Tag Archives: weird-ass twist

Hackity-Hack don’t talk back

hackHACK!

3 Stars  2007/18/86m

“Who will make the final cut?”

Director/Writer: Matt Flynn / Cast: Danica McKellar, Jay Kenneth Johnson, Juliet Landau, Sean Kanan, Adrienne Frantz, Travis Schuldt, Justin Chon, Gabrielle Richens, Wondgy Bruny, William Forsythe, Lochlyn Munro, Burt Young, Tony Burton, Mike Wittlin, Kane Hodder.

Body Count: 13

Dire-logue: “How’s that for improv, you two-bit amateur fucker?”


If you’re old enough to remember The Wonder Years on TV, where Fred Savage was a pre-teen growing up in the 60s while his grown-up self Daniel Stern narrated a load of crap about getting closer to his dad n’ stuff, you’ll remember his best friend-slash-object of lust Winnie Cooper. If you have no idea what I’m on about then just know that the grown up Winnie – Danica McKellar – takes the lead in this here quirkfest. It’s another genre-referential slasher flick – it’s Hack!

Kane Hodder dies. Then we meet an assorted group of college students, led by McKellar’s dorky Emily, who has organised a stay-away trip to an island where they’ll complete a study on rock pools and stuff for the extra credit they each need. As later noted by Johnson’s token nice guy, there are enough stereotypes for a scary movie: the jock (who takes his football everywhere), the sexy exchange student (“fish n’ chips, guv’nor?), the flamboyant gay guy (who dances to Fame when nervous), the dope-smoking black guy and the sarcastic rock chick.

hack6The group stay with perky couple Vincent and Mary-Shelley (Kanan and Landau), who are passionate about filmmaking. All this idyll is soon brought to a halt as the students start splintering off and then getting moiderized by a killer who dresses up in a variety of filmy costumes to commit their dastardly deeds.

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I’ll be ruining nothing by revealing that the killers turn out to be Vincent and Mary-Shelley, making a horror flick of their own by copying scenes and motifs from various old classics. And The Ring. Teens are chainsawed, croquet-malleted, shoved down wells and fed to piranhas amongst other things, all with an excess of reflective dialogue – the Karate scene is especially amusing as is the final confrontation between survivors and killers.

hack7Hack! does add a twist of its own towards the end, which had the effect of pulling the rug from under its own feet to some extent. This sort of revelation isn’t unduly rare for a slasher film but it’s never been one I’m particularly fond of unless it’s so deep-rooted you have no idea what’s about to hit you. I’d have preferred them not to meddle in the way they have and it damaged my appreciation for how entertaining the film had been up to this point.

hack4There are a few elements that don’t tie up well in places, things I can’t go into without giving it all away, although quite why William Forsythe is dressed like a 19th century farm worker is a mystery. But the cast bears an appealing quality and the high reading on the randometer isn’t a bad thing in a production like this.

hack8aWith this in mind, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Hack! is a cheap n’ cheerful ride, something that seems to escape the type of people who write “worst movie EVER!!!1!1!!!” on the IMDb boards and in turn praise the glut of torture-porn knock-offs because “they iz soooo realistikz!” This is a well made film – save for the tinny sound at some points – which has evidently been written as a love letter to the genre rather than an exercise in ‘let’s see how much violence we can get away with’.

So for me it was funny and engaging but definitely not for all tastes unless you like your slash with a topping of grilled cheese and a endless array of throwaway one-liners, otherwise you’ll agree with the last line: “What the hell’s going on here?” “Just some piece of shit horror movie.” Maybe.

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Blurbs-of-interest: William Forsythe was in the Halloween remake and iMurders; Sean Kanan was in Hide and Go Shriek; Juliet Landau was also in the Toolbox Murders remake; Lochlyn Munro was in Freddy vs. Jason, Scary Movie and The Tooth Fairy. Kane Hodder is in everything.

Shoot first, work out plot later

paintballPAINTBALL

3 Stars  2009/15/86m

“There’s nothing like a brush with death to make you feel alive.”

Director: Daniel Benmayor / Writer: Mario Schoendorff / Cast: Jennifer Matter, Brendan Mackey, Patrick Regis, Iaione Perez, Neil Maskell, Anna Casas, Peter Vives Newey, Claudia Bassols, Felix Pring.

Body Count: 11

Dire-logue: “Look man, we might’ve just met, but right now we need to stick together!”


If you’ve ever been paintballing it’s likely you’ve encountered some the archetypes commonly associated with shooting-things-for-fun. I went a couple of years ago and we beheld the stag-do lads (the groom was made to wear a dress) and the militia wannabes who like to take such things a tad seriously… Needless to say, I was crap as it, succeeding only in eliminating trees from the competition.

In the grand tradition of doing-what-it-says-on-the-box, Paintball is a film about paintball – an obvious development for death-in-the-woods film, but not one that hasn’t been explored before. Jason took out some dorky execs in Friday the 13th Part VI and bachelor-party-boneheads were hunted by a Templar Knight in StagKnight just a couple of years back.

This Spanish film (in English) puts eight international paintball fanatics – four of each gender – into Redball Woods, “Europe’s largest paintball sanctuary” where they’re given 24 hours to capture four flags and annihilate the opposing team. Names are bandied around but with everyone in masks it’s impossible to work out who’s who and all dialogue for now is yelled commands from nominated leader David.

Before long, the team are attacked by someone who has better weapons than they do – including real bullets it seems as one lagging schmuck is quickly killed off. So begins their plight as a largely off-camera hunter picks them off one after the other, watching through night-vision goggles so all the violence is polarised and spurts of blood appear bright white.

At around the halfway point, Paintball does the opposite to what most modern horror flicks do – it gets better instead of worse, escalating steadily towards the interesting climax. The first third was crowded with annoying characters (we had the token fat American guy, the brash sub-Vasquez chick, and the black guy) and had frenetic, near impossible to watch camera work.

However, it soon becomes apparent that we’re not dealing with just another I-hate-people psycho; the killer is under instruction from a group of people with a vested interest in watching people die. Echoes of Battle Royale, Wilderness and now Hostel come together as the final numbers dwindle and the killer rebels and decides to kill his way, leaving last survivor – female, natch – to be ‘adopted’ by the controllers, who shepherd both her and the killer together for a final theatrical confrontation. The winner will be granted freedom…right?

In spite of some nice accents, there’s little European flavour in Paintball: none of the lush photography that made The Orphanage so nice and sod all tension a la Cold Prey and Haute Tension. But there is something good about it, something that might have worked out better if the film were in more experienced hands. As it is, the first third is so dismal that the temptation to turn off was overwhelming. If you can make it to the midway twist, you might enjoy it.

Valley of the Cheapjack Franchises: CAMP BLOOD

Camp Crystal Lake was known as Camp Blood by the locals, ‘cos of all the, y’know, DEATH. A film called Camp Blood peaked my interest over a decade ago when browsing the bottom shelf of the horror section. It’s time to avoid that section no more once again as I save you from suffering through another stack o’ shite slash…

campbloodCAMP BLOOD

1 Stars 1999/18/73m

“Wide open with nowhere to run.”

Director/Writer: Brad Sykes / Cast: Jennifer Ritchkoff, Michael Taylor, Tim Young, Bethany Zolt, Courtney Taylor, Joe Hagerty.

Body Count: 11


If I’d made this film, I’d forgive you for calling it a pile of shit. I would, honestly. Whether Brad Sykes would forgive you – or indeed me – is another matter…

The title alone informs us that this is going to rip of Friday the 13th to some extent, but there’s also some Blair Witch in there too. Within two minutes we’re privy to some gratuitous nudity and the obligatory slashing that occurs everytime somebody disrobes in the woods. Try it and see!

Four city folk drive out into the woods to spend the weekend at Camp Blackwood but are, of course, stalked and slain by a clow-masked, machete-toting loon. Every predictable element is tossed into this shit salad: the insane old man who declares them to be doomed, a crappy legend that’s about as frightening as goldfish (but still manages to necessitate dialogue such as “I just can’t stop thinking about that story…”), characters who jog as slowly as possible away from the looming killer, cell phones fail, walking near a twig means you’ve sprained your ankle and therefore you can’t walk… It’s unrelenting.

By far the worst thing occurs when the final girl escapes and is accused of being behind it all and the other actors who played her now-dead friends don new roles as cops and nurses etc with barely any attempt to alter their appearances. Jason wept…

*

campblood2CAMP BLOOD 2

2000/18/75m  1 Stars

“It’s not over!”

Director/Writer: Brad Sykes / Cast: Jennifer Ritchkoff. Garett Clancy, Missy Hansen, Mark Overholt, Jane Johnson, Timothy Patrick, Ken X, Lisa Marie Bolick, Courtney Burr.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “Sometimes it feels like I’m dead too.”


Before torture-porn there was torture-quality. As if one of these films wasn’t bad enough, the same ‘production’ team return for another helping of the same with absolutely no lessons learnt from their previous outing.

One year after surviving the Camp Blackwood slayings, a director with as little talent as Brad Sykes invites sole survivor / prime suspect Tricia – who has been locked away in an asylum that has an inch-thick wooden door to keep her confined – to be the ‘technical advisor’ on his screen immortalisation of the events according to her statement.

Without any explanation whatsoever, the doctors just let her leave without a chaperone, an electronic tag or a T-shirt that says “Hi there! If I go mental and try to kill you, return me to Loonsville Asylum!”

So she goes along on the shoot and another clown-masked nutter, who’s already done away with some horny teens, comes a stalkin’. Tricia, three actors and the entire crew of three become the victims of more dreadful killing, including machete in the mouth and a person who dies from a severed hand.

More attempted in-jokes – one character is named Adrienne Palmer – and a rushed open ending, in which the killer survives first degree burns that don’t even singe their hair and multiple machete slashes and then gives the clown mask to Tricia who wanders off into the woods with it. That’s the freakin’ end!

There is a third movie, which is called Within the Woods. I point blank refuse.

Blurbs-of-interest: Courtney Taylor played Mary Lou Maloney in Prom Night III, hence one of the characters is called Mary Lou. Tim Young was in Scarecrow, the other cheapjack franchise!

Death is just a click away

imurdersiMURDERS

2 Stars  2008/15/99m

“You don’t know who you’re talking to…”

Director: Robbie Bryan / Writers: Robbie Bryan & Kenneth Del Vecchio / Cast: Terri Colombino, Frank Grillo, William Forsythe, Gabrielle Anwar, Tony Todd, Joanne Baron, Charles Durning, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Billy Dee Williams, Brooke Lewis, Miranda Kwok, Christie Botelho, Dan Grimaldi.

Body Count: 5

Dire-logue: “It’s difficult to put the milk back in the carton when you’ve already had the cereal.”


Look at that cast roster! Forsythe. Todd. Anwar. Durning. How could this film fail, you might ask? And yet…

iMurders is a strange one. It’s a film that borders several genres and has so many criss-crossed mystery plot threads that the writer’s of Lost would be envious. There’s a lot to resolve in just 99 minutes and things would likely work out better were this a mini-series like Harper’s Island.

Things begin usually enough with a woman returning home to find a blonde riding her husband’s lap. Faces are obscured and we flick to the exterior as voices are raised and a gunshot sounds.

Ten months later, Colombino’s pretty singleton, Sandra, moves into a new apartment and quickly connects back on to ‘FaceSpace’, the social networking site she’s obsessed with. FaceSpace. I think I hear you groaning!

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A group of eight super-friends meet religiously for online chats, during which LA FX artist Mark sets them a contest, the winner of which will be rewarded with some movie memorabilia. However, during their chat, Mark cops a powerdrill in the back of his head, which the others, watching over cams, believe is just trickery in accord with his Halloween-themed task…

Sandra becomes romantically involved with brooding ex-cop neighbour Joe, whose sister is an FBI Agent looking into both the chatroom murders and Billy Dee Williams’ crooked lawyer, who sets up attacks on people and then sues for them. His latest client, Anwar (the trigger-happy Fi from TV’s excellent Burn Notice), is a model whose face has been permanently scarred after she was attacked by a knife-toting loon in a nightclub. Consequently, she spends the entire film with a giant square band-aid stuck to her cheek.

Elsewhere, Forsythe is a philandering college professor trying to hide his ways from his missus and discourage an amorous co-worker. Durning is a shrink with a bizarre young client who babbles incoherently about the number 666, the chatroom and her dead lesbian lover, which allows, yet again, for a sleazy girl-on-girl scene.

Another murder occurs and brooding cop’s FBI sis and Agent Tony Todd (!) – for once neither a hook-handed urban legend or a death savvy mortician – sweep in and arrest bad lawyer and 666-girl and discover another of the chatters slain. As the script steers us towards suspecting Sandra of the killings, we think twice and realise that the killer is most likely that other person who’s always there, loitering…

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“I hear if you chant “iMurders” 5 times in front of your screen…absolutely nothing of interest happens…”

iMurders is a good looking production. I mean, if the director could get that cast, then he obviously knows how to call in favours. Its ambition is what uploads a virus into it; the top-heavy plot structure is simply way too much for the film to adequately cope with. In addition to this there are too many characters and the killer only manages to knock off a dismal three of the eight chatroom members. The token gay character is done away with first and the murders are too tame for a slasher flick and too brutal for a TV movie. CTRL+ALT+DEL out of this one.

Blurbs-of-interest: the music was composed by no other than Harry Manfredini, who scored nine of the Friday the 13th films; Anwar was also in Crazy Eights; Forsythe was in Hack! and the Halloween remake; Dan Grimaldi was in Don’t Go in the House; Todd was also in Final Destination‘s 1, 2 and 5, Hatchet (and its sequel), Jack the Reaper and Scarecrow Slayer; Charles Durning was in both of the When a Stranger Calls films plus Dark Night of the Scarecrow.

“Ei hän vapauttaa elokuva on yhteensä crap?”

skeletoncrewSKELETON CREW

1.5 Stars  2009/91m

“There’s no sequel for you.”

Directors: Tero Molin & Tommi Lepola / Writer: Tero Molin / Cast: Rita Suomalanien, Steve Porter, Anna Alkiomaa, Jonathan Rankle, Jani Lahtien, Ville Arasalo, David Yoken, Riikka Niemi, John Lenick.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “Somehow we’re inside a film – a horror film. That’s why things have gone like they have.”


By my recollection, this is the first slasher flick to come out of Finland – land of computers, logs and Lordi. I didn’t know this going in. In fact for some reason I thought it was going to be set on an oil rig. Imagine my disappointment surprise glee lack of any real reaction when I figured out it was set in an abandoned mental asylum…

After the longest ever opening scene, in which a couple survive a car crash and seek help at said institution – we’re talking about 25 minutes or so where about three significant things occur, the rest is just the girl walking very slowly up and down corridors – someone yells “cut!” Hark, it’s another horror film about the making of a horror film.

Scream 3, Cut, Return to Horror High, Slaughter Studios, Scared, Urban Legends: Final Cut… This has been done so many times. What can they possibly do any different? Answer: be in Finland. End.

The film, directed by a Brit-wannabe Hollywood player (who says he wants the film to be the next Saw or Hostel), is called Silent Creek, about a true case where a doctor was killing patients and filming the deaths. Slowly – very slowly – director dude becomes obsessed with snuff films after the crew locate a hidden room with previously unfound reels living in it and decides that his film requires a change of tone.

While most European slasher films tend to add something culturally distracting into the mix, Skeleton Crew merely apes its American contemporaries. Nothing unexpected happens unless you count the sound guy being inexplicably frazzled by a lighting rig and an ending that really makes no sense. What’s left is token lesbianism (why the hell is it now in every DTV film?), seen-‘em-all-before slayings and clunky dire-logue. The title of this post translates as “doesn’t he know the film is total crap?” which is what frazzled-sound guy mutters to a buddy early on.

Before his death, sound guy opts out of following the others to safety once the killing has been discovered. Does he vacate? No. He goes to the kitchen and gets drunk, handily debilitating himself in time for the killer’s arrival. And where do the other cast members go? Where did the mental patient and the hulking nurse from the prologue vanish to?

I wanted to find some merit in Skeleton Crew beyond it’s acceptable production values but I’m getting a little pissed with all this same-old hat. While it’s not a horrid film there’s simply nothing remotely original about it beyond it’s geographical origin. Cold Prey may have had a standard plot but it worked its arse off to squeeze every little bit of tension out of it. Skeleton Crew is just cheap and lazy, which is effectively worse than being crap but endearing.

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