Tag Archives: obvious identity of killer

I Snow What You Did Last Summer

iced 1988


2.5 Stars  1988/87m

“A downhill vacation becomes a nightmare of terror. Get of the hill before you get iced.”

Director: Jeff Kwitny / Writer: Joseph Alan Johnson / Cast: Debra DeLiso, Doug Stevenson, Lisa Loring, Ron Kologie, Joseph Alan Johnson, Elizabeth Gorcey, John C. Cooke, Dan Smith, Michael Picardi.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “It was one of those flicks where you only watch the film if someone’s naked or getting killed – or both!”

The height of summer! It’s too hot. Let’s cool down.

In 1988, some six years after major studios had lost interest in any slasher film other than franchise sequels for Jason, Freddy or Michael, somebody must have owed scribe/actor Joseph Alan Johnson a big favour when they made his soggy script into a film.

Why? Possibly because nobody had done murder on the slopes (unless you count the unknown tripe that was Satan’s Blade) and this left the door ajar for a new angle on a genre everyone was sick to death of. Be it ever so cliché in every other aspect, Iced isn’t actually that bad a film, just a little frosty around the edges.

Two guys fighting over a girl challenge each other to a late night race down the slopes, which will apparently determine who gets to hang out with her. The pissed off loser gets drunk and ends up skiing himself off a cliff edge onto some rocks and dying. Four years go by and his ex-friends (who don’t seem to like each other much) are invited for a weekend at a new condo for one of those time-share sales things.

Murder and mayhem ensure courtesy of a ‘mystery’ skier who is partial to dispatching his targets with ski poles, bear traps and even icicles. Could it be the not so dearly departed? Or has one of the group gone schizo after years of guilt and decided to redress the balance? With virtually no suspects other than that who is unmasked, it’s a very unexciting revelation and probably one that needn’t have been bothered with in the first place. That said, I can’t remember who the killer was. Impact.

With little in the way of invention outside of the locale, Iced relies on tried and tested methods and gets a good deal of help from its impressive score, one that’s probably too intense for the comparatively anodyne setup, and pads out dull scenes with enough sex to qualify as soft porn, some of which is even visualised as dream sequences!

Shades of both April Fool’s Day and The Big Chill creep in, and this was virtually remade in 2001 as Shredder, which is a lot more fun.

Blurbs-of-interest: Debra DeLiso was one of the doomed girls in The Slumber Party Massacre, which co starred Johnson, who had the lead role in Berserker. Lisa Loring was in Blood Frenzy.


out of the darkOUT OF THE DARK

2.5 Stars  1988/18/84m

“Mother always wared her: Never talk to strangers…”

Director: Michael Schroeder / Writers: J. Gregory De Felice & Zane W. Levitt / Cast: Cameron Dye, Lynn Danielson, Karen Black, Tracey Walter, Bud Cort, Silvana Gallardo, Divine, Geoffrey Lewis, Karen Mayo-Chandler, Starr Andreeff, Karen Witter.

Body Count: 8

‘Frightening erotic’ – what?

DePalma-style outing with a creepy clown-masked nutter doing away with the girls who work for Black’s 0900 service “Suite Nothings”. Could it be the owner’s bitter and drunken ex-husband? Or how about the pervert accountant downstairs? All suspicion tends to rest on the shoulders of photographer Dye who, with girlfriend Danielson, tires to suss out the mystery for themselves.

Stylish and sometimes atmospheric, but the effect wears thin after the initial murders, and just becomes a let’s-clear-my-name do-it-yourself detective movie with a twist that isn’t revealing enough to warrant all the pondering. Still, the good use of photography, realistic characters (though Divine is only on-screen for a matter of seconds in this, his last film) and some wicked send-ups of other horror-greats fill in for some of the missing elements; especially funny is the Halloween-ripped final few minutes with post-motive speeches and plot coils galore.

Look for swift appearances by Lainie Kazan, Tab Hunter and Paul Bartel as a hooker, driver and hotel clerk respectively.

Blurbs-of-interest: Karen Black was also in Children of the Corn IV: The GatheringCurse of the Forty-NinerOliver Twisted, and Some Guy Who Kills People; Karen Witter was later in Popcorn; Tab Hunter was in Pandemonium; Paul Bartel was in Killer Party and Trick or Treats.

I Was Made for Killin’ You Baby


1.5 Stars  1980/84m

Director: Don Edmonds / Writer: Dell Lekus / Cast: Rick Styles, Chip Greenman, Dave Galluzzo, Richard Pemberton, Larry Thomasof, Jeff Morgan, Dave Thompson, Lisa Rodriguez, John Green.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “I had to kill them… They had no moral boundaries at all. They were whores.”

The Clowns are a KISS-lite rock band on the way up, who dress in campy makeup and capes, and feign executions of nubile dancers during their show… But their road to success is endangered by the murders of groupies-cum-prostitutes at their gigs. The fiendish slayer dresses identically to the band for his murderous outings, so it could be anyone. ANYONE!

Well, not really. There’s only really the band, their manager, and a couple of roadies on the suspect list. It’s not especially challenging to correctly guess who it is and the revelation, complete with the standardized misogynistic motive (see Laughter Lines), is a through-the-motions affair.

Terror on Tour was reportedly shot in just seven days, with the real band (The Names) largely playing themselves, acting duties fall largely to their manager, the roadie guys, a detective who appears halfway through, and the ex-junkie girl he hires to infiltrate the backstage area and bait the killer.

The other ‘characters’ – or rather the victims – are barely afforded names let alone anything else to do than remove their clothes and say things like: “Come on baby, I’m ready, ooh you turn me on so much.” It’s sleazy, grindhousey, underlit, has bad sound, and – worst of all: Boring.

tot1Things do pick up a little when Jane, the bait, arrives, and I expected her to function as a sort of last-minute final girl, but she’s cruelly knifed when she encounters the killer, leaving no female intact come the end. But, I suppose there have been more than a few films where no men were left standing.

As far as metalsploitation films go, at the least the band’s music isn’t suicidally bad for a once, it’s no better nor worse than Rocktober Blood.

Blurbs-of-interest: Rodriguez was in Home, Sweet Home, which shares its producer Sandy Cobe, with this film, as well as To All A Goodnight and Open House. Cobe appears here at the theater manager at the first show.

The Blood Baths

pooldvdTHE POOL

3.5 Stars  2001/15/92m

“Evil has surfaced.”

A.k.a. Swimming Pool: Der Tod Felert Mit

Director/Writer: Boris von Sychowski / Writers: Lorenz Stassen & Ryan Carrassi / Cast: Kristen Miller, Elena Uhlig, Thorsten Grasshoff, John Hopkins, James McAvoy, Jason Liggett, Jonah Lotan, Isla Fisher, Cordelia Bugeja, Maximilian Grill, Lynda Rybová, Bryan Carney.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “Forget it, Frank, I’d put an end to your sex life before it even got started.”

Beware! Spoilers ahead.

The triangular formation of pretty young faces tells us where the influence for this collaborative European venture hails from. The Pool even starts with the old girl-tormented-in-house routine, as a planned dinner date is crashed by a skull-masked machete-swinging schizo.

At the International Highschool of Prague, exams wrap up and everyone wants to party, which is the big thing for rich, popular man-about-campus Gregor, who is renowned for his amazing secret after-parties. Obv heroine/American Sarah is smart and nice, everyone’s friend blah blah blah, while her German BFF, Carmen, is the promiscuous siren. There’s also Scottish bloke, British bloke, American bloke, German bloke, Australian girl, Czech girl, and girl-whose-accent-I-couldn’t-place.

pool7Scottish bloke and Australian girl are boyfriend/girlfriend, and also happen to be played by bona fide Hollywood A-listers to be James McAvoy and Isla Fisher. No big name should go without having been in a teen horror film before hitting the big time. It’s law. Anyway, She’s screwed up her final and is a bad mood, which lends well to her storming off and being the next one to meet Mr Skullface, who stalks her through the woods in an effectively pumped chase scene.

After the official school graduation ball thingy, the gang meet up and Gregor leads them convoy style to a pool complex outside the city. Swimsuits are provided, nobody knows they’re there, and they successfully jimmy their way into the bar. Awesome times ahead.

Well, awesome times would be ahead were it not for one of the group having stopped taking their meds, slaughtering his own stepsister, and is now among them at the party. But who, who? A grumpy detective in on the case, but he inexplicably speaks English to his Czech colleagues and says “damn kids” a lot. He’ll be useful.

pool1Sarah doesn’t swim and she doesn’t talk about it. Although later, when the issue is forced, her big secret warrants a one-line exposition of “oh… is that it?” gravitas. She lets the others have fun, flirt, pair off, la de da…

Up next is the infamous waterslide murder. An inventive set piece I’m sure we’ve all worried about at one time or another while sliding down the inside of a plastic tube towards God-knows-what. What if there’s crap in the splash pool? Or a dead body? *gasp* what is something sharp penetrated the floor of the slide!? See the results in this old Icky Way To Go. Ouch.

The murders are discovered and the group find that they are locked inside. Spitting into two groups, as numbers deplete, Sarah’s friends try to convince her that Gregor (elsewhere) is the most likely suspect. He brought them there. He made loads of suspicious statements earlier. One half of the group attempts to escape through the venting system, only for the killer to start piercing it with the machete.

pool2By this point it’s fairly obvious who the killer is, and it was a bit of a ‘that old chestnut’ situation as it’s revealed to be – yawn – the British guy, but the actor does a fine job of camping it up as he goes head to head with hydrophobic Sarah.

One distinguishing feature of The Pool is that not everyone else dies, there’s quite a number left intact by the time the credits roll. It’s helpful, as it offsets the weight on Kristen Miller’s shoulders, as she’s something of a cookie-cutter final girl, all deep trauma and niceties. Normally, the promiscuous girl who, it turns out, bedded Sarah’s boyfriend, would be sliced in no time, but she actually ends up saving the day here.

pool4The refresher comes from the cross section of accents and looks; the film was initially going to be a German-language homegrown production (evidenced by three of the five surviving characters being German), but cottoned on to the global market well enough, is produced with enough gloss to rank well as one of many Scream knock-offs, and doesn’t shy away from the bloodletting in favour of laughs. One eyebrow-raiser is the “advanced age” of several of these “teens” – some of them look like they should be thinking about retirement rather than graduation.

A fun diversion, aided abundantly by Prague’s beautiful scenery, and some ambitious ideas. The sort-of sequel is merely a re-edited Do You Wanna Know a Secret? with some new scenes tossed into the salad. As there’s no way in hell I’ll ever subject myself to that film again, I’ve not exposed myself to it.

Take a dip.

Blurb-of-interest: Miller was the bitchy girl, Cindy, in Cherry Falls.


A time for family, forgiveness, and foul play


3 Stars  1972/74m

“There’s nothing more chilling than a warm family gathering.”

Director: John Llewelyn Moxey / Writer: Joseph Stefano / Cast: Eleanor Parker, Sally Field, Jill Haworth, Jessica Walter, Julie Harris, Walter Brennan, John Fink.

Body Count: 3

Psycho screenwriter Joseph Stefano penned this star-studded made-for-TV proto-slasher, which gives new meaning to uncomfortable festive family get-togethers.

Dying patriarch Benjamin Morgan instructs his eldest daughter, Alex, to gather her three sisters at the old family ranch for Christmas before he succumbs to his old age. So to the house cometh acid-tongued, trice-divorced Jo, pill and booze swilling Freddie, and sweet-natured youngest Christine, none of whom have been back to the house in some years.

Ben tells his offspring that his new wife, Elizabeth, is poisoning him to death. While Alex can’t decide if this is a desperate male-pride rejection of his age, or true due to the gossip that the woman poisoned her previous husband, the other sisters are a little more black and white, with only Christine willing to get to know her stepmother.

hfth2Before long, Jo decides to leave and is hijacked by a rain-macked, pitchfork-toting assailant outside. The next day, Freddie is drowned in the bath, a tragedy written off as either suicide or an accident waiting to happen. But suspicion runs rife and the remaining sisters can’t help but suspect Elizabeth, more so when Christine is chased through the woods by the rain-mack figure, the very coat belonging to Elizabeth. Giallo-tastic.

On TV in 1972, this mystery might’ve been a head-scratcher, but with hundreds of slasher films between then and when I saw it this week, it was no more difficult to solve than a Scooby Doo episode.

Home for the Holidays has barely a drop of blood, no real horror, and, at a thin 74 minutes, tends to drag here and there – it’s certainly not Black Christmas - but the winner here is the casting: Parker, Walter, Haworth, and Field are all on form as the sisters Morgan. The former two were reunited for another TV sort-of slasher film in 1979 in She’s Dressed to Kill, and it’s easy to see why Sean Cunningham was keen on Sally Field donning the lead role in Friday the 13th, her means-well good-girl vibe and screamability is quite similar to Adrienne King’s take on Alice, albeit with less fighting back required, though it’s worth noting Field would’ve been in her mid-thirties by then.

hfth1It’s rare to see such a competent collective of actresses working together. Menfolk are sidelined into virtual irrelevance by the film – it belongs to the quintet of leading ladies. Amusingly, Parker was older than the woman playing her father’s new wife, plus old enough to be Field’s own mother!

A mild, bleakly festive affair (hey, there’s a tree and a wreath!), with more in common with Murder, She Wrote than Silent Night, Deadly Night but intriguing in its own way and could benefit from a decent remake. If you want a fun game, count the number of ominous zooms used to create suspicion.

Meeeeerry Christmas!

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