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Honor and obey

possession-vhs

POSSESSION: UNTIL DEATH DO YOU PART

1 Stars  1987/93m

Directors: Lloyd A. Simandl & Michael Mazo / Writers: Lyne J. Grantham & Lloyd A. Simandl / Cast: John Robert Johnston, Melissa Martin, Cat Williams, Leanne Jaheny, Samra Wolfin, April Alkins, Geraldine Farrell, Monica Marko, Rupert Grant, Shane Carlsson.

Body Count: 14

Laughter Lines: “There won’t be anybody up there – we’ll be ALL. BY. OURSELVES.”


Irredeemably boring T&A fare, notable only for starring the bitchy girl, Tamara, from Jason Takes Manhattan as the final girl.

She, Madeline (Sharlene Martin, credited here as Melissa), is abducted one night by a whiny-voiced, mother-fixated loon, Frankie, who takes girls home, forces them to dress in Mom’s clothes, and, if they’re not ‘nice’ enough, are murdered.

Madeline succeeds in escaping, but the police are almost completely apathetic, and it’s her gang of indistinguishably cloney gal-pals who suggest driving around to look for the guy, whom they run into almost straight away. Ill-prepared for this venture, they flee, cops intervene, Frankie escapes in a rowing boat WHICH EXPLODES WHEN SHOT AT.

An exploding wooden rowing boat.

Shortly thereafter, the girls – who might be escorts, it was unclear – go to a strip club and arrange for a couple of the suspiciously camp dancers to join them up at so-and-so’s uncle’s cabin in the woods for a bachelorette party.

Acting, hair, and fashion choices - about the only things you'll remember from Possession

Bad acting, hair, and fashion choices – about the only things you’ll remember from Possession

Predictably, Frankie ain’t dead and soon comes looking for Madeline once again, offing a couple of her friends who didn’t go on the trip, but hangs around long enough to hear an answerphone message that conveniently gives the full address of the cabin. Lord.

The girls party, make out with the gay strippers, Frankie comes along. That’s about all you need to know. It’s bodaciously unexciting, replete with clichés so dense you’d need a Humvee to plough through them: One girl goes off on her own to photograph trees! The car won’t start. The girl who had a bath conveniently never pulled the plug so the killer can drown her in it. It doesn’t stop.

Even when the killer’s presence is discovered, the last girls standing abandon the comparable fortitude of the cabin (which has a push-bar door!?) to run into the woods, where the killer, disabled by a speargun arrow while they flee, somehow teleports in front of them to jump out from behind a tree, and so they run BACK to the fucking cabin where there’s a gun!

Said woods are mysterious and wild, we know this because every time a character walks through them pan pipe music plays. This might mean something if the killer were a Native American rather than a camp-voiced suburban mama’s boy.

poss2

Brimming over with protracted T&A scenes that go thusly: Girl has shower, girl lathers up own boobs for ages, girl dresses up in kinky clothes, girl is stabbed >>> Girl has bath, girl washes self, girl dresses and paints own nails, girl is drowned in bath she never bothered emptying >>> Girl has shower, girl soaps up boobs, girl’s throat is cut in shower. Somebody somewhere does not want women to exercise good hygiene, or worse, has some real issues with their gender, note when one young woman talks about a guy she met and her friend replies: “You were in a BAR?” Why the hell not? She’s young and vivacious, should she only be allowed in the kitchen or the convent?

A plodding, dullard of a feature with absolutely nothing to recommend it unless pastel fashions, awful hair, and naked chicks in the shower is enough. With fourteen bodies dropped, there’s hardly even any grue to speak of.

This is a film nobody need possess.

Blurb-of-interest: Director Simandl also helmed the equally barren Ripper 2: Letters from Within.

Girls school confidential

BLOODMOON

3 Stars 1989/18/101m

“The last full moon you’ll ever see.”

Director: Alec Mills / Writer: Robert Brennan / Cast: Leon Lissek, Christine Amor, Helen Thomson, Ian Williams, Craige Cronnin, Hazel Howson, Christophe Broadway, Suzie MacKenzie, Anya Molina, Samantha Rittson, Jo Munro, Michelle Doake.

Body Count: 10


Soppy Neighbours-esque romance is married to some Friday the 13th shenanigans in this fairly impressive Aussie flick that has the one major flaw of revealing the killer’s identity about a third of the way through the film.

The girls of St Elizabeth’s boarding school are being offed by a shadowy killer, who uses a length of barbed wire to garrotte them, along with the occasional boyfriend. Pretty daughter-of-someone-famous Mary is unknowingly high on the killer’s list.

The stalk n’ slash scenes are well handled, a standout being when two girls sneak into the school to steal an exam paper and run into the killer, who quickly dispatches one and chases after the other.

bloodmoon2

Bloodmoon, however, commits that cardinal sin of allowing one particularly unpleasant character to live, when hoards of comparably innocent ones have been laid to waste. Elsewhere, excess T&A negates some of the up-market style, but for an alt perspective teenie-kill film, it hits enough of the right notes. Just ignore some of the crimes against hair.

Sucks to be Soles

INNOCENT PREY

3 Stars  1983/87m

A.k.a. Voyeur

Director: Colin Eggleston / Writer: Ron McLean / Cast: P.J. Soles, Kit Taylor, Grigor Taylor, Martin Balsam, John Warnock, Susan Stenmark, Richard Morgan, Debisue Voorhees.

Body Count: 11


Poor P.J. Soles… As if being saddled with the worst perm in Texas isn’t enough, one night she spots her new husband’s car at a motel and decides to creep outside the window and find out if he’s cheating on her.

Her suspicions are confirmed when she sees him doing a young hooker, and then made worse when he produces a knife and slashes the girl’s throat as they climax. At home, she confronts him and as he makes a move to do away with her, the police spring up and cart him away.

Later, hubby escapes from prison and returns to the house to finish off P.J., doing in a few luckless cops as he goes. She evades him again but this time he flees, so she sees fit to take some time out down under and visits her friend Gwen in Sydney.

The Sheriff back home (Balsam: Arbogast! ARBO-FUCKING-GAST!!!) later informs her they found a burned body with hubby’s signet ring and all is well again. Only we know better: hubby set it all up and has hopped a ship to Oz, ever committed to his cause.

Rodeo P.J. – everybody loves her

As if this isn’t enough, the sub-Norman Bates landlord at Gwen’s place has hidden cameras all over the girls’ house and watches their every move, obsessed by the new arrival, and jealous of her burgeoning romance with single dad, Rick. When the first loon arrives, what will second loon do, I wonder?

Early on in the film, P.J. ponders that if there such a thing as a habitual criminal, perhaps she is a habitual victim. Hell yeah, sister! From the arms of one psycho into those of another! Innocent Prey should be suffixed The Misadventures of the World’s Unluckiest Woman. Nothing goes right for poor P.J., and when Gwen disappears, well, where else could she go!? These wackos gravitate towards her. And just wait for that final freeze frame. Come to my house, Peej, I won’t kill you! Promise!

Mass sludge of conveniences aside, Innocent Prey is a solid little thriller, sort of a proto-Sleeping with the Enemy by way of Terror Train, possibly explaining why it was released in 1991, seven or eight years after it was made.

P.J.’s always likeable charisma carries much of the weight, but director Eggleston – who later helmed weird arty-farty slasher Cassandra - builds up some palpable tension here and there, most notably in the scenes where Hubby comes back to the house.

A ridiculous film by any measure, but an entertaining one for sure.

Blurbs-of-interest: Aside from her role as Lynda, Soles was also in The Tooth Fairy and Uncle Sam. She also narrated the documentary Halloween: 25 Years of Terror; Martin Balsam was, duh, Arbogast in Psycho; Kit Taylor was in Eggleston’s other film Cassandra; Debi Sue Voorhees – playing the hooker – was Tina in Friday the 13th Part V and was also in Appointment with Fear.

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.

The Hollywood Hills Have Eyes

HOLLYWOOD’S NEW BLOOD

1.5 Stars  1989/77m

“Where acting dead can be fatal.”

Director/Writer: James Shyman / Cast: Bobby Johnson, Francine Lapensee, Joe Balogh, Martie Allyne, Al Valletta, Lynne Pirtle, Ken Denny, Kent Abrams, Allen Francis, George Spellman, Donna Lynn.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “Memories don’t die as easy as people.”


Marginally less of an endurance test than The Last Slumber Party, still Hollywood’s New Blood, at a meagre 77 minutes (10 of which are credits and an unwanted recap of the ‘best bits’), feels longer than a Star Wars marathon.

Young folks at an ‘acting seminar’ at the woods by Storm Lake, outside of L.A. (looking suspiciously like Griffith Park) are set upon by a trio of brothers, thought to have burned to death in an accident years earlier. They’re pissed and they hate actors.

Firstly, the great irony of Hollywood’s New Blood is that these people are attending an acting class, yet unaware of the genre they’re in. At one point, a guy finds the body of his pal tied to a tree and just grunts like he missed a pin at bowling, then stumbles across two more slain corpses and strides off without so much as a shrug.

Mucho wandering around the same small patch of trees under the same shot of a full moon or the same exterior shot of the cabin they were all in… This is the type of movie where people can’t see a shady figure who’s standing two feet away.

The villains, on the other hand, look like a cross between the greasy family from Pete’s Dragon or extras from The Fog, who’ve accidentally stumbled on to the wrong set.

Small points are earned for mullets, death-by-skull (!) and the earlier amazing moment where one of the characters finds said skull and takes it for a little show and tell: “This is no animal – these bones are human.” No shit. It’s a motherfucking SKULL.

You can at least have a good chuckle watching Hollywood’s New Blood, suffering through the dreadful title song that goes over the Greatest Hits compendium after the actual 67 minute film has ended, which is more than can be said for some other examples from the era.

Blurb-of-interest: Joe Balogh was in MoonStalker.

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