Tag Archives: spoilers

Stock Background Characters 101: Token Lesbians

In this feature, we examine the lesser beings of the slasher movie realm, which, if you’re making your own slasher film, could provide a good cast roster for you.

No killer or final girl profiles here, this is a celebration of those underlings who made the most of their fleeting flirtation with stardom. And usually died.

No power tools, plaid shirts, or cropped hair in sight as we enter the fantasy world of the
TOKEN LESBIANS

Overview: Even in ‘liberal Hollywood’, there’s still only one type of gay woman (other than Ellen DeGeneres): The porn type. So in an obvious slide towards exploitation filmmaking, it should surprise nobody that the lesser quality low-rent slasher film would need to pad out its running time by pandering to its assumed hetero-male audience. This has recently been achieved by adding a couple of hot young girls to make out with one another.

Linguistic Snapshot: “Oh, we would have a threesome with you if we were into guys, but we’re only into each other… Though you’re more than welcome to watch, sexy boy.” *giggle*

Styling: With few exceptions, slasher movie lesbians are just like any other scantily clad female cast member. This lends itself well to the fantasized “all that’s missing is my cock” outlook most of these scenes are striving for. Thus, ‘lesbians’ (or girls ‘just going through a phase’) are ultra-fem, with long flowing hair, delicate nails, and killer racks. On occasion you might see a more butch example, but it’s a surefire bet she won’t be in a sexual situation, will be aggressive, and will thus die as she’s of no use in any fantasy.

Hallmarks: Every now and then, one of the lesbians (never both) will become the final girl. For the rest, it’s nothing but nymphette behaviour alongside other regular character traits, they stand out only in their choice of bedfellow and everything else is a through-the-motions affair. On occasion, one of the lesbians will be a little closer to the butch stereotype, though still conventionally beautiful, just with a bandana and some bad language or something.

Downfall: After we’ve watched them strip off, make out, and, occasionally, do other things, our lesbian couple have little else to offer and will die just like their friends. But at least there’s nothing grimly ironic in their deaths at least, no dildo-impalement or ‘corrective’ procedure involving a bigoted psychopath.

lesbians

Genesis: The earliest lesbian representation in the genre appears to be the neo-heroine of Class Reunion Massacre (1976), who outlasts most of her heterosexual (and one effeminate gay fella) buddies, but still dies at the end because she is “a sinner” along with the other victims. Shadows Run Black featured an unattractive, overweight lesbian – about the only victim not to disrobe – who isn’t even afforded the on-camera death the prettier, straight girls get.

Legacy: After 2000, it was no longer taboo to adorn cheap horror films with girl-on-girl (but never guy-on-guy) action, though any given film’s budget would equate to what was shown: Urban Legends: Final Cut featured Eva Mendes as ‘the suspicious lesbian’, because, of course, non-normative sexuality means that where there are secrets, there are homicidal tendencies. She keeps her kit on. French indie Deep in the Woods elected one half of its lesbian couple as final girl, while Haute Tension twisted the dynamic around and cast short-haired Cecile de France first as the heroine and then, in a last minute revelation, a dangerously psychotic looney-lezzer who slashes her way through the family of the girl she’s in love with.

Elsewhere, girls making out cropped up in The Butcher, Curse of El Charro, Voyeur.com, Bikini Girls on Ice, Hatchet, Dark Harvest, and going much further in Wrong Turn 4. Weirder still is Switch Killer, where a girl flees her abusive boyfriend and falls in love with a woman, only for the boyfriend to turn after a SEX CHANGE and stalk her! Curse of Chucky featured a sordid love affair between a married mom and her daughter’s au pair.

The psychotic schizoid lesbian from Haute Tension

It’s worth noting the presence of lesbian slasher flick Make a Wish – retitled Lesbian Psycho on a later release – which was directed by a gay filmmaker, and so the orientations of the characters is more incidental, despite the presence of a few nudie scenes.

Conclusions: Are we witnessing a progression in social attitudes or just skeezy exploitation? In most cases it’s probably the latter. A majority of the titles where girl-on-girl material occurs is at the cheaper end of the spectrum, where filmmakers with next to no imagination are simply doing what they think the audience wants. It’s worth noting that gay couples of either gender fail to turn up in any of the three major franchises.

I do wonder what actual lesbians might make of it all. They’re effectively being included, albeit in a cookie-cutter manner, though it’s clear it’s purely for the benefit of a straight male demographic, which is why gay men are rarely shown in any other capacity other than enfeebled Nancy-boys. But then are heterosexual teen characters any more realistic? The more recent the film, the more uniformally beautiful and buff the cast will be: Fat or unattractive actors are also marginalized.

So, in slasherama it pretty much sucks to be anyone bar the final girl, because you’ll just be a dumbed down stereotype. Sad times.

Death strikes quince

KOLOBOS

3 Stars  1999/18/84m

“Fear can tear you apart.”

Directors/Writers: Daniel Liatowitsch & David Todd Ocvirk / Writer: Nne Ebong / Cast: Amy Weber, Donny Terranova, Nichole Pelerine, John Fairlie, Promise LaMarco, Ilia Volok, Linnea Quigley, Kim Thomas, Jonathan Rone.

Body Count: 5

Laughter Lines: “How about a nice cup of shut-the-fuck-up!?”


Who can remember life before Big Brother, when reality TV was all about MTVs The Real World? Kolobos sure can! Released a matter of days after the Dutch premier of BB, it beat the vast majority of the slew of slashers that latched on to the concept.

Hence, it’s more of a reaction to forerunners of the now-standard format. Kolobos is a weird little film, beginning with the hospital recovery of a girl, who was hit by a car and appears to have been self-harming. Gradually, she remembers what happened to her… She answered a classified ad for five ‘freeloaders’ to go and live in a house where their day-to-day interactions will be filmed “for VHS” (dating the film severely!)

kol-cast-1

An assortment of contestants are introduced: ultra-perky Lauper-channeling Tina, ‘serious actress’ Erica, corny comedian Tom, bookish Gary, and repressed doodler Kyra – clearly the girl in the hospital bed. Linnea Quigley pops up as Kyra’s friend at a halfway house for folks with mental health issues.

They gather, goof around, suss one another out, and are talked into watching the slasher franchise The Slaughterhouse Factor, by Erica, who plays the killer Fanny van Troven in all six installments (featuring the rather fabulously titled Part III: Death Strikes Thrice). Kyra struggles to acclimate herself and it becomes clear that perhaps they are not alone in the house (bar the technician).

When Tina stumbles into a lethal trap in the kitchen – a grisly affair featuring spring-loaded circular-saw blades – it sets off a lockdown. All windows and doors are covered by steel shutters and the ‘contestants’ are now in the main part of the game. Kyra, off her meds, keeps seeing flashes of faceless individuals and footage of a man peeling off his own skin, muttering ‘kolobos’ over and over.

Naturally, the others suspect her, and despite her protestations, continue to die as a mouldy-faced loon picks them off one at a time after disorienting them away from the group. Kyra finds the bodies, including a decapped head made up like a disco ball! She fights the killer, succeeds, then what?

Up to this point, Kolobos has gone through the motions of a tech-loaded slasher film: Not everyone is simply stabbed to death, the killer here favours booby-trapped things. However, after 70-odd minutes of pretty entertaining fare, it’s back to the present and, with no evidence supporting her claims, Kyra is released from hospital.

The last fifteen minutes or so drag out the final girl meandering around her house, suspecting noises, hearing things… Then she types for a bit, browses the paper, and calls up the classifieds to place an ad identical to the one she answered. Is she the killer? Has it done a Haute Tension on us? Was any of it real?

As an ending, it sucks. Nothing is learned or confirmed one way or another, except that Kyra is batshit cray-cray. It’s a common flaw in ambitious horror: Great openings are often unfurled by bollocks final acts. Here, Kolobos reveals itself only to be a trip down a blind alley.

Journey or destination? Because the latter might be lame, but the former is at least an inventive (for its time), well-acted, and amusing romp. Much of the catty dialogue between Erica and Tom is infused with thinly disguised insults, and The Slaughterhouse Factor movies look awesomely bad (“Oh my God! There’s a fork in her neck! A fork!”) The characters are also more pleasant than most, making it that little bit harder to watch them die.

Out of date, out of mind. Chop off the last few minutes and there’s much fun to be had, and it’s still far more engaging than the strikingly similar My Little Eye, which surfaced three years later.

Blurbs-of-interest: Amy Weber was in The Pumpkin Karver; Linnea Quigley’s slasherama credits include Silent Night, Deadly Night, Graduation Day, Jack-O, Spring Break Massacre and a shower cameo in Fatal Games.

You can’t choose your family

MY SUPER PSYCHO SWEET 16 PART 3

2 Stars  2012/83m

“The party ends here.”

Director: Jacob Gentry / Writers: Jed Elinoff & Scott Thomas / Cast: Lauren McKnight, Kirsten Prout, Ryan Sypek, Jillian Rose Reed, Niko Pepaj, Ben Winchell, Onira Tares, Autumn Dial, Chris Zylka.

Body Count: 5

Laughter Lines: “Yeah and one time [he] killed a bunch of camp counsellors with a machete.”


Unavoidable SPOILERS below.

Poor Skye Rotter… Her teen-slashing father first offed various patrons of the the local rollerdome, then crashed the Sweet 16 of spoiled bitch Madison Penrose and killed several guests,then stalked Skye to her mother’s place and killed yet more teenagers at a party hosted by Skye’s half sister Alex.

Two years later, Skye is about to leave for college and catches a ride with kooky art student Sienna, when she is called by Alex, who hasn’t returned any calls in the interim, and agrees to swing by on route, which happens to coincide with Alex’s birthday… How old might she be?

A handful of Alex’s new friends prove to be just as condescending and unpleasant as those at previous parties and though both Skye and Sienna are desperate to hit the road, a loon with a Charlie Rotter fixation soon crashes the event and begins trimming the guest list using garden lights, nail guns, and car hoods.

There are echoes of both Slumber Party Massacre III and that fantabulous scene from the end of Happy Birthday to Me that creep into proceedings plus the sour impression of that awful April Fool’s Day remake, but given the last scene of Part 2, you’d have thought/hoped that the writers would pack the final movie with a decent sucker punch of a twist.

Instead, what’s going on is painfully obvious. The obsessed killer is revealed far too early, sucking a whole garbage bag fulla tension out of what’s left, but then the predictable caveat is plopped on top of the cake, it 100% flatlines there and then, castrated by its own appearance, and rendering the last third of the film a through-the-motions affair.

Some amusing and decent moments are still injected: One not-quite-dead victim staggering back to the house and Skye’s Ripley-channeling kick-assery, plus when one victim successfully contacts the cops, she’s met with a bored operator who doesn’t believe her and threatens to send a squad car to teach her a lesson: “Awesome! Yes – do that! Arrest my ass, but just get someone out here now!”

From Zylka’s two minutes of screen time to McKnight’s slightly tired showing, I imagine any attempt at a Part 4 will require a whole new story and a sushi-cake sized dose of enthusiasm, otherwise this is a damp-squib ending to a fairly enjoyable little teenie-kill series.

Jack the Rip-off

JACK THE REAPER

2 Stars  2011/18/83m

“Ride at your own risk.”

A.k.a. The Reaper (UK DVD cover)

Director/Writer: Kimberly Seilhamer / Cast: Tony Todd, Sally Kirkland, Douglas Tait, Alexandra Holder, Jay Gillespie, Richardson Chery, Amber Zion, Tyler Wolfe, Christopher Raff, David Beeler.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “We’re sitting ducks here – haven’t you ever seen The Hills Have Eyes?”


There will be UNAVOIDABLE SPOILERS.

Predictability doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If it were, then films like Hell Night or My Bloody Valentine wouldn’t be the loved genre staples that they are. However marry of predictability to unoriginality (or, some might call it, totally ripping off somebody else’s work) and it can grate.

In Jack the Reaper, a school bus full of teens who didn’t complete an assignment on the industrial revolution, is sent off to learn about America’s railroad courtesy of Tony Todd, who utters lines that sound like they were cut from his scenes in a Final Destination sequel. There’s the requisite couple of asshole jocks, an obese cry baby, a deaf girl, and an Albino amongst others.

On the way back, the bus crashes. When the kids come to, the driver and their teacher are gone, but there’s a fairground in the middle of the desert, which they go to for help, with the exception of loner Jesse, who thinks she saw somebody on the road before the accident.

As soon as they discovered the fairground was deserted, I knew where we were headed. The teens ride the carousel, play whack-a-mole, and start disappearing one by one. Eventually, they spy a black-eyed loon toting a pick-axe and find that no matter where they run, they wind up back where they started.

Yes, they’re all dead, save for the girl who stayed on the bus, because, as per Tony Todd’s spouting, as soon as they crossed the tracks toward the fairground, they’d entered the realm of Railroad Jack, who reaps them for the afterlife.

It’s Reeker all over again, sans the smell and comedic inserts, but one would think at the very least somebody ‘borrowing’ the same concept might spruce it up a bit with something other than a road accident… Although, let’s not over-credit Reeker with being all original n’ stuff, after all it goes something like The Sixth Sense begat The Others, The Others begat Reeker, and now now Reeker begat Jack the Reaper. Thus, Jack the Reaper will see its own progeny in the future. Maybe.

About all that’s interesting is the presence of a female director. Kim Seilhamer may hold back on the gore, but the film is curiously littered with male characters saying nasty things to the not-so-sympathetic female contingent. Fair enough, they die soon after, but any hope for a decent female perspective should be left at the train museum.

Second-billed Sally Kirkland (also a producer) appears for little over one minute, but manages a barrage of profanity in her cameo, and Todd looks like he dropped by for the afternoon before haul-assing it away.

Not a dreadful film, just a bit of a lazy one (complete with actors’ names spelled wrong in the credits), if I were writing its school report, it’d be full of Jack CAN do it, he just needs to try harder.

Blurbs-of-interest: Douglas Tait, in the title role, was Jason’s stunt double in Freddy vs Jason; Sally Kirkland was also in Fingerprints and Fatal Games; Christopher Raff was in Bloody Bloody Bible Camp; Tony Todd cane be found in two of the Hatchet films, three Final Destinations, and also iMurders, and Scarecrow Slayer.

Catfishing

SMILEY

2.5 Stars  2012/15/92m

“Evil wears a smile.”

Director/Writer: Michael Gallagher / Writer: Glasgow Phillips / Cast: Caitlin Gerard, Melanie Papalia, Shane Dawson, Andrew James Allen, Roger Bart, Liza Weil, Keith David, Toby Turner, Michael Traynor, Jana Winternitz, Nikki Limo.

Body Count: 6

Laughter Lines: “If you believe everything you’ve told us, you need to see a psychiatrist.” / “I AM seeing a psychiatrist!”


“Over 30 million trailer views” boasts the UK DVD box. Fine, but there’s a Justin Bieber song that has had over 917 million views – does that attest to the quality of his music “music”?

Given this claim, it must be doing something right and, as the disc began a-whirlin’ in my DVD player, it looked like Smiley could “do a Mask Maker” and surprise the hell outta me by being, y’know, awesome. “But 2-and-a-half stars!” you say, “it can’t be that good?” ‘Tis a tale of woe, that be true… One that unfortunately must contain SPOILERS to convey the emotion found in this yarn.

Bloody Mary, the Candyman, Madman Marz – say their name any number of times and something bad will happen. So go the respective urban legends, why not add Smiley to that motley crew? How about because it’s all a big cheat…

So goes this cyber-myth, log into any old chatroom – preferably one with a cam-to-cam facility – and engage in chatter with a stranger. Type “I did it for the lulz” three times consecutively and Smiley will pop up their end and KILLIFY THEM!

‘Lulz’, for those grammar pedants among us, is cyber/text/Twitter slang for ‘merriment’ usually at the expense of another. Why and psycho would latch on to such poor spiel is a mystery the film refuses to investigate. Why not ‘I did it for the jollity’ or the ‘gaiety’?

Anyway, this befalls the usual teen babysitter and, in another place and time, college girl Ashley (Gerard) moves into new digs with perky roomie Proxy (Papalia), who introduces her to a group of anonymous web-pranksters and their quirky brand of humour, including the legend of Smiley, which nobody knows to be true or not.

Later, Ashley and Proxy choose to put the theory to test with a horny naked guy, who ends up getting stabbed in the chest after Ashley types the dreaded phrase in thrice. Was it real? How could it not have been if it’s a randomized chat site?

Ashley soon begins seeing Smiley everywhere. Nobody believes her kerr-ayzay story and repeatedly tell her to forget about it and not tempt fate by snooping. Her ____ teacher (Bart), fills his students’ heads with all sorts of theory regarding higher intellect and the possibility that we create our own fate yaddah yaddah. All of this influence begins driving the girl mad and, when members of the anonymous group begin dying, she tries to convince the cops of the legend (see Laughter Lines).

Eventually, Ashley decides the only way to stop Smiley is to have him summoned to her, so she gets Proxy to, over a video chat, type ‘I did it for the lulz’ and face her fate.

Didn’t this gag used to read “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?”

But no. Smiley comes. Then more Smileys. Ashley takes a fatal dive through her window and they all unmask themselves – the anonymous web people. It was all some social experiment-cum-joke that they hoped to spread over the net.

If you’ve seen Cry_Wolf then this outcome will be totally new territory, only here it’s even more annoying because, up to this point, Smiley was a pretty good horror film, kinda like Candyman Jr: The College Years, all meta’d up with ATRL/YouTube-speak and a post-Scream 4 “I just want to be known” vibe on behalf of the horrible group of students we wish would DIE!

Naturally, the last-second twist is that the legend IS real after all, nothing anybody with half a brain wouldn’t have seen coming.

A real disappointment of a project in the end. Whatever social comment was trying to be made is ruined both by the unpleasantness of the characters and their cruelty, and then re-ruined by the stupid second-twist. Essentially it’s saying “It’s not real! The horror is made up because people are gullible! Oh no wait, it IS real now!” and then not punishing the whole lot of them.

Two stars are for production quality and some performances and quirky dialogue, another half for being interesting enough for the most part. All other stars were lost somewhere in cyberspace. Yeah, ha ha, I’m funny – must be that I did it for the lulz.

I did it for the lulz.

I did it for the lulz.

Blurb-of-interest: Keith David was in Chain Letter – another urban legend slasher flick.

1 2 3 4 5 22