Tag Archives: TV

Jinkies!

SATURDAY MORNING MYSTERY

2.5 Stars  2012/18/88m

“Don’t meddle with the devil.”

A.k.a. Saturday Morning Massacre (UK DVD)

Director: Spencer Parsons / Writers: Kat Candler, Jonny Mars, Jason Wehling, Jory Balsimo, Aaron Leggett / Cast: Ashley Rae Spillers, Jonny Mars, Josephine Decker, Adam Tate, Paul Gordon, Heather Kafka, Sean Ryan, Wyeth Miller.

Body Count: 6


Don’t you wish Scooby Doo was real? Don’t you wish YOU were one of the Scooby Gang, driving around in a van randomly solving mysteries?

The live action movies weren’t as good as they could’ve been, so I was hopeful that this unofficial homage to all things Scooby would do the job. It almost does.

VW Camper-touring paranormal investigators Gwen (the Daphne), Chad (the Fred), Floyd (the Shaggy), smart-girl Nancy (the Velma), and their crossbreed Hamlet, are struggling ghost-debunkers who bust a child-pornography ring and are chastised by the cops for stomping all over their investigation.

When they are hired to look into the supposed haunting of the old Kyser mansion on behalf of land developers, they leap at the chance to earn some much-needed cash.

Only Chad houses any belief whatsoever in the paranormal and the eerie surroundings, fleeting shadows, and same noises soon get the better of the group… until they discover they accidentally ingested Floyd’s acid tabs.

We can see figures in reflections, creeping past in the fore or background: Someone is still there. So far, so Scooby Doo Meets Hell Night. The horror then begins when the van goes up in a blaze and the gang – who we were never sure would fall victim or not – start getting hunted by the primal loons running around the old halls.

Gears shift towards a House of 1,000 Corpses vibe as the climax looms and, by this point, the concept had lost its way big time. It’s one thing that too many slasher flicks can’t write a single likeable character, but here their familiarity (albeit based on a cartoon) makes it hard to watch them die. Including the dog, which lost it major points.

Interesting, nicely done idea, but the avenue it eventually wanders down doesn’t pan out, possibly because of the number of writers inputting ideas. I’d have actually preferred an unmasking followed by the usual “meddling kids!” retort. Que sera.

Sequel Showdown: 7s, 8s, 9s, and 10s

As there are so few entries left (prequels will come next time), I decided to group the final ten titles into one globular post: A piece of discarded gum with various hockey masks, knives, razor-gloves, and creepy children stuck to it.

showdown7sa

The Sevens: Children of the Corn: Revelation; Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

A fairly decent group here… The Corn movies were getting stranger and stranger, but the producers of this seventh outing at least managed to inject a small vial of… let’s call it ‘dis-settlement’ rather than creepiness. Jason’s seventh stomp through the woods (fifth, if we’re going to be really pedantic about it) pit him against a Carrie-lite chick with telekinetic powers. Halloween H20 reunited Jamie Lee Curtis with her psychotic big-bro as a reaction to Scream. And Wes Craven had the final laugh by making a Freddy film about Freddy films.

It’s actually difficult to choose… Corn can get the boot first, naturally, but between the three mainstays, we’ve got a naff-but-fun soggy sequel, a reboot that harshly ignored all the work people did in previous films, and an inventively scary but kinda draggy chiller with little-to-no slashing at all. Hmmm…

showdown8sa

The Eights: Children of the Corn: Genesis; Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan; Halloween: Resurrection; Freddy vs. Jason (I know, I know, it’s both an 8 and an 11, but I’m tired and hungry).

Genesis is so bad it hurts. Goodbye. Followed swifty by the worst of the original Paramount Fridays. Even a non-gorehound like me needed a little claret on show to liven this one up… Halloween: Resurrection not only concocted the most stupid fucking way of bringing back Michael Myers, it also has Busta Rhymes in it. BUT… as a cheesy standalone slasher movie, I do like it. Then there’s the WWE smackdown of the other two slasher movie heavyweights.

More hmmm-ing required…

showdown9-10a

Nine and Ten: Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday; Jason X

With only two films this should be easy. Both suck in terms of their franchise, but which sucks more? Hell went all Hidden with this demon-spirit of J-man but had an awesome opening few minutes and that camping scene. X, on the other hand, tried to do something different. It failed, but at least they tried. There were a couple of chuckles too

The Finalists:

showdown-finalists-a

Not a great pot to choose from, really… New Nightmare is technically the best made, but how often do I want to sit down and watch it? Almost never. So Halloween: H20 succeeds it. On the basis I didn’t want to be Halloweened out, I plumped for Freddy vs Jason, and the good scenes in Jason Goes to Hell just beat out the good scenes from Jason X, so the former takes the glory. Albeit as short lived as a visitor to Camp Crystal Lake, because it’s not gonna win.

The Winner:

Best of a bad bunch, it might be. Halloween H20 is decent fare, but the whole “3 to 6 never happened” stuff is unforgivable. Jamie Lee’s return buoys it, the low body count tips it in the opposite direction again, so does Josh Hartnett, but it’s way better than Jason Goes to Hell and just about pips Freddy vs Jason in qualitative terms.

Bit of a dull winner, but a winner nonetheless.

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.

D.I.Y. and Die

THE BURNINGMOORE INCIDENT

2.5 Stars  2010/15/82m

A.k.a. Reality Kills

Director/Writer: Jonathan Williams / Writer: J. Andrew Colletti / Cast: Geoff Tate, Jon Conver, Frankie DiNapoli, Matthew Joseff, James Doheny, Gabriela Hersham, Erin Baltsar, Jen Weissenberg.

Body Count: 16


While the Found Footage sub-genre of horror has gone ballistic since The Blair Witch Project (or that Jersey Devil one if you want to engage in the argument over what came first), until now it hasn’t really permeated the slasher sub-set. Rumours of the next Friday the 13th movie being an FF venture were greeted with misery, but for the time being there’s this interesting little flick.

Presented more like an episode of Unsolved Mysteries at the kick off, the documentary gives us a backstory of James Parrish, a regular Joe who murdered his wife and three sons one night and then disappeared. There was no apparent motive and no sign of Parrish thereafter.

A few years later, the producers of home-makeover show Gettin’ Hammered (boy, I bet they regretted that name) purchase an old house in New York to refurb into a pleasant little B&B. Little do they know somebody is already living in the basement, who doesn’t take kindly to the intrusion. Footage shot by the TV cameramen is mixed with static shots from fixed cameras around the house as Parrish goes about killing them off.

While it makes for an interesting enough 82 minutes, the reality show angle results in a lack of any real characters (in spite of them allegedly being real) and no hero/heroine to speak of. The film uses it’s documentary cloak to avoid explaining anything: The hobo who keeps muttering the bizarre word Parrish had tattooed to the back of his head before the murders and just why he went wacko…

This is possibly the main issue audiences have with Found Footage horror, that it has the right to not explain anything in the name of the mysterious circumstances to which the footage pertains. It may have worked in Blair Witch or The Dyatlov Pass Incident, which rely on a supernatural element, but here it seems like we’re being cheated out of a resolution.

Stylistically engaging, well acted, and ‘real’ enough, but ultimately there being nobody to root for makes it hard to care and thus hard to legitimately ‘enjoy’.

Talking heads. Still attached.

SLICE AND DICE: THE SLASHER FILM 

3 Stars  2012/18/76m

Director: Calum Waddell


A documentary about slasher films is pretty much all you need to know, but unlike 2006’s Going to Pieces, this one didn’t start life as a book, however, one of the associate producers is Justin Kerswell, who wrote Teenage Wasteland so it sort of counts.

Reviewing a documentary is difficult as there’s no plot to describe. Therefore, Slice and Dice is a pretty skimpy 76-minute trip through the beginnings of the genre, final girls, gore, and what makes a good maniac – not quite ‘the complete history’ as the cover claims.

Talking heads range from stars such as Corey Feldman, the always lovely Felissa Rose and UK scream queen Emily Booth, to directors Adam Green, John Carl Buechler, Patrick Lussier, Scott Spiegel, and Final Destination creative force, Jeffrey Reddick.

As a mild distraction, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the final product as it sails through its subject matter with a very generous scoop of films clips from all over the place, but I found it to be a little… empty and ‘inside the box’. Not that it’s slapdash, but it has a slightly mechanical feel over that of an out-and-out passionate love letter to slasher films.

There’s also a fair wad of time doled out to series’ that I wouldn’t have lumped in with the likes of Jason, Freddy, and Michael Myers (Puppet Master!?) and little in the way of history lessons. Of course, to my twisted, overloaded brain, there’s no new ground to be covered so perhaps it would be more interesting and surprising to the more casual or new fan.

Adam Green supplies the best line, as the criticisms of the genre being misogynistic are defended: “It’s odd to me that people like the ratings boards say that they’re demeaning towards women, again it’s equal opportunity, they’re demeaning towards everyone, …so fuck off.”

Who else shows up: J.S. Cardone, Tom Holland, Tobe Hooper, Dave Parker, Fred Olen Ray, Robert Rusler, Christopher Smith, Norman J. Warren.

1 2 3 4 7