Tag Archives: weird-ass twist

One way trip

shroomsSHROOMS

1.5 Stars  2007/18/81m

“Get ready to get wasted.”

Director: Paddy Breathnach / Writer: Pearse Elliott / Cast: Lindsey Haun, Jack Huston, Max Kasch, Maya Hazen, Alice Greczyn, Robert Hoffman, Don Wycherley, Sean McGinley.

Body Count: 6

Laughter Lines: “You can’t fuck up what’s already fucked.”


Ireland supplied this disappointing comic horror in which five American college kids join a local on a camping trip into the woods for Shroom Season, where mind-trips galore await those who dare to sample to delicacies the forest floor has to offer.

Good girl Tara (Kirsten Dunst-a-like Haun) accidentally scoffs a forbidden Devil’s Head mushroom, which is reported to cause a variety of mind-bending affects including violent outbursts and foresight.

Tara begins to experience the latter and hosts visions of her friends’ murders during their respective trips, at the hands of a feral creature – the possible survivor of a massacre at the closed-down young offenders home they share the locus with.

Things kick off amusingly with a talking cow, dogging, and cold-blooded murder. The midriff of the project is consumed almost entirely by the three female characters running through the trees and shrieking like banshees, not too dissimilar to The Blair Witch Project, but not nearly as innovative.

Shrooms2Ultimately, the groan-worthy twist is too understated and pointless to save a film that is neither funny enough nor scary enough to warrant any kind of recommendation. The performances and photography are acceptable but lacklustre, and come the credits it feels like you’ve just wasted an hour and a half on nothing – but maybe that’s the ironic underlying message of this regrettable trip?

Pop Eye.

eyeball-1975EYEBALL

3 Stars  1975/89m

“A blinding vision of horror.”

A.k.a. The Secret Killer

Director: Umberto Lenzi / Writer: Felix Tusell / Cast: Martine Brochard, John Richardson, Ines Pellegrini, Andrés Mejuto, Mirta Miller, Daniele Vargas, George Rigaud, Silvia Solar, José Maria Blanco, Marta May, John Bartha, Verónica Miriel.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “Are you saying the killer’s a sadist?” / “I wouldn’t rule it out.”


That this film begins with a tour guide saying: “Coming up on the left now is Barcelona’s bullfighting arena,” when it’s on the right sets things up awesomely.

Fun little giallo shot on location in and around Barcelona (where I’ve spent a majority of the last year) where a bus chock full of American tourists provides a victim pool for an eye-gouging killer who favours plucking peepers from various nubile young girls. Beware a few minor SPOILERS.

I’m not particularly well-versed in giallo classics, but I’ve seen enough to spot the standard hallmarks in play: Mystery glove-wearing killer, many-a fast zoom into character’s faces as something suspicious is said, “Americans” with Euro-accents, amusing translations and clunky dubbing.

*sigh* I miss the 70s... Oh wait, I wasn't there.

*sigh* I miss the 70s… Oh wait, I wasn’t there.

Being a pre-American slasher product, Eyeball nevertheless presents itself with more than a few 80s teenie-kill aesthetics: There are POV shots as the killer floats towards his next unsuspecting victim, boobs-a-plenty, and a short but sweet final girl sequence – with, shock, a black final girl!

So, Paulette is on the tour and her boss/lover Mark, has run out on his disturbed wife to catch up and romance the hell out of Paulette. This is scuppered by the onset of the killings – first a local girl at La Ramblas, then one of the tour group is murdered on a ghost train, a waitress at a bar they all visit is dispatched while she feeds the pigs (!), and so on.

Naturally, all the men are suspects and it’s down to retirement-nearing Inspector Tudela and his young successor to solve the case before he embarks on a life of trout fishing. Fun. Aside from Mark, there’s a creepy Reverend, the boring husband of a restless wife, a cigar-chomping Texan, and the pervy tour guide, who likes to prank the young girls with his array of crappy fake spiders and rodents. Each of them is afforded more than a handful of the zooms-of-suspicion at one point. Even Jessica Fletcher would be dumbfounded by the sheer number of potential loons on this vacation.

eyeball2Spain is presented in lush colours and inimitable 70s fashion choices, which lends the film a pleasantly diverting quality, as if you’re taking a holiday from the same-old American slasher film conventions.

Nothing really lets Eyeball down, it just suffers from the ridiculousness that haunts the whole sub-genre, with a motive so whacky I had to re-watch the ensure I’d actually not misunderstood it.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual: The females are all super hot and super killed, while the only male victim is old and creasy-faced, and killed off-camera. The men can be slimy, sleazy, and annoying but still survive intact, which is a general motif in most Italian body-count horror.

There’s a curiously long exchange about mud on footwear: “It’s elementary, as I’m sure you’re aware that simple walking can get a pair of shoes quite dirty.” There are eyes in a box, daggers conveniently monogrammed with the initials of a suspect, secret photographers and rolls of film with aaaaall the answers. Eyeball has it all. You won’t be bored.

eyeball1Blurbs-of-interest: Brochard and Richardson were reunited in 1981’s Fear; Umberto Lenzi later directed Welcome to Spring Break and also the unsettlingly creepy Ghosthouse.

Wake me when it’s over

DreamaniacDREAMANIAC

1 Stars  1986/82m

“You don’t have to live on Elm Street to have nightmares.”

Director: David DeCoteau / Writer: Helen Robinson / Cast: Thomas Bern, Kim McKamy, Sylvia Summers, Lauren Peterson, Cynthia Crass, Brad Laughlin, Bob Pelham, Matthew Phelps, Linda Watts.

Body Count: 9

Laughter Lines: “Do I know you?” / “I doubt it, I’ve gone to private schools all my life and I’m rich.” / “Oh that’s right, you’re Francis! I thought I recognised those small tits.”


Back in the 1980s, I bet many a disappointed video renter plucked this one from the shelf, thinking it was going to rival Freddy Krueger for some intense scares.

Not so. This early DeCoteau vehicle is an endurance test: Heavy metal lyricist Adam agrees to let his girlfriend Pat’s sister Jodi throw a sorority party at the house he’s sitting. Amidst weird dreams about naked people in baths of blood and a woman with a decapitated head, he conjures up Lily, a succubus who trades sexual favours for the lives of horny teenage partygoers.

In typical mid-80s style, nobody’s ever seen or heard of a slasher film, so they all wander off alone, have sex, don’t leave when the power goes out, allowing Lily and a possessed Adam to knife, electrocute, and bite the dick’s off the party guests.

Some of them seem to come back as zombies and need to be killed again, but I wasn’t sure about that… The Spanish copy I watched had quite a bad resolution.

dm1A ‘joke’ is added to the end for reasons unknown, it’s a bit funny, but more or less negates the previous 75 minutes and the entire USP of the film, but DeCoteau was churning out these babies left, right and centre so I doubt anyone really cared. There’s a fair splattering of gory denouements and at least he populates it with his trademark array of easy-on-the-eye menfolk with their shirts off.

Blurbs-of-interest: Kim McKamy was later in Evil Laugh; DeCoteau turned in what may be his only other slasher film (?) in 2001, Final Stab.

Killer Cop Out

scream-queens-1338SCREAM QUEENS

1.5 Stars  2015/585m

“Pretty evil.”

Cast: Emma Roberts, Skyler Samuels, Lea Michele, Jamie Lee Curtis, Abigail Breslin, Billie Lourd, Glen Powell, Keke Palmer, Diego Boneta, Oliver Hudson, Nasim Pedrad, Niecy Nash, Nick Jonas, Breezy Eslin, Lucient Laviscount, Jeanna Han, Ariana Grande.

Body Count: 21

Laughter Lines: “This school could survive a few serial killings but I don’t think this university could survive losing me.”


Necessary spoilers follow.

The generally accepted path for a slasher story to take is that young, lively characters are introduced and over the course of the tale we watch them get stalked and slain by a vengeful mystery killer. Unless you happen to be Ryan Murphy. If you’re Ryan Murphy you create a set of obnoxious, nasty, bitchy girls as the centrepiece of your little slasher universe while the audience enjoys the anticipation of watching them die later. And you kill precisely none of them.

For all the masses of hype Scream Queens threw up all around itself like a bulimic sorority girl – Nick Jonas! Ariana Grande! Random fashion blogger girl! – after 13 loooong weeks of enduring little more than a parade of acid-tongued put-downs, the series fizzled out with a damp squib of a finale that was akin to promising a child an Xbox 360 for Christmas and giving them a box with some cat shit in it.

sq3I watched Glee for awhile and, for awhile, it was fun. Pristine acapella arrangements of great songs that slowly began to morph into bland, straight-up cover versions, just as Scream Queens might have begun its life in script-form as an ode to all things stalk n’ slashy. I know Murphy is at the very least capable of decent horror scribblings thanks to the early seasons of American Horror Story and his dealings with The Town That Dreaded Sundown. But for all the “I was obsessed with slasher films” rhetoric, you’d think he watched Sorority Row and half of a Halloween sequel and thought “I can do that.”

Emma Roberts leads the cast as the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority president, Chanel Oberlin, no more than a retread of her role as a bitchy actress in American Horror Story: Coven. She spends much of her screentime calling her sisters sluts, whores, or gashes, making borderline racist comments and reminding us how rich she is. This type of character is supposed to die. The inexplicable supposition that gay men adore this type of high-society, entitled thing has always eluded me, but Murphy and co. aren’t able to write interesting ‘nice’ folks anyway.

Twenty years (never nineteen, never twenty-one) after a girl dies during childbirth at the  sorority, the hardass Dean (Jamie Lee Curtis, a bright spot) goes to war with Chanel and alters the charter to allow anybody to pledge the house, leaving them with just a handful of misfits rather than the usual tide of label-loving, anorexic, bitches who hate everybody. Said group includes Lea Michele’s back-brace wearing weirdo, a candle vlogger, another girl known as Predatory Lez for several episodes, plus the cut-n-dried homespun heroine, Grace.

sq1Coinciding with this, a psychotic killer wearing the school’s mascot uniform – a Red Devil – begins targeting all those associated with the sorority. The ensuing twelve episodes should play along the mystery theme as Grace tries to solve the mystery while Murphy would skewer slasher tropes and rapid fire bitchy girl dialogue. It worked for the aforementioned Sorority Row because they bothered to KILL Leah Pipes, but, save for a few decent lines, it doesn’t work here.

With a murder-count of 20, the show notches up zero heart-pounding chase sequences. There are a few splashes of gore here and there but most of the kills are supposed to be funny rather than horrific. That nearly all the victims are ancillary characters and not the vile, entitled main roster is just salt in the bloody wound.

Were the project to be edited down to a 90-minute film, most of the top-tier cast members wouldn’t even feature as the central clique of bitchy girls spend more time commenting on fashion, body image, boyfriend prospects, or plotting against one another. By the eleventh episode, there have been at least three attempts to murder the person they suspect is the killer. There’s so little going on upstairs in this show that it’s forced to recycle the same material just to fill out its half-season quota.

scream-queens-jamie-lee-curtisEventually, several different characters are revealed to have committed murder at one point or another, at least two of them get away with it, while the production pinky-swore that there would only be four characters left standing for the say-it-ain’t-so summer camp set season two, there are in fact ten. It reeks of Murphy et al being too afraid to lose their cast members in case, god forbid, a second season is greenlit. It’s a slasher story, fucking grow a pair and kill someone other than the pizza guy, the replacement mascot, or any other one-episode arc extras!

Even the ‘good guys’ are made up of bland, barely drawn out bores who are too serious and not worth rooting for. Niecy Nash’s hopeless security guard rocks the boat with the best lines but is still marginalised and written as a dimwitted moron; Curtis chews up the barbed dialogue, easily outperforming her co-stars in the laughter stakes; and there’s a very good soundtrack to prop things up. Here though, the positives abruptly end.

How a so-called slasher tale could be so wimpy and gutless is a testament to some atrocious decision making. It’s like Jason restricting himself to murdering hitchhikers and rednecks around Crystal Lake but never bothering to hunt down the pot-smoking, sex-having camp counsellors!

This makes Scream – The TV Series look like Scream – the movie.

scream-queens-red-devilBlurbs-of-interest: JLC’s slasher credentials go from Halloween, Halloween II, Prom Night, Terror Train, Road Games, in the early years up to Halloween H20 and Halloween: Resurrection more recently; Emma Roberts was in Scream 4; Oliver Hudson was in the Black Christmas remake; Steven Culp made a brief appearance in the same episode as Jason Goes to Hell was name checked (incorrectly, I might add).

Reel to reel

220px-BloodhookBLOOD HOOK

3 Stars  1986/18/92m

“Live bait… but not for long.”

A.k.a. Muskie Madness

Director/Writer: James Mallon / Writers: Gail Anderson, David Herbert, Douglas Read, Larry Edgerton & John Galligan / Cast: Mark Jacobs, Lisa Todd, Patrick Danz, Sara Hauser, Christopher Whiting, Bill Lowrie, Paul Drake, Don Winters, Sandy Meuwissen, Paul Heckman, Don Cosgrove, Bonnie Lee.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “I will now proceed to blow the motherfucker away.”


Beware thy spoilers!

This weird endearing Troma pic begins with a young boy witnessing the strange death of his grandfather at their Wisconsin lake house. Seventeen years later (finally not a multiple of five!), the grown up kid and four friends return to the house for the annual Muskie Madness fishing competition.

While some locals cheat and bicker about events from the past, a mystery maniac is reeling in human catch with a large treble-hook. As victims are picked seemingly randomly, nobody’s sure who it is or why… Plus there are no bodies so the local sheriff has to ignore the pleas for help from the teens: “My friend has just been killed and you’re filling out a form!”

bloodhook1Suspects include cranky old fishermen, paranoid ex-military Tucker & Dale type Evelyn, and possibly even one of the teens, who has a habit of acting strangely. Hmmm… If Scooby Doo has taught us anything, it’s not to go for the obvious red herring. Or red muskie.

Blood Hook is an odd experience in terms of slasher films, entrenched in local custom, much of it is played for comedy, with some funny lines (“if you feel comfortable killing me, that’s fine, I’m an adult, I understand!”) and amusingly eccentric characters, not to mention some of the worst of 80s fashion.

Acting ranges quite spectacularly from genre-common awful to surprisingly good, and the eventual motive behind the murders reaches new (entertaining) levels of desperate: Sound. The killer has a metal plate in his skull that causes him great pain when certain frequencies make it vibrate, thus driving him to kill.

Some of the many fashion crimes committed in Blood Hook

Some of the many fashion crimes committed in Blood Hook

So, the teens and their new wave rock music, a fisherman with a klaxon, the temperamental cicada population all serve to drive him mad. Luckily, grown-up-hero-kid knows a lot about chords n’ shit so can figure it out!

Despite low production values, little in the way of grue, and its eccentricities, caught in the right mood, Blood Hook is a fun little time waster.

Blurb-of-interest: Lisa Todd was (much) later in Playback.

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