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

Let’s get physical

AEROBICIDE

2.5 Stars  1986/18/82m

A.k.a. Killer Workout

“This workout’ll kill you!”

Director/Writer: David A. Prior / Cast: Marcia Karr, David James Campbell, Fritz Matthews, Ted Prior, Teresa Van der Woude, Richard Bravo, Dianne Copeland, Joel Hoffman.

Body Count: 12

Laughter Lines: “It’s cool to get kinky sometimes…”


Olivia Newton-John has a lot to answer for. Back in the 80s when headbands were big, and hair was bigger, Jane Fonda had the world’s first leotard-graph, and day-glo spandex aerobics carried out to high-BPM synths was the soundtrack to life…

Naturally, someone was going to find a way to make a cheesy horror film about it. Gymnasiums and their equipment have featured in a few slasher films over the years, from the weights used to choke a dumbbell jock in Final Exam and the chick on that upside down sit-up bar thingy who receives death by barbell in Silent Madness, right up to head-squish courtesy of a faulty weight machine in Final Destination 3

But in 1986, along came Aerobicide, exclusively set in and around Rhonda’s Workout, a Los Angeles club where a killer wielding a GIANT SAFETY PIN is doing away with various members.

There’s a lot of this…

*

Beginning with a woman fried alive on a tanning bed, things skip forward gleefully ignoring the event (but we know it’ll be relevant later), and find the temperamental gym manager Rhonda unhappy that moody Lt. Morgan is skulking around the joint suspecting everybody of being the safety pin killer.

Lots of Eric Prydz-esque aerobics are punctuated by safety pin murders, always complimented by horrible sub-Knight Rider cop-after-perp chases are a construction site, as well as a couple of over-rehearsed punch-ups between the prime suspect, Jimmy, and new employee Chuck, who has taken it upon himself to solve the case.

…and a bit of this

*

In spite of the cheery aerobics, the film suffers from electing too few likeable characters, populating the cast with unnamed gym members who utter a few inaudible lines before they exit the building of their own accord, or in a bodybag.

A likely contender for cheesiest stalk n’ slasher, watch the final shot, which is held for so long the actor looks like they’re about to keel over with impatience.

Blurb-of-interest: Joel Hoffman was in Slumber Party Massacre II.

Creeque valley

VALLEY OF DEATH

2.5 Stars  1988/15/92m

“A forgotten evil that will never die.”

A.k.a. Valley of Death (UK); Memorial Day

Director/Writer: Robert C. Hughes / Writer: George Frances Snow / Cast: John Kerry, Mark Mears, Lesa Lee, John Caso, Cameron Mitchell, Jimmy Justice, William Smith, Linda Honeyman, Erin O’Leary, Zig Roberts, Michael Inglese, Eddie D., Charles Douglass, Dusty Woods, Christina Sullivan, Livingston Holmes, Dan S. Farbeau.

Body Count: 14

Laughter Lines: “Any invasion of the eco-system by an unrestricted vehicle like this one could destroy that balance…”


Another new campsite opening disrupted by another primeval killer is the main stretch of this meagre-budget outing, that combines ludicrous dialogue with the usual sprinkling of knife fodder.

A slow build of weird occurrences is blamed first on a trio of obnoxious kids and some punk-rocker bikers, then the murder of a tubby rich kid is attributed to a bear before the last few campers team up to hunt down the stalker – who may or may not be the missing son of the gruff ranger who runs the place – before he hunts them!

Alas, the makeup and wig budget was clearly on the low side, as our psycho looks like any other Sunset Strip spandex rocker of the era, fitting nicely with some of the names on the cast roster: Jimmy Justice? Zig Robertson? Linda Honeyman? Perhaps Valley of Death was a metal band before it was ever a film!?

In a film that manages to rip off not only Friday the 13th but also some of its other knock-offs, such as the lamentably dull Final Terror, director Hughes avoids some of the more obvious clichés and makes Valley of Death quite a fun little movie with one or two pleasant diversions thrown into the barrel. Three people squashed by a truck tumbling down a ledge is darkly amusing.

Blurbs-of-interest: William Smith was in Maniac Cop; Cameron Mitchell’s other slasher exploits include The Demon, Jack-O, Silent Scream, and The Toolbox Murders.

Disco Demon

THE DEMON

2 Stars  1979/18/89m

“It is among you… waiting!”

A.k.a. Midnight Caller

Director/Writer: Percival Rubens / Cast: Jennifer Holmes, Cameron Mitchell, Craig Gardner, Zoli Markey, Mark Tanous, Moira Winslow, Peter J. Elliott.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “Just because I’m not married even my mother thinks I’m on the other side.”


Believe it or not – and I probably wouldn’t – this Dutch/South African production has some of the best acting I’ve ever witnessed in a slasher movie, thanks to some well crafted dialogue from writer/director Rubens (at least most of it anyway), but stalls at two stars because it’s so excruciatingly boring until the last twenty minutes, when the Halloween clichés start to come thick and fast.

Mitchell plays a detective who is “just someone who’s been gifted with ESP” investigating the kidnapping of a girl from her bedroom by a mystery killer who wears – but unfortunately rarely uses – a steel-clawed glove, and is now after pretty kindergarten teacher Holmes, who’s seriously-misinformed cousin Jo is dating a slick disco bunny. Both of those two are doomed, natch.

Simply one of the weirdest flicks you will ever see; Mitchell’s character never even comes within spitting distance of Holmes, and is eventually shot dead by the kidnapped (and now dead) girl’s mother  (“did your ESP see this coming?”) and the two plots only have the killer to relate them!

The final showdown between heroine and killer is rousing enough, on the heels of her attempted escape in nothing but panties. Alas, too many boring murders (usually strangulations and asphyxiations) and the damage is done. Look for the sign to “Boobs Disco”.

Blurbs-of-interest: Cameron Mitchell was also in Valley of Death, Jack-O, Toolbox Murders, and Silent Scream.

Bad prescription

DR. CHOPPER

1 Stars  2005/18/85m

“Another slice of life.”

Director: Lewis Schoenbrun / Writer: Ian Holt / Cast: Costas Mandylor, Ed Brigadier, Chelsey Crisp, Robert Adamson, Ashley McCarthy, Butch Hansen, Chase Hoyt, Deidre Kidwell, Sylvia Zabransky, Benjamin Keepers.

Body Count: 16

Laughter Lines: “I want you to meet someone… My. Inner. Bitch!”


Upon sitting down to watch Dr. Chopper the other day, I was struck by the number of bad omens in the air… It was muggy outside with a threat of thunder and there was laundry on the line; there was a trailer for Mr Halloween on the DVD; no sooner did the credits begin to lumber by, I began to feel like I was sliding down a slope towards a pit of hopelessness… Then ‘the acting’ began.

So it goes, in the mid-80s, super surgeon to the stars Dr Max Fielding and his sexy nurses cut parts off of nubile young folk in an effort to halt the aging process. Cops come, over act, Dr Chopper has ridden away. On his motorcycle. A chopper. Of course.

Twenty years later, moody college brat Nicholas learns of his late mother’s cabin in the boonies at Lake Tatonka (“A friendly place for happy people”) and is convinced by perky girlfriend Jessica to invite a gaggle of their friends up there for the weekend. Without having seen how crap the shack is. It turns out to be, quite literally, a one-room shed.

But before that, oh look, something there’s just not enough of in low-end slasher films, it’s the olde lesbian make-out scene. Seriously, let’s have one film – one - with a couple of hot guys making out.

Meanwhile, a po-faced Park Ranger played by Costas Mandylor, before he became a central player in the Saw movies, growls and moans about life while trying to induct/scare off a junior ranger. Love of his life died because he wasn’t a good chiropractor, apparently. I know… I was like, “Huh? You can die from chiropody?”

The uninteresting teenagers almost get run over by a grey-skinned old man on his chopper (Dr Chopper!!! Look out, teens!) but before that, a quintet of sorority girls on some hazing stunt in the woods are stabbed to death by the two nurses. This scene is bizarre: Two senior sorority chicks make them take their tops off (allowing bras to remain) and make them look for sticks while they smoke a spliff. Then the nurses come and do away with all of them in about 47 seconds and none of it is mentioned again.

Eventually, the Doc and his minions attack the cabin, sending the surviving kids on the run, they mow down one of the nurses (“that bitch is road pizza!”) but she returns later, apparently unscathed.

They’re captured, a completely unsurprising twist is revealed. Even the nominal heroine seems bored by it. Then she’s on the run, collides with Moody Ranger, and they fight off Dr Chopper together.

Plenty of blah around reversing and regenerating cells so “we can live foreeeeever!” is spat out during the exposition, although why the killer permanently wears his motorcycle goggles is never addressed, and the disfigurement of his nurses (who’ve barely aged in two decades – hey, maybe it does work!?) isn’t explained.

Imagine a film held together with a bunch of old band aids, all curled up at the edges, with bits of dirt and hair stuck to them. That’s Dr. Chopper. However, if you’re feeling fiendish and want to laugh at the entirety of a cheap production, then look no further: Fleeing victims run away from the lights of salvation into the woods; a guy’s ear is supposedly cut off, yet still clearly visible attached to the actor’s head…

In short, Dr. Chopper makes Dr. Giggles look like Dr. Zhivago.

I scream, you scream, we all scream: “Whyyyy???”

MR ICE CREAM MAN

2 Stars  1991/18/66m

Director/Writer: Mack Hail / Writer: Jim Mills / Cast: Mack Hail, Jim Mills, Cindy Reed, Henry Weckesser, DeVonn Carral, Alisha Lobato.

Laughter lines: “If you get married, can I have a gun?”


This strange little film only clocks in at an our and six minutes (on PAL, at least), and was shot in Las Vegas sometime in the early 90s, with no concrete answer.

Pre-dating the similar Clint Howard flick by a few years, it tells the oh-so-short story of a suburb plagued by a growing number of missing children. What the detective trying to teach the local kids stranger danger doesn’t know is that the goofy-but-creepy local ice cream vendor is the one behind it.

With a Halloweeney beginning that has a trio of kids walking around the leafy ‘burb while the ice cream truck slowly cruises by, you’d be forgiven for high hopes. Meanwhile, the detective asks out the big sister of a kid who we just know is going to cross paths with Mr Ice Cream Man sooner or later. Probably at his upcoming birthday party.

Cheapness aside, things don’t look as bad as they might, with writer/director/star Hail doing the best job as the creepy killer, who lures naive kiddies to their doom, selectively ignoring any subtext about what he might be doing to them, even taking a break from his usual schtick to murder a teenage babysitter who mocks him.

So short that it’s all over before you get too restless, but the killer ice cream dude sub-sub-genre is still untapped for a genuinely good outing.

Blurb-of-interest: Hail wrote and directed Switch Killer and was in Carnage Road – which is a contender for worst film ever.

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