Tag Archives: rip-off central

The Re-title-ing

ROADSIDE MASSACRE

1 Stars  2012/18/80m

A.k.a. The Texas Roadside Massacre (UK DVD)

Director/Writer: Scott Kirkpatrick / Cast: Marina Resa, Matthew Schiltz, Elio Mardini, Jordan Martin, Summer Lima, Fragino M. Arola, Master Dave Johnson, Dusty Probert, Scott Seargeant, Jason James.

Body Count: 5


Whilst browsing the horror section at my local HMV a few weeks back I noticed a single DVD tucked almost out of sight: The Texas Roadside Massacre. Groan worthy, isn’t it? Mercifully, it’s just a cheapo regional title to try and push copies in the same way The Asylum releases Transmorphers as the latest Transformers comes out.

First off, it was filmed in California and there’s no mention of it being set anywhere else. No one dons a chainsaw as shown on the artwork below. And another review from the IMDb links states that the site credited with the praise belongs to band Dreadzone, who had a chart hit back in the mid-90s with Little Britain. Nothing about film on their site. Sooooo much fakery, surely the film is alright, eh?

Instead, five teens in a van got stuck in a shitty ass-end town famed for Jimmy’s Rib Shack, where the staff are a bunch of lobotomized teens and it’s obvious what the secret ingredient will turn out to be. Nominal heroine Karen thinks one of the waitresses is her missing sister. A stock obese moron in a butcher’s apron chases and kills some of them, while Karen and a guy looking for his missing brother are captured to be turned into subservient staff members.

Full of annoying characters that imitate those from more popular films and strange jumps to conclusions: Two teens tell the Sheriff they want to report an act of vandalism and he immediately responds by assuming they’re on drugs. Seconds later, he explains that he will send somebody to collect their stranded friends when they hadn’t even mentioned they were with anybody else.

And that’s about all there is to it. The UK re-titling is the most interesting facet associated with just another low-end Leatherface knock-off. About as depressing as they get.

“You want fame? Well fame costs.”

“If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of…”

THE FINAL TERROR

2 Stars  1981/18/80m

A.k.a. Campsite Massacre; Bump in the Night; The Forest Primeval

Director: Andrew Davis / Writers: Jon George, Neill Hicks & Ronald Shusett / Cast: John Friedrich, Adrian Zmed, Daryl Hannah, Rachel Ward, Joe Pantoliano, Ernest Harden Jr., Akosua Busia, Lewis Smith, Mark Metcalf, Cindy Harrell.

Body Count: 6


“And this is where you start paying… in crappy B-movies.”

Missed opportunities… life is full of them, mocking you and rubbing your face in it wherever possible, like the time I prioritized the supermarket over smoking at someone’s house, or the botched assassination attempt on George W. Bush.

Whodathunk a 1981 slasher film with a cast roster and director to die for would cop out and end up with nothing to die for? Or, rather, next to no one dying.

This cheapo Deliverance by-way-of Friday the 13th wannabe was produced by B-movie legend Samuel Z. Arkoff, who put a sextet of forest ranger dudes in the forest with four girlfriends on a camping trip and have them hunted by a crazed sub-human predator.

It should be awesome, with Friedrich’s gorked-out, half-stoned drawl, Hannah and Ward (who were rising stars by the time it was released in 1983), and a killer with a penchant for setting traps made of big logs and/or spring-loaded tin can lids that slash fleeing bimbos to ribbons.

And yet, eighty minutes has scarcely felt so long. Only three of the ten campers are killed and what bloodletting there is was scissored out of the UK video release (unless you’re ‘fortunate’ enough to have the release under the title Campsite Massacre), rendering the film even more dull than it would’ve been in its original incarnation.

A couple of good siege and chase scenes come too late to lift the spirits and once the killer’s identity is established, it’s not explained how or why they were even there or were doing what they were… Well acted, but when what matters most in a body count flick (bodies!) is all but absent, who cares?

Blurbs-of-interest: Rachel Ward was also in Night School; Mark Metcalf was in Playback and was the head vampire in the first season of Buffy.

Jack the Rip-off

JACK THE REAPER

2 Stars  2011/18/83m

“Ride at your own risk.”

A.k.a. The Reaper (UK DVD cover)

Director/Writer: Kimberly Seilhamer / Cast: Tony Todd, Sally Kirkland, Douglas Tait, Alexandra Holder, Jay Gillespie, Richardson Chery, Amber Zion, Tyler Wolfe, Christopher Raff, David Beeler.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “We’re sitting ducks here – haven’t you ever seen The Hills Have Eyes?”


There will be UNAVOIDABLE SPOILERS.

Predictability doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If it were, then films like Hell Night or My Bloody Valentine wouldn’t be the loved genre staples that they are. However marry of predictability to unoriginality (or, some might call it, totally ripping off somebody else’s work) and it can grate.

In Jack the Reaper, a school bus full of teens who didn’t complete an assignment on the industrial revolution, is sent off to learn about America’s railroad courtesy of Tony Todd, who utters lines that sound like they were cut from his scenes in a Final Destination sequel. There’s the requisite couple of asshole jocks, an obese cry baby, a deaf girl, and an Albino amongst others.

On the way back, the bus crashes. When the kids come to, the driver and their teacher are gone, but there’s a fairground in the middle of the desert, which they go to for help, with the exception of loner Jesse, who thinks she saw somebody on the road before the accident.

As soon as they discovered the fairground was deserted, I knew where we were headed. The teens ride the carousel, play whack-a-mole, and start disappearing one by one. Eventually, they spy a black-eyed loon toting a pick-axe and find that no matter where they run, they wind up back where they started.

Yes, they’re all dead, save for the girl who stayed on the bus, because, as per Tony Todd’s spouting, as soon as they crossed the tracks toward the fairground, they’d entered the realm of Railroad Jack, who reaps them for the afterlife.

It’s Reeker all over again, sans the smell and comedic inserts, but one would think at the very least somebody ‘borrowing’ the same concept might spruce it up a bit with something other than a road accident… Although, let’s not over-credit Reeker with being all original n’ stuff, after all it goes something like The Sixth Sense begat The Others, The Others begat Reeker, and now now Reeker begat Jack the Reaper. Thus, Jack the Reaper will see its own progeny in the future. Maybe.

About all that’s interesting is the presence of a female director. Kim Seilhamer may hold back on the gore, but the film is curiously littered with male characters saying nasty things to the not-so-sympathetic female contingent. Fair enough, they die soon after, but any hope for a decent female perspective should be left at the train museum.

Second-billed Sally Kirkland (also a producer) appears for little over one minute, but manages a barrage of profanity in her cameo, and Todd looks like he dropped by for the afternoon before haul-assing it away.

Not a dreadful film, just a bit of a lazy one (complete with actors’ names spelled wrong in the credits), if I were writing its school report, it’d be full of Jack CAN do it, he just needs to try harder.

Blurbs-of-interest: Douglas Tait, in the title role, was Jason’s stunt double in Freddy vs Jason; Sally Kirkland was also in Fingerprints and Fatal Games; Christopher Raff was in Bloody Bloody Bible Camp; Tony Todd cane be found in two of the Hatchet films, three Final Destinations, and also iMurders, and Scarecrow Slayer.

Trite horror, shite horror

HEAD CHEERLEADER, DEAD CHEERLEADER

1.5 Stars  2000/18/78m

“Two-four-six-eight who do we decapitate?”

Director/Writer: Jeff Miller / Cast: Tasha Biering, Daniel Justin Roach, Andre Walker, Bob Carter, Debbie Rochon, Bobby Cerutti, Bill Roberson, Noelle Manuel, Amy R. Swaim, Beth Hunt, Amber Coker.

Body Count: 9

Laughter Lines: “A little gratuitous violence never killed anyone.”


The awesome title and tagline combined with the appearance of Debbie Rochon makes me want to love this film. Really, it does. But I tried to love the later seasons of Lost and look what happened there.

Instead, what we have here is a crappy regional production with a killer axing bimbo cheerleaders in Briar Creek, South Carolina, on Halloween: the night before a big game. Chief pom-pom waver Heather is worried about her cat, while all her friends fall victim to a loon who can manage to chop boobs off girls who are wearing tight tops.

Most of the “action” is centered around Heather’s house, where a dozen random people come knocking at the door, or call her, including a sleazy prankster in a flatlining send-up of Scream, the film everybody was still trying to copy at this point in time. Could the killer be the football team’s pervy coach? One of Heather’s THREE ex-boyfriends? Or maybe its that weird religious girl who’s angry that she didn’t make the squad?

When revealed, the outcome plays like a parody of the end of fucking Scary Movie rather than Scream, or – heaven forbid – thinking up an original twist of its own. THEN a couple more twists are heaped on top in an effort to paper over the gaping plot-craters. It’s misogynistic, anti-gay, and trashier than a Honey Boo Boo marathon at a trailer park.

The only reason this gets that extra half-star is for the possibly authentic answerphone message that plays over the opening credits, from a concerned mother who thinks the production of the film will place real life cheerleaders – including her own daughter – in danger! No, honey, real psychos operate with a lot more class.

Blurbs-of-interest: Cheap horror-fixture Rochon is also in American Nightmare, BleedBlood RelicFinal Examination and Varsity Blood.

Home Alone plus The A-Team to the power of Saw =

THE COLLECTION

2 Stars  2012/18/79m

Director/Writer: Marcus Dunstan / Writer: Patrick Melton / Cast: Josh Stewart, Emma Fitzgerald, Lee Tergesen, Christopher McDonald, Shannon Kane, Andre Royo, Tim Griffin, Erin Way, Randall Archer.

Body Count: 100+


Giving some credence to the notion that if your story lacks, well, story, throw more at it. In the action genre, that’s explosions, in horror, it’s body count. In torture porn, it’s gore.

Proving that Saw contributors Dunstan and Melton are ponies of the one-trick variety, The Collection, follow up to home invasion slasher flick The Collector, is little more than a third-rate Jigsaw wannabe, with a serial killer so incredibly lucky and with so much time on his hands, he’s amassed a body count well into triple figures.

The [PAL] running time of the film is 79 minutes, but the film ends more or less at 70, giving way to the lard-pumped NINE MINUTE credits, a sure sign that imagination stocks had run dry a lot earlier.

At the end of the inventive but sadistic first one, reluctant hero Arkin (Stewart) was boxed up by the titular killer, who always kickstarts his new murderthon with the placement of a victim from his previous spree. In this case, thoroughly undeveloped teenage girl Elena is the one to open the box at a secret rave, which in turn sets off a massive lawnmower-esque device that liquefies the entire dancefloor.

coll1a

Other partygoers are trapped and slowly crushed to death by a giant press, until Arkin makes his escape and The Collector chooses Elena to be his next boxee. Attention-grabbing as this opening may be, it seems needlessly cruel and about five times as sadistic as the entire Saw body-count-ography and the first film combined. I considered calling it a day there and then.

Elena’s rich dad hires a group of neo-bounty hunters to get his little girl back and they, in turn, blackmail Arkin into helping them find the collector’s lair; your common or garden abandoned hotel with full electrical support and nobody to bother it.

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Naturally the whole place is rigged with all manner of deadly traps (far beyond the capabilities of an army of builders, let alone one guy on his own) and once in they die in grisly ways: One is skewered vertically, another gets a giant hook in the mouth, while there are knifings, exploding heads, and automated giant-bear trap style surprises for various other schmucks, none of whom are given the slightest bit of character to make us care about what vile thing happens to them. While teenage victims in slasher films are hardly the type you’d hang out with, some of the characters here aren’t even afforded names that are spoken audibly enough to know who they are were.

Strangely, as I typed this up, Jaws 2 was whirring in the background. While gore and triple-figure body counts are in absentia, I actually gave a crap about the group of teenage sailors who the shark is hellbent on chomping in the final third of the film: Their group-concern for one another makes for a big chunk of what’s missing in films like The Collection, where all but the most ‘precious’ cast members are actively devalued and made expendable to the point of the audience wanting them to die violently. You read how people ‘deserve to die’ on any number of IMDb messageboards.

I'd rather hang out with the Jaws 2 kids any day

I’d rather hang out with the Jaws 2 kids any day

Films like The Collection make me question where my ‘line’ is. At what point does horror go from being fun to being disturbing? The perception that gore = horror is one taken too literally by a lot of filmmakers and fans; there’s very little suspense or unpredictability in The Collection. Thus, it plays like an extended trailer for How to Kill People Grotesquely and little else.

I also couldn’t decide if I even wanted to include The Collection as a slasher flick. In the end, it has a masked killer and a girl on the run so enough boxes are ticked, though this one is far more like its Saw cousins than the first movie, which had a more formulaic one-by-one approach.

Essentially, it’s just insubstantial. There’s nothing new to offer beyond more grim ways to skewer folk, and several of those had been seen before in other films – The Collection is a collection of other peoples ideas, it would seem. Tellingly, it made only about 60% of its production budget back during its theatrical run, possibly serving as an answer to: “Do people want nothing but gore?” Sure, later Final Destination outings might’ve been high-blood, low-empathy affairs, but knowing when to go into with your tongue in your cheek is an attribute those had that this sorrowfully lacks.

Blurbs-of-interest: Chris McDonald was in Playroom; Lee Tergesen was in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. It should surprise nobody that Dunstan and Melton wrote the script for Piranha 3DD – another crap film that stopped after 70 minutes for a month-long credit sequence.

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