Tag Archives: weird-ass twist

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.

Taglinus accuratus

TRICK OR TREATS

1 Stars  1982/92m

“…when Halloween night stopped being fun!”

Director/Writer: Gary Graver / Cast: Jackelyn Giroux, Peter Jason, Chris Graver, Carrie Snodgress, David Carradine, Stave Railsback, Jillian Kesner, Paul Bartel.

Body Count: 3 (!)

Laughter Lines: “These horror movies… they make me scared to drive home alone at night!”


“When Halloween night stopped being fun,” goes the tagline. Darn tootin’. Short of falling ass-first on a running power drill, I can’t think of a less fun way to spend Halloween night, or any other given night, than watching Trick or Treats.

Carrie Snodgress gets her husband carted off to an institution in the opening scene. Why? No clue, ToT doesn’t care about in-filling its plot holes. The scene is slapstick heavy, with two orderlies struggling with the flailing hubby, who tries to climb a tree at one point to escape. They all end up falling in the pool. The only thing missing was a table of cream pies.

‘Several years later’, struggling actress-cum-babysitter Linda (Giroux) accepts a Halloween night job to look after the couple’s horrible, horrible son, while Mom and her new squeeze (Carradine), head off to a party. Meanwhile, Hubby has broken out of the institute disguised as a female nurse, and is heading home to murder his wife and anyone else who gets in his way and nobody else.

Yeah that’s right, this is the slasher movie without any slashing. Hubby punches out a security guard rather than stabs him, threatens a couple of homeless guys (one of whom is horror-fixture Bartel), and eventually mistakenly kills a random blonde chick whom he mistakes for his wife.

This might sound okay, but nothing remotely resembling a threat of violence happens for well over an hour into the 92 minute film. Until then, it’s a never ending cycle of the bratty kid playing a prank on Linda, that she always falls for, and some trick or treaters coming to the door. Again. And again. And again. Until death. Your death. From boredom.

With just 15 minutes remaining, Hubby finally catches up with Linda, thinking her to be Carrie Snodgress, and chases her a bit. Although the film is so darkly turned out you may as well close your eyes and rest for all the good they’ll do you open.

A fittingly annoying twist for a fittingly annoying child in the world’s most disappointing ‘slasher’ film is the shitty icing on this cake. A cake made of the shittiest shit one might dredge up from a shit-filled canal in Shitsville, Tennessee.

Blurbs-of-interest: Carradine was in Children of the Corn VDetention (2010), and Fall Down Dead; Steve Railsback was in Deadly Games and Slash; Paul Bartel was in Killer Party. Graver later directed the equally awful Moon in Scorpio.

Suggested viewing accompaniment: Hallucinogenics

THE LAST SLUMBER PARTY

0.5 Stars  1988/72m

“Where the girls are DYING for a good time.”

Director/Writer: Stephen Tyler / Cast: Jan Jensen, Nancy Meyer, Joann Whitley, David Whitley, Danny David, Lance Descourez, Paul Amend, Rick Polizzi, Barbara Clairborne, Stephen Tyler.

Body Count: 12

Laughter Lines: “My parents would decapitate me if they ever caught me kissing a boy!”


Time passes by so quickly. Unless you’re the Righteous Brothers or find yourself sat down with The Last Slumber Party, a film so inherently dreadful in every conceivable way that there aren’t enough sublatives in the English language to illustrate just how terrible it is. It genuinely felt like I spent the whole day watching it.

Unhappy with the concept of having a frontal lobotomy, a mental patient escapes, dons a surgeons scrubs, and journeys to the family home of his doctor – who owns the world’s most hideously decorated house – where his boring daughter Linda, is to host a slumber party for her equally crap gal-pals Tracy and Chris, who hope their boyfriends will crash proceedings and repeatedly (and I mean REPEATEDLY) tell Linda that Scott will call her.

Meanwhile, the bug-eyed psycho is taking a scalpel to schmucks who cross his path and soon finds himself at the party. For a short while (although nothing in The Last Slumber Party feels anything close to short) things play out like any cheapjack film: The girls watch TV, snack, and jabber inanely, repeatedly saying “You scared the shit outta me!” to one another, even when absolutely nothing has happened.

Boys come to “scare the piss out of the girls”, which entails climbing up a ladder with a dollar store Halloween mask on. The girls barely blink the prank is so crap. Eventually, the psycho slashes a couple of throats, loitering behind victims in rooms there really is no place to hide in. The girls wonder where their boyfriends are, referring to them with a tirade of homophobic names (queer/faggot/homo, i.e. “He’s such a homo he even took the bedspread!”)

However, someone else comes along and kills one of the boys in the same manner, with virtually the same outfit on. What? He goes to slice one of the girls but is instead fatally attacked by the first killer. Chris has a random dream that people are dead. Said dream includes her standing at the front door staring out of it for like sixty seconds doing nothing. NOTHING. I am watching a girl stood in a doorway doing nothing.

Everyone else dies and when the doctor returns, he’s immediately called back to the hospital by America’s most sarcastic nurse: “He’s escaped”; “Escaped? Have you called the police?” – this is gold – “No doctor, we all thought we should call you first.”

Doc goes back to hospital and is murdered in the elevator, his body magically transported back to the house and tossed in the pool literally seconds later. Chris goes to his aid and is then mercifully slashed by the killer.

THEN SHE FUCKING WAKES UP.

Chris gets a call from Tracy and tells her: “I had a nightmare within the nightmare!” to which Tracey responds: “I’m bored out of my skull.” You and me both, love.

They drive over to Linda’s just as Linda receives a call from the hospital informing her the psycho has escaped and she should shut all the doors. However, she picks up the phone without saying hello or identifying herself, so how the fuck does the person on the other end even know who it is or when to end the call!?

Aggressively bad. Watch for the botched throat slashings; the same shot of the killer wielding the scalpel at the camera used about a dozen times. And Chris fucking sucks as the choice for final girl, not that either of the other “I’m 37-but-can-play-17″ “actresses” would be any better, but she’s by far the worst with her shrill voice and nasty homophobic comments. The horrific thrash metal soundtrack by Firstryke (even used as some sort of plug on that VHS cover!) should’ve clued us in early on as they wail “it’s just a nightmaaaaaare!” Damn shame I didn’t wake up and find The Last Slumber Party wasn’t real either.

Now I know some of you will think “it can’t be that bad” and consider trying it. Don’t. Don’t be the fool I was. Even as a freebie on YouTube, this is 72 minutes you cannot claw back. A very possible candidate for worst horror film ever made. Ever.

The Last Slumber Party is a B & S Production. I think we can all agree what that might stand for.

Let’s get physical

AEROBICIDE

2.5 Stars  1986/18/82m

A.k.a. Killer Workout

“This workout’ll kill you!”

Director/Writer: David A. Prior / Cast: Marcia Karr, David James Campbell, Fritz Matthews, Ted Prior, Teresa Van der Woude, Richard Bravo, Dianne Copeland, Joel Hoffman.

Body Count: 12

Laughter Lines: “It’s cool to get kinky sometimes…”


Olivia Newton-John has a lot to answer for. Back in the 80s when headbands were big, and hair was bigger, Jane Fonda had the world’s first leotard-graph, and day-glo spandex aerobics carried out to high-BPM synths was the soundtrack to life…

Naturally, someone was going to find a way to make a cheesy horror film about it. Gymnasiums and their equipment have featured in a few slasher films over the years, from the weights used to choke a dumbbell jock in Final Exam and the chick on that upside down sit-up bar thingy who receives death by barbell in Silent Madness, right up to head-squish courtesy of a faulty weight machine in Final Destination 3

But in 1986, along came Aerobicide, exclusively set in and around Rhonda’s Workout, a Los Angeles club where a killer wielding a GIANT SAFETY PIN is doing away with various members.

There’s a lot of this…

*

Beginning with a woman fried alive on a tanning bed, things skip forward gleefully ignoring the event (but we know it’ll be relevant later), and find the temperamental gym manager Rhonda unhappy that moody Lt. Morgan is skulking around the joint suspecting everybody of being the safety pin killer.

Lots of Eric Prydz-esque aerobics are punctuated by safety pin murders, always complimented by horrible sub-Knight Rider cop-after-perp chases are a construction site, as well as a couple of over-rehearsed punch-ups between the prime suspect, Jimmy, and new employee Chuck, who has taken it upon himself to solve the case.

…and a bit of this

*

In spite of the cheery aerobics, the film suffers from electing too few likeable characters, populating the cast with unnamed gym members who utter a few inaudible lines before they exit the building of their own accord, or in a bodybag.

A likely contender for cheesiest stalk n’ slasher, watch the final shot, which is held for so long the actor looks like they’re about to keel over with impatience.

Blurb-of-interest: Joel Hoffman was in Slumber Party Massacre II.

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