Tag Archives: the 80s

Good girl gone bad

promnight2HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II

2.5 Stars  1987/18/93m

“You can’t keep a bad girl down.”

A.k.a. The Haunting of Hamilton High

Director: Bruce Pittman / Writer: Ron Oliver / Cast: Michael Ironside, Wendy Lyon, Justin Louis, Lisa Schrage, Richard Monette, Terri Hawkes, Beverley Hendry, Brock Simpson, Beth Gondek.

Body Count: 6

Laughter Lines: “I tell you guys, she’s possessed: Linda Blairsville.”


Hello Mary Lou, goodbye heart goes the old song, and it’s quite apt in this case.

High school moniker aside, there’s nothing that links this Elm Street-snorting film with the 1980 revenge slasher, giving credence to the notion that it was originally intended to be a standalone affair.

Prom night. 1957. Hamilton High. Free n’ easy Mary Lou Maloney is caught by her date getting it on with another guy. Her jilted beau intends to humiliate her once she is crowned Queen of the Prom, but ends up setting her on fire in front of the whole school.

Thirty years later, mousy goody two shoes and prom queen hopeful Vicki (Lyon) unleashes Mary Lou’s vengeful spirit, which begins to turn her crazy in an attempt at full on possession to have the moment of prom glory she was robbed of. And, naturally, both of Mary Lou’s suitors have grown up to be the high school principal and the local priest respectively.

marylou1Meanwhile, Vicki’s friends slowly – very slowly – begin to fall victim to Mary Lou’s magical tantrums, including a girl squashed by lockers, electrocution via the most 80s of 80s school computers, and impalement by falling decor.

The Canadian 80s qualities shine through in a cheesy, endearing way, with plenty of day-glo, florescent lights, and beyond horrific fashion choices, underscored by one of Vicki’s friends telling her her fifties look is a crime against fashion. By this point, Mary Lou has somehow sucked her through a blackboard and possessed her completely – she makes out with her dad, throws her puritan mother through a door, and walks totally naked around the changing rooms stalking a friend in a weird pseudo lesbianic scene, fitfully culminating in the big prom finale that manages to channel both Carrie and Elm Street 2, as Mary Lou’s charred corpse literally busts its way out of Vicki.

marylou2Overall, the film goes through the motions of any possession opus, tossing in a handful of demises, crucially failing to ‘properly’ do away with the stock bitchy girl, who is summarily killed by a rod that falls from the ceiling at the dance, but at least it has some decent FX work and an interesting villain. Prom Night III: The Last Kiss sees the return of Mary Lou and wisely ups the laughs, resulting in a better film experience.

Blurbs-of-interest: Terri Hawkes was in Killer Party; Michael Ironside’s other slasher credits include Visiting Hours, American Nightmare, Children of the Corn: Revelation, Fallen Angels, and Reeker; Brock Simpson appears in all four Prom Night films in different roles.

“Dude, where’s my head?”

dude bro party massacre iii dvdDUDE BRO PARTY MASSACRE III

3 Stars  2015/102m

“Don’t let a bro see it alone.”

Directors/Writers: Tomm Jacobsen, Michael Rousselet, Jon Salmon / Writers: Alec Owen, Michael E. Peter, Ben Gigli, Timothy Ciancio, Joey Scoma, Mike James, Brian Firenzi / Cast: Alec Owen, Ben Gigli, Paul Prado, Kelsey Gunn, Brian Firenzi, Maria Del Carmen, Jimmy Wong, Mike James, Joey Scoma, Michael Rousselet, Jon Salmon, Greg Sestero, Olivia Taylor Dudley.

Body Count: 42 (+250 in planes crashing into orphanage)


Not many films can claim they started as a 5-second parody trailer, but this marks the humble beginnings of Dude Bro Party Massacre III, spawned from the aptly named 5-Second Films, who made smirksome little vignettes once a day, every day.

Crowdfunded for a feature length production, the slasher opus gets lampooned once again – but what new can be done with it that wasn’t done in everything from Student Bodies and Wacko to Scary Movie and The Final Girls?

Story first. Fratboy Brock Chirino has survived two fraternity row massacres, courtesy of vengeful killer Motherface, who has it in for the Dude Bro’s, brothers of the Delta Bi Theta Frat House. After he recaps the events of Dude Bro Party Massacres I & II – as per Adrienne King’s extremely eidetic flashback dreams – his throat is viciously cut by his therapist.

dbpm3-1Soon after, Brock’s twin brother Brent arrives to find out the truth of his bro’s “fatal freak accident” and seek revenge. He’s quickly inducted into the fraternity and they are expelled from campus for Spring Break after a prank ends up killing 250 people.

The Dude Bro’s journey out to a closed down sorority house by a lake where Motherface springs up and kills them in a variety of weird and grisly ways, from turning one bro’s head into a blood kegger to electrocutions, impalings, and flushing a guy’s intestines down a toilet. Soon, only Brent is left to find his answers and try to defeat Motherface and close the book on the Dude Bro Party Massacres for good.

Without a doubt, the smartest decision made was to style the film as a forgotten 80s late night horror film taped from a cable channel, complete the VHS slurs, hastily edited out TV commercials for all manner of strange products and services, and the general naff appeal of the mid-80s teen horror film, though at times the production quality was a bit too good.

dbpm3-motherfaceThe film authentically looks the part (usual hair and eyebrow exceptions notwithstanding), and is perhaps only weighed down by running about ten minutes too long and the jokes either hitting the target or not. The slasher sentiments were all on point for me, but I was confused by the bizarre (and annoying) cop subplot, which prompted a few random chuckles, but never converged with the other events going on. Though thankfully it doesn’t go down the same ego-strumming route that ended up shooting Club Dread in the foot.

Definitely an acquired taste, but fans of splatstick OTT gore and the associated black humour won’t be disappointed (though a good whack of the bodycount comes hard n’ fast at the start). Look out for Larry King as the coach during the flashbacks.

A good day to die

ghost danceTHE GHOST DANCE

3 Stars  1980/93m

“When you disturb the dead you must pay the price.”

Director/Writer: Peter F. Buffa / Writer: Robert M. Sutton / Cast: Julie Amato, Victor Mohica, Henry Bal, Frank Sotonoma Salsedo, James Andronica, Patricia Alice Albrecht, Deloris Maaske.

Body Count: 9


Native American lore fascinates me, so this obscure flick from the early days of stalk n’ slash was high up on my must-find list for a few years. Would it outdo Fred Olen Ray’s clunky Scalps? Or would I need to consult a shaman to rid myself of its memory?

At this point, 679 slasher films along, any film that’s hard to find is likely to be so for one reason: It’s shit and there’s no demand for it.

Fortunately, The Ghost Dance is something of a lost gem. The tale is rote horror: White people – don’t go digging up sacred burial grounds belonging to the local Native Americans in Arizona, even if you get permission.

Pissed off by this desecration, local Aranjo rants to his mother that he’s going to even the score, ruins the dig (although the quality was so murky I couldn’t tell how), and runs off to a cave to perform a ritual that sees the spirit of the unearthed corpse possess him and turn him into a supernaturally gifted killer with a to-do list of anthropologists at the local university…

gd1

There’s a slashed throat, a girl is savaged by a (possessed?) dog, and a horny couple screwing the night away in a museum are skewered and impaled respectively. Dr Kay Foster (Amato) begins seeing and hearing weird things. Her N.A. boyfriend Tom Eagle keeps shrugging off theories that something spooky is going on, and her colleague Paul isn’t really into the idea either.

The Ghost Dance is a slow moving critter, possibly deliberately reminiscent of the peace one associates with Native American culture, but it’s not boring. There’s a craftsmanship at play over and above many of its contemporaries, evident in the slow tracking shots down creepy dark corridors of the museum, interesting sets, and above average acting.

It’s also not tacky or cheesy. Sure, there are some unavoidable 80s traits on show, but nothing laugh out loud bad, which is quite remarkable for a body count horror film of this era.

gd2So why The Ghost Dance has remained so rare is something of a mystery in itself. It’s far better produced than its has a right to be, features enough splashes of grue and an interesting idea not often used in horror, but apparently has never received any type of release after its initial appearance on video in the early 80s.

It could do with a decent remastering onto DVD. Maybe it carries a terrible, terrible curse.

The Unearthening

Vegan Voorhees is happy to hand the reigns over to guest reviewer Meat-free Myers (possibly a pseudonym) for a pretty exclusive write-up on what looks to be an exciting event…!

Right, I’m gonna lie back and enjoy some Carrie Underwood while someone else does the legwork.

*

lake nowhere posterLAKE NOWHERE

5 Stars  2015/52m

“You won’t get out alive!”

Directors: Christopher Phelps & Maxim Van Scoy / Writers: R.S Fitzgerald & Christopher Phelps / Cast: Oscar Allen, Paul Gagnon, Charles Gaskins, Laura Hajek, Melody Kology, Wray Villanova, Nathan Andrew Wright, Matthew Howk.

Body Count: 7


When Grindhouse surfaced few years ago, it created a revival of a sub-genre that had been long thought dead since the meta horror wave of the 90s, because it showcased the reasons why such films are cult favourites and fed them to a (somewhat bewildered) mass audience.

Me, I do enjoy the meta-ness of recent times, going to see films not only the disciples of Slasherdom enjoy, replete with nods and winks towards yesteryear… but also because it allowed my friends to enjoy the madness without having to have the disturbed viewings I craved as a child.

However, there becomes a point where enough is enough, this genre needs to unashamedly revisit it’s roots. There are recent highlights (The Sleeper and Hobo With A Shotgun… although the latter is more in line with The Exterminator than a hack-and-slash flick), but so many have been piss takes (or just piss poor) and if I see another synopsis claiming to be “a throwback to the 70s/80s” I’ll become as redundant as the directors seemingly believe these films to be.

The problem lies in the approach more than anything; by attempting to make the cheesy nature of these films apparent, the point has been missed… the majority were funny to begin with, but unintentionally so. The best examples of these films are the ones where the crew really felt they had a gem on their hands, which by no means materialised, yet their determination to the “craft” created a misguided gem.

lake nowhereLake Nowhere does this perfectly, being the only such film to be sold exclusively on VHS.

The picture and sound (or lack of it) is as authentic as possible. It creates the closest experience to the good old days I have seen in many a year. It is also played straight, which makes a refreshing change.

It follows the standard teenagers / log cabin / woods / death / destruction tick-form. But where many other copycats fail, the brilliance lies in the filmmakers total allegiance (and not false-faithfulness of many imitators) to the art of guerrilla (B) movie making.

This could be that lost slasher we all hunted for, once we had digested the classics, that golden-imperfection we salivate over, endlessly hoping to find. That’s why we still watch the shite that is released to this day, hoping that one will get it right without explosing us to the humorous connotations or just plain bad “refreshing” decisions.

To start with, the film is a mere 52 minutes long, and this includes a lengthy intro of fake trailers (these are actually fantastic: a Giallo which I really wish existed; a hysterical beer commercial; My Bloody Valentine; and a Creature Feature that mixes The Crazies and Creepshow‘s The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill via The Day of the Triffids). The short run time allows Lake Nowhere to re-route around the usual mid-film slog, and keeps the required elements to their absolute essentials.

lake nowhereThe cast do a good job, despite being inaudible most of the time. This may be a problem to some, but for those who spent the best part of their youth renting obscure VHS tapes, this will feel like an embrace from a long forgotten friend: Uncomfortable, but understood. They basically spend their time doing what no rational person would; renting a cabin in the middle of (Lake) nowhere, skinny dipping, smoking pot, having sex and, of course, falling prey to the local psycho.

This is where things ascend to the next level. Fespite the budget restraints, there are some wonderful shots to behold, as well as a few truly creepy moments, as it turns out the killer is not the only antagonist of the film… While this kind of extra-curricular plot device is what I usually despise (too many cooks…), here it helps to truly encompass the feel of a retro horror film (à la Evil Dead) and is handled well.

I do not wish to give too much away, but things go ape-shit towards the second half, and the only criticism I can give is that I do actually wish the bloodletting lasted a bit longer. I imagine the schedule (filmed in a mere six days) is the reason for the rushed approach to the ending. But in fairness it only recaptures the quirky shortcomings of the old films.

lake nowhereMusic is also well-utilized; retro synthesizers that do not reek of pastiche. Kudos on that front – Rick Wakeman would be proud! Creepy, disjointed and rather unnerving when played loud (also helps to hear the dialogue – bonus!)

In conclusion:

  • Is this film a masterpiece? … NO
  • Is it commercial? … NO
  • Is it flawed? … YES
  • Is it niche? … ABSOLUTELY
  • Will it appeal to those who believe Prom Night (2008) is an original film? … NO

Then why 5 stars? Because it is the nearest experience you will get, since the days of independent rental shops for the most awful splatter euphoria VHS could deliver. If that rings true with you then this is what you really have been waiting for, warts and all!

Now take a dip in Lake Nowhere. If you dare!


Wow! Sounding good! Take a look at this awesome trailer:

If that doesn’t get your 80s juices flowing, what will!?

You can buy it – VHS NTSC onlyhere.

VIP’s of Slasherdom: Shelly

The Prankster wasn’t always a staple of teenie-kill horror films, while there was Ned in the original Friday the 13th, pretending to drown to kiss a girl, and Scott pranking Terry in Part 2, the ingredients really came together in the third movie, and the inclusion of just another Jason victim was a lot more important than initially intended…

It’s Shelly!

Shelly

“Are you guys doing something I shouldn’t see?”

Missive: The Shell (Larry Zerner, later spotted in an episode of Fame), like most other teen boys in slasherdom, just wants to get some. But he’s a little overweight, a lot undercool. So rather than skinny dip for attention, he plays jokes, jokes that usually misfire badly…

Repertoire: The Shellster’s gags fittingly revolve around scaring folk: He fake stabs his buddy, plays dead to scare whiny-heroine Chris, can out-juggle any man, and – most crucially – scares his date Vera by leaping from the water with a speargun and wearing a hockey mask. Hmm…

Why we love him: First and foremost, The Shell is responsible for endowing Jason with his trademark face gear. Respect. But beyond that, as the earliest incarnation of the stereotypical prankster, Shelly isn’t just a shallow jerk with nothing else but his gags, he has feelings too, goddammit! He also won’t stand for being a victim (well, with one obvious exception) and reaps revenge on the bikers who abuse Rick’s beautiful VW Bug. Admit it, of all the characters in Part III, he’s the only one anyone really remembers.

Shelly – we *heart* you.

1 2 3 4 5 55