Tag Archives: slasher films that aren’t supposed to be funny but are funny

Mistake, indeed

home sweet home 1980

HOME SWEET HOME

1.5 Stars  1980/18/83m

A.k.a. Slasher in the House

“Be it ever so humble, there is no place to hide.”

Director: Nettie Pena / Writer: Thomas Bush / Cast: Jake Steinfeld, Colette Trygg, David Mielke, Vinessa Shaw, Peter De Paula, Don Edmunds, Sallee Young, Charles Hoyes, Leia Naron, Lisa Rodriguez.

Body Count: 9

Laughter Lines: “Please don’t hurt her – I’ll play my guitar for you!”


Of all the calendar holidays to trigger the homicidal leanings of a madman, Thanksgiving has largely been left to curdle like old milk, with only this and Blood Rage representing.

Your basic asylum escapee slasher – musclebound fitness guru Steinfeld – happens across a ranch on Thanksgiving and decides to go overboard on the carving duties. The family of largely unsympathetic, barely named characters provide the meat content for the first hour, until the floor caves in for supposed ‘tension building’, pending the obvious confrontation and the last few people alive keep going to check if windows and doors are locked in virtual darkness.

Crappy acting abounds as people fail to react convincingly to anything and don’t seem to care about the rash of disappearances. Future ‘name’ Vinessa Shaw made her debut as the requisite small child who is immune to the violence (and, aged 4, out-acts the adult cast), but the most memorable character has to be her teen brother, named Mistake, who wears Kiss-lite make-up and tries to convince the killer to stop on the promise of hearing him play guitar for him.

Bloody and weird, but don’t let that stop you.

Blurbs-of-interest: Vinessa Shaw was (much later) in Stag Night; Lisa Rodriguez was in the even worse Terror on Tour.

Not quite Star Trek, is it?

texas chainsaw massacre the next generation

TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION

1.5 Stars  1994/18/84m

“Still buzzin’ after all these years.”

A.k.a. Return of the Texas Chainsaw MassacreTexas Chainsaw Massacre 4

Director/Writer: Kim Henkel / Cast: Renee Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey, Robert Jacks, Tonie Perenski, Joe Stevens, Lisa Newmyer, Tyler Cone, John Harrison, James Gale.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “What if we get into a wreck and crash the car and we all died? They could write a song about it.”


Of the main body count franchises, Texas Chainsaw Massacre likely ranks my least favourite, aided to no end by this much despised fourth outing, which was intended by Kim Henkel as the ‘true sequel’ to the 1974 original.

Things start out okay with four high schoolers crashing their car on a back road on the night of their prom and end up as spare meat for a psychotic family who dwell deep in the woods. The clan is led by unhinged truck driver Vilmer (McConaughey) and his trashy girlfriend, Darla, while Leatherface spends most of the film in drag, like a bad cabaret show at a provincial gay bar. I’ve seen a few of these and can attest the likeness.

There are plenty of harks back to the original, which serve only to remind us how much more raw it was, as the junky action clunks along with horrendous continuity problems, and portrayals of psychosis that rival the drag angle in terms of high camp.

The quartet of teens are allotted little in terms of characterisation, bar dowdy final girl Jenny (Zellweger). Both actors ascended to levels of stardom far removed from this low-end flick, which was later recalled by Zellweger as being so cheaply made the actors shared a single trailer that belonged to a member of the crew. However, there’s no escaping your humble beginnings, and the fact that agencies attempted to sue the production company for reissuing this with the stars as the focus probably only brought more attention to it in the long run. Though without their subsequent good fortune, would it be remembered at all?

Take a walk down rip-off alley: Final Destination

As the outward ripples caused by Scream‘s splash began to calm, and the likes of I Know What You Did Last SummerHalloween H20, and Urban Legend became the likes of ValentineCherry Falls, and The Clown at Midnight, into our lives came Final Destination, delaying the decline of teen horror a little longer with its undeniably awesome premise.

Surprisingly, Xeroxing the central motif employed in Final Destination - that victims are killed by elaborate ACME-style cartoon accidents – has clearly proven quite difficult to achieve, and so what rip-offs it inspired have been relatively few and far between. Stroll with me now, through the back streets where mysterious forces might drop a piano on your head…

*

999-9999 2002

Thai export 999-9999 came first, in 2002, and introduced us to life at a high school where a group of prankster students are talked into dialling the freaky 999-9999 number, which will grant you any wish.

Despite transfer student Rainbow warning them of the consequences, they each wish for fame, fortune, and Ferraris and, when karma’s bill comes-a-callin’, are killed in weird car wash accidents, drowned and slashed by floating razors (!), perish in fires, fall out of windows, and in one to-be-seen-to-be-believed sequence, sucked into anti-gravity chambers along with lethal buzzsaw blades.

Asian horror is always divertingly fun, and 999-9999 is no different, making the most out of its concept, even with the “OK, what?” twist ending, and some budgetary constraints that make some of the demises a little… ropey, but as a pretender to Final Destination‘s throne, a solid effort.

Death might sue: A speedster drives his new Ferrari into an out-of-order car wash, which, when the fabric is absent, means scratchy, slashy shards of metal are spinning towards you instead.

*

scared 2005

Staying in the warmer climes of Thailand, they fused similar ideas with those founding in Battle Royale for 2005 flick, Scared, which sadly wasn’t released with subtitles to discern the finer details of what’s going on.

This time, a busload of students on a field trip crosses a rickety old bridge, which begins to collapse (possibly influencing those who would later pen Final Destination 5), killing a good portion and stranding others on a seemingly deserted island.

As they explore in search of help, they’re systematically done in either by mysterious killers or stumbling into traps designed to skewer them into several pieces. Come the end, it’s something to do with a reality show where being voted off the island is a more permanent fate than usual.

Death might sue: The poor bus driver cops an almost-slapstick log in the face (and through the head) during the bridge collapse.

*

open graves 2009

At the time Death was prepping for its fourth and ‘final’ outing, in 2009, along came Open Graves, which also knocks on Jumanji‘s door for some inspiration, as a group of surfer buddies vacationing in Spain play a cursed boardgame named Mamba, that gives players cryptic messages as to their fate, and promises the winner anything they desire.

Once the game is over, those who were out are really out as they begin dying in a series of bizarre accidents. Naturally, the non-Americans are first to go: One guy falls over a cliff; Another into into a pit of snakes; There’s a car crash, and the looks-obsessed girl ages to, like, 70 overnight.

I saw this one almost a decade ago and remember very little beyond Eliza Dushku and Mike Vogel from the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre over-do, and the rather uninspired twist ending. Play at your own peril.

Death might sue: The poor chap who takes a tumble over the cliff tries to save himself by holding onto – and sliding down – barbed wire, then landing on the rocks – still alive – for the crabs to scuttle out.

*

wish upon 2017

Into the present we come, with last year’s severely toned-down, teen friendly PG-13 quickie Wish Upon, which I saw last week.

Claire is a down-on-her-luck high schooler whose dumpster-diving dad finds a strange music box covered in Chinese calligraphy and gifts it to her. A convenient Chinese language course and friend are able to declare it a wishing pot, which grants its keeper seven desires, but undoes them if it’s abandoned or destroyed.

Of course, Claire wishes her high school nemesis would rot and the girl develops a flesh eating disease, but Claire’s beloved dog dies. Then she wishes her boy-crush liked her back, an old man down the street falls in his tub and dies. Then popularity, wealth, mother not to have died = kindly neighbour’s ponytail gets caught in the garbage disposal, friend dying in elevator crash, girl skewered on statue etc, etc.

It’s tame, juvenile, and it takes Claire FOREVER to catch on, but the cast is likeable and it’s reasonably well made for a once-over so long as you’re not expecting the ‘accidents’ to have slow, it-could-happen builds like the FD films offer.

Death might sue: Ryan Phillippe supervising the chainsawing of his tree… from underneath said tree. Duh.

*

What does this teach us? Thailand represent! But also that it’s reasonably hard to copy the formula, which is why Final Destination dominated this sub-sub-sub-genre for so long. Will they ever make more? Who knows – lemme ask my Haitian nightmare doll…

La luna de la mierda

bloody moon 1981

BLOODY MOON

1 Stars  1981/18/85m

“Don’t panic, it only happens once in a [Bloody Moon]”

A.k.a. Die Sage Des Todes (The Legend of Death)

Director: Jesus Franco / Writer: Rayo Casablanca / Cast: Olivia Pascal, Christoph Moosbrugger, Nadja Gerganoff, Jasmin Losensky, Corinna Gillwald, Ann-Beate Engelke, Peter Exacoustos, Maria Rubio, Alexander Waechter

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “If we could just get rid of everyone around us… then things could go back to how they were.”


If Bloody Moon was intended to be the Scary Movie of its day, I might be able to see past the fact it has a 5.3 rating on IMDb, but it’s seemingly played straight, rendering it one of the more misogynistic and unarguably awful exports of the early days. I imagine its residency on the Video Nasties list of the 80s has probably afforded it some credibility it’s entirely unworthy of.

A German-Spanish co-production, things begin with a disco at a Spanish language school, where a facially-scarred man procures a Mickey Mouse mask and fools a girl into thinking he’s someone else and then, when sex clearly fails, he settles for stabbing the girl with scissors instead in a scene that really plays into the accusations of woman-hating rhetoric in the genre: She gargles orgasmically as goes at her over and over in a play on sex he’s incapable of performing.

Five years later, the man – Miguel – is released into the custody of his sister, Manuela, who runs the language school, much to the chagrin of her aunt/owner, the wheelchair bound hag, Countess Maria Gonzales. Bro and sis enjoy an incestual relationship they wish to keep quiet – see Laughter Lines.

bloody moon 1981

No sooner does new student Angela rock up, the bouncy look-a-like girls of the school start getting murdered in graphically stupid ways. There’s little character development to show, they gossip about caretaker Antonio being the best lover on campus (there’s a second mentally deficient caretaker as well, of course). He asks Angela why she’s there and she replies she can speak fluent Spanish, and reels off a bunch of ‘my first Spanish lesson’ phrases like ‘Hasta Luego’, ‘Mañana’, and translations akin to: ‘Where can I buy potatoes on a Sunday?’

Also, if she’s fluent – WHY IS SHE EVEN THERE?

Angela is to room in the bungalow where the murder took place five years before. You know, the one where the perpetrator has been allowed back to live in the very same place? First to go is her friend Ava, who asks to borrow a sweater and then gets stabbed through the boob. Angela finds the body, screams, and of course by the time help comes, it’s gone, there’s no blood, and the murder mystery she’s reading is blamed for a nightmare. Her own clothes also change mid-scene from nightgown to floral print sweater.

When Ava doesn’t show for class, Angela worries, and in a pre-I Still Know What You Did Last Summer karaoke-machine moment, her language recording is interrupted with a message saying “I’m going to kill you and chop you up” etc. Of course, when teech comes over, no such voices.

bloody moon 1981

Angela then goes down to the harbour to look for Ava and a falling rock nearly kills her. She flags down two motorcycle cops who direct her to the warning on the sign. Her reply: “What good does a sign do when I can’t understand it?” Strike two against her fluency declaration.

Back at school, other girl Inga pretends to be having sex but isn’t. The other girls laugh at her through the window and she’s all like “I’ll have the best sex ever – you’ll see!!” and in the next scene she’s going past Angela down at the harbour in a car with the killer!? He drives her to some crumbling old mill and she allows him to tie her to a slab, saying “Hey I normally wouldn’t do this, but OK, as it’s you…” and then: “I still don’t know what you look like, why don’t you take off your mask?”

I mean, fucking hell, COME ON? She willingly goes off with a non-speaking masked guy to an abandoned place in the middle of nowhere and allows him to tie her up.

bloody moon 1981

Anyway, the slab thingy moves and a buzz-saw comes along, takes forever getting there, while some spying little kid tries to intervene and save her, the head comes off eventually and it’s anti-climactic and crap FX-wise. But then Franco throws in something a bit taboo: The fleeing child is cruelly run over by the killer.

Aaaaand back to the school again: Angela is convinced the killer is after her and barricades herself in her room and stabs a mannequin. Where the fuck did that come from, you ask? Like many goings-on here, it’s left unexplained. Laura says Angela reads too many scary books and offers to go get some drinks from the ‘Disco Club’ at the school (!??) but is killed with some garden-prong-thingy on her way back.

The killer attacks and Miguel tries to save the day, while Angela flees for help. The revelations that follow seem more at home in a soap opera than a horror film, but suffice to say, there’s more bloodletting, double-crossing, the obvious identity of the killer is revealed, and somebody utters this priceless line: “He came at me, you remember that! And just be damn sure to remember it.”

bloody moon 1981

Took me awhile but I realised the left image isn’t the shears making contact with her face, merely a promo shot cannily reproduced from the actual scene on the right.

Bloody Moon is just stitched together failed scenes; a slasher film based on the most rudimentary understanding of the genre where girls are either naked or stupid and nothing more, shot on the cheap with little care going into a cohesive script and hardly any visual flair ether – look out for the zoom where a chair obscures the subject’s face. The dubbing is also one of the more comically bad efforts out there (“just let yourself melt into my arms!”), and the moon isn’t even shown, let alone bloody in any way.

Undistilled crap from start to finish.

El asesino y los zombies y los adolescentes en Halloween

cemetery of terror 1985CEMETERY OF TERROR

3.5 Stars  1985/91m

A.k.a. Cementerio del TerrorZombie Apocalypse

Director/Writer: Rubén Galindo Jr. / Cast: Hugo Stieglitz, Raúl Meraz, José Gómez Parcero, Cervando Manzetti, Edna Bolkan, Andrés Garcia Jr., René Cardona III, Erika Buenfil, Jacqueline Castro, Eduardo Capetillo, María Rebeca, Usi Valesco, Leo Villanueva, César Adrian Sanchez, César Valesco.

Body Count: 9


I can only hope/imagine that early production meetings for this project when kinda like this:

Señor Producerio: “Let’s do a zombie movie!”
Señor Investorio: “No, slasher movies are where the $$$ is. We’re doing one of those!”
Señor Producerio: “Zombie!”
Señor Investorio: “Slasher!”
Rubén Galindo Jr: “Amigos! Por favor… Let’s do both?”

80s horror movies don’t come much more fun than this kitchen-sink Mexican export, which shamelessly decides to throw basically everything into the pot and gleefully play in the mess. Though the a.k.a. title Zombie Apocalypse is a stretch and probably pissed off more than a few z-fans.

A stubby-fingered Devil-worshipping psycho killer known as Devlon is finally shot and killed by cops after claiming one last victim. His ex-Doctor is blamed by the police Captain for everything, but the Doc is hellbent on seeing the body cremated before anything else can occur. Nobody listens. Sigh.

cemetery of terror 1985

Meanwhile, three teen couples go waterskiing on a lake and then the boys arrange a private party at a mansion house to try and get into their respective girlfriends’ pants. Turns out they miss-sold the fiesta, and it’s actually just the six of them in the Mexican sister home to Garth Manor. Massively unimpressed by this, the girls demand to leave, but Jorge finds a creepy old book belonging to Devlon in the attic, and convinces his buddies to try a little Halloween night seance. Oh yeah, it’s also Halloween.

Elsewhere, some children are going trick-or-treating and plan to visit the cemetery, one of whom sports an awesome jacket with Michael Jackson on the back. More from them later.

The stupid teens drive to a morgue and choose guess which body for their prank? For reasons unknown the girls play along as Jorge reads from the book with the body lying on a grave back at the cemetery. Then it begins raining, so they bail. Too late though as Devlon has been resurrected and doesn’t take kindly to the home invasion of big-haired teens and their loud party choons.

Meanwhile, the five children arrive at the cemetery and explore.

cemetery of terror 1985

Re-meanwhile, Devlon begins eliminating the sexy-teens one by one, slashing them up with his bare hands, disemboweling some, and using some spooky mojo to possess an axe into whacking another guy in the face. These scenes pleasantly reminded me of Hell Night for some reason: Primal killer with claw-fingers, spooky old mansion house…

The Doc and the police Captain spend forever driving around when El Capitan is informed by his missus that their kids are missing. Doc steals the car and goes off looking for Devlon. The next few times we see him he’s just driving around achieving nothing while people are dying all over the place.

The children are soon spooked by a sudden flashfire coming from a grave and peg it, only for the dead to start rising around them at every turn. Why this happens now I’m not sure, maybe Devlon did something with the book? But the kids run to the house, find bodies, scream, doors lock themselves, Devlon appears, they run back into the cemetery, more zombies… It goes on a bit, this section, until the Doc rocks up (finally!) and informs the kids they need to destroy the book.

cemetery of terror 1985

Cemetery of Terror is like a 91-minute parody of 80s horror movies, with almost every cliche checked off the list (bar nudity, curiously) but boring it is not. In spite of the overlong scenes of the five kids running and shrieking – Galindo should’ve gone all out and killed one or two of them off – this is one full salad, with a full moon, creepy mist, a storm, falling trees, mausoleums and crypts galore. Throw in the gratuitous over-acting and it’s like a cross between a Simpsons ‘Treehouse of Horror’ segment and one of those interactive Halloween walkthroughs done right.

Blurb-of-interest: Galindo also directed Don’t Panic.

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