thrills and there’s precious little slashing to be seen, plus the killer’s identity is revealed too soon into the movie, robbing it of a possible extra twist – and so we’re left with a slick but standardised medical thriller, the only original remaining plot feature of which is the killer’s ability to overcome his injuries by injecting himself with his own serum thus making him invincible. There’s also full frontal male nudity, courtesy of Dexter’s dad Remar.

As far as hospital slashers go, Cold Prey II and Halloween II are yet to be beat.

Blurbs-of-interest: McDowell later played Dr Loomis in Rob Zombie’s Halloween re-thingies, and was also the sheriff in Silent Night; Walter Olkewicz was in Milo.

10 Final Boys We Like

Final Boys are never going to be as awesome as Final Girls, hence we don’t love them like we love Final Girls. But these guys did quite well with the job at hand…

devon-sawa-fd1Alex Browning (Devon Sawa)
Final Destination (2000)

High school inbetweener Alex is thrust into the shoes of Final Boy-dom when he has an out-of-the-blue premonition the flight he and his French Club will explode minutes after takeoff. Saving himself and six others doesn’t make him the hero, but instead, as he puts it “everyone in my school thinks I’m a freak.”

Perhaps not being a straight-up slasher film is what allows three of the five Final Destination films to work with a male lead. Sawa’s Average Joe is appealing because of the way he teeters between both social groups and his own sanity.

Death-valley-1982-movie-1Billy (Peter Billingsley)
Death Valley (1982)

Just as Danielle Harris would become the pre-teen final girl in the later Halloween sequels, little Milky Bar kid Peter Billingsley was the unlikely hero of strange way-out-west slasher flick Death Valley, when a family vacation is foiled by him literally meandering into a murder scene, finding a trinket the killer wants, and finding himself stalked by said loon in pursuit of it.

Billingsley was already an accomplished child actor by the time he was in this (and also older than he looked) and so isn’t cursed by overacting and, even better, lacks the brattiness usually on show when kids are front and center.

elm4-300xJesse Walsh (Mark Patton)
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

Jesse’s family move into 1428 Elm Street five years after Nancy Thompson lived there and he soon finds his dreams invaded by Freddy, who wants to possess him and turn him into an agent of death.

Freddy’s Revenge could well be the most analysed slasher film of the 80s, and Jesse is commonly seen as a repressed gay, whose body Freddy wants, and only a kiss from a girl can save him etc… If you watch the awesome documentary Never Sleep Again, Mark Patton is a little embarrassed by his performance but, if nothing else, at least they tried something new rather than just retread the original film, and he’s an important part of that, thus fully deserving his place here.

burning-alfredAlfred (Brian Backer)
The Burning (1981)

Included more out of relevance than respect, Alfred was possibly the first final boy in a big screen slasher. At Camp Stonewater, he’s the nerdy misfit, who spies on girls while they shower, plays weird pranks, and whines a lot. He’s also the only one to suspect someone is prowling around the peripheries of the camp. Naturally, nobody believes him until he finds a couple of dead bodies and proves it.

The Burning is already quite a misogynistic outing before shoving aside the notion of a final girl and putting Alfred into the role instead. He’s essentially saved by the hunky male counsellor, as would a girl in the same situation it seems, meaning his gender is far more incidental as he adds nothing that a girl wouldn’t. None of this is the fault of Backer, however, who put in a great performance as Mark Ratner in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

tumblr_m6yz8w2VUd1r9wksko1_400Alex Grey (Tim Conlon)
Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (1989)

Another Alex and quite similar to his Final Destination namesake. This Alex, a sub-Ferris Bueller type in both looks and attitude, has a hot girlfriend but no direction until he somehow becomes the boy toy of undead Prom Queen from hell Mary Lou Maloney. For a while, she improves his social standing no end, but once a hell bitch, always a hell bitch…

Prom Night III‘s comic-horror baseline works well for Conlon’s likable schtick as the put-upon hero: He’s witty and funny, being pulled in two directions, one by an angel, the other by the devil.

hellbent-shining_0Eddie (Dylan Fergus)
Hellbent (2004)

The ‘first gay slasher film’ featured a masked muscle man scything gay chaps around West Hollywood during Halloween night celebrations, when everyone is in costume and a hot guy in nothing but tight pants and a horned mask won’t rouse suspicion.

At the center of the mania is civilian police employee Eddie, who just wants a decent night out with his friends, all of whom soon start falling victim to the loon. Usual hetero conventions are simply flipped in this case, and Eddie runs and hides with veritable Jamie Lee gusto, saved at one point by the virtue of having a false eye!

wolf-creek-2-03Paul Hammersmith (Ryan Corr)
Wolf Creek 2 (2013)

British surf bum Paul is minding his own business when he’s embroiled in a nightmare of Mick Taylor’s making, stopping to rescue a girl who has escaped the bushman’s clutches for long enough to make it to the road. After she’s killed, Paul has a target on his back and Taylor will stop at nothing to reclaim his victim.

Both Wolf Creek films feature male sole survivors, although the first one has little to do with anything the guy does, and Paul is put through all the usual torture that final girls endure: Everyone he approaches for help is killed, he’s captured, strapped to a chair, tortured (by song and weapon), escapes, but does that thing where he scuppers the opportunity to finalise the killer’s exit from this mortal coil… So much for all those who say final boys would be better. And the British character lived! Whoop!

Weston-in-Wishcraft-michael-weston-12955368-608-336Brett Bumpers (Michael Weston)
Wishcraft (2001)

High school dork Brett receives an enchanted bull’s dick through the mail with a note saying it grants three wishes, which he eventually discovers to be true. Meanwhile, classmates of his are being picked off by a cloaked killer. Are the two connected? Duh.

The rise of the nerd theme in Wishcraft is satisfying on its own, even though Brett isn’t initially in any danger, he’s soon forced into combat with the unmasked killer and, with one wish left, ascends to hero level pretty quickly.

Andy-Barclay-chucky-5551046-700-383Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent/Justin Whalin)
Child’s Play 1-3 (1988-1992)

Poor Andy Barclay cannot rid himself of final boy duties no matter what he does. As the first human to discover the secret of possessed Good Guy doll Chucky, Andy is thus the only one who can be a vessel for the killer’s soul. After surviving round one, a new foster home cannot provide shelter in Child’s Play 2, and even a military academy provides no refuge in the third film…

Unlike Billy in Death Valley, hero duties could only go to a child in this franchise, and Vincent did extremely well with the material, even better was his cameo in Curse of Chucky. He’s at his best in Child’s Play 2 with the assistance of a teen foster sister who fulfills the legwork and screaming quota.

tommyTommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman/John Shepard/Thom Mathews)
Friday the 13th Parts IV-VI (1984-1986)

In The Final Chapter, Tommy Jarvis is just a monster-loving kid who has the bad luck of living by Crystal Lake and ends up – with big sister Trish – bringing down Jason who, by that point, had murdered a good 30 schmucks over the previous few days. In A New Beginning, Tommy is older, traumatised by what happened and sent to a halfway house where a hockey-masked psycho goes to task chopping up his new friends. In Jason Lives, an undecided amount of time later, Tommy returns to Crystal Lake to burn Jason’s corpse, but ends up accidentally resurrecting him and spends the rest of the movie trying to undo his error.

While Feldman as the horror-nut was a logical move to ‘end’ the series on in 1984, Thom Mathews is easily my favourite incarnation of the character, a complete 360 on Shepard’s brooding portrayal, Tommy ’86 is like a totally different guy, replete with comic timing and a touch of slapstick to his ever-doomed attempts to stop Jason.

But, in terms of final boys through history, the name Tommy Jarvis is probably at the top of the tree.

Stock Background Characters 101: Unrealistically camp gay

In this feature, we examine the lesser beings of the slasher movie realm, which, if you’re making your own slasher film, could provide a good cast roster for you.

No killer or final girl profiles here, this is a celebration of those underlings who made the most of their fleeting flirtation with stardom. And usually died.

This month, be catty, yet fashionable and definitely sexless as we look at
THE UNREALISTICALLY CAMP GAY

gays2

Overview: In movie-world, minorities only ever come in two types: threatening and entirely non-threatening. In these PC-centric times we live in, gone are some of the more offensive stereotypes of gay characters, specifically men (we’ll deal with lesbians another day), where the only plausible style of representation was being a drag queen, a child molester, or a repressed psychopath. These days, it’s all about camp humour. Think Will & Grace & Ghostface.

Linguistic Snapshot: “Oh my God, girls, I tell you that killer better not come after me… Unless he’s Jensen Ackles with a donkey dick and doesn’t get blood on my Prada *squeaky giggle*.”

Styling: The camp gay man must wear tight-fitting clothes that make him appear skinny and weak. He can’t be one of the gym-sculpted Adonises that litter the scene, because they might be mistaken for REAL men and we can’t have that! No, be flaming, be stylish, be a functioning hair-gel addict. Hey, why not try make-up too?

hackgay2

Hallmarks: After it being communicated to the audience that he is gay, the Unrealistically Camp Gay needn’t do much more. After all, that’s all that’s required on the knowledge front. All that’s left to do is hang around in the background and make occasional razor-sharp quips about the depressingly-dull romantic problems of the main boy and girl, as only THEIR love matters.

Downfall: In days of yore, UCG’s would be quite violently slashed up on screen to appease the assumed hoards of homophobic audience members who like to see “them fags get what they deserve!” While social stance may be a little more progressive, gay characters tend to hang around a little longer, neither being the first to go, nor one of the last. He is a midriff victim (possibly to complement the crop-top he’s likely to have been forced to don by the costume department).

In Venom, Ricky is summarily done in relatively early on, incapably running from the killer (remember, gays can’t run, throw, or lift weights in Hollywood) and having his arm ripped off; super-camp Latino-gay Shawn of 7eventy 5ive, miraculously gets laid by a hot cowboy (an unlikely pairing, but, y’know, gays will do anyone) before almost literally running into the killer’s blade; Fame-dancing Asian-gay Ricky (double minority points!) from Hack! attempts ill-advised martial arts on the killer and is, instead, gunned down. Finally, Timmy, student of Cherry Falls High School and victim of evident high-velocity collision with the Boots cosmetics counter, is afforded an off-screen throat-slashing as one of the primary virgin victims.

Genesis: Early slasher movie gay characters were far more commonly found in red herring roles, suspect because of their “deviant” sexual preferences, that, naturally, go hand in hand with psychotic breaks. One early example, though more incidental than intended, was Radish in Final Exam. Whether the geeky character is supposed to BE gay is a mystery, only Joel S. Rice’s performance at least APPEARS angled towards being the fag for heroine Courtney’s hag. He survives most of the film, is picked on by the macho jock-types, and done in when he tries to warn Courtney of the impending danger.

In the curiously named Canadian export American Nightmare (!?), Dolly the transvestite is the sole “male” victim of a razor-toting loon, who encounters him earlier while escaping and yells a hateful remark in his direction, then later returns to finish the job.

Lastly, and most infamously, is boy-hero Jesse in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: This much analysed entry in the series had an intended subtext of homosexuality, as Freddy Krueger literally “came out” of Jesse’s body at various points to kill schmucks. Eventually, Jesse is saved by the kiss of a girl; hetero-trumps-homo and saves the day. Those who criticise the film for it’s “pro-gay” material are clearly uninformed on what “pro-gay” means… Elm Street 2 doesn’t have much positive to say on the subject. Just check out that S&M-fused gay bar Jesse coincidentally wanders into…

elm2bar2Legacy: In Scream 4, Charlie and Robbie make a point of stating that, in their “rules reversed” theory of modern horror, that the only way to survive a scary movie is to be gay. Nice idea, but yet to be seen in practice.

Until that happens, we stand and watch as gay characters become slightly more evident in the genre, ideally less camp and annoying, and aren’t written as pathetic cowards either.

The gay boys in Bride of Chucky, Venom and The Clown at Midnight are, at least, far more incidental in terms of their sexuality. None of them are able to demonstrate anything on screen, merely colour their hair with peroxide, engage in short-lived conversations about not being straight, and, of course, die summarily.

Elsewhere, gay-produced slasher HellBent may have been largely set in a West Hollywood gay club, but it presented characters of varying campness, from the muscle guy who regrets dressing in drag for Halloween, to the testosterone hemorrhaging sex-pest, and the more sensitive final guy.

sm1a

In Scary Movie, the revealed killers are made up of a closet gay teenager and his friend who allows him to suck cock, but who has been the subject of endless gay visual gags throughout the film, culminating in their har-de-har-har ‘position of death'; slumping into a butt-fuck position.

Conclusions: Sadly, it’s still widely believed by the people that produce slasher movies that the audience is strictly limited to heterosexual men interested only in seeing girl-on-girl action when it comes to intonations of anything-but-straight sexualities. The sheer number of fansites, blogs, and even books on horror written by gay men is staggering, what the draw of this largely unsympathetic subgenre is remains to be made clear, perhaps the sense of “outcast-ness” shared with the likes of Laurie Strode or seeing the popular (and probably nasty) kids laid to waste are among viable reasons.

Anyway, we wouldn’t have gotten Hellbent in the 80s (Cruising sure don’t count), so tropes are morphing and changing all the time and, perhaps Charlie and Robbie’s reading will be made fact in the not so distant future.

hellbent2

Big Bad Wolf

I wouldn’t normally be so vain as to post a picture of myself – but my buddy Rob’s stag night (bachelor party, if we’re being all proper about it) had a requisite superhero theme. He chose Popeye (!?) and was forced to wear a tutu during paintball (which I SUCK at). I, on the other hand, spent a week-and-a-half growing a pair of big ‘burns, donned some claws and dog-tags to become a sort of low-rent Wolverine. Gotta say, this about the most rugged I ever have, and possibly ever will look.

OK, so this was actually the next morning and I’m hungover, my hair is bad, the shirt stank and you can see my oven of our lovely olive-green kitchen.

So endeth my vain moment and the sideburns were brutally shaved away last night. Sad times.

Teenage Dirtbags

ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE

2.5 Stars  2006/18/87m

“Everyone is dying to be with her. Someone is killing for it.”

Director: Jonathan Levine / Writer: Jacob Forman / Cast: Amber Heard, Anson Mount, Whitney Able, Michael Welch, Edwin Hodge, Aaron Himelstein, Luke Grimes, Melissa Price.

Body Count: 7


The popular, not very nice kids at a high school invite Mandy Lane to a pool party because all the boys lust after her. She takes her friend Emmet with her and he is blamed when an asshole jock tries to impress Mandy by leaping into the pool from the roof of the house, fatally hitting his head on the concrete as he goes.

Nine months later, the popular, not very nice kids invite Mandy Lane away for a weekend at a remote ranch because all the boys still lust after her.

Emmet is no longer a friend so it’s just Mandy, a Barbie-wannabe and her limpet friend, Marlin, who Barbie keeps calling fat, and the boys: Jake, Bird, and rich boy Red. Stupid names for stupid, unlikeable teenagers. Let’s hope they all die.

What’s amusing is that, despite the boys’ lame ass attempts to impress Mandy, she only has eyes for grizzly farmhand Garth (Mount). So the kids pass the time in the usual ways, flirting, snorting coke, drinking loads before they begin splitting off for various reasons. Thankfully, the ostracised Emmet has followed the group to the ranch and answers our prayers by proceeding to kill, Kill, KILL the dreadful brats.

Come daybreak, the group’s attempts to escape are continually thwarted by shotgun-wielding Emmet, who shoots some, stabs others and forces one chick to perform a sort of blowjob on the barrel of the rifle.

With a reported budget south of a million dollars, All the Boys was a festival regular for awhile before being picked up for international distribution but only ever gained a limited release nearly two years after it was made. Reviews were mixed, strange considering the film’s resistance to entertain in favour of pretences of being some form of higher art, thanks largely to the grainy photography and ‘topical’ resolution once the requisite twist is tossed into the machinery, sucking thick cloud-cover over the motive thanks to the charades of said twist.

The plot may have been the stuff of the golden era of slasher film but the fun-time kids who populated those flicks are all but gone, replaced by nasty backstabbers and absolutely no one worth rooting for. Even Mandy is as hollow as an abandoned warehouse, existing only to swish around like a Geisha with nothing particularly interesting to say and while she’s not slutty like the other two girls (one of whom pads out her bra and uses big-ass scissors on her ‘delicate undercarriage’ area), it’s difficult to discern what it is “all the boys” see in her beyond general aesthetic blah.

I got to see All the Boys on the big screen but it’s almost definitely a DVD flick and not one you’d rent for a horrorthon party – it doesn’t want to be a slasher film, but it is, and the fact that it thinks above it’s station kinda makes it a bit like the clique of high school kids it destroys: they think they’re great but, y’know, not everyone shares that opinion.

Yay!

Blurb-of-interest: Anson Mount was in Urban Legends: Final Cut.

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