Tag Archives: rip-off central

Face off. Literally.


4 Stars  2010/18/87m

“Meet your maker.”

A.k.a. Maskerade

Director: G.E. Furst / Writers: Eric Miller, Jake Kennedy, G.E. Furst / Cast: Nikki DeLoach, Stephen Colletti, Terry Kiser, Michael Berryman, Treat Williams, Anabella La Casanova, Ross Britz, Mariah Bonner, A.J. Allegra, Lara Grice, Jonathan Breck, Jason London.

Body Count: 14

Dire-logue: “Are you taking me to a remote location where you plan on murdering me for my birthday?”

I’ve often said that a surefire way to produce a decent slasher film these days is simply to pick n’ mix good parts of other decent slasher films and mold a pastiche together like a giant playdough ball of grue.

Finally, someone’s done that.

Make no mistake, Mask Maker has zilch orginality to it. Almost nothing happens that hasn’t happened before in some forgotten B movie nobody cares to remember. But what the Mask Maker makers have done is stitch together these little motifs and scenarios, set-ups and shots, and create a well above average (in post-millennium terms), none-too-pretentious body count pic – just the kind of thing I needed after what has seemed like a long drought of good horror fare.

Many will say “Dude, this sucks! It’s got nothing going for it,” but in the absence of anything new TO DO with slasher movies, at least what is done here has some competence and logic to it.

How’s this for the story? In what I thought was the 1800s – but was, in fact, 1961 – a madcap woman kidnaps someone’s baby to sacrifice it in order to restore life/immortality/whatnot to a bandaged up figure. She succeeds, but is hanged by the angry townsfolk and bandage dude – her son – is skewered with some sacred Native American stick-thing and buried.

An aerial shot of a college campus accompanied by alt rock tells us we’re now in the present and economically-minded birthday girl Jennifer is taken by her cutesy boy-toy Evan to claim her birthday present: the house where all the 1800s-1961-really shizzle went down. She’s displeased, acts like a bitch about it, and then learns it’s a real fixer upper, only cost $10,000 and has forty acres of land with it. She’s then happy. And apologises.

Friends come down for the weekend to help clean up and one of them totters into the cemetery on the grounds and yanks out the Native American sacred stick-thing, hexing the lot of ‘em. Bandage-dude, whom we learn is called Leonard from a series of flashbacks where Treat Williams (!) is screwing around with the boy’s mom, rises again and starts to kill the newcomers.

Mask Maker has a bit of a fractured structure and I wasn’t entirely sure if we’d been clued in on everything that was going on. Bernie himself, Terry Kiser, mumbles through an exposition about what happened in ’61 and tells Jennifer to get out of ‘The Old Tucker Place’ (“He’ll kill you all!” etc) but by then it’s too late for most of her friends, who have been slashed, axed and pitchforked dead by Leonard, who then rips off their facial epidermis (with surprising ease) and wears them to torment the next victim.

Considering how seen-it-all-before things get, director Furst manages to wring a lot of energy and even a fair whack of tension from familiar scenes. There’s a great chase, for once involving a fleeing guy rather than the usual squealing girl, and when Jen finally discovers the carnage, she puts on her final girl shoes and goes for broke, making all the right decisions until thwarted by the hulking maniac.

Eventually, things go by way of Friday the 13th Part 2 (and even Humongous) as she dons mother’s dress to fool Leonard into believing she’s returned from the grave; this is then followed up by a copy of the ‘machete-slide’ climax of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. The face-peeling schtick throws up reminders of the Texas Chainsaw remakes and low-bud DVD flick Scarred, though mercifully they hold back on extreme close-ups of a slow-rip from the skull here.

So, deformed, mute, son with overbearing love for psychotic, unhinged mother, eh? Chuck in Michael Berryman’s handyman (who works at Pluto’s World of Goods!!!) with a few sage words here and there, Jason London’s rather pointless cameo, Native American burial rituals, an old diary with all the answers, a full moon, T&A, and a requisite ‘twist’ that practically sounds a foghorn to let you know it’s coming, and there’s little else you need in a straight-up slasher movie.

Insignificant though it may be –  and downright laughable to anyone who’s recently watched The Cabin in the Woods - I really enjoyed Mask Maker. It’s like a narrative montage of good bits from great teenie-kill pics and that is certainly not a bad thing by any standards, merely a comfortably predictable one.

It also made me want to sing ‘mask maker’ to the tune of the Kids from Fame’s ‘Starmaker’. Further proof of its evident superiority.

Blurbs-of-interest: Terry Kiser was Dr Crews in Friday the 13th Part VII; Jonathan Breck played The Creeper in both Jeepers Creepers films and was also in The Caretaker; Jason London was in Killer Movie and The Rage: Carrie 2; Michael Berryman was Pluto (you see??) in both of the original Hills Have Eyes movies and was also in Deadly Blessing and Penny Dreadful.

“He’ll kill you aaaaall etc!”

Nice day for a… Shite wedding


1.5 Stars  1982/88m

“Til death do us part.”

Director: Harry Preston / Cast: L.L. Carney & Deanne Kelly / Cast: Cheryl Black, Bob Wagner, Michael Crabtree, Paul Iwanski, Margi Curry, Kari Addington, Philip Thompson, James Caskey, Leslie McKinley, William F. Pecchi, Jerry Meagher, Michael Wycoff.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “It’s the biggest piece of meat I’ve ever seen.”

“Something grabbed my ankle,” a girl says in Honeymoon Horror.

“Maybe it was a bridge?” comes the reply from her friend.

A bridge. I rewound the tape several times to be sure years of screaming music through headphones hadn’t worsened my tinnitus. Yes, she suggested a bridge grabbed the first girl’s ankle.

This rape of sensible scripting notwithstanding, in this paper-thin imitation of Friday the 13th by way of The Burning, a disfigured maniac, who resembles Uncle Fester, stalks and kills the female honeymooners spending their first post-nuptial night on an ugly as fuck little island owned and run by said maniac’s ex-wife and her new lover. Together, they burned the dude some years earlier.

An intriguing piece of inexplicably sexist trash, director Preston seems to forget events that have already occurred. Meanwhile, the killer hacks and hews his way through the blushing brides with a handy axe until all who’re left are huddled together in a central cabin.

Some gory murders interpose the cliched pattern of goings-on, but the effects are godawful with too-thick or too-thin blood pumping from inflicted wounds while the corpses are quite obviously still breathing.

Throw in a mute, retarded caretaker, characters who repeatedly insist they’re “perfectly safe”, a cigar-chomping Sheriff and an English maid whose only two lines of dialogue sound like they’ve gushed from the mouth of a 19th century East End prostitute.

If there was ever an excuse not to get married, this is it.

Cold Prey-garism


2 Stars  2011/15/74m

“Hell just froze over.”

Director: Sonny Laguna / Writers: Laguna, David Liljeblad & Tommy Wiklund / Cast: Hanna Oldenburg, Patrick Saxe, Andreas Rylander, Elin Hugoson, Ralf Beck, David Liljeblad.

Body Count: 6

Sweden: Land of Volvo, saunas, ABBA, and Roxette. Norway: Land of herring, fjords, and famously coming last in Eurovision countless times.

Sweden shouldn’t really be jealous. But then Norway got Cold Prey – hands down the best slasher, neigh – best horror - film in a long time. Sweden was all like “yeah we can do that.”

So out came Blood Runs Cold, shot on a minuscule budget of about $5,000, and boasting a plot staggering similar to Sweden’s next-door neighbour’s celluloid prize possession.

Winona, a singer of some such, drives into the snow-covered turf of her old town for a couple of months away from the stress put on her by her manager. Unfortunately for her, she gets the wrong house and beds down in a twee, but dilapidated shack of a place.

She drives into town and runs into an old boyfriend and invites him and a couple of his friends back to the house to party. This is where Blood Runs Cold trades in some of its admittedly impressive style for some dumb ass character behaviour… It seems the house has no bathroom as people keep going outside to piss and one of them sees a figure in the upstairs window but doesn’t bother telling the others about it. The other guy finds that Winona’s van has been tampered with, picks up a torn out spark plug, tosses it into the snow and doesn’t bother telling the others about it.

Before sun up, all three of the invitees have been murdered and eaten by the hooded, goggled freak living in a series of secret rooms and caves beneath the house. Winona assumes they just went home and, upon finding a large paddle of blood on the living room floor, simply cleans it up and goes about her day as if it meant nothing…

“This film is snot what I signed on for.”

When it’s just Winona and the loon – who appears to be deaf, blind and made of dust!? – all dialogue is gone and as he hangs her up to serve up some chick-meat, she escapes, he catches her, she escapes, he catches her and so on until the credits suddenly spring up out of nowhere, several minutes earlier than the box promised!

There’s some good looking photography on parade and the house geography supplies a few good hidey-holes for Winona to crawl around (could’ve provided some Kleenex for her Heather Donahue moment too, I guess) but even at 74 minutes this drags and isn’t nearly a quarter as tense as Cold Prey.

Curiously recorded in English – which also seems to inhibit the acting – with a higher wad of cash at their disposal, this could’ve been much better but seems lazily written with an almost purposely dumb cast and a stack of unanswered questions, not least of all who the dude at the beginning is?

Camp Crudstal Lake


3 Stars  1989/92m

“There’s a bad moon rising… and it just got worse!”

A.k.a. Camper Stamper

Director/Writer: Michael O’Rourke / Cast: Blake Gibbons, Jil Foor, Joe Balogh, Alex Wexler, Ann McFadden, Pamela Ross, Jon Marzilli, Ingrid Vold, Sioux-Z Jessup, Neil Kinsella, Tom Hamil, Ernie Abernathy, Kelly Mullis, Joleen Tropp, Ron K. Collie.

Body Count: 23

Dire-logue: “So the guy doesn’t stop for hitchhikers – doesn’t exactly make him Jack the Ripper.”

For a while I wondered if seldom-heard of horror flick MoonStalker was going to be a slasher version of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker, like there was a film called Slashdance. Let me cancel that raised-eyebrow expression from your face now by telling you that it’s not.

Instead, seldom-heard of horror flick MoonStalker is a super low discount price campers-in-the-woods flick shot in Nevada that mixes bits of Madman with Friday the 13th and features the most unashamed Halloween knock-off theme music this side of He Knows You’re Alone.

Don’t be distracted by my three-star rating however, MoonStalker manages to both suck and blow in unison but it does so with an endearingly naff charm. It’s a kindergarten carol concert: shit but cute.

The POV opening episode sees six teens attempting to dance around a campfire in the snow while someone watches from the trees. Two of them take leave to go and do the dirty in a caravan and are quickly axed off-screen. The fate of the rest of the teens is left to us to decide, but let’s pretend they all died for their Strictly Come Swaying and Waving Your Arms Around Mentally sins. Camera pans up to the full moon – roll titles…

After the credits, which run alongside the Halloween cover version, the “action” shifts to what looks like the family camping trip from hell. If you’re family is made up of the least talented members of the local theatre group. While Dad shouts his lines and tries not to look directly into the camera, Mom just wants to watch soaps on the fabulous portable color television and their two kids – a bratty daughter permanently fused to her cassette Walkman and a suspiciously camp son – whine about going to LA instead. Oh, but they tried so hard!

The serenity is soon ended by the arrival of an old man, originally going by Pop, towing a crappy caravan. They talk fishing and his son Bernie, who, it turns out, is chained up in the caravan and let out with his axe to off the family because he hates campers. Pop suddenly dies of a heart attack during the massacre, leaving poor Bernie to go it alone but with a spunky new RV!

Eventually, Bernie kills and replaces a guy on his way to a ‘Wilderness Counsellor’ training camp (to earn certificates – woooo!!!), which appears to consist of a few tents around a campfire and has a sign made out of a piece of card and felt tip pen. It’s a tad late to introduce the supposed ‘main characters’ but MoonStalker doesn’t care – MoonStalker plays by it’s OWN rules!

Nice guy Ron and bespectacled joker Bobby welcome probable heroine Debbie to the camp. She turns up in an undependable old car and echoes of Amy Steel abound. The camp is run by Third Reich wannabes Regis and Marcie, who like to engage in combat sex when he’s not ordering around his delegates, which are the array of usual horny teens, some of whom barely register on screen before being killed off by Bernie, who has slain and taken the place of one of the overdue attendees, opting for a stetson and reflective shades over the actually-quite-creepy mask he wore to kill the bad acting family.

Action Barbie likes sex to the sounds of Ride of the Valkyries

Everyone has, or tries to have, sex. Which is weird because there’s snow everywhere and nobody particularly exudes much hotness. Curiously, I didn’t spot any boobs – even during the shower shag moment. Bernie kills most the gang off screen but lops off a couple of limbs and the shower girl is seemingly murdered by having hot water sprayed on her face for about two thirds of a second.

But MoonStalker undoubtedly peaks with a loon-made ropes-and-planks contraption that keeps a line of corpses swaying to and fro while a tape of two guys singing ‘She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain When She Comes’ plays from behind a tree! It provides a bonafide ‘LOL’ moment that ensures you’ll at least remember something about MoonStalker.

Still, I had to watch the end twice to try and figure some things out:

  • Who is the guy in the back of the ambulance at the end?
  • How did that female deputy turn up at the cabin and where did her buddy go?
  • So, who got shot!?

MoonStalker is bad fo’ sure! You’d be hard pressed to find a more by-the-numbers camping slasher flick from this era, but the fact that it was shot on film rather than video and it’s rebellious does-what-it-feels-like nature lends it a likeable sort of fascination that just about overrides the train wreck acting (especially from that family), cruddy effects work and vision-molesting fashion choices.

Also, I hope the actress whose name is the staggeringly brilliant Sioux-Z went on to become mega famous. I don’t think she did though.

Blurb-of-interest: Pamela Ross was Sara in Sorority House Massacre; Joe Balogh was in Hollywood’s New Blood.

Be careful what you fish for

Vegan Voorhees is going to take a little step outside of the slasher movies only hoop into the dangerous world of… OTHER HORROR MOVIES! Well, killer fish movies – but only for a minute! Promise!!

Being a child fan of Jaws, I’ve always liked me some fish-what-bite-back movies. I don’t really like eating fish but they get a raw deal (‘specially if it’s sushi – ho ho ho) so sometimes it’s nice to see them get their own back on people.

So here’s a quick overview of some of the finny films I love as well as those that I didn’t so much as “love” as “stare open-mouthed at”…

The JAWS films (1975-1987)

The Top Dog of killer fish movies, the original movie has not only never been bettered but it’s rare to find anything that comes within a mile of it. That said, for years I advocated Jaws 2 as my favourite of the bunch – thanks largely in part to A). the water-skiing bit, B). Phantom-of-the-Opera shark and C). the dumb group of teens picked off by the shark. Though not nearly enough of them got chomped.

Jaws III and The Revenge were comparably naff but I still like. I can clearly remember cereal boxes with 3D glasses and little Jaws comic strips on the back; Jaws 2 crisps (pickled onion) and attempting to read and understand the complex plottings of the Jaws: The Revenge novel, aged eight.

But enough about these films – we’ve all seen them, we know they started well and ended up with a fish able to strategize an intricate revenge scheme, but what of the hoards of pretenders?

Tentacles (1977)

A giant octopus eats people at a small Californian beach resort. It sounds awesome and begins fittingly awesomely with the ‘pus snatching a child from a pushchair by the water! Harsh. Some spooky scenes ensue but before long, protracted scenes of scuba diving only serve as a reminder that nothing is more boring than protracted scenes of scuba diving.

The ‘pus eventually attacks a sailing regatta, eats another child and Shelley Winters wears a giant sombrero. At the end, a widowed guy sets two killer whales on the poor creature. Tentacles should’ve been so much more. It should’ve lived up to that AWESOME artwork. Someone remake it.

piranha1978-aPiranha (1978)

Joe Dante directed this playful spoof on Jaws and it swims with ease into second best killer fish film. Despite being a total satire-fest, Piranha is actually quite sad in points: the nice summer camp counsellor (Dante regular Belinda Balaski) falling victim to the ever-trilling fishies is a borderline upsetting moment rare in horror, letalone low-rent killer fish horror.

The film was followed by a bizarre sequel in 1981, directed by James Cameron of all people, in which the fish had developed freakin’ WINGS and could hide out inside corpses long enough to flutter out at close by nurses.

Roger Corman produced a real cheap looking TV remake in 1995, which featured a chick from Baywatch and Soleil Moon Frye and much of the same footage from the original. Fair to say it sucked.

The Last Shark (1980)

Universal successfully sued the producers of The Last Shark (a.k.a. Great White, L’ultimo Squalo) for plagiarism and the film was shut down after only a couple of weeks in theaters in 1980, which is a bit of a shame as, despite its shameless pilfering, it’s not the worst killer shark film around.

A rampaging Great White eats windsurfers, boaters and endless people who try and kill it. Borrowed scenes include midnight skinny dipping, the shark crashing another regatta, eating a helicopter, tearing a jetty away and characters which are virtually third-generation Xeroxes of Quint and Brody. The shark resembles a thirtieth-generation copy of a polystyrene junior school art project that more floats than swims.

The Beast (1995)

Proving he was a versatile writer, Peter Benchley penned the novel in which a giant squid terrorises a small coastal community, which was made into a mini-series a few years later. Sounds like Jaws? It virtually is. Shot in Australia with a load of cast members from Neighbours or Home and Away, I can’t remember much of it now, which is possibly a merciful state of mind to be in.

Cruel Jaws (1995)

Love that tagline: “This time it’s even more personal than the last time.”

I encourage you ALL to find a copy of this hilarious patchwork effort that unapologetically steals footage from the Jaws movies and The Last Shark. Another hungry fish – this time trained (!?) by the navy – comes to town to eat folk, the mafia are involved, the marine biologist tells everyone: “Only one species of shark is capable of this…the TIGER SHARK!”

But all the footage is of Great Whites.

There’s a sensational scene when a girl confined to a wheelchair begins rolling down a pier and plunges into the water and we clearly see her legs begin to kick. A girl squeals “I wanna dance!” when she’s already dancing. The main guy looks like Hulk Hogan and the shark is somehow destroyed three times at the end. It’s amazing.

Literally ALL scenes with the shark are lifted from other movies and it had the nerve to try and pass itself off as Jaws 5!!! It’s at least more fun to watch than Jaws: The Revenge though.

Deep Blue Sea (1999)deepbluesea2

Saffron Burrows is a scientist. Ha ha ha! She and Stellan Skarsgaard have been experimenting on Mako sharks to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s. Ha ha ha! The side effect is that the sharks’ brains swell and they get smarter. Ha h- what?

Said clever fishies rebel against the scientists, crash a rescue helicopter and start to sink the out-at-sea platform, pitting the group of survivors against them as they try to reach the surface.

LL Cool J is a religious chef. Thomas Jane swaggers around, throwing himself all over the show as the macho hero and Burrows plays it all low-rent Ripley, her character so detested by focus groups that they re-shot the end to have her chomped by one of the sharks.

Shark Attack 3: Megaladon (2002)

The first Shark Attack movie in ’99 could send a can of Red Bull to sleep. The second one had roaring Great Whites and a couple of decent laughs but Shark Attack 3 is where it’s at: a giant million-foot prehistoric Megaladon shark comes out of a deep sea trench and eats things. There’s a school of regular GW’s around too, ready and waiting at the bottom of waterslides, eating parasailers and stuff…

As if this were not wacky enough, John Barrowman camps it up as a scientist who turns to his female companion (who played a different role in the first film, evidently hoping nobody saw it or fell asleep and didn’t notice) seconds after she mourns the loss of a friend and says; “What do you say I take you home and you let me eat your pussy?”

Allegedly he was trying to make the actress laugh but it got cut into the film anyhow. See it!

Behold the convincing effects of Shark Attack 3

The Reef (2010)

A subtle Australian export reportedly based on true events. Five people head out on a yacht. The yacht capsizes. Four of them opt to try and swim to land. A shark eventually catches up and begins attacking them.

Open Water has a lot to answer for (not least of all its horrible sequel, Adrift), but The Reef is actually pretty good. Though you could only watch it the once really. Some decent tension mounts in one of those what-would-you-do situation horrors Australia is good at.

Piranha 3D (2010)

Alexandre Aja helmed this in-name-only remake (which would’ve been better off as a sequel), which trades story and character for gore and tits. Lots of tits. So many in fact that I wondered if the film had been part-funded by a Naturist Society.

Dame Elisabeth of Shue tries her hardest to fit things together as the local sheriff who sees Spring Break literally savaged by a massive school of prehistoric piranha freed by an underwater earthquake.

It’s a disappointingly shallow affair but good for squishy demises and 13-year-old boys who want to ogle silicone boobs but the whole thing carries a disturbing undercurrent of misogyny in places, which sees countless pretty girls chewed into chunks only after they’ve ripped their tops off.

Shark Night 3D (2011)

The more family friendly alternative to Piranha, college kids take a vacation at their rich friend’s lakehouse and soon discover it’s teeming with various species of dangerous sharks put there by a group of money-hungry rednecks who want to sell footage of real life shark attacks to the Discovery Channel. Seriously.

No reason is given for the fishes aggression and I was more sad that the teens captured and killed a cute Hammerhead than when any of them died. It’s funny how the lead guy is supposed to be the ultimate nerd but is seen comfortably shirtless with the body of a Jersey Shore extra. The dog is the only character who matters and is the one to save the day when it counts.

Other ponds to paddle in:

  • Devilfish (a.k.a. Devouring Waves) was another scientists versus their own creation-fest, just really boring
  • Red Water had a Bull shark eating various people – and Coolio – in a river
  • Frankenfish set Bayou-dwellers against a giant leaping mutant thing that eats Muse Watson among others
  • Spring Break Shark Attack was a made-for-cable flick that predated the Piranha remake but was otherwise the same, memorable only by the fact that I watched it in China and some schmuck kite-surfing right into a Tiger shark’s gob.
  • Malibu Shark Attack is just that: lifeguards at the beach are attacked by Goblin sharks that float in on a tsunami.
  • It’s Daryl Hannah versus contaminated and angry fish in Shark Swarm, an epic three-hour affair with a body count to rival Jason’s.
  • Mega-Shark vs. Giant Octopus and Sharktopus are no-budget Asylum affairs with mucho hype and little thrill, crappy effects work, ridiculous plots and washed-up 80s singers like Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. The first is infamous for a scene in which the giant shark randomly leaps 35,000 feet into the air to eat a Boeing 747 and the second features a shark with tentacles and an attitude.
  • And coming in 2012, this:

Can I burst into tears now or do I have to actually see it first?

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