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Valley of the Cheapjack Franchises: BLOODY MURDER

Another cheapjacker that jacks Friday the 13th for its material: Bloody Murder and its sequel and spin-off are probably the most blatant photocopies of Jason’s adventures at camp going, so much so that there’s even a backstory concerning a hockey-masked psycho killer…

bm1BLOODY MURDER

1.5 Stars  1999/15/84m

A.k.a. Scream Bloody Murder (UK)

“They thought it was just a game.”

Director: Ralph Portillo / Writer: John R. Stevenson / Cast: Jessica Morris, Christelle Ford, Patrick Cavanaugh, Michael Stone, Peter Guillemette, Justin Martin, Dale Smigelski, Tracy Pacheco, Lindsey Leigh, William Winter, Michael Proshaka.

Body Count: 6

Dire-logue: “If it comes down to it, I’m willing to be with you carnally.”


Teenage counsellors fixing up Camp Placid Pines hear the legends of Trevor Moorhouse, a hockey-masked, chainsaw-for-an-arm maniac who likes to disembowel the local population. Nevertheless, they decide to play a bizarre game of hide n’ seek (called Bloody Murder) and shortly after some of them – I stress some – start disappearing, thus giving rebirth to the legends and allowing drippy heroine Julie to do a bit of detective work.

Some really shameless elements are lobbed into the mix with a so-called red-herring suspect that a toddler could figure out, and a Randy clone who makes the group watch Sleepover Camp Massacre XIV (actually clips from the just-as-crummy Fever Lake) and goes so far as to comment on the prolonged running time of the movie being “unusual for films of this genre.” The prime suspect happens to be named Jason. How much groaning can you exhibit during 84 minutes?

Julie – whose dad went to the camp years earlier – uses her laptop to figure out the mystery but the killer turns out to be someone else who we didn’t really pay much attention to… Up to this point, the film offers up clues to keep you looking the other way, but the whole production is juvenile, almost goreless, and lazy, with the worst news coming in the form of a dumb twist that virtually promises a sequel.

One good line: “My older sister swears she knows someone whose brother disappeared up here years ago…” And that, my friends, is how rumours get started.

bloodymurder2BLOODY MURDER 2: CLOSING CAMP

2002/15/82m  2.5 Stars

A.k.a. Halloween Camp

“The second cut is the deepest.”

Director: Rob Spera / Writer: John Stevenson / Cast: Katy Woodruff, Amanda Magarian, Kelly Gunning, Arthur Benjamin, Tiffany Shepis, Ray Smith, Tom Mullen, Lane Anderson.

Body Count: 8


Extraordinarily, Bloody Murder did something right to generate this decent follow up, easily the best of its ropey franchise, which takes us back to Camp Placid Pines five years after the previous incident (and ironically the same number of years that separate the events of the first two Friday the 13th films).

This time, the teen counsellors have made it through the summer, bid farewell to the campers and are now locking down the place for the off-season. Amongst the group is Tracy, whose brother Jason disappeared first time round, a fact she feels the need to remind everybody of to the point ad nauseam. Stories of Trevor Moorhouse circulate and are dismissed as sub-standard summer camp myths by the know-all who becomes the first victim of a masked, machete-favouring killer in a ghoulish plastic mask.

It should have been easy to avoid the potholes the first film continually buckled its wheels into, and Closing Camp starts out sticking to the genre rules like flypaper with the standard teens having sex, wandering off and getting slaughtered amidst repeated nods to ‘the rules’ of horror movies, yet again featuring the black guy who bemoans that he won’t last long.

This all entertains for the most part but the after-school theatrics of Tracy’s detective work mar the payoff as similar turns did in the first film and as the film moves into the third day with several deaths and disappearances, you wonder why the remaining kids aren’t just put up in a local hotel instead of hanging around the death camp and – unbelievably – splitting up to look for clues!

Once this season’s killer is revealed and the motive spurted like Betsy Palmer’s outtakes, it’s followed by almost exactly the same twist as first time around! Strangely, the film elects a sort of secondary final girl who survives along with Tracy and, as was the case in #1, there is only one female fatality. What is this, BM, pro-feminist slashing?

Merit for half-succeeding in getting it right…if only they’d continued with the same enthusiastic outlook.

graveyardTHE GRAVEYARD

1.5 Stars  2006/84m

A.k.a. Bloody Murder 3

“Fear is buried here.”

Director: Michael Feifer / Writer: Michael Hurst / Cast: Lindsay Ballew, Markus Potter, Patrick Scott Lewis, Lief Lillehaugen, Erin Michelle, Trish Coren, Chris Stewart, Eva Derrek, Natalie Denise Sperl, Sam Bologna, Mark Salling.

Body Count: 8


Another teen prank goes fatally wrong in this sequelly-spin-off instalment of the “series”. Puck from Glee is the victim after a fake scare in a cemetery, which ends with him impaling himself.

Several years later, his six friends reunite at Camp Placid Pines, where a masked killer who holds them equally responsible begins the olde eliminado game. Good girl Michelle tries to keep things together and re-acclimate Bobby – who took all the blame and spent five years inside – to the rest of the group, while ringleader Jack seems more interested in reigniting his failed relationship with Allie, even after his new girlfriend goes missing (read: is murdered in the shower).

Cue red-herrings tossed in at every given opportunity, although it’s pretty damn obvious who the killer is before long and it seems physically impossible for them to have flit between murders and group searches for missing buddies. Other characters appear only to be killed off minutes later and, of course, no modern DTV slasher flick would be complete without T&A and a butch lesbian. There’s also a crap Sheriff who prioritises a burglary over an alleged murder and is credited for saving the day at the end!

Any credibility gained in the so-so Bloody Murder 2 is tossed into the campfire, thanks to dire plotting and god-awful dialogue, which rarely strays beyond “quit screwing around” mentality but casually throws a “maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon…” into the mix as things go from bad to worse for the viewer of this rubbish. I never thought I’d miss Trevor Moorhouse…

Overall-blurbs-of-interest: genre regular Tiffany Shepis was also in Dead Scared, Home Sick and Scarecrow as well as a blink cameo in Detour; Mark ‘Puck’ Salling was also in Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering.

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Bloody Murder 2 was re-titled Halloween Camp for UK DVD and was ‘followed’ by Adam & Evil under the bizarro name of Halloween Camp 2: Scream if You Wanna Die Faster! ‘Trevor vs. Jason’ indeed…

Out of the closet, into a nightmare

nightmare_on_elm_street_2A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE

3 Stars  1985/18/82m

“The man of your dreams is back.”

Director: Jack Sholder / Writer: David Chaskin / Cast: Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Rusler, Clu Gulager, Hope Lange, Marshall Bell, Sydney Walsh, Robert Englund.

Body Count: 9-ish

Dire-logue: “Lisa, there’s a Jesse on the phone!”


Although often cited as the worst of the Elm Street franchise (a view I shared until a few years ago), Freddy’s Revenge, on a subtextual level to say the least, is actually pretty good viewing. Plus the fact that it’s so superbly 80s, even the metallic shininess that adorns the titles!

*shing!*

*shing!*

Although there’s enough evidence that this sequel was rushed into production without a lot of thought, at least the creators tried to vary the theme rather than provide a retread of the original and things begin magnificently with a creepy dreamscape that could rival some of those in #1 for effectiveness. Fears of kidnap, social inadequacy, and hell are realised almost perfectly in the sequence, which introduces us to our final boy, Jesse…

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Jesse and his family have recently moved into 1428 Elm Street and their teenage son is in Nancy’s old room and already having nightmares about a burnt, claw-fingered guy who, it seems, is more interesting in getting Jesse to do his bidding rather than just slashing him to death.

Jesse soon becomes torn between what’s real and what’s in his head and his parents naturally blame it all on drugs but then some murders occur: first his high school’s nasty gym coach in an exceptionally sexual manner (we’ll come on to that later), then his buddy Grady and some poor schmucks invited to love-interest Lisa’s pool party.

Lisa demonstrating what happens if you look like Meryl Streep and dress like Tiffany

Lisa demonstrating what happens if you look like Meryl Streep and dress like Tiffany

There’s no dream-stalking in Freddy’s Revenge, at least none that’s as clear cut as the other films. No, “oh shit, I’m asleep!” Only Jesse needs to stay awake and sometimes that doesn’t appear to work as Freddy cuts his way out to wreak havoc whenever he feels like it.

Elm Street 2 has a reputation as ‘the gay film’ in the series. Why? Well, from electing an effeminate boy as the lead who whines to Lisa that “he’s [Freddy] trying to get inside my body,” is a good start. Then there’s Nancy’s diary that quite literally comes out of the closet with insights. The aforementioned gym teech is into S&M and catches Jesse in a downtown gay bar before escorting him back to school where the coach is then tied to the showers, stripped, whipped and slashed by Freddy before the showers spurt blood in a bizarre ejaculative gesture. It’s worth noting that furiously chewing gum has never succeeded in making ghostly things depart for future reference.

elm4Jesse – it’s in the name! – shrieks in a high-pitched voice much of the time before Freddy literally comes out of him to take over and it eventually takes Lisa’s kiss to save the day. In effect, heterosexuality is what claims victory, re-repressing Freddy into the background and out of harms way.

There are those who criticise the film for being a ‘gay pride parade’ but it couldn’t be more the other way if it tried. 80s America wasn’t really much of a ticker tape parade for homosexuality at the best of times and the film paints quite a marginalised portrait: the thing that lurks inside trying to take over is evil and must be repressed. Quite the celebratory message indeed.

elm6elm7

 

Is it worth pointing out the irony of these people who moan about diverse sexuality being explored in a film series where the central character is a child molester? I’d bet they’re the same ones who whinge when there are no tits on display. It’s OK, look, there’s an undead kiddie-fiddler instead!

Anyway, back in the black and white world of horror cinema, Freddy’s Revenge fails on several levels: there are only two ‘proper’ murders, although both are good, not enough of the skipping-rope chant, the acting is all over the place and Patton doesn’t make much of a sympathetic hero and it’s really Meryl Streep-a-like Myers who does the legwork. Freddy though, looks great and at his scariest with a sort of moist quality to his skin (ew!) and the final shock is amusing.

Why be scared of Freddy when there's a giant poster of Limahl over your bed!?

Why be scared of Freddy when there’s a giant poster of Limahl over your bed!?

Who knows what writer Chaskin was trying to achieve here? Parts of it work and parts don’t, but it all looks well made and it’s certainly different and betters – at least - parts 5 and Freddy’s Dead.

Blurbs-of-interest: Jack Sholder edited The Burning and directed Alone in the Dark; Christie Clark (Jesse’s little sister) was later in Children of the Corn II; Marshall Bell was in Identity; Clu Gulager was in The Initiation; Englund appeared in Behind the Mask, Hatchet, Heartstopper, The Phantom of the Opera and Urban Legend.

Blame it on the boogey

boogeyman3BOOGEYMAN 3

2 Stars  2008/15/91m

“She left for college and terror followed.”

Director: Gary Jones / Writer: Brian Sieve / Cast: Erin Cahill, Chuck Hittinger, Mimi Michaels, George Maguire, Matt Rippy, Nikki Sanderson, Elyes Gabel, W.B. Alexander, Jayne Wisner, Kate Maberly.

Body Count: 9


Boogeyman 2 successfully managed to untangle the wretched mess left by the 2004 original film by turning the crappy CG-laden horror-for-kids premise into an on-point slasher film with some brutality to it. Unfortunately, Boogeyman 3 enters the party, trips over the table and sends all the nicely rearranged apparel over the floor before slipping over and landing on it, crushing anything good that may have survived.

OK, so it’s still better than the first one but out goes the guy-in-a-mask and in steps another ‘genuine’ monster (looking like a zombie Alice Cooper), which has followed Tobin Bell’s daughter back to the college dorm where she lives (and subsequently dies) and proceeds to kill off her group of friends.

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The trick here is that the moment you believe in the curse, you become susceptible to it and so the only way to survive is not to believe – difficult when your pals are turning up dead. Even with the body count scenario, this is a lot more like The Grudge films than a slasher movie with the usual stereotype characters led by ex-Power Ranger Cahill’s not-so-competent final girl, atrocious special effects work and wobbly acting, making it a chore to sit through.

A couple of minor chills shouldn’t prevent you slamming the closet door shut on this franchise.

Blurbs-of-interest: Brian Sieve also wrote the previous (better) instalment; Gary Jones directed Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove and Axe Giant.

“I’ve seen enough horror movies to know that any weirdo wearing a mask is never friendly.”

f13-6FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES

 4 Stars  1986/18/83m

“Nothing this evil ever dies.”

Director/Writer: Tom McLoughlin / Cast: Thom Mathews, Jennifer Cooke, David Kagen, Kerry Noonan, Renee Jones, Tom Fridley, Darcy DeMoss, CJ Graham, Vincent Guastaferro, Ron Palillo.

Body Count: 18

Dire-logue: “Don’t piss me off, Junior, or I will repaint this office with your brains!”


The general rule of sequels – not least horror sequels – is that they get progressively worse. Although, it’s also worth pointing out that the more you make, the more likely it is that as quality spirals, there’ll be a pleasant bump along the way. Of course, loving slasher films means that I don’t subscribe to either of these theories and will watch any Revenge of, Return of, Rise of, Re-Return of sequel going, no matter what numerical suffix it has.

Friday the 13th Part VI is a case in point of the multi-sequel that takes its rinse-and-repeat formula and manages to make familiar territory interesting, thanks to director/scribe Tom McLoughlin’s energetic script, which was intended to feature an apt thirteen murders (extended to accommodate studio wishes and probably pad out the running time – it’s the shortest Friday).

jason1Sometime after the events of A New Beginning, Tommy Jarvis (this time played by Thom Mathews), drives to Crystal Lake, now re-named Forest Green, to incinerate Jason’s corpse in an attempt to gain closure on his awful past. His nervous friend Hawes tags along to offer words of discouragement as a familiar storm blows in. In a fit of fury, Tommy jabs Jason’s corpse (strangely un-cremated as we were told in Part V) with a steel pole that is subsequently struck by lightning, reanimating the J-man yet again!

With his buddy becoming Jason’s first victim in X number of years, Tommy races into town to alert the cops and instantly makes an enemy of no-shit Sheriff Garris, who locks him away, assuming the boy is just acting out on his traumatic psychosis. Meanwhile, Jason takes out a few more people, including some dorky paintballing execs and the head counsellors of the recently re-opened Camp Crystal Lake, I mean, Camp Forest Green.

jason2Yep, camp is back on and this time there are even kids about! This is one element that richly enhances the likeability of Jason Lives. While Parts 1 and 2 were set at camp, neither were operating and, summer camp is what Friday the 13th is all about. Trees, cabins, pontoons and open fires – it’s all here.

It just so happens that one of the four remaining counsellors is the Sheriff’s daughter Megan, who, unlike pop, takes an instant liking to Tommy, who is released and flees back to the cemetery to try and prove that Jason has risen, only to find the grave covered up, albeit now containing Tommy’s friend Hawes. Garris ejects Tommy from town and warns him to stay away permanently while Jason collects additional victims on his way back to the camp.

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The murders are discovered and blamed on Tommy, who joins forces with Megan to entrap Jason and send him back to the bottom of Crystal Lake where he belongs. Once Jay finally encounters some horny teenagers, things kick in to gear. There are some creative murders and back to basics stalking sequences and, although the bloodletting is comic-styled and of reduced effect (despite still being cut down), the film plays well to its simplified approach.

friday the 13th part vi jason lives darcy demoss nikkiCase in point is with the murders of counsellors Sissy and Paula. Jason is lurking around camp, scaring some of the little kids who inadvertently wake up and see him. We know he’s there. They’re paranoid that something’s up… They play a card game called ‘Camp Blood’… After Sissy disappears (snatched out of the window and beheaded), one of the campers discovers a bloody machete and brings it to Paula, who escorts her back to bed and returns to her own cabin to find that the machete has vanished and the phone is out… Then the door swings open…

It’s an excellently directed scene featuring a sympathetic character versus the boogeyman.

Obviously, Tommy and Megan return to save the kids and fight Jason, the Sheriff learns the truth and an Alice Cooper rocker plays out over the credits: He’s back! The man behind the mask! One of several Cooper songs to feature on the soundtrack.

Jason Lives is the (intentionally) funniest film of the series; wisely avoiding out and out parody – save for the ‘Jason does James Bond’ opening – and opting for a classic gothic feel to its horror opus: floating mists, the lightning storm, the creepy cemetery and the shadowy trees. Oddly, it’s about the one entry to feature no nudity but you’d hardly notice, even during the requisite sex scene. The characters are drawn much more sharply than other instalments, where they exist only to die gruesomely. McLoughlin largely avoids stereotypes, squeezing nice attributes out of even the bit-parters, although Cooke’s heroine isn’t ultimately successful in her role.

My third favourite of the series after the original two, things went serious again for The New Blood as theatrical grosses dipped further. But this one is 80’s slasher perfection: big hair, pop metal, and a horror icon.

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Blurbs-of-interest: Tom Fridley was in Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge; Darcy DeMoss was in Return to Horror High; Renée Jones was in Deadly Lessons.

Valley of the Cheapjack Franchises: CAMP BLOOD

Camp Crystal Lake was known as Camp Blood by the locals, ‘cos of all the, y’know, DEATH. A film called Camp Blood peaked my interest over a decade ago when browsing the bottom shelf of the horror section. It’s time to avoid that section no more once again as I save you from suffering through another stack o’ shite slash…

campbloodCAMP BLOOD

1 Stars 1999/18/73m

“Wide open with nowhere to run.”

Director/Writer: Brad Sykes / Cast: Jennifer Ritchkoff, Michael Taylor, Tim Young, Bethany Zolt, Courtney Taylor, Joe Hagerty.

Body Count: 11


If I’d made this film, I’d forgive you for calling it a pile of shit. I would, honestly. Whether Brad Sykes would forgive you – or indeed me – is another matter…

The title alone informs us that this is going to rip of Friday the 13th to some extent, but there’s also some Blair Witch in there too. Within two minutes we’re privy to some gratuitous nudity and the obligatory slashing that occurs everytime somebody disrobes in the woods. Try it and see!

Four city folk drive out into the woods to spend the weekend at Camp Blackwood but are, of course, stalked and slain by a clow-masked, machete-toting loon. Every predictable element is tossed into this shit salad: the insane old man who declares them to be doomed, a crappy legend that’s about as frightening as goldfish (but still manages to necessitate dialogue such as “I just can’t stop thinking about that story…”), characters who jog as slowly as possible away from the looming killer, cell phones fail, walking near a twig means you’ve sprained your ankle and therefore you can’t walk… It’s unrelenting.

By far the worst thing occurs when the final girl escapes and is accused of being behind it all and the other actors who played her now-dead friends don new roles as cops and nurses etc with barely any attempt to alter their appearances. Jason wept…

*

campblood2CAMP BLOOD 2

2000/18/75m  1 Stars

“It’s not over!”

Director/Writer: Brad Sykes / Cast: Jennifer Ritchkoff. Garett Clancy, Missy Hansen, Mark Overholt, Jane Johnson, Timothy Patrick, Ken X, Lisa Marie Bolick, Courtney Burr.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “Sometimes it feels like I’m dead too.”


Before torture-porn there was torture-quality. As if one of these films wasn’t bad enough, the same ‘production’ team return for another helping of the same with absolutely no lessons learnt from their previous outing.

One year after surviving the Camp Blackwood slayings, a director with as little talent as Brad Sykes invites sole survivor / prime suspect Tricia – who has been locked away in an asylum that has an inch-thick wooden door to keep her confined – to be the ‘technical advisor’ on his screen immortalisation of the events according to her statement.

Without any explanation whatsoever, the doctors just let her leave without a chaperone, an electronic tag or a T-shirt that says “Hi there! If I go mental and try to kill you, return me to Loonsville Asylum!”

So she goes along on the shoot and another clown-masked nutter, who’s already done away with some horny teens, comes a stalkin’. Tricia, three actors and the entire crew of three become the victims of more dreadful killing, including machete in the mouth and a person who dies from a severed hand.

More attempted in-jokes – one character is named Adrienne Palmer – and a rushed open ending, in which the killer survives first degree burns that don’t even singe their hair and multiple machete slashes and then gives the clown mask to Tricia who wanders off into the woods with it. That’s the freakin’ end!

There is a third movie, which is called Within the Woods. I point blank refuse.

Blurbs-of-interest: Courtney Taylor played Mary Lou Maloney in Prom Night III, hence one of the characters is called Mary Lou. Tim Young was in Scarecrow, the other cheapjack franchise!

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