Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Supah Fun!": $LA$HER$ (2001)

$LA$HER$ ("Slashers") (Canada, 2001)
starring:  Sarah Joslyn Crowder, Tony Curtis Blondell and Kieran Keller

My admiration for Maurice Deveraux is limitless. His determination to entertain and shock us has been very admiring for me, since he always does it with very little budget. He knows horror. He knows entertainment. He knows what a slasher movie is all about.

Played in a gameshow format, Japan's hottest, funnest, most controversial reality game show is having its first All-American contestants, composed of three men and three women from the States after a positive review of the show. The goal of the game is to go through a maze with hidden passages and rooms and stuff, while trying to avoid three randomly selected killers. If they get you, they'll kill you...for real. if they did managed to survive the maze, there's a million dollar prize money waiting for them.

Though, it appears that these new contestants had a few secrets of their own. Secrets that could either jeopardize the entire show, or jeopardize the group itself to their own doom...

Made as a one-take parody of those crazy Japanese gameshows, $LA$HER$ provided one of the most unique and very entertaining slasher film to earn a cult-status. It's a social commentary on reality game shows, showing how silly the concept was to begin with. In these days of MTV and Big Brother-esque crap running around our TV sets, it's only a matter of time before someone would come up with something like this into a reality. Who ever survives wins, whoever loses, loses it all, very familiar? Sure it is, it's showing on your TV as we speak. The set looks very fateful to its parodied TV show format, a clever and creative use of budget and the one-take runaround looks fluid with invisible edits and proper timing.

All the while, it's still entertaining with it's grue humor, juicy kills and panache; even if there's nothing much happening, it builds up a lot of good stuff and development, very rare among other movies of its kin these days. Tackling reality vs entertainment, it's no wonder we get a few drama along the way.

But the true torch holder of this movie is its slashers. A creative blending of the popular slasher tropes, we get a deranged, undead Bible thumper "Preacherman", who pays tribute to religious cult slashers; Chainsaw Charlie, sporting a Alfred Neuman mask, is a stereotyped chainsaw weilding hillbilly bumpkin and, lastly, Dr. Ripper, PHD, a deranged medical man in the vein of fellers like "Dr. Giggles". They're hired to wreck havoc, taunt and kill one contestant at a time and go berserk once one of the contestants removes their mask. Tis' the rules, and they're sticking to it, even if it cost them their own lives (now that's dedication to entertainment!). Preacherman is sadly underused, he didn't even get the chance to kill anyone and he's also, spoilers, the first to go. Fan favorite Chainsaw Charlie earned his status with a funny and in-character performance and his psuedo-innocent wild persona, chuckling his way slicing pretty folks. Dr. Ripper, sadly, the main course of the game. I never find this killer that interesting and I see him with at tendency to get carried away with his teases. He has a pair of hedge trimmers for a weapon, sort of like Cropsy from The Burning, only weird-shaped. It's hardly an original concept and his design looked rush.

Chainsaw Charlie

Dr. Ripper

They actually had a wide array of killers, including a clown, a pirate and some Chinese dude, most of them used for the opening, but they decided to go along with these trio of basics. I would had paid a lot to see them use the Pirate slasher or even the clown, but I guess a killer pastor and a chainsaw-loving country boy would do just the same.

$LA$HER$ do have it's faults on production, though. For instance, some of the gore effects look pretty fake; you can tell that's a dummy one character is stabbing or hacking to bits. Not to mention some very cheesy background tunes to go with the action, bitter acting from the the casts playing the contestants and some cheap jump scares. For a Direct-to-video feature it doesn't really try hard to "get out there" much when it comes to gore, and instead sticking with B-movie fares and tricks. And yet, it's still wildly enjoyable since it's not that big of a flaw.

It's nothing of that depressing, serious-headed preachy horror flicks that's overrunning today's videos; no, it's a light-hearted, bloody, psuedo-snuff that's made just for the sole purpose to entertain. This is perhaps the most honest slasher movie I've seen and I deeply appreciate that. Highly recommended.

1 female gutted with knife (opening)
1 female neck mutilated (opening)
1 male head seen (opening)
1 female throat cut (opening)
1 male seen bleeding to death from a missing arm (opening)
1 male throat slit (opening)
1 male disemboweled (opening)
1 male leg cut off with chainsaw (opening)
1 female neck slashed with scalpel (opening)
1 female gutted (opening)
1 male wooden stake to the eye
1 female sawed in half with chainsaw
1 male side sliced with chainsaw, falls and impaled into spiked pit
1 male falls and impaled into spiked pit, killed offscreen
1 female beheaded with hedge trimmer
1 male wooden stake to the ear
1 male wooden stake to the back, throat cut with scalpel
1 male head chopped off with hedge trimmer
total: 18
See you around slasher fans...in the sequel!

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