Tag Archives: I know whatcha did!

Legacies of the 90s: Mental Motives

While 90s slasher films attempted to intellectualize the dead teenager opus, there’s only so much you can with such generic material. One area where things shifted dramatically was the Why is this happening? element of the plot. Essentially, nothing had really changed from the pictures of yore: I Know What You Did Last Summer featured the same basic set up as Prom Night.

In the horror realm, there are limited reasons why killers go ape and slay a string of teenagers but after Scream‘s extended, smartified attempt at making the killer’s motive seem more than it was, the ensuing studio slasher films did their best to follow suit.

Without giving away the farm (yeah, sorry about the screenshots), here are some of the best 90s horror motives, simplified. Can you guess which films they belong to?

  • You ran me over and tossed me in the sea. Even though I wasn’t dead, this upset me somewhat.
  • Your parent is a person of loose morals who had sex with my parent, causing them to leave. Never mind my parent being of loose morals also, this is all about YOUR parent. Thus, I’m killing people.
  • I’m passing off this product as my own and so must kill everyone associated with it.
  • I am a force of nature and therefore cannot have a motive so to speak, I just am. Zen, huh?
  • You killed my offspring in self-defence. Nevertheless, this is my motive for wanting to kill you and several bystanders.
  • You ate the last biscuit at a business meeting four years ago and I wanted it!
  • I’m made of celluloid therefore cannot be responsible for my homicidal actions.
  • I am jealous of you and your life even though I’ve never actually met you.
  • You were in the car that caused an accident which killed someone I love. You weren’t driving but it’s still your fault and I’ve gone massively out of my way to set up all these elaborate murders to freak you out and frame someone else.

  • You said you wouldn’t dance with me in junior high then some boys kicked the shit out of me. Never mind that though, being told ‘no’ to a dance is far worse and therefore I’m killing you and not the boys.
  • I loved your mum but she didn’t love me, so I killed her and blamed someone else. Now you’re here, I will start killing again and blame someone else. Again.
  • I loved your mum but she didn’t love me, so I killed her and blamed… Hey, I’m totally ripping off the motive from another naff rip-off!
  • I am still pissed that you ran me over and got away with it, foiling my attempt to kill you in the process. Therefore I will try and kill you again.
  • I am a possessed doll who kills people – deal with it.
  • I like killing people.

…OK, I made the biscuit one up but you get the point.

Forward to the Past

In a sort of pre-emptive celebration of the release of Scream 4, March 15th to April 15th 2011 is 90s Horror Month on Vegan Voorhees.

This means that the next few weeks will be solely devoted to the love of Ghostface, The Fisherman, uh… Parka-killer-fiend and all manner of imitations, resurrections, sequels, wannabes and cash-ins. Yes, some have been reviewed already but there’ll be “new” and “exciting” things to say that weren’t said before. Or were and have been deleted by me in an effort to disguise the fact.

We’ll also be cheerleading the various little things that 90s teen horror gave us, from killers with super-personal motives to the total lack of boobs on screen and so-called homages that were little more than blatant rip-offs of films the producers thought nobody had seen.

For the pedants among you, “the 90s” will also include films released in 2000, as they were most likely conceived and shot while the 90s were still about.

So, prepare to get self-referential and in-jokey; 90s Horror Month begins at the chime.

…Chime!

Trade-a-Life III

Here we go again, playing God with the lives of hopeless slasher movie characters… As ever, contribute, criticise, shout n’ scream. Hell, it’s not like we can change any of it now…

Watch out for those ma-hoosive spoilers!

THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW

A double Trade to start off this time. The sorority girlies of the house on, y’know, the row (…assumedly of other sorority houses), were most definitely guilty of killing their acid-tongued housemother in a prank gone wrong and as such, they probably deserved what they got. Well, the ones who were in on the joke, for sure. Requisite nice girl Kate is the only one with a wise head on her shoulders but I was quite sad to see overgrown-child Morgan (Jodi Draigie) and ribbon-haired Jeanie (Robin Meloy) go out violently.

I’d have much preferred to see leading-bitch Vicki’s greasy man-toy (who supplied the very gun that was used in the gag-gone-bad) turn up willy-nilly and getting that creepy-ass walking stick through his head… Or there’s Kate’s dorky date-for-the-night Peter (Michael Kuhn), who is pretty much innocent in it all but could’ve been meanly killed off to add fire to Kate’s strikeback. He didn’t do much else that was interesting. May as well’ve died!

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES

This is a bit of a popular one as I’ve read a few times that people were sad to see Camp Forest Green counsellor Paula (Kerry Noonan) exit proceedings so brutally. Even the filmmakers seemed to think enough of her to give her an off-camera death (sort of). We see Jason burst into the room and the camera cuts to the exterior where a blood splash redecorates the window before Paula’s corpse is smashed through the glass. Yeah…still kinda mean for the nice girl whose only concern was the little kiddies.

Now, this was recently altered from a swap with surviving gal Megan (Jennifer Cooke) but it was pointed out that the kids at camp were far, far more deserving of Jason’s chop so it has come to pass that having failed to find a good group shot of all the kids at camp, I nominate about the only ones who get any lines of dialogue (bar the little girl who has a nightmare): Ty and Billy (played by brothers Justin and Tommy Nowell, one of whom later appeared in Sleepaway Camp II). They’re sarcastic and whingey for their cumulative two or three minutes on screen so they should die instead of Paula. Jason’s been far too liberal when it comes to kids in the past, he should’ve made an example of these two.

URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT

Urban Legends 2 is a strange little slasher flick but a pretty good one all the same: student/final girl Amy (Jennifer Morrison) finds her friends/crew being stalked n’ slashed one by one by a fencing-masked loon with some ridiculous motive up his sleeve (and it is really ridiculous). Strangely, not only she and her obligatory love interest are left at the end. Reese (Loretta Devine) is there, natch, but bizarrely two other random guys are left unscathed… Weird.

They’re red herrings, of course, but even once the killer is revealed they could’ve been done away with. Especially sleaze-merchant rich-boy Graham (Joey Joseph Lawrence), who hangs around on his phone to his producer daddy all day and commits the unforgivable sin of suggesting Amy should insert CGI gore into her film rather than old fashioned latex grue!

So, give him the chop and let’s save import-a-camera-guy Schorm ‘Simon’ Jabuscko (Marco Hofschneider), who turns up to help the gang out, makes their film look all nice and does it all with a sexy European accent – and is then gruesomely beaten to death with a lens.

And they let Blossom’s little brother live!?

I Best Be Knowin’ What Y’all Did Last Summer

DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW

3.5 Stars  1981/96m

Director: Frank De Felitta / Writers: J.D. Feigelson & Butler Handcock / Cast: Charles Durning, Lane Smith, Robert F. Lyons, Claude Earl Jones, Larry Drake, Tonya Crowe, Jocelyn Brando, Tom Taylor.

Body Count: 6

Dire-logue: “The only official thing you ever done is lick stamps!”


TV movies used to be, y’know, good! No, really! Before the flux of home video in the 80s, more effort went into entertaining the masses via the faithful idiot box and so this slow burn horror from Halloween of 1981 is way more than your average SyFy CG-fest. I mean, hot damn, this film gave me the creeps.

Larry Drake is Bubba, a 36-year-old small town hick with the mental age of a little leaguer, who is best friends with ten-year-old Marylee. They make daisy chains in fields, sing songs, and skip around like all healthy, outdoorsy kids should, much to the annoyance of local mailman and wannabe big-fish Otis, who’s just waitin’ for that day when Bubba is caught undressing the little girl.

When Marylee is savaged by a neighbourhood dog and reported dead, everyone naturally assumes that Otis’s prediction has come true and he gathers a troupe of fat-ass friends who gather guns and bloodhounds and chase down poor Bubba, who hides inside his mama’s scarecrow, helpless when the quartet of rednecks spray him with bullets, literally seconds before a call comes in over the radio informing them that Marylee has regained consciousness and relayed her story of the dog.

The men are put on trial and manage to gain an acquittal based on a fabricated story of self defense but, as Bubba’s grieving mama yells as she’s dragged from the courtroom, there are other kinds of justice in the world.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow, up until now, plays like a smalltown melodrama with themes of intolerance and blind hate – it’s not difficult to imagine people like this still existing today to hunt down outcasts based on race, creed or what gender of person they sleep with. There’s a sort of wicked satisfaction that they’re going to suffer for this that makes you want to lean in over a single candle flame, rub your hands together and cackle.

The film really gets its creep on at the halfway marker when the first of the guilty party notices a scarecrow, identical to Bubba, in his pasture. Accusations fly, Otis commands his disciples to stay away to avoid looking guilty, and later that evening an ‘accident’ occurs.

Paranoia of the standard ‘someone knows what we did’ subset ensues to great effect: the other men are immediately superstitious, convinced that the scarecrow is Bubba, back from the grave. Otis, on the other hand, is happy to blame anyone and everyone else: Bubba’s mama, the upset prosecutor, even little Marylee – who tells him, in no uncertain terms, that she knows what he did. Yes! Suck on that mailman ‘letter carrier’!

Weird things continue to happen, pushing an increasingly sweaty Otis to desperate measures in order to cover his own fat ass as his pals continue to drop dead in interesting ways. The scene with Philby is super-creepy and the ending… Argh! They really took some cues from Spielberg’s method of keeping the monster off camera and put them to good use here as Otis – naturally the last to believe – is made a believer.

To really review this film would be to ruin it to some degree so you’ll just have to see for yourself how basic common sense in observing what is scary rather than shocking can give a likely thought to be forgotten late nighter something of a cult following. The cast helps too: Durning makes a good, smirking villain and it’s interesting to see a young(er) Lane Smith (he played Chief White in The New Adventures of Superman) and Marlon Brando’s big sis plays Bubba’s protective mama. Drake doesn’t overplay the role of the mentally disabled Bubba either – there’s a heartbreaking fear in his eyes as Otis and his dinosaurs of the apocalypse ready themselves to open fire.

Charles Durning in… When the Mailman who Shot Your Son Calls

It’s a testament to the film’s quality that a ‘meagre’ TV film packs more unsettling content than a dozen big budget features with ten times the cash injection. Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a real product of its time: it would bore a modern audience to death were it new but for jaded oldies who thought everything good from the 80s had already been on DVD for a decade might find something nostalgically great here.

Don’t confuse it with the 1995 flick Night of the Scarecrow.

Blurbs-of-interest: Charles Durning was in both When a Stranger Calls and its sequel and also iMurders; Robert F. Lyons was in Pray for Morning; Larry Drake was Dr Giggles.

Forget him not

illalwaysknowI’LL ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT I STILL THINK I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER

2 Stars  2006/18/89m

“New summer. New secret. New slaughter.”

Director: Sylvain White / Writer: Michael Weiss / Cast: Brooke Nevin, Ben Easter, David Paetkau, Torrey DeVitto, Seth Packard, K.C. Clyde, Michael Flynn, Clay Taylor, Don Shanks, Star LaPoint.

Body Count: 7


**WARNING** MAJOR-ass spoilers follow

So, news of a third Last Summer stirred around 2003-ish and soon it was confirmed that there’d be no Hewitt or Prinze returning to battle Captain Birdseye’s evil twin one last time and that things would start anew elsewhere.

Well, that’s mostly true. Unfortunately, the decision to resurrect The Fisherman as the choice villain tosses one fucking huge spanner into the works and thus summons up one of the worst reveals in horror movie history.

Far away from the fishing port of South Carolina and even further from the Bahamas, Broken Ridge, Colorado, is the setting for round 3, in which a quintet of teens-about-town share the legend of The Fisherman who hunts down teenagers on July 4th if they’re keeping naughty secrets. This occurs at the top of a Ferris wheel for some reason. About two minutes later, The Fisherman appears at the carnival and chases them away.

iakwydls5No… it’s all a prank, which was supposed to end with their bud PJ ‘falling’ off a building roof on to some pre-positioned mats. Instead, he lands on a tractor and, y’know, dies. His four friends decide to let the police go on thinking that a killer was on the loose, burn the costume and toss the hook into a lake.

One year later, they’re largely estranged in a retread of themes from the original film. Then evident heroine Amber receives fifty I Know What You Did Last Summer text messages, which serves to reunite the group to track down who sent them. More torment follows, one of the four apparently slashes his own throat with a hook and The Fisherman attacks Amber from on top of a moving cable car. Or gondola as they refer to it!??

iakwydls2iakwydls4

Come July 4th, the teens decide to stay in town so that Zoe can mime to Weapons of Pleasure’s admittedly rockin’ Daredevil in the hope of attracting the eye of a talent scout, instead only attracting Mr Slicker, who begins doing away with the rest of them and anyone else who gets in the way.

OK spoiler time: with two major suspects deadified, who is it? Angry girlfriend? Boyfriend? Mom? Dad? Sister? Dog? No. It’s no one. It’s just… The Fisherman. It’s the legend that kills. He’s some mouldy looking supernatural fella who can pretty much teleport where he wants and not die.

Observe the film’s final shot, which I did not do anything to:

iakwydls1Who the fuck thought people would be happy with this ending? The whole winning aspect of the premise is that you don’t know who’s fucking with you, what they might do and when. Screw that, let’s make it a ghost of somebody with no stake in what actually happened. To make things worse, there are a couple of extra girls who appear a few times early on, either of whom would’ve been acceptable over this! One of them’s even on the cover and she doesn’t do anything except say things like; “He’s so cute; oh my God; I love your dress; Facebook!; Jay-Z’s so talented!”

Breathe. Until this disastrous turn, I’ll Always Know functions predictably but passably as a revenge slasher film. It’s palpably cheaper than its fore-bearers and the continual flash edits are annoying attempts to jazz up pedestrian direction and photography. The characters are largely anodyne fodder: good girl, bad girl, asshole jock, nice guy, backed up by a group of red herrings.

Persistent rumours of a fourth film may well have been ass-raped by how maligned this stupid film is. My tolerance for crap means it garnered a more than generous two stars for being just about competent for a once over – but I wouldn’t fork out on the box set if you’re only really interested in Jennifer Love Hewitt’s boobs.

An early draft of the next sequel

The next sequel will see the killer use a time machine to make pre-accident threats

Blurbs-of-interest: Paetkau was the ladder-eye victim in Final Destination 2; DeVitto was in Killer Movie; Don Shanks played Michael Myers in Halloween 5 and was in Sweet Sixteen.

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