Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Today's my 27th Birthday, and I wonder...

 Which one am I more likely to survive from? A murder mystery involving a wigged-out girl suffering from blackouts, death by kish-kabob and Scooby-Doo inspired plot twist?
Or a murder mystery involving a baby-faced killer, time loop and endless possibilities of dying over and over again?

Welp, it's a work day and I got 8 hours to kill before my shift, lemme watch both and find out...

Sunday, January 13, 2019

I Finally got to See Bumblebee (2018)...





Thursday, January 10, 2019

And Then There Were Six Lingerie: Lanetli Kadinlar (1990)

Boys and girls, it's that time again!
In today's episode, we have cleavage, skimpy night gowns and badly scratched photo quality packed in 69 minutes of eternity. I present to you...

Lanetli Kadinlar (Turkey, 1990) (AKA "Cursed Women", "Bloody Mansion Death")
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Nur Incegül, Hülya Konuk, Figen Aydogdu

Oh hey, a Turkish take on Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None! Only with badly acted women, very obvious budget restraints and cheese! Lots and lots of cheese! What could possibly go wrong? *insert internal screaming here*

A shot-on-video production of the lowest kind, Lanetli Kadinlar starts with six women getting a message one by one, inviting them to a remote island. Each of the gals have their own thing going before getting the invite; some were dancing, some were having a private lingerie photo session, but one of them appears to be having a bitter day as she looks at the camera with murder in her eyes while clenching a knife.

It isn't long before the girls make it to the island, with a grand mansion and a seventh lady expecting their arrival. Next thing we know we have fur coats being taken off, stringy and lacy undergarments are put on, and cat fights this way come as the girls come at each other after throwing a couple of insults. Things turn for the worse when the man who apparently invited them turns out dead at a park back at the city, a news that puts everybody on edge and growing a tad suspicious with one another.

Come the following morning (and a lesbian shower scene later), one of them is found stabbed in the back with a knife, indicating that a prowler (or, considering what plotting this movie is based on, one of girls) is out for blood. With no way out of the island, the remaining gals (still mostly wearing nothing else but skimpy baby dolls, mind you) must find a way to fend themselves against their killer who's finding no trouble snuffing them out via strangulation and poison.

To be frank, I never expected much from this film seeing this is made in Turkey around the early 90s. Turkish exploitation movies usually have that off-the-wall execution that's tries to look ambitious but ends up looking just insane, more often in the pretense that they're trying to better or at least equal popular mainstream movies. Kadinlar tries to be an exploitative murder mystery inspired by 70s Italian giallo, which honestly should work as the movie at least shows the basic structure of a mystery thriller, but the shoestring budget gravely affected everything this movie has to offer, may it be editing, acting, sound, picture quality, cinematography or, worst of all, direction.

The only thing I will remember Lenetli Kandilar for is the very fact that this is my first Turkish movie reviewed in this site. (at least, around the time this is written) Aside from that, this is nothing but pure garbage fire to keep the legions of hobos around my neighborhood warm for the night.

1 male found dead
1 female knifed on the back
1 female poisoned
1 female garroted
1 female strangled with a tie
1 female shot on the gut
1 female knifed at the back
1 female shot
Total: 8

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

There's An Ugly Yet Welcome Face!: Leprechaun Returns (2018)

Leprechaun Returns (2018)
Rating: ***
Starring: Taylor Spreitler, Pepi Sonuga, Sai Bennett

Previously on a Leprechaun review: Rage! Despair! Confusion! As after somewhat enjoying two Hood Leprechaun movies (more of the second than the first), the admin channels his inner 1860s newspaper critic Jebediah Atkinson (Saturday Night Live version) to unleash a plethora of rants upon Lionsgate's 2014 disaster of a movie Leprechaun Origins, a film that tries to be a serious and gritty reboot of the entire Leprechaun horror movie franchise that sucked ass for completely missing the point of the entire damn franchise, as well as being a boring overly cliched piece-of-shit. 
Never -and I mean, never,- gonna forgive this garbage.
Three years passed and now a new Leprechaun movie surfaced, promising the return of the evil Irish dwarf  that we all know and love rather than the dog-faced naked man-monkey Origins tried to pass on as a leprechaun. Will this be the return every horror fan is waiting for? Or at least the fans of the franchise?

Does Galactus eat planets? Yes.

Ignoring the sequels that came before and acting as a direct continuation of the original 1993 Leprechaun, (Halloween (2018) influence?) Returns starts by reminding us how the Leprechaun was defeated with a slow-mo shot of a four-leafed clover being swallowed by the rhyming dwarf before melting and falling to his doom down a well. Cut forward to the present and we follow Lila, the teen daughter of  Jennifer Aniston's final girl character Tory from the first film, moving into an eco-friendly sorority house which just so happens to be the same house a certain Irish shoe-shiner attacked twenty five years ago.

Escorting Lila to the house is the now adult Ozzie, fellow 93' Leprechaun attack survivor and a dear friend of her mum, who eerily warns her not to go to the nearby well knowing what lies inside and fearing its return. By the luck of the evil Irish, however, Ozzie ironically bites it first after checking up on the well as the Leprechaun breaks out from him with the help of some evil juju. (Which involves a gold coin inside Ozzie's gullet, a little continuity we Leprechaun fans would know about. And ponder over. Seriously, twenty five years and that thing is still inside him? You hadn't been eating yer fiber, had ya, Ozzie?)

One exposition between an expiring victim and a tiny terror later, the Leprechaun, back in the flesh, wastes no time snuffing out folks left and right whilst searching for his gold, eventually crossing paths with our sorority gals who now must find a way to stop him from dismembering them one at a time. Luckily for them, they got Lila (And the ghost of Ozzie. Just roll with it.) on their side and with her slight knowledge of what makes the Leprechaun tick thanks to dear old mum, she got a trick or two on beating the killer dwarf. Hopefully.

Wholesomely welcoming the silliness of its premise of teenagers being hunted down by a creature twice smaller than their size blessed with magic murder powers, Leprechaun Returns not only fits nicely within the franchise's tone and giving it an actual continuity, but its also a very competent slasher comedy on its own to enjoy. It's not perfect as there are some scenes that felt too obscure unless you've seen the original (a few reasons why I enjoy the kind of franchising Leprechaun went for prior, with each film being its own standalone story) and some of the girls aren't that interesting, but the movie does have more hits than misses as an entry in the franchise, embracing the fun one can get from the simplistic yet insane situation and scoring well on gore and funnies with our lil' demon being the main source of both (playfully casted by Linden Porco, taking on the mantle from Warwick Davis who played the creature for six movies), all the while our human casts shares their own take on comedic dialogue and cheesy shenanigans that borderlines the meta satire of Wes Craven's Scream. (Or the Ash VS The Evil Dead series as that show's writer Suzanne Keilly also penned this movie)

Director Steven Kostanski brought upon this Leprechaun movie all the chunky gore it needs to get that splatstick flavor going, which is a fun feat considering his outstanding creature and gore effects from the amazing Lovecraftian horror flick The Void (2016). Leprechaun Returns certainly felt as close to being a supernatural slasher as Leprechaun 3 (1995) did, delivering one bloody murder at a time and showcasing the Leprechaun's wide array of powers. (Turns out he can multiply now into bite-sized mini-mes, which also reminds of another Evil Dead-related moment...)

Kostanski may have lacked an insight or two on how to push the movie forward aside from gags where the Leprechaun uses and ponders over our new technology and fashion sense but, nevertheless, it's still a more delightful watch compared to Origins. It's a backwoods slasher comedy with a wee Celtic splatter on the side that's bound to delight the fans of the franchise and too the open gorehounds who can tolerate a round of feisty Goodah.

1 male disemboweled
1 male had his head ran down and crushed with a van
1 male sliced in half with a dropped solar panel
1 female gets a projected sprinkler head to the mouth
1 male decapitated with a drone's propeller
1 female lands face first to a trophy
Total: 6

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Some Killer Presents: Secret Santa (2015)

Secret Santa (2015)
Starring: Annette Wozniak, Geoff Almond, Keegan Chambers

A seasonal slasher with a comedic side, Secret Santa (2015) has the basic plot of college students (and their professor) getting together for a Secret Santa Christmas party, only to have their gifts switched with used garden tools and sharp kitchen wares by a figure in a balaclava, now prowling around the house and murdering them one by one.

It's nothing altogether new save for one or two decent twists and takes, including foreshadowing how our characters will die based on the gifts they received during the Secret Santa gift exchange, the real identity of the killer and the admittedly hilarious "two hour" long monologue as to why they're doing this. (which still made little sense at the end)  And with its short 78 minute run, Secret Santa would have been a quick yet fun little ride down to familiar bodycounting territories if only the rest of its comedy portions were as good as the gory killings.

Even though college comedies aren't my thing, I usually am able to tolerate them in a slasher set-up if the payoff is seeing these teens die a good death at the hands of a decent killer. What I cannot stomach, however, is when a joke seems to be going forever that the punchline felt watered down from the prolonged build up. Secret Santa has more than one occasion of this, which in turn have us waiting until the last 20 or so minutes to get the climactic killing spree, and it doesn't help better the good half of the cliched campus funnies this movie is trying to make work. 

Pleasingly, the kills are rewarding enough to make up for some of the dud jokes Secret Santa (2015) coughed up so I couldn't consider this film a total lost. It's definitely an effort with a small budget, one that deserves to be seen and enjoyed for the simplistic cheesy story, few genuine funnies, the overall messy slaughter and nothing else. Check it out during the holidays (or, y'know, any time you want to) if you're in the mood for a not so great but far from bad bodycounter.

1 female gets smothered with a pillow and a powerdrill to her eye
1 male had his throat repeatedly slashed with a knife
1 male knifed on the head
1 female ran through and disemboweled with an electric knife
1 male castrated with a pruning shear
1 female brained to death with a hairdryer
1 male decapitated with a meat cleaver
1 male stabbed on the head with a screwdriver
1 female ran through with a fire poker, bled to death
1 female knifed on the gut
1 male dismembered and decapitated with a chainsaw
Total: 11

Silent Night, Cruel Night: O'Hellige Jul! (2013)

Have Yourself a Mirthless Little Christmas~

O'Hellige Jul! (Christmas Cruelty!) (Norway, 2013)
Rating: **1/2
Starring:  Eline Aasheim, Tormod Lien, Magne Steinsvoll

When a movie starts with a family of four beaten, bound and gagged while the perpetrator rapes the mother before putting a running buzzsaw through a baby, you know this is gonna be one fucked up holiday horror.

A mean-spirited callback to the old days of artsy exploitation movies, O'Hellige Jul! follows the lives of friends Eline, Magne and Per-Ingvar as they celebrate the holiday season through festive decorations, pranks and some good ole' brewskies to the point of being shit-faced. Unknown to all of them, they're being observed by a man working at a public welfare agency who's planning to pay them a visit soon and contribute in any way he can so they don't have to worry about the New Year.

The problem with this? Well, this welfare worker and loving family man happens to be a serial killer with a brutally nasty habit of home invasion, rape and dismembering victims. As Eline and her buddies go through the Winter holidays with little to no care in the world, our killer plots his next killing spree and it isn't long before a creepy Santa costume is donned, paths are crossed and a chainsaw's teeth goes through warm flesh.

True to  O'Hellige Jul!'s English title, this movie is cruel in every sense and not just in a manner of relentless onscreen blood work; while the beginning and the end of the movie befits the slasher/splatter category well, the middle run of O'Hellige Jul! is written more as a black comedy working around the bleaker side of the holiday with an almost realistic (and at times, darkly funny) depiction of those living in the lower end of the social spectrum, mostly unpleasant folks wallowing in misery and stress over the hectic (and often costly) yearly celebration. This works quite well to the fact that our killer's normal occupation is that of someone supposed to help these people, creating an ironic yet oddly clever walking and stabbing social satire on the welfare system, though it can divide the audience as this chunk of the story can get really slow with its pacing, and attempts to build character and tone can lead almost unwatchable obnoxiousness.

The exploitative portions, thankfully, deliver the best bits of the movie, holding little to no restraint when it comes to grue and unsettling scenarios despite the low budget effects. It's not one for the squeamish, pulling no punches when it comes to taboo subjects such as assault, infanticide and random acts of violence, but lovers of dark and gritty cinema certainly will find something to like about this movie, particularly the last third of O'Hellige Jul! where the savagery is at its worst and the final product is foreseen bleak, thus a very welcome payoff to a slow middle act.

Less of your paint-by-number slasher horror and more of a gore-filled grindhouse grit,  O'Hellige Jul! is a film that pushes the boundaries of shock value and explores the more realistic array of cinematic scares on the side. It is no mean a masterpiece as a holiday horror flick considering the, again, long and slow middle run, but I do appreciate the efforts the filmmakers made to put something daring and strangely natural on a horror film. With its cast of amateur actors giving the film an air of near fidelity, O'Hellige Jul! definitely has the potential to be better with a bigger budget or slicker direction, but for what we have now, I recommend this title only to those with a strong stomach and a love for good underground shlock.

1 baby sliced through with a buzzsaw
2 males and 2 females presumably murdered offcamera
1 male brained to death with a hammer
1 male decapitated with a machete
1 female knifed to death
1 female dismembered with a chainsaw
1 male dismembered and eviscerated with a chainsaw
Total: 10

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Cranky like a Krampus: 12 Deaths of Christmas (2017)

12 Deaths of Christmas (United Kingdom, 2017) (AKA "Mother Krampus")
Rating: *1/2
Starring:  Claire-Maria Fox, Faye Goodwin, Tony Manders

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) meets Darkness Falls (2003) set during the Christmas holiday. Do I really need to say more about this underwhelming lump of coal?

Well, if I do leave it at that, one might think this is a good movie, which it isn't. Not by a long shot. So if I need to (*sobs*), it starts with a exposition narration telling us about some gruesome child murders in 1921 in an English town called Belgrave, which happens again 71 years later. Superstitious folks blame these deaths on a witch named Frau Perchta, while the more capital punishment-ready town people pins the crime to a local pagan named Molly Fletcher who, after getting captured and whilst being hanged, cursed those responsible for her death to a grislier end through the hands of Perchta.

Twenty-Five years later, we follow a young girl named Amy, whose parents are going through a nasty break-up after dad cheated on mum with a younger woman. Amy's mother struggles to keep things chipper, especially seeing it's near Christmas, but her efforts aren't fairing any better with her own father's drinking problems and the sudden (and unwelcome) appearance of one of grampa's old acquaintances.

As you would have it, grampa's friend is there to tell him that a new string of child disappearances starts to plague Belgrave and it seems that the victims are the kids of those who were hexed by Molly back at 1992. Making matters worse is that our culprit isn't satisfied with just snagging kids away in potato sacks (I'm not joking) but is also mutilating any adults that get in her way. This transitions from a couple of nasty onscreen slaughterings and offscreen kidnappings to Amy's very uneasy family Christmas vacation at Grampa's backwoods cabin when papa shows up with his new girlfriend. Perchta eventually shows up at the cabin that afternoon, thankfully cutting short one awkward so-and-so family drama, and all means of bloody dismemberment and twist reveals broke loose upon our hapless family. And a mistress.

Repackaged within the US as "Mother Krampus" to cash-in to the success of Krampus (2015), 12 Deaths of Christmas has a wee bit of a potential to be a good slasher movie seeing it is drawing inspiration from the Frau Perchta folklore, which says that the European witch (or pagan goddess, depending to whoever you address this to) would slit the bellies of misbehaved children open to remove their guts before stuffing the hole with straw and pebbles. (All the while leaving small silver coins in a shoe or pail owned by good lil' kinders. Fair contrast?) On a level, it does succeed on grabbing my attention with some decent kill scenes done in passable practical effects, but the story itself just felt cluttered to no end with its unbalanced cheese and shoddy writing, which is saying a lot considering I usually have no quarrels with that. I guess because the movie attempts to do in serious family drama to what's practically a low-budget I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) clone clashes horribly with its lack of better actors, proper pacing and a more solid direction, 12 Deaths of Christmas felt nothing special in the end and probably pushed itself back into low brow and awkward obscurity.

Add the matter that the last half of the movie hardly built any tension considering how much it stalled our characters (and us) to their own deaths by having them repeatedly survive whatever our villainess throws at them before finally biting the big one, 12 Deaths of Christmas (2017) just didn't cut it for me in the end. Microbudget movies are, again, no problem for me so long as they try to do something a tad more memorable than copy and paste plot points from better movies. (Apart from the aforementioned Elm Street and Last Summer, they also threw in some Candyman (1992) in there for some reason...) You could say I could love it for the gore, but I can't bring myself to be that shallow so, no. This is 12 Deaths I have no problem ignoring each festive season to pass after.

(Or was that 13 deaths? Lemme look at my bodycount real quick...)

1 girl mentioned died from injuries sustained from an attack
5 children mentioned dead from throat cuts
1 female disemboweled and had Christmas lights sewn into her gut
1 female stabbed in the back with a machete, hanged (flashback)
1 female stabbed on the back with a machete and a cookie cutter, disemboweled
1 female stabbed on the throat with a machete, slaughtered with an electric knife
1 female axed on the throat
1 male had his hear clawed out
1 female had her throat slashed through with an axe
Total: 13