Tag Archives: I know whatcha did!

DEAD IN 3 DAYS

deadin3days

2.5 Stars  2006/98m

Director: Andreas Prochaska / Writers: Thomas Baum, Uli Bree & Andreas Prochaska / Cast: Sabrina Reiter, Julia Rosa Stockl, Michael Steinocher, Nadja Vogel, Laurence Rupp, Julian Sharp, Andreas Kiendl, Karl Fischer, Amelie Jarolim, Susi Stach.

Body Count: 6

Dire-logue: “You guys are out of your minds – this isn’t a movie it’s fucking real!”


About the trillionth offshore Xerox of I Know What You Did Last Summer, this twee Austrian export can boast some stunning scenery and well above average photography, something Euro-horror does better than most.

A clique of graduating high schoolers each receive the same text message, which tells them they’ll be dead within three days – hence the title, duh. They assume it’s a prank, most likely by the requisite outcast and party on down. The joy of leaving school is somewhat short lived when one of them disappears and turns up bound and weighted in the town’s lake the next day. The usual reactions ensue: the police blame whomever is convenient; the teens grieve and attacks continue.

Dead in 3 Days elects a not-so-obvious final girl in Nina, girlfriend of the recently departed, who is the next to be abducted but escapes from the slicker-clad killer, allowing him/her to move on the next target, beheading them with the help of a splintered fishtank. With the cops now taking notice, the three remaining kids are quizzed about who they think might want them dead and eventually recall an ice-skating accident from their childhood where a school buddy of theirs died and, two days later, his grieving father hanged himself – or did he?

Eventually, the kids break curfew and head to the former home of dead-kid and confront the killer. What should now crank up the considerable amount of tension (the circumstances of the past incident not yet fully clear), instead fizzles out in a flat, kinda rushed finale. Nicely done but too generic to be memorable.

Dubbed into English with more care than most efforts. A sequel followed in 2008.

Blurb-of-interest: As well as the sequel, lead actress Reiter was in One Way Trip 3D a few years later.

#500

sorority-row-fb-poster2SORORITY ROW

3.5 Stars  2009/15/101m

“Sisters for life…and death.”

Director: Stewart Hendler / Writers: Josh Stolberg, Pete Goldfinger & Mark Rosman (original screenplay) / Cast: Briana Evigan, Leah Pipes, Rumer Willis, Jamie Chung, Margo Harshman, Carrie Fisher, Julian Morris, Caroline D’Amore, Matt Lanter, Maxx Hennard, Audrina Patridge, Matt O’Leary.

Body Count: 10

Dire-logue: “You make being a bitch an art form.”


My celebrated 500th slasher flick! Yay or nay? Perhaps a dash of both.

The dreaded R word crops up again in a case of yet another early 80’s pseudo-cult-classic being – ugh, I even hate typing it – “re-imagined”, “re-tooled”, or whatever the hell you want to call it. Actually, I’m not so fazed by them, anything that draws attention to the (usually) superior originals is positive. 1982’s House On Sorority Row is a fairly elusive member of the slasher alumni, one directed with both care and flair by Mark Rosman (who signs on as Exec Producer here), it was another of the moral-dilemma slasher pics from the era, or as everyone on the internet seems to think of them now, films in the I Know What You Did Last Summer mould. ‘Tis true that many-a-film have featured the not-so-secret secret characteristic at their core and it’s a form I quite like, opening up lots of potential for realistic characters and their respective reactions that give us good insight into their persona.

Sorority Row, as it’s now called, is a remake only in that it follows this same basic guideline. The girls of the Theta Pi Sorority are out to teach Megan’s straying boyfriend Garrett a lesson and trick him into thinking she’s died after he slipped her a few roofies given to him by substance-abusing big sis Chugs. President Jessica takes Garrett, supposedly dead Megan, and four other girls away from the house on the promise of taking her to hospital when they take a ‘wrong turn’ and end up at an old mine where a freaked-out Garrett impales her with a tire iron after they discuss the best means to ensure the body doesn’t float.

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With a real body at their feet, the girls (and boy) bicker over what to do. Fortuitously, there is no cell phone reception and a nearby deep mine shaft. Only nominal nice girl Cassidy makes a real case for going to the cops but is out-voted, while nervy smart girl Ellie (we know she’s smart because she’s shy and wears oversized specs) is too broken up to have a say. Jessica convinces them to toss the body down the mine and forget about it. However, it’s nice that, for once, it’s mentioned that they will have to life with the dreadful secret for the rest of their lives.

Eight months later, the girls graduate and prepare to vacate Theta Pi to the tune of a hooj see-ya-later party. Spirits are soon lowered by the arrival of text messages that show the now ‘pimped-up’ tire iron in someone’s grasp. It’s a hell of a lot sharper… The girls assume Garrett is behind it and distract themselves with preparing for their party while a cloaked maniac begins a merry quest to set right their wrong. Could it be Megan’s sister, who’s just turned up out of the blue and wants to pledge? One of the girls themselves, wrecked by guilt? Megan risen from the grave?

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After a few introductory murders, which are not limited to those involved in the prank, the killer baits the remaining girls with further text threats until only they and a sprinkling of others remain at the sorority house, post-party for the home run. It’s this final third where Sorority Row starts to sink under its own weight. The mystery element, up until now, has been engaging, the murders fun without being too grisly and Jessica’s never ending witty retorts and lack of sympathy for anybody else have been continually amusing. There are a few totally unsubtle changes, Carrie Fisher going all Ma Barker with a shotgun and a bizarrely realised threat in the form of another party ‘in the know’ who may or may not be the killer…

Memories of the ill-conceived Black Christmas remake flood back towards the end, which also takes a stroll down Slumber Party Massacre lane towards the flat climax and a not-so-clear “twist” prit-sticked on to the very end. It’s a shame as things were going so well up until the regrouping at the mine, where it becomes clear that perhaps Sorority Row isn’t the straight-faced slasher flick it looked like it was going to be. Case in point: there are certain characters we want to die with an added dose of cruelty because of their abhorrent nature, instead, said individuals are done away with far too quickly and…comically? What’s that about? Where’s the long, harrowing chase before the fatal blow? There are a few too many gags once the killer is unmasked, their exposition pretty feeble and unconvincing – but when did these guys ever play with a full deck, eh?

Ultimately a confusing one, not least because of mixed intentions, but enough merit to engage for the running time, well written dialogue (although most of it belongs to something like Jawbreaker) and a cast of semi-familiar faces to horror fans, plus a good central figure in Evigan’s take on Cassidy and Pipes is great as super-bitch Jessica. Sorority Row is one of those films that probably needs a twice-over to make sure you totally understood where it was taking you. It graduates, but sadly without honours.

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Blurbs-of-interest: Leah Pipes was the heroine in Fingerprints; as was Margo Harshman in Simon Says. Julian Morris was in Cry_Wolf. Carrie Fisher had a cameo in Scream 3.

Everybody knows

ikwydlsI KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER

4.5 Stars  1997/15/97m

“If you’re going to bury the truth, make sure it stays buried.”

Director: Jim Gillespie / Writers: Lois Duncan (novel), Kevin Williamson / Cast: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr., Anne Heche, Johnny Galecki, Bridgette Wilson, Muse Watson.

Body Count: 5

Dire-logue: “Come into the back seat, I’ll let you do things to me.”


I used to post on a horror forum that spewed bile at the mention of most slasher flicks made post-1989, in particular this film. It was hated. Hated with the fire of a thousand suns. “You’re not a true horror fan if you like it!” I was once told. Yeah, cheers for that. This was a few years back, mind. Now it’s kinda old school, the film the next generation of slasher kids’ll say was from the good ol’ days when characters were likeable, plots made sense and you could go to town and back, have dinner and see a movie for under a fiver.

Me, I always liked this one, and when it came out I’d already OD’d on the 80’s flicks, so I wasn’t being, like, totally obnoxious, dude. The 90’s clutch slasher flicks came out in my prime years, I was about twenty, studying film, teen horror was exploding all over again thanks to Scream (or so Scream would say). In the UK it had the oh-so sensible release date of December. Winter. Off through the drizzle and freezing wind to see a film full of gorgeous people set in the summer. Hmph.

Shot as a reaction to Scream‘s success, Last Summer was, once again, scripted by Kevin Williamson and based on the 1973 novel by Lois Duncan – who reportedly hates the movie and whose name does not appear on the opening credits – in which a quartet of teen friends guilty of a hit and run accident the previous year are tormented by creepy notes and psychological games. However, in the book nobody is murdered, hence Duncan’s hatred of the film, which turned her morality tale into a hack n’ slasher. That said, Last Summer is a tame film by any comparison, with little on-screen violence and characters with sensibilites absent in most of the genre examples that preceded it.

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Celebrating their last summer of “immature, adolescent decadence,” smalltown couples Julie and Ray and Barry and recently-crowned beauty queen Helen, head out to a local beach where they drink, fool around, relay urban legends about hook-handed killers and drive back to town along a windy coast road where they mow down a midnight pedestrian. In shock, the boys convince the girls that nobody would believe Ray was driving pisshead Barry’s car and they’d all go to prison. Helen catches on but Julie wants to go to the police. She is outvoted and they toss the body off a dock, but not before he proves he’s not quite dead…

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One year later, a now sullen, miserable Julie returns home from college and receives a note with the title of the movie written on it. It turns out that the hopes and dreams of all four of them have been dashed and she tracks down Helen working at her father’s store, under the supervision of her bitchy older sister Elsa (maybe she knows what they did last summer?); Barry is also back from college and still a prize prick and Ray has become a fisherman. They discuss the note, what it means, and decide that it’s from Max, another local fisherman who drove by on the night they had the accident. He might know what they did last summer too…

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Well, actually he doesn’t as five minutes after an altercation with Barry, Max gets a big-ass fishhook through the chin. Sensing that notes aren’t enough, the killer cranks the harrassment up a notch and runs down Barry with his own car. Forced to reconsider their situation, the group soon find that their tormentor really means business as he edges ever closer to consumating their one year anniversary – July 4th, another calendar date to avoid! Helen has her ever important hair cut off while she sleeps and Julie finds Max’s body stuffed in the trunk of her car.

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Psycho killers are anal about commemorative dates, they never miss an appointment and Captain Birdseye’s Evil Twin is no exception. As night falls, the killings begin… This is where I Know What You Did Last Summer kicks in and kicks ass, peaking with the supremo chase scene where he goes after Helen. It’s highly reminiscent of Wendy’s never ending marathon of fear from Prom Night (which, you’ll note, shares several overlapping story aspects); in her lovely dress, Helen kicks her way out of a squad car, runs, stumbles, hammers on the door of the department store while Elsa faffs with the keys, drops from a high window and staggers bear-footed through some backalleys… It’s a long, drawn out, but very well done scene.

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Once Helen and Barry have been done away with (along with a couple of extras who got in the killer’s way), Julie’s investigating leads her right into the killer’s trap. Or, as it’s called in the trade, a boat. The trawler-set finale is certainly different and Julie goes through all the usual final girl things, hearing out the killer, hiding, screaming lots, all the Jamie Lee-set industry standards. Things end another ‘one year later’ with a cool jump scene right out of a Friday the 13th.

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Buffy didn’t begin on UK TV until the end of 1997 and nobody really knew who Sarah Michelle Gellar was at that point; in hindsight it’s easy to question why she didn’t just kick ass! But it’s good to see a genre icon adopting different roles – hey, JLC never got to play the slutty cheerleader! Jennifer Love Hewitt (at the time in Party of Five with Neve Campbell) makes an interesting, if yet obvious heroine who shrieks effectively and does all the things we expect her to. The boys play their standard-issue boy parts well but are overshadowed by their female counterparts. I tell ya, horror is the only genre where this goes on! Oh, and some reverse perving…

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I can see why some purists don’t warm to this flick; it’s big budget and full of surface gloss and has a preference to build characters and work on dialogue rather than bloodshed in a genre that trades on minimal-everything (except skin). Perhaps they saw it as an insult to the films they held so dear…? There’s no exploitation here, no girls running around naked, marking a point where slasher films became appealing to both genders… The suckiest thing I can say about it is that the DVD has no extras… Not one. Who knows, it works for me just the same as My Bloody Valentine or Terror Train. Can’t I love both?

Blurbs-of-interest: Hewitt and Prinze returned for the cheeseball sequel; Gellar had a cameo in Scream 2; Anne Heche played Janet Leigh’s role in the 1998 Psycho remake. Jim Gillespie later directed D-Tox and the Williamson-scripted Venom. Several of the producers worked on reams of similar films in the same era, including Urban Legend.

Simply not cricket

ikhmryslsI KNOW HOW MANY RUNS YOU SCORED LAST SUMMER

2.5 Stars  2008/18/78m

“Mass murder… It’s just not cricket!”

Directors/Writers: Stacey Edmonds & Doug Turner / Cast: Jay Koutrae, Stacey Edmonds, Az Jackson, Aaron Scully, Alex Sideratos, David Gambin, James Winter, Brian Paul Owens, Otto Heutling, Doug Turner.

Body Count: 11


There’s no rest for the wicket in this no-budget Australian mickey take; someone is murdering cricket players with associated implements and it’s all traced back to ye olde schoolyard bullying – the victim of which is hellbent on destroying those who permanently scarred him…

For reasons that only ever occur in the slasher flick, the investigating cops decide to gather the surviving members of the school team (notably all blokes) and herd them to a remote “safehouse” in the outback. What follows is obvious to the genre: unhappy-chappie materialises and adds to the carcass count with a spiked ball, sharpened wickets and a pseudo-Krueger glove of blades. There’s a also a crotch-defender/codpiece thing with nails hammered through it, forced into one victim’s pants before he’s kicked in the bollocks! The humorous ideas for permanently bowling out the characters are evident but often flawed by the budget constraints and several scenes look padded out to push the film towards a 90 minute duration.

That said, the Australian backdrop makes for an inviting change and the dialogue is littered with chucklesome one-liners and there’s also a twist that’s not so foreseeable (probably due to the simplicity of the entire project), all of which makes the film entertaining enough. The title, however, does not guarantee any cross-over material to I Know What You Did Last Summer, its sequels or content. And watch out for that mental gratuitous shower scene featuring Miss Nude Australia!

THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW

houseonsororityrowTHE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW

3.5 Stars  1982/18/88m

A.k.a. House of Evil (UK video)

Director/Writer: Mark Rosman / Cast: Kathryn McNeil, Eileen Davidson, Lois Kelso Hunt, Christopher Lawrence, Harley Kozak, Janis Zido, Robin Meloy, Jodi Draigie, Ellen Dorsher.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “Can’t you find another place to fuck?”


Brian DePalma’s former assistant wrote and directed this predicament slasher flick, which boasts a decent score and impressive visuals and has remained criminally underrated long enough for somebody to snap up the rights for the forthcoming 2009 remake, titled just Sorority Row.

hsr1Things begin in the misty blueness of 1961, June 19th to be exact, and the birth of a child in a house. Looks and sounds painful. Twenty-one years later, the house – now the sorority of the title – is being evacuated by seven graduating sisters; Liz, Stevie, Katherine, ditzy Morgan, straight-talkin’ Diane, little girl-like Jeanie and rich bitch Vicki. Their miserable housemother, Mrs Slater, wants them out ASAP but they need to stick around to throw a graduation party…

Nothing really ever happens on June 19th – it’s not famous for anything. I know this well as it’s my birthday too! Finally somebody made a slasher flick out of it!

hse2A watery altercation between Slater and Vicki makes the girl mad enough to plot a revenge prank to really sock it to the old beeyatch. Naturally, the prank goes askew and Mrs Slater is shot dead. The girls panic, fight, scream, cry and are eventually forced to hide the body in the unused pool when all the stuff for their party arrives. Guilt and paranoia take over as the sisters attempt to keep up their facade of all being well while the party rages on… But somebody is outside and has Mrs Slater’s iron cane and wants to insert it into those responsible for her untimely death – or is it Mrs S herself?

hsr3Well, no… We knew that really, didn’t we? But the girls don’t and they begin to fall victim to the cane-toting madman, her mentally unstable son, Eric, all the time remaining out of sight. Their party continues in the background when they come to realise Mrs Slater’s body has gone walkabout and they split to try to find her, find her, and then try to get rid of her again, electing to bury her beneath an open grave in a handy nearby cemetery…

hsr4Smart girl Katherine steps up as the reluctant heroine who wanted to call an ambulance right from the start. While Vicki leads the naive ones around trying to cover up their crime, Katherine investigates the mysterious room in the attic, avoids her dorky date and is the first to second guess the disappearances of her friends. Meanwhile, the killings continue, all carried out with the iron cane but largely bloodless and possibly cut down. Rosman reportedly didn’t want much on screen gore in the film and it doesn’t really require much to remain effective.

hsr5Things begin to wrap up with a crazy scientist, Katherine getting doped up, an eerie clown and lots of hallucinations. Rosman has gone for an almost surreal approach to his tale; from the unbelievable reaction the majority of girls have to the accident to their demises, some of which feature dizzying visuals of the pulsing corridor in the sorority house as Jeanie, dressed up like a six-year-old with ribbons in her hair, runs and stumbles before her savage death. At least half of the girls poll sympathy and it’s hard to watch them tortured, something that probably won’t be an issue in the remake, but this forms the essence of the horror so is just about forgivable.

hsr6It’s rare to see a slasher film so in touch with its medium that there’s obvious effort in making it look stunning, taking what worked in its ancestors and recycling it to better visual effect. There are flaws but not many and hopefully the film will be remastered and given the special edition treatment once the remake surfaces.

Ugh...get the plunger, Jeanie's blocked the toilet again

Ugh…get the plunger, Jeanie’s blocked the toilet again

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