WARNING: THIS BLOG CONTAINS BODYCOUNT. HIGH RISK OF SPOILERS. ENTER IF YOU DARE.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Blood Diamonds: Death Walks on High Heels (1971)

Death Walks on High Heels (La morte cammina con i tacchi alti) (1971)
rating:**1/2
starring:  Frank Wolff, Nieves Navarro and Simón Andreu

A train roaring through the night, a man with a gun; these are the first two things we see in this "giallo" until an assassin with piercing blue eyes, wearing a balaclava helmet, suddenly arrives and knifes the guy's neck. Cut to Paris; Nicole, a dancer, is being interviewed with her boyfriend, Michelle, by the Chief Commissioner about the murdered man, which turns out to be an international jewel thief AND Nicole’s father. The Commissioner is hoping Ms. Nicole would cooperate, but she, in turn, shows little concern over her father's demise, or the diamonds.

However, it’s not long before someone began threatening her, voice-box disguising their voice and attacking her one night as the same blue-eyed man broke into her apartment, razor pressed against her. Surviving the attack, Nicole finds comfort on Michelle, but after finding blue contacts in his medicine cupboard, she feared he might be the killer. She runs to Dr Matthews, a man she befriend during one gig as an exotic dancer and urges him to take her to England with him to escape her assailant. The pair wastes no time enjoying their time there and Matthews finds his friend an isolated seaside cottage to relax in. That is until a figure in the black balaclava came back, and he's running out of patience.

While the title is an eargasm for my craving for a good giallo title, Death Walks on High Heels is hardly one. It's a "giallo-hybrid" of sorts, mixing the hard-boiled heist thrillers with the sensitivity of the fancied murder-mystery. As any giallo titles out there, the film took its time leading us from one red herring to another, and provided enough plot twists to leave any suspicions astray. It's pretty flair, but by the time the attacker finds his/her way to England, the film slows down and slugs its way further to more twists, a direction that got me disappointed to what was a attention grabbing opening.


It's not all that bad, the story still had brought some sparks of cleverness and the production looks well-handled, but I like my giallo to be pure murder mystery and less jewel heist; not a horrible idea, just not my taste. But watching this, I do understand that not all giallo would be following this formula as religiously as most slasher titles would anyways. The convoluted narrative is reasonably gripping despite being uber slow, and offers a number of plot twists along the way to keep any giallo enthusiasts happy.

Not the best giallo I know, but at least I'm glad that I get to see it.

Bodycount:
1 male knifed on the neck
1 female found drowned
1 female knifed to death
1 male shot
total: 4

Oh before I forget...

Dear SOPA...

























FUCK YOU!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Slasher masks of the week vol 13

Five slasher masks, randomly chosen, falls under my verdict, every week. 

here's this week's meat:

Fear of Clowns (2004)- The face paint had a nice and original design, though I don't understand the need to go topless. Too bad the flick kinda sucked...

SAW (series)- Whoever is behind the mask, Pigface is an unnerving character who acts like Jigsaw's accomplice/apprentice. The original take had maggots, but I guess a long-haired pig mask works too

Cherry Falls (2000)- Our killer wears its hair down to disguise themselves, cool, but a little weird. How do they keep their faces hidden like that for long? Either ways, I like it!

Shredder (2003)- My fave snow-bound slasher next to the Fritt Vilt series, Shredder packs a cool looking killer in a ski-suit and goggles. The perfect disguise and it's fitting!

Malevolence (2004)- yeah, I never was that impressed with this. It's too cheap and too unoriginal.

Demented and Dead: Dementia 13 (1963)

Dementia 13 (AKA "The Haunted and the Hunted")(1963)
rating:***
starring:  William Campbell, Luana Anders and Bart Patton

Gothic undertones and psycho-thriller comes face to face once again in this low-budget flick about a scheming young woman who, after stressing her husband to a heart attack (unknown if intentional or accidental), attempts to have herself written into her rich mother-in-law's will. She pays a visit to her late husband's family castle in Ireland, unknown of the fate of their loved one, but what she didn't expecting was an axe-wielding lunatic who began murderously hack away members of the family, somewhat connected to a tragic accident that befell them some time ago.

Francis Ford Coppola's "true" directorial feature (not counting two nudie flicks he made before), Dementia 13 is intended to be a cheap Psycho-esque thriller, complete with brutal slayings and psychological subtext. The only problem was that the plot had undergone with so many changes during pre-production and the filming was rushed (thus earning it being called a "quickie" movie). To be fair, however, the horror scenes are decent, if not a tad unoriginal and outdated; the murders are shockingly brutal for its time, and the Hitchcockian aspects of the film is played well. Even going as far as killing off the lead early on the story, to move on to a twist in the story wherein the murderer skulks among the family, apparently blaming them of a drowning incident years ago.

With this, the film's take on the broken psyche is just as acceptable in a manner that it is somewhat a classic take on the genre and truly terrifying  for the fact that it had lead to such savage slayings.

 In a way, Dementia 13 is an obscure and overlooked classic, but it's small-budget had fare too obvious at times that it held the whole film back from being anywhere than a watchable indie cult classic.

bodycount:
1 male suffers a heart attack, fell into the lake
1 female hacked to death with axe
1 male decapitated with axe
1 male shot
total: 4

Golden Title: A Bay of Blood (1971)


A Bay of Blood (Reazione a catena) (AKA "Twitch of The Death Nerve", "Chain Reaction", "Bloodbath", "Carnage","Thus Do We Live To Be Evil") (Italy, 1971)
Rating:*****
starring: Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli and Claudio Camaso

On one rainy day, a wheelchair-bound elderly heiress is brutally hanged by her husband in hopes of receiving her whole fortune. No soon after he set up what appears to be a forged suicide note, another assailant springs out of the shadows and murders the man in cold blood. The murdered body of the husband is then dumped, and the elderly woman was left untouched. Plot thickens.

On the following day, we're introduced to real estate agent Frank Ventura and his lover Laura, both have plotted the murder of the heiress and struck a deal with her husband to take possession of the bay. Unknown to them that the man they bargained with was murdered, things further complicates when four teenagers breaks into the bay and, after enjoying themselves, gets murdered by the same assailant from before: the countess' illegitimate son, Simon, who now struck a deal with Ventura to sell the land and finished off any known witnesses to his previous crime. But when Simon's half-sister arrives with her husband to claim the land, what will soon drive the story is a literal bloodbath as characters clash for the property and no one is safe or innocent...


A Bay of Blood is anything but simple; the continuous twists and arrival of one character to another weave a complicated turn for each scenario and murder, but the whole concept is basically a fight for the land which every cast is willing to kill for it due to its momentous amount of value. It's kinda funny, if you look at it in a way, that none of these fellers thought of just talking it over instead of going straight for the knife... or the billhook...or the spear... more to the fact that many of the murders here were later re-used to so many slasher flicks, some more obvious than the last (Fans will recognize the spear-kabob kill and the billhook facial splitting as the same murders to be committed by Jason in his debut feature, Friday the 13th part 2.

Regarded by many as Mario Bava's main feature to start the slasher film industry running, A Bay of Blood is one step away from his usual giallo build and one foot towards the usual stalk and slash fare; it is devoid of mystery, but in its place were the multiple suspects and the interweaving plot twists that leads to blood running like water called in for murders that were more for thrills than any actual build-up, thus leading to the consideration of the movie being one of the first few films to act as the basis for slasher films. More to point out that teenage victims were just randomly tossed in to heighten the count, which honestly worked, it's a gore movie, with complicated twists and over-the-top violence that even by today's standards, is a tad too much, and Bava's very humble about that.

Production wise, Mario Bava still delivered some gothic tones to his film, a familiar trait found to most of his films. The old mansion provided enough creaks and dark shadows that hid unforeseen dangers as well as the macabre take on the dead bodies which includes shots of unblinking eyes squirmed with water life. The film boasts a luxurious looking lake and woods, which again staples a familiar territory of abandoned victims being killed off in an uncharted and near abandoned location. The pacing of the story makes a nice flow for a convulsed plotting, taking its time to point out who's behind who and how he or she had been thrown into the fray. Some great gore effects and a fairly tense soundtrack had also authenticated this film's unsettling atmosphere and somewhat morbid humor, slapping us with shocks and unsuspected turns that either tenses the situation or make us laugh at its obscurity. And I meant the latter on this film's somewhat bizarre ending.

A Bay of Blood is rightful to be called brilliant; a melancholic film that has aged well to every horror junkie out there with a decent taste with an aloof yet dark nature to it. Not to mention, many of its slasher kin s owe this film as much thanks to starting the genre as they did to Halloween or Friday the 13th. 

bodycount:
1 Wheelchair-bound Elderly Female hanged from noose
1 Male knifed to death
1 Female nearly beheaded with billhook
1 Male face split with billhook
1 Male and 1 female skewered on spear while in tryst
1 Male strangled with telephone wire
1 Female decapitated with hatchet
1 Female strangled to death
1 Male impaled with spear
1 Male knifed
1 Male and 1 female shot with shotgun
total: 13

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Penetrating fear: Knife of Ice (1972)


Knife of Ice (Il coltello di ghiaccio) (AKA "Silent Horror") (Spain/Italy, 1972)
rating:****1/2
starring: Carroll Baker, Alan Scott and Ida Galli

Stricken mute after a traumatizing incident involving a train wreck that took the lives of her parents years ago, Martha Caldwell is living happily with her uncle in Spain. But when her cousin met a grisly end at the tip of a knife, Martha finds herself targeted by a skulking Satanist who appears to be murdering women for his lord. Little do they know however, the serial killer is the least of their problems.

Intriguing and very twisted, Knife of Ice took a rather different tone on the usual Giallo fare whilst the Italian thriller genre is known for its sleaze and fancy take on murder, Knife of Ice is tamer, in terms of both sex and violence, and gave a higher emphasis on the mystery and the plot twists, which can be told from the fact that the murders all occurred off camera and the absence of a single nude body help made the film more grueling, intimidating, and focused, a good execution as the story really offered a lot of thrills as each character can be suspected for possible ulterior motives.

While the blame does go to a local hippy who practices Satanism, we can't help but think that somebody else is behind these murders for his appearance is all too convenient. True enough, it boils down to a clever twist is placed in the end, tying all loose ends and revealing a shocking truth about the murders.

While the overall total of murders are not exactly big, which might disappoint some who are looking for cheap, bloody thrills, the film showcased a rather classy and artistic look. In its cinematography, the playful shots are rather effective, including that of a woman looking something inside her car while a gloved hand, knife wielded, is seen on a reflection from the inside. The actors had put up a fine performance, too; Carroll Baker plays our mute lead, which in turn had to express all of her fears and frustrations are the crimes began to circulate into her life.

My fave shot. The glove really blends in well!
For a rather basic running time, the film also held its decent pace pretty well and the story unravels quite smoothly on its own.

a prank? or an ominous sign?
The Satanist context of the film played an ambiguous role to either point out or distract us; we can't be really sure that it has something to do with the dark religion, but then again, the marked trees, the murdered animals and the rather suspicious number of female victims sorta says it does. Either ways,  when the Satanist was caught, the plot began to unravel even more as twists comes and distorts what's happening so far.

Perhaps not the most well known giallo for anyone, Knife of Ice is an immediate fave for me. If I ever wanted to point out a wild card fave giallo, outside the usual pre-2000s Argento, of course, this would be it. Thrills and twists galore all the way, Knife of Ice is a tame yet engaging piece of Italian intrigue.

Bodycount:
1 bull stabbed to death with swords during bullfight
1 female knifed
1 cat found with its neck cut
1 female had her throat slashed with knife
1 girl strangled
total: 5

Torture Porn Slasher in the woods...Yay?: Carver (2008)

Carver (2008)
rating:1/2
starring: Natasha Charles Parker, Erik Fones and Matt Carmody

A fat guy in a goggled helmet starts torturing and killer campers lost in the woods. That's it.

What more do you want me to say? My thoughts?

Sigh* Ohkay, listen, with all the gory, nasty, and mind-numbing violence I succumb myself to just to keep this site running and my fandom fat, it could be the fact that I'm so used to it that I'm desensitized from the "shocking" material here, or that Carver just sucked.

The gore effects are great even if they are pretty fake looking, I hand the film at least that, but elsewhere, it's hardly a step up; Torture Porn, as much as I enjoy Hostel and SAW films, is a nasty genre to begin with and its pretty tricky to make it entertaining, unless if they managed to bring along an engaging story to make it work. This here, however, is just plain exploitation that's torturous for the sake of torture and it's hardly worth it. Yeah it's nasty, but it's really, really empty, as if no real thought came into this film's writing and the guys behind it just wanted to show off some blood and guts spilled onscreen. No surprises, no differences, no plot whatsoever. Just plain, shallow torture porn.

The slasher perspective of this film didn't shine well either; just your standard backwoods stuff, "teen sex equals death combo" and the usual twist ending; nothing special, nothing big, just plain, plain, plain mediocrity. I mean a fat hillbilly wearing a helmet and goggles as our killer? Come on! I've seen scarier shit from a dancing Iraq Lobster!
He'll be killing our Butter Sauce!
Now that's scary!
None of the cast was also worth rooting for since they're just your standard one-dimensional victims with weak character and script, plainly made just for the killer's picking. I don't really see the whole point of this flick looking at all of this. Yeah, it's backwoods. Yeah, it's torture porn. Two hot deals, back-to-back, yes? WRONG! Do yourself a favor and go outside, find yourself a something else to do. Buy a toy train, eat some burrito, spend a time with your girlfriend or your dog, walk on the beach, anything but watch this film.

And if you will, by any chance, out of curiosity, will watch this piece of watermelon-sized diarrhea, I suggest you go find a timeless classic to watch afterwards. That or go watch some girly cartoons. You might need it.

Bodycount:
1 female beheaded with saw
1 male knifed to death
1 male gets a dagger to the gut
1 female gets a saw buried into her face
1 male hooked with crowbar and gets his head sawed off from the mouth
1 female had a nail hammered into her head
1 male gets a pike to the head
1 male pulverized with sledgehammer
1 female suicide, shotgun blast to the head
1 male gets a dagger to the head
1 male nearly beheaded with dagger
total: 11

Friday, January 27, 2012

No Tooth. No Trade: The Tooth Fairy (2006)

The Tooth Fairy (2006)
rating:**1/2
starring:  Lochlyn Munro, Chandra West and Steve Bacic

At a first glance, you might say this is a straight rip-off of the underrated Darkness Falls, with a similarly themed villainess exploiting the Tooth Fairy folklore. However, while Darkness Falls is more of a memoir to the monster movies of the before time, The Tooth Fairy is more in touch with its slasher roots;cliches, gore and all.

Some time during the late 40s, a diseased lady, rumored to be a witch, was luring children with promises of trading their last baby tooth for something they desire. She easily demonstrated this for us in the first 5 minute by mercilessly pulling a boy's tooth off the roots and hatchets him to death.

Moving forward to "now", young Pamela Wagner (Nicole Muñoz) and her mum (Chandra West) moves to the same house where "the Tooth Fairy" once dwell in, now dead for some time now and her legend subsided into mere obscurity. Staying with them is Peter Campbell, Mrs. Wagner's boyfriend, played by Lochlyn Munro, who many of you may remember as the ill-fated deputy from Freddy vs Jason)

Snooping around the old garage, Pamela was met by a local girl who quickly became her friend and was warned of the evil spirit haunting her house. Easily enough, Pamela's a wee bit jumpy when a mysterious figure suddenly topples her off her own bike, knocking her last baby tooth. Now with the Tooth Fairy back, she begins to prey on Pamela's loved ones unless she gives up her tooth and fall victim to a seemingly indestructible monster.
Reduced to cheap latex and glue, The Tooth Fairy
had to kill her way to have her presence known.

While entertaining at some point, The Tooth Fairy suffers through low budget and undoubtedly messy plotting; the story is very thin and gaping, failing to answer a lot of questions and leaving them dangerously open like a manhole in a flood. For one, wasn't even fully explained that, if the Witch is only after the children and their tooth, why does she murder people that may or may not even be connected to Pamela? More so the fact that she collects children's teeth, seemingly having no sole purpose but for the sake of just getting them.

In an attempt to heighten the game, the movie even tries to place some fantasy elements to the plot, throwing in rituals that help our leads stop or wound the Witch, which kinda reminds me of those rites used to stop the villain in Warlock (1989), but the execution of these "magic" is very cheap and since the whole plot leans more to slasher trappings, it felt and looked out of place.

Despite this, The Tooth Fairy, for all its cheapness and cliches, still manages to be a decent time-waster; some weird characters were added into the bunch, ranging from two inbred brothers who harasses one of the leads (apparently knows each other from before) to a spiritualist friend who mistaken our Witch with something she calls a "Spirit of Eltrain". Of course, their sole purpose is to heighten the bodycount and to give a laughably cheesy quality to the film.

And speaking of bodycount, the murders are no tame dog either, ranging from a nicely shot woodchipper shredding to a number of decent hatchet murders. Plus, the Tooth Fairy herself, though cheaper looking compared to Darkness Fall's Matilda Dixon, does have her shining glory as a nasty murderess, complete with a well made make-up.
Lack of plot is no problem if you got
the woodchipper running fine.
While sporting a crusty script with questionable lines and plotting that tries too hard, The Tooth Fairy is enjoyable in its sense as a B-flick slasher and nothing more. A bit more fleshing and less cliches might do the trick, but it was Inventive at least, making it worth a rent.

Bodycount:
1 boy hacked to death with hatchet
1 male shredded in woodchipper
1 female hacked apart with hatchet
1 female found repeatedly shot on the back with nailgun
1 male castrated with hatchet
1 male hatchet to the back
1 male head chopped off with hatchet
total: 7

Rex me not!: Rawhead Rex (1986)

Rawhead Rex (1986)
rating:*1/2
starring: David Dukes, Kelly Piper and Niall Toibin

Way before Clive decided to do Hellraiser (1987), he had Books of Blood, a series of anthology released in volumes with four stories each. Many of them had gone into film with varying success, most recently and regarded as one of the better adaptation was that of an evil-experiment film called Dread (A film that I never cared for, mind you). Among others had gone to either cult classic status (Lord of Illussions) or TV shortness (The Yattering and Jack was later turned into a TV episode of Tales from The Darkside as well as Body Politics in Quicksilver Highway); Some,sadly, will always divert into the unholy path of plain suckishness. This is one of them.

In Ireland, a farmer unknowingly released a thousand year old demon known as Rawhead Rex, who's arrival had lead to murder, fires, and corrupting a local priest into being his slave. Stopping him is the father of one of the monster's younger victims who desperately searches for a way to stop a seemingly indestructible monster. Add a few magic, some feminist subtext, fancy cartoon lights and you got one of the surprisingly dullest monster flicks I've seen.

I don't know if it's the corny plotting or the lame special effects, but in all,\ Rawhead Rex is nowhere near "Rex"hood. Why? because I've seen it all in Jaws.

Yes, I'm comparing this with Jaws, that scene with the kid getting eaten alive by a monster is enough for me to start basing this on that classic: it starts with a random creature visiting a small town (or in this case, returns), starts wreaking havoc, havoc gone unnoticed or was blamed to something or someone else, a shocking attack happens, attack finally got noticed, towns folk attacks back, attacking back fails, hero emerges and fights back with the most unusual weapon. All of it in that order.

Just. Like. Jaws.

The only difference I can tell between Rawhead Rex and Jaws was that Rex held back and took considerations regarding budget, which somehow became an excuse why the film couldn't do any better compared to other monster flicks. The plot is basic as it is and the director's attempt to try and make it longer by putting a lot of tedious and boring scenes in it isn't helping. There's a few cool attacks, like a home invasion scene and a trailer park rampage but other than that, it's stale all the way.

Rawhead isn't even scary, folks. In fact, he looks like a puppet version of Ryuk from the anime Death Note, only more muscular, dressed in a suit that makes Lordi wanna recruit him and make him play drums. I might had liked it more if they just applied the make-up over the actor's face instead of making him wear a moving latex mask but I'm not gonna take any chances.
...yep...the resemblance is uncanny..
The ending itself, as unusual as it is, gave the film its fantasy trope, where in an ancient talisman was used to defeat Rawhead with a special touch: only a woman can handle it. Giving much credit to the "virginal" state of female survivors, the film took a different twist by providing a more magic-based turn on the usual horror trope. it's the only nice touch I find in this film if it wasn't for the prolonged and overdone light-show that killed the beast.

while I do appreciate the effort placed into making this film a memorable one, I find it too boring and too cliched to make it anywhere. Uber cheap and really unoriginal, Rawhead Rex may find a better resting spot in a horror purist's arms or some Barker fans. Unless they're a wee bit critical...

Bodycount:
1 male hit by lightning, killed offscreen
1 male had his face ravaged
1 male had an arm eaten off, killed
1 boy eaten, mostly offscreen
1 male had his neck ravaged open
1 male strangled against trailer
1 male repeatedly crushed against trailer
1 female elevated strangling, thrown against a pole
A trailer got immolated with a shot gas tank by accident
1 male strangled to death
1 male seen mauled
1 female seen with her arm torn open
1 male found decapitated, head held by monster
1 male topples in his car, crushed
8+ males got burned alive in explosion
1 male ran through fire, burned to death
1 male had his face clawed open, bled to death
1 male had his neck bitten open
total: 24+

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mr. Goodnight for the night: See No Evil (2006)


See No Evil (2006)
rating: ***
starring: Glenn Jacobs, Christina Vidal and Michael J. Pagan

While I'm not an overall fan of WWE, I do find it amusing to see these "actors" do their theatricals outside the ring and into the screen. While only a handful had gone to moderate success (Dwayne The Rock Johnson and Hulk Hogan did pretty well for themselves), the rest may had gone to smaller scales of entertainment, such as this killer flick of moderate proportions.

Starring Glenn Thomas Jacobs (AKA "Kane") as the main killer Jacob Goodnight, who years ago had his hideout busted by a couple of cops. Finding it a littered mess with religious imagery tainted with blood and grit, the two also discovers  a blinded girl, eyes are torn out from her sockets, before one of them was hacked to death with an axe by Jacob himself. But after shooting the maniac in the head, Frank, the surviving cop, made it alive with only a missing hand and Jacob was never heard of again...

Moving a four years ahead, Frank is now escorting a group of delinquents, including two potential final girls Kira (Samantha Noble) and Christine (Christina Vidal), to clean and fix a run-down hotel for community service in exchange of reducing their sentences. What they didn't know is that the hotel happens to be the same hiding spot of a more-than-alive Goodnight. Rigging the place with one-way mirrors and trip wires, he systematically hooks, kill and gouge out eyeballs for his collection, while the frightened (well, some are) teens fight for their lives.

See No evil is really no more than simplicity. It's not anything big; if it's gonna be big anywhere, it'll be its tirades of cliches. Ranging from a predictable, paint by number storytelling to one-dimensional casts and the usual "twist", WWE Film's first release is all but new. Even Kane's Goodnight character is a little cliched; obviously influenced by Jason, his mama-treatment just got a tad more traumatic as his past is haunted by humiliation and torture from a zealous mother, shaping him into "God's hand of judgement", whatever that means. What was wasted on production and marketing, makes it up with some worthwhile gory murders, torment, a really intimidating villain/s (despite their shortcomings), a grittingly effective location and pure popcorn cinema traits. It's entertaining still, in a very basic and thought-absent way, so far the only thing that actually got it running in the first place. It has a few dull point but its quick pace left no dragging moments, and the acting and camera works is neat all the way.

I can't really say anything more about this film, its basically just your average slasher film. Gory and messy, but still very mediocre. Worthwhile a rent I guess, whenever it hits you.

Bodycount:
1 male hacked to death with axe
1 male found with missing eyes
1 female head hit on elevator, eyes gouged
1 male hook to the jaw, eyes gouged
1 male eyes gouged
1 male killed, eyes gouged
1 female  mauled to death by dogs
1 female force fed with cellphone, choked
1 male crushed to death with safe
1 female eye gouged, presumably killed (flashback)
1 elderly female thrown to spikes, impaled
total: 11