Tag Archives: TV

Bitchy Birthday To You

MY SUPER PSYCHO SWEET 16

3.5 Stars  2009/85m

“A party to die for.”

Director: Jacob Gentry / Writers: Jed Elinoff & Scott Thomas / Cast: Julianna Guill, Lauren McKnight, Chris Zylka, Matt Angel, Alex Van, Maia Osman, Susan Griffith, Leandra Terrazzano, Joey Nappo, Chad McKnight.

Body Count: 8


It’s time to throw the ultimate strop, complain that Daddy didn’t buy you anything you wanted, and maybe think that your friends don’t really like you at all…

So, as the MTV show My Super Sweet 16 goes (on the basis of the one episode I had the misfortune of seeing), we follow a fifteen-year-old girl as she prepares for her Sweet 16th. Now, in the UK you typically celebrate turning 18 or 21. There was nothing special about my sixteenth birthday or that of anybody I know. I certainly didn’t hire a giant venue, have a massive party with DJs, a PA and a cake that could feed a small African country. I was probably given a tambourine, some vulgar clothes, and spent the day thinking “nobody understands me!”

The show is renowned for highlighting everything that’s wrong with horrible teenage girls: they’re bitchy, moany and 100% ungrateful. So what sane person – or indeed person of regular means who could never contemplate having such an extravagant shindig (especially when you can’t legally drink) – wouldn’t enjoy seeing these nasty little snobs skewered by a pissed-off killer?

In the surprisingly well-produced and gory movie, Queen Bee high schooler Madison Penrose (Guill) elects to have her Sweet 16 at the Roller Dome where, ten years ago (as ever, not nine, not 11), a particularly obnoxious Bieber-resembling teen humiliates the resident Lord of the Rink, a knight-costumed employee who gives out cakes n’ stuff, and promptly gets a sword shoved through the back of his head. Serves the nasty little fucker right. The cops find a few more dismembered teenagers in barrels out back to boot.

msps-2pics

A decade later, the killer’s daughter Skye (McKnight) who called the cops on him, is the outcast goth-lite chick in school. When she begins attracting the attention of Madison’s ex, Brigg (!), it comes with a side order of bitchy pranks from the trio of nasty girls who run the school.

“Brigg”. Are people really called Brigg?

“Brigg” continues to make a beeline for Skye’s attention and eventually she and her dorky horndog friend Derek decide to crash Madison’s party, after Skye battles for all of three-minutes the issue of returning to the scene of her supposedly-dead father’s crimes.

The party gets into swing, kids skate, make out, Madison bitches that the cake isn’t right and gets hit on by the party planner… and soon the psycho knight turns up and begins hacking, bludgeoning and decapitating the guest list until Skye, “Brigg” and Madison are left to face off with him, Prom Night style!

MTV may have a lot to answer for in its influence on youth film culture in general – A.D.D. stylings, kinetic editing and a signifcant lack of character, but MSPS16 at least seems to be aware of this and plays merrily with spoofing the show from which it draws inspiration and teen interplay in general, skewering it both figuratively and quite literally.

Additionally, the film is bloody enough to satisfy, doing all the things we hoped the drippy Prom Night remake had. Although given the plotting devices, the victims are predominantly nubile teenage girls who shriek and scramble in terror. A particularly memorable scene involves a girl – on skates – fleeing from the sight of her friend’s body, getting decapped as she goes, leaving her headless corpse to roll straight into a birthday cake!

There are a few good scenes, though they lean heavily on coincidence: One girl attempts to escape by finds herself stuck behind one of those gates that has spikes all around it to stop people swinging around the side to gain entry. It doesn’t stop her trying though. And once the mayhem is discovered and people flee, the ‘right’ characters are somehow left inside just long enough to be stuck there.

Blurb-of-interest: Julianna Guill was Bree in the Friday the 13th reboot.

Pant-Soiling Scenes #18: DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW

In this day and age, TV horror movies largely consist of SyFy ‘originals': dripping in shitty cheap CG monsters feasting on washed-up actors and mute extras.

Back in ’81, however, the TV movie was a real event and, in horror terms, Dark Night of the Scarecrow stands as one of the most successful in terms of style and ambiance. A.K.A. it’s fucking creepy shit, as evidenced in the final shot of the movie.

…unless there’s another shot after. I can’t remember right this minute, but you catch my drift, right? Turns out after all the nerve-shredding tension that Bubba in Scarecrow form was the one reanimated and doing all the killin’!

No other scarecrow-themed film has touched it thus far.

Read a full review here.

More rubbish films that don’t deserve long reviews

Would you believe that quite a lot of slasher films suck? No, me either. I expect brilliance in everything. But as before, some slasher films have failed me. Failed miserably. And thus, they don’t warrant any more of my ludicrously precious time than they’ve already sucked away with their suckiness. Sucks to them!

BLOOD TRAILS

1.5 Stars  2006/18/87m

“You can’t outride death.”

Director/Writer: Robert Krause / Cast: Rebecca R. Palmer, Ben Price, Tom Frederic, J.J. Straub.

Body Count: 7


A terminally dull German film masquerading as American by casting British actors effecting bad accents.

Moody bicycle courier Anne is approached by her estranged ex, Michael, and agrees to get out of the city for some fresh air after a particularly bizarre sexual encounter with unhinged traffic cop, Chris.

Now, if you were a fisherman by trade, would you go on a fishing holiday? No. Still, Anne being a bit of a simpleton, she and Michael decide to go mountain biking deep in the woods. Guess who shows up and manages to cut Michael’s throat with a bike tyre via a nifty Matrix-style in-air skid?

After this development, about twenty minutes in, the rest of Blood Trails consists of Anne pedalling away; Anne sitting on rocks; Anne crouching behind trees on lookout… Everything takes forever to unfold, supposedly in the name of tension building but, if anything, if there was ever an excuse to fast forward, this was it.

At one point, Anne comes across two forest workers, neither of whom utter a single word despite the obvious fact that the woman is traumatized and that the tree they were sawing down fell on her! It matters not, as Chris soon floats in and kills them.

Minimal interest kicks in as Anne attempts to escape but it all goes out the window with a stupid finale in which the unarmed killer manages to shoot two cops who turn up out of the blue for no reason.

It looks like helmer/scribbler Krause was trying to create a ‘true’ survivalist horror but the film spends too much time with an unsympathetic simpleton of a heroine who makes some of the most ridiculous decisions in slasher movie history, i.e. you have a car at your disposal, which you could run down the killer with but instead get out and cycle away. Says it all.

Blurb-of-shame: Tom Frederic was in Wrong Turn 3.

WHISPERKILL

 1988/15/90m  1 Stars

“Shhh… You’re next.”

A.k.a. A Whisper Kills

Director: Christian I. Nyby II / Writer: John Robert Bensink / Cast: Loni Anderson, Joe Penny, June Lockhart, James Sutorius, Jeremy Slate, Joe Leter.

Body Count: 4


It’s great that this made-for-cable “mystery” doesn’t give away the killer’s identity on the DVD box, isn’t it? Oh look, it’s obviously a female in a film with only two female characters.

Bad-movie-fixture Loni Anderson is the owner-slash-editor of newspaper in the small town where a ski-masked fiend is first making murmured phone calls to the people who later get stabbed.

Like others of its ilk, Whisperkill is laced with stock soft-focus erotic scenes between Anderson and leading man – and suspect – Joe Penny. Meanwhile, the real killer knocks off a few of her male acquaintances and the rest is fattened up by crummy sex-scenes until the identity of the “mystery killer” is revealed for us all to go “oh, for fuck’s sake!” at.

Commits the unforgivable sin of being boring as well as crap.

THE DEADLY INTRUDER

1 Stars  1986/18/84m

“Someone out there is watching you… Don’t unlock your door.”

Director: John McCauley / Writer: Tony Crupi / Cast: Molly Cheek, Chris Holder, Tony Crupi, Danny Bonnaduce, Laura Melton, Styart Whitman, Danny Greene, Marcy Hansen, Santos Morales.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “Cooking without garlic is like making love without foreplay.”


Another escapee from an asylum arrives in another small town (Midvale, pop. 18,000) and begins laying the locals to waste. This truly horrible film has the audacity to declare itself “in the Hitchcock tradition” on the back of the box but could not be further from Hitch’s style if it boarded a rocket to Jupiter. And I wish it had.

Things kick off in a fairly pacey Friday the 13th way with seven murders in the first 35 minutes before the rot begins to set in. The rest of the plotless plot centres around screechy heroine Jessie, who throws a party for some friends (two of whom never make it) where she is introduced to Bob, a magazine writer from Canada working in a local clothes store to “get the working man’s perspective.”

And while nobody but Jessie and friends believe him, there’s a homeless drifter loitering outside the windows, wandering aimlessly with a sickle, looking like a psychotic Paul McCartney. Said hobo abducts Jessie that night and ties her up in a shack about 30 feet away from her house!

A good third of the film is taken up by this senselessness that never goes anywhere as we decide who is now more likely to be the killer: Wino McCartney or Bob? The outcome is anything but a surprise and the obnoxious twist that somehow anticipates the sequel-that-never-was is the only scary thing that happens in The Deadly Intruder.

There is no merit to this film with the possible exception of seeing Danny Bonaduce of The Partridge Family murdered with prejudice. Add this to the ghastly repetitive synth score and it hurts like fingernails down the chalkboard OF MY SOUL!

SNAPPED

2005/15/80m  1.5 Stars

“Picture yourself dead.”

Directors: Jeffrey Prosserman & Julian Van Mil / Writers: Steve Abbott, Michael Bien, Prosserman & Van Mil / Cast: Tiffany Knight, Michael Bien, Joe Costa, Natalie Van Rensburg, Peter Soltesz, Sara-Jean Villa, Brett Rabinowitz, Lindsey Veenendaal.

Body Count: 10

Dire-logue: “So, you’re solution to my dilemma being ‘all men are dicks so stick yours in me’?”


I like weird things: cold toast with Vegemite, sideburns, Dr Pepper and Eurovision. Snapped is a weird film, really weird. But I didn’t like it. Sorry, Snapped and all ye affiliated with you.

Tiffany Knight is the curiously named Amy Mechanic, a struggling photographer who lands a well-paid new job for a mystery client. Without any credible explanation, Amy begins bludgeoning and hacking up bystanders in her life and taking pictures of the bodies to win the praise of oddball gallery rep Virgo.

Much of the build up to her ‘snapping’ (get it?) concerns the split from her junkie painter boyfriend and moving into the basement of bitchy best friend, Rose, whose own boyfriend is getting visits from an ass-kicking female loan shark. None of these things are of much importance, merely devices to bring more pitiless victims into Amy’s path.

Like so many post-millennial slashers, Snapped suffers from an overabundance of assholey characters we don’t care about, rather than nice folk battling for survival, rendering it the kind of picture you shouldn’t stop to gaze upon, let alone attempt to figure out the ridiculous twist ending, which makes even less sense!

BLOOD REAPER

1 Stars  2004/18/80m

“The legend has just become a bloody reality…”

Director: Lory-Michael Ringuette / Writers: Douglas Hensley, Ringuette & Michael J. Stewart / Cast: Cameron McHarg, Alison Moon, Jerri Badenhop, Mark Siegel, Charlene Amoia, Lory-Michael Ringuette, Brinke Stevens, Bernard Mann.

Body Count: 10


As if the barrel-scraping of Camp Blood and its shoddy sequel was actually a challenge to other filmmakers, here’s another shot-on-video campers-in-peril quickie with equally abysmal results.

More youngsters ignore warnings of a mythical killer living in the woods blah, blah, blah. They go camping anyway, blah, blah, blah. Even Brinke Stevens – who gets top billing for her seven minute cameo – looks glazed with disappointment that it’s come to this.

Long, boring sequences of individuals milling silently amongst trees while the camera bobs behind branches pad out the eighty minutes, while the audience pleads for someone to put us out of our misery. There’s an almost eye-opening innovation of electing the chubby girl as the heroine but, alas, they make it not so and kill her with a sharp log.

The intermittent gory murders are sloppy and unrealistic, reproducing everything we’ve seen elsewhere in better films and they even try to recreate the famous Ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma sound of Jason and toss in a plinky-plonky Halloween-style theme to lighten proceedings but all it does it remind us that Blood Reaper will never live up to those standards.

I Best Be Knowin’ What Y’all Did Last Summer

DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW

3.5 Stars  1981/96m

Director: Frank De Felitta / Writers: J.D. Feigelson & Butler Handcock / Cast: Charles Durning, Lane Smith, Robert F. Lyons, Claude Earl Jones, Larry Drake, Tonya Crowe, Jocelyn Brando, Tom Taylor.

Body Count: 6

Dire-logue: “The only official thing you ever done is lick stamps!”


TV movies used to be, y’know, good! No, really! Before the flux of home video in the 80s, more effort went into entertaining the masses via the faithful idiot box and so this slow burn horror from Halloween of 1981 is way more than your average SyFy CG-fest. I mean, hot damn, this film gave me the creeps.

Larry Drake is Bubba, a 36-year-old small town hick with the mental age of a little leaguer, who is best friends with ten-year-old Marylee. They make daisy chains in fields, sing songs, and skip around like all healthy, outdoorsy kids should, much to the annoyance of local mailman and wannabe big-fish Otis, who’s just waitin’ for that day when Bubba is caught undressing the little girl.

When Marylee is savaged by a neighbourhood dog and reported dead, everyone naturally assumes that Otis’s prediction has come true and he gathers a troupe of fat-ass friends who gather guns and bloodhounds and chase down poor Bubba, who hides inside his mama’s scarecrow, helpless when the quartet of rednecks spray him with bullets, literally seconds before a call comes in over the radio informing them that Marylee has regained consciousness and relayed her story of the dog.

The men are put on trial and manage to gain an acquittal based on a fabricated story of self defense but, as Bubba’s grieving mama yells as she’s dragged from the courtroom, there are other kinds of justice in the world.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow, up until now, plays like a smalltown melodrama with themes of intolerance and blind hate – it’s not difficult to imagine people like this still existing today to hunt down outcasts based on race, creed or what gender of person they sleep with. There’s a sort of wicked satisfaction that they’re going to suffer for this that makes you want to lean in over a single candle flame, rub your hands together and cackle.

The film really gets its creep on at the halfway marker when the first of the guilty party notices a scarecrow, identical to Bubba, in his pasture. Accusations fly, Otis commands his disciples to stay away to avoid looking guilty, and later that evening an ‘accident’ occurs.

Paranoia of the standard ‘someone knows what we did’ subset ensues to great effect: the other men are immediately superstitious, convinced that the scarecrow is Bubba, back from the grave. Otis, on the other hand, is happy to blame anyone and everyone else: Bubba’s mama, the upset prosecutor, even little Marylee – who tells him, in no uncertain terms, that she knows what he did. Yes! Suck on that mailman ‘letter carrier’!

Weird things continue to happen, pushing an increasingly sweaty Otis to desperate measures in order to cover his own fat ass as his pals continue to drop dead in interesting ways. The scene with Philby is super-creepy and the ending… Argh! They really took some cues from Spielberg’s method of keeping the monster off camera and put them to good use here as Otis – naturally the last to believe – is made a believer.

To really review this film would be to ruin it to some degree so you’ll just have to see for yourself how basic common sense in observing what is scary rather than shocking can give a likely thought to be forgotten late nighter something of a cult following. The cast helps too: Durning makes a good, smirking villain and it’s interesting to see a young(er) Lane Smith (he played Chief White in The New Adventures of Superman) and Marlon Brando’s big sis plays Bubba’s protective mama. Drake doesn’t overplay the role of the mentally disabled Bubba either – there’s a heartbreaking fear in his eyes as Otis and his dinosaurs of the apocalypse ready themselves to open fire.

Charles Durning in… When the Mailman who Shot Your Son Calls

It’s a testament to the film’s quality that a ‘meagre’ TV film packs more unsettling content than a dozen big budget features with ten times the cash injection. Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a real product of its time: it would bore a modern audience to death were it new but for jaded oldies who thought everything good from the 80s had already been on DVD for a decade might find something nostalgically great here.

Don’t confuse it with the 1995 flick Night of the Scarecrow.

Blurbs-of-interest: Charles Durning was in both When a Stranger Calls and its sequel and also iMurders; Robert F. Lyons was in Pray for Morning; Larry Drake was Dr Giggles.

Pant-Soiling Scenes #13: GHOSTWATCH

Go ahead…laugh. Ghostwatch was BBC’s hoax documentary for Halloween in 1992. I wasn’t quite a nipper but a lifetime of religious upbringing and “you mustn’t watch horror movies, for they are evil, now let us say grace,” made me one scaredy cat.

Hence, discreetly switching channels to experience the forbidden fruit, I was prompty terrified by what I saw. Legend tells us – and it’s confirmed by the inlay notes in the DVD – that some poor schmuck committed suicide a few days after the broadcast.

When it was released to DVD ten years afterwards, I had to take a look to see if I was damaged. And this moment, where plucky presenter Sarah Greene ventures into the understairs cupboard to look for one of the missing girls, gave me the uber-willies…

So you might not understand what you’re seeing, but the door slowly creaks open when the camera and sound guys go looking for her and reveals a glimpse of this freaky man’s face, who may or may not be the ghost – unaffectionately known as Pipes by the tormented family – eerily staring back at them.

The effect is lost over time to some degree; Michael Parkinson’s unintentionally hilarious possession and the rubbish acting of the bubble-haired psychologist lady but back then…woah, frightening stuff!

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