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The 100 Greatest* Slasher Movies: #100-91

*According to me. Me, me, me. So there’re bound to be a good few ‘classics’ missing.

Commencement:

100: Slumber Party Massacre III (1990)

Straight-up driller-killer cheese as an impotent loon lays waste to a gaggle of teenage girls gathered at a friend’s house for a sleepover. Over-acting, tits, death by vibrator – SPMIII has it all.

Crowning moment: The remaining few girls strike back with oestrogenic fury, throwing a mix of household chemicals in his face and beating him with crutches n’ stuff.

99: The Prowler (1981)

Gruesome early fare with “the first graduation dance in 35 years” crashed by a psychotic G.I. wielding a nasty pitchfork, who skewers, slashes, and shoots his way around the college campus. Tom Savini’s excellent effects work standout in an otherwise slower-than-hell flick.

Crowning moment: A toss-up between the opening murder (set in 1945) and the nasty-ass shower kill. Points lost for killing the nice teacher but allowing a horny couple to live. See Trade-a-Life II.

98: Tormented (2009)

The United Kingdom’s first theatrically released slasher film in some years: An undead suicide victim, bullied until he hanged himself, reaps his bloody revenge on the responsible group of nasty school kids, including death by pencils up the nose, guillotined hands, and shovel decapitation.

Crowning moment: A half-dressed jock chased across the school grounds and wedgied to his skewery death.

97: Bloody Homecoming (2012)

An attempted date-rape is thwarted, only to start a fire that burns the would-be rapist to death. At the Homecoming Dance of the  teenage friends and the near-victim, they are each stalked and done in by a maniac dressed as a fireman. The fact that the writer is a friend of mine has no bearing on its place here.

Crowning moment: A pleasant excess of chase scenes absent from the horrible Prom Night remake. Which didn’t quite reach the Top 100.

96: Stagefright (1986)

Michele Sovai’s Argento-inspiring gorefest: A famous serial killer hitches a ride into the rehearsal space of a play, dons a creepy bird mask, and proceeds to make cuts to the cast roster. Super gory and unflinchingly brutal, albeit often overrated.

Crowning moment: Ingenue final girl Alicia has to retrieve the key to her escape from beneath the killer’s feet.

95: He Knows You’re Alone (1980)

Amy (Caitlin O’Heaney) is a bride-to-be stalked by a bride-to-be hating killer in this brazen Halloween clone, even down to the tinkling piano score. More notable as an early role for Tom Hanks, there’s a lot of charisma in this tame affair.

Crowning moment: The murder-at-the-slasher-movie intro, which pre-dates the Scream 2 scene by 17 years, and features Russell Todd from Friday the 13th Part 2.

94: Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Not the only Sleepaway Camp film in this countdown, but this Noo Yawk shot Friday the 13th variant has a viciously infamous final shot that turns everything upside down as well as some of the most inventive murders in the genre.

Crowning moment: A group of teenagers run to the water’s edge and gasp, the camera pulls back, and there’s shy Angela, buck naked – and she has a cock!

93: Intruder (1988)

Scott Spiegel’s slasher flick on speed featuring his buddies Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. The teenage employees at a closing down supermarket find themselves done in by an inventive killer, who favours the gorier end of the teen-dispatch spectrum…

Crowning moment: The final girl’s crush having his head forced into a buzz saw in Evil Dead-esque graphic style… Or the head in the box-crusher… A lot of unforgettable slayings in this one.

92: Unhinged (1982)

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A constant cloud of dread hangs over this low-bud Psycho rip-off, which puts three stranded teenage girls into a scary old manor house after a car accident. Perturbed by the weird relationship between the man-hating wheelchair-bound matriarch and her repressed daughter, their time there is soon made worse by a mystery killer hunting them down…

Crowning moment: Shown in the still above, this murder really is a bolt from the blue. Despite appearing on the Video Nasties list, it’s not a particularly grisly one.

91: A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

Or ‘the gay one’. Freddy’s second outing (huzzah!) is littered with clear subtext as he repeatedly takes over camp 80s teen Jesse’s body and makes him kill folks. Such a departure from the winning formula that it’s largely hated, but Freddy was still pretty scary back in ’85…

Crowning moment: The school bus nightmare intro, which captures bad dreaminess perfectly, from Jesse’s inferiority complex to the earth caving in to a hellish underworld…

*

Come back soon for #90 – 81

One shot

CUT

2 Stars  2010/18/70m

“No second chances.”

Director/Writer: Alexander Williams / Cast: Zach Galligan, Lauri Brewster, Dominic Burns, Simon Phillips, River George, Michael Socha, Danielle Lloyd.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “I was trying to rescue you!” / “With a spoon!?”


A cheap UK home invasion slasher film this might be, but Cut prides itself on being the first horror film shot in one continuous take. …Though if you scour the IMDb boards, there’s a claim it’s not. Nevertheless, trivia notes that it took 36 takes to get it right, when, you consider it’s an hour long production, that’s pretty impressive stuff.

Anyway, technical declarations aside, Cut begins amusingly enough with a babysitter (reality ‘star’ Lloyd) annoyed by her charge, who tells her the clown at the end of her bed keeps talking to her. When babysitter speaks with the mother, she says: “There is no lifesize clown doll at the end of the bed! Get out of the house!”

The TV goes off, this is just the film-within-a-film opener: Five people at a remote house banter, order pizza, and talk about a secret a bit… Noises from outside unnerve them, garden gnomes are shattered, car keys missing, phone out of use etc… And then a group of clown-faced psychos invade and begin killing them.

Gremlins‘ Zach Galligan leads the cast, who do okay with the one-take schtick, which, after 35 previous attempts, must’ve left them pretty damn bored of remembering their cues. But it works out alright.

Points are deducted for echoey sound and audio levels that prevented me finding out what the killers’ motive actually was… Someone screwed over someone else. That’s all I got.

Blurb-of-interest: Galligan was in the frankly far worse Hatchet III.

Christmas turkey

SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT: THE HOMECOMING

1.5 Stars  2013/18/79m

Director/Writer: James Plumb / Writer: Andrew Jones / Cast: Melanie Stevens, Alan Humphreys, Philip Harvey, Victor Ptak, Rosemary Smith, Gary Knowles, Simon Riordan, Ceri Mears, Matthew Batte, Adrienne King (voice).

Body Count: 14

Laughter Lines: “Butler House in an evil, evil place! Once it’s gone this town will finally be able to move on.”


A UK remake of a forty-year-old US proto-slasher film, the suffix of The Homecoming may fool some into believing this is a sequel… but no, it’s curiously a straight up over-do – but set in good ol’ Blighty.

So the story and the characters are pretty much the same: The Butler House stands in the town of Fairwood. In 1987, Wilfred Butler tumbled aflame from a second floor window. TO HIS DEEEEATH. (Or did he?). Twenty-five years later, his last living relative (son or grandson, can’t recall) offers, on Christmas Eve, to sell the house for £250,000 cash.

A selection of locals want the house in order to tear it down and rid Fairwood of its legacy, and so on Christmas Eve each receives a call from a hissing weirdo (who is, in fact, Adrienne King from Friday the 13th of all people) who invites them to the house and there they are chopped to bits by the axe wielding loon, who has also done away with an orderly at the asylum he broke out of, a guy dressed as Santa, and a couple who snuck in for nudies.

The Mayor’s daughter, Diane (Mary Woronov in the original, Melanie Stevens here), is later visited by the vendor Jeffrey Butler, and she apparently takes an instant acceptance to him, in spite of all the stories she grew up with, and drives him to the house, where they are attacked by the bandage-masked killer.

There’s a drawn out flashback where I really began to wane and everything that was happening sort of drifted by while I enjoyed a short trance, but the gist of it was that bandage-face thinks Diane is his daughter, and wants a nice family Christmas.

OK, so why only a star-and-a-half? In short: Budget and acting. The film looks incredibly cheap, which isn’t always a setback, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn this was filmed over a weekend using a few local theater group players. That old nemesis of mine ‘the under-reactor-actor’ is present and accounted for. If someone is attacking you with a fucking axe, SCREAM!

A couple of decent scenes, the chase through the woods for instance, do little to repair the damage.

It’s disappointing that there hasn’t been a major British slasher movie, we of Hammer Horror and freakin’ 28 Days Later…, yet we can’t seem to master a ‘simple’ body count flick, which proves that slasher films aren’t the through-the-motions piece o’ piss most detractors would claim.

Doom days

Tomorrow I’m off to London for a couple of days to hook up with my old college roomie and absorb two solid days of horror at FrightFest 2013.

When back – if I get back – hopefully there’ll be some kick-ass, five-star reviews of some of these…

Follow me on Twitter to keep up with the shenanigans!

Crime in a tower block is wrong on so many levels

comedown2COMEDOWN

2.5 Stars  2012/15/90m

“It’s fun getting high… but the comedown is a killer.”

Director: Menhaj Huda / Writer: Steven Kendall / Cast: Jacob Anderson, Sophie Stuckey, Adam Deacon, Jessica Barden, Duane Henry, Callum MacNab, Geoff Bell.

Body Count: 6


Supposed demographic synopsis: Dis is da story, yeah? In South LDN, some bros from a crew is arksed to put a radio antenna at da top of da abandoned Mercy Point tower block. But da fing iz dat there is a psycho livin’ in da flatz and he killz dem one ba one innit.

Rest of society: In South London, six “friends” are asked to place a radio antenna at the top of the abandoned Mercy Point tower block. However, their plans to party are scuppered by the homicidal intervention of a psychotic resident who begins doing them in one by one.

British ‘urban’ posturing was always going to leak into the horror genre by osmosis eventually. Demons Never Die (which featured leading man here, Anderson), made a year before this, flirted with such characters, mixing them into the blend of some suicidal-but-then-not-quite college teens. And Tulisa from N-Dubz. Innit.

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Comedown is more or less the UK equivalent of films like Cutthroat Alley, Urban Massacre, and all those killer clowns-in-da-hood DVD releases that came out a while back and is directed by Kidulthood helmer Huda. Set in a grimy, rat-infested block of flats with six leads who are supposed to be friends but largely appear to detest one another, if you have no experience with this kind of lifestyle, it just looks like a parade of vulgar stereotypes who can’t get through a sentence without an expletive.

In that sense, it should be fun to watch them laid to waste by a killer with a predilection for powertool-themed killing, including an icky nail-gun to the eyeball. Other victims are torched, dissected, and thrown headfirst down garbage chutes. Mucho arguing grates in the first act, accompanied by a lot of walking up and down dim corridors, which recalls cheapo early slasher flick The Dorm That Dripped Blood, which padded with reams of the same ‘action’.

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That said, a couple of the teens do become slightly more bearable once they get scared. The aggressive one who says ‘fuck’ a lot is done in early, leaving the slightly bland leading couple (consisting of ex-con-going-straight guy and his newly pregnant girlfriend), a couple of sheep, and gentle giant Col (Duane Henry – easily the most interesting) to find ways to split up.

The loon also turns out to be alumnus from the Jigsaw School of Improvised Death Traps: He boxes the kids in to the upper floors by welding a door over the elevator ground floor exit and wire mesh over the stairwells and later traps victims in a room behind a steel door and pipes in smoke.

Things eventually culminate all too quickly and fizzle out a little disappointingly. The killer’s motive seems to be no more complex than his love for pigeons and the cut n’ dried hero-is-blamed ‘twist’ feels ridiculously crowbarred in given the age of DNA testing we live in.

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Ultimately decent fare that gets better once the stalk and slashing begins but leans too heavily on ghetto cliches and can’t steer its way around some of the slasher movie necessities, features mere seconds of dreadful cheap looking CG work (you can’t miss it) and squanders some of the grubby, dirty, this-is-also-social-horror mechanics operating. Listen for a couple of actors compromising their “innit” accents as their dulcet tones seep through. Could do better, could do worse.

Blurbs-of-interest: Adam Deacon was in Wilderness; Geoff Bell was in Tormented and Botched; Gemma Leah Devereux from Stitches, plays one of the nurses (the one whose face we don’t even see!)

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