Tag Archives: slasher

Dub Stop.

flashback 2000

FLASHBACK

3.5 Stars  2000/18/94m

Director: Michael Karen / Writer: Jimmy Sangster & Natalie Scharf / Cast: Valerie Niehaus, Xaver Hutter, Alexandra Neldel, Simone Hanselmann, Erich Schleyer, Katja Woywood, Elke Sommer, Nicola Etzelstorfer, Christian Nathe, Fabian Zapatka.

Body Count: 12

Laughter Lines: “Why do parents always think their kids will get killed if they vacation alone?”


The teen-horror revival of the late 90s (“this type of movie is very popular right now!”) naturally spilled over to regional European imitations of Scream, of which this German slasher is likely the most fun.

Blah years ago (probably ten, as is the norm), a psycho wearing galoshes, a woman’s wig and a heinous floral dress is on the loose, first offing a couple of sexy teens on a train, and then entering the home of the Fielmann family, where he slaughters the parents and dog of young Jeanette, who later developed amnesia and cannot remember what happened after the loon cornered her by the door (the key is on a hook out of her reach).

flashback 1999

In the present, Jeanette is offered a position by her shrink, teaching three spoiled teenage siblings French at their remote chalet in the mountains, while their father is away on business, scuppering their summer of partying. No sooner does she arrive then we begin seeing a cross-dressing, sickle-toting stranger everywhere (starting when she’s taken to see The Relic in a movie theater more raucous than the one in Scream 2), and it’s not much longer before friends of the three siblings, as well as domestic pets, begin getting hacked up a cross-dressing, sickle-toting stranger.

Jeanette, meanwhile, becomes romantically entangled with the brother, Leon, much to the annoyance of Elke Sommer’s cranky housekeeper. She also begins to dream back to the murders, remembering a little more every time. There’s a whole thing about ‘the secret in the barn’ and a mid-point twist that’s partly confusing given what’s already supposed to have occurred by this point, its attempted explanation by a throw-away line is a little desperate.

flashback 2000

Plot convolutions aside, Flashback has some super awesome ‘classic’ visuals, with the camera at weapon-level as the killer closes in on victims, a fun chairlift murder, a long chase involving a guy for once (poor dude cops a sickle in balls and has to limp away holding them together), and death-by-pool-cover for the person who earlier said “no one ever died in our pool!” The relatively high-end production values elevate this above most Euro-slashers, though it loyally checks every box on its way, with a particularly vicious streak in hacking and blending cute animals as well as obnoxious teenagers.

Most releases of the film outside its homeland suffer from pretty horrendous dubbing, which gives the film an unintentional (?) cheesiness thanks to the less than committed American voice actors and verbatim translation, which turns regular Germanic sentences into bizarre gibberish – we’re talking Bloody Moon levels of poor here.

flashback 2000

There’s also some distractingly odd slapstick humor thrown in, with one poor guy repeatedly getting gunked in blood from various bodies that turn up, and a running gag about a body in a car. But when your killer is a guy in wellies and the dress grandma was buried in, it’s hard to play it too po-faced.

Worth a look but probably much better in German with subtitles – if such a version is out there.

Get all the big names you want – it still sucks

schizoid 1980

SCHIZOID

2 Stars  1980/18/85m

“Dear Julie, don’t let me do it again.”

A.k.a. Murder By Mail

Director/Writer: David Paulsen / Cast: Klaus Kinski, Marianna Hill, Craig Wasson, Donna Wilkes, Richard Herd, Joe Regalbuto, Christopher Lloyd, Kiva Lawrence, Flo Gerrish, Cindy Donlan.

Body Count: 4

Laughter Lines: “He doesn’t want to hurt me, he just wants my help.”


Despite some heavyweight names attached, Schizoid is mostly a nonsensical bore with a scissor-wielding killer offing the female member of Kinski’s therapy group – all to the tune of a crappy synth score. Why? Well, the motive is never really explained and by the time you find out who the killer is – if you haven’t already guessed from all the stupid plotting – you won’t care anyway.

Hill is a columnist receiving cut-and-paste letters from a psycho wants to kill her, while she’s screwing Kinski, who in turn is trying to build bridges with his snotty daughter. It relies on so many coincidences it’s unreal, and why the killer only targets the women is never resolved, just an excuse for the producers to get their femme cast members to bare some skin and then get cut up.

The usual bunch of red herrings are lobbed into the mixing bowl to throw the viewer off the scent, but they’re too transparent to consider, like Christopher Lloyd’s pervy repair man. In a turn of huge convenience, all of the suspects happen to be gathered at Hill’s press office for a climax that already sent you a letter six weeks ago telling you it was coming. If anything, it does reverse some of the damage done by Paulsen’s previous effort, Savage Weekend.

Blurbs-of-interest: Kinski was previously in Slaughter Hotel; Craig Wasson later appeared in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3; Donna Wilkes was also in Blood Song and, later, Grotesque.

 

Tueur de conte de fées

deep in the woods 2000

DEEP IN THE WOODS

3.5 Stars  2000/18/84m

“Don’t go there alone.”

Director/Writer: Lionel Delplanque / Writer: Annabel Perrichon / Cast: Clotilde Courau, Clement Sibony, Vincent Lecoeur, Alexia Stresi, Maud Buquet, Francois Berleand, Denis Lavant, Thibault Truffert.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “It’s not my fault those bitches got killed!”


Promoted in its native France as a contemporary to Scream, this lushly produced twist on Little Red Riding Hood (titled Promenons-nous dance les bois – A Stroll in the Woods) concerns five young actors who are hired by Baron de Fersen to perform their offbeat version of said fairytale to him and his autistic grandson, Nicolas, at their manor in the forest. Deep in the forest.

One play performance, some weird dreams and gratuitous amounts of semi-tasteful nudity later, somebody dons the creepy-ass wolf costume from the play and goes after the thespians one by one. Characters number among them lesbian lovers (…le sigh), a pervert groundskeeper who cuts up a wild animal in the film’s grossest sequence, and a mysterious policeman who turns up out of the blue, claiming to be looking for an AWOL rapist.

Directed with the kind of expert visual flair the French are famed for, the style here leaves many genre directors far behind, flawed only by some weak characters and a killer who can barely scrape the remnants of a motive together. Sharper scripting and a little more clarity would’ve been welcome (though perhaps the latter was lost in translation), but perhaps the misty-eyed dream-like quality of the whole thing is kind of its point.

“It’s way too 90s horror.”

scary movie 2000

SCARY MOVIE

3 Stars  2000/18/85m

“No mercy. No shame. No sequel.”

Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans / Writers: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Buddy Johnson, Phil Beauman, Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer / Cast: Anna Faris, Shannon Elizabeth, Jon Abrahams, Shawn Wayans, Dave Sheridan, Cheri Oteri, Carmen Electra, Regina Hall, Lochlyn Munro, Kurt Fuller, Marlon Wayans.

Body Count: 15

Laughter Lines: “Lose the cape, it’s way too 90s horror.”


The tsunami of 90s teen horror was always going to end up with this happening. The eventual combo of two parody projects, originally to be titled Scream if You Know What I Did Last Halloween, Scary Movie came before the endless onslaught of affiliated productions including Date MovieEpic Movie, Superhero Movie, Meet the Spartans, and four – count ‘em – sequels to this. Yes, the tagline told porkies.

Naming their film after the working title of Kevin Williamson’s script, Scary Movie works best when it’s specifically parodying the teen slasher tropes, too often straying toward fart gags, gay jokes, and pothead humor as a fallback. But the slasher ones are at least good.

scary movie shannon elizabeth 2000

After sexy teen Drew Becker (Carmen Electra) is killed by a Ghostface masked loon, the students of the local high school worry that they may be targeted in payment for running over a fisherman and tossing the body in the sea a year earlier (though the victim wasn’t even involved in that, so no idea why they’d think it?) Virginal Cindy Campbell (Faris, in a career-making role) is at the centre of it all – could it be her booty-thirsty boyfriend Bobby? Angry jock Greg? Two-faced Buffy? Then there’s Officer Doofy, ball-busting reporter Gail Hailstorm, and various other possibles.

The plot is actually entirely redundant, as the film moves from joke set-up to joke set-up, at its strongest when Cindy is in full Sidney Prescott mode, with side-jabs at The Matrix thrown in to good use, great send-ups of Tatum’s “wanna play psycho killer?” moment, the cinema murder at the start of Scream 2, and the soon-to-be overdone Blair Witch and Sixth Sense parodies.

scary movie anna faris 2000

Plenty of the cast die only to reappear in the sequels as the same character; some are killers but then not; some seem entirely surplus – was Shorty supposed to be Randy?? – and a good chunk of the gags have become entirely cringe-inducing in the intervening years. Avoid the sequels like the plague.

Blurbs-of-interest: Faris played it straight in Lovers Lane and weird in May; Shannon Elizabeth was in Jack Frost; Lochlyn Munro later appeared in Hack!Freddy vs Jason and The Tooth Fairy; Jon Abrahams was in House of Wax.

Valley of the Overlooked Franchises: Maniac Cop

Yeeeee in a time when trust in the cops not to shoot you is lower than a Madonna chart debut, it’s surprising that they’re remaking it. But until that happens – and also, if ever – let’s revisit the trilogy of original 80s-into-90s thriller-cum-slasher-zombie flicks. Some spoilers follow.

*

maniac cop 1988

MANIAC COP

3.5 Stars  1988/18/82m

“You have the right to remain silent… forever.”

Director: William Lustig / Writer: Larry Cohen / Cast: Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon, Richard Roundtree, William Smith, Sheree North, Robert Z’Dar.

Body Count: 16

Laughter Lines: “You always take a leak with a gun in your hand? That’s a good way to blow your balls off!”


RoboCopSumurai CopBeverly Hills Cop, Kindergarten CopPsycho Cop and Maniac Cop – sure were a lot of ‘Something Cop’ movies around in the mid-80s-to-early-90s. While most of these garnered a following – maybe not Psycho Cop - and several generated sequels of their own, Maniac Cop is a strange venture, a weird fusion of ideas from action thrillers with some voodoo-slasher shit mixed in too.

Starting as so many serial killer films have, a young woman is walking home alone in New York City, tormented by some thugs, she runs into a uniformed cop – BUT THEN HE KILLS HER! The thugs are the only witnesses but nobody believes them. Soon after, a guy is pushed face down into drying cement and a driver slashed to death over a traffic violation – all in the first twelve minutes.

New York is in the throes of terror – which of the boys in blue has turned to slaying the residents? Grizzled detective Tom Atkins is on the case and in shepherded into suspecting Bruce Campbell’s beat cop, Jack Forrest, after his wife turns up dead she follows him, having received a series of calls from a mystery voice who keeps telling her that Jack is the killer. Turns out Forrest was just having it away with vice cop Theresa Mallory (Landon). Concerned to clear his name, the two of them investigate the suspicious death of a cop sent to Sing Sing some years earlier and was beaten to death by inmates – or was he?

maniac cop 1988 tom atkins bruce campbell robert z'dar laurene landon

Before Forrest and Mallory can alert the important people to the truth, the undead cop – old-style super-cop Matt ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ Cordell – goes on a rampage around their precinct, even turning on his old flame after she tries to tell him he’s losing control.

Maniac Cop crams a lot into 82 minutes (look for Sam Raimi’s cameo) and is thus never boring. Cordell’s carnage-creating romp around HQ is expertly done; A scene where Malloy is handcuffed to a body; Car chases with slo-mo crashes, and all manner of creative shots and visual cues that serve to keep the horrors of the killer’s face out of shot. A longer cut with more to say on the city-in-fear perspective would be interesting, as that kinda gets left behind once our leading lovers suss out what’s really going on and who has covered up what.

Lustig and Cohen worked together on all three movies and separately have a few slasher credits between them (notably, Lustig directed the nasty Maniac, which also makes the most of NYC as a player), but this is arguably a stand-out. Although rarely bandied in with slasher movies, it has enough elements to include it, even if some of those were traded in for more mainstream concerns in the follow-ups.

*

maniac cop 2 1990MANIAC COP 2

3 Stars  1990/18/84m

“You have the right to remain silent… forever.” – again??

Director: William Lustig / Writer: Larry Cohen / Cast: Robert Davi, Claudia Christian, Michael Lerner, Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon, Robert Z’Dar, Clarence Williams III, Leo Rossi, Lou Bonacki, Paula Trickey, Charles Napier.

Body Count: 32

Laughter Lines: “Shooting Cordell is only good for getting his attention.”


At the end of the first one, it was plainly obvious Matt Cordell wasn’t done with his Make New York Obedient Again missive, and so he returns shortly after his ‘death’ to take revenge, quickly doing away with Forrest and Mallory, who transfer the reigns of hero over to Robert Davi’s Detective McKinney and a department shrink (Christian), who has had a hard time believing Mallory, until she comes face to face with Cordell for herself.

After this solid first act, things begin to wobble as Cordell inexplicably teams up with serial killer-of-strippers Leo Rossi, breaks into Sing Sing to finish off the inmates who ‘murdered’ him, and go on a machine gun spree at police HQ, which explains that sky-high body count.

There are still some great scenes, peaking with Landon and Christian in a cab, attacked by Cordell, who handcuffs the latter to the steering wheels and sends her off down the city streets while he takes care of Mallory for good.

Some fun parts, but it lacks the charm of the first one. Joe Spinnell was originally to play the role taken by Leo Rossi, but died before production began and so the film carries a dedication to him.

*

maniac cop 3

MANIAC COP 3: BADGE OF SILENCE

2.5 Stars  1992/18/81m

“The wrong arm of the law is back.”

A.k.a. MC3: Maniac Cop 3

Director: William Lustig / Writer: Larry Cohen / Cast: Robert Davi, Caitlin Dulany, Gretchen Becker, Robert Z’Dar, Paul Gleason, Jackie Earle Haley, Robert Forster, Julius Harris, Doug Savant, Bobby Di Cicco.

Body Count: at least 18


A religious oddball resurrects Matt Cordell for no reason, just as a decorated female cop (Becker) is shot during an armed robbery and set up by the media to be a Cordell-like villain. Our maniac cop develops a bit of a crush on her and sets about clearing her name in the only way he knows how – by killing all of those responsible, as well as anyone else who crosses his path.

Davi returns as McKinney, this time joined by Caitlin Dulany as a doctor who just stands around in designer workwear looking pretty and screaming on cue.

More in the mould of a slasher film than the previous entry, but loses itself in a series of plot holes you could navigate the Titanic through. Still, as before, it’s a fun ride with lush production values and doesn’t outstay its welcome. Had so much time not passed, and Lustig not quit the project (his original cut was shorter than an hour!), from that ending we could’ve expected Bride of Maniac Cop to follow in 1994.

Overall blurbs-of-interest: Tom Atkins was in My Bloody Valentine 3D; Bruce Campbell appears briefly in Intruder; Robert Z’Dar was also in Grotesque; Michael Learner was in National Lampoon’s Class Reunion; Leo Rossi was Bud in Halloween II; Robert Forster was in Lustig’s Uncle Sam and also the 1998 Psycho remake; Charles Napier was in Camping Del Terrore and Wacko; Jackie Earle Haley was the new Freddy Krueger; Bobby Di Cicco was in The Baby Doll Murders; William Smith was in Valley of Death.

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