Tag Archives: spooky

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2

friday2aFRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2

5 Stars  1981/18/84m

“The bodycount continues…”

Director: Steve Miner / Writer: Ron Kurz / Cast: Amy Steel, John Furey, Adrienne King, Marta Kober, Bill Randolph, Tom McBride, Lauren-Marie Taylor, Kirsten Baker, Russell Todd, Stu Charno, Walt Gorney, Steve Daskawicz.

Body Count: 10

Dire-logue: “Axes, knives, saws – they can all be dangerous…”


This is a big one. For me, the best slasher movie in existence. Prepare thyself, I may become emotional…

So, after the mega box office ring-a-ding-ding that Friday the 13th made during the summer of 1980, ’twas not a surprise that a sequel was rushed into production. The budget went up, the script stayed almost exactly the same and cinema’s most prolific mass murderer was born. Ja. Son. Voor. Hees.

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Storywise, we begin pre-credits on the street outside the home of sole survivor Alice (Adrienne King returning), where a creepy pair o’ legs skulks through puddles towards her abode… Upstairs on the bed, Alice has a convenient flashback dream that recaps the end of the first film (complete with blurry screen), Mrs Voorhees’ insane revenge plot and her subsequent beheading la-de-dah… Soon after Alice awakes, she grabs the world’s shortest shower and gets scared by her cat before finding Mrs V’s severed head in the refrigerator and getting an ice-pick in the temple. Cut to credits.

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We learn that it’s been “five long years” since the Camp Crystal Lake massacre and a counsellor training center nearby opens up to a bunch of nubile teens, all flirtation and pranks. Head counsellor Paul (Furey) tries to keep things together, all the while carrying on with his assistant Ginny (the legend of Amy Steel). Second assistant Ted is the uber-geek, then there are the main trainees: Vickie, Scott, Terry, Sandra, Jeff and wheelchair-bound Mark…

The legend of Camp Crystal Lake is told around the campfire by Paul, who mentions that little Jason’s body was never found and it is said he killed Alice and that now he stalks the forest, ready to avenge his mother’s death! A great little scene, is this, my very first memory of anything Friday the 13th related when I caught it on TV in Florida around Halloween ’89 (when I was 11 and nervy).

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While the youngsters continue to amble around the area exercising little caution, Crazy Ralph returns for no particular reason other than to supply Jason with a mid-point kill. He wears exactly the same outfit as he did five years before and learns the hard way that perving on Ginny and Paul is a fatal error.

The next day, Sandra and Jeff opt to hike into the woods and explore Camp Crystal Lake, but are intercepted by a toupee-haired cop, who duly becomes another victim. Their punishment for getting caught is to stay behind that night while everyone else goes out for one last night on the town, save for the other four we all knew would die… Terry goes skinny-dipping, Jeff and Mark have an arm-wrestling contest and a shady figure who we’ve not yet had a good look at appears in the camp.

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One by one, the teens are offed in a variety of now textbook MO’s, with excellent make up effects courtesy of Carl Fullerton, most of which got cut before release due to the MPAA’s clampdown on gore flicks. Said material has never been seen beyond a few stills – right there, look…look down! Nevertheless, these missing scenes do not rob the film of its pure stalk n’ slash integrity, B-movie spookiness and sense of the filmmakers really putting effort into making a quality horrorfest. Jason himself finally appears beyond the lower-body shots. There was no hockey mask back in ’81, but that burlap sack is pretty damn scary in a banjo-strummin’ backwoods hick sorta way!

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Then there are the ejector seat moments, executed with perfect timing, the kind of things most film’s screw up by telegraphing the shocks too early with fragmented shots rather than the long, lingering scenarios here as Ginny becomes the last one standing after she and Paul return to camp early. The stringy high-note that refuses to let up as she holds the door closed in the bathroom, unsure whether or not she should move towards the open window…

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And Amy Steel. The odds-on favourite heroine of the entire series plays psych-major Ginny perfectly, a mix of vulnerability and agility, she has sex with Paul and still survives the nightmare, screams amazingly and gives Jason a better run for his money than all of the ensuing final girls of later films combined. Her final showdown with Jason at his woodland shack is great, as is the extra value shock ending and the question mark that hangs over the fate of another character…

There’s absolutely nothing dull about Friday the 13th Part 2, it has everything I want in a slasher film: competent production, likeable characters, great heroine, liberal body count and good use of the camp setting. I love it and always will.

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Blurbs-of-interest: Amy took the final girl role again in April Fool’s Day; Marta Kober had a cameo as the pizza girl in Slumber Party Massacre III; Russell Todd had previously appeared fleetingly in He Knows You’re Alone; Lauren-Marie Taylor played Sheila in Girls Nite Out; Steve Dash (Jason) has a small role in Alone in the Dark; Walt Gorney supplied the prologue voiceover at the beginning of Friday VII. Steve Miner directed the next Friday film and also Halloween H20.

HELL NIGHT

hellnight HELL NIGHT

4 Stars  1981/18/102m

“Pray for day.”

Director: Tom DeSimone / Writer: Randy Feldman / Cast: Linda Blair, Peter Barton, Vincent Van Patten, Kevin Brophy, Suki Goodwin, Jenny Neumann, Jimmy Sturtevant.

Body Count: 8

Dire-logue: “If you weren’t screamin’…and we weren’t screamin’…then somebody’s trying to mind-fuck us.”


In the cynical we-know-everything days of 2009, a film with a premise so simplistic as Hell Night is likely to be casually dismissed as ancient crap. It’s long and slow with a low body count – why bother? Because it’s one of the best slasher films going.

The Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity and its sister sorority are initiating four new pledges on their annual ‘Hell Night’. The costume party is over, we’ve met the primary cast of just seven young scholars, and we’re off to the unloved grounds of Garth Manor, where the Garth patriarch once slaughtered his entire family, save for ‘gorked out’ Andrew, who is said to still dwell within the creepy old mansion.

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Jeff, Denise, Seth and Marti are sequestered to the venue and instructed to stay in the house until dawn, when they will be let out. Once left alone by the upperclassmen, the quartet briefly explore and then pair off; Seth and Denise engage in overlong foreplay while Jeff and Marti go heart to heart and discuss their lives, the class system and various other things.

Outside, three of the senior collegiates – May, weasely Scott, and uber-prankster Peter – return to try and scare them with a range of pre-organised tricks. Ghosts appear, death-screams echo down the halls and a real killer begins stalking and slaying all those who intrude on his property! Andrew Garth lives! A few killings in, the murders are discovered and Seth manages to climb his way to freedom in a bid to summon help while Jeff and Marti look for a missing Denise and uncover the extent of the nightmare…

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Like the gothic candles that give a creepy glow to the setting, Hell Night is a real slow-burn affair. It’s nearly half an hour before the first killing and afterwards they’re spaced out to maximum tense-effect but it’s seldom boring. In the attention-deficit days we now live in, there’s no way something so relaxedly paced would ring the box office bell, but that’s the beauty of a film like Hell Night. In spite of being helmed by a noted porno director, there’s no nudity and very restrained bloodshed.

hn7aThe appeal is in the straight-forward telling of it all. It’s got classic creaky haunted house origins, aided no end by the period costumes worn by the characters, the candelabras and cobwebs, Nosferatu-influenced creeping shadows, all engineered into a (then) modern slasher narrative. Characters are also well drawn given that the entire thing is set on one night; Linda Blair, all grown up from playing Regan MacNeil, makes for an affable heroine in Marti, a mechanically gifted student. Her three companions range from misunderstood nice guy (Jeff), to surfer dude (Seth) and comical British partygirl (Denise), while the trio of pranksters have less to do. Why the two main guys are Jeff n’ Seth is something we’ll never know I guess…

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The emphasis on atmosphere is a strong selling point here; the house is creepy and the story just offbeat enough to be unsettling. “This was supposed to be a joke,” crows Marti when she and Jeff find time to reflect on the night’s events. All things considered, definitely not a film for all to enjoy. It has that nostalgic ‘this scared me as a kid’ quality going for it, something we’re unlikely to experience again. Karen Carpenter sang ‘Tryin’ To Get That Feeling Again’, Hell Night still maintains a big part of ‘that’ feeling.

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The bad news: a PG-13 remake, almost certainly similar to the dismal Prom Night redux, is due in 2010. Don’t expect any nostalgia there.

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Blurbs-of-interest: surprisingly, Blair never made another slasher film but Barton played Doug in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter; Jenny Neumann had already played the lead in Aussie theatre stalker StageFright. Several of the producers worked on other slasher flicks, including Halloween, and Chuck Russell directed A Nightmare On Elm Street 3.

CAMPING DEL TERRORE

CAMPING DEL TERRORE

3 Stars 1986/18/83m

“…Now the woods are alive with the sound of screaming.”

A.k.a. BodyCount / The 11th Commandment / Camping Della Morte

Director: Ruggero Deodato / Writers: Alex Capone, David Parker Jr., Sheila Goldberg & Luca D’Alisera / Cast: David Hess, Mimsy Farmer, Charles Napier, Nicola Farron, Bruce Penhall, Luisa Maneri, Andrew Lederer, Stefano Madia, Nancy Brilli, Cynthia Thompson, Elena Pompei, John Steiner, Valentina Forte.

Body Count: 12

Dire-logue: “Does your moose have a sister?”


If you were channel surfing late at night around, say, Halloween and you happened to catch a few minutes of the wonderfully titled Camping Del Terrore, I’d forgive you for thinking it was a nameless Friday the 13th sequel, something like No. 6 or 7. ‘That’s Camp Crystal Lake,’ you might say to any companions you happen to have. ‘They’re counsellors…'; ‘there’s Jaso- Oh, wait a sec…’ Yes, Ruggero Deodato, who directed Cannibal Holocaust back in the 70s, is so very similar to Vegan Voorhees’ fave franchise that you could probably slip the video tape into a Friday box and fool small children and your grandma.

So, what’s the sitch? Well, it’s most certainly the mid-80s and that means that necking teens should know better than venturing into the woods at night for romantic trysts and pre-marital sexualisations. This doesn’t stop a couple of big-haired luvvers, who are summarily knifed by a hag-faced scary person who goes as far as to pre-prepare a wig similar to the hair of the local doctor’s daughter in order to fool her dumb jock boytoy. Actually, this happens, like, years earlier, so maybe their naivety can be overlooked…

cdt-3-pics2In the proper 80s, not those intrusive fake 80s, a camper-load of teens – some of whom suspiciously have Italian accents – roll into the Colorado campground where the murders, blamed on the standard local tale-of-doom character the ‘Old Indian Shaman’, occurred and subsequently sent admissions plummeting. The camp is owned by super-unhappy couple Robert and Julia, who very briefly cheer up when their son Ben hops out of the camper, having returned from the army and hooked a ride. Robert is played by David Hess, one of the loonies in Last House on the Left and directed the almost-enjoyable To All a Goodnight. He’s not very nice to Julia, which explains why she’s screwing the local Sheriff.

No sooner do more campers show up, so does the ‘Old Indian Shaman’, ready and able to make holes in nubile teenage meat with knives n’ stuff. To us, it’s obvious that the Shaman is little more than some psycho in a cloak and mask, unless mythical monsters wear hefty black boots. But who could it be? Moody Robert? Oppressed Julia? One of the teenies? Extra suspects are tossed into this Italian gore salad by way of ‘The Doctor’ (…not David Tennant), dad of the opening victim who scowls ‘I hate campers!’ to the Sheriff when a couple of soon-to-be extinct lovers paddle by in their canoes.

cdt-3-more-pics2The teen-wasting project soon begins with a hunt for a missing chick after her boyfriend stumbled back to camp and then lapsed into a coma (!). Unfazed by this development, the rest of the gang continue to flirt, strip off at a moment’s notice, play juvenile pranks and obsess over ‘doing up’ a dilapidated shower block they find in the woods, which happens to be the scene of most of the killings that ensue.

To oblige the audience’s growing need for some death, dodgy Doctor recalls the demises of another couple of teens fifteen years earlier… The Sheriff thinks a bear got them. Sure, man. Bears hide under beds and wait for dumbass girls to lie on them before shoving a machete through the underside and through said dumbass. A lack of swirly screen visuals ruins this little flashback, which we must suppose occurs in 1971, when fashions were spookily similar to those of 1986…

Back in the proper 80s, fat comic relief dude fancies shaggy perm girl (who is admittedly hot), but she’s into goody-two-shoes Ben, who is putting up with his parents’ respective weirdnesses and dreams about jars of maggots and such. Another flirty couple are killed in the outhouse and again, nobody seems to worry about them, even when morning comes the next day with no sign of them returning…

At this time, the Shaman obviously grows bored of how long it’s taking to kill people and attacks biker-dude Dave (Bruce Penhall), who, along with moody Carol, has hastily been shoved into the role of hero/survivor as if Deodato completely forgot about electing a Final Girl until the finale loomed. Ben rescues Dave and, without any rational thinking whatsoever, no brainstorming, no information gathering, concludes that the ‘Old Indian Shaman’ is back to KILL! KILL! KILL!

About now, things get a little complicated… Julia finally has a violent reaction towards Robert and thinks she’s killed him and when moody Carol runs in after finding some of the bodies, Julia, assuming she means Robert, confesses to murder and follows moody Carol into the woodshed where, it turns out, Robert is far from dead and, in turn, fatally slashes his wife down. THEN… shaggy perm girl also discovers the same bodies moody Carol did and, when fat comic relief dude comes to rescue her, he makes the undoable error of running into a complex bear trap.

Take a breath… OK, moody Carol tries to chainsaw her way out of the woodshed and is eventually rescued by biker Dave and the remaining few people take shelter in the main cabin and the Sheriff shows up. Some additional death transpires before the ritual unmasking happens. Things go down like a gored-up episode of Scooby Doo before the two surviving teenies are sent on their way to assumedly live happily ever after following their fifty-four second relationship blossomization from earlier on and the Sheriff takes the law into his own hands, only to – possibly – be thwarted by a real ‘Old Indian Shaman’! Alas, we end on a freeze frame and never find out the truth. Well, not a version of it that you could reasonably swallow anyway.

cdt-3-pics-3-2Camping Del Terrore is 80s horror epitomised: nobody does anything sensible, there are subplots that don’t mean anything and the whole package makes no immediate sense. It’s like a toasted cheese sandwich where the bread is made out of big hair and tinny pop-metal. Still tastes pretty good though. When I first bought it on VHS an acquaintance said ‘Bodycount… that was in every video store in the 80s.’ Well, yay, I say. Let’s hope lots of people rented it and thought it rocked, because it did. For me and those like me (smirk…) it still does, more so in the face of all the crappy, heartless remakes doing the rounds right now. Deodato, nobody may have saluted you at the time for this one, but Vegan Voorhees does.

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LONG TIME DEAD

3.5 Stars  2002/15/90m

Director: Marcus Adams / Writers: Marcus Adams, Eitan Arussi, Chris Baker, Daniel Bronzite, Andy Day, James Gay-Rees / Cast: Alec Newman, Marsha Thomason, Joe Absolom, James Hillier, Lukas Haas, Lara Belmont, Mel Raido, Melanie Gutteridge, Tom Bell, Michael Feast.

Body Count: 10


Ouija boards…evil ancestors of Monopoly and Cluedo. Everybody knows someone who’s friend Claire dabbled and then went mental. Scary stories are almost as common as people who say sod all happened.

Having learned nothing from Linda Blair’s experiences and probably never even having heard of the fab homage to 80s hair-don’ts that is Witchboard, eight London students discussing the most exhilerating things they’ve gotten up to decide to try a little seance for kicks with a homemade Ouija. When the message from the other side is a less than encouraging ‘All Die’, one of them breaks the pre-assigned rule of removing his finger from the glass while the cross-plains call is still in progress…

According to the spiritually-learned Lucy, the Djinn – as it identifies itself – is now locked on their side of the divide. It quickly does away with one of them and subsequently begins offing the rest, leaving scorch marks on each victim, because it’s… a fire demon!

What!?

No, really, it is.

ltd-seance2Anyway, the group sink into a depression, which, in true Brit-grit style, is nicely realised by the less-than-pristine set pieces and hints at the respective lifestyles of the characters; open to drugs, chronic smokers, short-fused and untrustworthy. This is one thing that distinguishes British horror from American and it’s used to good effect in Long Time Dead, although it could be a turn-off to others, an overused cliche thanks to the rinse n’ repeat tactics of the Guy Ritchie brethren.

Take it or leave it… none of the kids here are particularly sympathetic. Liam, bereaved boyfriend of the first victim, is set up as the moral centre for viewer identification, possibly due to the hallucinations that bother him during the seance, which we know are going to play a part down the line. His buddies Rob, Webster, Joe and Spence round out the largely indistinguishable guy cast, while Lucy, Stella and Annie are apparently best friends who barely have any scenes together.

The middle section of things is a deathfest, as the group learns what they can from creepy landlord Becker – who has a convenient fascination with the occult, from the camcorder footage token American Webster (the cute mouse that is Lukas Haas) made and finding melted plastic bottles around the homestead. All of this does them no good, they just keep on expiring at an alarming rate…

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With half the cast annihilated at the scorchy hands of the fire demon (…phnarr!!), it becomes clear that the fiend has possessed one of their number to do its bidding. Liam, meanwhile, finds out some home truths to do with his flashbacks that might aide him in stopping the chaos. We’ve seen more than three teen-horror films and therefore know better and when the other survivors return to the original spot to perform a banashing, it aligns the required planets of horror for the grand unmasking-slash-showdown. The identity of possessed schmuck houses few surprises – the posters and DVD cover all but give it away. Here, Long Time Dead begins to flap around like a landed fish until it staggers drunkenly towards the predictable final shock.

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ltd-blood-on-floor2Ultimately an interesting genre flick; there’ve been plenty of possession-based slasher flicks and the added niche of ornate Britishness elevates Long Time Dead a notch above what it could have been, were it a straight-up stalk n’ slash opus. Temptations to ape American conventions do more harm than good, especially when it comes to the string-rich score, which sounds outdated and plain wrong in a film that visually trades on student-class squalor and apathetic youths in the shit. The Ouija Board angle is a good sell and wouldn’t prompt many to try one for themselves, it’s simply a shame it turns out to be a bit of a ghost train with no more than a few dirty sheets alongside the track…

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Blurbs-of-interest: Thomason and Haas were reunited for David Arquette’s The Tripper in 2007 and she was in a few episodes of ‘Lost’ as well. James Hillier was in StagKnight.

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