Tag Archives: obvious identity of killer

2015 Halloween Spectacular Part 1: Rocktober Blood

 

Happy Halloweeeeeeen

As a festive [trick or] treat, VeVo gives you THREE awesome* reviews throughout the day. Let us start with the imitable 1984 metalsploitation flick, Rocktober Blood

*

rocktober-BloodROCKTOBER BLOOD

1.5 Stars  1984/88m

“He’s back from the dead with a message from hell!”

Director/Writer: Beverly Sebastian / Writer: Fred Sebastian / Cast: Tray Loren, Donna Scoggins, Nigel Benjamin, Renee Hubbard, Cara Cockrell, Ben Sebastian.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “I want your hot, steaming pussy blood all over my face.” Eww.


Necessary spoilers await thee…

Conceptually, Rocktober Blood should, well, rock: Billy Eye, squealy vocalist of the titular band, flips one night at the recording studio and murders a couple of employees before trying to kill on-off girlfriend and backing singer, Lynn.

Two years later, we’re informed that Lynn’s testimony sent Billy to the execution chamber and she’s just about ready to tour with the band, now renamed Headmistress. The same manager is on side, she’s got gal pals, and all manner of dodgy hair-metal wigs. What could go wrong?

Well, Billy could somehow return from the grave and torment her for one… Made up in the same sub-Kiss style, Billy appears at the studio, at a random lake house she goes to, telling her he’s back for revenge.

rb5Now, most plot summaries of Rocktober Blood will tell you that undead rockstar picks off the members of his old band one by one. This is not so, undead rockstar limits his prey to Lynn’s female friends – one is drowned in the hot tub, the other has her throat slashed with an iron (!?) – and random dancers at the climactic concert, where the audience think it’s all part of the show, but he impales two of the chicks and cuts the head of a third and lobs it at the crowd!

The so-called twist is nothing but the sad old Evil Twin gag – it’s not Billy, Billy is well and truly dead. They even dig up his corpse to prove it to Lynn, but find the world’s fakest looking skeleton instead.

No, the killer is the secret identical twin John, who is jealous Billy got all the credit for his songs and so just, y’know, kills people. At the end, he captures and drugs Lynn and places her in a casket on the stage, getting the dose just right so that she’s fit to belt out her number when released, which she just does. Consummate professional I guess, but the killer is there on stage with her!?

Very little actually happens in Rocktober Blood. There’s overlong metal performances (though ‘Rainbow Eyes’ was quite the jam), Lynn is chased about five times, has several baths, which enable her to be shown totally starkers as she very slowly towels herself dry.

rb6rb7But with three of the seven murders committed in the space of the penultimate song, two others at the start, the main body of the film just lags with the three girls at the lake house doing high energy aerobics in Olivia Newton-John-esque leotards.

A strange film, really quite boring unless you happen to be a fan of ‘metalsploitation’, with a woefully unfrightening killer, too few characters, actors who murmur their lines, and no real sense of cohesion or creativity. About as terrifying as a Michael Bublé concert. Actually, no it’s not.

Before Wolf Creek, there was…

HOUSEBOAT HORROR

1 Stars  1989/79m

“Something is about to happen on Lake Infinity.”

Directors: Kendall Flannigan & Ollie Martin / Writer: Ollie Martin / Cast: Alan Dale, Christine Jeston, Craig Alexander, Des ‘Animal’ McKenna, Gavin Wood, John Michael Howson, Louise Siversen, Peppie D’or, Steve Whittacker, Julia Tompson.

Body Count: 13

Laughter Lines: “You watch it – or I’ll kick you where your mother never kissed you!”


Back in 1989, Britain was in the midst of its obsession with Australian soap operas: Neighbours was at the top of the tree, while Home & Away perched a few branches below. I preferred Sons & Daughters - so many Mafia-like plots within a small cast, poisonous snakes in the safe, shark attacks… it had it all.

Thus, when sitting down with Houseboat Horror recently, that nostalgic era of Scott and Charlene, Helen Daniels, Madge and Harold, Bouncer the dog, and Ramsay Street – surely built on crossing Ley Lines for all its bad luck – came a-floodin’ back. So much so as Alan Dale, who played Jim Robinson in Neighbours for years, was somehow roped into appearing in the floating turd that is this movie. Ants may elect to make a houseboat out of said turd and the cycle begineth again.

A crappy rock n’ roll band and a film crew head out to Lake Infinity to shoot a music video. Naturally, the lake was the scene of a tragic fire (or some murders, I’ve already forgotten) X-years earlier. A newspaper tells us a child was horrifically burned. See where the course has been set? So laboured is this point, that early on when the group stops at a gas station, one of the attendants turns to the other and says: “Brings back memories over those movie killings a few years back…” and the world’s most obvious this-sounds-creepy synthesiser note is struck.

The group hire three ugly-ass houseboats and, after a day of fooling about with the really shitty band, are stalked and slain by a shadowy chap who lurks in the trees a lot. People are sliced with his machete, axed in the head, shot with spearguns, and even killed by a horseshoe in the eyes.

There’s very little more to say about Houseboat Horror. It’s cheap, it’s brimming with Aussie sayings of yore (people referred to as ‘dags’ who might’ve ‘shot through’) and it’s dated by an appearance of the world’s largest cell phone, which Alan Dale says into: “The two-way doesn’t work so if you want to talk to me you’ll have to do it on this walkabout phone thing.”

Some gory dispatchments and the mild distraction of different accents and vernacular highlight an otherwise awful vessel (ho ho ho) before it sinks under its own weight of crap.

Blurb-of-interest: John Michael Howson was in the 1980 Aussie horror Stage Fright.

Shoot the cute

SWEET SIXTEEN

2 Stars  1982/18/84m

“All the boys are dying to meet Melissa.”

Director: Jim Sotos / Writer: Erwin Goldman / Cast: Bo Hopkins, Susan Strasberg, Patrick Macnee, Don Stroud, Dana Kimmell, Aleisa Shirley, Don Shanks, Steve Antin, Sharon Farrell, Logan Clarke, Michael Pataki.

Body Count: 6


A jumbling mess of a film, somewhat forebearing All the Boys Love Mandy Lane.

Promiscuous teen Melissa Morgan (Shirley) is approaching her sixteenth birthday. She likes boys and boys like her right back. But all of those who seem to take an interest sooner or later end up stabbed to death. Did Melissa do it?

Bo Hopkins is the local sheriff and freakin’ Dana Kimmell (!) is his goody-goody daughter who keeps finding bodies and somehow immersing herself into the centre of things. They’re both annoyingly cute. So much so they keep saying “don’t be cute”, “no, you’re being cute.” After the 43rd time Kimmell says it, I wanted Jason to appear and lop off her head as promised.

The killer is eventually revealed to the surprise of nobody in spite of their overwrought gasping. Amazingly, Dana’s response doesn’t feature the term “cute”. Could it have been more obvious? Does Jason shit in the woods?

Muscular cast brushed aside, Sweet Sixteen is a real struggle from start to finish, a mess of odd pacing and cringe-inducing dialogue, with no vibrancy commonly found in early 80s death-to-teens movies. A real shame.

Blurbs-of-interest: Hopkins was also in A Crack in the Floor and Uncle Sam; Michael Pataki was in Graduation Day and Halloween 4; Susan Strasberg was the teacher in Bloody Birthday; Don Shanks played Michael Myers in Halloween 5, the fisherman in I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, and the coach in Urban Legends: Bloody Mary; Dana Kimmell was, of course, shrieky heroine Chris in Friday the 13th Part III.

Les mis

STAGE FRIGHT

2 Stars  2014/89m

“Sing your heart out!”

Director/Writer: Jerome Sable / Cast: Allie MacDonald, Meat Loaf Aday, Minnie Driver, Douglas Smith, Brandon Uranowitz, Kent Nolan, Thomas Alderson, Ephraim Ellis, Melanie Leishman, James McGowan.

Body Count: 7*

Laughter Lines: “What Japanese tradition involves covering your face all in white?” / “Bukkake!”


The third (possibly fourth) slasher film called Stage Fright, the concept for this alone virtually had my spraying my shorts with anticipation: A killer stalking a musical theater summer camp! A MUSICAL THEATER SUMMER CAMP! If you want nothing more than to see the Glee kids to die, this might go some way to quenching that bloodthirst.

Alas, similarly aroused reader, I was repeatedly reminded of the title of my favourite Skunk Anansie song. Squander. Whenever Skin wails “why squander, squander, squander, squaaaaaan-derrrrr?” I shall forever be reminded of this fucked up opportunity.

Things begin curiously like The Clown at Midnight, with stage queen Minnie Driver moidered in the dressing room by a masked assailant after a performance of The Haunting of the Opera. Her two young children, Buddy and Camilla, and lover Roger (Meat Loaf) survive her.

A decade later, Meat Loaf’s Summer Camp for Musical Theater Roger’s summer camp, Center Stage, attracts a bus full of excitable teens who sing about their arrival, being themselves etc: “I’m gay, but not in that waaaay” vs “I don’t get hard at T&A”. It’s chucklesome, but the tune isn’t memorable enough to have you humming it all day.

Camilla and Buddy, kitchen workers at the camp, want to move on with their lives, but then the season’s choice production turns out to be a Japanese-themed take on The Haunting of the Opera, and Camilla – looking like Mary Elizabeth Winstead – cannot resist following in her mother’s footsteps, ultimately winning a share of the lead role, with bitchy contender Liz.

A good 40 minutes of rehearsal wastes the chance of building any characters up: We learn few names, even less about the main players, and the killer barely registers, occasionally seen toiling in his subterranean dungeon, wallpapered with headshots that enrage him. Eventually, he pops up and kills somebody the day before opening night, sparking hysteria until Meat Loaf sings a song about the show having to go on.

Campers are convinced and Camilla takes to the stage while the killer begins eliminating various cast members and crew in the wings, but this is all occurs in about ten to fifteen minutes, is devoid of any stalking thrills or much bloodletting, and yields to a protracted unmasking ceremony where the obvious lunatic goes through the usual spiel of motive, all the while the stage show is crumbling…

First off, I don’t hate musicals. I’m by no means a fan, but I find them inoffensive. And Glee was good for about half a season. Meat Loaf, I love. Summer camp movies, I really love. So why does this fall on its ass so hard?

Simply put, it can’t seem to decide which of the two genres it wants to be more: The musical side of it frequently crosses into cringeworthy with no major ensemble dance pieces or memorable songs that drive the plot rather than reflect it; the horror side of it is stuck firmly in second gear.

A mix of 2003 musical theater camp movie Camp and Sleepaway Camp is how it should feel, but too much time is lost on third-tier plots like the sleazy teen director trying to get into Camilla’s pants, or the repetitive rehearsal montage. The characters were boring archetypes, the killer’s identity plainly obvious, and the tacked-on “X years later” prologue completely superfluous.

I’m depressed at how off target this ended up. Now I’m off to put that song on repeat till I feel better.

Blurbs-of-interest: Meat Loaf was in Wishcraft; Douglas Smith was in Santa’s Slay.

Low tension

PARANORMAL XPERIENCE

2 Stars  2011/15/87m

A.k.a. XP3D

Director: Sergi Vizcaino / Writer: Daniel Padro / Cast: Amaia Salamanca, Alba Ribas, Maxi Iglesias, Ursula Corbero, Luis Fernandez, Oscar Sinela, Manuel de Blas, Eduardo Farelo.

Body Count: 5


Spain had a great run of internationally acclaimed horror films in recent years from The Orphanage to Julia’s Eyes. But the rule of opposing forces dictates that for each excellent film, you get the likes of The Nun and now Paranonal Xperience 3D!

The stinger here is that things start so well (just like they did with The Nun), as five failing psychology students volunteer for an experiment concerning the paranormal, to document and disprove/prove the myths of a cursed mining town ‘haunted’ by a dead serial killing doctor.

To get the gang there, Angela enlists the services of her self-harming sister, Diana, who owns a van big enough to transport them and their equipment. The sisters have a tense relationship that stretches back to the suicide of their father.

Once in the deserted town of Sasurro, they hypnotise believer Diana, who sees the ‘ghost’ of Dr Matarga released and, as exploring continues, he begins capturing them and killing them one by one.

Or does he? I figured out the twist as the first murder unraveled, which was disappointingly obvious. Worse still, some of the decent gore FX are totally undermined by an abominable CG blood-spurt from the neck during the climactic scene.

Up until then, PX was serviceable, though in true 3D form, the structure of the shots take precedence over acting and script. One such shot features a girl’s ass in tight cut-offs taking up most of the screen, while somebody fiddles with a door in the background.

The secondary “oh, that’ll do!” approach to everything-but-the-3D hangs this one out to dry. A wasted opportunity.

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