Tag Archives: spooky

More almost but not-quite slasher flicks

Another handful of horrors that hang out by the dance floor where all the slasher flicks are partying and flirt with them, trying to blend even though they don’t really fit in… See the last lot here.

DEAD SILENCE 2007

“From the makers of Saw” came this seriously underrated and unsuccessful scare flick, in which young couple Ryan Kwanten (later in True Blood) and Laura Regan (from My Little Eye) receive a creepy ventriloquist’s doll in the mail that somehow kills her, sending him back to their hometown of Raven’s Faire, a town apparently cursed by the ghost of Mary Shaw, subject of an Elm Street-like nursery rhyme that states if you encounter her in your dreams, don’t scream or you’ll lose your tongue, just as Regan did.

Kwanten’s investigations, hampered by greasy detective – and ex-New Kid on the Block – Donnie Wahlberg, seem to generate a fresh wave of creepy deaths and there’s one helluva twist at the end that I was totally blind to!

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: it’s a ghost story with a body count really, shades of Darkness Falls as well as Krueger-town (there was an additional murder in the deleted scenes) creep in, but not enough to swap sub-genres and they’re not likely to make a sequel…

DONKEY PUNCH 2008

Three northern gals holidaying in Mallorca hook up with a quartet of private school guys crewing on a luxury yacht and decide to party on the boat. Sex and drugs dominate and one of the guys decides to test a sexual urban legend – the Donkey Punch – which backfires, killing one of the girls. The boys vote to throw her overboard and say she fell and when the girls refuse to go along with it, a series of intensified confronations and misunderstandings lead to a second accidental death, then escalate to murder…

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: most of the deaths are accidents (including a neat outboard demise) and one person commits suicide. There’s a final girl of sorts but this is totally a Brit-grit situation flick.

HOUSE OF 9 2005

Another UK export; in this cut-price Battle Royale, nine strangers are abducted and wake up in a locked down house and informed that when only one remains alive, they will exit with £5million. Dennis Hopper is an Irish priest with a dodgy accent, Kelly Brook a shy dancer, Chardonnay from Footballer’s Wives a socialite, a rapper, an American detective, married couple and so on…

They argue about the situation until it leads to accidental death and murder, whittling down numbers until only one remains and exits. Cue semi-clever twist.

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: as with Donkey Punch, it’s all situational, there’s no one killer offing everybody one by one.

THE LAMP 1987

I love this cheesecake 80s horror film about a killer genie – or Djinn – which inhabits ye olde lamp that dim-witted, dungaree-wearing heroine Alex rubs when it arrives at her father’s museum. A field trip, a dumb teen idea to spend the night there (in a fucking museum…), Djinn-possession and the teens, some staff members and a couple of meathead racists find themselves done in in a variety of proto-Final Destination ways, some of which are suitably gruesome and clever, let down only by bargain basement effects work and a Djinn that looks like a Kinder Egg toy.

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: it’s a close one: there’s a lot in common with the likes of The Initiation and any number of collegiate prank slasher flicks but in the end it varies itself out of the equation.

THE UGLY 1997

A defence psychologist appointed to reassess a murderer, who proceeds to fill her in on his traumatic childhood and the slayings that followed. Despite warnings from the creepy institution doctor the shrink is soon sucked into his tragic tale of a nasty mother, school bullies and his one friend. All the blood on show is like black motor oil from a bunch of extras who are slashed up with a straight razor. Things go all Se7en with a downbeat twist ending, but it’s typically arty in the Australasian way.

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: a serial killer flick with grisly murders peppered throughout; no busloads of dense teenangers here.

Pant-Soiling Scenes #17: Bumper JAWS edition

I watched the scary, bitey fish flick a few weeks ago and was astounded by how scary and effective it still is. The opening scene notwithstanding, here are three other reeeeally creepy bits:

1: Child / Lilo Combo Chomp

These days audiences wouldn’t really give a shit if an obnoxious child became lunch for the locomotive-like Great White shark that torments Amity Island. But back in ’75 when a seemingly inoffensive kid just wanted five more minutes on his raft – and literally seconds after a cute Labrador Retriever disappeared in the water (far more harrowing, I say!) – the violent and bloody death of Alex Kintner is fucking terrifying.

The indiscriminate nature of the shark’s pick of victim, the oblivious kids playing in the foreground as those on the beach all stare in bewilderment at what’s going on to the depressingly sad realisation of Alex’s mom that it’s her kid who’s not coming out of the water as a tooth-marked, punctured lilo feebly washes up on the tinted-red shore. Ugh.

2. “Take my word for it – don’t look back!”

A couple of scenes later when poor Alex’s mom has put up a $20,000 reward for the capture of the shark, every man and his dog (except poor Pippet) is trying to bait the animal.

A couple of schmo’s toss a chunk of meat in the water and are surprised when el biggie fisho not only swims off with it but does so with such power that it rips off the end of the jetty, taking one of them with it.

Now, what’s creepy about this scene is that Spielberg, still not revealing the shark, represents its presence by a piece of the broken pier, which floats out to sea and then menacingly makes an about turn before heading back in the direction of the flailing idiot who’s swimming for his life.

It’s a great moment, really capturing how everything in this film was done right and, for me, totally outshines the underwater-head scene that comes later, which is just a jump scare rather than genuinely unsettling. Ugh.

3. Introducing Bruce

Minutes after some eeeevil children prank everyone with a mock dorsal fin, the shark proper decides to stop by for mid-afternoon munchies and bumps some poor extra out of his rowing boat.

We’ve seen the fin, the tail, and a really eerie shot of the shark inches below the surface as it pulls down the next victim but the audience gets its first fleeting glimpse of the devilish creature when it sticks its head out of the water to grab on to its understandably reluctant meal, whose severed leg quickly sinks to the bottom.

The shark actually looks quite real here, I reckon – and, dayum, how horrible would it be to be that guy – its mouth is huge! Ugh.

Pant-Soiling Scenes #17: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2

My earliest Friday related memory is seeing a TV spot for a Halloween showing of The Final Chapter when I was in Florida circa 1989: it featured the scene where Jason bursts through the window and grabs Corey Feldman and also the re-used footage of the campfire tale from the opening montage. I was only about 10 so couldn’t watch.

Years later when I became dependent on an almost daily Friday-fix, I kept expecting these scenes to show up. Neither were in Part 1 (and I was also staggered to find that neither was Jason!) and by the time I saved up for my VHS of Part 2 I was to find that that window scene was also absent. The Final Chapter would turn out to be the last of the original films I tracked down. But…the creepy campfire story, it was present along with some of the most effective jump-scares I’ve ever encountered…

And so it comes to this: my favourite scene in any movie ever. I love this moment so much. Sure, it’s predictable now but the first two or three times I watched it, it succeeded in making me jump outta my skin.

Ginny hides from bag-headed (and so even creepier) Jason in a bathroom that can’t be locked. The soundtrack maintains a tense string note that seems to go on forever as she listens through the door and slowly…sloooowly…reaches for the window… As Vera Dika’s dissection of how these films work keyed in on, we wonder where Jason might’ve gotten to in the meantime. Oh, you’ll find out!

The fact that Amy Steel is without a doubt the best final girl in the history of the genre aids this remarkably well choreographed scene and those that follow as she runs past the camera and into another room. These films might’ve been cheap but they were certainly not hack jobs made up of rubbish edits, crappy synths and ketchup squirts – some real craft went into making them tense and, in the case of this scene, downright frightening, something all too absent in todays boardroom-produced box-ticking exercices that pass for horror.

Read my full review for further ranting.

Hotel California

PRAY FOR MORNING

3 Stars  2006/88m

“Fear the night.”

Director / Writer: Cartney Wearn / Cast: Jonathon Trent, Jessica Stroup, Dennis Flanagan, Ashlee Turner, Udo Kier, Robert F. Lyons, Jackson Rathbone, Brandon Novitsky, Kip Martin, Rachel Veltri.

Body Count: 7


A closed-down mansion hotel with a curse on it! Ooh, I loves me summa that.

June 5th, 1984: Five high schoolers spending the night in the long since closed Royal Crescent Hotel are murdered, ending the tradition of young graduates taking this rite of passage into adulthood…

Twenty-something years later, fascinated teen Jesse and seven friends decide to break in and explore the premises for the sheer thrill of it. They’ve got crime scene photos and want to visit every murder site in the old place. Once inside, it becomes clear that all is not right with the spooky place. Decomposed body parts are found, apparent vortexes make navigation impossible, spectres appear and every time a strange shimmery light turns up, someone dies – their bones broken, the ends poking gruesomely through the epidermis.

Pray for Morning is like taking a playdough effigy of Hell Night in one hand and one of The Shining in the other hand and squashing them together until the colours merge and you can craft a mix of the two. There are some genuinely creepy visuals early on and it goes in a different direction to what’s expected, electing a supernatural villain who has magic powers at his disposal.

However, when the story knocks on the door of reincarnation we skate on to thin ice and it risks collapsing under its own weight of suspension of belief. This negative effect is lessened with interesting teen characters and some good dialogue, making it better than many other recent efforts and plus we get to see a Disney presenter’s neck broken, always a treat.

There’s essentially a degree of care here that’s often absent in low-rent body count films but it’s perhaps just that tiny bit too pretentious for its own good.

Blurbs-of-interest: Robert F. Lyons was in Dark Night of the Scarecrow; Jessica Stroup was in The Hills Have Eyes II and the horrible Prom Night remake, making this her best foray into horror thus far. Udo Kier was later in The Editor and Fall Down Dead.

Pant-Soiling Scenes #14: POLTERGEIST

When I was about 10 I caught about 5 minutes of Poltergeist on TV and had a nightmare I can still vividly remember to this day… A creaky old rocking chair in my folks’ bedroom, diving down the stairs to scramble out the front door. <shudder>

Weirdly, the film feels more like ET with a few chills when I watch it now. But it’s undeniably brilliant and, while not particularly scary, certain parts still give me the willies, including this, that creepy-ass tree through the window bit…

Thunderbolts and lightning, very, very frightening little Robbie Freeling, who attempts to count away the storm, only for it to get closer until creepy-ass tree busts throw the window and tries to eat him while little Carol Anne shrieks in the background.

Trees are oft scary and under utilized in contemporary horror. For kids, they’re up there with pylons, shadows and the closet door that won’t close. The ‘Geist gets all this spot on, thus earning itself a spot in the P.S.S. list.

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