Tag Archives: obvious identity of killer

“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.

Smallscreen Scream. Again.

scream tv series season 2SCREAM – THE TV SERIES (SEASON 2)

3 Stars  2016/540m

“Trust nothing.”

Cast: Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Karna, Carlson Young, Amadeus Serafini, Tracy Middendorf, Kiana Ledé, Santiago Segura, Anthony Ruivivar, Sean Grandillo, Bryan Batt, Austin Highsmith, Bobby Campo, Tom Maden.

Body Count: 8


Unlike a film sequel, writing up notes to the sophomore season of a TV show pivoting on its mystery means that unavoidable spoilers must follow…

Some months after Piper Shaw revealed herself to be the Lakewood Slasher and was killed by the combined efforts of Emma Duval and Audrey Jensen, the former returns to town after mucho therapy in an episode titled I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Of course, there’s the lingering question of who Piper’s accomplice was? We saw Audrey burning letters from her, Noah is still hellbent on finding out who it is, and fascination with The Lakewood Six (them plus Brooke, Jake, and Kieran) ignites as school begins again, with a handful of new students thrust into the mix to be killed or killer.

Unlike Season 1, rather than beginning with a high profile kill (save for a film-in-a-film gag) we have to wait to the end of the episode before the killer strikes, cutting out one of the survivors permanently (it was Jake – yay!!) and tormenting Audrey with the usual mix of calls, notes, and cryptic clues.

scream tv series

Meanwhile, new teacher Miss Lang expresses an interest in Emma; Keiran’s creepy cousin Eli moves to town, and the new sheriff and his intense son, Stavo, are also settling in. Noah is romantically enchanted by smart girl Zoe, much to Audrey’s annoyance, as she runs around trying to stop herself being exposed.

Jake’s disappearance is neatly covered up by the killer and a few episodes tick by with no murders, endangering the show of sinking into a quicksand of boredom. Efforts are made to try and keep things thrilling, but a stupid scene where Emma – walking home alone at night after all she’s been through! – is accosted by a strange car that cruises after her in a creepy slow fashion, only to turn out to be her Dad watching over her. Then there’s her terminally drippy sub-Dawson’s Creek relationship with Keiran, so devoid of passion it makes Twilight look like Deep Throat.

scream tv series brooke

Eventually, Jake’s murder becomes public knowledge and things shunt into gear. Audrey, unable to spin so many plates any longer, confesses to Noah that she brought Piper to Lakewood as part of her documentary of Brandon James (who conveniently has a brother now), and knew she was Emma’s half-sister. This gets back to Emma eventually, they fall out, suspicion everywhere – but the murders continue.

Season 2 learns lessons from the lagging moments of the first year, culminating in some pretty tense final episodes: Noah is buried alive and the girls, now working as two sides of the final girl conundrum (the pretty popular type and the brooding outsider), do their best to save him – though it becomes more of a Crystal Maze puzzle as the killer leaves clues galore to be solved, punishing them both for killing Piper.

scream tv series

Come the end, with the Lakewood Six severely depleted, the young actors get the chance to flex their craft a little now all of them have been touched by death: Audrey’s girlfriend, Emma’s boyfriend, two girlfriends for Noah!, Brooke’s father…

The killer, when revealed, is the logical choice, with the others walking around with Red Herring stamped on their foreheads, and harks back to the original film in a nostalgic way, as it nears it’s twentieth anniversary.

A pending Halloween double-bill special may be the final world on Smallscreen Scream, as there’s little direction to go in from here on – though the Brandon James mystery is wheeled out for more is-it-isn’t-it hysteria, and new secrets are being dreamt up at every turn, but perhaps it’s time for Lakewood to have some peace and move the action somewhere else?

scream tv series

Marginally better than the first season, thanks in large part to upscaled production unities, more confident performances from the cast, and getting shot of Jake nice n’ early. And unlike its nearest competitor, the DOA Scream Queens, at least the main cast aren’t immune to being trimmed where necessary. Take note, Ryan Murphy, a slasher opus requires some actual slashing.

Blurb-of-interest: Austin Highsmith was in Room 33.

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