Tag Archives: rip-off central

December Duel: Har-De-Har-STAB!

Christmas is coming: time for joy and laughter and, if you’re me, horror films of death. But how to mix these things together and please the visiting familials? Oh yeah, the sub-sub-genre of the slasher parody.

Parody films are very hit and miss at the best of times (Airplane! excluded). And as slasher films largely unconciously parody themselves in the ornate crudness of their very situations, what’s left to take the piss out of?

Let’s dip our hands into the comical waters of slasher mickey-taking and see what we can dredge up from the bottom…

studentbodsSTUDENT BODIES 1981

The hilarious story: sexy teen couples at Lamab High are being laid to waste by a commentating maniac in squelchy boots. Can super-goody-two-shoes heroine Toby solve the mystery?

Funny stuff: things start well with an amusing When A Stranger Calls-type opening; death by paperclips; death by eggplant; half-funny fart gag; Toby’s overt final girlisms.

Unfunny stuff: pretty much everything else; the stupid twist-within-a-dream ending where they evidently took the audience to have a combined IQ of 19.

VV’s amusedness: 43% – “I’m laughing on the inside.”

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national-lampoons-class-reunionNATIONAL LAMPOON’S CLASS REUNION 1982

The hilarious story: the class of ’72 from Lizzie Borden High gather for their deca-reunion where the kid they played a Terror Train-type prank on is now a paper bag-masked psycho killer. Of the cast of twenty-five odd folks, he kills four. Four.

Funny stuff: Anne Ramsay is present as the school cook and there’s a recurring demonic possession joke that made my lip curl…

Unfunny stuff: there’s some real shit gags in this, it’s no wonder nobody’s ever heard of this one, National Lampoon tag or not! The lead guy was a wanker who I waiting to see die in a myriad of horrible griz. Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion is way better.

VV’s amusedness: 22% – “we are not amused.”

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pandemomiumPANDEMONIUM 1982

The hilarious story: Bambi’s cheerleader academy was shut down after a rash of cheericides in the 60s, including the ultimate shish-ka-bobbed spirit squad. Having decided to re-open “the old camp,” Bambi finds that her new class of students (three of them guys!) are being tormented by another cheericidal manaic! Only telekinetic cheer-wannabe Candy has the smarts (and power) to stop the madness…

Funny stuff: the cheerleaders are called Candy, Sandy, Mandy, Andy, Randy and Glenn. Glenn Dandy. The Carrie poking is amusing and the cast, featuring Carol Kane, Judge Reinhold, Debralee Scott, pre-PeeWee Paul Reubens and Eve Arden is great. It was originally to be called Thursday the 12th until Saturday the 14th came along but had sod all to do with Camp Crystal Lake.

Unfunny stuff: with any of-the-moment parody, it’s going to be dated as soon as it’s finished, so lots of it has little relevance 27 years down the line but, on the whole, Pandemonium holds up pretty well. “If I can’t be a cheerleader…no one can be a cheerleader!”

VV’s amusedness: 71% – “it was like this one time, at band cheerleader camp and it was so funny.”

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wackoWACKO 1983

The hilarious story: 13 years after seeing her older sister sliced and diced by the Halloween Prom Night Lawnmower Killer of Hitchcock High, virginal Mary Graves finds herself stalked by the very same killer as her own Halloween Prom approaches.

Funny stuff: One of the best lines in slasherdom when Mary’s mother receives a letter from the killer: “it’s Halloween, it’s Prom Night, there’s a psycho on the loose so don’t open the door, don’t answer the phone, don’t look in the attic, don’t go to the bathroom, don’t go into the ocean and don’t go into space ‘cos no one can hear you scream!”

Unfunny stuff: as with most of these things, the film spends too long trying to be relevant to the time period, which takes away from the slashing. ‘Wacky’ teachers and parents disappear and reappear frequently. George Kennedy getting a pie in the face for aping Hitchcock is the final ‘hilarious’ twist.

VV’s amusedness: 28% – “I smiled tolerantly and we parted.”

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scarymovieSCARY MOVIE 2000

The hilarious story: Six high school friends are stalked and tormented by a cloaked fiend who might just be the fisherman they ran over last Halloween, while a nosey reporter investigates the spree of killings that begins.

Funny stuff: if you watch this right after watching Scream, it’s funny. Any other time and you’re likely to tilt your head and squint your eyes trying to work out if you should laugh or not.  The Matrix and Blair Witch Project take-offs were funny at the time but the recreation of “the Jada Pinkett moment” from Scream 2 is the best part. The working title Scream if You Know What I Did Last Halloween was far better.

Unfunny stuff: the film wanes like a dying plant, eventually flopping flaccidly like a disappointing bedtime partner. Eww. And Marlon Wayans as Shorty – what the fuck is the point of his character? Talk about family favours!

I went on a date to see Scary Movie 2. We never spoke again.

VV’s amusedness: 55% – “you used to be funny but now you only make me cringe.”

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shriek-if-you-knowSHRIEK IF YOU KNOW WHAT I DID LAST FRIDAY THE 13TH 2000

The hilarious story: almost exactly the same as Scary Movie (with which this film was the competition but took too long to complete): the teens of – groan - Bulimia High are stalked by a killer who knows what they did last summer etc… Only here, the killer is so inept that the victims die from bee stings and coronaries before he can get his hands on them.

Funny stuff: the ‘Pop Up Video’ part near the end is actually funny. Coolio dies.

Unfunny stuff: fart jokes, erection jokes, gay jokes = all shit jokes. The lead character is called Dawson Deary. Pass me the razor blades…

VV’s amusedness: 24% – “oh look, it’s Funny’s cousin, Not Funny.”

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club_dreadCLUB DREAD 2004

The hilarious story: at Coconut Pete’s Costa Rican island resort (a sort of 18-30’s thing), a machete-toting killer is offing staff members, forcing those remaining to act ‘normally’. Is it the island’s mythical ‘Machete Phil?’

Funny stuff: Bill Paxton is great as Coconut Pete and there’s some good stalking and slashing sequences, the best of which involves a victim trying to get away in a golf buggy, eventually out-walked by the killer.

Unfunny stuff: The Broken Lizard comedy troupe evidently think they’re a lot funnier than they actually are, director Jay Chandrasekhar as queeny tennis boach Puttman is the best and Kevin Heffernan’s new-boy masseur makes a likeable hero but the others are just plain annoying. Clocking in at a whopping 113 minutes (the DVD version), Club Dread drags out some of its lame gags to the bitter end.

VV’s amusedness: 69% – “hi-de-hi-de-hi, ho-de-ho-de-ho, go go go to the holiday rock!”

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VICTOR: It can only be Pandemonium, the film with the crappest title but the least amount of crap gags.

HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE

heknows

3 Stars  1980/18/90m

“Every girl is frightened the night before her wedding. But this time…there’s good reason!”

Director: Armand Mastroianni / Writer: Scott Parker / Cast: Don Scardino, Caitlin O’ Heaney, Elizabeth Kemp, Lewis Arlt, Tom Rolfing, Patsy Pease, James Rebhorn, Tom Hanks, Dana Barron, Paul Gleason.

Body Count: 7 or 9 depending how you look at it…


A minor early entry in the stalker cycle, which flatters the legacy of Halloween by blatantly copying it right down to the tinkering piano score… Lazy for sure, but there’s more to He Knows You’re Alone than just recreations of other films. Some spoilers follow…

Beginning with a trick involving two young women watching a cheesy slasher film (which features Russell Todd from Friday the 13th Part 2), one girl ventures off to the bathroom and thinks she’s being followed. She leaves without washing her hands and tells her nonchalant friend she doesn’t like the film and wants to go, unaware of the man shuffling into the row behind, sitting down right behind her… As the on-screen killer sickles a victim to death, the sweaty-browed, wide-eyed man behind rams a knife through the back of the chair, killing dirty-hands. The rip-off score comes in and we follow a Police Squad flashing light to the scene…

hk1

It’s revealed that dirty-hands was soon due to be married, catching the attention of the mustached Detective Gamble, who is obsessed with the case. We then switch to a jolly bus trip with the killer, Ray, who flashes back to the time he crashed his ex-beau’s (we assume) wedding and knifed her before she could walk down the aisle. Her hubby to be? Gamble! Yup, there’s a bride-hating-killer on the loose!

hk2

Pretty Amy Jensen (O’Heaney), is another engaged girl who is actually having immense second thoughts about her upcoming wedding to her jerky fiancé Phil, who is off to celebrate his bachelor weekend and cheat on Amy. In some ways, Ray’s coincidental eavesdropping as his bus pulls in is a god-send as it will certainly make her re-think who she throws the bouquet to…

Ray, who operates without the disguise of a mask or any particular niche weapon, begins turning up in Amy’s life all over the show: he appears at windows, fairgrounds, the ice cream store, fixedly glaring at her and kills his spare time by stalking and slaying various luckless schmucks, starting with the dress-fitter and escalating to her gal-pals Joyce and Nancy.

Marvin excelled at the floating head trick...

Marvin impressed Amy with his floating head trick…

Inbetween stalkings, Amy’s perky ex-boyfriend Marvin turns up and begins begging her to marry him rather than Phil, aided by the recommendations of Nancy, Joyce and Amy’s kid sister, while Detective Gamble discovers that Amy is Ray’s next intended bride of butcherdom. We also meet Tom Hanks, who is Nancy’s date to the fairground where Amy is further tormented by her paranoia. He’s a psych major who prattles on about fear, horror films and rollercoasters while we think about his possible impending death…

hk10

Elliott ‘impressed’ Nancy by going on about the psychology of fear for aaaaaaages…

Alas, it’s not to be. ‘Elliott’ only appears in two scenes before Amy finally comes face to face with Ray, only after he’s cut off Nancy’s head and left it in the fishtank! The final half hour sees Amy escape to the morgue where Marvin works with both the killer and Gamble in hot pursuit. How will it end? Who will survive? Will Amy end up marrying Ray!?

hk7

He Knows You’re Alone is a tame affair with next to no blood or gore, instead opting for well-crafted stalking scenarios and lots of focus-pulling camera work as the killer appears and then disappears behind trees, crowds and people in the foreground. “Homages” to Halloween come thick and fast: Joyce and her married lover are killed similarly to Lynda and Bob in Carpenter’s film (“go fix the lights, I’ll stay here,” replacing “get me a beer.”), Nancy even resembles Jamie Lee Curtis, and the ever-silent Ray hops the roof of Amy’s car, smashing his fist through the driver side window to grope around for her…

hk6hk9

Things end curiously though; Gamble arrives but is entirely ineffectual and killed almost straight away, while the killer’s fate is only to be locked inside a room in the morgue! No exposition, no injuries bar a single gunshot wound. This makes the otherwise likeable Amy a tad useless as the final girl, her survival is far more incidental, strange considering that at one point she attempts to hide from the killer inside her own sweater… She’s simply the one who doesn’t die, allowing for a full-circle twist ending that’s kinda neat.

Amy uses her chameleon-like abilities to hide from the killer.

Amy uses her chameleon-like abilities to hide from the killer.

One of the few elements not Xeroxed from Halloween is the killer himself; as Ray, Tom Rolfing (who sadly died in 1990) is both too young and too handsome to be a dribbling maniac, having topped my Sexy Psychos list, it’s a similar crux to the wretched Prom Night “remake” where the supposed maniac just looks too regular, albeit here, Rolfing’s intense eyes and ability to execute one cold stare allegedly landed him the part. Needless to say, even out of place, he’s one of the best parts to this clunky stalker thriller, which will bore the pants of some but hopefully engage the genre aficionados and appreciators of low budget films shot with passion.

Blurbs-of-interest: O’Heaney had already trodden the slasher boards in 1976’s dire Savage Weekend (credited there as Kathleen Heaney); look out for Paul Gleason as Gamble’s detective buddy and, most interestingly, the script supervisor was Vera Dika, who wrote the great academic analysis of the genre formula, Games of Terror, in 1990.

X-RAY

xray3 Stars  1981/X/78m

“You have nothing to fear… Until they operate!”

A.k.a. Hospital Massacre / Be My Valentine…or Else! / Ward 13

Director: Boaz Davidson / Writers: Boaz Davidson & Marc Benim / Cast: Barbi Benton, Chip Lucia, John Warner Williams, Jon Van Ness, Den Surries, Gay Austin, Karyn Smith, Elizabeth Hoy, Billy Jacoby.

Body Count: 10


Like most of the slasher films from this era, X-Ray with all it’s also known as’s, the massacre to be is born out of the childhood trauma that opens the film. Gorky Harold gives his neighbour Susan a Valentine’s Card, which she laughs at and her brother David tears it up. Subsequently, Harold (having seen this through the window) sneaks in and murders David while Susan is out of the room.

Nineteen years later, Susan (now played by Playboy model Barbi Benton) stops by at the city hospital to pick up some test results, unaware that said results have been swapped for some really bad ones!!! The hospital staff, all demonstrating as much competence as a McDonalds trainee, practically imprison Suze in the building, telling her she needs an operation now. Now! NOW!!!

Elsewhere, doctors, nurses, receptionists and custodians are being stalked and murdered by a looney-doc, resulting in syrupy blood squirting all over the place. There’s a decapitated head in a candy box, a corridor-sized sheet that envelops a woman and a murdered administrator shoved hilariously into a closet on a wheelie chair.

Meanwhile, Susan’s doctor skulks about with a couple of slutty nurses, looking like an early Human League video gone askew and eventually enough people are dead so that only Susan and nice doc Harry remain. Are they seriously trying to fool us with that cunning cover-up? Was that the most subtle clue they had working for them? I kind’ve expected a championing twist but there…just…wasn’t.

As far as Halloween clones go, Israeli-shot X-Ray is hopelessly inept. Everything about it sucks and yet it was so much fun and never got boring, which is always a good sign for these flicks (Visiting Hours take note). That said, the version I watched may have been heavily cropped for the UK release, which was awarded an X-rating and never resubmitted.

Blurbs-of-interest: kid actors Hoy and Jacoby were two of the homicidal sprogs from Bloody Birthday; Jon Van Ness was in Tourist Trap; director/writer Davidson primarily works as a producer for Nu Image, who make cheaper-than-chips Sci-Fi DVD films with such imaginative titles as Crocodile, Octopus and Spiders as well as crud slasher flick Skeleton Man.

JOLLY ROGER: MASSACRE AT CUTTER’S COVE

jollyrogerJOLLY ROGER: MASSACRE AT CUTTER’S COVE

3 Stars  2005/18/77m

“Some things should stay lost at sea.”

Director: Gary Jones / Writers: Jeff Miller & Gary Jones / Cast: Rhett Giles, Tom Nagel, Kristina Korn, Tom Downey, Kim Little, Pamela Munro, Justin Brannock, Megan Lee Ethridge, Hajar Northern, Ted Cochran.

Body Count: 16

Dire-logue: “Just drinking a little, smoking a little dope and all your friends got massacred, right?”


This cheap n’ cheesy quickie from the same studio that brought us the Scarecrow films takes many cues from The Fog in a tale of a murderous pirate back from the dead to behead the present day ancestors of his treacherous crew.

Considering the studio’s choppy resume, Jolly Roger nicely outperforms the previous efforts both technically and in terms of its general enjoyability. Other films that are pilfered include Leprechaun and Jason Goes to Hell. The short running time is a plus, as the sky-high body count escalates at a nice pace to outweigh the detective efforts of the boring teen couple who witness Roger’s slaughter of their high school friends – four corpses in the first fifteen minutes!

The killer, meanwhile, yo-ho-ho’s his way through town collecting severed heads to put in his Dead Man’s Chest with pirate-themed one liners at every turn, kinda like the lovechild of Freddy Krueger and Jack Sparrow. The sword decapitations are sloppy but gory and there’s a funny hand-chop thrown in as well. Endless clichés by numbers, with generous T&A, gallons of gore (though rum is nowhere to be found, much to Roger’s chagrin) and characters so thinly drawn that they barely have enough screen time to do much but die! Not for all tastes for sure but genre completists should get a kick out of it.

Blurbs-of-interest: Gary Jones directed Boogeyman 3 and Axe Giant; Tom Nagel directed ClownTown.

Permanently offline

voyeurVOYEUR.COM

2 Stars  2000/18/90m

“The new website everyone’s dying to see.”

A.k.a. BigBrother.com: The Movie

Director/Writer: Miles Feldman / Cast: Jena Romano, Travis Shakespeare, Adam Weiner, Tawnya Richardson, Keri-Anne Telford, Vanessa Nachtmann, Shannon Hutchinson, Laurie Searle, Ryan Boone, Kevin Pass, Iva Hasperger, Eric Adam Wittgren, Rob O’Malley, Scott Berman.

Body Count: 13

Dire-logue: “You’re killing my buzz, Euroboobs!”


Exploitation horror sometimes requires a bit o’ sleaze. Is there anything that bad about a dash of sleaze? Sleazy-sleazy-bo-beazy, banana-fana-fo-feazy, fee-fi-mo-meazy, Sleazy… OK.

Anyway, Voyeur.com, released in the UK under that dog-shit title BigBrother.com: The Movie (!), was one of the earlier attempts to fuse stalk n’ slash conventions with reality TV, which was arguably at its peak in 2000. So, three horny Californian dorks audition a group of nubile airheads who’ll “try most things once…no animals,” to live in a house rigged with cameras, while virginal nerds max out their debit cards to watch and “beat off” over the internet – although watching a girl on the toilet isn’t my idea of titillation.

Shy narrator and bargain-basement Winona Ryder look-alike Mary is worried because she has no personality and doesn’t sleep around like her housemates but facially-inept mastermind Alex likes her and that’s all that matters! Meanwhile, a masked killer begins knocking off the ancillary characters, including a dim-witted gardener-slash-perv. Aside from he and Mary, the others are the usual pick n’ mix of jocks, potheads, bitches and bimbos whose always-sexual conversations limit their vocab to ‘cool’ and ‘party’ and they are thankfully laid to waste, more often than not during the act.

The most memorable sequence (also known as the only one I didn’t forget ten minutes later) is when the aggressive lesbian goes down on a Pammie Anderson-a-like, who sees the killer approaching but is, y’know, unable to get out of the way! There’s also the obligatory Scream-lite opener that doesn’t remotely connect with anything else that happens.

For all these flaws in credibility, acting talent, photography, lighting, audio and plotting, Voyeur.com never became so bad that I wanted to kick the screen in and some of the characters here are still less pretentious, transparent and stabbable than those in Big Brother!

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