Tag Archives: spoilers

9, 10… Michael Bay’s done it again

elmst2010A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

3 Stars  2010/18/93m

“Never sleep again.”

Director: Samuel Bayer / Writers: Wesley Strick & Eric Heisserer / Cast: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Thomas Dekker, Katie Cassidy, Kellan Lutz, Connie Britton, Clancy Brown.

Body Count: 4

Dire-logue: “Why are you screaming? I haven’t even cut you yet.”


Remakes, re-imaginings, reboots, rehashes – they get everywhere like that STD you just can’t get rid of. Not that I’d know, of course.

You gotta feel for Wes Craven though, now three of his most famous horror flicks have been re-somethinged in the last five years! We never thought anyone would be so foolish as to touch Elm Street, but then after Halloween “happened”, all bets were off.

elmst2010-1In fairness, Nightmare 2010 is no worse than Rob Zombie’s attempt to re-ignite interest in the Michael Myers saga, it’s actually a little better.

Unlike that film and Platinum Dunes’ re-thingy of Friday the 13th last year, Freddy’s re-birth sticks closer to the source material than it ought to: suburban kids are having a shared nightmare of a burned dude in a Fedora and the kind of stripy sweater you’d pick up in C&A before immediately putting it back again – and said dreams are deadly. This time, things unfold in a different way: the core group of teens witness the apparent self-throat slashing of their friend Dean at an all night diner. We, however, saw him fall asleep and get slashified by razor-gloved Fred K.

Things switch to focus on his girlfriend Kris (Cassidy), who ‘inherits’ the nightmares and soon becomes the next victim, passing the baton on to her ex, Jesse, and finally along to slightly more resourceful teens Quentin and Nancy. Yes, Nancy is back. Not Nancy Thompson, mind, Nancy Holbrook, played by Rooney Mara, whose sister Kate was the lead in Urban Legends: Bloody Mary.

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Some textbooks are just really, really emotional

Nancy and Quentin’s detective work exposes a secret kept by their parents, but it’s got a few subtle differences to Craven’s original, concerning the pre-school all the kids went to but none can remember. Why? It’s never revealed. They just seemed to have completely forgotten. It seems that their entire pre-school class is being eliminated one by one in their sleep after their folks did the olde pitchforks and torches routine on the school’s caretaker, who was allegedly abusing the kids. Key word: allegedly.

This is one huge question mark hanging over proceedings: was Freddy guilty or not? There were no murders, no Springwood Slasher, just unfounded accusations that may or may not mean anything and we have a strange dream flashback of what happened to Freddy – yes, it’s time to spoon-feed the audience so they needn’t bother being smart enough to figure out anything on their own. Oddly, the sequence is witnessed by Gallner in nothing but Speedos.

Much is made out of the don’t-go-to-sleep premise and the babble about ‘micro-naps’ allows for some interesting moments where characters continually slip in and out of their dreams over short periods as they struggle with their fatigue – but do we really care? Freddy is at the centre stage and the teens are just there to be slashed at. The first few to go have little to do beyond act scared and the pairing of Nancy and Quentin doesn’t have a fraction of the appeal Heather Langenkamp did.elmst2010-2

Nancy herself is played capably by Mara and as an emo-misfit rather than the girl-next-door she was before – she’s not even terrified the first time she encounters Freddy – so why should I be? Her dad is entirely absent and so the police play no part and mom is marginalised into a 2D parent figure, serving only to admit to a couple of things and be there to collect her daughter when required. Cassidy, as Kris, simply looks too old to still be in high school. Haley makes for an acceptable Krueger, maintaining enough menace so’s not to crap all over Robert Englund’s original performance.

Dunes’ take on Friday the 13th was smart enough not to re-tell the same story, playing instead like another sequel with naive storytelling and there is less lore to upset in a Jason film: teens, woods, machete – you’re done. Elm Street could have been a decent ‘side-quel’ or whatever they call ‘em, a follow up to the original, allowing them to basically re-use most of the plot elements without having to undo 26 years of material: as it happens, the bath scene is half-revisited and Freddy’s uber-scary wall-stretching moment becomes a truly godawful CG-fest. What is this? Craven managed ten times as much on 10% of the budget!?

It’s easy to mock remakes of films that were just fine in their original forms: there’s simply nothing to be gained creatively. It exposes the Hollywood fixation with bums-on-seats trumping quality output, accentuated here by the use of music video director Bayer in the hotseat. His visuals may be competent but depth and auteurism are entirely non-existent, dripping in a sort of muted tone that’s haunted too many films of the last decade or so. But it’s here and there’s nothing we can do about it. Even I’d rather there be remakes of horror films over no horror films at all.

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From Elm Street to Emo Street, self-harming included

Nightmare 2010 is basically an okay film in its own right that plays a little better on DVD than the big screen. The story is no longer fantastically inventive enough to wow anybody and the non-Freddy characters are too bland to evoke much empathy for their shared plight. Any sense of desperation is long gone, replaced by a sort of teenage nonchalance to it all. Nobody seems to care that much about any of it, so why should the audience?

You have to wonder, with the phobia of horror sequels that Hollywood appears to have, after we get A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 in 2013, will they reboot again? Surely you can’t number something ‘Part 4′ anymore? I bet Craven is awaiting the call that tells him Scream is now old enough to warrant a remake…

Blurbs-of-interest: Haley was in Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence; Katie Cassidy was in Harper’s Island and remakes of Black Christmas and When a Stranger Calls; Thomas Dekker was in Laid to Rest and its sequel. Aaron Yoo from the 13th remake played the video blogger.

Ungraded…the only thing worse than a fail

final-examFINAL EXAMINATION

1 Stars  2002/94m

“You fail. You die.”

Director: Fred Olen Ray [as Ed Raymond] / Writers: Sean O’Bannon & Kimberly A. Ray / Cast: Kari Wuhrer, Brent Huff, Debbie Rochon, Amy Lindsay, Richard Gabai, Robert Donovan, Jason Schnuit, Belinda Gavin, Winton Nicholson, Kalau Iwaoka, Kim Maddox.

Body Count: 7

Dire-logue: “Just spell my name right, it’s Shane with a C…” what!?


A girl drives off the end of an unfinished bridge. Five years later, a cop busts a drug dealer and is then reassigned to Hawaii as a reward. In Hawaii, the sorority sisters from Big Island University have gathered for a reunion sponsored by a glamour magazine, which they are being photographed for by a wasted Rochon. Someone tries to murder them – failing, more often than not – reassigned dick and Kari Wuhrer (remembered by me as the “not J-Lo” female in Anaconda) investigate.

That’s Final Examination for you. It has nothing remotely to do with exams at all, bar the staggering two sorority victims found with test papers marked ‘Failed’ floating nearby. Instead, Fred Olen Ray’s (shoulda known!) dismal little flick is a thinly disguised softcore skin flick. The only examination present is the one the camera oversees while various starlets take showers or just walk around topless…

The cast look ridiculously bored and the police procedural plot (far outweighing any horror) is like a really boring episode of NCIS. There’s an equally insipid backstory unfurled to do with co-ed pregnancy, dirty tricks and cover ups that relate back to the dead chick and bitchy sorority alumnus Kristen – who doesn’t even die!

Ray overcompensates boredom with too many twists, none of which even flirt with being exciting. Turns out there are but three killers, all siblings of the dead girl and between them they manage to off a massive four people. Pathetic.

Chuck in a lieutenant named Hugh Janus and a scene where Kristen brandishes a gun several minutes before the killer busts through a door and attacks her friend. Does she shoot him? No. She hits him with the damn thing. The film finally ends with the dialogue “uh…yeah,” which appears to accurately sum up the opinion all involved likely have when asked about the film.

To spell it out for you in case you, like me, are hell bent on seeing ‘em all: Final Examination is not a good bad film, it’s really, really, REALLY boring, which is a far worse sin than simply being shit.

Blurbs-of-shame: Belinda Gavin was in Scarecrow. Ray also directed Scalps. Debbie Rochon has been in American Nightmare, Bleed, Blood Relic and Head Cheerleader, Dead Cheerleader.

Every Rows Has its Corn

cotc-copyCHILDREN OF THE CORN III: URBAN HARVEST

2.5 Stars  1994/18/89m

“In the heart of the city, an adult nightmare is about to be reborn.”

Director: James D.R. Hickox / Writer: Dode B. Levenson / Cast: Daniel Cerny, Ron Melendez, Jim Metzler, Nancy Lee Grahn, Michael Ensign, Mari Morrow, Jon Clair.

Body Count: 18

Dire-logue: “Whatcha gonna do, man? Preach me to death?”


Vile 2009 remake aside, this is my least favourite of the Corn-clan.

Brothers Joshua and Eli are shipped off to Chicago after their dad “disappears” in a Gatlin cornfield. Fostered by city couple Metzler and Grahn, while Joshua attempts to fit in at school and befriends the kids next door, Eli slowly brainwashes his classmates to the ways of He Who Walks Behind the Rows and plants a patch of corn in the abandoned factory lot behind his house, further cementing my theory that, by and large, children are evil.

Shortly after, adults connected to the boys start dropping like flies, although the hands-on sickle-slashing of the first two films is abandoned in favour of supernatural demises that include wormy corn-roots that really get under your skin and a social worker’s face burning and melting! So it’s not much of a slasher flick – but then the whole series walks a thin line – and this is probably why I can’t get into the corntastic groove so much with this one.

Things take a Diet-Omen route with Ensign as a troubled priest trying to muster the strength to defeat Eli, who manages to out-evil Isaac and Micah in terms of bratty slappability.

While decamping to the city adds an interesting element, ultra-crappy effects during the mass-teenacide finale ass-rapes any credibility out of it, with a really awful looking plasticine monster feeds on the disciples. Truly, it looks like a junior school’s stop-motion video project with a blob of Playdough plucking doll’s house figurines off the ground.

Charlize Theron and Buffy’s Nicholas Brendon allegedly appear as extras but I couldn’t recognise either of them, probably much to their relief.

Hackity-Hack don’t talk back

hackHACK!

3 Stars  2007/18/86m

“Who will make the final cut?”

Director/Writer: Matt Flynn / Cast: Danica McKellar, Jay Kenneth Johnson, Juliet Landau, Sean Kanan, Adrienne Frantz, Travis Schuldt, Justin Chon, Gabrielle Richens, Wondgy Bruny, William Forsythe, Lochlyn Munro, Burt Young, Tony Burton, Mike Wittlin, Kane Hodder.

Body Count: 13

Dire-logue: “How’s that for improv, you two-bit amateur fucker?”


If you’re old enough to remember The Wonder Years on TV, where Fred Savage was a pre-teen growing up in the 60s while his grown-up self Daniel Stern narrated a load of crap about getting closer to his dad n’ stuff, you’ll remember his best friend-slash-object of lust Winnie Cooper. If you have no idea what I’m on about then just know that the grown up Winnie – Danica McKellar – takes the lead in this here quirkfest. It’s another genre-referential slasher flick – it’s Hack!

Kane Hodder dies. Then we meet an assorted group of college students, led by McKellar’s dorky Emily, who has organised a stay-away trip to an island where they’ll complete a study on rock pools and stuff for the extra credit they each need. As later noted by Johnson’s token nice guy, there are enough stereotypes for a scary movie: the jock (who takes his football everywhere), the sexy exchange student (“fish n’ chips, guv’nor?), the flamboyant gay guy (who dances to Fame when nervous), the dope-smoking black guy and the sarcastic rock chick.

hack6The group stay with perky couple Vincent and Mary-Shelley (Kanan and Landau), who are passionate about filmmaking. All this idyll is soon brought to a halt as the students start splintering off and then getting moiderized by a killer who dresses up in a variety of filmy costumes to commit their dastardly deeds.

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I’ll be ruining nothing by revealing that the killers turn out to be Vincent and Mary-Shelley, making a horror flick of their own by copying scenes and motifs from various old classics. And The Ring. Teens are chainsawed, croquet-malleted, shoved down wells and fed to piranhas amongst other things, all with an excess of reflective dialogue – the Karate scene is especially amusing as is the final confrontation between survivors and killers.

hack7Hack! does add a twist of its own towards the end, which had the effect of pulling the rug from under its own feet to some extent. This sort of revelation isn’t unduly rare for a slasher film but it’s never been one I’m particularly fond of unless it’s so deep-rooted you have no idea what’s about to hit you. I’d have preferred them not to meddle in the way they have and it damaged my appreciation for how entertaining the film had been up to this point.

hack4There are a few elements that don’t tie up well in places, things I can’t go into without giving it all away, although quite why William Forsythe is dressed like a 19th century farm worker is a mystery. But the cast bears an appealing quality and the high reading on the randometer isn’t a bad thing in a production like this.

hack8aWith this in mind, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Hack! is a cheap n’ cheerful ride, something that seems to escape the type of people who write “worst movie EVER!!!1!1!!!” on the IMDb boards and in turn praise the glut of torture-porn knock-offs because “they iz soooo realistikz!” This is a well made film – save for the tinny sound at some points – which has evidently been written as a love letter to the genre rather than an exercise in ‘let’s see how much violence we can get away with’.

So for me it was funny and engaging but definitely not for all tastes unless you like your slash with a topping of grilled cheese and a endless array of throwaway one-liners, otherwise you’ll agree with the last line: “What the hell’s going on here?” “Just some piece of shit horror movie.” Maybe.

hack3

Blurbs-of-interest: William Forsythe was in the Halloween remake and iMurders; Sean Kanan was in Hide and Go Shriek; Juliet Landau was also in the Toolbox Murders remake; Lochlyn Munro was in Freddy vs. Jason, Scary Movie and The Tooth Fairy. Kane Hodder is in everything.

March Match: Half-Star City

There are only seven slasher flicks I’d give five out of five stars to and conversely only nine that are so bereft of merit that I only afforded them a dismal half-a-star, some of which necessitate some more extensive explanations (Ax ‘Em, for instance) but for March’s face-off, here are four such horrors (in the other sense) that there’s really little to say about besides whatever the opposite to superlatives is…

bagmanTHE BAGMAN

0.5 Stars  2002/15/81m

“Your past will ALWAYS come back to haunt you.”

Director: Rae Fitzgerald / Writer: Beverly Beaton / Cast: Stephanie Beaton, Paul Zanone, Wil Matthew, Katrina McCullough, Alonzo F. Jones, Mikul Robins, Lorelei Shannon.

Body Count: 8

Dire-logue: “You can’t intimidate me by yelling!”

A group of friends are tormented by a sack-headed loon who was ‘drowned’ by one of them when they were kids. Dreadful shot-on-video production quality and largely inaudible dialogue – despite most of it being shouted by the cast of sub-amateurs. Horror regular Beaton is the only one who stands a chance but the ridiculous suicide ending does nothing for her career options. Harrowingly atrocious.


carnageroadCARNAGE ROAD

0.5 Stars  2000/15/70m

“The legend of Quiltface!”

Director: Massimiliano Cerchi / Writers: Massimiliano Cerchi & John Polinia / Cast: Dean Paul, Molinee Dawn, Sean Wing, Melissa Brown, Mike Paulie, Mack Hail.

Body Count: 6

Dire-logue: “My mom says I’m toothily challenged. She says when I get my braces I could be a model.”

If Carnage Road were a physical experience, it would surely be a wisdom tooth extraction with simultaneous rectal surgery. With no anaesthetic. And blind surgeons. For this is truly painful viewing at its most antagonistically awful.

What scraps of story there are concern a quartet of photography students who need some extra credit, which shouldn’t be a surprise as, between them, they have only one camera, which looks like it was issued in the 50s. They drive out to the desert but end up just taking commemorative shots of one another stood in front of bits of junk and sand. A+

The driver of their minivan warns them of a local maniac known as Quiltface – Eiderdownhead was already taken – and they all laugh at him, but not before a phenomenal shot where said killer is stood approximately ten feet away from the group in broad daylight with nothing in between them and they still fail to notice… When they finally do realise he’s stalking them, they jog away at snail’s pace until one girl falls over and sits there until he can catch up and struggle with her! Another one dies from an inch-deep cut to the hip.

The only trace of originality in Carnage Road is that elects a final boy, one who miraculously survived a machete blow to the head earlier in a film where a small cut to your hip can be fatal. He spends the final twenty minutes squealing in a high-pitched voice before the predictable closing. Worse than The Bagman? Mmm…could be!

Blurb-of-shame: Mack Hail directed and starred in Mr Ice Cream Man and Switch Killer.


catcherTHE CATCHER

0.5 Stars  1998/18/77m

“Three strikes you’re dead!”

Directors / Writers: Yvette Hoffman & Guy Crawford / Cast: David Heavener, Monique Parent, Joe Estevez, Sean Dillingham, Lesslie Garrett, Paul Moncrief, James Patterson, Harley Harkins, Jeff Sorenson, Mike Kepple.

Body Count: 9

A baseball slasher flick sounds interesting, right? Fool! Think again. A young boy beats his nasty dad to death with a baseball bat and, X years later after the last game of the season, a catcher-masked psycho starts to off the members of the losing team.

The weirdest element of this cheapo film is that it sets itself up to be a mystery and then bows out with ‘and the legends were TRUE, Johnny MacIntosh did come back for revenge!’ Estevez is the dead-dad who appears only to him to spur on his killing.

A godawful cast and some of the worst editing going contribute additional nails to the coffin of this film, which also features a bizarre butt-fuck metaphor with a guy taped to a table while the killer literally shoves a bat up his arse! The characters are so dumb they surrender their weapons to try and reason with the zombie-like killer and considering their profession, can anyone run slower than these folks and why is their blood black!?

Blurb-of-shame: Joe Estevez was also in Sigma Die!Scar and Axe Giant.


funnymanFUNNY MAN

0.5 Stars  1994/18/89m

“A cut above the rest.”

Director / Writer: Simon Sprackling / Cast: Tim James, Benny Young, Christopher Lee, Matthew Devitt, Pauline Black, Ingrid Lacey, Rhona Cameron, Chris Walker, George Morton.

Body Count: 8

Christopher Lee – what the fuck is he doing here? – loses his eerie mansion to a selfish record company producer in a poker game. He moves his family in and they manage to summon up a jester-demon who toys with and tears them apart before a group of freaky hitchhikers stop by.

Less a slasher film than a pastiche of gory vignettes centring on the doomed weirdos – amongst whom there is a Jamaican ‘Psychic Commando’ and a Velma-from-Scooby Doo a-like – and the wisecracking jester with his variety of regional English accents and to-camera asides, which kill off any suspense and much is stolen from the more comedic Elm Street entries but without an ounce of the subtlety, just misguided attempts at making the text so unbelievably surreal its funny, all of which fail miserably, rendering it one of the worst horror films in existence.

Blurbs-of-shame: Lee was also in Mask of Murder and Sleepy Hollow.


Worst of the lot? Oh God, it’s so hard to choose, they’re all so awful but I think Funny Man barely fit together a coherent plot so it can be burnt at the stake this time. At least the other films were considerate enough to be really quite short.

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