Tag Archives: who finances this crap!?

Who knows what they’ll do next summer

With the age-compounding news that I Know What You Did Last Summer, a film from 1997 – also known as last week – is being remade (or ‘re-imagined’ as these bullshitty projects are now nominally dubbed), and the merciful slowing trend of grab-bagging any “sounds cool” film title from way back when and stuffing it through the Remake Generator 3000 – what, I ask myself, is left for them to plunder? Hmm…

DEADLY BLESSING 1981

Why, God, why? The odds of this one eventually happening must be quite high – Wes Craven has seen Elm Street, Last House on the Left, and The Hills Have Eyes all remade in the last few years.

What would they do to it? Given the religious backdrop DB is set against, one can only imagine all manner of minority groups picketing it and being offended all over the show; though Craven had the sense to manufacture his sub-Amish society, I doubt whichever 25-year-old was put in charge of the production would be capable of thinking so logically. Expect the trio of heroines to wear the skimpiest of skimpy shorts and at least two of them make out with one another to tease the religious boys, ’cause, you know, nobody but straight men watch horror films.

Should they? The original isn’t that well known and the story is solid enough. Only would this be acceptable in mature, craft-heavy hands.

*

CHERRY FALLS 2000

Why, God, why? If you’ve ever encountered the original script for this one, you’ll know it was way more awesome than the finished product, albeit getting most of said awesome from it’s fucking cool central plot device: The killer only goes after virgins!

What would they do to it? As all media ever now pretty much endorses underage sex, I foresee a PG-13 production along similar lines to that wretched Prom Night re-do, wide-eyed, under-studied teen stars (at least three of whom will also be singers) shrieking a lot and talking sensibly about sex and the responsibilities thereof.

Or, it could go NC-17 and be a gigantic slutfest. Either way, it’d be female-teen centric, girls would be punished far more than boys and the end lesson would be something out of a 7th Heaven episode.

Should they? A remake based on the original script – yes. Otherwise, leave it.

*

HELL NIGHT 1981

Why, God, why? Name. This one almost happened. Say, five years back there were ‘talks’ about sending a bunch of frat and sorority students to a manor house ‘haunted’ by a crazed killer.

What would they do to it? Because of the success of When a Stranger Calls and the forever-grim Prom Night redux (that’ll keep cropping up, soz), Hollywood execs, who I can only assume drool over Excel spreadsheets of weekend box office results, had their evil eyes on updating this genre classic into guess what? PG-13! Not that the Linda Blair orig was dripping with grue and boobs, but c’mon? Slasher films should contain at least some slash. Thankfully, it appears to have fallen off the radar, but I imagined a more-or-less straight up Xerox only with unpleasant bitchy girls and scheming frat boys everywhere you look.

Should they? No. Hell Night‘s plot is so derivative it could be woven into any new film, see the Terror Train/Train saga. It’s name really isn’t that well known outside of dorky websites such as this and, unless we get another retro-fest, I think this one might escape unscathed.

*

GRADUATION DAY 1981

Why, God, why? Yet another calendar-date psycho slasher film, ripe for the remake, a film titled Graduation Night to star Zac Efron was rumoured in the wake of his High School Musical escape plan. As yet, nothing more.

What would they do to it? *sigh* I’m as tired of dredging up fucking Prom Night as you are of reading it, but it was stupidly successful for a movie so barren of anything. Others wanted a slice of the pie. The idea of a track team done in is every high school geek’s dream, but you know the cast would be a bunch of steroid-infused 28-year-olds trying to pass for 17. Death by various athletic equipment should also return with a pole-vaulting vengeance.

Should they? Yes! I’m not precious about Graduation Day; production wise it is piss poor, and there are some cool moments that would update nicely (except that stupid sword-through-football thing), but it’d need to be harder than PG-13. After four years of high school, there are people you want to see die. Bloodily.

*

THE BURNING 1981

Why, God, why? Infamous Video Nasty of shears-toting caretaker has also bee rumoured for a remake for some time. Like Graduation Day, the original film isn’t that wonderfully made: The script is all over the place like a drunk F1 racer, it had the worst excuse for a lead character in Alfred, and it was uncompromisingly violent.

What would they do to it? Hopefully, not much more than tighten a few screws and clean it up. The story has all the hallmarks of a genre classic, it was heavy on the grue and the nudity, boasted a cool score, and has stood the test of time to some degree in terms of reputation. I don’t see how it would work as anything less than an R-rated bloodfest, Cropsy doesn’t snip fingers off just to see it cut from the final print. I have the nagging feeling it’d be adorned with some class-straddling teen romance, say uptight middle class girl and wrong-side-of-the-tracks boy. Ugh.

Should they? Only if the budget was high enough to get it off the starting blocks with any hope of being good. Too many summer camp slasher films attempt to get by on $75 and a few bottles of ketchup.

*

ALONE IN THE DARK 1982

Why, God, why? You’re Next proved the fusion of home invasion horror and slasher conventions can be awesome; this film covered much of that ground thirty years earlier. They re-did Mother’s Day with a similar edge, so why not this too?

What would they do to it? Alone in the Dark is one of the few early 80s slasher films that injected a bit of humour into grim proceedings. You’re Next traded quite heavily on comical denouements for its characters, and with four escaped psycho patients tormenting a family, what is there to lose?

The original film is flawed with too little focus on females, be they victims or ass-handing heroines, that would need to change. If it doesn’t go lighter, take it darker – make those escapees really shady and unnerving.

Should they? Again, I have no particularly strong binds to the original and wouldn’t feel my heart break the way it did over the announcement of the Halloween remake. Yeah, why not?

*

Other vulnerable species:

  • Girls Nite Out. Early 80s campus shenanigans interrupted by a psycho dressed as a cheerleader-hating teddy bear! Too little action and a real WHAT? reveal scuppered a great idea. Do it.
  • Curtains. Curious fan-favourite with a bunch of starlets knocked off at the open audition for a film at a house in the middle of nowhere. Production nightmares kept it on the shelf for three years. Cast a bunch of YouTube stars everyone already hates and let the blades fly.
  • Dark Night of the Scarecrow. Made-for-TV films don’t come much more frightening than this tale. Seasoned actors played good roles for a change and the creep factor severely outweighed any gore. Leave it be before we have to see one of Will Smith’s kids leading the charge.
  • The Final Terror. Daryl Hannah and Rachel Ward are probably still cringing at this early years resume filler: Survivalist types are stalked by a primeval loon in the woods. Wrong Turn has it covered, but a non-comic overdo with a few more bodies might be decent. Just remove the Three Blind Mice singalong.
  • He Knows You’re Alone. Yes! Change it to a high-society celebrity wedding at a castle or something and have the bride-stalking maniac crash it. I’m thinking bride in her big dress fighting him off would be amazing.
  • The Prowler. Another nihilistic early-80s maniac-after-teens title few remember much about beyond the top-notch Savini FX work. The rest of the film is so coma-inducingly boring perhaps just a 30-minute cut of the good bits would do. Actually, make it 15 minutes.
  • Slaughter High. For sure a reputed mid-80s example, why does Slaughter High suck so bad? Could it be the British actors overdoing their accents? The shoddy production values? That weird-ass ending? Caroline Munro’s rather pitiful shower-flow? Who knows – the idea of nerd inviting bullies to bogus reunion is fun, let’s see it again with more care and attention.

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.

Daily Double: Hayride vs. Hazard Jack

Merry Christmas you people! As I spent the day recuperating from the previous night’s work party and its 3am finish, while I wrapped up gifts and sipped alka-seltzer, I caught up on a couple of slasher films from my stack of to-be-watched.

My “gift” to you, therefore, is a double review of these undisputed classics*

Happy holidays!

*I dispute this

HAYRIDE

2 Stars  2012/18/90m

“Southern fried horror.”

A.k.a. Halloween Haunting (UK DVD); The Pitchfork Murders

Director/Writer: Terron R. Parsons / Cast: Richard Tyson, Jeremy D. Ivy, Sherri Eakin, Jeremy Sande, Corlandos Scott, Randy Hicks, Shannon Box.

Body Count: 23


“Sometimes something can happen that is so traumatic that it becomes a legend,” says Captain Morgan (Richard Tyson) around a campfire concerning the local legend of a crazed farmer who went ape and killed a load of people in the unending search for his runaway daughter…

Morgan runs the popular annual Haunted Hayride attraction at his farm in Alabama, where college boy Steven returns along with girlfriend Amanda to help out. Meanwhile, a recently apprehended serial killer has escaped from police custody a few miles away and appears to be axing, impaling, and pitchforking his way through randoms and the police who accost him.

Of course, we all know things will culminate on Halloween night when the hayride goes into action, Morgan’s extensive cast of actors and crew will provide ample fodder, and Steven and Amanda will be thrust into the center of things.

Well, this all happens in the usual way, although most of the killings are knife-in-the-back affairs or off camera completely, resulting in little bloodletting. When it is on screen, it’s a bit sloppy and amateurish to witness; a testament to Hayride as a whole unfortunately.

While the film is a bit of a dud in terms of production quality or originality, there are a couple of good scenes, namely when the killer attacks the hapless tourists with a chainsaw as they’re sat in the trailer, and a good performance from Ivy as Steven, channeling a youthful sounding (and looking) Matthew McConaughey (who is a Texan, I know).

<<< UK browsers be forewarned of the misleading artwork (check out that font!), this hockey masked chap is not the killer. Although, the maniac’s choice of face-wear is a burlap sack, so not entirely unworthy of Jason…

Hayride finally unleashes a twist that, while I didn’t predict, isn’t so out of the blue to throw you off. It’s ultimately too little too late, but handled well enough to elevate the overall experience a notch. Though, once the killer is reprimanded, the survivors share a kiss and a joke (!) and are ambushed by another survivor who’s freaking out over the seventeen murders that have just occurred. They’re response: “Calm down, we know.”

I don’t quite remember the “two dozen murders” the deputy announces (several of the 23 noted occur in a flashback), but Pitchfork dude was quite handy at snapping necks and skewering cops, it’s totally possible. Hayride 2 has since followed.

 

* * *

HAZARD JACK

   1.5 Stars  2013/15/80m

“Fear has a new name.”

Director: David Worth / Writers: David Worth & Doug Vandegrift / Cast: Amanda Maddox, Kevin Sporman, Alison Lani, Macauley Gray, Jason O’Neil Hudson, Aimee Bello, Zachary Meyer, Deanna Meske/Mandy Lane, Josh Jacques, Jeremy Ebenstein, Ashley Walsh, Daniel Rivera, Quincy Taylor, Will Harris.

Body Count: 10


Pretty much every Stock Background Character there ever was crops up in this cheapo quickie, in which an unlikely group of college friends descend on an abandoned hospital for a game of paintball.

Residing there already is a hulking veteran with PTSD who is susceptible to violent outbursts (of course, this occurs in slasherdom after all, where all mental illnesses are fatal to those around said individuals), loses his job in construction, and delights in torturing a woman he’s abducted.

The young folk come, banter, strip off (yawn), pick teams in anticipation of a midnight kick-off, and so spend the remaining hours having sex with each other and getting murdered by Hazard Jack. So no paintball at all.

Victims include two chesty blonde chicks (Barbie and Muffy!), two jock jerks, a gay couple who repeatedly mention they’re respectively Latino and Jewish, the black guy who wants to be a director and Asian girlfriend who wants to be his starlet, the normal (dull) couple, a dweeby voiced geek, and his new friend, suspect-lezzer, Stella. Somewhat surprisingly, the booby, sexy, jerky ones who disrobed are done in first: Nailgunned, cleavered, drilled, but in spite of the declaration on the box, it’s not that gory. In fact, I don’t remember this even happening:

The film begins pandering towards the non-PC: the Latino gay chap is burned alive in a church, the lesbian is ‘cured’ by sex with a man, and is thus allowed to survive intact. The message is depressingly clear: Lesbianism isn’t real and can be undone; gay men should be gruesomely slain.

Things wrap up all too quickly and nearly, leaving a whopping four survivors – the only ones afforded any semblance of depth, whereas their friends are just obsessed with sex (bar the gays, they remain fully clothed at all times). A bit of gusto as they fight back at the end comes too late to save it.

I normally hate quippy killers in slasher films, but this could’ve done with a few witty military puns from the loon as he dispatched the victims. As he is, masked, slow, and invincible in a sub-Jason manner, there’s just not that much-needed hook.

* * *

Not the merriest Christmas by any stretch, but where Hayride might lack the claret and nudity of Hazard Jack, the latter is just a litany of lazy, annoying cliches. Still, I plan on never watching either again, so it doesn’t matter.

Merry Christmas! xoxoxo

Bad prescription

DR. CHOPPER

1 Stars  2005/18/85m

“Another slice of life.”

Director: Lewis Schoenbrun / Writer: Ian Holt / Cast: Costas Mandylor, Ed Brigadier, Chelsey Crisp, Robert Adamson, Ashley McCarthy, Butch Hansen, Chase Hoyt, Deidre Kidwell, Sylvia Zabransky, Benjamin Keepers.

Body Count: 16

Laughter Lines: “I want you to meet someone… My. Inner. Bitch!”


Upon sitting down to watch Dr. Chopper the other day, I was struck by the number of bad omens in the air… It was muggy outside with a threat of thunder and there was laundry on the line; there was a trailer for Mr Halloween on the DVD; no sooner did the credits begin to lumber by, I began to feel like I was sliding down a slope towards a pit of hopelessness… Then ‘the acting’ began.

So it goes, in the mid-80s, super surgeon to the stars Dr Max Fielding and his sexy nurses cut parts off of nubile young folk in an effort to halt the aging process. Cops come, over act, Dr Chopper has ridden away. On his motorcycle. A chopper. Of course.

Twenty years later, moody college brat Nicholas learns of his late mother’s cabin in the boonies at Lake Tatonka (“A friendly place for happy people”) and is convinced by perky girlfriend Jessica to invite a gaggle of their friends up there for the weekend. Without having seen how crap the shack is. It turns out to be, quite literally, a one-room shed.

But before that, oh look, something there’s just not enough of in low-end slasher films, it’s the olde lesbian make-out scene. Seriously, let’s have one film – one - with a couple of hot guys making out.

Meanwhile, a po-faced Park Ranger played by Costas Mandylor, before he became a central player in the Saw movies, growls and moans about life while trying to induct/scare off a junior ranger. Love of his life died because he wasn’t a good chiropractor, apparently. I know… I was like, “Huh? You can die from chiropody?”

The uninteresting teenagers almost get run over by a grey-skinned old man on his chopper (Dr Chopper!!! Look out, teens!) but before that, a quintet of sorority girls on some hazing stunt in the woods are stabbed to death by the two nurses. This scene is bizarre: Two senior sorority chicks make them take their tops off (allowing bras to remain) and make them look for sticks while they smoke a spliff. Then the nurses come and do away with all of them in about 47 seconds and none of it is mentioned again.

Eventually, the Doc and his minions attack the cabin, sending the surviving kids on the run, they mow down one of the nurses (“that bitch is road pizza!”) but she returns later, apparently unscathed.

They’re captured, a completely unsurprising twist is revealed. Even the nominal heroine seems bored by it. Then she’s on the run, collides with Moody Ranger, and they fight off Dr Chopper together.

Plenty of blah around reversing and regenerating cells so “we can live foreeeeever!” is spat out during the exposition, although why the killer permanently wears his motorcycle goggles is never addressed, and the disfigurement of his nurses (who’ve barely aged in two decades – hey, maybe it does work!?) isn’t explained.

Imagine a film held together with a bunch of old band aids, all curled up at the edges, with bits of dirt and hair stuck to them. That’s Dr. Chopper. However, if you’re feeling fiendish and want to laugh at the entirety of a cheap production, then look no further: Fleeing victims run away from the lights of salvation into the woods; a guy’s ear is supposedly cut off, yet still clearly visible attached to the actor’s head…

In short, Dr. Chopper makes Dr. Giggles look like Dr. Zhivago.

Horror schmorror

HEEBIE JEEBIES

1 Stars  2004/18/89m

“Scarier than hell!”

Directors: Doug Evans & Michael Hawkins-Burgos / Writers: Doug Evans & J.J. Shebesta / Cast: Bobbie Jo Westphal, Michael Hawkins-Burgos, Angela Kane, Reaca Pearl, Jeff Lee, Doug Evans, Vanessa Yuille, Jonathan Wainwright.

Body Count: 10


A bizarre horror anthology strung together against the backdrop of a gory little slasher opus.

Main character Cassie can dream the future, proven by forecasting the murder of her mother years earlier. Having experienced dreams concerning some old high school friends, she takes the most ridiculous action conceivable and invites them to a bogus reunion at a dilapidated house in the middle of nowhere: the perfect location for an all-out stalk n’ slash-a-thon.

We take intermittent detours into Cassie’s nightmares, which range from the acceptably strange (a sibling’s prank on his sister that goes too far) to head-scratchingly ludicrous (rock-monsters that come to life in the dark) via the mundanely twisted (a hit and run accident that gets progressively worse for the driver…)

Meanwhile, the teens in the house under-react to the rising body count, as they’re decapitated and hacked one by one. Ultimately, the coda wraps it up neatly enough, but the vignettes are so leftfield that it pulls the rug right out from under the confused viewer’s tootsies. Annoying more than anything.

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