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

Face Lift/Rip.

scarred 2004

SCARRED

2.5 Stars  2004/18/84m

“They’re dying for her new look.”

Directors/Writers: Jon Hoffman & Dave Rock / Cast: Julian Berlin, Jonny Mack, Charity Shea, Hannah Leigh, David Austin, George Williams, Maxine Bahns, Pia Scott.

Body Count: 9

Laughter Lines: “We have a better chance if we split up.”


The declaration that “there’s a story about these woods…” sets into motion a series of events that dooms a family camping trip into the wilderness.

According to the park ranger who utters the line – and corresponding flashbacks – a backwoods hick who beat his wife regularly, caught her with a deformed trapper and, after knifing him, became enraged when wifey announced she was pregnant and later gave birth to a girl with the same skin condition. Years of barely suppressed rage later, he cut off the child’s face before burning down his house. Now, twenty years later, the child prowls the forest slicing the faces off pretty girls to mask her own.

Although Scarred explores no new territory, the first two thirds of the film are well enough aced by a game cast and the internal troubles of their secular family unit – they’re being forced to bond with dad’s new trophy wife – are explored thoughtfully.

When the feral killer turns up, things unfold in a slightly different manner than usual, with the freshly de-faced victims still alive and wandering deliriously around the forest. The third act sees formerly bitchy daughter Kim take the reigns of heroine and eventually save the day, albeit via a laughable confrontation with the killer, which goes down the Amy Steel route of posing as Mom to fool the nutter.

scarred 2004

T&A is off the menu and many of the killings occur off screen, although the scene where we witness just how a face is ripped off a shrieking victim is pretty intense. Ultimately another rent-a-psycho-with-a-particular-penchant video film, but ignore the (unintentional?) comedy and it’s a very watchable one at any rate.

Blurbs-of-interest: David Austin and Charity Shea were also in The Pumpkin Karver.

Funeral Ho– No wait… Mortuary

mortuary 1981

MORTUARY

2.5 Stars  1983/18/87m

A.k.a. Embalmed

“Before they bury you… make sure you’re really dead!”

Director/Writer: Howard Avedis / Writer: Marlene Schmidt / Cast: Mary McDonough, David Wallace, Bill Paxton, Lynda Day George, Christopher George, Denis Mandel.

Body Count: 5


Although the script virtually staples a neon sign on the forehead of the killer from the first time they appear, Mortuary is still quite a fun little flick. At worst it’s largely incoherent to the apparent recent history.

McDonough (another Little House On the Prairie refugee alongside Melissa Sue Anderson of Happy Birthday to Me) is a girl, Christie, who is convinced her father was murdered despite all evidence leaning towards an accidental end (we know better, natch) and when her boyfriend informs her that he witnessed her mother taking part in some weird séance, she starts to get jittery and the black-cloaked psycho cropping up at every turn wielding embalming tools isn’t helping much either…

Cue lots of Scooby Doo-styled investigations by the kids that point towards the answers in the town mortuary, owned by séance-leader Chris George. Nothing is less surprising when we find out who the killer is in the first hour, even their motive is spelled out simplistically enough for a five-year-old to guess, but it’s still a good laugh.

The late Bill Paxton (wah!!) is the school geek with a crush on Christie and the mortuary owner’s son mourning his mother’s recent suicide. The low body count is a bit of a bummer, especially as Christie’s three other teen friends who turn up at the roller rink (weren’t the eighties great?) could have easily ventured off to the mortuary to help with the detective work and been ‘embalmed’ as well, but the film is still offbeat enough to provide a 90 minute distraction.

Blurbs-of-interest: Paxton was the bully who got milk poured over his head in Night Warning, was also in Deadly Lessons and, much later, Club Dead; Christopher George was also in Graduation Day and Pieces (along with wife Lynda); David Wallace was in Humongous.

Drive Out

drive in 2000 dvd

DRIVE IN

2 Stars  2000/18/81m

“Park and hide.”

Director/Writer: Charles DeBus / Cast: Brenton Earley, Deshja Driggs, Rick Perkins, Alex Grant, Hud Floyd, Roger Motti, Eric Jungman, Don Mandingo, Elise Robins, Scott Ford, Morgana Rae, Pamela Moore Somers, Taneka Johnson, Jennifer Pfalzgraff, Kasan Butcher.

Body Count: 13


Hulking retard Billy Morrow has never permissibly left the confines of his house, where his neglectful, politically obsessed mother keeps him under lock and key and supervised by a bitchy camp houseboy. He derives all pleasure from staring at the drive in across the street, which plays endless gory Troma films.

One night, Billy is pushed too far, kills his carer and escapes to stalk the teen patrons of the drive in theater in an imitation of what he sees on screen. Victims include many a necking-teenager, plus the refreshment stand girl, security guard, and local drug dealer. And although the murders aren’t nearly as gory as those glimpsed on the film screen – mainly stranglings and bludgeonings – Billy shows some potential by impaling a poor sucker with a sign pole and burning the face off another in red hot nacho cheese…!

This so-so quality shot-on-video flick also hinges its theme around the violence-in-entertainment issue: The assumed nominal hero is a dateless high schooler who spouts that statistics that slasher movies influence true-life crime, and Billy’s mom’s fiancé is more concerned about gaining bad press for their campaign by being seen in the sleazy drive in than he is about the growing stack of corpses about the joint.

drive in 2000

There’s dodgy acting galore, both in the Troma clips (which include that shoddy electrocution from Girls School Screamers and Beware! Children at Play) and from the teens-in-peril, but given its meagre price tag, this still has virtually everything that Drive-In Massacre hasn’t and is about ten thousand times better. The final girl goes for it big time, shrieking “Why don’t you just DIE! DIE! DIE!” and there’s a cast member named Hud, which is always good.

Beware of the DVD box, which features several stills that aren’t even in the film.

Blurbs-of-interest: Eric Jungman was later in Monster Man; Kasan Butcher was in Jeepers Creepers II.

Mirror Man

boogey man 1980

THE BOOGEY MAN

3 Stars  1980/82m

“The most terrifying nightmare of childhood is about to return!”

Director/Writer: Ulli Lommel / Cast: Suzanna Love, Ron James, John Carradine, Nicholas Love, Felicite Morgan, Bill Rayburn, Llewelyn Thomas, Raymond Boyden.

Body Count: 9


This weird as fuck film, and resident of the British Video Nasty list, begins with a westward steadicam pan to reveal a white house while a piano tinkers. For a second, you might well think you’re watching Halloween instead, but as the camera floats closer, you realise it’s one of the first of a zillion rip-offs.

Two small children watch at the window as their mom gets it on with a guy in a wifebeater who wears a stocking over his head like any garden variety rapist. She shoos the children away and the wifebeater guy ties the boy to his bed. While mom and wifebeater get it on, a child’s hand grabs a big knife and we float down the corridor with it in shot. But it’s the little sister, come to cut her brother free. Of course, big bro then takes the knife and stabs wifebeater to death with it. Credits please.

boogey man 1980

Twenty years later (never nineteen, never twenty-one), the siblings Lacey and Willy live with their aunt at her farm. Lacey is married with a sprog, but Willy is mute and brimming with trauma still. When they receive a letter from Mom asking to see them one more time, Lacey goes a bit mental and her husband carts her off to the shrink, John Carradine (who shot all his scenes in one day). Doc suggests that she go back to the house where it happened for closure.

This has all taken a long boring time to happen, so something good needs to happen soon, Boogey Man, or you’re going to look as boring as your 2005 namesake.

Mercifully, it does. Touring the house with the permission of the three young siblings living there, Lacey finds that the bedroom where the murder happened has the same mirror on the wall and, in the film’s only genuinely creepy moment, she can see wifebeater man in the reflection, stocking still over his face, watching her back… sitting up… getting of the bed… coming for her…

boogey man 1980

What’s scarier – the ghost or that vile curtain?

So she smashes the mirror with a chair.

While this is probably what most of us would’ve done too, unbeknownst to Lacey, the mirror is now cursed and various splinters and shards of it contain the eeeeevil of THE BOOGEY MAN! Who is he though? Wifebeater dude? No one ever explains.

After they leave with the remains of the mirror, a piece of the glass left behind on the carpet glows and throbs and the invisible killer stalks the three siblings, making one of the girls stab herself in the neck with scissors (after cutting open her top, perv!), slams the window down on her annoying little brother, and I can’t remember what happened to the other girl. Obviously nothing interesting.

boogey2

Back at the house – the fucking Amityville house! – weird things begin to happen. Willy is all freaked out by the mirror, and little bits of it fall off here and there. One piece gets stuck to Lacey’s son’s shoe so that when they go fishing later, the sun bounces off it across the water to a quartet of sexy teens having a picnic on the other shore. Mucho POV work occurs as the Boogeyman invisibly stalks and kills a couple of them in an amusing, proto-Final Destination way.

Lacey is attacked by the invisible man, who rips her clothes, and husband guy finally agrees that shit ain’t right, but by then it’s too late for the aunt and uncle and a priest is summond to the house in a sloppy Exorcist finale with a crucifix, lots of bleeding, and the mirror eventually being lobbed down a well – AS IF THAT’LL STOP IT!

boogey man 1980

Everyone and their grandma knows that shards of it will survive for the inevitable sequels, neither of which I’ve seen, but have sub-2.0 ratings on IMDb and one, or possibly both, is chiefly made up of footage from this film, a la Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2.

Despite it’s ornate weirdness, unsatisfying end and Halloween pilfering, The Boogey Man at least tried to approach the genre from another perspective with the supernatural element shoehorned into proceedings, rather than another guy in a mask. Parts of it work, other parts fail harder than a Donald Trump spellchecker.

This is one film that actually would benefit from a remake, perhaps incorporating themes of the similarly-plotted Oculus.

boogey man 1980

Blurbs-of-interest: Suzanne Love and Lommel (married at the time) returned for the first sequel; Nicholas Love was in Fatal Games; John Carradine was in Silent Night Bloody Night.

Valley of the Cheapjack Franchises: Harvest of Fear & The Path of Evil

I picked this pair of cheapies up in Bali about a decade ago (!) and the discs were warped in a strange way that no others were and would only play on one DVD player, which I no longer have. Oh well, good job they sucked.

*

harvest of fear 2004 dvd

HARVEST OF FEAR

2 Stars  2004/87m

“Killing is in the air.”

Director: Brad Goodman / Writers: Ted Pfeifer & Chris Pfeifer / Cast: Ryan Deal, Carrie Finklea, Justin Ament, Don Alder, Thomas Nabhan, Curt Hanson, Tobias Anderson, Ted Pfeifer, Ina Strauss, Kristen Luman.

Body Count: 18

Laughter Lines: “Although there have been nine murders, we’re not ready to say any of this is connected.”


Another garden variety Friday the 13th Xerox made for the horror shelf at the DVD store, this time concerning murders in the small Oregon town of Devil’s Lake (of course…), which are identical to crimes that happened two decades earlier.

Medical intern Billy and his object of lust, Stacey, attempt to investigate the crimes that the local cops are too dumb to link either to one another or the earlier murders (see Laughter Lines) but also ignore the stalking behaviour of Stacey’s temperamental ex-boyfriend, Jake.

Meanwhile, college kids following ye olde tradition of getting drunk and having sex are being slashed to ribbons by a masked fiend. Never mind that their friends are dead, they decide they’re safe enough to continue partying until they meet inevitable sticky ends. On no less than three separate occasions, couples wander into dark deserted areas and then split up on the understanding that one of them will “be right back”.

Elsewhere, the film adheres to even the most outdated of cliches, including the old man who nobody listens to, and there’s even a hick-accented narrator book ending the film with a summary of events.

The writers (one of whom plays a deputy) have obviously tried to furnish their tale with twists and a litter of potential suspects, and the identity of the killer proves to be a little beyond the expected, but the actors and the dialogue their saddled with doesn’t stack up and the whole thing has an amateur night feel to it.

*

THE PATH OF EVIL the path of evil 2005

1.5 Stars  2005/113m

“After 20 years… the serial killer has returned.”

 Director/Writer: Brad Goodman / Writers: Justin Ament & Ted Pfeifer / Cast: Justin Ament, Ryan Deal, Carrie Finklea, Don Alder, Katie O’Grady, Thomas Nabhan, Brad Goodman, Ted Pfeifer, Curt Hanson.

Body Count: 12

Laughter Lines: “Devil’s Lake, contrary to its name, is not an evil place.”


Credit for reassembling the surviving cast members from the first film - and even resurrecting a couple of them from the dead! Here endeth the good.

The tables are turned as far as the plot goes, this time focusing on Jake (Ament), the asshole ex-boyfriend from before, as he recuperates from his wounds and tries to win back indecisive girlfriend Stacey, and work out who is behind the renewed spate of killings, six months on from the events of Harvest of Fear.

Difficult enough to digest that Jake is now supposed to be the sympathetic hero and already knowing the probable identity of the killer, the whole project is fleshed out to an excruciating length with scenes of a criminology student writing a paper on the convicted killer.

Ultimately, this subplot has no bearing on the outcome, which not only feels twice as long but also twice as boring as the first time around, grinding on relentlessly for almost two hours and withholding much of the killing until the end, though mercifully all the major players are done away with, erasing hope for a third go-round – although death didn’t stop them before.

Blurbs-of-interest: Carrie Finklea was in Simon Says; Tobias Anderson was in Destroyer.

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