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#NoSloMo

sledgehammer 1983

SLEDGEHAMMER

1 Stars  1983/85m

“Flesh tears. Bones shatter. The nightmare has begun.”

Director/Writer: David A. Prior / Cast: Ted Prior, Linda McGill, John Eastman, Jeanine Scheer, Steve Wright, Tim Aguilar, Sandy Brooke, Doug Matley.

Body Count: 7


The title pertains quite accurately to the implement of destruction you will want to attack the screen with after about ten minutes of Sledgehammer.

Another “I was the first! I was the first!” ranter about the oh-so-impressive feat of being shot-on-video. This film is approximately 88% slow-motion action.

Beginning with a static shot of a farmhouse that remains on screen for about forty seconds, we eventually go inside to find a slutty woman locking her kid in the closet so she can do the nudies with her lover. They’re interrupted by a sledgehammer-toting assailant who donks them into the next realm.

Ten years later – never nine, never eleven – a van load of ‘young’ ‘people’ come to the house to party. They whoop and cheer for everything:

  • “Let’s unload our bags.”
  • “Woooo! Yeah!”
  • “Let’s go inside.”
  • “Woooo! Yeah!”
  • “Let’s partake in some alcoholic refreshment.”
  • “Woooo! Yeah! America!!!”

Their optimism made me want them dead within seconds.

sh4The lead couple are made up of hunky Chuck and his moany girlfriend (Joan? Joni? Jenny?) who wah-wah-wahs on that he asked her to marry him and now can’t decide if it’s the right thing to do. He’s a dick anyway.

They go for a walk in the field. To flutey folk music. In slow-motion. It lasts two minutes and twenty seconds. That’s 140 seconds of nothing but watching two people walk along to flutey folk music.

Later the whole gang have a foodfight (“Woooo!”) then a seance (“Yeah!!!”) where Chuck tells the story of the sledgehammer murders and we are shown it all again. As if it wasn’t painful enough twenty minutes ago.

Telling the story seemingly resurrects the spirit of the kid-in-the-closet, now a twenty-foot giant with a plastic mask, who dons the titular object and sets about killing the ‘young people’. In slow-motion.

sh3

Standard tin-can sound and video-blur add to the pain of observing Sledgehammer. There’s no point commenting on any of the acting, writing, or characterisation. It all means nothing.

The film probably wrapped at about 28 minutes originally, hence the need to slow everything down to force it to feature length. I can’t say I’ve ever seen more use of slo-mo in any production, film or TV, ever.

Blurbs-of-interest: David A. Prior and Ted Prior respectively directed and starred in Aerobicide.

Mourn of the dead

bloodwidowBLOOD WIDOW

1.5 Stars  2014/83m

“Die in silence.”

Director/Writer: Jeremiah Buckhalt / Writers: Chad Coup & Ian H. Davis / Cast: Danielle Lilley, Brandon Kyle Peters, Christopher de Padua, Jose Miguel Vasquez, Kelly Kilgore, Emily Cutting, Gabrielle Ann Henry.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “Come on your crazy biiiii-aaaaa-eeee-tch!” (it’s all in the delivery)


Many a horror film claims to take something or other to the next level, but Blood Widow is, for a change, telling the truth. Sadly though, what it chooses to intensify is bad acting.

Amateur night performances are part and parcel when your hobby is collecting slasher films, but this makes the actors in The Dorm That Dripped Blood look like Streep and Nicholson.

With a story almost identical to (the far superior) Mask Maker, a young couple – named fucking Hugh and Laurie!? – buy an old farmhouse, which is situated next to an abandoned girls’ school where something bad happened in the late 90s. I’m thinking it was Nu-Metal.

Friends come to party and disturb the masked psychette still living there, who uses an assortment of sharp things to gut, behead, and de-limb the newcomers. Behind the admittedly creepy doll-mask, she also has ninja-lite moves and would give many a hulking loon a run for his buck.

scarehouse

After a convenient diary turns up to backfill the questions I didn’t have, the surly heroine asks the couple who sold them the place about the incident next door, they’re like “oh yeah, we should’ve told you but didn’t want to devalue the property…”

Fortunately, everyone dies and the audience exhales at the end of the terrible, terrible acting, which borders on the suspicion that the cast were trying to outdo each other in the suck stakes.

Amusingly, special makeup effects were done by a Michael Gore and, joy of joys, there’s a sequel pending.

Moves like dagger

sbSATAN’S BLADE

1 Stars  1983/18/76m

“It took over 100 years… but the blade got even!”

Director/Writer: L. Scott Castillo Jr. / Writer: Thomas Cue / Cast: Tom Bongiorno, Stephanie Leigh Steel, Thomas Cue, Elisa R. Malinowitz, Janeen Lowe.

Body Count: 13


Justin Kerswell of Hysteria Lives! sent me a third-generation VHS copy of this film a long, long time ago (quite plausibly 100 years). In the days before DVD, second, third, fourth gen dupes of films that were very cheaply made in the first place and going from NTSC to PAL format weren’t always a pleasure to watch… Satan’s Blade may have come from Satan himself.

Holidaymakers spending their precious vacation time at a ski resort are informed of a local legend about a giant man, pissed off at the locals forcing him further and further up the mountain blah-centuries ago, and a recent murder at one of the cabins is scaring everyone into believing it all over again.

The first forty minutes is the usual meet-the-meat rubbish, with five girls in one cabin, and two couples next door: Sue’s moaning about her dead father, while walking bouffant Al is constantly hungry, and Stephanie flirts with Tony, whose wife thinks she’s not exciting enough for him. And boy is she right.

Cue shaky POV camera work and the killer offs four of the girls in less than two minutes before going after the happy couples and the final girl (who smokes and kisses married men – gasp!) Once the entire cast has been stabbed, there’s a summary explanation offered up to try and make some sense of it all: Anyone who picks up the titular skanky old knife is turned into a killer blah, blah, blah…

A horrible shrill piano soundtrack drowns out much of the dialogue, and sounds like it was ripped off of Blondie’s Call Me. Post final fade-out, the producers have the nerve to inform us that “The Legend Continues” but there’s no Satan’s Blade II just yet. But it waited 100 years before, look out people of 2083!

One way trip

shroomsSHROOMS

1.5 Stars  2007/18/81m

“Get ready to get wasted.”

Director: Paddy Breathnach / Writer: Pearse Elliott / Cast: Lindsey Haun, Jack Huston, Max Kasch, Maya Hazen, Alice Greczyn, Robert Hoffman, Don Wycherley, Sean McGinley.

Body Count: 6

Laughter Lines: “You can’t fuck up what’s already fucked.”


Ireland supplied this disappointing comic horror in which five American college kids join a local on a camping trip into the woods for Shroom Season, where mind-trips galore await those who dare to sample to delicacies the forest floor has to offer.

Good girl Tara (Kirsten Dunst-a-like Haun) accidentally scoffs a forbidden Devil’s Head mushroom, which is reported to cause a variety of mind-bending affects including violent outbursts and foresight.

Tara begins to experience the latter and hosts visions of her friends’ murders during their respective trips, at the hands of a feral creature – the possible survivor of a massacre at the closed-down young offenders home they share the locus with.

Things kick off amusingly with a talking cow, dogging, and cold-blooded murder. The midriff of the project is consumed almost entirely by the three female characters running through the trees and shrieking like banshees, not too dissimilar to The Blair Witch Project, but not nearly as innovative.

Shrooms2Ultimately, the groan-worthy twist is too understated and pointless to save a film that is neither funny enough nor scary enough to warrant any kind of recommendation. The performances and photography are acceptable but lacklustre, and come the credits it feels like you’ve just wasted an hour and a half on nothing – but maybe that’s the ironic underlying message of this regrettable trip?

I Was Made for Killin’ You Baby

TotTERROR ON TOUR

1.5 Stars  1980/84m

Director: Don Edmonds / Writer: Dell Lekus / Cast: Rick Styles, Chip Greenman, Dave Galluzzo, Richard Pemberton, Larry Thomasof, Jeff Morgan, Dave Thompson, Lisa Rodriguez, John Green.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “I had to kill them… They had no moral boundaries at all. They were whores.”


The Clowns are a KISS-lite rock band on the way up, who dress in campy makeup and capes, and feign executions of nubile dancers during their show… But their road to success is endangered by the murders of groupies-cum-prostitutes at their gigs. The fiendish slayer dresses identically to the band for his murderous outings, so it could be anyone. ANYONE!

Well, not really. There’s only really the band, their manager, and a couple of roadies on the suspect list. It’s not especially challenging to correctly guess who it is and the revelation, complete with the standardized misogynistic motive (see Laughter Lines), is a through-the-motions affair.

Terror on Tour was reportedly shot in just seven days, with the real band (The Names) largely playing themselves, acting duties fall largely to their manager, the roadie guys, a detective who appears halfway through, and the ex-junkie girl he hires to infiltrate the backstage area and bait the killer.

The other ‘characters’ – or rather the victims – are barely afforded names let alone anything else to do than remove their clothes and say things like: “Come on baby, I’m ready, ooh you turn me on so much.” It’s sleazy, grindhousey, underlit, has bad sound, and – worst of all: Boring.

tot1Things do pick up a little when Jane, the bait, arrives, and I expected her to function as a sort of last-minute final girl, but she’s cruelly knifed when she encounters the killer, leaving no female intact come the end. But, I suppose there have been more than a few films where no men were left standing.

As far as metalsploitation films go, at the least the band’s music isn’t suicidally bad for a once, it’s no better nor worse than Rocktober Blood.

Blurbs-of-interest: Rodriguez was in Home, Sweet Home, which shares its producer Sandy Cobe, with this film, as well as To All A Goodnight and Open House. Cobe appears here at the theater manager at the first show.

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