Tag Archives: Oz

CODA

coda

1987/15/96m

“When the music stops, the nightmare begins…”

A.k.a. Deadly Possession / Symphony of Evil

Director: Craig Lahiff / Writers: Craig Lahiff & Terry Jennings / Cast: Penny Cook, Arna-Maria Winchester, Liddy Clark, Olivia Hamnett, Patrick Frost.

Body Count: 5

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An impressive minor Australian film originally made for a cinema release but ending up premiering on TV instead. A student of music at an exclusive conservatory is attacked in her apartment and thrown out of a window, surviving for the time being but later being murdered in her hospital bed before she can communicate vital clues to her would-be saviour and subsequent prime suspect.

Said suspects ex-wife – a classmate of the deceased – becomes entangled in the mystery and then obsessed with solving it, this finding herself next in line for stalkage as the maniac in a creepy plastic mask begins cropping up in her life. Because of its final televisual resting place, there’s not much grue here but many cues are taken from Halloween and it emulates some of those spookier moments to great effect, with the killer loitering outside the heroine’s room and stalking her and her friend at the opera!

A minimal cast roster confines all possible suspects and after the initial killing it’s a long time before the next murder but the length chase finale is excellent and confirms the film’s slasher movie ancestry, which it shies away from in the first two thirds in favour of character building and the Murder She Wrote-style sleuthing.

Coda (we’re told a musical term for the conclusion of a composition – la-de-da!) makes a lot of good use out of its intense classical soundtrack, from the metronome on the opening credits and is complimented further by lush photography and intelligent direction during the action scenes. About the only thing that prevents it from advancing further up the star-scale is the overlong mid-section and its preliminary reluctance to blend in with its generic habitat and consequential low body count, which could have been assisted by offing a couple of extra students halfway through.

Nevertheless, like its chosen musical accompaniment, this is a delicate and handsome piece of film.

Blurb-of-interest: Olivia Hamnett played Kate Peterson, the looney-tunes doctor, in Prisoner: Cell Block H.

PARANOID

paranoid-copy 2000/18/87m

“Look behind you, he might be there.”

A.k.a. Frightmare

Director/Writer: Ash Smith / Cast: Shanda Lee Besler, Shawn Wright, Summer Sloan LaPann, Brandon O’Dell, Michael Short, Denny Zartman, Tyler Thebaul.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “If a serial killer was stalking me, I think I’d know.”

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I couldn’t find a good enough scan of the DVD cover so I had to draw it with Paint. That’s a bloody face and a knife instead of the ‘i’ in Paranoid. Yeah, I even drew the knife.

Anyway, let this not distract you from learning that this Australian film is an out and out Scream clone, which pretends to be be American. It begins with a girl and her parents being wasted in Sugar Hill, Georgia – “the most boring town in the world” – by a famous serial murderer known by the media as The Conscience Killer, who dresses scarily similar to the loon from Cherry Falls.

A slaughter subsequently begins after a an article about the killer is printed by budding high school journo Sarah, whose twin sister Laurie, we learn, was murdered. Yes, nothing ever happens in Sugar Hill. Four murders!? Move away, man! Move to Tazzie. Laurie had a bit of a Maureen Prescott reputation going for her. Let us stroke our chin and utter a big ‘hmmmm’…

Meanwhile, Sarah’s schoolfriends have staged a Halloween funhouse in order to raise money to send the senior class to the Cayman Islands. Why, I wasn’t sure, possibly to open a bank account. To the surprise of nobody bar the cast: the killer stalks Sarah, kills some extras and then goes for a homicidal home run on the last night of the funhouse’s operation – is it the Conscience Killer?? Is it fuck.

This roughtly demonstrates a choice scene from 'Paranoid'

A thrilling screenshot from 'Paranoid'.

The resolution is far from satisfying and about as convincing as Arnold Schwarzenegger in drag, but apparently “no one suspected a thing!” In all fairness, the young thesps do quite well with the sub-par script but gaping plot holes claim any credibility that happened to be driving by and the score sometimes completely ceases during moments of ‘high drama’ only to return later as if nothing had happened.

But it’s just so lazy… Scream was successful everywhere so why bother trying to pass off a third generation photocopy as anything but a big pile of pants? The Gale Weathers wannabe is even called Kate Windsail!! Windsail!!?

Blurb-of-interest: Michael Short was Chet in The Greenskeeper.

TO BECOME ONE

tobecomeone

2000/18/88m

“Family reunions are KILLER!”

Director/Writer: Neil Johnson / Cast: Emma Grasso, Jay Gallagher, David Vallon, Spencer Slasberg, James Giddens, Miranda Podleska, Izumi Pennicott, Jade Bilowol, Michelle Milne, Chris Heywood.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “We’re playing this out like some B-grade movie. Five kids locked away in some isolated shack. When the killer finds us he’s gonna pick us off one by one.”

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Oh, sweet Lord! If you ever thought nothing called To Become One could be worse than the Spice Girls song 2 Become 1 – think again! OK, so it was reportedly produced for $2,000, so well done filmmakers on getting that far. Positive attributes end here.

A surefire contender for worst of the worst, this Aussie flick changes genres at the centre point from standardized slasher to something that resembles that Halloween Simpsons episode where Bart discovers he has an identical twin.

A year after her mother was chopped in two, Melinda and her klepto friends find themselves being bumped off by a killer wearing a My Bloody Valentine-esque industrial gas-mask. Seven teens – nearly all girls – are murdered in the first half hour, with the remaining few under the illusion that driving out into the country will put them out of harms way. Said folks chat amiably some minutes after watching two friends incinerated by a car bomb. Once everyone who doesn’t matter is gone, the killer unmasks and reveals himself to be Melinda’s twin brother, separated from her at birth and on leave from the loopy asylum he takes her back to for a re-joining operation by a God-deluded doc.

The wheels finally fall off the wagon at this revelation and it becomes one of those girls-must-escape-all-the-gurning-loonies plots and characters thought dead return from the grave for a contemptuously predictable ending. The occasionally slick presentation does little to aid this festering turd of a film and the opening murder, shot in sepia and inter-cut with a small girl staring into space, completely defies explanation!

88 minutes of pain. This is the cinematic equivalent of root canal surgery.

Simply not cricket

ikhmryslsI KNOW HOW MANY RUNS YOU SCORED LAST SUMMER

2.5 Stars  2008/18/78m

“Mass murder… It’s just not cricket!”

Directors/Writers: Stacey Edmonds & Doug Turner / Cast: Jay Koutrae, Stacey Edmonds, Az Jackson, Aaron Scully, Alex Sideratos, David Gambin, James Winter, Brian Paul Owens, Otto Heutling, Doug Turner.

Body Count: 11


There’s no rest for the wicket in this no-budget Australian mickey take; someone is murdering cricket players with associated implements and it’s all traced back to ye olde schoolyard bullying – the victim of which is hellbent on destroying those who permanently scarred him…

For reasons that only ever occur in the slasher flick, the investigating cops decide to gather the surviving members of the school team (notably all blokes) and herd them to a remote “safehouse” in the outback. What follows is obvious to the genre: unhappy-chappie materialises and adds to the carcass count with a spiked ball, sharpened wickets and a pseudo-Krueger glove of blades. There’s a also a crotch-defender/codpiece thing with nails hammered through it, forced into one victim’s pants before he’s kicked in the bollocks! The humorous ideas for permanently bowling out the characters are evident but often flawed by the budget constraints and several scenes look padded out to push the film towards a 90 minute duration.

That said, the Australian backdrop makes for an inviting change and the dialogue is littered with chucklesome one-liners and there’s also a twist that’s not so foreseeable (probably due to the simplicity of the entire project), all of which makes the film entertaining enough. The title, however, does not guarantee any cross-over material to I Know What You Did Last Summer, its sequels or content. And watch out for that mental gratuitous shower scene featuring Miss Nude Australia!

DANGEROUS GAME

dangerousgame2aDANGEROUS GAME

3 Stars  1988/18/87m

“When a crazed cop goes shopping for terror…”

Director: Stephen Hopkins / Writers: Michael Ralph, Peter West, Stephen Hopkins & John Ezrine / Cast: Marcus Graham, Miles Buchanan, Steven Grives, Kathryn Walker, Sandie Lillington, John Polson.

Body Count: 1…uh??


A super-rarity within its own genre: the slasher film that isn’t. Sort of. April Fool’s Day kinda meets the criteria, and the godawful Granny. But what of little known Australian export Dangerous Game, eh? Yeah, what of it!

Grives is an unhinged cop sporting a dire Irish accent and is conveniently named Murphy. For kicks, he likes to torment his former superior’s son and, when his penchant lands him suspended, he goes a little wacky and stalks said kid and four others to a department store they’ve broken into for a dare with the intent of pinning a B&E on them and regaining his position.

When he accidentally kills one of the kids, his id proposes he kill the other four and burn down the joint to save his own ass. However, rounding them up isn’t so easy and they fight back with veritable gusto. Where Dangerous Game deviates is when we learn that Murphy’s conscience won’t allow him to kill them and he ends up being the one hunted.

Much is borrowed from the likes of Hide and Go Shriek and The Initiation by way of Maniac Cop, but proudly showing off its Australian-ness with some truly horrendous fashion errors (braces and a yellow shirt – ugh!) and hairstyles. Despite the body count of one, there’s a slasher stamp all over this, with tense chase scenes and well written characters who react convincingly to the death of their friend. Killer cop Murphy even attempts to resuscitate his victim and reasons that the youngsters haven’t experienced enough horror in their lives (clothing choices aside). An intriguing diversion from the usual formula from the director of A Nightmare on Elm Street 5.

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