Tag Archives: spoilers

Aromatherapy

reeker 2005REEKER

3 Stars  2005/15/87m

“Evil is in the air.”

Director/Writer: Dave Payne / Cast: Devon Gummersall, Tina Illman, Scott Whyte, Derek Richardson, Arielle Kebbell, Michael Ironside, Eric Mabius, David Hadinger.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “Are you afraid of the dark?” / “No, I’m afraid of psycho desert crackheads who hunt small animals with Dahmer’s garden tools.”


Spoilers in the road ahead. Commencing with a great double-shock opener which gives new meaning to the term roadkill, this strange little film, with echoes of Dead End, the terrible Soul Survivors, and even The Sixth Sense, strands five college kids during a ride share for a desert festival at a seemingly abandoned roadhouse.

The phones are out, nobody’s around for miles, and whomever was there before them was obviously a bit mad – and might still be there. They’re soon joined by Michael Ironside in his enormous RV, looking for his absent wife. Apparent ghosts also appear, though only to us, the characters can’t see them for the most part.

A bad smell fills the air and an incorporeal cloaked figure manifests to start killing everybody one by one with a variety of almost comically oversized and bizarre contraptions, forecast each time by the stench – one poor soul is pulled down into an outhouse toilet, recalling Sleepaway Camp II. The characters fall as expected, leaving the predictable pair to duke it out with their hunter. The blind guy falls back on his other senses to help save the day.

reeker 2005

The twist – obvious to anyone who has seen the aforementioned titles – is nicely realised and elevates Reeker from being confusingly dumb to a little bit smart, wrapping up its loose ends without the need to staple gun on a last second shock.

Going the funny-gruesome route was the right move and there are some genuinely LOL moments from Scott Whyte’s paranoid frat boy, and Ironside is dependably amusing. A pre-Ugly Betty Eric Mabius also turns up as a nasty drug dealer. Watch to the end of the credits to read the disclaimer from the filmmakers calling out critics before they whip up any clever puns on the title to say the movie stinks.

*

NO MAN’S LAND: THE RISE OF THE REEno man's land rise of the reekerKER

2 Stars  2008/18/85m

“Terror lurks between the living and the dead.”

Director/Writer: Dave Payne / Cast: Michael Muhney, Mircea Monroe, Stephen Martines, Valerie Cruz, Robert Pine, Desmond Askew, Gil Birmingham, Michael Robert Brandon, Ben Gunther.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “Bad smells are nature’s warning.”


Reeker‘s semi-clever twist was clearly enough for creator Dave Payne to forge ahead with a sequel with bits of a prequel to prevent in from becoming a Xerox of the first one. Both play like reverse Final Destination instalments though: The cast members of gorily offed by the blurry Krueger-esque creature, and the high concept FX work is showcased at the end as the event that caused their induction into limbo is revealed.

It’s back to the secluded diner again, with a trio of bank hopeless robbers in the mix, father and son issues between local Sheriffs, and not-so-funny comic relief is inserted to try and thicken and lend depth to the characters, but little of it works after the opening manoeuvre, which veers off in a not so predictable direction.

The ultimate catastrophe is good, but not different enough to that of the first film, rendering it all a bit void. Askew is good as the leader of the rubbish robbers though.

Blurbs-of-interest: Michael Ironside was also in American NightmareVisiting HoursHello Mary Lou: Prom Night IIChildren of the Corn: Revelation, and Fallen Angels; Arielle Kebbell was also in Red Mist; Desmond Askew was in Turistas.

The title and tagline are referring to the hair

grotesque 1988

GROTESQUE

2 Stars  1988/18/89m

“There is a fate worse than death.”

Director/Writer: Joe Tornatore / Writer: Mikel Angel / Cast: Linda Blair, Tab Hunter, Donna Wilkes, Guy Stockwell, Luana Patten, Brad Wilson, Michelle Bensoussan, Nels Van Patten, Sharon Hughes, Charles Dierkop, Billy Frank, Robert Z’Dar, Bunky Jones [as Bunki Z], Robert Apisa.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “My ass doesn’t get cold” / “I don’t doubt it, that’s because you think with your ass and not your brain.”


For a few years, when people said ‘I cannot even’ to express their speechlessness over trivial things, I was confused. ‘Can’t even what?’ I thought. But then came Grotesque into my life, sent by my good friend Ross, who was having a DVD clear out (I tried to palm off 12 Deaths of Christmas on him but he’d already read what I had to say about it and dodged a bullet).

Seriously, what the fuck happened here? This entire project appears to be some sort of exercise in LSD experimentation while writing a film script. Read on, but beware necessary spoilers so that I can stress the bizarre experience of watching it.

grotesque 1988

Long boring credits take us into a film-within-a-film intro, where some old lady is brushing her hair while some dude in a cloak approaches. Then suddenly she’s a young chick. Then old again. Ugh. Turns out it’s a screening of a new film, where the FX work has been done by wonderous artist Orville Kruger, who blabs some exposition that he’s having a little family reunion at the cabin in the mountains this weekend…

Next we meet his daughter Lisa and her friend Kathy as they grab dinner before driving up there. Kathy (Donna Wilkes, most famous for her non-stop shrieking in Jaws 2) is sad over man trouble, while Lisa (Blair) is rocking the first of many hair-don’ts Grotesque will spring on us:

linda blair bad hair grotesque 1988

The girls are warned by the local shopkeep that some ‘freaks’ happened by earlier, and we meet them in a scene: Eight punk-rock youths looking like they teleported from 1977, led by the very unstable Scratch, who looks a cross between Billy Idol and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and is seemingly modelled on Zed from the Police Academy movies. Their VW bus has run into trouble and they flag down Lisa and Kathy on the road, basically threaten them, and reveal to the audience they’re planning to invade the cabin, that they killed ‘the entire family’ last time, and Scratch yells a lot.

Orville plays some cruddy pranks on Kathy; Lisa asks her mom how Patrick is. Who is Patrick? Hmm… best wait and see. Night falls soon after the ‘punkers’ break in and haul everyone inside to the den, where they assault and kill Orville, shrieking about where the money/jewellery/dope is stashed. The posturing is dementedly bad, with acting so terrible I dread to think what the other takes looked like if they chose this.

grotesque 1988

Anyway, the ‘punkers’ kill Mom and Kathy, while Lisa dives out of a window and runs off up the mountain in her PJ’s, chased by one of the gang. The others split up to look for things and find a secret room behind a bookcase where Patrick resides. Patrick is your off-the-shelf movie mongoloid: Hunched back, moans to communicate, and hideously deformed features. He’s also super strong of course, and wastes no time offing a few of the intruders and chasing the others into the night.

Morning comes and the shopkeeper from earlier drops by to go fishing with Orville and finds several bodies. Patrick kills off all but the two lead ‘punkers’, and Lisa has been strangled into a coma. Now, up rocks Tab Hunter as Uncle Rod, who is a surgeon. He, shopkeeper dude, and some cops head up the mountain and shoot Patrick dead before he can kill Scratch and Shelly, who are arrested, but swear they just stopped by for help with their van and Patrick killed everybody.

grotesque 1988 patrick

There was still about 30 minutes left at this point, so I was clueless as to what the fuck was going to happen: Patrick has gone from gross-face to no-face, Lisa is in a coma, and there are two ‘punkers’ left. The most nasty two. A very long good-cop/bad-cop sequence unrolls, all the time I was watching the clock and it was still telling me there’s 30 minutes left. HOW, universe?

Lisa dies in surgery; Scratch and Shelly are released; Tab Hunter comes back and manages to kidnap them at gunpoint and take them back to the cabin where he straps them to gurneys, reveals he is Patrick’s father and pulls of a latex mask made for him by his late bro. and then operates on their faces, locking them in Patrick’s secret room. This, apparently, is the fate worse than death the tagline alludes to.

grotesque 1988

Wait, there’s still several minutes left??? So, the film melts – it’s all been a screening! And fucking Frankenstein and the Wolfman are in the projection room, bickering about it. They go into the theater and ‘scare’ everyone (they stand there slowly swaying back and forth with their arms out) and we see several of the actors – Blair, Wilkes, Stockwell – run away screaming. Credits.

Well, what the fucking fuck, Grotesque? What are you? How did you happen? Why are there several big names in you? I cannot answer. Perhaps Blair, who served as associate producer, had the dirt of some of them? Who the fuck knows. I’m tripped out though.

Grotesque is crap, but at least funny in that it’s really a series of ‘eh!?’ moments sewed together, maybe it was supposed to be an anthology and suffered too many script changes? I’d recommend it just for the LOLs: The hair, Blair’s natural charm, her amazing sarcastic response to the child who calls to her outside the store, the hair, the diabolical overacting of most of the ‘punkers’, the makeup the girl members of the gang sport, the hair, good-cop/bad-cop 101, fucking bizarre dialogue exchanges, and the hair.

grotesque 1988

Blurbs-of-interest: Linda was, of course, the lead in Hell Night (and thus also Hellego Night) – co-star Nels Van Patten is the brother of her co-star from Hell Night, Vincent Van Patten; Tab Hunter played Blue Grange in Pandemonium; Donna Wilkes was earlier in Schizoid and Blood Song; Bunky Jones was in Hide and Go Shriek; Robert Z’Dar had the title role in the Maniac Cop movies.

Road to Nowhere

munger road 2011

MUNGER ROAD

2 Stars  2011/18/82m

A.k.a. The Wrong Road

Director/Writer: Nicholas Smith / Cast: Bruce Davison, Randall Batinkoff, Trevor Morgan, Brooke Peoples, Hallock Beals, Lauren Storm, Art Fox.

Body Count: 3


If you’ve ever been stuck in a car in a traffic jam, that feeling of hopeless tedium will sum up what watching Munger Road is like – a film so slow and plodding that a nineteen mile tailback would probably be more engaging. Major spoilers follow.

OK, so the budget was like $200,000, and Nick Smith has at least made a good looking film, but the story isn’t sufficient to fill out a 20-minute anthology segment, let alone an 81 minute feature. And we kinda already had this story in 2006’s Fingerprints.

Legend has it a busload of kids were killed when a train hit their school bus blah years ago, and if your car should come to a halt on the tracks, little ghostly handprints will appear and push you to safety. Uninteresting bro’s Corey and Scott want to catch this phenomenon on tape and sell it to some reality show, so talk girlfriends Rachel and Joe into going along with them.

Meanwhile, a serial killer who murdered six kids in the area has escaped and the local chief (Davison) and his deputy are looking for him before an influx of visitors for a carnival arrive.

munger road 2011

The teens conduct their experiment but then find the car powers out down the road, stranding them there, and there’s also no cell reception. Corey opts to hike back down the road to where they had signal and summon help. Scott, meanwhile, plays back their footage and sees that there was somebody stood behind the car when they drove away initially. Joe then goes to find Corey, Scott and Rachel stay in the car and are tormented by creepy occurrences.

Ultimately, anyone killed is done so entirely off camera. The cops finally reach the old farmhouse where Joe has ended up after being attacked and spared by the killer. They rescue her and get a call saying the escaped guy died the day before, Harry Warden-style. So who is it? Well, the film ends with a kick-in-the-balls ‘To be continued’. This was in 2011, seven years have passed and no sequel has appeared. Awesome.

Cumulatively, there are maybe 15-20 seconds of unsettling visuals here, the rest is a monumental waste of time. Mush together bits of My Bloody ValentineDead EndWind ChillFingerprints, and The Gallows and this is the swill you’re left with.

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.

Lyin’ on a prayer

cry wolf 2005 dvd

CRY_WOLF

2 Stars  2005/12/87m

“BeLIEve.”

Director/Writer: Jeff Wadlow / Writer: Beau Bauman / Cast: Julian Morris, Lindy Booth, Jared Padalecki, Jon Bon Jovi, Kristy Wu, Sandra McCoy, Paul James, Jesse Janzen, Gary Cole.

Body Count: 2

Laughter Lines: “Tonight you could’ve gotten laid, but instead you got fucked.”


As usual, a young blonde woman runs through the woods at night, heaving in her breaths, a flashlight behind indicating her hunter isn’t far behind. She hides, the mystery maniac loiters, produces a cellphone and calls ‘Becky’. The victim’s phone rings, revealing her whereabouts to the killer. Gunshot.

Like so many other teen horror films of this era, an aerial shot of autumnal trees reveals a posh looking, secluded school: Westlake Prep. Here, we’re introduced to Owen Matthews, a British transfer student. His first encounter is with doll-like flame-haired Dodger Allen, and later inducted into her group of friends, who meet after hours in the school’s chapel to play a game centred around lying: Who can be the most deceptive. This is Cry_Wolf‘s main thing – deception. Spoilers ensue.

cry_wolf 2005

Infatuated with Dodger from the off, Owen and she concoct a newer, better version of their game, selling a big lie to the entire faculty for the lolz. Remember 2000 campus thriller Gossip? Yeah, it’s that all over again but with knives.

Owen, Dodger, and the others invent a campus-cruising psycho called The Wolf, who wears a camo jacket and orange ski-mask, and slashes up students around Halloween. Tying it to the disappearance of the girl from the beginning only helps create an atmosphere of paranoia across the campus. Media teacher Jon Bon Jovi – yes, really – sees through the ruse and cautions serial-school-changer Owen about his behaviour.

cry_wolf 2005

A mystery game player begins sending IMs to Owen, claiming to be the actual killer, and threatens the group, his room in tossed, there’s a stranger following him and Dodger in the library, someone deposits a knife in his bag that tumbles out during class… Who is doing it? Why, etc…

Needless to say, somebody dressed in the camo and ski-mask clobber starts offing those in on the joke in the precise scenarios they dreamt up when they created their work of fiction.

cry_wolf 2005

Cry_Wolf is one of those films that thinks it’s way smarter than it actually is: Some moderate fanfare surrounded its US release that it packed an amazing twist. Well, it doesn’t. Nobody is dead beyond the girl from the start and Bon Jovi, who is Owen’s main suspect and, it turns out, the apparent slayer of woods-girl. The rest is written off as a joke on the new boy.

As it happens, Dodger has manipulated eeeeeverybody to cover up the fact that she is the killer, insanely jealous of an affair between woods-girl and Bon Jovi, she went the long way round to fool Owen into killing him. The rest of the story, The Wolf, the others being in on the gag, is all by the by.

cry_wolf 2005

So it’s ultimately one big lie of a slasher film, not a slasher film at all, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Hey, does that make it über smart? No, it makes it über fake and thus über annoying. At least April Fool’s Day was able to trade on likeable characters, not obnoxious, schemey teens who all seem to hate each other. There’s nobody really to root for: Owen’s not particularly sympathetic and drools after Dodger like a lovestruck puppy, while she is textbook bitchy girl material, and the others fulfil various SBC-101 roles with little to add.

Nicely made and casting a British lead was brave, but the amount of contrivances required for the idea to float is ridiculous to the point it makes Brenda’s big plan from Urban Legend look totally doable.

cry_wolf 2005

Blurbs-of-interest: Julian Morris was also in Sorority Row; Lindy Booth was in Wrong Turn and American Psycho II; Jared Padalecki was in House of Wax and the Friday the 13th reboot; Gary Cole was in The Town That Dreaded Sundown (remake-quel thingy).

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