Tag Archives: spoilers

Icky ways to go: Waterslide + Machete

From 2001’s mixed-Euro slasher flick, The Pool, comes the ultimate foreplay killer. A pretty girl sliding down the inside of a big tunnel towards her beau – she gets something hard between her legs alright, but not what she hoped for – then there’s the ‘period from hell’ angle that even Claire Rayner and her press-on wings couldn’t help… Either way you look at it: ouch!

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Aaaaarrggh!! I'm sliding right towards it!

 

This development does not help my situation...

 

What to do...?

 

Gasp! The whole tunnel element was but a metaphor for something dirty!!

 

*empained grunt* And you're done.

Valley of the Cheapjack Franchises: CAMP BLOOD

Camp Crystal Lake was known as Camp Blood by the locals, ‘cos of all the, y’know, DEATH. A film called Camp Blood peaked my interest over a decade ago when browsing the bottom shelf of the horror section. It’s time to avoid that section no more once again as I save you from suffering through another stack o’ shite slash…

campbloodCAMP BLOOD

1 Stars 1999/18/73m

“Wide open with nowhere to run.”

Director/Writer: Brad Sykes / Cast: Jennifer Ritchkoff, Michael Taylor, Tim Young, Bethany Zolt, Courtney Taylor, Joe Hagerty.

Body Count: 11


If I’d made this film, I’d forgive you for calling it a pile of shit. I would, honestly. Whether Brad Sykes would forgive you – or indeed me – is another matter…

The title alone informs us that this is going to rip of Friday the 13th to some extent, but there’s also some Blair Witch in there too. Within two minutes we’re privy to some gratuitous nudity and the obligatory slashing that occurs everytime somebody disrobes in the woods. Try it and see!

Four city folk drive out into the woods to spend the weekend at Camp Blackwood but are, of course, stalked and slain by a clow-masked, machete-toting loon. Every predictable element is tossed into this shit salad: the insane old man who declares them to be doomed, a crappy legend that’s about as frightening as goldfish (but still manages to necessitate dialogue such as “I just can’t stop thinking about that story…”), characters who jog as slowly as possible away from the looming killer, cell phones fail, walking near a twig means you’ve sprained your ankle and therefore you can’t walk… It’s unrelenting.

By far the worst thing occurs when the final girl escapes and is accused of being behind it all and the other actors who played her now-dead friends don new roles as cops and nurses etc with barely any attempt to alter their appearances. Jason wept…

*

campblood2CAMP BLOOD 2

2000/18/75m  1 Stars

“It’s not over!”

Director/Writer: Brad Sykes / Cast: Jennifer Ritchkoff. Garett Clancy, Missy Hansen, Mark Overholt, Jane Johnson, Timothy Patrick, Ken X, Lisa Marie Bolick, Courtney Burr.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “Sometimes it feels like I’m dead too.”


Before torture-porn there was torture-quality. As if one of these films wasn’t bad enough, the same ‘production’ team return for another helping of the same with absolutely no lessons learnt from their previous outing.

One year after surviving the Camp Blackwood slayings, a director with as little talent as Brad Sykes invites sole survivor / prime suspect Tricia – who has been locked away in an asylum that has an inch-thick wooden door to keep her confined – to be the ‘technical advisor’ on his screen immortalisation of the events according to her statement.

Without any explanation whatsoever, the doctors just let her leave without a chaperone, an electronic tag or a T-shirt that says “Hi there! If I go mental and try to kill you, return me to Loonsville Asylum!”

So she goes along on the shoot and another clown-masked nutter, who’s already done away with some horny teens, comes a stalkin’. Tricia, three actors and the entire crew of three become the victims of more dreadful killing, including machete in the mouth and a person who dies from a severed hand.

More attempted in-jokes – one character is named Adrienne Palmer – and a rushed open ending, in which the killer survives first degree burns that don’t even singe their hair and multiple machete slashes and then gives the clown mask to Tricia who wanders off into the woods with it. That’s the freakin’ end!

There is a third movie, which is called Within the Woods. I point blank refuse.

Blurbs-of-interest: Courtney Taylor played Mary Lou Maloney in Prom Night III, hence one of the characters is called Mary Lou. Tim Young was in Scarecrow, the other cheapjack franchise!

Remake Rumble: And may all your Christmases be Black…

Less a Face-off, more a comparative analysis between the original and its – ugh – remake/reimagining/reboot/whatever (…delete as applicable), some I liked, some I loathed and some I somehow preferred to the original!

blackchristmas5 Stars  1974/18/98m

“If this picture doesn’t make your skin crawl…it’s on TOO TIGHT.”

A.k.a. Silent Night, Evil Night / Stranger in the House (TV)

Director: Bob Clark / Writer: Roy Moore / Cast: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Andrea Martin, Marian Waldman, James Edmond, Douglas McGrath, Art Hindle, Lynne Griffin, Michael Rapport.

Body Count: 6

Dire-logue: “Darling…you can’t rape a townie.”


Outside of the horror buff realm, as far as most people are concerned, Halloween is wholly responsible for taking what Psycho had and turning it into what Friday the 13th was. Of course there’s no point arguing this, there are about a gazillion possible films and filmmakers whose auteur style may have influenced the later films that finally chiselled the slasher movie shaped cookie-cutter into place, but in terms of the North American market, one film that was so cruelly overlooked for many a season was Bob Clark’s ’74 masterpiece (and it truly is), Black Christmas

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A simple paragraph of the synopsis might fool you into believing this flick could’ve been made anytime in the 80s and called something like Christmas Co-Ed Sorority of Blood or something: the girls on Belmont Street are being tormented by bizarre and random phonecalls, in which one or more voices scream obscenities and threaten to kill them. Some think it’s a frat joke, others are unnerved. Unbeknownst to the residents of the sorority, the calls are being made from the attic where a mystery stalker is hiding, sneaking down to commit murders before each new call.

At the centre of it all is Jess (Hussey), who is melancholy having found out she is pregnant, much to the joy of her highly-strung boyfriend Peter, but Jess has decided on an abortion. Her friend Phyl (Martin) is understanding; Barb (Kidder) is more often than not drunk and housemother Mrs Mac is too busy hiding her own alcoholism. After their friend Claire disappears, the police are finally involved and tap the house phone to see if they can figure out a connection between the calls and the vanishing…

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*2006/15/81m  3 Stars

“Let the slay ride begin.”

Director/Writer: Glen Morgan / Cast: Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Andrea Martin, Oliver Hudson, Kristen Cloke, Lacey Chabert, Crystal Lowe, Robert Mann, Dean Friss.

Body Count: 17

Dire-logue: “I’m really not okay with any of this. I mean – buying a present for a serial killer?”


In the sad-eyed days of “let’s remake everything,” nothing is sacred and so it was no surprise that the 2006 emergence of this film, “from the makers of Final Destination,” took everything that was engaging and scary about the original and over-explained it all to the point of rendering everything the exact opposite of scary.

The Delta Alpha Kappa sorority house was once the home of the Lenz family who, we learn through flashbacks, were dysfunctional and abusive: mom gave birth to Billy, whose skin was yellow for no apparent reason and a few years later she and her boyfriend murdered her husband and buried him under the house. Some years after that, she became pregnant with Billy’s child-sister, a girl called Agnes, who Billy attacked some Christmases later, pulling out one of her eyes and murdering mom and step-dad in the process before being carted off to the looney toons bin.

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Billy breaks out on Christmas Eve and returns to the sorority to kill all those who live there who are, of course, numerous nubile college girls, far greater in number than in the original. As disappearances graduate to decapitations and eye-plucked slayings, the girls and their housemother, Ms Mac (played by Andrea Martin from the original), find all escape attempts thwarted and eventually have to fight back…

* * *

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So, there’s no real competition of merits here – the original film is leagues ahead of the remake in almost every department (save for body count and bloodletting); but it’s interesting to take a look at the two side by side (as I did over the last few days in fits and starts).

Black Christmas ’74 is a slow burner; an intensely creepy affair with an accent on performances, characterisation and the general cloud of dread that hovers above Belmont Street after the disappearance of sweet-natured Claire Harrison (Griffin). Her sorority gal-pals do all they can to try and aid her helpless father in finding out what’s happened to her, all the while dealing with their own problems – Jess’s pregnancy, Barb’s alcohol abuse and Phyl’s seasonal cold. When the cops finally connect the dots and discover the killer has been in the house all along, only Jess remains, forced to decide between walking out the front door to safety or going back for her friends.

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This decision is at the core of Black Christmas ’06, which gets straight in on the action with a girl – also named Clair (sans ‘e’) – ‘disappearing’. In fact, she’s murdered before the actress playing her gets to utter a single word! Out with the slow burn, in for the kills! Set entirely on one night (bar flashbacks), and condensed down to a fleeting 81 minutes, the girls start dropping like fumigated flies; along with the flashback victims, staff at the institute from where Billy escapes… The cops have no presence here until it’s all over: the girls are stuck at the house, believing the killer to be outside. They receive precisely two vaguely obscene calls and spend the rest of their time bitching at each other before having their eyeballs ripped out.

Perhaps it could be read as a cultural or social experiment: the ’74 girls are all there for one another (even Barb), almost always polite and drawn as real people, whereas their modern day counterparts hardly get along at all, make snide comments, refuse to join in with festivities and largely think only of saving their own skin. Only Kelli is deemed worthy of survival; she has a fraction more of a ‘story’ than the other girls – something about coming from a small family – and is the first one to refuse to leave without finding their missing friends.

black christmas 2006 katie cassidy

Even the lesser roles in BC ’74 are rewarding, from the guy who directs Mr Harrison to the sorority to dim-witted Sergeant Nash, who falls for Barb’s Fellatio-phone-exchange gag without ever realising what it means! Claire’s worried dad is also well drawn, from his initial concerns over the type of influence the sorority environment has over his daughter to his keeling over with shock at the end.

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Because the original film pre-dated the accepted conventions of the genre it helped usher in, there’s no standardised finale for Black Christmas ’74; Jess does not meet the killer for more than a few seconds and never sees his face. In the update, Kelli, along with Clair’s older sister Leigh (Cloke) and her wayward boyfriend Kyle confront the killer together and there’s a drawn out struggle that continues once the survivors are transferred to hospital. However, Kelli’s gusto as the final girl is flawed by her lack of presence: she doesn’t ‘stand out’ like Jamie Lee Curtis or Amy Steel – she’s merely the one who’s still alive at the end, more a fault of the violence-obsessed script than Katie Cassidy’s fine performance.

The first film is infamous for its open ending. In fact most slasher movies attempt an infamous parting word but most pale when compared to the we’ll-just-never-know imprint left by the unresolved mystery of the film. BC 2006 attempted to overcompensate for this by fully describing the killer’s (Billy) upbringing, his psychosis and then showing him repeatedly throughout the film before revealing that an obvious second killer is his incestual sister-daughter Agnes (curiously played by a bloke), their names decided upon from the only names uttered by the caller from the original film. Many fans have pondered the backstory based on what was said down the phone by the lunatic and, it seems, Glen Morgan has decided to take it all literally.

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Coming from “the makers of Final Destination” means that there are a lot of joins between the two: items and objects fall into doorways and prevent security gates from closing, strategically placed icicles fatally skewer unwitting victims and there are even a few cast members carried over. It’s too easy to be cynical about the remake age destroying what horror could be squeezed out of some situations but, as usual, cellphones don’t work efficiently, the police can’t get to the house for two hours and far more time is spent casually observing product placement than building tension of likeable characters we don’t want to see dead. Maybe that’s what you get from having sixteen producers, as well as a choice of alternate endings and cuts that vary from region to region (the UK version had a completely different finale).

The best way to view the remake of Black Christmas is to detach any thoughts of it actually being a remake: you’ll only be angry with it. On its own, the newer film is a fun slasher flick that, while never boring, has next to no credibility but a good cast roster of familiar faces and a great defibrillator denouement. The 1974 film is neo-perfect, a scary story on film if ever there were; great characters that we care about (remember that, when we used to care about slasher film kids?), Margot Kidder, John Saxon and Olivia Hussey too; one of most intensely delicate murder scenes ever witnessed (we’re talkin’ ’bout the kids choir soundtracking a killing occurring elsewhere in the house) and a premonition of slashers’ future…?

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The many blurbs-of-interest: 1974: Olivia Hussey had a cameo in Ice Cream Man; Margot Kidder was in The Clown at Midnight; John Saxon was later in A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s 1 and 3, Tenebrae, Welcome to Spring Break and The Baby Doll Murders; Marian Waldman was also in Phobia; Lynne Griffin was in Curtains. 2006: Katie Cassidy was also in remakes of When a Stranger Calls and A Nightmare on Elm Street and also TV-slasherama Harper’s Island; Kristen Cloke was in the original Final Destination; Crystal Lowe was in Children of the Corn: Revelation, Final Destination 3 and Wrong Turn 2; Mary Elizabeth Winstead was also in Final Destination 3 and Tarantino’s botched wannabe-slasher Death Proof; Lacey Chabert later had the lead role in shoddy SyFy flick Scarecrow; Oliver Hudson was in Scream Queens; Director Morgan and producer James Wong were involved in the first and third FD films. Bob Clark was executive producer on the remake.

GRANNY

granny1 Stars  1999/18/58m

“She’ll love you…to pieces.”

Director: Boris Pavlovsky / Writer: Sava Popovic, Boris Pavlovsky & TOMI / Cast: Katie Dugan, TOMI, Nathalie Ohona, Rebecca O’Marah, T.J. Bigbee, Annemieke Van Der Meer, John Stoops, David Coleman, Sava Popovic.

Body Count: Fuck knows

Dire-logue: (to a corpse) “Oh my God. Poor Monica, who did this to you?”


How long can an hour last? When you’re waiting to go home at the end of the day, tick…tock go the hands of the clock, mocking you with its ever-slowing crawl towards five o’clock. Or so it seems. And still, I’d rather clock-watch for a whole day than ‘kill’ an hour with the 58-minute long Granny. Actually, I’d rather experience my scrotum being crushed in a vice than watch Granny again.

In the minor horror flick Kolobos, wannabe actress Erica shows her friends a tacky slasher film called The Slaughterhouse Factor Part 3: Death Strikes Thrice. Watching Granny is like watching that film. Just how this film ever saw the light of day is as big a mystery as what the fuck happens at the end of it.

Eight Chicago students gather at a house and discuss paranoia and then start falling victim to the cross-dressing psycho, who sports a rubbish old-hag mask. Granny does away with them with axe, knife and needle until only whiney heroine Michelle remains. Or does she…? Well, sort of, then she has an asthma attack and dies. Or does she…? Oh, for fuck’s sake!!

Horrible effects and dreadful continuity abound as well as endless long takes of the house and the empty spaces therein to pad it out. One girl is stabbed repeatedly and stands there like she’s spilled ketchup on herself, plus Granny’s knife remains perfectly clean!

The sub-April Fool’s Day twist is crap; the acting is crap; everything is crap.

HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE

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3 Stars  1980/18/90m

“Every girl is frightened the night before her wedding. But this time…there’s good reason!”

Director: Armand Mastroianni / Writer: Scott Parker / Cast: Don Scardino, Caitlin O’ Heaney, Elizabeth Kemp, Lewis Arlt, Tom Rolfing, Patsy Pease, James Rebhorn, Tom Hanks, Dana Barron, Paul Gleason.

Body Count: 7 or 9 depending how you look at it…


A minor early entry in the stalker cycle, which flatters the legacy of Halloween by blatantly copying it right down to the tinkering piano score… Lazy for sure, but there’s more to He Knows You’re Alone than just recreations of other films. Some spoilers follow…

Beginning with a trick involving two young women watching a cheesy slasher film (which features Russell Todd from Friday the 13th Part 2), one girl ventures off to the bathroom and thinks she’s being followed. She leaves without washing her hands and tells her nonchalant friend she doesn’t like the film and wants to go, unaware of the man shuffling into the row behind, sitting down right behind her… As the on-screen killer sickles a victim to death, the sweaty-browed, wide-eyed man behind rams a knife through the back of the chair, killing dirty-hands. The rip-off score comes in and we follow a Police Squad flashing light to the scene…

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It’s revealed that dirty-hands was soon due to be married, catching the attention of the mustached Detective Gamble, who is obsessed with the case. We then switch to a jolly bus trip with the killer, Ray, who flashes back to the time he crashed his ex-beau’s (we assume) wedding and knifed her before she could walk down the aisle. Her hubby to be? Gamble! Yup, there’s a bride-hating-killer on the loose!

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Pretty Amy Jensen (O’Heaney), is another engaged girl who is actually having immense second thoughts about her upcoming wedding to her jerky fiancé Phil, who is off to celebrate his bachelor weekend and cheat on Amy. In some ways, Ray’s coincidental eavesdropping as his bus pulls in is a god-send as it will certainly make her re-think who she throws the bouquet to…

Ray, who operates without the disguise of a mask or any particular niche weapon, begins turning up in Amy’s life all over the show: he appears at windows, fairgrounds, the ice cream store, fixedly glaring at her and kills his spare time by stalking and slaying various luckless schmucks, starting with the dress-fitter and escalating to her gal-pals Joyce and Nancy.

Marvin excelled at the floating head trick...

Marvin impressed Amy with his floating head trick…

Inbetween stalkings, Amy’s perky ex-boyfriend Marvin turns up and begins begging her to marry him rather than Phil, aided by the recommendations of Nancy, Joyce and Amy’s kid sister, while Detective Gamble discovers that Amy is Ray’s next intended bride of butcherdom. We also meet Tom Hanks, who is Nancy’s date to the fairground where Amy is further tormented by her paranoia. He’s a psych major who prattles on about fear, horror films and rollercoasters while we think about his possible impending death…

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Elliott ‘impressed’ Nancy by going on about the psychology of fear for aaaaaaages…

Alas, it’s not to be. ‘Elliott’ only appears in two scenes before Amy finally comes face to face with Ray, only after he’s cut off Nancy’s head and left it in the fishtank! The final half hour sees Amy escape to the morgue where Marvin works with both the killer and Gamble in hot pursuit. How will it end? Who will survive? Will Amy end up marrying Ray!?

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He Knows You’re Alone is a tame affair with next to no blood or gore, instead opting for well-crafted stalking scenarios and lots of focus-pulling camera work as the killer appears and then disappears behind trees, crowds and people in the foreground. “Homages” to Halloween come thick and fast: Joyce and her married lover are killed similarly to Lynda and Bob in Carpenter’s film (“go fix the lights, I’ll stay here,” replacing “get me a beer.”), Nancy even resembles Jamie Lee Curtis, and the ever-silent Ray hops the roof of Amy’s car, smashing his fist through the driver side window to grope around for her…

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Things end curiously though; Gamble arrives but is entirely ineffectual and killed almost straight away, while the killer’s fate is only to be locked inside a room in the morgue! No exposition, no injuries bar a single gunshot wound. This makes the otherwise likeable Amy a tad useless as the final girl, her survival is far more incidental, strange considering that at one point she attempts to hide from the killer inside her own sweater… She’s simply the one who doesn’t die, allowing for a full-circle twist ending that’s kinda neat.

Amy uses her chameleon-like abilities to hide from the killer.

Amy uses her chameleon-like abilities to hide from the killer.

One of the few elements not Xeroxed from Halloween is the killer himself; as Ray, Tom Rolfing (who sadly died in 1990) is both too young and too handsome to be a dribbling maniac, having topped my Sexy Psychos list, it’s a similar crux to the wretched Prom Night “remake” where the supposed maniac just looks too regular, albeit here, Rolfing’s intense eyes and ability to execute one cold stare allegedly landed him the part. Needless to say, even out of place, he’s one of the best parts to this clunky stalker thriller, which will bore the pants of some but hopefully engage the genre aficionados and appreciators of low budget films shot with passion.

Blurbs-of-interest: O’Heaney had already trodden the slasher boards in 1976’s dire Savage Weekend (credited there as Kathleen Heaney); look out for Paul Gleason as Gamble’s detective buddy and, most interestingly, the script supervisor was Vera Dika, who wrote the great academic analysis of the genre formula, Games of Terror, in 1990.

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