Tag Archives: what the hell!?

Mistake, indeed

home sweet home 1980

HOME SWEET HOME

1.5 Stars  1980/18/83m

A.k.a. Slasher in the House

“Be it ever so humble, there is no place to hide.”

Director: Nettie Pena / Writer: Thomas Bush / Cast: Jake Steinfeld, Colette Trygg, David Mielke, Vinessa Shaw, Peter De Paula, Don Edmunds, Sallee Young, Charles Hoyes, Leia Naron, Lisa Rodriguez.

Body Count: 9

Laughter Lines: “Please don’t hurt her – I’ll play my guitar for you!”


Of all the calendar holidays to trigger the homicidal leanings of a madman, Thanksgiving has largely been left to curdle like old milk, with only this and Blood Rage representing.

Your basic asylum escapee slasher – musclebound fitness guru Steinfeld – happens across a ranch on Thanksgiving and decides to go overboard on the carving duties. The family of largely unsympathetic, barely named characters provide the meat content for the first hour, until the floor caves in for supposed ‘tension building’, pending the obvious confrontation and the last few people alive keep going to check if windows and doors are locked in virtual darkness.

Crappy acting abounds as people fail to react convincingly to anything and don’t seem to care about the rash of disappearances. Future ‘name’ Vinessa Shaw made her debut as the requisite small child who is immune to the violence (and, aged 4, out-acts the adult cast), but the most memorable character has to be her teen brother, named Mistake, who wears Kiss-lite make-up and tries to convince the killer to stop on the promise of hearing him play guitar for him.

Bloody and weird, but don’t let that stop you.

Blurbs-of-interest: Vinessa Shaw was (much later) in Stag Night; Lisa Rodriguez was in the even worse Terror on Tour.

Wronger Turn

albino farm 2009

ALBINO FARM

1 Stars  2009/85m

“The Legend is Real…”

Directors/Writers: Sean McEwen & Joe Anderson / Cast: Tammin Sursok, Sunkrish Bala, Alicia Lagano, Nick Richey, Chris Jericho, Richard Christy, Duane Whitaker, Bianca Allaine, Kevin Spirtas.

Body Count: 10+


Cheapo Wrong Turn clone with a quartet of college kids on a project lured to go and investigate the ‘Albino Farm’, a local legend, that’s brimming with malformed outcasts, who are also, naturally, all murderers.

Notable only for a likeable Indian guy cast as the nominal hero, and Kevin Spirtas from The Hills Have Eyes Part II and Friday the 13th Part VII in a three-minute role as a preacher. Everything else is a fifth-rate photocopy of something you’ve seen ten times before, scraping such depths as a guy willing to allow complete strangers to molest his girlfriend for a ride to the farm. Total bollocks.

“I’m beginning to suspect foreplay.”

psycho cop returns 1992

PSYCHO COP RETURNS

2 Stars  1993/18/82m

“He’s the life and death of any party.”

A.k.a. Psycho Cop 2

Director: Rif Coogan [Adam Rifkin] / Writer: Dan Povenmire / Cast: Bobby Ray Shafer, Barbara Lee Alexander, Roderick Darin, Miles David Dougal, Nick Vallelonga, Dave Bean, Julie Strain, Alexandria Lakewood, Priscilla Huckleberry, John Paxton, Justin Carroll, Kimberly Speiss, Al Schuermann.

Body Count: 9

Laughter Lines: “Anything you say can and will be considered extremely strange because… you’re dead.”


It’s like twenty years since I picked this up on VHS at a time when the first film hadn’t even been released here. Not that you need it to follow the relatively simple opus of big dude kills office bods at an after hours party.

Hulking Satanic officer of the law Joe Vickers overhears plans for a bachelor party at an office block and decides to crash, hunting down the horny young execs, the strippers they invite, the nightwatchman, a couple who stuck around to have sex in the copy room… He’s not short on fodder. Victims are stabbed in the eye with pencils, thrown down elevator shafts, impaled to the wall, and photocopied to death.

With each demise, Shafer has a Krueger-esque quip to add, many of which are groan worthy, and the film can’t help itself from leaving the door open for the sadly never realised opportunity that would’ve been Psycho Cop vs. Maniac Cop vs. RoboCop. Amusing in a ten-years-too-late kinda way, but viewing the trailer earlier I wasn’t tempted to watch the whole thing again. Curiously, it took one week to film in 1992 but remained unreleased until mid-1994.

Blurbs-of-interest: Shafer had a small part (as a cop!) in Monster Man; Director Rifkin acted in Bikini Island and Last Dance, the latter also featuring Kimberly Speiss; Julie Strain was later in Bleed.

 

The title and tagline are referring to the hair

grotesque 1988

GROTESQUE

2 Stars  1988/18/89m

“There is a fate worse than death.”

Director/Writer: Joe Tornatore / Writer: Mikel Angel / Cast: Linda Blair, Tab Hunter, Donna Wilkes, Guy Stockwell, Luana Patten, Brad Wilson, Michelle Bensoussan, Nels Van Patten, Sharon Hughes, Charles Dierkop, Billy Frank, Robert Z’Dar, Bunky Jones [as Bunki Z], Robert Apisa.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “My ass doesn’t get cold” / “I don’t doubt it, that’s because you think with your ass and not your brain.”


For a few years, when people said ‘I cannot even’ to express their speechlessness over trivial things, I was confused. ‘Can’t even what?’ I thought. But then came Grotesque into my life, sent by my good friend Ross, who was having a DVD clear out (I tried to palm off 12 Deaths of Christmas on him but he’d already read what I had to say about it and dodged a bullet).

Seriously, what the fuck happened here? This entire project appears to be some sort of exercise in LSD experimentation while writing a film script. Read on, but beware necessary spoilers so that I can stress the bizarre experience of watching it.

grotesque 1988

Long boring credits take us into a film-within-a-film intro, where some old lady is brushing her hair while some dude in a cloak approaches. Then suddenly she’s a young chick. Then old again. Ugh. Turns out it’s a screening of a new film, where the FX work has been done by wonderous artist Orville Kruger, who blabs some exposition that he’s having a little family reunion at the cabin in the mountains this weekend…

Next we meet his daughter Lisa and her friend Kathy as they grab dinner before driving up there. Kathy (Donna Wilkes, most famous for her non-stop shrieking in Jaws 2) is sad over man trouble, while Lisa (Blair) is rocking the first of many hair-don’ts Grotesque will spring on us:

linda blair bad hair grotesque 1988

The girls are warned by the local shopkeep that some ‘freaks’ happened by earlier, and we meet them in a scene: Eight punk-rock youths looking like they teleported from 1977, led by the very unstable Scratch, who looks a cross between Billy Idol and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and is seemingly modelled on Zed from the Police Academy movies. Their VW bus has run into trouble and they flag down Lisa and Kathy on the road, basically threaten them, and reveal to the audience they’re planning to invade the cabin, that they killed ‘the entire family’ last time, and Scratch yells a lot.

Orville plays some cruddy pranks on Kathy; Lisa asks her mom how Patrick is. Who is Patrick? Hmm… best wait and see. Night falls soon after the ‘punkers’ break in and haul everyone inside to the den, where they assault and kill Orville, shrieking about where the money/jewellery/dope is stashed. The posturing is dementedly bad, with acting so terrible I dread to think what the other takes looked like if they chose this.

grotesque 1988

Anyway, the ‘punkers’ kill Mom and Kathy, while Lisa dives out of a window and runs off up the mountain in her PJ’s, chased by one of the gang. The others split up to look for things and find a secret room behind a bookcase where Patrick resides. Patrick is your off-the-shelf movie mongoloid: Hunched back, moans to communicate, and hideously deformed features. He’s also super strong of course, and wastes no time offing a few of the intruders and chasing the others into the night.

Morning comes and the shopkeeper from earlier drops by to go fishing with Orville and finds several bodies. Patrick kills off all but the two lead ‘punkers’, and Lisa has been strangled into a coma. Now, up rocks Tab Hunter as Uncle Rod, who is a surgeon. He, shopkeeper dude, and some cops head up the mountain and shoot Patrick dead before he can kill Scratch and Shelly, who are arrested, but swear they just stopped by for help with their van and Patrick killed everybody.

grotesque 1988 patrick

There was still about 30 minutes left at this point, so I was clueless as to what the fuck was going to happen: Patrick has gone from gross-face to no-face, Lisa is in a coma, and there are two ‘punkers’ left. The most nasty two. A very long good-cop/bad-cop sequence unrolls, all the time I was watching the clock and it was still telling me there’s 30 minutes left. HOW, universe?

Lisa dies in surgery; Scratch and Shelly are released; Tab Hunter comes back and manages to kidnap them at gunpoint and take them back to the cabin where he straps them to gurneys, reveals he is Patrick’s father and pulls of a latex mask made for him by his late bro. and then operates on their faces, locking them in Patrick’s secret room. This, apparently, is the fate worse than death the tagline alludes to.

grotesque 1988

Wait, there’s still several minutes left??? So, the film melts – it’s all been a screening! And fucking Frankenstein and the Wolfman are in the projection room, bickering about it. They go into the theater and ‘scare’ everyone (they stand there slowly swaying back and forth with their arms out) and we see several of the actors – Blair, Wilkes, Stockwell – run away screaming. Credits.

Well, what the fucking fuck, Grotesque? What are you? How did you happen? Why are there several big names in you? I cannot answer. Perhaps Blair, who served as associate producer, had the dirt of some of them? Who the fuck knows. I’m tripped out though.

Grotesque is crap, but at least funny in that it’s really a series of ‘eh!?’ moments sewed together, maybe it was supposed to be an anthology and suffered too many script changes? I’d recommend it just for the LOLs: The hair, Blair’s natural charm, her amazing sarcastic response to the child who calls to her outside the store, the hair, the diabolical overacting of most of the ‘punkers’, the makeup the girl members of the gang sport, the hair, good-cop/bad-cop 101, fucking bizarre dialogue exchanges, and the hair.

grotesque 1988

Blurbs-of-interest: Linda was, of course, the lead in Hell Night (and thus also Hellego Night) – co-star Nels Van Patten is the brother of her co-star from Hell Night, Vincent Van Patten; Tab Hunter played Blue Grange in Pandemonium; Donna Wilkes was earlier in Schizoid and Blood Song; Bunky Jones was in Hide and Go Shriek; Robert Z’Dar had the title role in the Maniac Cop movies.

“LOL”

student bodies 1981

STUDENT BODIES

3 Stars  1981/15/82m

“13½ murders + 1423 laughs = [Student Bodies]”

Director/Writer: Mickey Rose / Cast: Kristen Riter, Matt Goldsby, Richard Brando, Joe Talarowski, Mimi Weddell, Joe Flood, Carl Jacobs, Peggy Cooper, Janice E. O’Malley, Angela Bressler, Kevin Mannis, Sara Eckhardt, The Stick.

Body Count: 13½


A killer known as The Breather, who wears squelchy galoshes and talks through a rubber chicken, is offing the sexually active couples of Lamab High School, using eggplants, paperclips, and various other bizarre weaponry. Goody-goody heroine Toby is determined to find out who it is before any more of her friends end up dead.

Many-a-joke about farts, erections, urinals, but little to say about the contemporary slasher film trend, bar the first few minutes. Ultimately it knifes itself in the foot with bizarre dream sequences and a really, really confusing ending, plus the feeling it thinks the audience is pretty dumb.

Pandemonium remains the best parody of the era, but at least Student Bodies can declare itself superior to Wacko and National Lampoon’s Class Reunion.

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