Tag Archives: obvious identity of killer

Head Girl

night school 1980

NIGHT SCHOOL

3 Stars  1980/18/85m

“A is for Apple, B is for Bed, C is for Co-Ed, D is for Dead, F is for failing to keep your head.”

A.k.a. Terror Eyes

Director: Kenneth Hughes / Writer: Ruth Avergon / Cast: Leonard Mann, Rachel Ward, Drew Snyder, Joseph R. Sicari, Nicholas Cairis, Karen MacDonald, Elizabeth Barnitz, Annette Miller, Holly Hardman.

Body Count: 6


With only viable suspects, you won’t have to do much thinking to work out who is beneath a black motorcycle helmet beheading girls around Boston with a rather unique, boomerang-shaped blade. Although, a slow-witted peeping Tom is thrown into the mix to try and sway suspicion away from the real killer.

Nicely put-together from the director of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, with lush photography, but it never really settles into itself – is it a police thriller or a slasher pic?

Either way, accusations of misogyny could be quite fairly levelled at this one, despite having a female scribe, the eventual motive does little to defuse the women-are-nothing-more-than-vacuous-victims subtext.

night school 1980

Splatter wise, there’s a fair serving of blood for kitty to lap up, but it’s nowhere near as explicit as its residency on the Video Nasty list would have you believe: The killer leaves the decapitated heads submerged in buckets, aquariums, and kitchen sinks, but the gore is no less sloppy and amateur than a zillion other, cheaper flicks.

Rachel Ward probably looks back on his with the half the embarrassment she’d feel over The Final Terror, another title which, like this, isn’t particularly appropriate, as the school is hardly relevant. The Childcatcher is still way scarier.

Blurb-of-interest: Leonard Mann was later in Silent Night Deadly Night III.

“Scream 4″

final stab 2001FINAL STAB

3 Stars  2001/18/78m

“Last one alive wins.”

A.k.a. Final ScreamScream 4

Director/Writer: David DeCoteau / Writer: Matthew Jason Walsh / Cast: Melissa Renee Martin, Jamie Gannon, Erinn Carter, Chris Boyd, Bradley Stryker, Laila Reece Landon, Forrest Cochran, Michael Lutz, Donnie Eichar, Scott Hudson, Brannon Gould, Britt Soderberg.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “Why don’t you go find a phone, some help at a nearby farmhouse, or a fucking tampon?”


I wrung some enjoyment from this cheapo cash-in that was marketed as Scream 4 in some territories.

Trash director DeCoteau takes on the post-modern slasher trend that has more in common with April Fool’s Day than it does Wes Craven’s films, putting rich college kids in an abandoned mansion with a bloody history.

Kristen (Carter), the self-confessed “Queen bitch of deception” plans on driving her estranged-sister’s unhinged boyfriend off the deep end by staging a murder mystery evening. Expectedly, her plans are hijacked by a real killer – identically dressed, of course – starts to do away with the players one by one.

The usual cliches come thick n’ fast, most repeated the victims assuming the killer is the actor employed by Kristen (who was a Skeet Ulrich-a-like!) and the olde thinking bodies are their buds playing dead.

DeCoteau inserts his signature homoerotic sequences, with one guy parading about in a pair of very small, very tight shorts, and a secret fling between two of the ‘straight’ male characters. Nearly all victims are cute college guys, while the largely empowered female roles are occupied by Kristen, her naive sis Angela, a the shallow, dopey other girl/victim.

Mucho film title dropping and a motive that amounts to “I like horror movies” are where the Scream comparisons start and end, with a few explanations as to the ‘rules’, but ultimately it’s a cheaper, less amusing Cut, but a fun one if you catch it in the right mood.

Blurbs-of-interest: Brannon Gould was in Maniacal; DeCoteau’s other slasher credit is Dreamaniac.

Dildo Defence

bastard 2015 dvd

BASTARD

3 Stars  2015/18/82m

“The lucky ones die first.”

Director: Powell Robinson, Patrick R. Young / Writer: Patrick R. Young / Cast: Rebekah Kennedy, Ellis Greer, Dan Creed, Tonya Kay, Will Tranfo, Burt Culver.

Body Count: 9

Laughter Lines: “Logic dictates you shut your whore-mongering mouth!”


This strange indie production has a whole lot more going on than your average teens-in-the-woods slasher film, distinguishing itself with complex characters, oddball situations, and lots of grue. Imagine Mountaintop Motel Massacre (with better production values) by way of some cult 70s grindhouse killer-couple flick… if you can?

Unavoidable spoilers must follow to paint this picture with any degree of accuracy.

So, West and Hannah are newlyweds in their own band who have no qualms about killing people to furnish themselves with better cars, free things, and say ‘cunt’ a lot.

Jake and Betty are teenage runaways from an apparently abusive parental situation, trying to make it somewhere on their own. He’s all optimistic, she wants to go home.

bastard 2015

Michael is a suicidal transvestite policeman with a drink problem and confronting in-car tapes that tell him to stop being a pussy.

Fresh from killing some schmuck and appropriating his convertible, West and Hannah pick up Jake and Betty and the four of them end up in a small town with just the one B&B – owned by the happy and welcoming Rachel. Elsewhere, a horny couple engaged in some serious S&M play have been murdered by the lake near the hotel.

Hannah is in a very bad mood which only worsens when West doesn’t return from burying the body of their car’s former owner. He’s bumped into a baby-masked loon who swishes a lethal cleaver.

bastard 2015

In the morning, Rachel leads her guests (and Michael) on a forest hike. Hannah goes off to find West but instead bumps into the killer and fights back with a giant dildo she finds in the sand (belonging to our dead couple from the previous day). In a truly never-been-done-before moment of genius, the dildo flies in slow motion to strike the killer across the chops while Ave Maria plays, but Hannah receives a hook in the thigh for her trouble.

The alarm is soon raised, more bodies quickly drop before it’s revealed Rachel is the killer (guessed it right – yeah!!) Only Hannah and Betty remain, and it’s revealed that not only is the latter is pregnant with Jake’s baby, but he’s also her brother! Bastard loves to toss these curveballs.

Now, the final act sees Betty tied to a bed and forced to watch a video montage of Rachel’s miserable life in a pseudo-explanation of her crimes. She wants the baby for herself is the simple answer – alas I watched very late at night and had to have the volume down so I missed a few whispy parts of dialogue. Still, Hannah comes bursting to the rescue, affording Betty the chance to escape. But will she?

bastard 2015

Bastard has a strong feminist vibe to it: The three crucial parts are all played by women – killer, final girl, and (would-be) saviour. Also, we only see male’s killed on screen, pretty much stomping most of the “this is sexist!” critique the genre puts up with to dust.

I’ve seen so many slasher films now that it’s nice to see one that doesn’t quite follow the rules and goes off on little mad tangents rather than sticking rigidly to Teen have sex > Teens die like many of its contemporaries.

Valley of the Cheapjack Franchises: Harvest of Fear & The Path of Evil

I picked this pair of cheapies up in Bali about a decade ago (!) and the discs were warped in a strange way that no others were and would only play on one DVD player, which I no longer have. Oh well, good job they sucked.

*

harvest of fear 2004 dvd

HARVEST OF FEAR

2 Stars  2004/87m

“Killing is in the air.”

Director: Brad Goodman / Writers: Ted Pfeifer & Chris Pfeifer / Cast: Ryan Deal, Carrie Finklea, Justin Ament, Don Alder, Thomas Nabhan, Curt Hanson, Tobias Anderson, Ted Pfeifer, Ina Strauss, Kristen Luman.

Body Count: 18

Laughter Lines: “Although there have been nine murders, we’re not ready to say any of this is connected.”


Another garden variety Friday the 13th Xerox made for the horror shelf at the DVD store, this time concerning murders in the small Oregon town of Devil’s Lake (of course…), which are identical to crimes that happened two decades earlier.

Medical intern Billy and his object of lust, Stacey, attempt to investigate the crimes that the local cops are too dumb to link either to one another or the earlier murders (see Laughter Lines) but also ignore the stalking behaviour of Stacey’s temperamental ex-boyfriend, Jake.

Meanwhile, college kids following ye olde tradition of getting drunk and having sex are being slashed to ribbons by a masked fiend. Never mind that their friends are dead, they decide they’re safe enough to continue partying until they meet inevitable sticky ends. On no less than three separate occasions, couples wander into dark deserted areas and then split up on the understanding that one of them will “be right back”.

Elsewhere, the film adheres to even the most outdated of cliches, including the old man who nobody listens to, and there’s even a hick-accented narrator book ending the film with a summary of events.

The writers (one of whom plays a deputy) have obviously tried to furnish their tale with twists and a litter of potential suspects, and the identity of the killer proves to be a little beyond the expected, but the actors and the dialogue their saddled with doesn’t stack up and the whole thing has an amateur night feel to it.

*

THE PATH OF EVIL the path of evil 2005

1.5 Stars  2005/113m

“After 20 years… the serial killer has returned.”

 Director/Writer: Brad Goodman / Writers: Justin Ament & Ted Pfeifer / Cast: Justin Ament, Ryan Deal, Carrie Finklea, Don Alder, Katie O’Grady, Thomas Nabhan, Brad Goodman, Ted Pfeifer, Curt Hanson.

Body Count: 12

Laughter Lines: “Devil’s Lake, contrary to its name, is not an evil place.”


Credit for reassembling the surviving cast members from the first film - and even resurrecting a couple of them from the dead! Here endeth the good.

The tables are turned as far as the plot goes, this time focusing on Jake (Ament), the asshole ex-boyfriend from before, as he recuperates from his wounds and tries to win back indecisive girlfriend Stacey, and work out who is behind the renewed spate of killings, six months on from the events of Harvest of Fear.

Difficult enough to digest that Jake is now supposed to be the sympathetic hero and already knowing the probable identity of the killer, the whole project is fleshed out to an excruciating length with scenes of a criminology student writing a paper on the convicted killer.

Ultimately, this subplot has no bearing on the outcome, which not only feels twice as long but also twice as boring as the first time around, grinding on relentlessly for almost two hours and withholding much of the killing until the end, though mercifully all the major players are done away with, erasing hope for a third go-round – although death didn’t stop them before.

Blurbs-of-interest: Carrie Finklea was in Simon Says; Tobias Anderson was in Destroyer.

It’s special alright

scream tv series season 2

SCREAM – THE T.V. SERIES: HALLOWEEN SPECIAL

2015/82m

Cast: Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Karna, Carlson Young, Santiago Segura, Alexander Calvert, Amadeus Serafini, Tracy Middenforf, Alex Esola, Zena Gray, Lindsay LaVanchy.

Body Count: 8


A Season 2 add-on for Halloween, the Lakewood 6 – now, I guess, the Lakewood 4, are getting over the latest series of murders. Again.

Immediately after being sentenced to a gazillion years in prison, Keiran Wilcox is slashed to ribbons at the courthouse by another Brandon James-costumed loon.

Meanwhile, Noah and Stavo have found success with a graphic novel about the Lakewood 6 and are being pressured by their publicist to take on a new story. This comes to the fore with the suggestion of a trip to an island where some murders occurred in the 1930s.

Sick of the press attention, Emma agrees to getaway from Lakewood for a while, which also brings Audrey and Brooke along. Yeah, I thought it too: I Still Know What You Did Last Season Summer. And Harper’s Island.

The legend of Anna Hobbs, a girl who stripped naked, donned a bag-mask and slaughtered some folks with a pair of rusty old shears, is rife on the island and the group stay in a mansion while Noah and Stavo do their work.

scream tv series keiran amedeas serafini

Of course, before long characters who’ve never appeared before are being skewered and slashed with the shears used in the original killings, stolen from the island museum, and Emma’s getting phone calls again…

Things play out like any cheap slasher film, perhaps a little bloodier than usual, but connections to the events of the series are desperate at best, the killer’s identity so fucking obvious is may as well have been in the opening credits: ‘John Smith as The Guy Who Turns Out to be the Killer.’

Why even Noah doesn’t point out that they shouldn’t all go to a mansion on ‘Murder Island’ together illustrates the contrivances of the plot, let alone characters who continue to venture off alone when they already know there’s a killer after them.

Textbook cliches: It’s about as far removed from Kevin Williamson’s original concept as possible.

Blurb-of-interest: Alexander Calvert was in Lost After Dark; Zena Grey was in Craven’s My Soul to Take.

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