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Omicidio Ha Scritto

bloodstained shadow 1978

THE BLOODSTAINED SHADOW

2.5 Stars  1978/109m

Original Title: Solamente Nero

Director/Writer: Antonio Bido / Writers: Domenico Malan & Marisa Andalo / Cast: Lino Capolicchio, Stefania Casini, Craig Hill, Massimo Serato, Juliette Mayniel, Luigi Casellato, Sergio Mioni.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “I’m beginning to be frightened again – take me away from here!”


Imagine this as a kind of feature length pilot of Italian Murder, She Wrote, with Capolicchio as a Professor taking time out of his hectic life in Rome to visit his big brother, a priest on one of the small islands off Venice, where a school girl’s murder years earlier remains unsolved.

On his first night there, big-bro witnesses a murder occur outside his window and begins to receive threatening letters from the apparent killer. The victim, a self-professed medium, and her small group of regulars, including a Count who habitually forces himself upon young boys, a nurse providing illegal abortions, and – gasp! – an atheist doctor, are the ones to find themselves hunted down by the black-gloved, face-never-on-screen killer.

bloodstained shadow 1978

Prof. – who looks just like Howard from The Big Bang Theory – joins forces with artist Sandra, who has a painting that ‘speaks to him’ and finds herself caught up in the drama. Together, they go boating, have sex, and talk about paintings a lot. Meanwhile, the Count gets run through with an antique sword, and the threatening notes keep arriving at the church.

Clocking in just shy of two hours, The Bloodstained Shadow grinds on quite relentlessly, but there are some good scenes – the canal murder-by-boat is inventive, and there are some proto-slasher POV stalking sequences to crank the tension, but throw Angela Lansbury into the mix and this could pass for another trip for Jessica Fletcher to visit her nephew’s cousin’s college roommate’s aunt’s dogsitter and become embroiled in a murder. But you’ll probably clock the killer within the first twenty minutes.

Watch out for the world’s only jump scare-by-accordion.

“All who stay – WILL DIE!”

the tooth fairy 2006

THE TOOTH FAIRY

3 Stars  2006/89m

“The childhood fairytale becomes your worst nightmare!”

Director: Chuck Bowman / Writers: Stephen J. Cannell, Cory Strode, Cookie Rae Brown, Daniel Farrands, Carolyn Davis / Cast: Lochlyn Munro, Chandra West, Nicole Munoz, Carrie Anne Fleming, Stave Bacic, P.J. Soles, Peter New, Ben Cotton, Jesse Hutch, Jianna Ballard, Sonya Salomea, Karin Konovsal.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “Mark my words – all who stay WILL DIE!”


A strange, but endearing alternate take on The Tooth Fairy as a children-hunting killer in the wake of Darkness Falls, which was an unprecedented success with its PG-13 rating. It should be therefore no surprise that a gored-up knock-off would appear soon after.

In 1949, a couple of boys visit an old house where an alleged witch lives. She knows when you’ll lose your baby teeth and offers gifts in exchange for them. With the promise of a shiny new bike, one of the boys enters the house but sees the hag’s face and is chopped up for his trouble, with the other boy legging it.

Fifty-seven years later – yay! not ten or twenty for once – ex-city doc Peter (Munro) has bought the same house and is renovating it into a country inn. For the weekend arrives girlfriend Darcy (West, who may well have been cast for her likeness to Emma Caulfield), and her 10-year-old daughter Pam, who quickly befriends the ghost of a local girl, who fills her in on the legend. On the way back from this, Pam falls off her bike and knocks her final baby tooth out! Gasp.

tooth fairy 2006

While Peter and Darcy battle a couple of hicks in town, Pam becomes convinced The Tooth Fairy is after her – fueled by P.J. Soles as the requisite neighbour in a cloak who tells them they’ll all die, initially in an Irish accent that soon fades into generic American twang. Nevertheless, a series of gooey deaths ensue as promised: The hunky help is fed into a woodchipper, a kooky psychic is nail-gunned to a wall, a dick is sliced off, decapitation… This is anything but the off-camera kills of Darkness Falls. In truth, it probably has more in common with the same year’s Fingerprints.

Where The Tooth Fairy succeeds is in its slightly more invested characterisations and subsequent dialogue: Peter’s old buddy rocks up with his aura-sensing girlfriend, who utters awesome things like “a transcendent evil has been awakened in this house,” and “your personal landscape is a manuscript written by your actions – when you fight you always lose more than you redeem.” Munoz impresses as the pre-teen heroine, although exchanges between the child actors are sometimes clunky, the Are You Afraid of the Dark-stylings are more enabling in this case.

the tooth fairy 2006

Things become slightly undone as the final edges towards its finale, with ridiculous decision-making shoehorned in to up the body count, undermining the good work done at the start. It’s all forgivable though, given the effort clearly put in by the filmmakers to create something with characters we don’t instantly hate.

Blurbs-of-interest: Lochlyn Munro was in Hack!, Scary Movie and Freddy vs Jason, along with Jesse Hutch; Nicole Munoz was in Scarecrow (2013); P.J. Soles was Lynda in Halloween, and can also be seen in Innocent Prey and Uncle Sam; Ben Cotton was in Harper’s Island, Scar, and Stan Helsing; Chuck Bowman previously directed Dead Above Ground.

“I’m beginning to suspect foreplay.”

psycho cop returns 1992

PSYCHO COP RETURNS

2 Stars  1993/18/82m

“He’s the life and death of any party.”

A.k.a. Psycho Cop 2

Director: Rif Coogan [Adam Rifkin] / Writer: Dan Povenmire / Cast: Bobby Ray Shafer, Barbara Lee Alexander, Roderick Darin, Miles David Dougal, Nick Vallelonga, Dave Bean, Julie Strain, Alexandria Lakewood, Priscilla Huckleberry, John Paxton, Justin Carroll, Kimberly Speiss, Al Schuermann.

Body Count: 9

Laughter Lines: “Anything you say can and will be considered extremely strange because… you’re dead.”


It’s like twenty years since I picked this up on VHS at a time when the first film hadn’t even been released here. Not that you need it to follow the relatively simple opus of big dude kills office bods at an after hours party.

Hulking Satanic officer of the law Joe Vickers overhears plans for a bachelor party at an office block and decides to crash, hunting down the horny young execs, the strippers they invite, the nightwatchman, a couple who stuck around to have sex in the copy room… He’s not short on fodder. Victims are stabbed in the eye with pencils, thrown down elevator shafts, impaled to the wall, and photocopied to death.

With each demise, Shafer has a Krueger-esque quip to add, many of which are groan worthy, and the film can’t help itself from leaving the door open for the sadly never realised opportunity that would’ve been Psycho Cop vs. Maniac Cop vs. RoboCop. Amusing in a ten-years-too-late kinda way, but viewing the trailer earlier I wasn’t tempted to watch the whole thing again. Curiously, it took one week to film in 1992 but remained unreleased until mid-1994.

Blurbs-of-interest: Shafer had a small part (as a cop!) in Monster Man; Director Rifkin acted in Bikini Island and Last Dance, the latter also featuring Kimberly Speiss; Julie Strain was later in Bleed.

 

Dinner and a movie?

wrong turn 2 dead end 2007

WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END

3 Stars  2007/18/93m

“Evil awaits.”

Director: Joe Lynch / Writers: Turi Meyer & Al Septien / Cast: Erica Leerhsen, Henry Rollins, Texas Battle, Aleksa Palladino, Daniella Alonso, Steve Braun, Matthew Currie Holmes, Crystal Lowe, Kimberly Caldwell, Wayne Robson, Ken Kirzinger, Ashlea Earl, Clint Carleton, Rorelee Tio.

Body Count: 14


A slightly overrated flick for a change, Wrong Turn 2 came courtesy of Adam Green’s buddy Joe Lynch, who throws virtually everything at his project, going OTT on the back of the straight-faced 2003 original, which pit city kids against a trio of backwoods in-breds, marrying together the best attributes of Just Before Dawn and Deliverance with a dash of post-Scream sensibility, without going too far down the ha-ha track.

Cashing on the then-zeitgeist of reality TV horror, WT2 centers around a survival show named Ultimate Survivor: Apocalypse, presented by retired marine Rollins, which sends six aesthetically pleasing youngsters into the woods to fend for themselves against production-created tasks and the like. However, they run afoul of the extended family of the cannibals from last time, including Ma, Pa, several kids – all deformed in even whackier ways than the trifecta of loonies from the first movie.

wrong turn 2 dead end 2007 henry rollins

Masses of drippy gore, a vegan being force-fed minced-person, T&A, 80s-style macho posturing, mutant incest, a backwoods birth, a meat grinder you could drive a truck through – it’s easy to see why gore fans had a lot to shout about. Elsewhere, the film toys with expectations, setting up an obvious final girl, only to kill her early on and nominate a far more rough-cut character as a proxy. Rollins owns the entire flick as the hard on the outside, soft-centered presenter, who learns early on of the threat and goes all Platoon as the situation worsens.

Lynch’s leanings towards Evil Dead-style if-it-moves-throw-a-bucket-of-blood-over-it splatstick isn’t usually my kind of thing, and Wrong Turn isn’t a series I can really get that enthusiastic about (original excepted), but if you catch this during a couple of hours where you haven’t recently, or don’t plan on imminently eating anything, it’s good for some sticky laughs.

wrong turn 2 dead end 2007 erica leehrsen

Blurbs-of-interest: Erica Leehrsen was previously in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and Lonely Joe; Daniella Alonso was in The Collector; Texas Battle and Crystal Lowe were both in Final Destination 3, and she was also in the Black Christmas remake and Children of the Corn: Revelation; Ken Kirzinger played Jason in Freddy vs Jason and played Mason in Stan Helsing.

“Do you really think it’s a slasher?”

10 to midnight 1983

10 TO MIDNIGHT

3 Stars  1983/18/98m

“A cop… A killer… A deadline…”

Director: J. Lee Thompson / Writer: William Roberts / Cast: Charles Bronson, Lisa Eilbacher, Andrew Stevens, Gene Davis, Wilford Brimley, Geoffrey Lewis, Jeana Tomasina, Kelly Preston [as Kelly Palzis], Iva Lane, Ola Ray.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “If anybody does something like this – his knife has got to be his penis.”


The title of this could be 25 to Four or Quarter Past Eight for all the relevance it has to the film’s content, but perhaps it relates to the time this kind of 80s cop-vs-killer flick always seems to play on late night cable.

Like every other thriller of this ilk, 10 to Midnight pushes forth a rather maverick cop, who has an estrange daughter we know will be targeted by the maniac before the credits roll.In a sort of meta-slasher way, things begin with a crank confessing to murders, stating that when he “catches ‘em breaking the Lord’s Commandments, I slash ‘em with a razor!” while Charles Bronson’s grizzled detective Kessler clacks away at the typewriter.

10 to midnight 1983

Meanwhile, we’re introduced to our skeezy killer, buff young office plod Warren Stacey (Davis), who torments two girls at the movies to serve as an alibi while he creeps out of the bathroom window and drives into the woods where he attacks a pair of lovers going at it in their van, killing the guy straight off, and chasing the nude girl through the trees until she just kinda gives up and cries a lot. What is notable about 10 to Midnight is that the killer is also buck naked when he slashes, so as well as the T&A we expect, there are also some fleeting cock shots, although most of the time his appendage is hidden by branches, bed frames, and other objects in the foreground. Like Austin Powers.

Kessler meets his young new partner, McCann (Stevens), and learn from the victim’s roommate that she kept a diary of every guy she slept with. This information reaches Stacey, who worked with the victim and suspects she may have written about him in her diary, when he attends her funeral. There, he bumps into Kessler’s nursing student daughter, Laurie, who asks if they’ve met before. Stacey breaks into the apartment of his victim to steal the diary – awesomely kept in a a box with ‘My Diary’ emblazoned all over it – and ends up knifing her roomie, who comes home.

10 to midnight 1983

WHAT COULD IT BE???

The cops eventually get to Stacey for an interview and Kessler immediately suspects him, in spite of the cinema alibi, and goes all out to prove it. Stacey takes to stalking Laurie, plaguing her with sexually-explicit crank calls, which leads to McCann hanging around to protect her and them eventually falling for each other, as always happens. This enables the slow repair of father-daughter relationship. There’s a trial, a dismissal, Kessler bugs Stacey until he goes after Laurie and her bouncy nurse friends at their dorm, in the film’s slashiest scene.

10 to Midnight functions entirely predictably when watched anytime after 1990, tidily checking off almost every cliche you could hope for in a Charles Bronson thriller, and is really only memorable for being a bit more exploitative than most, with the liberal attitude to nudity throughout, and the pervy stuff Stacey utters to Laurie during his phone calls.

10 to midnight 1983

It’s clear the character is an amalgamation of Ted Bundy and slayer of nurses Richard Speck: Stacey stalks his nubile victims in his VW Beetle, is athletic and handsome, and ultimately ends up slaughtering most of his victims in their dormitory. When Bundy advised that the cops stage a slasher movie festival to catch the Green River Killer in the mid-80s, he probably would’ve creamed his pants over this one, which borrows heavily from his documented crimes.

Bronson, then 61, looks a little tired out going through the motions, but Eilbacher is a hoot as his sarcastic daughter: “Maybe we should check your prostate?” she says to McCann; “Oh, you’ve got to stop being so shy,” he responds. The other female characters are sketchy at best: Victims who either cower and squeal and make no attempt to fight back, an off-the-shelf mouthy hooker, and the over-acting manager who takes the call informing her of the first murder.

10 to midnight 1983

There’s some surface visual flair, but compared to Thompson’s previous slasher outing, Happy Birthday to Me, which stood out amongst its peers, this seems quite a pedestrian affair. “Do you think it’s a slasher?” someone asks when the murders are being discussed, alluding possibly to early production meetings about what film they were making.

Blurbs-of-interest: Carmen Filpi (the hotel clerk) played the kooky priest who gives Donald Pleasence a ride in Halloween 4; Geoffrey Lewis was also in Out of the Dark and Fingerprints; Wilford Brimley was in Death Valley.

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