Tag Archives: what the hell!?

July Face-off: ‘Comedy’ porno slasher vs. ‘comedy’ porno slasher

Long ago, before I’d polluted my delicate mindset with the body count details of 496 slasher films, I was watching Caroline in the City, remember that? There was a scene I’ve always remembered where Caroline’s maneater gal-pal went to the video store where she encountered Matthew Perry in his Chandler persona. He made a big deal out of the store not having The Piano and said to her, as some kinda lame line, that he didn’t like all the guy movies with sex and violence and then queried maneater girl as to what she was renting. ‘Sorority House Massacre II,’ he reads and the scene ends in some other way I’ve now forgotten.

I always thought they’d made up that movie title. But no, when I got my first film almanac, there it was in print, together with its entirely unrelated predecessor. That book was a 1997 guide to video (them were the days) and twelve years have elapsed between the realisation that the film is, in fact, real and me seeing it.

CONTESTANT ONE

shm2

1 Stars  1990/77m

“It’s cleavage vs. cleavers and the result is Delta Delta Deadly!”

A.k.a. Night Frenzy; Nighty Nightmare

Director: Jim Wynorski / Writers: James B. Rogers & Bob Sheridan / Cast: Robyn Harris, Melissa Moore, Stacia Zhivago, Michelle Verran, Dana Bentley, Jurgen Baum, Karen Chorak, Bridget Carney, Peter Spellos.

Body Count: 5

Dire-logue: “Oh my God, our clothes! They’re still upstairs!”


Five “teenage” girls purchase ‘the old Hockstatter place’ for their new sorority house and find out that the patriarch of the family murdered his wife and daughters there, which we are shown through flashbacks, which are actually murder sequences from The Slumber Party Massacre! The girls disrobe, have showers, we see all of them naked and then, one ill-advised seance later, one of them is possessed by the spirit of Clive Hockstatter and begins hooking the others to death. The girls, in their panic, believe the killer to be freaky neighbour Orville Ketchum, who intercedes, takes a lot of damage from knives, bullets and what have you but still survives.

CONTESTANT TWO

hardtodie21 Stars  1990/77m

A.k.a. Tower of Terror

Director: Jim Wynorski / Writers: Mark McGee & James B. Rogers / Cast: Robyn Harris, Lindsay Taylor, Debra Dare, Melissa Moore, Bridget Carney, Peter Spellos, Forrest J. Ackerman, Don Key.

Body Count: 7

Dire-logue: “I just wanna get my clothes on and get the hell out of here!”


Five young agency employees are sent to take inventory of Acme Lingerie’s stock in an office tower. When a parcel containing a strange box is mistakenly delivered to them, it unleashes the Hockstatter spirit, which takes control of one of them and the inevitable occurs. The girls find an arsenal of firearms in the tower and begin shooting the place up. In their panic, they believe the killer to be freaky janitor Orville Ketchum, who takes a lot of damage from crossfire but still survives.

OK, so how on earth do you decide which is the better film out of two films that are pretty much photocopies of one another, but, you know, when someone copies the copy over again it looks worse and worse… Arguably, there’s not much wrong with the production values in either. As they hail from the Roger Corman library, both take footage from The Slumber Party Massacre for their own foul use and have bad intercut footage of grainy lightning.

Quite who these films are aimed at is a mystery: in both, virtually all female characters appear – at the very least – topless, with gratuitous shower scenes and odd squidgy-rubber sound effects as they soap themselves. Nudity and slasher flicks are like conjoined twins and that’s fine so long as the filmmakers remember they’re supposed to be producing a horror film and don’t keep forcing the nude scenes, they should appear incidental like in the good ol’ days. 77 minutes of tits, rubbish gore effects and fucking Orville Ketchum (…it just isn’t funny) makes for a tedious experience in both cases. I think Sorority might have been slightly more tolerable and it was nice to see northern lass Harris as the final girl (if one could call her character such) in both films, still, both were crap I never want to have to sit through again.

WINNER: NEITHER!

May Face-off: Almost but not-quite slasher flicks

This month, let’s take a look at those films that either pretend to be slasher films and then turn out not to be and those that tip-toe through the gardens of slasherdom and beat a hasty retreat…

boo

BOO 2005

Setting up like another photocopy of Halloween, a group of teens go to party in an abandoned and ‘haunted’ hospital on All Hallows’ Eve where they are tormented by creepy hallucinations and turned into zombies with sloppy insides. It’s a little bit Session 9, complete with backstory revealed in segments by the inexplicably psychic heroine – something do with with a child-molesting patient and the nurse (Dee Wallace) who sacrificed herself to stop him escaping. There’s some good atmos in the first third but come the end, everything has been over-explained the way American supernatural horror films tend to do. Only a handful of eerie images – look out for that balloon clown – make a good film not.

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: the one-by-one schtick is intact but the zombies and ghosts swallow too much of the plot.

deathproofDEATH PROOF 2007

During the early hype for Grindhouse, Quentin Tarantino stated that his half of the feature would be “a slasher film at 200 m.p.h.” with nutjob stuntman Kurt Russell offing pretty young women. The final product has a few shots that bring back memories of Halloween and its ilk, but this turns out to be anything but a stalk n’ slasher. While it’s a fun romp once – albeit bogged down with way too much of QT’s ‘trademark’ dialogue – none of the slashers I’ve ever seen were edited this badly, had this sort of narrative or as much talking. It’s sky-high budget is visible through the cracks, making it look only pretentious, with annoying characters with oversized egos, all of whom talk like frat boys. The singular car accident is the high point and the stunts and cast are good but if anything, Death Proof shows that perhaps the director everyone has a boner for is a one-trick pony unable to create anything original, only add tiresome, irrelevant dialogue.

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: opposite case to Boo here, maniac killer on site but no one-by-one opus and way too much self-indulgence.

hillshaveeyes2THE HILLS HAVE EYES II 2007

The original 1977 Hills Have Eyes wasn’t a slasher flick either, more a survivalist horror film, as was it’s pretty faithful but grisly-as-hell 2006 remake, this sequel to that remake is not a remake of the cheesefest 1983 Hills Have Eyes Part II, which is a slasher flick… Confused? You will be.

Wes Craven penned this with his son and, considering how much flack the ’83 film took, he’s managed to create something far worse here… An Aliens vibe pervades, with a group of National Guard trainees (all male, bar two) investigating some missing scientists in the desert. Dipping its toes in the torture-porn sub-genre with a brutal rape scene needlessly included (as in the ’06 film) and ample gore. Dialogue consists only of ‘fuck this’, ‘fuck that’, ‘fuck you’ and we don’t give a fuck about any of them anyway… The dog-flashback alone in Craven’s version outdoes this entire film.

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: it’s a siege-fest with no real pattern emerging for the sequence of deaths, though interestingly both the female characters survive…

hostelHOSTEL 2005

The granddaddy of the torture-porn (or gorno) movement, it’s not the done thing to say you like it, but Hostel is a genuinely good film, sometimes included in lists of slasher flicks. Tarantino protege Eli Roth directed the less interesting Cabin Fever and waxes lyrical about putting T&A back into horror blah blah blah…

Interestingly, the main victims here are a trio of boys who fall foul of a Slovakian operation that allows rich psychopaths to torture and kill captured youngsters for their own sadistic pleasure. Lead character Paxton is an unpleasant fellow to say the least and would be killed with prejudice in any other film. This turn-around on the standard gender politics of horror attempts to blot out any accusations of misogyny, although it’s littered with naked girls and it’s even grislier sequel traded out boys for girls and so took this as permission to show sexualised violence and get away with it.

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: there’s no single killer and more emphasis on Paxton’s escape and revenge.

tamara TAMARA 2005

Geeky wiccan Tamara is the victim of a cruel prank by a group of popular kids that ends in her death – or does it? Back at school, after burying her, the guilty party are surprised to find that Tamara’s back as a sexy siren with psychic powers at her disposal – and she’ll do anything for the love of her sympathetic English teacher.

After this I Know What You Did Last Summer-lite beginning, we expect the new foxy Tamara to start offing the other teens. However, Tamara doesn’t kill all of those who ‘killed’ her, she makes them insane, suicidal or homicidal puppets who do her bidding for her and finally corners the object of her desire and nice girl Chloe, who manage to defeat her.

Why it’s not a slasher flick really: hardly anybody is murdered, which is a waste when you’re dealing with asshole jocks and nasty cheerleaders…

Victor: Hostel is the best non-slasher film here. See it if you can deal with all manner of torture devices being used and an eyeball being cut loose.

Wait. What?

skeletonmanSKELETON MAN

1.5 Stars  2004/18/86m

“Some myths are real.”

Driector: Johnny Martin / Writer: Frederick Bailey / Cast: Michael Rooker, Casper Van Dien, Sarah Ann Schultz, Nils Allen Stewart, Jackie Debatin, Lisa Oliva, Jerry Trimble Jr., Noa Tishby, Eric Etabari.

Body Count: 39 – yes, thirty-nine!

First-rate Fatality: boom-boom-boom like a hammer to the (explodey) head…


When somebody tells you that something has to be seen to be believed, they’re normally telling you about their trip to the Great Wall of China or some circus sideshow they saw… However, when somebody says this to you in reference to Skeleton Man, they’re not lying.

From Nu-Image, who normally make creature-features about spiders, octopods and crocodiles with imaginative titles like Spiders, Octopus and Crocodile - all of which had sequels, can you guess what they were called? Anyway, this knowledge on board, Skeleton Man is a bit of a departure for them. It’s a slasher flick, make no mistake about it, with some unexplained supernatural elements thrown in for good measure no real reason.

Some archaeologists dig up a skull and then a cloaked figure appears and murders them (plus a couple of more schmucks who get in the way). ‘Tis the skeleton man of course, and he manages to kill one guy by lifting him in the air… From there, some other guys are killed, army dudes, and a few weeks later a group of eight soldiers is sent to the region (which I thought was supposed to be South America but gradually looks more and more like a Californian national park). The group is led by Michael Rooker as the Cap and Casper Van Dien is also there but only says about eight words. He has a scar, ‘cos he’s like, y’know, “seasoned”. Four of the men are Delta Force and they’re joined by four women, all of whom we’re asked to believe are in the military but look like catalogue models and cry when they find dead bodies.

skelmanThrough the medium of flashback part I, we learn what happened to the previous team, they met the Skeleton Man, and the body count reaches double figures within fifteen minutes. The group then stumble upon a blind Indian who uses flashback part II to explain that the killer once killed loads of tribal folk and is called ‘Cotton Mouth Joe’ – almost like the song. Almost. The skeleton man appears, usually on horseback, through weird little CG vortexes (that everybody sees but nobody mentions) and begins chopping and skewering the soldier dudes and dudettes, brings down a chopper with a bow and arrow and appears impervious to bullets, which doesn’t put any of the team off wasting their rounds.

Eventually, skeleton man goes to a chemical plant to kill more people, sending the body count soaring to nearly forty by the time Rooker explodifies the joint. But who is skeleton man? Where did he come from? Why does Casper Van Dien commandeer that truck? Why does it explode for no reason? How come it stops for him to leap out but is still rolling along in the next shot, huh? Well, you’ll never find out, never! It’s like cheap wine, it gets you drunk and you giggle, but you never want to see or hear from it ever again.

Blurb-of-interest: Casper appeared in Tim Burton’s sort-of slasher Sleepy Hollow.

STAY ALIVE

stayalive

STAY ALIVE

2 Stars  2006/15/83m

“You die in the game – You die for real.”

Director: William Brent Bell / Writers: William Brent Bell & Michael Peterman / Cast: Jon Foster, Samaire Armstrong, Frankie Muniz, Sophia Bush, Milo Ventimiglia, Jimmi Simpson, Wendell Pierce, Adam Goldberg.

Body Count: 8

Dire-logue: “I just met you, like, Goddamn yesterday so kiss my ass!”


The tagline should tell you all you need to know about this lazy effort. Dorky gamers in possession of a demo release, who were foolish enough to read aloud a prayer to start the game, discover that their fate on screen neatly corresponds to their fate in the real world. Thrown into the mix is a CGI witch-slash-serial killer woman, the subject of a conveniently local urban legend.

You can just imagine a group of studio execs around a table saying, ‘you know, The Ring made a lot of money. Let’s copy it but instead of a video tape, we’ll have a video game!’ High-fives and whooping ensue as they decide to chuck in some Final Destination-type deaths and some Elm Street thematics, completed with the requisite undead female villain. Stamp it with a PG-13 rating to pull in the likely crowd and you’re done.

Given the cast features some semi-knowns; grown-up child star Muniz and a pre-Heroes Ventimiglia, it all looks so cheap and rushed. And it takes itself so damn seriously! Check the scene where the assembly line goth chick surmises the entire plot in a deadpan spiel in an attempt to convince her friends of the danger. Manufactured tat with a cash register where the heart of its artistic form should be.

The Joke’s on You

aprilfoolsday

APRIL FOOL’S DAY

1 Stars  2008/15/88m

“She has a killer party planned.”

Directors: The Butcher Brothers / Writers: Michael Wigart & The Butcher Brothers / Cast: Taylor Cole, Josh Henderson, Scout Taylor-Compton, Joe Egender, Joseph McKelheer, Samuel Child, Jennifer Siebel, Sabrina Aldridge.

Bodycount: …is any of it real?

Dire-logue: “This is supposed to celebrate someone coming out, not going out!”


Snotty rich sibs Desiree and Blaine hold a coming-out party for Scout Taylor-Compton’s high-society debutante, which is ruined when an April Fool’s prank on Desiree’s rival, Milan (!), ends up with the poor girl toppling over a mezzanine to land atop a grand piano and totally dying.

One year later to the day, those involved in the joke are summoned to Milan’s graveside where they are confronted with a letter, supposedly from the dead girl, stating that they will each die throughout the course of the day unless the person responsible turns themselves in to the police.

Is it/isn’t it a joke dialogue ensues and, true to her word, the group begin perishing in bizarre ‘accidents’ until numbers are whittled down to the final three and a couple of twists are glued to the end for those dim-bulbed enough to misunderstand the concept of prank-themed slasher films.

afd

By far the worst of the remake scrum, AFD ’08, ignores everything that made the ’86 original so much fun and turns it into a cynical after-school drama production with the most unlikeable characters you could imagine. Ponsing around in their shiny cars and designer clothes, we want these bastards dead! It’s got far more in common with Cruel Intentions than any horror movie, has no heart or soul, no sense of fun, no blood, no suspense – it’s simply devoid of merit. And the twist is simply groanworthy. I wanted to attack my TV screen with a hammer at the end of this.

Scout Taylor-Compton is surely becoming some sort of slasher-remake jinx after trying to fill Jamie Lee Curtis’ shoes for Rob Zombie’s depressing Halloween redux. An obnoxious, insulting film if ever there was. The joke is most certainly on the audience.

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