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“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.

Road to Nowhere

munger road 2011

MUNGER ROAD

2 Stars  2011/18/82m

A.k.a. The Wrong Road

Director/Writer: Nicholas Smith / Cast: Bruce Davison, Randall Batinkoff, Trevor Morgan, Brooke Peoples, Hallock Beals, Lauren Storm, Art Fox.

Body Count: 3


If you’ve ever been stuck in a car in a traffic jam, that feeling of hopeless tedium will sum up what watching Munger Road is like – a film so slow and plodding that a nineteen mile tailback would probably be more engaging. Major spoilers follow.

OK, so the budget was like $200,000, and Nick Smith has at least made a good looking film, but the story isn’t sufficient to fill out a 20-minute anthology segment, let alone an 81 minute feature. And we kinda already had this story in 2006’s Fingerprints.

Legend has it a busload of kids were killed when a train hit their school bus blah years ago, and if your car should come to a halt on the tracks, little ghostly handprints will appear and push you to safety. Uninteresting bro’s Corey and Scott want to catch this phenomenon on tape and sell it to some reality show, so talk girlfriends Rachel and Joe into going along with them.

Meanwhile, a serial killer who murdered six kids in the area has escaped and the local chief (Davison) and his deputy are looking for him before an influx of visitors for a carnival arrive.

munger road 2011

The teens conduct their experiment but then find the car powers out down the road, stranding them there, and there’s also no cell reception. Corey opts to hike back down the road to where they had signal and summon help. Scott, meanwhile, plays back their footage and sees that there was somebody stood behind the car when they drove away initially. Joe then goes to find Corey, Scott and Rachel stay in the car and are tormented by creepy occurrences.

Ultimately, anyone killed is done so entirely off camera. The cops finally reach the old farmhouse where Joe has ended up after being attacked and spared by the killer. They rescue her and get a call saying the escaped guy died the day before, Harry Warden-style. So who is it? Well, the film ends with a kick-in-the-balls ‘To be continued’. This was in 2011, seven years have passed and no sequel has appeared. Awesome.

Cumulatively, there are maybe 15-20 seconds of unsettling visuals here, the rest is a monumental waste of time. Mush together bits of My Bloody ValentineDead EndWind ChillFingerprints, and The Gallows and this is the swill you’re left with.

La luna de la mierda

bloody moon 1981

BLOODY MOON

1 Stars  1981/18/85m

“Don’t panic, it only happens once in a [Bloody Moon]”

A.k.a. Die Sage Des Todes (The Legend of Death)

Director: Jesus Franco / Writer: Rayo Casablanca / Cast: Olivia Pascal, Christoph Moosbrugger, Nadja Gerganoff, Jasmin Losensky, Corinna Gillwald, Ann-Beate Engelke, Peter Exacoustos, Maria Rubio, Alexander Waechter

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “If we could just get rid of everyone around us… then things could go back to how they were.”


If Bloody Moon was intended to be the Scary Movie of its day, I might be able to see past the fact it has a 5.3 rating on IMDb, but it’s seemingly played straight, rendering it one of the more misogynistic and unarguably awful exports of the early days. I imagine its residency on the Video Nasties list of the 80s has probably afforded it some credibility it’s entirely unworthy of.

A German-Spanish co-production, things begin with a disco at a Spanish language school, where a facially-scarred man procures a Mickey Mouse mask and fools a girl into thinking he’s someone else and then, when sex clearly fails, he settles for stabbing the girl with scissors instead in a scene that really plays into the accusations of woman-hating rhetoric in the genre: She gargles orgasmically as goes at her over and over in a play on sex he’s incapable of performing.

Five years later, the man – Miguel – is released into the custody of his sister, Manuela, who runs the language school, much to the chagrin of her aunt/owner, the wheelchair bound hag, Countess Maria Gonzales. Bro and sis enjoy an incestual relationship they wish to keep quiet – see Laughter Lines.

bloody moon 1981

No sooner does new student Angela rock up, the bouncy look-a-like girls of the school start getting murdered in graphically stupid ways. There’s little character development to show, they gossip about caretaker Antonio being the best lover on campus (there’s a second mentally deficient caretaker as well, of course). He asks Angela why she’s there and she replies she can speak fluent Spanish, and reels off a bunch of ‘my first Spanish lesson’ phrases like ‘Hasta Luego’, ‘Mañana’, and translations akin to: ‘Where can I buy potatoes on a Sunday?’

Also, if she’s fluent – WHY IS SHE EVEN THERE?

Angela is to room in the bungalow where the murder took place five years before. You know, the one where the perpetrator has been allowed back to live in the very same place? First to go is her friend Ava, who asks to borrow a sweater and then gets stabbed through the boob. Angela finds the body, screams, and of course by the time help comes, it’s gone, there’s no blood, and the murder mystery she’s reading is blamed for a nightmare. Her own clothes also change mid-scene from nightgown to floral print sweater.

When Ava doesn’t show for class, Angela worries, and in a pre-I Still Know What You Did Last Summer karaoke-machine moment, her language recording is interrupted with a message saying “I’m going to kill you and chop you up” etc. Of course, when teech comes over, no such voices.

bloody moon 1981

Angela then goes down to the harbour to look for Ava and a falling rock nearly kills her. She flags down two motorcycle cops who direct her to the warning on the sign. Her reply: “What good does a sign do when I can’t understand it?” Strike two against her fluency declaration.

Back at school, other girl Inga pretends to be having sex but isn’t. The other girls laugh at her through the window and she’s all like “I’ll have the best sex ever – you’ll see!!” and in the next scene she’s going past Angela down at the harbour in a car with the killer!? He drives her to some crumbling old mill and she allows him to tie her to a slab, saying “Hey I normally wouldn’t do this, but OK, as it’s you…” and then: “I still don’t know what you look like, why don’t you take off your mask?”

I mean, fucking hell, COME ON? She willingly goes off with a non-speaking masked guy to an abandoned place in the middle of nowhere and allows him to tie her up.

bloody moon 1981

Anyway, the slab thingy moves and a buzz-saw comes along, takes forever getting there, while some spying little kid tries to intervene and save her, the head comes off eventually and it’s anti-climactic and crap FX-wise. But then Franco throws in something a bit taboo: The fleeing child is cruelly run over by the killer.

Aaaaand back to the school again: Angela is convinced the killer is after her and barricades herself in her room and stabs a mannequin. Where the fuck did that come from, you ask? Like many goings-on here, it’s left unexplained. Laura says Angela reads too many scary books and offers to go get some drinks from the ‘Disco Club’ at the school (!??) but is killed with some garden-prong-thingy on her way back.

The killer attacks and Miguel tries to save the day, while Angela flees for help. The revelations that follow seem more at home in a soap opera than a horror film, but suffice to say, there’s more bloodletting, double-crossing, the obvious identity of the killer is revealed, and somebody utters this priceless line: “He came at me, you remember that! And just be damn sure to remember it.”

bloody moon 1981

Took me awhile but I realised the left image isn’t the shears making contact with her face, merely a promo shot cannily reproduced from the actual scene on the right.

Bloody Moon is just stitched together failed scenes; a slasher film based on the most rudimentary understanding of the genre where girls are either naked or stupid and nothing more, shot on the cheap with little care going into a cohesive script and hardly any visual flair ether – look out for the zoom where a chair obscures the subject’s face. The dubbing is also one of the more comically bad efforts out there (“just let yourself melt into my arms!”), and the moon isn’t even shown, let alone bloody in any way.

Undistilled crap from start to finish.

Lyin’ on a prayer

cry wolf 2005 dvd

CRY_WOLF

2 Stars  2005/12/87m

“BeLIEve.”

Director/Writer: Jeff Wadlow / Writer: Beau Bauman / Cast: Julian Morris, Lindy Booth, Jared Padalecki, Jon Bon Jovi, Kristy Wu, Sandra McCoy, Paul James, Jesse Janzen, Gary Cole.

Body Count: 2

Laughter Lines: “Tonight you could’ve gotten laid, but instead you got fucked.”


As usual, a young blonde woman runs through the woods at night, heaving in her breaths, a flashlight behind indicating her hunter isn’t far behind. She hides, the mystery maniac loiters, produces a cellphone and calls ‘Becky’. The victim’s phone rings, revealing her whereabouts to the killer. Gunshot.

Like so many other teen horror films of this era, an aerial shot of autumnal trees reveals a posh looking, secluded school: Westlake Prep. Here, we’re introduced to Owen Matthews, a British transfer student. His first encounter is with doll-like flame-haired Dodger Allen, and later inducted into her group of friends, who meet after hours in the school’s chapel to play a game centred around lying: Who can be the most deceptive. This is Cry_Wolf‘s main thing – deception. Spoilers ensue.

cry_wolf 2005

Infatuated with Dodger from the off, Owen and she concoct a newer, better version of their game, selling a big lie to the entire faculty for the lolz. Remember 2000 campus thriller Gossip? Yeah, it’s that all over again but with knives.

Owen, Dodger, and the others invent a campus-cruising psycho called The Wolf, who wears a camo jacket and orange ski-mask, and slashes up students around Halloween. Tying it to the disappearance of the girl from the beginning only helps create an atmosphere of paranoia across the campus. Media teacher Jon Bon Jovi – yes, really – sees through the ruse and cautions serial-school-changer Owen about his behaviour.

cry_wolf 2005

A mystery game player begins sending IMs to Owen, claiming to be the actual killer, and threatens the group, his room in tossed, there’s a stranger following him and Dodger in the library, someone deposits a knife in his bag that tumbles out during class… Who is doing it? Why, etc…

Needless to say, somebody dressed in the camo and ski-mask clobber starts offing those in on the joke in the precise scenarios they dreamt up when they created their work of fiction.

cry_wolf 2005

Cry_Wolf is one of those films that thinks it’s way smarter than it actually is: Some moderate fanfare surrounded its US release that it packed an amazing twist. Well, it doesn’t. Nobody is dead beyond the girl from the start and Bon Jovi, who is Owen’s main suspect and, it turns out, the apparent slayer of woods-girl. The rest is written off as a joke on the new boy.

As it happens, Dodger has manipulated eeeeeverybody to cover up the fact that she is the killer, insanely jealous of an affair between woods-girl and Bon Jovi, she went the long way round to fool Owen into killing him. The rest of the story, The Wolf, the others being in on the gag, is all by the by.

cry_wolf 2005

So it’s ultimately one big lie of a slasher film, not a slasher film at all, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Hey, does that make it über smart? No, it makes it über fake and thus über annoying. At least April Fool’s Day was able to trade on likeable characters, not obnoxious, schemey teens who all seem to hate each other. There’s nobody really to root for: Owen’s not particularly sympathetic and drools after Dodger like a lovestruck puppy, while she is textbook bitchy girl material, and the others fulfil various SBC-101 roles with little to add.

Nicely made and casting a British lead was brave, but the amount of contrivances required for the idea to float is ridiculous to the point it makes Brenda’s big plan from Urban Legend look totally doable.

cry_wolf 2005

Blurbs-of-interest: Julian Morris was also in Sorority Row; Lindy Booth was in Wrong Turn and American Psycho II; Jared Padalecki was in House of Wax and the Friday the 13th reboot; Gary Cole was in The Town That Dreaded Sundown (remake-quel thingy).

BFRUSTRATINGU

jeepers creepers 3 2017

JEEPERS CREEPERS 3

2 Stars  2017/88m

“Third time’s the charm.”

Director/Writer: Victor Salva / Cast: Jonathan Breck, Stan Shaw, Gabrielle Haugh, Brandon Smith, Meg Foster, Chester Rushing, Jordan Salloum, Ryan Moore, Michael Sirow, Gina Philips.

Body Count: 14


Well…

I mean…

We waited, dude, not quite 23 years, but we waited 14 years for the next instalment of Jeepers Creepers.

We pondered the whole Cathedral rumours, the Old West prologue rumours, the Trish-and-teen-son rumours – it had become the horror film equivalent of Guns n’ Roses’ Chinese DemocracySpoilers ensue.

To quantify how Jeepers Creepers 3 (not a III to match II - most irritating) comes across, imagine that instead of another movie, they’d decided to opt for a cheap horror channel TV series. It looks like a 90 minute pilot for just such a thing. Name it Poho County or some shit, and focus on the lives of the people caught up in The Creeper’s 23-year awaited banquets.

jeepers creepers 3 2017

One might even think that the film could’ve been shot around 2008 by another director as a for-DVD stop-gap while Victor Salva worked out what direction he wanted to go in next. Y’see, Jeepers Creepers 3 is really Jeepers Creepers 1.5 – it’s set between the other two movies. WHY? What will this possibly add?

The sad answer is nothing. If anything it detracts from the mythos of the existing films, in much the same way as each Wrong Turn sequel and prequel and midquel cheapened the savage impact of the original. See that series for how the FX work became less and less convincing and more like dollar store Halloween masks for series mainstay Three-Finger. That’s not a far cry from Jeepers Creepers 3. That it was played in theaters for but one day before premiering on the SyFy channel should also be taken as a message of forewarning.

jeepers creepers 3 2017

What plot there is crowbarred into things picks up right after the winged beastie flies off with Darry Jenner. The cops try to impound the Creep Mobile but soon find it’s some kind of sentient machine, riddled with traps that cannot physically exist in the given space (unless steel spikes can bend?). The Sheriff returns – remembers the carnage from ’78 and calls in Creeper Hunter Michael, who owns a pick up with a mounted gun on it.

Hey, we’ve been here and done this!?

Elsewhere, Meg Foster and granddaughter are worrying about not having enough hay for their horse. Grandma keeps talking to someone who is revealed to be the ghost of Kenny (remember the Kenny and Darla story?), who buried something on the farm the day before he died, 23 years earlier. Granddaughter, Addie, goes to try and purchase hay, has brief flirtations with hay-purveyor Buddy, and accompanies him dropping off other orders for the afternoon.

This links on to a quartet of dirt-bikers who happen across Creeper Mobile in a field, try and break into it and end up skewered by its many traps. They’re assholes, so nobody cares.

jeepers creepers 3 2017

Meg Foster digs up the thing Kenny buried, and it’s a severed hand of the Creeper. Touching it gives you a full back catalogue of its life, what it is, where it comes from, etc. Is any of this shared with with audience? No. When the Sheriff comes by and touches it, experiencing the same intake of information is it shared? No. Neither is it used to defeat The Creeper, SO WHY BOTHER?

Addie is kidnapped by The Creeper and finds herself trussed in the back of his van with the last surviving dirt-bike kid. Why they’re wrapped in sheets and ropes before having whichever organs Mr C wants from them is just another one for the ever growing FAQ that should probably be addressed in the DVD booklet, along with ‘Why does Meg Foster look 103 years old?’

Side note: I always get Megs Foster, Ryan, and Tilly confused.

The Sheriff, Sgt Tubbs (last seen in JC1 and apparently only a day older), and the hunter guy take on the Creep Mobile, which is now also bulletproof (tires included) and can drop little mine-bombs like you get in Mario Kart. My head went into my hands for a minute here.

jeepers creepers 3 2017 gina philips

Eventually, Addie is able to escape, so I think she was supposed to be the lead? The film flits between characters so much it’s impossible to attach yourself to anybody for long enough to root for them. The Creeper goes to retrieve the hand Kenny buried and instead finds a sign that says ‘We know what you are’, shrieks into the night, and Buddy climbs aboard the schoolbus that will feature in Jeepers Creepers II.

WAIT! said I, if he has already experienced the nightmare of this creature then A). why the fuck is he going to a basketball game the very next day after 14 people have been murdered, and B). why in that next/last/whatever film does his character not speak up and say ‘oh hey, this thing attacked us yesterday!’ Retcon central.

What positives there are only orbit around it being good to see the Creeper Mobile back in play (those Jigsaw-lite traps though…), some decent photography here and there, a good score, and Breck is fine in his signature role – though that heinous red sweater needed to go. Everything else looks cheaper, drier, hugely unenthusiastic about itself. I can only think that budget constraints were so tight this was deemed a way of springboarding the franchise back into people’s minds in order to forge ahead properly in Jeepers Creepers 4, as the core demographic for teen-horror released in 2017 will only have been toddlers when the first two came out.

jeepers creepers 3 2017

Certainly, the end, where Gina Philips appears for literally about thirty seconds, hints towards a 2024-set next round, but given how long it’s taken this instalment to surface, we could be waiting till 2047.

Blurbs-of-interest: Foster was also in Stepfather II; Jonathan Breck was in The Caretaker and Mask Maker.

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