Tag Archives: sorority

Title Recall: Budgetary Constraints

The old adage goes, “Never just a book by its cover”. We already know that any cheap-ass slasher movie can be glossed over with some expensive looking artwork for the DVD. Or someone who is better with Photoshop than most.

However, most of these good-box-shame-about-the-movie ploys can be quickly spotted when the title card zaps on to screen. Or can they…?

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A good example of this film’s “quirky” cheapness. Did anybody get this far and seriously think: “Wow, this is going to be some high-quality, tension-fueled horror film!”? [Review]

Elsewhere:

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I couldn’t consciously tell these two apart when I added the screencaps here. Titular similarities aside, both were evidently disappointing to the point where their combined memory has blurred into one repressed blob of also-ran slasher shite. [Dark Fields review]

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All are equally naff looking, suiting the ensuing ocular-molesting 90 or so minutes down to the ground. These films may have minimal camp appeal here and there but none of them are ever going to be hailed as unsung classics. The Blood Sisters one even ‘quivers’ as the camera pans over the leaves. Scary.

However, proving that we should never groan too early in a film…

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The UK DVD release of Bloody Murder 2 was retitled for unknown reasons (considering it bears no obvious connection to the first one, which, itself was renamed Scream Bloody Murder). While everything about this film is cheap and unoriginal, BM2 is surprisingly pretty decent: It’s bloody and nostalgic for us fans of the summer camp slasher sub-sub-sub-genre.

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Another vile font adorns the cheery no-budget throwback, Bikini Girls on Ice, which may perhaps over-promise to audiences who think they’re going to be served topless chicks getting cut to pieces for 90 minutes, but is still a lot of fun for the less discriminating body count fan. Like the above example, it packs a Friday the 13th-tinted stroll down memory lane.

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Blood-spatter elevates this crud-looking title card a little from dull old white-on-black. While not as good as its predecessor, Sleepaway 3 should not be written off before it gets going just because of this minor faux pas.

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And neither should Happy Hell Night, the title card of which seems to support my unproven theory that the film was simply titled Hell Night until somebody realised there was already a collegiate prank-based slasher film of that title. In the UK, the rental VHS was issued as just Hell Night, confusing me way back in the 90s when I picked it up and wondered when Linda Blair was going to show up…

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A bona fide minor classic with a crappy title card making it look cheap and nasty. Again, it’s possible multiple re-titlings foiled a perfectly presentable opening. While the font is nice and straightforward enough, the placement and scene make it look dull. [Review]

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Now, this looks ultra-crap. And the film probably is crap to every other set of eyes, but I kinda dug what was going on in it.

Same here: Boring. Boring. Boring. Film – starring Leah Pipes from Sorority Row – is pretty decent fare.

The UL fontage is nice and ‘serious’, then cartoon lettering for the suffix. One might think Bloody Mary is going to be some backgrounder from Count Duckula.

And finally, proving the big franchises sometime screw up too:

Christ on a bike. This and Busta Rhymes. [Review]

What does all of this teach us? Nothing. Sorry.

Through the (shot on video) looking glass

ALICE IN MURDERLAND

0.5 Stars  2010/18/86m

“Through the looking glass and straight to hell.”

Director/Writer: Dennis Devine / Cast: Malerie Grady, Marlene Mc’Cohen, Kelly Kula, Katie Locke O’Brien, Christopher Senger, Heath Butler, Kim Argetsinger, Jennifer Field, Elizabeth Lam Nguyen, Jennifer Kamstock, John Buco II.

Body Count: 10

Dire-logue: “She died when she was 21… I turn 21 this week!”


Irredeemably bad shot-on-video slasher flick that attempts to staple a body count opus to Lewis Carroll’s famous stories – which I’ve never read and possibly never seen an adaption of.

Eight sorority sisters throw a themed party for Alice’s twenty-first birthday, and do it in the old warehouse where her mother was murdered twenty years earlier – at the age of 21!

Once gathered at the party, where they’ve decided to ban cell phones, ignore bars on the windows, and ‘party’ without music, food, or guys. Only Alice’s uncle is permitted entry, and bitchy sister Tiffany sneaks a guy in, who is quickly slaughtered.

A psycho dressed as the ‘Jabberwocky’ (what??) soon begins doing in the girls one by one and turns out to be because blah blah blah. Alice in Murderland is cheap, dull and stupid, with some horrendous dialogue written by Captain Obvious: “my mother was killed here twenty years ago this very night!” The bloodletting is liberal but akin to somebody squirting a ketchup bottle as hard as they can at the actor being slashed/axed/sliced.

An absolute waste of 86 minutes.

Blurb-of-shame: Devine also directed the crappy Dead Girls.

The House on Memory Lane

THE SLEEPER

3.5 Stars  2012/90m

“If I die before I wake…”

Director/Writer: Justin Russell / Cast: Brittany Belland, E. Ray Goodwin Jr., Jason Jay Crabtree, Jenna Fournier, Ali Ferda, Paul Moon, Elizabeth Lane, Riana Ballo, Eric Sarich, Jessica Cameron, Tiffany Arnold, Beverly Kristy, Aaron Russell, Joe Bob Briggs.

Body Count: 14


Will the 80s ever really leave us? It seems a lot of us are hanging on to the memories and the nostalgia, wishing for the simplicity of life as it was. Well, sort of. I was born in ’78 so the first half of the decade is largely a blank of nappies, playschool, and – shudder – church.

Justin Russell evidently loves the 80s too and was kind enough – hell, driven enough – to recreate a bit of it in The Sleeper, a film carefully tailored and calculated to look as if it’s a newly discovered slasher also-ran.

Just inhale that delectable artwork and the title credit. If that doesn’t scream “it’s 1981, bitches!” at you than what does?

Beginning with a curiously extraneous prologue set in 1979, a sorority girl is murdered (we assume, it’s not shown and never mentioned again) in her room by a hammer-toting maniac who creeps into the house. Two years later, it’s every horror buff’s favourite year, when it was simply too dangerous to go to college/camp/school/a party, and the girls at the Theta sorority host a little soiree to attract new pledges, including shy student Amy and her anti-Greek roomie Ava.

Over the next 24 hours or so, the house is plagued by creepy phonecalls. A whisper of a voice says the name of a sister and that she’ll be next. Subsequently, the girls disappear in that order: Cindy gets her head literally hammered in, Rebecca’s face is ripped away, and Stacy loses her head.

The police are summoned and start of a protection detail after Cindy’s boyfriend reports her missing, but it’s too feeble an operation to stop the wild-eyed loon, who now has his sights firmly set on Amy.

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I know what you’re thinking. I thought it too: Black Christmas. Well, yeah, Russell borrows heavily from the quintessential pre-slasher slasher movie. But then, didn’t every other film in 1981 borrow heavily from something that came before it? Look at Final Exam aping Halloween. There are also echoes of He Knows You’re Alone at play and we see a poster for miserablist “character study” Don’t Go in the House on a wall in the background. This should be an aficionados dream.

In the pro column, Russell executes things with an almost flawless of-the-time look. The floaty POV shots and low-level angles that only show the killer’s black-booted feet slowly stalking the next victim would fool anybody into thinking that The Sleeper is an old 80s flick. The house and its decor are suitably dated and the shrill ring of the telephone reminded me of a time before touch-tone, cellulars and smart phones.

Perhaps where the film doesn’t succeed so much is with the actors. While the sub-$30,000 budget is used to great effect, the young actors didn’t necessarily convey the same flair as their genuine contemporaries of 1981 did: hairstyles are anodyne and fashions bland, so much so that they don’t scream 80s like many of the old films do. The sorority girls are far more preened and ‘modern’ than their sisters of yore. It renders the film indeterminable to the era it’s set in, as does the vernacular on show. Not that there was particular slang common to the early 80s bust, but again it’s diluted so that it isn’t obvious. A similar problem befell timewarp-slasher film Camp Daze, although the fact that that film was shit also depleted its effect.

Don’t let these mild blurring of edges discourage you from giving it a whirl, Russell conjures up some good tension. In fact, I’d go so far to say I was a little creeped out by a couple of scenes. Things peak with the excellently done lecture hall cat and mouse scene, which carries pleasant echoes of Wendy’s chase through the school in Prom Night.

The dismal IMDb rating of The Sleeper is reflective of a generation used to frenetic edits, silicone-clad babes and exposition from an audience who say they want retro slasher films and then moan when they get one. I would say that the film does play like one of the less ‘classic’ examples of the era to which it pertains, somewhat subtracting from its appeal in the grand scheme of things.

The Sleeper is a nice stroll down memory lane. But, as always with nostalgia, the memories are often better than the reality.

Oh, how we laughed. Then died.

Happy April Fool’s Day.

Have you woken up to a pie in the face? Been told some bizarre fact about someone that you naively took as gospel? Or did a group of your peers play a joke on you so damaging that at this very moment you’re sketching out ideas for a gruesome revenge scenario?

Hey, it happens! Just take a look at these five gags that went “a bit wrong”…

Kenny Hampson and The Corpse Lady of Terror Train (1980)

Why: Prank-loving med student Doc (a yet-to-be-semi-famous Hart Bochner) masterminds a cruel initiation gag on shy, magic loving dork, Kenny, to induct him into their fraternity.

The Joke: On the promise that if he ventures upstairs to the bedroom of a (frat?) house, Kenny will pop his cherry with campus hottie Alana (Jamie Lee Curtis), who’s only been clued in a little ways in the plot. She hides behind a veil and says things like “kiss me, Kenny,” while the skinny lad disrobes and climbs into bed with a figure whom he believes to be Alana. And Alana and her gal-pal Mitchy think it’s just a friend of Doc’s.

Instead, the girl in the bed is a dismembered corpse pilfered from a hospital morgue. Kenny almost gets down and dirty with it before she quite literally falls to pieces in his arms and then freaks out in some weird disco spinning motion that sees him entangled in a veil while his frat-brothers-to-never-be burst in and laugh and point.

The Revenge: Three years later, Kenny’s back from the mental hospital and he’s still understandably pissed and homicidal. Doc, Alana, and friends have boarded an excursion train to celebrate their graduation costume-party style and it’s not long before members of their clique start disappearing until only Alana is left to fight off Kenny…

The Learning: Pick your victim carefully. If he appears to be your typical introverted nerd, chances are he’s a raging ball of anti-populous fury who might snap if he’s rejected and ridiculed one more time.

Marty Rantzen and The Naked Shower Humiliation of Slaughter High (1986)

Why: Marty (Simon Scuddamore) is the requisite bookish nerd at Doddsville High (which looks suspiciously like Surrey, England), who annoys the wrong group of popular jocks and their bitchy girlfriends.

The Joke: In retaliation, they decide to play an April Fool’s prank on him by setting him up with campus hottie Carol (Caroline Munro) – seeing a theme? – only to find that after he strips naked in a shower stall, the curtain is ripped back and her group of friends are there with a camera and hose him down. On this occasion, the group are caught and given detention by the coach and so nasty leader Skip sets about resetting the scales and this ends up with Marty getting doused in acid that disfigures him.

The Revenge: Ten years later, the popular group receive invites to a bogus reunion party at the now abandoned school, where Marty – donning a suitably eerie jester mask – soon locks them in and unleashes a veritable cornucopia of fatal ‘jokes’ on them: Poisoned beer; an acid bath; electrified bed… until it’s just him and Carol left alone in the old school.

The Learning: Similar to Terror Train, hell hath no fury like a nerd scorned – or, in this case, scorched. And that groups of jocks are unbelievably stupid.

Cropsy the Janitor and The Wormy Skull in The Burning (1981)

Why: Mean-spirited summer camp custodian, Cropsy, ritually torments the kids of Camp Blackfoot. We don’t see any of this but it’s related later around a campfire. He used to freak them out with his oversized pair of pruning shears. Either way, the campers hate his ass.

The Joke: A group of teenage boys decide to get their own back on the Crospter by creeping him out, possibly in the hope of inducing some sort of coronary. One of them sneaks into his on-site shack and deposits an item at the foot of his bed before going back outside where the group begin tapping on the window. Gently at first and then louder until the man awakes and is greeted with the sight of a worm-infested skull with a candle inside it. Freaking as required, he spills the skull on to his sheets and is soon engulfed in flames. Turned into a “fucking Big Mac” with no hope of skin graphs restoring his appearance, he’s finally released from the hospital five years later and the only thing on his mind… is MURDER!

The Revenge: Crospy crashes another summer camp in the vicinity and stalks and kills various teen campers, using his trademark shit-scary shears to slice, dice and snip shrieking teens to death, including the memorable five-for-one raft scene.

Strangely, Cropsy’s revenge is of the scattergun approach. He targets campers. The particular group responsible get away Scot free (bar one who happens to be a counsellor at the new camp) and the unknowing, innocent, holidaymakers of Camp Stonewater become is hapless new prey.

The Learning: Think through your prank logically. Is there a chance it could go awry and end up maiming somebody? ‘Cos if it does, odds are they ain’t gonna be pleased about it. Also, some victims go so batshit crazy that they’ll take revenge of anyone they can…

The College Kids and The Fake Campus Massacre of Final Exam (1981)

Why: Why not? it seems. The brothers of “the wildest frat house on campus – yeeeaaaahhh!!!” decide to fake a fucking MASSACRE just so their lazy president can cheat on a test and keep his car.

The Joke: So, while a group of masked assailants “gun down” random students at the front of the school, walking bouffant, John, oh-so-cleverly marks his own test paper with the perfect score and hides it in the completed pile while everyone’s attention is focused on what’s happening outside.

The Revenge: Weirdly, in this case, the prank doesn’t affect the killer at all. Instead, it serves to prevent the local cops from taking seriously his arrival on campus when the bodies start piling up – fortunately those of Lazy John and a couple of his idiotic frat brothers included.

However, sucks to be one of the other poor schmucks stuck on campus with an anonymous, unmotivated psychopath.

The Learning: You might think your little joke is a victimless crime, but the joke’s on you if you need help further down the line and nobody believes you! At that point, you become the boy who cried wolf and, frankly, you deserve to be throttled with gym equipment.

The Frat Party and The Photo of the Creepy-Voiced Priest in Happy Hell Night (1991)

Why: Again, getting into the fraternity/sorority of your choice trumps all semblance of sense and rational thought in the American – or Canadian – college system. Fuck the consequences, I want in!

The Joke: Two pledges, cool, calm, collected Sonny (Franke Hughes) and his dorky friend whose name I’ve forgotten, are tasked with breaking into the local mental asylum and taking a photograph of imprisoned legendary Satanic priest, Zachary Malius, who had murdered several frat brothers 25 years earlier.

The Revenge: Of course, Malius escapes – after killing the dorky one – and heads straight back to the frat house where a big party has just finished, leaving a handful of amorous couples alone in the dark. One by one, they all get offed in various ways, each time left with a little fortune cookie style quip from the E.T.-voiced loon: “No TV! No sex! No way Sam Rockwell is ever gonna live down being in this!”

The Learning: A simple frat joke can still be a deadly one. Responsibility is key. In fact, Sonny almost does the right thing and considers the whole shebang an immature waste of time as it is. But when your dad is Darren McGavin, there’s a little bit of pressure applied to conform. So, suck it, horny teens!

* * *

There we have it, just SOME of the jokes that didn’t go as planned. Other notable examples include breaking into old buildings with bloody histories to steal ornaments n’ such, pretending to be dead, pretending to be alive, tricking your friends, scaring your parents/siblings/housemother…

The list is endless so stick with whoopee cushions and custard pies.

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Trade-a-Life III

Here we go again, playing God with the lives of hopeless slasher movie characters… As ever, contribute, criticise, shout n’ scream. Hell, it’s not like we can change any of it now…

Watch out for those ma-hoosive spoilers!

THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW

A double Trade to start off this time. The sorority girlies of the house on, y’know, the row (…assumedly of other sorority houses), were most definitely guilty of killing their acid-tongued housemother in a prank gone wrong and as such, they probably deserved what they got. Well, the ones who were in on the joke, for sure. Requisite nice girl Kate is the only one with a wise head on her shoulders but I was quite sad to see overgrown-child Morgan (Jodi Draigie) and ribbon-haired Jeanie (Robin Meloy) go out violently.

I’d have much preferred to see leading-bitch Vicki’s greasy man-toy (who supplied the very gun that was used in the gag-gone-bad) turn up willy-nilly and getting that creepy-ass walking stick through his head… Or there’s Kate’s dorky date-for-the-night Peter (Michael Kuhn), who is pretty much innocent in it all but could’ve been meanly killed off to add fire to Kate’s strikeback. He didn’t do much else that was interesting. May as well’ve died!

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES

This is a bit of a popular one as I’ve read a few times that people were sad to see Camp Forest Green counsellor Paula (Kerry Noonan) exit proceedings so brutally. Even the filmmakers seemed to think enough of her to give her an off-camera death (sort of). We see Jason burst into the room and the camera cuts to the exterior where a blood splash redecorates the window before Paula’s corpse is smashed through the glass. Yeah…still kinda mean for the nice girl whose only concern was the little kiddies.

Now, this was recently altered from a swap with surviving gal Megan (Jennifer Cooke) but it was pointed out that the kids at camp were far, far more deserving of Jason’s chop so it has come to pass that having failed to find a good group shot of all the kids at camp, I nominate about the only ones who get any lines of dialogue (bar the little girl who has a nightmare): Ty and Billy (played by brothers Justin and Tommy Nowell, one of whom later appeared in Sleepaway Camp II). They’re sarcastic and whingey for their cumulative two or three minutes on screen so they should die instead of Paula. Jason’s been far too liberal when it comes to kids in the past, he should’ve made an example of these two.

URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT

Urban Legends 2 is a strange little slasher flick but a pretty good one all the same: student/final girl Amy (Jennifer Morrison) finds her friends/crew being stalked n’ slashed one by one by a fencing-masked loon with some ridiculous motive up his sleeve (and it is really ridiculous). Strangely, not only she and her obligatory love interest are left at the end. Reese (Loretta Devine) is there, natch, but bizarrely two other random guys are left unscathed… Weird.

They’re red herrings, of course, but even once the killer is revealed they could’ve been done away with. Especially sleaze-merchant rich-boy Graham (Joey Joseph Lawrence), who hangs around on his phone to his producer daddy all day and commits the unforgivable sin of suggesting Amy should insert CGI gore into her film rather than old fashioned latex grue!

So, give him the chop and let’s save import-a-camera-guy Schorm ‘Simon’ Jabuscko (Marco Hofschneider), who turns up to help the gang out, makes their film look all nice and does it all with a sexy European accent – and is then gruesomely beaten to death with a lens.

And they let Blossom’s little brother live!?

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