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The 100 Greatest* Slasher Movies: #100-91

*According to me. Me, me, me. So there’re bound to be a good few ‘classics’ missing.

Commencement:

100: Slumber Party Massacre III (1990)

Straight-up driller-killer cheese as an impotent loon lays waste to a gaggle of teenage girls gathered at a friend’s house for a sleepover. Over-acting, tits, death by vibrator – SPMIII has it all.

Crowning moment: The remaining few girls strike back with oestrogenic fury, throwing a mix of household chemicals in his face and beating him with crutches n’ stuff.

99: The Prowler (1981)

Gruesome early fare with “the first graduation dance in 35 years” crashed by a psychotic G.I. wielding a nasty pitchfork, who skewers, slashes, and shoots his way around the college campus. Tom Savini’s excellent effects work standout in an otherwise slower-than-hell flick.

Crowning moment: A toss-up between the opening murder (set in 1945) and the nasty-ass shower kill. Points lost for killing the nice teacher but allowing a horny couple to live. See Trade-a-Life II.

98: Tormented (2009)

The United Kingdom’s first theatrically released slasher film in some years: An undead suicide victim, bullied until he hanged himself, reaps his bloody revenge on the responsible group of nasty school kids, including death by pencils up the nose, guillotined hands, and shovel decapitation.

Crowning moment: A half-dressed jock chased across the school grounds and wedgied to his skewery death.

97: Bloody Homecoming (2012)

An attempted date-rape is thwarted, only to start a fire that burns the would-be rapist to death. At the Homecoming Dance of the  teenage friends and the near-victim, they are each stalked and done in by a maniac dressed as a fireman. The fact that the writer is a friend of mine has no bearing on its place here.

Crowning moment: A pleasant excess of chase scenes absent from the horrible Prom Night remake. Which didn’t quite reach the Top 100.

96: Stagefright (1986)

Michele Sovai’s Argento-inspiring gorefest: A famous serial killer hitches a ride into the rehearsal space of a play, dons a creepy bird mask, and proceeds to make cuts to the cast roster. Super gory and unflinchingly brutal, albeit often overrated.

Crowning moment: Ingenue final girl Alicia has to retrieve the key to her escape from beneath the killer’s feet.

95: He Knows You’re Alone (1980)

Amy (Caitlin O’Heaney) is a bride-to-be stalked by a bride-to-be hating killer in this brazen Halloween clone, even down to the tinkling piano score. More notable as an early role for Tom Hanks, there’s a lot of charisma in this tame affair.

Crowning moment: The murder-at-the-slasher-movie intro, which pre-dates the Scream 2 scene by 17 years, and features Russell Todd from Friday the 13th Part 2.

94: Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Not the only Sleepaway Camp film in this countdown, but this Noo Yawk shot Friday the 13th variant has a viciously infamous final shot that turns everything upside down as well as some of the most inventive murders in the genre.

Crowning moment: A group of teenagers run to the water’s edge and gasp, the camera pulls back, and there’s shy Angela, buck naked – and she has a cock!

93: Intruder (1988)

Scott Spiegel’s slasher flick on speed featuring his buddies Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. The teenage employees at a closing down supermarket find themselves done in by an inventive killer, who favours the gorier end of the teen-dispatch spectrum…

Crowning moment: The final girl’s crush having his head forced into a buzz saw in Evil Dead-esque graphic style… Or the head in the box-crusher… A lot of unforgettable slayings in this one.

92: Unhinged (1982)

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A constant cloud of dread hangs over this low-bud Psycho rip-off, which puts three stranded teenage girls into a scary old manor house after a car accident. Perturbed by the weird relationship between the man-hating wheelchair-bound matriarch and her repressed daughter, their time there is soon made worse by a mystery killer hunting them down…

Crowning moment: Shown in the still above, this murder really is a bolt from the blue. Despite appearing on the Video Nasties list, it’s not a particularly grisly one.

91: A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

Or ‘the gay one’. Freddy’s second outing (huzzah!) is littered with clear subtext as he repeatedly takes over camp 80s teen Jesse’s body and makes him kill folks. Such a departure from the winning formula that it’s largely hated, but Freddy was still pretty scary back in ’85…

Crowning moment: The school bus nightmare intro, which captures bad dreaminess perfectly, from Jesse’s inferiority complex to the earth caving in to a hellish underworld…

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Come back soon for #90 – 81

TGI Friday: Move over Jason, here comes Skullface

After the joy that was rendering Hell Night in Lego – Hellego Night – it was back to the drawing board, or rather design software thingy, to create what is surely my life’s work… CAMP CRYSTAL LAKE IN LEGO.

I give you, Camp Bryckstal Lake… (PS, the blue house is loosely modelled after the main cabin from Friday 2).

The idyllic surroundings of summer camp… complete with a little pontoon out on to the lake where our skull-faced killer ‘drowned’ years earlier…

Our merry band of camp counsellors: Shelley, Lori, Dan, Alexa, Rob, and Alexa’s twin bro Chad, plus Horatio the Dog. But who’s that lurking behind the trees?

“There’s a legend ’round here… a killer buried, bot NOT DEAD!” Rob tells his naive comrades.

“But it’s just a harmless campfire story, right?”

“Whoop! Here’s to the best summer of our young, very long lives! Let’s all get drunk and have sex!”

“Is someone out there?”

“Gaaaaaaaahhhh! It was only a story!”

…and then there was one!

“Ha! Eat this Skullface!”

“This is the lake they used for Shark Night 3D as well – go to hell motherfucker!”

“We’re the only survivors, Horatio! Next year, let’s just get a summer job in a diner. I hear they’re re-opening that one in town where the murders took place.”

“Yes, that’s right – it’s all over… What’s up, boy?”

“More ghouls!? No, it can’t be! Aaaarrggghhhh!”

 

“Why won’t you just fucking die?”

Not quite Trade-a-Life, but there are some films where somebody should cark it, and then doesn’t. Here are a few of them:

Scott from Bloodmoon (1989)

Set at the posh Winchester private school, you can bet your life that there would be no shortage of utter pricks flouncing about, and in the slasher movie realm, these horrible individuals should meet a grisly end. Not so in Bloodmoon, where ringleader of the twats, Scott, is not only having sex with the wife of a teacher (who turns out to be the killer), but is cruel to people, starts fights, gets by on being rich, and DOESN’T DIE! even when caught by the killer in bed with his missus! He just lets him go and shoots her instead. One of those movies where girls are done in on all sides but boys can act like total assholes and get away with it.

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Crissy from Prom Night (2008)

Queen Bee from Whatever High is hellbent on being crowned Prom Queen, but her dream is thwarted by the arrival of a loony killer who’s after boring final girl Donna. What’s more infuriating for her is that before she evacuates, she rips open the envelope to find one of her nicer rivals was to be crowned instead. Said nicer rival has been slashed to ribbons elsewhere while schemey, Mean Girl-lite Crissy strides out of there intact. Boo.

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Tracy from Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)

As they went on, the Elm Street films became less and less concerned with horror and more about cameos and tie-in merchandise. Such is the case in what was, at the time, the supposed last hurrah for Freddy Krueger, as he slashed his way through some teens from a halfway house after they venture into Springwood. There’s already a nominal final girl in Maggie (Lisa Zane), who turns out be to connected to Freddy, and Yaphet Kotto is around too, but why spare Tracy? The other victims – all boys – number a paltry three and the film really could’ve benefitted from another decent scene. Her survival is pretty pointless in a genre where it’s all about body count.

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Dr Reynolds / Pervy Teacher from Final Exam (1981)

According to myth, Dr Reynolds was to be offed in the script, but the budget was so tight they had to cut the scene. Instead, we’re left with a situation echoing that of Bloodmoon where the girl is punished with death after engaging in an affair with her married teacher and he lives to lecture another day!

*

Paul from Halloween (1978)

What does Paul look like? Whoever he is, he was lucky to escape the same fate that ended Laurie’s crush on Ben Tramer. But wouldn’t it have been cool if El Jerko come to the Wallace house looking for Annie after she never turned up to collect him? Did he just forget about it and go out with his buddies? This is the solitary plus point that Rob Zombie’s version of the film gets; Paul did come over and he did run into Michael Myers and he did die.

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There’s nothing wrong or uncreative about playing the the fates of characters; in fact I’d encourage the makers of slasher films not to be predictable with who does or doesn’t buy the farm, but these guys, they really should’ve been found skewered in a corner somewhere as they kinda deserved it…

The Horror Movie Converter

Too many films come out with plots that waste a perfectly good opportunity for horror. This will not do. Let’s run a few through the Vegan Voorhees Horror Convertatron 3000…

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FILM: One Direction: This Is Us

AS IT IS: Reportedly an “insight” into the “lives” of “boyband” One Direction. Directed by Morgan Spurlock. According to the poster, it’s not a movie, it’s “a motion picture event.” Rumour has it that if you play their albums backwards, you can hear Simon Cowell laughing.

WHAT IT SHOULD BE ABOUT: Jealous of all the attention afforded to Harry Styles, the glorified backing singers decide enough is enough and plot to kill him, only Harry Styles has other plans and defects to arch-rivals The Wanted, who begin a systematic plan of abducting and replacing the members of One Direction.

FILM: Twilight

AS IT IS: A really sullen, really boring girl moves to a really dismal, really boring town that’s inhabited by vampires. Only these vampires are vegetarian and, rather than eat people, they play baseball and glow in the sunlight.

WHAT IT SHOULD BE ABOUT: The vampires grow a pair and kill the fuck out of everyone in the town. Buffy comes along and kills the fuck out of them. Outcome: Town is less boring and vampires no longer reduced to ridiculous levels of anodyne patheticness.

FILM: Inception

AS IT IS: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, that girl from Juno, and some other people who I don’t remember operate through multiple layers of dreams to plant seeds of an idea in the head of someone important who I also don’t remember. But is any of it real?

WHAT IT SHOULD BE ABOUT: Freddy Krueger, pissed at the bastardisation of any dream related film thatdoesn’tfeature him killing people and saying witty things about it, intrudes on DiCaprio and co’s little game and decides that, while they’re all trapped in said dreamland, he may as well slash them all to ribbons.

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So there we have it, three big films that could’ve been so much more just by bundling them up and cramming them through the Horror Movie Converter.

 

 

A brief overview of FrightFest

So, I went to London’s 14th FrightFest 5-day horror love-in at Leicester Square – albeit for two days rather than the entire thing – and saw eight movies. Before we get down to reviewing the three titles that fit in well with Vegan Voorhees’ missive, for anyone interested in the other stuff I saw, here’s a quick overview of what I thought…

THE DEAD 2: INDIA

3 Stars

When people gawk in asking me WHY I don’t watch The Walking Dead, it’s because zombie films leave me on a downer, regardless of how good they are. If there’s no hope of survival, it’s time to pop the anti-depressants.

I haven’t seen The Dead but it didn’t seem necessary for this film, which pits American windfarm-engineer Jim Millson against an army of toddling undead, while he and a ten-year-old orphan try to make it to Mumbai to save his pregnant girlfriend.

The on-location filming is excellent and photography well above par, but I can’t judge how it compares to other examples in a genre I tend to avoid.

CURSE OF CHUCKY

3 Stars

Don Mancini and Fiona Dourif introduced (and took Q&A) on this sixth tale of Chucky’s homicidal lunacy – plus we all got Chucky masks! He gets himself sent to wheelchair-bound Nica (Dourif) and her depressed mother, who mysteriously dies later that night.

Nica’s sister comes to stay with her husband, daughter, and au pair, and brings along Father Frank, and little Alice adopts the dolls as her own. Nica soon becomes suspicious of the ever-moving doll, who poisons, electrocutes, axes, and stabs those in the house one by one. Things end with some surprise cameos by cast members past, the best of which comes at the end of the credits.

I’ve never loved the Child’s Play series but it’s always been consistent and enjoyable enough, though the appearance of one particular character baffled me. As this entry is going straight to DVD, the budget is clearly lower, almost entirely set in one house, but Chucky looks neat and there’s some great one-liners: “It’s a doll – what’s the worst that could happen?” being the one that got the best reaction in the cinema. Full review to follow soon.

YOU’RE NEXT

4 Stars

A family reunion for a 35th wedding anniversary is crashed by a trio of weapon-toting loons in masks, who spear, slash, stab, and hack the kin to death.

The draw of this pacey home invasion-cum-slasher flick is that the attackers didn’t count on the girlfriend of one of the family sons having grown up at a survivalist camp in the middle of the Australian outback and has no qualms about fighting back with more ferocity than imaginable.

The gung-ho actions of the final girl got rapturous applause as she defeated the assailants one by one, using everything from a meat-mallet to a blender! Despite the free one-sheets we got, I can’t see this doing very well at the box office, but it deserves to.

THE DYATLOV PASS INCIDENT

4 Stars

An unexpected gem, freakin’ RENNY HARLIN directed this found-footage flick, which follows five American students (at least two of whom are played by British actors, who introduced the film) on a Blair Witch Project-style gambit to a Russian mountain where, in 1959, nine professional hikers were found dead in very bizarre circumstances. True story!

Things aren’t quite right. There are footprints in the snow in the morning, strange sounds, a severed tongue, and things just go from bad to worse.

Found footage films aren’t always particularly involving but I really liked this one, subtle by Harlin’s standards – barely an explosion in sight. The ending requires a healthy dose of disbelief to appreciate the threads that are being drawn together.

THE CONJURING

4 Stars

This wasn’t actually playing but as we didn’t fancy any of the three films available after Dyatlov Pass, we defected to another cinema down the road to finally see this.

Likelihood is you know all about it, so I’ll just say films about hauntings are the only ones that really give me the chills, Insidious being a prime example, and this did not disappoint.

Though the scariest aspect by far was the trailer for the fucking One Direction movie tacked on to the beginning because, y’know, “all trailers are relevant to the main feature…” Guh? Can only pray that the One Direction film is a slasher movie.

HATCHET III

1 Stars

The dud of the festival – what I saw of it – was the third and final entry in the never very good Hatchet franchise, which sees Danielle Harris’ Marybeth left in the slammer and blamed for the murders by Sheriff Zach Galligan; his ex-wife Caroline Williams (Stretch from Texas Chainsaw 2) claims she knows how to defeat Victor Crowley once and for all – as it appears that Marybeth’s annihilation of him was futile.

Paramedics, cops, and a SWAT team head back to the swamp and find themselves done in by the invincible Crowley.

Adam Green (who introduced it) handed the director’s reigns over the BJ McDonnell, but there’s virtually fuck all to work with except Kane Hodder killing stupid amounts of stupid people, most of whom arrogantly assume they can finish him off.

More horror cameos crop up, though they’re less interesting than the first two outings. Can only hope that this finale really IS the finale.

HAUNTER

3.5 Stars

If Groundhog Day turned spooky, this would be it. Abigail Breslin is a girl on the eve of her fifteenth birthday. Everyday. She and her Mom, Dad, and squeaky-voiced little brother are stuck in a perpetual ghost loop, living out the final day of their lives in 1985. But only Lisa is aware of it.

The more she investigates her situation, the more she uncovers about what happened in the house before they ever lived there, attracting the unwanted attention of the serial killer who also haunts the place in a parallel timeline, and he’s able to convince the living to commit murders from beyond the grave.

While not quite as clever as it thinks it is and not nearly eerie enough, Haunter is a good movie, though the kind you only ever need to see the once.

V/H/S/2

3.5 Stars

I caught the first V/H/S at FrightFest last year but didn’t like it at all, though it did feature a meta-slasher episode, which was kinda fun. Fortunately, this follow up is exponentially better, featuring four shorts that are draped around a couple of investigators who break into a house to look for a missing college kid.

The first video follows a man with a sort of bionic eye after an ocular injury. Trouble with super-eye is that is shows him the spirits of the dead around him. And the more he interacts with them, the more damage they can do to him.

Next is a cycle-helmet-cam shot zombie tale, gory and funny, following a poor forest biker who’s bitten, turns, and them lollops about trying to eat people.

The third section is an Indonesian documentary on a cult leader, who allows a film crew into the compound, which soon reveals itself to have a sinister endgame…

Lastly, annoying teenagers with cellphones mess around when their parents go away for the weekend and find themselves attacked by long-limbed aliens, that make a lot of noise, coloured smoke, and abduct the kids. It’s a difficult one to gauge with given the ever-shaking cameras and that the cute little dog who wears the camera for much of it is cruelly killed off. The kids can die, but not the dog.

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