Tag Archives: who finances this crap!?

“You piss me off!”

fall down dead 2007FALL DOWN DEAD

2 Stars  2007/94m

“Seven strangers. Trapped. Hunted. Carved.”

Director: Jon Keeyes / Writer: Roy Sallows / Cast: Dominique Swain, Muhmet Günsür, Udo Kier, David Carradine, R. Keith Harris, Monica Dean, Austin James, Karine Darrah.

Body Count: 8


In 2006-07 I went backpacking around Asia for six months and, with a lot of time on buses, waiting at train stations etc., devoured an awful lotta books, trading them in at backpacker stops and hostels. I was particularly into James Patterson’s Alex Cross series at the time, finishing a book in about three days usually.

However, anyone who has read this series will surely attest that the awesome beginnings of Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls soon descended into my-first-psycho-thriller crap Double Cross and The Big Bad Wolf. (Mary Mary was the last one I got any mileage out of).

Anyway, the serial-murder-by-numbers nonsense this once great series has become is like a blueprint for Fall Down Dead, a film so dated I could swear somebody found an unsold giallo script from 1978 in a drawer and filmed it without bothering to bring it up to date.

The Picasso Killer is busy slashing up the women of some nameless big city, which is also victim to recurring power outages. He removes parts of their skin or whatever and uses it in his art, blah blah blah. One night, forward-thinking waitress Christie is assaulted by a homeless guy and does what all victims should: She runs into a dark alley.

fall down dead 2007

There, she finds a woman dying of razor wounds and is accosted by the Picasso Killer, eventually getting a security guard at the Hitchcock Building to let her in. A couple of detectives show up just as another blackout occurs, knocking out the phones and lights, essentially locking them in, plus a couple of office workers having after-hours nudie time, and a cleaner, inside the building. With the killer. On Christmas Eve.

Fall Down Dead is one of those late night cable affairs where you can pick out who will die and in what order from the moment they grace the screen. Somehow it made it to a theatrical release in certain parts of the world! Areas where they still think Patterson is anything but a marketing brand in the guise of a serious writer, I guess.

Suffice to say, Picasso slashes or shoots (aww…) his way through everyone who isn’t Christie or the down-on-his-luck cop until it’s a cat and mouse game.

Kier’s accent and would’ve-been-scary-pre-Lecter performance saves things from total meltdown, but just about everything else should warrant a title change to Fail Down Dead: Swain, who began her career in the title role of Lolita, and then Face/Off, is cookie-cutter single-mom-working-as-waitress stuff, but the script is so steeped in its mandated view of gender politics that she can’t fire a gun and needs a man to save her at every turn.

fall down dead 2007

The other characters are just as contrived, from the troubled cop, to the happy cop, the Latino cleaner who clutches her rosary beads and whines instead of kicking the killer in the balls and running for it, David Carradine’s crotchety nightwatchman, and the sex-couple with as much depth as a petrie dish. They also come complete with Captain Obvious dialogue: “I can’t believe the power went off – now I have to walk down all those flights of stairs.”

Kier’s theatrics towards the end are amusing (“You piss me off!” he growls when Christie won’t just surrender and let him slash to to ribbons), but sadly even he can’t resuscitate this lost cause.

Blurbs-of-interest: Kier was also in Pray for Morning and (apparently, but I didn’t notice) Rob Zombie’s Halloween plus The Editor; Carradine was in Children of the Corn VDetention, and Trick or Treats; Jon Keeyes also directed American Nightmare.

It certainly felt like a whole day

a day of judgment 1981 box

A DAY OF JUDGMENT

1 Stars  1981/15/97m

“The night HE came to collect his own.”

A.k.a. Stormbringer

Director: C.D.H. Reynolds / Writer: Tom McIntyre / Cast: William T. Hicks, Harris Bloodworth, Brownlee Davis, Jerry Rushing, Toby Wallace, Inga Dennis, Larry Sprinkle, Helen Tryon, Careyanne Sutton, Charles Reynolds.

Body Count: 9

Laughter Lines: “If you’re going to kill me, give me time to pray!”


This plodding oddity is notable only for being one of very few period slasher films, being set in a small Southern town in the 1920s, where, after what feels like hours of boring, dull scenes of dialogue, a mysterious cloaked figure has come to lay to waste the nasty folk.

Beginning with the departure of the local Reverend, who laments he has failed to make the local people change their sinful ways, very slowly and boringly we’re introduced to the various characters in town:

  • Greedy, fat bank manager who won’t give anybody debt extensions
  • Nasty old lady who hates children and poisons their pet goat
  • Cheating spouse of department store owner
  • Scheming ambitious boyfriend of said spouse
  • Angry alcoholic man
  • Man who wants his own parents committed for their estate
  • Some solicitor or something?
  • A rotund, but fair Sheriff

It takes almost 40 minutes for the first of these unpleasant reprobates to be taken out, dragged into the earth by creepy hands that spring from the soil. Then some guy shoots himself because fat bank manager tries to foreclose on his farm. Another guy dies during a fight and his wife and her lover cover it up by making it look like a car accident.

a day of judgment 1981

It’s all really confusing and boring. Why aren’t they being slashed up by the cloak-dude?

Some double-crossing crap is revealed, I zoned out. More people are being shot than sickled.

The score sounds like Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.

My God, 97 minutes has never felt so long. This is worse than church.

SHIT A BRICK AND FUCK ME WITH IT – THE TWIST IS THAT IT WAS ALL A DREAM.

This isn’t a slasher movie its a Christian propaganda tale of A Christmas Carol proportions. The film even ends with the Ten Commandments scrolling up!

Blurbs-of-boredom: Jerry Rushing was the coach in Final Exam; Helen Tryon, William T. Hicks, and Larry Sprinkle were in House of Death.

Valley of the Cheapjack Franchises: Harvest of Fear & The Path of Evil

I picked this pair of cheapies up in Bali about a decade ago (!) and the discs were warped in a strange way that no others were and would only play on one DVD player, which I no longer have. Oh well, good job they sucked.

*

harvest of fear 2004 dvd

HARVEST OF FEAR

2 Stars  2004/87m

“Killing is in the air.”

Director: Brad Goodman / Writers: Ted Pfeifer & Chris Pfeifer / Cast: Ryan Deal, Carrie Finklea, Justin Ament, Don Alder, Thomas Nabhan, Curt Hanson, Tobias Anderson, Ted Pfeifer, Ina Strauss, Kristen Luman.

Body Count: 18

Laughter Lines: “Although there have been nine murders, we’re not ready to say any of this is connected.”


Another garden variety Friday the 13th Xerox made for the horror shelf at the DVD store, this time concerning murders in the small Oregon town of Devil’s Lake (of course…), which are identical to crimes that happened two decades earlier.

Medical intern Billy and his object of lust, Stacey, attempt to investigate the crimes that the local cops are too dumb to link either to one another or the earlier murders (see Laughter Lines) but also ignore the stalking behaviour of Stacey’s temperamental ex-boyfriend, Jake.

Meanwhile, college kids following ye olde tradition of getting drunk and having sex are being slashed to ribbons by a masked fiend. Never mind that their friends are dead, they decide they’re safe enough to continue partying until they meet inevitable sticky ends. On no less than three separate occasions, couples wander into dark deserted areas and then split up on the understanding that one of them will “be right back”.

Elsewhere, the film adheres to even the most outdated of cliches, including the old man who nobody listens to, and there’s even a hick-accented narrator book ending the film with a summary of events.

The writers (one of whom plays a deputy) have obviously tried to furnish their tale with twists and a litter of potential suspects, and the identity of the killer proves to be a little beyond the expected, but the actors and the dialogue their saddled with doesn’t stack up and the whole thing has an amateur night feel to it.

*

THE PATH OF EVIL the path of evil 2005

1.5 Stars  2005/113m

“After 20 years… the serial killer has returned.”

 Director/Writer: Brad Goodman / Writers: Justin Ament & Ted Pfeifer / Cast: Justin Ament, Ryan Deal, Carrie Finklea, Don Alder, Katie O’Grady, Thomas Nabhan, Brad Goodman, Ted Pfeifer, Curt Hanson.

Body Count: 12

Laughter Lines: “Devil’s Lake, contrary to its name, is not an evil place.”


Credit for reassembling the surviving cast members from the first film - and even resurrecting a couple of them from the dead! Here endeth the good.

The tables are turned as far as the plot goes, this time focusing on Jake (Ament), the asshole ex-boyfriend from before, as he recuperates from his wounds and tries to win back indecisive girlfriend Stacey, and work out who is behind the renewed spate of killings, six months on from the events of Harvest of Fear.

Difficult enough to digest that Jake is now supposed to be the sympathetic hero and already knowing the probable identity of the killer, the whole project is fleshed out to an excruciating length with scenes of a criminology student writing a paper on the convicted killer.

Ultimately, this subplot has no bearing on the outcome, which not only feels twice as long but also twice as boring as the first time around, grinding on relentlessly for almost two hours and withholding much of the killing until the end, though mercifully all the major players are done away with, erasing hope for a third go-round – although death didn’t stop them before.

Blurbs-of-interest: Carrie Finklea was in Simon Says; Tobias Anderson was in Destroyer.

Fashion Fatale

sorority house massacre 1986 cover

SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE

2 Stars  1986/18/86m …or 74m

“Who’ll survive the final exam?”

Director/Writer: Carol Frank / Cast: Angela O’Neill, Wendy Martel, Pamela Ross, Nicole Rio, John C. Russell, Joe Nassi, Marcus Vaughter, Vinnie Bilancio, Gillian Frank.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “What’s with Beth?” / “Her aunt died.” / “But that was weeks ago…”


“It must have all started the moment I entered the house…” says a girl in a hospital bed. FLASHBACK TIME!

Sorority House Massacre - where the fashions are deadlier than any nutjob with a knife. I paid £0.01 for this DVD. Seriously. And I still feel robbed.

This brazen Halloween clone was directed by a crew member from The Slumber Party Massacre, but gone is all that playfulness, replaced by what could well be the most 80s movie of the 80s.

sorority house massacre courteney cox

Beth – Courteney Cox-a-like O’Neill – comes to stay at the sorority house Theta Peter something or other where her friend Linda lives, intent on scoping it out to possibly pledge in the future. But no sooner does she enter than a weird feeling creeps up on her, the feeling of deja vu, and her nightmares begin: Creepy dolls, blood dripping on a china tea set, a trio of little girls warning her away blah blah blah.

sorority house massacre dolls

Across town/state/nation, a guy in an asylum begins twitching and then screaming: HE AND BETH ARE PSYCHICALLY LINKED! Who is he? How does he know her? Why does — oh, fuck it, we all know he’s her brother who flipped and killed the family in that house thirteen years earlier. It takes the cast a good hour to work this out though.

While loon-guy breaks out and steals the station wagon that Michael Myers appropriated and a hunting knife for good measure, Beth tries to fit in with the other sorority girls who are remaining at the house over Memorial Weekend. In between hallucinations of the asylum man in mirrors n’ shit, Beth finds the time to dress in accordance with the others, i.e. awful:

sorority house massacre awful clothes

Final Girl noted the presence of the extra at the back there and declared her ‘Banana Orbison’ in her review, and I can’t come up with anything more suitable. Amazing. It’s all just… so… amazing.

One girl asks Beth: “Do you have anything that will go with this?” Yes, fire. And lots of it.

As if this isn’t terrifying enough, Sorority House Massacre commits its first big continuity transgression. Now, the American version of the film clocks in at 74 minutes, while the UK VHS I saw in the 90s ran for 86. Terrible cuts? Better gore? No. More clothes. More scenes of the girls talking about clothes. Or hair. Or boys.

In one such scene, soro sisters Linda and Sara meet on their way back to the house and Linda has totally different hair. Like, completely different, only to cut back to a scene clearly shot some time earlier where she’s back to the old style in the blink of an eye.

They congregate and decide to make the most of their rule of the house by… trying on Cindy’s clothes!!!11!!!1!

This is Cindy in an earlier scene:

sorority house massacre cindy

What kind of fashionista? She calls this ‘fantasy in blancmange’.

Sorority House Massacre stamps its 80s card once again as we are dragged kicking and screaming into a fashion montage. While Beth sits on the bed looking pensive, Linda, Sara, and Tracy don Cindy’s wardrobe, a.k.a. the possible Gateway to Hell.

The girls pose and doo-wop to the kind of saxophone music used in any given 80s breakfast TV show. It is pain.

sorority house massacre awful clothes

C’mon, if Satan didn’t send these garments, who the fuck did?

Later, they receive a delivery of weird Native American ware for a party. The guys come over. Here are the guys:

sorority house massacre the guys

‘Swoon’.

The guys stick around, Beth has more dramas and lets Linda hypnotise her to try and work out where the bad dreams are coming from, while one of the guys relays the story of the murders that occurred in that very house! Beth ‘sees’ a knife hidden in the fireplace in her state of hypnosis which turns out to be legit there, and everyone stares at it for a bit:

sorority house massacre

One of the boyfriends leaves and the killer finally shows up and stabs him. Then Tracy and Craig go outside to have sex in the teepee and the killer gets Tracy. Sorority House Massacre returns yet again to the isle of bad continuity:

sorority house massacre 1986 nudity

sorority house massacre 1986 goof

sorority house massacre 1986 nudity

Finally alert to the presence of the killer, it’s soon just the three remaining girls versus the loon, who sees each one in turn as one of his slain sisters, having to re-kill them before getting to Beth, who still hasn’t worked out she’s the surviving sister. Tenants of sisterhood, sororities, woah, deep thematics or what?

An attempt to use the fire ladder to climb down to safety is thwarted, and when the killer starts to come up, the girls throw the ladder hooks out, only for him to JUMP FROM THE GROUND AND THROUGH A SECOND STOREY WINDOW.

sorority house massacre

More teenagers die, Beth is the last girl – duh – and finally sticks her brother where it hurts. Cut back to hospital bed, last second hallucinated shock thingy, credits.

Wow, 74 minutes never felt so long. Imagine being British in the 80s and having to trawl through those extra twelve minutes of clothes and hair!?

A bad movie lover’s dream, Sorority House Massacre may suck harder than a Pittsburgh hooker, but it’s occasionally effective: Beth’s dream of the china tea set is suitably weird, and there’s flashes of decent photography, and O’Neill makes for a capable heroine, even if all her efforts are bogged down by mechanical performances (the shrink is quite good), characters with a collective IQ lower than a spoon, and offering up absolutely nothing surprising.

But you still need to see it. Need to.

Blurb-of-interest: Pamela Ross was later in MoonStalker; Nicole Rio was in semi-slasher The Zero Boys.

Pumpkin Face

pumpkin karver 2006 dvd

THE PUMPKIN KARVER

1.5 Stars  2006/15/88m

“Every face is a work of art.”

Director/Writer: Robert Mann / Writer: Sheldon Silverstein / Cast: Amy Weber, Michael Zara, Minka Kelly, Terrence Evans, David J. Wright, David Austin, David Phillips, Alex Weed, Charity Shea, Mistie Adams, Briana Gerber, Jared Snow, Jonathan Conrad.

Body Count: 8


Weber and Zara are siblings new to the small town of Carver (groan), after a Halloween prank at their expense ended with Zara accidentally killing her sister’s boyfriend. One year on – to the day, as ever – they attend a big party away from adult supervision where a killer in the same mask as that used in the prank begins turning the faces of partygoers into human Jack-o-Lanterns.

A creepy old local pops up every now and then to torment Zara about the sacred job of a Carver and some babble about the ‘evil within’.

Given that the story strands a large number of characters in the middle of nowhere, nothing actually happens until the last 25 minutes, when it probably should’ve spread out the action to maintain interest.

the pumpkin karver 2006

As it is, The Pumpkin Karver is a pretty boring affair with too few flourishes to make up for slack pacing and a stupid, unexplained ending. Combine these elements with annoying characters (too many of whom survive) and it has all the appeal of a rotting pumpkin on November 12th.

Blurbs-of-interest: Amy Weber was in Kolobos; Terrence Evans was the old perv in the wheelchair in both Texas Chainsaw Massacre re-do’s; David Austin and Charity Shea were in (the fairly similar) Scarred.

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