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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.

THE WISHER

thewisherTHE WISHER

1.5 Stars  2002/15/83m

“Cut to your worst nightmare.”

A.k.a. Spliced

Director: Gavin Wilding / Writer: Ellen Cook / Cast: Liane Balaban, Ron Silver, Drew Lachey, Siri Baruc, Melissa Repka, Kara Genaro.

Body Count: 4


Mary is a high-schooler obsessed with horror movies and often wakes up outside the front of her house after a nightmare – the best of which opens the film and involves a birthday cake with a rather gory filling. Mmmm.

Her shrink (Silver) blames horror films, as does her Dad. Forbidden from seeing another scary movie by her Pop, Mary sneaks out to see The Wisher – a budget slasher flick that has been at the top of the box office for weeks (check out the cinema where it’s playing on several screens whilst Halloween: Resurrection is only on one!) and is rumoured to be the grisliest horror flick going. After chucking up dinner at the movie, Mary’s life is worsened when her dad is killed in a car accident on his way to pull her out of the theater. We know it’s a bit more suss than ‘just a car crash’ though, don’t we, eh?

Nobody believes the guilt-ridden teen when she says there’s someone following her, someone made-up like the film’s titular character, granting her wishes in a twisted way, e.g. Mary wants her friend to shut up and the chick’s tongue is cut out by the maniac, who wears Freddy-like gloves with shards of glass on the fingertips.

Good concept, but the film plods on without enough stab and drip and by the end only two characters are dead, and the killer unsuccessfullygoes after Mary and her friends before sa so-called ‘twist’ right out of the equally rubbish Wishmaster comes into play and saves the day. The heroine has supposedly seen everything going in the horror realm, yet she falls for the oldest cliches in the book and can’t figure out who the killer is. Especially dumb as the perp virtually wears a T-shirt with ‘I Am the Killer! Ask Me How!’ printed on it.

The film wins a few bonus points for poking fun at the whole ‘violence in cinema’ issue with hardly a drop of subtlety, it’s too bad the screenwriter didn’t devote as much enthusiasm in knocking off some of the annoying cas members and making it more decisively a stalk n’ slash opus. Cool tagline though.

Blurbs-of-interest: Liane Balaban was in the Maniac remake. Ron Silver was also in Silent Rage. Gavin Wilding directed Christina’s House.

ADAM & EVIL

adamevilADAM & EVIL

2 Stars  2004/15/90m

A.k.a. Halloween Camp 2: Scream If You Wanna Die Faster (UK)

“One bad apple…ripe for revenge.”

Director / Writer: Andrew Van Slee / Cast: Sean Arnfinson, Lynsey Brothers, Brody Harms, Barbara Kottmeier, Erica Cerra, Jodie Graham, Allison Warnyca, Clayton Champagne, Kevin Robson, Jeffrey Fisher, Tiffany Patterson, Terran Orletsky.

Body Count: 13


An unengaging standard-issue Canadian export centring around another bunch of jocks and their girlfriends recently done with high school and therefore celebrating with a camping trip. It transpires that two of the boys have a nasty skeleton in their closet, which could – and therefore does - have something to do with the shady psycho who’s bumping off the group one by one.

Best viewed as a parody of itself – especially given the UK title (see below) – with dialogue limited to sexual intonations for the first half and then shouty arguments once the murders are discovered and the group go gung-ho into hunting the killer before he gets them. I watched this one with a checklist and got a stunning score of 100%:

  • Creepy caretaker – YES
  • Murders that occurred at camping spot – YES
  • Creepy diner / gas station stopover – WHY, YES
  • Sex in a tent – YES
  • Dimly lit murder scenes to save on gore effects – YES
  • Glaringly obvious killer – HELL YES!

Yes, this last point is really irritating. The film, in its original incarnation, is called Adam & Evil. There’s a character called Adam, so by logic… There’s an Eve, an Yvette and an Yvonne… And Maureen and Rachel but they evidently don’t matter and die anyway. So…ladies, which of you is the psycho freakshow whackjob? Given how obvious some of the early comments made by the character it turns out to be you’ll be slapping your own forehead at how lazy they’ve been and also how dumb they think you are! Yes, you! You there with the DVD box – put it back!

halloweencamp2OK, the funky UK title. Halloween Camp 1 was the DVD name for Bloody Murder 2. Bloody Murder 1 having already been released as Scream Bloody Murder… Hence, tack on a play on that Geri Halliwell song, a picture from the Halloween Camp 1 DVD box with some pretty teens beneath it and you’re done! Lazy MoFo’s. Maybe if I scream, the producers will die faster?

CRAZY EIGHTS

Crazy Eights (Horrorfest) DVDCRAZY EIGHTS

1.5 Stars  2006/15/77m

“No secret stays locked away forever.”

Director: James K. Jones / Writers: James K. Jones, Dan DeLuca, Ji-un Kwon & Patrick Moses / Cast: Dina Meyer, Traci Lords, George Newbern, Gabrielle Anwar, Frank Whaley, Dan DeLuca.

Body Count: 6


Past midnight? Trouble sleeping? Well, suffer no more! For a side-effect free night of REM sleep, try new Crazy Eights from After Dark Horrorfest.

The words ‘Traci’ and ‘Lords’ attached a serious horror film should trigger an involuntary retraction of the reaching hand as you browse HMV’s horror section. To save 77 minutes of your sanity, here’s what happens:

Title cards tell us that between the 50’s and 70’s, 600 children were ‘volunteered’ into this program where they were experimented on and most were never seen again yadda yadda… In the now, six ex-inmates gather after another old friend dies/commits suicide/bails from production and go to the now closed institute to dig up a time capsule and soon get locked in and hunted by the ghost of girl inmate they used to know.

The title refers to the name of their baseball team but has no other relevance, probably just to give the viewer some sense of mystery, as this apes so many Asian horror cliches; girl ghosts appearing in mirrors, corridors and the like. Only Meyer’s admirable struggle to do something with her restricted role is of interest as there’s next to no bloodshed or scares. You’d need to be crazy to bother with this one.

Blurbs-of-interest: Meyer was Stallone’s doomed wife in D-Tox. Anwar was later in iMurders.

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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