Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Warehouse of Dead Geeks: Dead Hunt (2007)

Dead Hunt (2007)
Rating: **1/2
Starring:  Dennis Hill, Sara Cole, John Patrick Barry

It was supposed to be a simple gathering between forum writers and reviewers with some of them meeting in real life for the first time. Small talk and some bitching happened, booze were drank, and some of them were thinking of scoring some sweet bedroom action later that night. For this small group of amateur critics, things were going just fine until they soon finds themselves trapped inside a rigged warehouse and a balaclava-wearing killer had began going through them with the sharp end of a knife.

Why are they being snuffed out is the killer's little riddle for them and it apparently had something to do with their profession as critics; with this in mind, Dead Hunt could have been a film poking fun at devoted horror flick reviewers (such as myself and maybe even you, dear reader) but it instead took an easier route and gave us your standard bodycounter.

The story did start off with the characters being geeks and them some, talking about movies and/or simply hanging around; once the bodycount starts, most of these people were easily reduced to typical slasher victims, making some really cliched decisions that inevitably sealed their fate with the killer's knife. I guess I was hoping for a more tongue-in-cheek approach on the characters seeing they're horror fans in a horror flick but with the Scream series already tackling that not once but at three times by of Dead Hunt's release, maybe a stroll back to simpler roots wasn't that bad of an idea.

If anything, it's the film's killer who dwelled in the meta-concept, taunting and monologuing their nitpicks on each victim before finishing them off. It's a little silly but it kinda paid off once their identity and their motive was revealed, as it involved something pretty reasonable if it wasn't for the extreme measure.

While not exactly the most impressive in terms of onscreen talent, as well as guilty of having some terrible audio and early age computer effects at some of its scenes, the story is easy to follow especially once the killer starts to blabber about their criticisms. Right then and there you can pick up the pieces and put on the puzzle with ease. Some gore and make-up effects were pretty good though some of the best kills happened offcamera which is a tad disappointing but otherwise okay on my book, especially if the killer committing them sports an awesomely simply maniac get-up. (Red faced balaclava and trench coats never looked so sleek)

It isn't much but Dead Hunt is an okay movie, forgettable but watchable nonetheless. It has some neat ideas and good production despite a few flaws and the budget issues, so I guess this is a passable effort even if it lacks any originality, decent acting, and/or an imaginative killcount. I say give this one a go if you're feeling for something really simple for your cinematic bloodlust.

1 male found disemboweled
1 female electrocuted on a rigged door
1 male had his throat slit with a knife
1 male found slaughtered
1 male slashed with a knife, left for dead
1 female set ablaze
1 male stabbed with a knife
1 female hacked on the head with a machete
1 female stabbed
1 male shot
1 male shot
Total: 11

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Don't Go Dismembering Christmas: Slasher Studios Double Bill Review

Don’t Go to The Reunion (2013)
Rating: **
Starring: Kaleb Shorey, Marla Van Lanen, Johnathon Krautkramer

I always consider myself the supportive type when it comes to slasher fans doing their own slasher movie, especially when it looked like they have potential.

Horror review website and film workshop Slasher Studios first released an impressive short film titled Teddy, which is a basic run through everything we get to know and love about slashers. Their next two short film projects, Popularity Killer and Blood Brothers, were fair rides on their own run but not exactly as good (both story and production wise) as Teddy. After a while, we then get this, their first feature length slasher film that, much like Teddy, tries to cover a classic bodycounter scenario though with a few duds.

Don’t Go To The Reunion focuses on a group of highschoolers who decided to get their outcast classmate Scott Rantzen in trouble by planting a real sickle in his locker. When the principal and the local cops found the weapon, they were quick to believe that Scott was mentally unstable and had him shipped off to the loony bin where he supposedly remained.

Until now.

Ten years later, the now-adult high schoolers began receiving Scott’s slasher drawings with a warning written for them. It seems Mr. Rantzen is no longer in captivity and is now after their guilty arses one by one.

Clocking around 75 minutes, Don’t Go To The Reunion felt more like a film project than an actual movie but I can overlook this seeing that it is an independent work. I can overlook the cheap effects, the amateurish acting, and how tame the sex scene was, even though I believe the film still could have worked without the latter.

However, what I cannot overlook is how predictable the story was, how pushy the story felt as a self-aware hack-a-thon, how uninspired the kills were, and how the ending felt too rushed; perhaps it’s the fact that I’d seen enough slashers to tell what direction a film of this caliber might be going and usually I can also try to bypass this, that is if they can do something else worth our attention. (especially if the story itself was that near from being a Slaughter High (1986) reboot/reimagining)

Unfortunately, the murders failed to impressed me as, seeing the killer is a slasher fanatic like us, they decided to tribute cult classic slashers in these killings thus making some of them a little uninspired. I guess the problem was that they were paying homages to murder scenes that were already “re-did” multiple times by other slashers before this, which kinda made the kills in Don’t Go look stale in comparison. One for example, involves a carhood beheading which was a tribute to Madman (1982). I may had gotten a good laugh out of that if this was the only movie to do the same kill, but with the likes of Shadow Runs Black (1986) and a more humorous variation from Home Sweet Home (1981), this is just too plain to impress.

So the kills were, in a lack of better terms, “meh”, Don’t Go also featured a mystery of sorts concerning whether Scott is back killing people or not, which would have done better if only they tried using different actors to hide the twist. If you’d seen it, you will know what I meant and though I am sure it was not their intention to insult our intelligence, it kinda looked that way.

And yet, with all of this, I can’t really diss on Don’t Go To The Reunion; it had potential and I can tell that they did try, but the final result was too underwhelming for me after all the hype people were making about this film. I am not going to say I am disappointed, but I will say good luck to Slasher Studios for their next project. Who know? Perhaps they can do better then!

1 female decapitated with a sickle
1 male beheaded with a car hood
1 female stabbed on the mouth with a fire poker
1 male and 1 female skewered with a fire poker
1 male knifed on the back
1 male killed offscreen
2 males skewered with a fire poker, beaten with a stand
Total: 9
Dismembering Christmas (2015)
Rating: 1/2
Starring: Baker Chase Powell, Leah Wiseman, Nina Kova

…Wow. Just.


A group of friends spends Christmas Eve at another friend’s snowbound cabin in the mountains only to fall prey to a masked killer. Apparently this is the plot and perhaps Slasher Studios was aiming to do something simpler for their next project, all the while tackling the ever popular holiday horror trope.

Unfortunately, due to a rocky production, the resulting movie is a messy bore that’s littered with awful audio, incoherent scripting, zero thrills, lackluster kills, and a very lame villain with a standard murder motive. I never knew they will stoop down this low but I guess if you try to stretch a plot with useless fillers and a curious shot of some guy’s buttocks, the overall final product is going to be a tedious run through uninteresting characters being themselves and getting killed for it.

Any pros, though? I honestly can’t find any that would have saved the film but I will say that the hockey stick double-murder was a decent scene. Last time I saw a decent hockey stick kills were by the demon boys from the movie Dogma and Sub-Zero from the Arnold Schwarzenegger action-thriller The Running Man. We need more hockey stick murderers out there!

Ending with a boring quip and a brutal villain dispatch (are the guys at Slasher Studios trying to say something?), Dismembering Christmas is a film worth dismembering and I am starting to feel scared for the production team. Let’s all hope they don’t end up like the Polonia Brothers

1 male stabbed with a buck knife
1 male had his gut sliced with a sharpened hockey stick
1 female hacked with a sharpened hockey stick
1 female stabbed to death with sharpened poles
1 male slides through thin wire, decapitated
1 female bludgeoned with a porcelain tree
1 female decapitated with a razor-lined wreath
1 male hacked to death with a hatchet
1 male found murdered
1 female had her head crushed with an ice auger
Total: 10

Saturday, November 21, 2015

All Hail Borak: Hollywood Meatcleaver Massacre (1977)

Hollywood Meat Cleaver Massacre (1977) (AKA "Meatcleaver Massacre, Revenge of The Dead")
Rating: ***
Starring: Christopher Lee, Larry Justin, J. Arthur Craig

Even if it opens and ends with gothic horror icon Christoher Lee doing a lengthy lesson on occultism from around the world, Meat Cleaver Massacre can't hide how shlocky it is but (and this is a subjective "but") it might as well since the film did offered something worthwhile as a cheesy and overly-simple exploitation trash.

Professor Cantrell teaches demonology with a passion at some university, much to the interest of his class except one Mason who would rather bully his way around campus to feel great about himself. Unfortunately to the kid, Cantrell deservingly humiliated him on that day and wounded his ego enough to plot a home invasion and murder the professor's family.

With the help of his three lackeys, Mason nearly succeed with his plan if it wasn't for Cantrell surviving the attack and slipping into a wide-eyed coma. Worse, thirsty of justice-slash-revenge, the professor managed to contact a demon in his state and had it execute Mason and his lackeys one by one.

A bit misleading as no meat cleavers were used but Hollywood Meatcleaver Massacre is what it is and that is a cheesy supernatural proto-slasher guilty of being surreal and plodding in pace.

Boasting four screenwriters to tink around a rather interesting concept, the execution was unfortunately ever trashy and occasionally hammy that the film ended up feeling all over the place but, strangely enough, it still stood rather strong as an early entry to ghostly slashers as it featured (for its time) rather imaginative killings such as killer cacti and a post-Omen pre-Final Destination accident based deaths, as well as earning some notoriety as the home invasion sequence dreadfully resembles the infamous Mason family murders.

Much of Meatcleaver's charms hail from its strangeness as, despite simple the story is, the surreal nature of everything within and out of the horror is just too mind-boggling to ignore and enjoy as a 70s exploitation wreckage. It's nearly comical for its incoherence and messy production and I guess that's just the way we should be seeing this slasher.

It's not the finest example of a well-made supernatural slasher but Hollywood Meatcleaver Massacre didn't shy away from being gutsy, bloody, and most importantly, crazy which should be enough for a true cheddar, exploitation and/or slasher fanatic. Try it out or be damned by killer cacti.

1 dog killed with kitchen knife
1 female strangled
1 female slaughtered with a kitchen knife
1 male strangled with chord
1 male attacked by possessed cacti, jabbed on the chest with thorns
1 male crushed to death with a car hood
1 male electrocuted and burnt
Total: 7

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Night We Will All Remember: Prom Night (1980)

Prom Night (Canada, 1980)
rating: ****
starring: Leslie Nielsen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Casey Stevens

At 1974, young Robin Hammond was going home from school with ehr brother and sister when she saw a group of kids playing a tag-like game in an abandoned building. She leaves her siblings to join the children, only to be teased and chased to a loose window where she fell to her death by accident. Seeing what they have done, youngsters Wendy Richards, Jude Cunningham, Kelly Lynch, and Nick McBride decided to keep this among themselves and a known rapist was later blamed for Robin's death

Six years later, the four children managed to keep their pact and went on with their lives, some even befriending the remaining Hammond kids including Robin's sister Kim. And since it's prom night that evening, everybody was preoccupied in finding perfect dates as well as scheming in humiliating rivals, unaware that the convicted rapist from long ago had just escaped and may or may not be the obscene caller threatening the four then-youngsters of their past crime earlier that day.

As the night they should all remember becomes a night of terror, one by one they fall victim to a killer hellbent for a vengeful bloodbath.

Sided with a complementary amount of cheese, Prom Night runs a plot that took its time on building up to the premise as well as characterize its casts before they are thrown into the carnage later. Due to this, the film certainly slugs around for a good amount of time as we are treated to some soap drama and exploits as well as a few mild scares and intrigues concerning possible suspects, something that might have worked for some patient viewers but not for those who were eyeing for a trashy hack-a-thon with a fair mystery (these red herrings look too obvious) as well as those expecting said soap drama to make a whole of sense (who in the right mind would befriend the siblings of the person they just killed?) or work all the way. (Jamie Lee Curtis was okay here but I can't help but feel she's a tad distant)

Needless to say, this is where Prom Night tends to get rocky and I understand why a lot of slasher fans stray away from this film because of this; thankfully, once prom finally happen, the cheese became rather entertaining thanks to some outrageous disco dance numbers and curious set-ups, and the slasher portions finally live up the film as rules were broken (apparently virginity is not a safeguard for the killer), decent kills were delivered (the Carrie-esque prank-gone-wrong being the best), and one of the most memorable chase scene in a slasher makes it debut here. (echoing empty hallways never looked so intense).

These scenes were pulled off in near-perfection as any cheesy 80s slasher could and I love how everything just unfolds into place straight to the climax where the killer makes a public execution to a fellow who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I love how this film borrows elements from other slasher classics such as Black Christmas (1976) and Halloween (1978), and I definitely love how simple yet menacing the villain was despite how weak their identity was hidden for the sake of a whodunit.

While not groundbreaking in anyway, Prom Night remains one of the best slashers I'd seen and an awesome 80s time capsule. Cheesy yet thrilling, disco prom never looked this fun and macabre!

1 girl falls to her death off a building
1 female found murdered with glass shards
1 female gets her throat cut with a glass shard
1 female stabbed to death with a glass shard
1 male driven off a cliff, immolated in explosion
1 female axed to death
1 male beheaded with an axe
1 male hits on the head with an axe, bled to death
Total: 8

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Voorhees Uber-Massacre: Jason X (2001)

Jason X (2001)
Rating: ***
Starring: Kane Hodder, Lexa Doig, Jeff Geddis

As way to keep the franchise alive while Freddy vs Jason still wallowed around in Development Hell, writer Todd Farmer pitched this idea/gimmick of having Jason rampage outside of Camp Crystal Lake, which was already attempted back at 1989 with the commercial flop Jason Takes Manhattan. However, unlike Take Manhattan, Jason made it to his destination AND wreck havoc there the right way.

Where is this location, you ask? Why none other than space!

In 2008, undead mass murderer Jason Voorhees was finally captured by the US government and spent two years as a guinea pig for those who were fascinated by his regenerative ability and apparent immortality after surviving multiple execution attempts since the time he was caught.

Seeing that the best option now is to contain Jason until they can come up with a way to destroy him for good, Rowan LaFontaine was about to put him in frozen stasis via cryogenics when the military types (including one played by body horror affacionado David Cronenberg) arrive and try to take the killer away in hopes of further researching his unique non-dying trait. 

Unfortunately for them, Jason escaped from his restraints and proceeds to nearly slaughter them all until Rowan who successfully lured him into one of the cryogenic pods and trapping him inside, only to have the juggernaut rupture it with his machete, in the process stabbing Rowan and freezing them both for 445 years.

Now in the future, Earth became too polluted to sustain life and a group of archaeology students was accompanied back to the now dead planet with their professor and gynoid for a field trip, eventually stumbling upon the preserved bodies of Rowan and Jason. Seeing one of them has a high chance of being revived by their technology while the other can be dissected for further studies, the students brings Rowan out of her cryogenic state and welcomes her to the future, blissfully unaware (but soon will realize in horror) that Jason had just woken up as well, ready to show his brand of mayhem to the the space age.

First of, I get it. I understand why many horror junkies are not as fond of this entry as I and a few others out there are and I believe it had something to do with the execution of the concept.

The idea of putting a horror franchise villain in space is mostly referenced as a joke concerning movie series and the fact that they just kept going to the point of desperation; this being said, Jason X often look, sound, and felt like a bad B-grade movie and, for all honesty, it is close to being one (complete with a nonsensical and hole-filled plot, average acting, and a trace of bad cheese that is everywhere considering how hard the movie was trying to sound hardcore and futuristic) if it wasn't for the considerate budget and production. If anything, this movie is the Friday the 13th franchise's shark-jumping and many horror fans can sense that.

But, seeing that we are being treated with Jason being in friggin space, perhaps that was the point; the series was never the same by the time they decided to bring Jason back to life ala Frankenstein's monster back at Part 6 Jason Lives and the films following it since were getting cheesier by the moment. This being said, yes it is nonsensical, but it has this comic book feel to the plotting and flow that at some case its silliness can be entertaining and Jason X provided enough slasher theatrics and B-movie cheddar to keep a bodycounter happy.

The kills were barely CG assisted and they are plentiful here may it be on or off camera, this including a bunch of military men being mowed down at the beginning, an entire assault team being hunted down in a research ship, and even an entire space station being indirectly destroyed with Jason's massacre being the cause, all of them done in complete Jason Voorhees fashion though it is kinda noticeable how stronger our slasher seems to be in this movie. (He sliced through metal more than once using nothing but a machete. A Machete!)

We are also treated with some fight sequences, most memorable being that where Jason fights a grenade launching gynoid and momentarily lost to her after being blasted to bits. However, just like Jason Goes to Hell, losing a body wasn't a big deal for him since he later came back as a cyborg dubbed Uber- Jason after a rather convenient set-up. I have to say though that I'm not a big fan of his new mask, but the bulked-up yet futuristic sleek look, along with his piercing red eyes, apparently doubled strength and durability, did made him menacing enough to strike fear and awe in this upgrade.

The rest of the characters were an odd bunch as they are a mix of your standard teenage victims and scifi action tropes such as the pompous authority, the ignored scientist, the badass militant, and even a death squad. Sadly, since the film was modeled after a standard slasher flick, they're as single-dimensional as they can with only a few standing out, for better or worse, and their purpose were easily reduced to just futuristic lambs for the slaughter.

Paced with enough explosions, dodgy CG and a final shot that raises more fanboy questions, Jason X may fail as a horror film for the masses but it is what it is, and very underrated at that. A space age slasher that's silly and bloody, made for the hardcore fans of its franchise and for B-flick enthusiasts, the only thing I recommend when viewing this is just switch down the brains and let the mindless campy spacey carnage take over!

1 male murdered, method unknown
1 male beaten with a machine gun
1 male thrown into friendly fire
1 male had his neck broken with chains
1 male bludgeoned with a noose pole
1 male impaled through a thrown pole
1 male repeatedly beaten against a metal door
1 female had her head frozen with liquid nitrogen, face destroyed against counter
1 male ran through with a surgical knife
1 male had his back broken against a wall
1 male had his head bashed against a wall
1 male had his neck snapped
1 male falls and skewered through a giant drill
1 female found with a throat cut
1 male sliced in half with a surgical knife
1 female found impaled through a crane hook
1 male dismembered offcamera
60 soldiers die in an exploding space station
2 males die in an exploding space station
A number of people dies in an exploding space station
1 male dismembered offscreen with a machete, head later seen
1 male beaten against a control panel, electrocuted
1 female immolated in a crashed ship
1 male caught in an exploding ship haul
1 female sucked into space through a metal grate
1 virtual reality female beaten to death
1 virtual reality female bashed to a tree
1 male scorched through atmospheric re-entry
Total: 87+

Monday, November 9, 2015

Welcome Back, After Dark! (4 of 4): Suspension (2015)

Five years since their last batch, 2015 marks the year we will be introduced to another set of 8 films to Die For, now with a new partnership with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment! 

And making this return more special for me is the fact we got half of the line-up packed with interesting slashers so for this 4-part review, we will be looking at these new masked terrors bodycounting their way through the festivities that is After Dark Horrorfest 2015!

So without further delay, let's get hacking! This is...
Suspension (2015)
Rating: ***
Starring: Ellen MacNevin, Sage Brocklebank, Kylee Bush

For being the daughter of a man who had done something unspeakable at her town, Emily finds herself constantly bullied at school and her only refuge from this world is a comic she is drawing chronicling the bloody escape and rampage of who appears to be a masked slasher.

This one night however, she and her younger brother was left home alone while their mother worked an extra shift and her bullies (as well as a few friends) attend a rowdy party, seemingly unaware that the same slasher had somehow made his way to her and began slaughtering anybody unfortunate enough to be in his way.

For most part, Suspension plays like your average slasher littered with surprises and delivering everything that a bodycounter should from the splashy red graphic novel-esque killings to the high-octane stalk-and-chase sequences featuring a killer who somehow can teleport away from being shot.

The story was also an interesting case as it did have a chaotic direction, jumping back and forth to what could be all in our lead's mind and what could be happening for real. Realities soon blur and in a turn similar to the underlooked I, Madman (1989), where a fictional character turned out to be real.

Unfortunately, I have do have a nitpick and most of it would be the execution of the story itself, particularly how the reveal was handled. Without spoiling much, those with a keen eye and a sense of continuity can tell the reveal a mile away thanks to some gimmicks used here, the sub-plot of Emily drawing a slasher comic contributing the most thanks to some filming tricks indicating which might be real and which is not.

1 female impaled to a meathook, gets a ridding crop shoved down her throat
1 male stabbed with a pitchfork, bled to death
1 dog killed
1 female knifed on the chest
1 male repeatedly shot, knifed
1 male knifed on the groin
1 male knifed on the neck
1 male shot on the head
1 male repeatedly knifed, throat cut
1 female hacked to death with an axe
1 male seen brained with a hammer
1 female hacked to death with an axe/brained with a hammer
Total: 12

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Welcome Back, After Dark! (3 of 4): Murder In The Dark (2013)

Five years since their last batch, 2015 marks the year we will be introduced to another set of 8 films to Die For, now with a new partnership with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment! 

And making this return more special for me is the fact we got half of the line-up packed with interesting slashers so for this 4-part review, we will be looking at these new masked terrors bodycounting their way through the festivities that is After Dark Horrorfest 2015!

So without further delay, let's get hacking! This is...
Murder In The Dark (USA/Italy2013)
Rating ***
Starring: Luke Arnold, Phil Austin, Yann Bean

For a group of tourists, a trip to an ancient Turkish ruins should have been an experience worth remembering, may it be for the people they meet, the people they fall in love with, or for the little time to get away from their troubles back home. However, these people will soon discover that somebody out in these parts is preying on them, stealing organs from each victim they take. With their car sabotaged, they have no choice but to find ways to defend themselves from a madman who may or may not be among them.

Plot-wise, Murder In The Dark succeeds as murder thriller that took a lot of cues from the classic Agatha Christie whodunit novel Ten Little Indians such as total strangers being stranded at a very barren location, people getting murderous out of paranoia, and the fact that the killer is doing each victim away under a certain pattern.

Expect little of the usual slasher fodder then with this comparison in mind as the killings, nudity, cheese and many other exploitation elements were tamed down and offered, in turn, some practicable acting and worrisome tone thanks to its unique filming technique.

As an experiment, the actors were not given a full script to work with and instead had the plot (including its twists) relayed to them each day of the filming. With this, some of the acting was ad-libbed and the surprises on the script comes as shocking to them as they can be for the viewers, adding a sense of realism that pretty much worked well for the film’s dreading and uncertain atmosphere.

If anything of a slight flaw from this film, it would be that the reveal itself swerves a bit to the cheesy side and pretty much the very thing that justifies Murder In The Dark as a slasher. (Without spoiling lots, it involves a lot of mad science and a last act that simply threw away all sense of realism in favor of a snorty giggle. Not that it is a bad thing for me, mind you)

There’s also a matter of taste as anybody looking for a fast-paced bloody slasher can be fairly disappointed at the tension-driven approach of the film, and too those expecting a rather believable payoff to the mystery. Then again, a good substance of the movie still worked for me and I had a lot of fun watching it and anticipating the reveal. If you don’t mind a simplistic approach to your whodunit, Murder In The Dark can be a good addition to your viewing list.

1 female presumably killed, hand seen
1 female had her side cut open, disemboweled
1 female found dead with head and gut wound
1 female found dead with head and gut wound
1 male knifed on the neck
2 female seen dead with head and gut wounds
1 male found dead with gut wound
1 male dies from botched operation
1 female dies from poison
1 male seen with surgical wounds, presumably killed
1 male stabbed with a vial of poison, knifed on the chest
Total: 12