Tag Archives: spoilers

Tie me backpacker down, sport

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WOLF CREEK

3.5 Stars  2005/18/95m

“How can you be found when nobody knows you’re missing?”

Director/Writer: Greg McLean / Cast: John Jarratt, Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips.

Body Count: 5


Here’s something weird; Wolf Creek is a good film which I never, ever want to see again.

Sometimes this just happens, can be that something is so effective once (Session 9; The Orphanage) that a repeat viewing will only dull its initial impact, can be that it was just a bit too heart-breaking (Brokeback Mountain) but here, despite directorial competence and the presence of actual horror, Wolf Creek is a nasty little production, quite repellent in a lot of ways and I wouldn’t want to sit through it again.

Of course there are other negative aspects to this backpackers-in-peril flick, most notably how long it takes before the travelogue beginning shifts into the horror gear (around the halfway mark). A trio of travellers, Sydney native Ben and British gal-pals Liz and Kristy, decide to drive out to Wolf Creek, a meteor crater in the middle of nowhere. Now, this film is Australian, so the middle of nowhere is quite literal. As well as Great White Sharks, Funnelweb Spiders and killer lizardy things, Australia now seems to have an abundance of psychos, for upon returning to their old car, they find it dead and, as darkness falls, macho backwoods “passer by” Mick (Jarratt) offers them a tow to his garage, where they chat affably around the campfire and then fall into a nice…deeeeeep…sleep…

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Liz later wakes to find herself bound in a shack. She escapes but stumbles upon Mick torturing Kristy and so begins the ever-cranking tension of their botched escape plans from his pit of sadism, complete with rotting corpses of previous victims.

Wolf Creek is far from your average stalker flick and while it’s not especially bloody, it’s explicitly violent and at times downright despairing as the girls suffer at the hands of the perky, wisecracking maniac – but there is little Freddy-style humour to his vicious torment.

Such is the nature of their dilemma that you do find yourself screaming at them to run faster, hurry up with the ignition keys or not do what it seems they’re about to! With just the duo the focus of the majority of the film, there are accusations a-plenty thrown at Wolf Creek for being misogynistic. It’s a difficult call to make; the film has roots in real life backpacker murderer Ivan Milat’s case, who preferred sexually assaulting girls, so there’s a real edge to it that’s uncomfortable viewing. At the same time, extended scenes of violence against the girls is grotesquely perverse and could make you feel dirty for watching it. What’s more is that Ben – out for the count for most of the film – simply wakes up and totters away to freedom at the end, oblivious to the fate of his friends and not attacked by the killer at all!

Things move from innovative to cliché once the horror is under way: The girls have ample opportunity to cut the killer’s head off at one point or shoot him, stab him, stamp on his head and instead decide to go it alone in the middle of the bush. Wolf Creek becomes the type of body count movie that thinks above its station at some points but is then unable to source a new way around a problem, the case in point being when Liz picks a random pair of car keys from a choice of a dozen or so and super magic teleporty psychic psycho Mick is already in the back seat!

This convention succeeds in some rug-yanking as things become a bit silly. Mick is able to track a single person in the huge expanse of the outback but cannot find Ben!?

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So it’s a scenically beautiful film with characters sharpened by the long, slow build; gritty and documentarian in feel but also harrowing and depressing with no comfortable resolution or confines of the standard mad slasher opus – but then that’s what horror is, right? The absence of hope – definitively, it should be horrible.

Somewhat reassuringly, McLean’s next film, Rogue, which featured a giant killer crocodile munching tourists in the outback, featured no female fatalities at all, so we can at least be sure he wasn’t going Fulci on us. I have a fair few opinions on ye olde “are slasher films hate-women flicks” debate, which I’ll find a suitable home for sometime in the future; this one cuts it fine and I wish there’d been a girl survivor to beat the shit out of Mick, but all’s (un)fair in love and homicidal rampages. Up to you.

Blurbs-of-interest: Kestie Morassi played one of the nurses in Darkness Falls. John Jarratt was in Next of Kin and played the happy coroner in Needle, as well as returning to the role of Mick in Wolf Creek 2 eight years later and a TV series two years after that.

X-RAY

xray3 Stars  1981/X/78m

“You have nothing to fear… Until they operate!”

A.k.a. Hospital Massacre / Be My Valentine…or Else! / Ward 13

Director: Boaz Davidson / Writers: Boaz Davidson & Marc Benim / Cast: Barbi Benton, Chip Lucia, John Warner Williams, Jon Van Ness, Den Surries, Gay Austin, Karyn Smith, Elizabeth Hoy, Billy Jacoby.

Body Count: 10


Like most of the slasher films from this era, X-Ray with all it’s also known as’s, the massacre to be is born out of the childhood trauma that opens the film. Gorky Harold gives his neighbour Susan a Valentine’s Card, which she laughs at and her brother David tears it up. Subsequently, Harold (having seen this through the window) sneaks in and murders David while Susan is out of the room.

Nineteen years later, Susan (now played by Playboy model Barbi Benton) stops by at the city hospital to pick up some test results, unaware that said results have been swapped for some really bad ones!!! The hospital staff, all demonstrating as much competence as a McDonalds trainee, practically imprison Suze in the building, telling her she needs an operation now. Now! NOW!!!

Elsewhere, doctors, nurses, receptionists and custodians are being stalked and murdered by a looney-doc, resulting in syrupy blood squirting all over the place. There’s a decapitated head in a candy box, a corridor-sized sheet that envelops a woman and a murdered administrator shoved hilariously into a closet on a wheelie chair.

Meanwhile, Susan’s doctor skulks about with a couple of slutty nurses, looking like an early Human League video gone askew and eventually enough people are dead so that only Susan and nice doc Harry remain. Are they seriously trying to fool us with that cunning cover-up? Was that the most subtle clue they had working for them? I kind’ve expected a championing twist but there…just…wasn’t.

As far as Halloween clones go, Israeli-shot X-Ray is hopelessly inept. Everything about it sucks and yet it was so much fun and never got boring, which is always a good sign for these flicks (Visiting Hours take note). That said, the version I watched may have been heavily cropped for the UK release, which was awarded an X-rating and never resubmitted.

Blurbs-of-interest: Kid actors Hoy and Jacoby were two of the homicidal sprogs from Bloody Birthday; Jon Van Ness was in Tourist Trap; director/writer Davidson primarily works as a producer for Nu Image, who make cheaper-than-chips Sci-Fi DVD films with such imaginative titles as Crocodile, Octopus and Spiders as well as crud slasher flick Skeleton Man.

TERROR AT TENKILLER

tenkiller1 Stars  1987/18/87m

“Just when you thought it was safe to go on vacation!”

Director: Ken Meyer / Writers: Claudia Meyer & Ken Meyer / Cast: Stacey Logan, Mike Wiles, Michele Merchant, Kevin Meyer, Dale Buckmaster.

Body Count: 5

Dire-logue: “Somehow…some way, I’ve got to protect myself.”


No-frills Friday the 13th wannabe #623 where another teen vacation ends up with dead bodies all over the place.

Gal-pals Logan and Merchant take time out at Lake Tenkiller to evade the former’s scary ex-boyfriend (who intends to “get even” with her) where they swim and take jobs as waitresses at the local diner where the serving beauties have a habit of ‘walking out’ on their jobs and never coming back.

Of course we know that they’re really being slashed to bits by a local psycho who the film makes absolutely no attempt to disguise in any way – but in a film with a cast of eight people, there ain’t much they could do to distort his identity.

Tenkiller looks like the scraps of a million better killer-on-holiday slashers with tedious scenes and precious little dialogue or bloodshed – the film even has a tacked on voiceover epilogue in a vain attempt to make sense of itself. There’s one good laugh: the road sign for Lake Tenkiller also mentions the next town along – called Gore! Maybe that was going to be the sequel.

WRONG TURN 3: LEFT FOR DEAD

wrongturn3WRONG TURN 3: LEFT FOR DEAD

1.5 Stars  2009/92m

“What you don’t see will kill you.”

Director: Declan O’Brien / Writer: Connor James Delaney / Cast: Tom Frederic, Janet Montgomery, Tamer Hassan, Gil Kolirin, Tom McKay, Christian Contreras, Jake Curran, Chucky Venice, Bill Moody, Borislav Iliev.

Body Count: 15

Dire-logue: “He’s out there… I can feel him. He’s been following us. He’s close.”


How to take one of the best survivalist slasher films in the last few years and drive into an almost aggressively bad DVD series in three easy films…

I watched half of Wrong Turn 3 yesterday and the rest today. In between, I took my dog out for a walk in a close by field. There was a creepy dense fog and, save for my dog’s flashing collar darting about in the mist, all I had to light my way was a blue-strobe LED ghost that squeaks ‘woooo’ when you press it. With mutant inbred cannibals on my mind, every blob in the dark could’ve been a psycho with an axe… Every sloppy thing I stepped in could’ve been gory entrails – but turned out to be cow shit.

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Having just finished the film, there was nothing to fear. The South Downs ain’t West Virginia. In fact West Virginia ain’t West Virginia here either as for WT3 they outsourced the project to Bulgaria and used an almost exclusively British cast!

Things start okay with a quartet of “all-American teens” kayaking down a river. They stop to set up camp and one couple goes to fetch wood while the others get jiggy. Boobs appear within minutes and seconds later there’s an arrow sticking out of the boob and through boob-girl’s boyfriend’s hand. Three of the teens are offed within the first seven minutes, all quite gorily: one guy gets skewered through the gob and the other trips a trap that pays tribute to the hacked-in-half opener from Wrong Turn 2, this time splitting the guy into three pieces. It’s impressive for all of five seconds until the world’s worst CGI kicks in…

wrongturn3splitAfter the remaining girl, Alex, escapes, we move to a prison where officer Nate’s last day on the job (yawn…) is made worse with the news that he has to chaperone several prisoners on a transfer to another facility to thwart a rumoured escape attempt by Mexican gangster Chavez. We know he’s Mexican because he calls everyone ‘Puta,’ which, I learnt, is the equivalent of whore. The route between venues is altered to allow the solo-working inbred to run the bus off the road, let the prisoners gain control and send the group running into the woods, where Alex soon leaps out, all screams and immediate expositions…

The group discover an old armoured truck full of cash and continue yelling at one another and swearing amidst aimlessly wandering into all of the hick’s savage traps, including a sliced off face, a vertical spear impaling and a skull cracked open and its lid removed like a boiled egg… We’re only supposed to care about Alex, Nate and the one trustworthy con who swears he didn’t commit the murder he’s inside for. But I didn’t really. They were such cookie-cutter good guys that they were boring, with none of the situational flair that Eliza Dushku and Desmond Harrington had in the original film.

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Also absent is a sense of futility: in the first film there was a real sense of doom for the teens-in-peril, that they wouldn’t get out of this. Plus they were nice kids out for a good time. The second film at least had the sense to try and make its leads affable enough to root for but all the characters in Wrong Turn 3 blur into a gross soup of I-don’t-care proportions. The only character I cared about the was the police dog and that didn’t end well.

Three-Finger, now working alone after his son (assumedly the grown up baby from the end of Dead End) is done away with by the felons, is played by a Bulgarian stuntman who looks like he’s wearing a third-rate plastic Halloween mask and also has the Hiro Nakamurian ability to teleport after he is ‘killed’ by Nate and Alex, who take his truck and drive for several minutes, finding him further down the road than they’ve managed to get!

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But perhaps the worst thing is like a blast from the past. But the past that came before the 80s, the 70s, before Jesus! Remember in old studio films when there was a character in a car, they drove in front of a screen and lackies rocked the vehicle from either side, that’s what they do in Wrong Turn 3 – the bus, the truck, check that fucking background! How low was the budget?

Sucky story, sucky characters, sucky prosthetics, vile CGI, crap actors, a grand total of three female characters… The sweet memory of seeing Wrong Turn back in ’03 feels like it has been raped by a backwoods inbred.

Blurbs-of-interest: Tom Frederic was the doomed boyfriend in the even worse Blood Trails. Janet Montgomery was also in The Hills Run Red – also shot in 2009, also shot in Bulgaria, also lots of trees. Declan O’Brien returned to direct Wrong Turn 4 in 2011.

“All my troubles seemed so far away…”

Yesterday I found some much-needed me-time and settled down with a few films. But in some karmic revelation, my choice of cinema seemed cursed. Cursed to tell me I’d have been better off at work! This is evidently my fault for watching SyFy ‘originals’…

First up was OPEN GRAVES

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2 Stars  2009/85m

Director: Álvaro de Arminán / Writers: Bruce A. Taylor & Roderick Taylor / Cast: Mike Vogel, Eliza Dushku, Ethan Rains, Lindsay Caroline Robba, Naike Rivelli, Ander Pardo, Boris Martinez, Alex O’Dogherty, Gary Piquer.

Body Count: 7


There was a trailer hanging around for this at least a year ago. It looked pretty good. It started pretty good with American surfer buddies Jason and Tomas trying to pick up Eliza Dushku, whilst on an extended break in Spain.

They and four others sit down to play a board game called Mamba, which is, of course, cursed. They roll the dice, pick cards, cards have cryptic messages about their fate. They’re out. The eventual winner will be granted whatever he/she most desires… Once the game is over, those who were ‘killed’ start dying for real.

Naturally, the non-Americans all die first: one guy falls over a cliff edge (after sliding down barbed wire – ouch!), lands on the rocks and is immobilised so that the resident crabs scamper over and start eating him. The next guy is chased by ten-dozen Black Mamba snakes and resolves that climbing a stack of logs will save him until he falls back into them.

A model turns old over night and another chick dies in a fiery car crash. It’s all kinds of Final Destination-lite with a fraction of the flair and imagination and it’s down to leads Mike Vogel and Dushku to play the game till the end in order to win it and wish everything un-happened.

Open Graves was tolerable enough but just doesn’t go anywhere… The CGI effects are dreadful and the ending is naff, plus the cheating guy never really gets his just desserts, which is all we’ve been waiting for.

With that done, I turned to the sorta-remake, CHILDREN OF THE CORN, alleging a ‘proper’ screen treatment of Stephen King’s tale.

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1 Stars  2009/92m

Director/Writer: Donald P. Borchers / Cast: David Anders, Kandyse McClure, Daniel Newman, Preston Bailey.

Body Count: 8


King apparently disliked the cheesecake 1984 attempt to make his short opus into a horror film. Christ knows what he’d make of this shite.

David Anders and Kandyse McClure are married couple Burt and Vicki, driving through Nebraska in 1975, arguing about everything when they mow down a kid in the road. They end up stranded in the deserted town of Gatlin where the children have slain all the adults in tribute to He Who Walks Behind the Rows, a god living in the corn field.

Unlike the ’84 film, there are no good kids, no flashbacks to the murders and zero sympathy for anyone involved. Anders does alright with Burt but McClure is cast as such an unpleasant bitch that it’s impossible to care at all when she is killed by the army of brats.

Afterwards, Burt runs around the corn for ages (but gets to slay a couple of the corn-sprogs), the kids murmur endlessly about dreams in their stupid, forced accents. Little Preston Bailey – stepson of Dexter - not only drowns in his ridiculously oversized hat but also under the weight of the role of Isaac, apparent preacher of adult-icide. Henchman Malichai is also pretty lame, not a patch on Courtney Gains’ take in the original.

Burt dies too but we don’t see how or know why and the credits roll. I stared open-mouthed questioning why the last 90 minutes existed and there was a two-minute coda after the credits showing some of the kids blah-ing on about the corn some more but still nothing happened.

If King’s story is this boring, it’s no wonder they tried to spruce it up back in the 80’s. All of the straight-to-video sequels are better than this crap. Check out Final Girl for some other reviews on this pinnacle of filmmaking.

I’d class neither of these flicks as slasher films per se, although both shared some turf.

This summarises my Thursday, hereafter referred to as Black Thursday. Actually, I watched Bring It On: Fight to the Finish (with Christina Milian!) as well but that doesn’t really belong here…

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