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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's a Scummy world: Red Sketch (2010)

Red Sketch (Philippines, 2010 Animation)
starring: Luis Aniceto (Narration)

It is my honor to present to you a collaborative work by yours truly with some very talented artists and animators out there who helped me with this. I now present to you my first feature, Red Sketch.

Felicia Goldstein
Starring this blog's own Felicia Goldstein, a serial killing beauty who's loose in a scummy city, murdering anybody that goes along the way.

Staying in a broken city, Felicia befriends a very young thieving girl named Mary, who lives on her own in an abandoned house and lives a life of crime for fun. Though a bit uneasy with the fact Mary enjoys stealing, she finds an easy closeness to her seeing that they're both living a life of sin, but keeps her best to try to cover up her own murderous personality. No soon, she decided to bunk up with Mary, doing as much as even cleaning the house for her, much to her friend's dismay. Nevertheless, the thief still let Felicia stay and they both look after another.

Ryoko
As time passed, Felicia began to see Mary in a desperate persona; coming home wounded or exhausted, nightmares, finding her sobbing. Mary soon tells Felicia her past; she's the daughter of a crime boss who was murdered by his own associates who got too greedy. Said associates agreed not to harm her and leave her alone, so long as she could pay them through any means necessarily. Knowing she's not hardened enough to kill them, she relied on petty thievery to keep the money going, but the more she pays, the more they ask from her. Soon she began prostituting herself, staging robberies that nearly got herself killed, so fort. Seeing that the child was suffering, Felicia decided to help her the only way she can.

Two other killers were called, friends of Felicia; a hulking man only known as The Bagman and Ryoko, a masked girl of the same age who shares the same wickedness as of Felicia only more bloodlust, and together, the three onslaughts an entire gang house, save one.

A surviving gang member shambles his way to Mary's home and brutally rapes her and killing her at the process. The moment Felicia got home the next day and saw the fate of her friend, all hell broke loose and vengeance came into mind as she held the remaining member's family hostage and had him come in to face his crime one last time, and end all this madness once and for all.

The Bagman
Done entirely in red and black whiteboard markers, with the running time of an hour, Red Sketch is an experimental animation that ties-in simplistic art style and gory exploitation style plotting. It taken its cues from classics such as Last House on the Left and the Hong Kong slasher Dream Home, wandering in the same grim nature of Maniac, and an enormous bodycount that would had make Jason Voorhees proud.

While it does fell short on dialogue, the film holds a rather grim, fairy-tale like narration by me in place of character vocals, keeping the film's mood as sullen and serious as possible. But since this is my debut film, there's bound to be short comings, so please accept my humble apology for any mistakes. Though, I cannot thank my animators enough for helping me out in this; They tried their best to keep it all detailed as possible, while at the same time, holding no bars on the gore. As an animation, it holds the free will for us to go wild with our imagination, but hopefully providing you as many splatter as possible.

Red Sketch is my love letter to slasher films and to this site, so you know what to expect with its cliches, but we did try our best to break the streak to come up with something new. Still, I do hope to have a minute (or an hour) of your time to watch this, so please enjoy if you dare, and thank you!

Bodycount:
1 male jaw beaten off with baseball bat
1 female head smashed through microwave and got her neck impaled on a shard, head combusts after "baked"
1 male head sliced in half with thin wire
1 female head beaten to a pulp with wine bottle
1 female sword through chest
1 male stabbed on the ear with buck knife (flashback)
1 male hacked to death with axe (flashback)
1 female drowned in tub (flashback)
1 male neck broken
1 male gun forced down his throat and shot
1 male wrapped in barbwire attached to a car and crushed
1 female vacuum cleaner shoved down her throat and choked
1 boy fell off a window
1 male road flare shoved into his eye socket
1 elderly male indulged lye, throat eaten
1 female head baked in oven
1 female found strangled with her own guts
1 female garden shears through head
1 female broken in half against killer's knee
1 male machete through arse and exits to groin while copulating
1 female stabbed on the groin by same machete while copulating, hacked to death
1 male found with CDs stuffed into his mouth
1 male mouth ripped open
a number of individuals got caught in a fire
1 male shot
1 male shot on the head
1 male shears to the eye
1 male impaled on a rifle
1 male shot with rifle
1 female thrown through window and falls to her death
1 male beaten to death with rifle butt
1 male shot
1 girl raped, killed
1 male burned alive
total: 29 +

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fear in the Flesh: Cabin Fever (2002)

Cabin Fever (2002)
ratings:****
starring: Jordan Ladd, Rider Strong and James DeBello

Eli Roth's debut film, Cabin Fever, was certainly the center of attention during it's release, both theatrically and in festivals. Not only did the film recaptured the B-Movie grindhouse feel of the 70s, it also premised a disturbing take on backwoods horror and introduced a scenario more terrifying than the usual maniac in the woods. (well, almost)

Five college graduates head off to a rented cabin for a weekend of R&R; some sex here, shooting squirrels there, but a few feet away from them was a hermit infected with an unknown disease that is now eating him alive. It wasn't until nightfall that the hermit tries to find help, and by luck shambles to the the group.

Skin falling off, body blistered with blood, the hermit became more desperate to get away and find a hospital to treat him, attempting to steal their car in the process. Frightened of being infected themselves, the teens tried to scare him away, accidentally setting the man on fire as they watch him run into the woods ablaze.

Disturbed by the fact they might have just killed an innocent man, the group contemplates their actions, unaware that this is only the tip of the ice berg of what's going down on them soon. One of them somehow got sick from the water and she's slowly dying. As desperation befalls them, so is the suspicions of the locals; with no one to trust, not even themselves, the kids plunged into a maddening situation where no one is safe...or sane.

The slasher premises of this film are absolutely present albeit taken to a new light by having the woods itself as the killer, sending all sorts of threats from the seen (rednecks, rabid dogs, distrustful deputies) to the unseen (the flesh eating virus, paranoia); it did well to show how a small matter can complicate things, building up the tension to the point it spirals out of control. This is echoed at the fact that the virus hardly killed anyone and instead had these people turn on each other real quickly in a raw and ugly sense of character deterioration.

What makes these claims more approachable is that cast is pretty ordinary looking and in par with the film's tone. Once the shit hits the fan, you can feel for them despite being previously one-dimensional, a cliche that's common among the horror genre. The rest of the cast is typical support but I got to hand it to them for bringing more danger than what's to be expected. Their terms in paranoia is definitely a scary bunch, even a bit ignorant a times.

The film also had a clear line of other genre influence from the nerve-wrecking tension and splat-tastic gore of the Evil Dead movies (or at least the first two), to the brooding dangers of an apocalyptic danger of that of zombie films. Roth throws in some killer animal action, redneck horror and a hodgepodge, The Shining-inspired  "what the fuck" moment involving a randomly placed rabbit man, resulting to a film that isn't entirely perfect and not for everyone, but it is a better "teen slasher" entry that more or less fits into.

It's B-Movie gold, I'll assure you that! The finest of the new millennium and a cheeky devil that slowly made its way to cult standards. It's one movie that goes well in any occasion where you feel the need to see something that goes well with yer beer and chips or the classic bowl of popcorn (save Valentines, Christmas, yer girlfriend's pet cat 's burial and The Fourth of July). A welcome shot for Mr. Roth and the very movie that shot his success into the horror biz.

Bodycount:
1 dog found rotting, dead from disease
6 victims brained to death with hammer, mutilated (story)
1 male head found (story)
1 male set ablaze
1 female mauled to bits by a rabid dog
1 dog shot with rifle
1 female bludgeoned to death with shovel
1 male had his head blown off with shotgun
1 male gets a heavy object slinged to his face, killed (shot and burned in some versions)
1 male stabbed on the ear with a screwdriver
1 male impaled with branch
1 male found in half
1 deer shot with shotgun (F-You, Bambi!)
1 male gets a harmonica bashed into his mouth and swallowed, choked to death
1 male shot death by firing squad
total: 20

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mild Claustrophobia: Saturn 3 (1980)

Saturn 3 (1980)
rating: *1/2
starring: Farrah Fawcett, Kirk Douglas and Harvey Keitel

Okay, I'll admit; I'm a Farrah Fawcett fan!

That 1976 poster of hers has some sort of importance to my childhood as one of the earliest pin-ups I ever laid eyes on and while I still yet to see more of her works, I can tell that this one had her line up as bait for the nerds. I mean scifi and sex symbol in one? That's hoarding them hormones!

But did it work? Not so much.

In the distant future, Earth is overpopulated and food supplies are developed in Saturn 3, the third moon of the planet of Saturn turned orbiting research station. In order to hasten the operations, a single ship was going to board Saturn 3 with an experimental robot made to aid the scientists working there. Prior to flight, however, a psychotic pilot named Benson (Harvey Keitel) murders the ship's captain and takea his place in assisting Saturn 3's scientists, Adam and Alex. (Douglas and Fawcett)


Living in complete isolation with the Edenesque nature of their work, it seems that Adam and Alex enjoys each other's company, much to the jealous rage of Benson. In order to rid one of them from the picture (as in Adam), Benson assembles the "demi-god" droid Hector, which functions by mentally linking itself with its programmer's own psyche. This, however, leads to the robot developing a disturbing lust for Alex and a maniacal rage against anybody that got in the way. It soon becomes clear that no one has full control over it. Nor do they have the strength to stop it.

The success of the sci-fright exploitation Alien (1979) got this odd duck galloping towards the same approach by tackling themes such as isolation, claustrophobia and paranoia, a move not so uncommon for its time thanks to other Alien cash-ins such as Inseminoid. Sadly, Saturn 3's production was muddled with funding difficulties since its producer, ITC Entertainment, was also funding Raise The Titanic!, an adventure movie that was also in production alongside with the Farrah Fawcett-starring thriller, taking a good chunk out of Saturn's budget and resulting to a lot of re-writes, messy editing and a whole lot of cluster-crap concerning the movie's marketing.

Quite sad as Saturn 3's generally unique plotting tackles a rather potential psychological science fiction horror story, which it appears to be around the first half before it devolves into something more of a monster flick with a killer robot.

Some of it's strength did lie on the fact it's attempting to rework Alien's style as a three-man act thriller with themes of jealousy and lust, with the killer robot part definitely has it's major influence from the slasher films of those years with its sheer indestructibility and a nasty habit of stalking and-chasing its victims, though I will admit that Hector could have been scarier if it wasn't for the lanky special effects as the animatronic arms and head made it look like a discarded Disneyland set, ironic to think that it was strong enough to crush a hand off its wrist. (supposedly, Hector rips a dead scientist to bits, but the studio deems it 'distasteful". Distasteful my arse! That shit could have saved this film!)

For a suspense movie with only three actors, the cast definitely have their moments but they never did fully engaged with its audience as characters: Kirk Douglas was exceptional to say the least, but Keitel, despite being the supposed most complex character among the three, could have done better in his own role as a villain as I see him being too calm and hardly doing much to spark some interest after shooting a random pilot into space. Heck, even Fawcett's a bit underused in this one, having little role around the first half and ended up as the weakest link of the bunch.

At least the film's novel tone did brought out some classy feel to the sci-fi horror sub-genre, sided by what might be some Biblical allusions here and there (Adam and Eve? Garden of Eden? Cast down from Eden after the perversion? Joys of a Catholic in a horror blog...sigh), but the result is otherwise underwhelmed by the film's low-budget look. There were hardly any real horror or thrills to entertain the audience and the supposed creeping atmosphere was beaten down by the obvious low budget of the production.

Some time around, you may get yourself wondering just how bad the producers and director of this film got it when they were handling this movie. Again, Saturn 3 has potential and it isn't really all that bad as a concept, but the execution of it all was just mishandled. Really mishandled. If you want horror in space, I suggest sticking with Alien (1979) or even Inseminoid if you are feeling trashy. And for killer robots? Nothing beats Chopping Mall or HARDWARE (1990)!

Bodycount:
1 male sucked out into space, killed
1 dog found torn in half
1 male had a hand crushed off, later found beheaded
1 male killed in detonation
total: 4

Knocking on wood and soft serve: They're Playing with Fire (1984)

They're Playing with Fire (1984)
rating:***
starring: Sybil Danning, Eric Brown and Andrew Prine

Was Ms. Danning's twins the reason why I went to see this film? Did my hormones got me going head on to watch this movie?

The answer was unfortunately no but I did watched it for the sake that I was young slasher completist and this one just happened to be up for grabs that one time. Let's see how well it did as a dead teen flick as well as a nudie flick.
Yes. You can call me a freak. I do not find Ms. Danning's tits that big at all...
They're Playing with Fire is a film of mixed bags; fusing Private Lessons-style erotica with campus slasher troping, it definitely had the sleaze make-out with the hack and slash elements quite nice, if getting quite lost in itself around the first running hour.

Hunting rifles: insert funny remark here...
The film definitely start off quite sleasy (get it? Easy? Sleazy?...beep beep, Paul...) Jay (Eric Brown), a teenage boy answers the advances of a sexy professor, Diane (Sybill Danning) but not before he helps her and her co-worker husband, Michael (Andrew Prine), with their little plot.

In order to get their hands on a family inheritance, Jay must scare the two old women related to Michael into giving up their home and plunge into retirement village. It wasn't as easy as they thought, as Jay barely escaped with almost a bullet wound rounded up in his head but somebody else finished the job. Someone in a balaclava and white sneakers, and had the guts to blew up the old crones' heads with their own rifle.

Now it could have been good news for them, if they knew who it was. The trio gets their trust tested as more people got involved in their trappings. Could the killer be Jay's ex-girlfriend? Or Micheal in a psycho-turn? Or could it be the creepy gardener? One of Jay's friends? With all these web of intrigue, who can be trusted? and how the heck does them tits kept ending up shown off?
psycho killer: shooting grannies and takin' names
As mentioned before, the slasher elements of this film got a little lost between all that cleavage and drama, until it somewhat made full force return around the last half hour. Til then, we do got a murder mystery soap that had the characters trying to sort out who's who doing the killing. Whoever it was had some personal issues that reminds me of the cooky crazy talk of Billy from Black Christmas (1976), spatting out nursery rhymes, drawing on walls, and dressing up in various suits for his murder spree.

I know what the next guy is thinking:
"Thank God I'm wearing loose shorts! aha~!"
As cheesy as it is, this film certainly tries to understand it's audience, giving a wide-eye cameos featuring folks like Dominick Brascia, who we all remember got the bitter axe in Friday the 13th part 5,  as well as Mortuary's own Beth Schaffell as Jay's blackmailing ex-girlfriend. Unfortunately, the movie overlooked structure and instead went ahead to a more confused understanding of what it wanted to be; one part it's a sex comedy, and then shifts to a murder mystery, and then finalizes as a slasher film.

It's bound to distaste some fans as it left out the systematic teen-kill and at the same time, their marketing may also misguide those looking for a sex romp comedy. "His English Professor is giving him a real education" is hardly a tagline that screams hack and slash, and neither does the cover art of Ms. Danning giving ole Eric Brown the footsie! But otherwise, it does make up a surprisingly unique film for genre collectors. I mean, you can't blame them for trying to whip out something new, even if it had to come from stitched-up remnants of something old.
And just as this film nearly forgot to reintroduce the killer,
so will this review.
Not entirely sure what will that do to folks thinking with their second heads once they found out about the slasher elements, but I'm glad i wasn't one of them, I was in it for the gore. And even if its far from the slasher film I was expecting, nor is it the titillation that would excite me, it's yet to disappointment. It's slowly building up as a cult gem of sorts, and it does call for uniqueness despite it's identity crisis. Case that you love Ms. Danning's breasts, then this is your pie. (pun intended)

bodycount:
1 elderly female rifle shot in chest
1 elderly female rifle shot in head
1 female beaten to death with baseball bat
1 male repeatedly stabbed on the back with knife
1 male neck hacked and cut with machete
1 male shot in chest with rifle
total: 6

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sorry Jack. Chucky's Back!: Child's Play 2 (1990)

Child's Play 2 (1990)
ratings: ***1/2
starring: Alex Vincent, Jenny Agutter and Gerrit Graham

Fending off bad publicity, the manufacturers of the Good Guy Dolls, Play Pal Corporation, tries to build another doll from none other than the marshmallow-burnt head of one previously possessed by Charles Lee Ray. Why make a new doll with that burnt piece of plastic (which may as well be evidence for a ruthless series of murders, mind you) is beyond me, but watching them build back a Good Guy doll with much detail did proved to be entertaining.

Now it's been time since the events of the First Child's Play flick; Andy Barclay is put to a foster home as his mum gets institutionalized and he's having a hard time adjusting as it is. Still, everything's gonna be okay, right? No more killer dolls out to steal yer body?
Beware the eyes of Naga!
Five minutes out from the psych-ward
and this is the first thing you
saw? Bad juju, right there!
Tough Luck! Just as these toy geniuses were about to plunge the doll's eyes, a surge of freak electricity caused a ruckus that took the life of one worker. Sad to say, the head of the Play Pal Corporation was there watching and a little pissed off of what just happened. Nevertheless, the doll production is still good to go, but little junk on their table caused enough bad publicity and the head wants it thrown away. Of course, Charles' back and finds himself in a race against time as, you may already know, the longer he stays in that plastic body, the faster he'll become human in it. So after tracking down Andy's new home and killing the owner of a fancy car that escorted him there, Chucky and Andy got reunited. For the worse.

Now trapped in a house with a homicidal possessed doll, Andy's left to defend himself now as Chucky stalk and chases him wherever he goes. But when he's to blame for the murders and Chucky's getting more and more desperate to steal the boy's body, can Andy really save himself from this Good Guy gone bad?

How's it hanging? *bricked* ow...
The first Child's Play was definitely an attempt to spark a new life to the dying Slasher sub-genre. The late 80s was considered by many as the toughest time for films of such grue and cliches as the familiarity's overdone and any joe with a camera can point and shoot thanks to the rising number of video markets. Yet, it did brought back some good moola thanks to the refined special effects to top it, as well as some creative dimensions that deemed thrilling. When MGM chickened out and sold the rights of the film to Universals, a sequel was green-lit and made at the beginning of the new decade, thus making this film in a dire position as a marketed slasher movie.

Child's Play 2's identity as a continuation of the first has it's strengths and weaknesses though, ideally, the premise of the film caused some criticisms on how weak it is on it's own. The whole movie really had nothing more to add from the complexities of the first. The scares, tension and mystique of the original was notably missing and instead this sequel took a jab to a more basic and practically overdone slasher plot. Sad to say, the film fell right into the more obscure sequels, or least to say, a pretty standard entry to follow-up a successful predecessor. Yet, it does make a good deal on its own despite the familiar trappings.

You know kid, you could always kick the knife out of
hand and make a run for it...
While nowhere as good as the first, Child's Play 2 still looks decent as a popcorn movie. Chucky is no longer a mystery monster, but a full-out slasher villain packed with wise-cracks and the resourcefulness; this either comes as a step down for some, but for those who're yearning to see Chucky in full action have their prayers answered with this movie. Young Alex Vincent also deserves a recognition for his reprised role as Andy Barclay. By making him the main lead this time, we saw more to Andy than just a frightened young boy as he comes troubled by the unusual turn of events to his life, yet adjusting as it is. Also coming in is Christine Elise as Kyle, this film's estranged final girl as, ironic to think that the only one capable of saving our hero happens to be everything a Final Girl shouldn't be; she smokes, she's a rebel, and looks like someone who would likely start a fight. She didn't do much except look badass during the first half, but  then she suddenly gears up into a spunky, hardened gal who's out to save her little foster bro. Not the old fashioned way, but otherwise a welcome break from routine.

I spy with my new eyes...
Note, too, this film's better set-pieces. The school murder was a nice piece of action with a satisfying end to it, with an unlucky teacher meeting a ironic demise with a meter stick, a death that even makes me a proud Catholic (insert troll face here), however this has nothing to top the Good Guy doll factory setting at the near end. Maze-like and colossal, the factory was once described as fun yet disturbing by a critique and I couldn't agree more since the setting created such atmosphere for the hunt ala cat and mouse. Clearly, a kid's visit to toyland may not be that exciting when you have a killer doll with a torn-off hand and a blade replacing it ala Ash and his chainsaw in Evil Dead 2, going ape after said kid. Or when tools made to make them toys are used a murder weapons. Child's Play 2 definitely won me over (and so does many others) for this imaginative climax. Plus, that hot wax kill  got engraved on my psyche ever since I saw this film as a kid! That's Bonus points for childhood approval!

May not be the winning sequel, Child's Play 2 is still a likable bunch despite it's lack of true originality. It is a lot better than the next sequel, but in no competition to the superior (and funny) last two entries in this franchise. For its time, Child's Play 2 might as well be the movie to talk about among its generation's horror fans but looking at it now, it's a slasher film unjustly criticized on a year of thrillers with big-shot stars and budget, with devilish kills and an equally devilish villain, now slowly rising to horror stardom.

Bodycount:
1 male electrocuted
1 male suffocated with plastic sheet
1 female beaten to death with meter stick (the ole Catholic way! XD)
1 male snared and dropped off the stairs, neck broken
1 female found ran through sewing machine with throat cut
1 female gets a knife slashed across the neck
1 male had plastic eyes punctured over eyes
total: 7

Saturday, March 24, 2012

It can only be: Atrocious (2010)

Atrocious (Spain, 2010)
rating:**1/2
starring:  Cristian Valencia, Clara Moraleda and Chus Pereiro

The main problem about found-footage horror is that it starts all alike and end all alike. The only exception to this rule so far was The Tunnel, and too, the hoddgepodge backwoods horror Evidence, as while they start like any found footage horror, they were creative enough to end it in a dramatic manner and provide some of the better tension and enigma than most of the horror sub-sub-genre can offer. Atrocious may had been better at that with its short running time, I was expecting they would had done something far favorable for its time; unfortunately, they failed to live-up anything better than yet another "Blair Witch Project" style of scares and creepiness, though a watchable result at least.
OH MY GOD!


They have a Love Hina poster!
I'M A BIG FAN OF THAT MANGA/ANIME FRANCHISE!

A brother and sister visits a farm house in the secluded woods, hoping to investigate the Legend of the Girl in the Garraf woods. The house sports a gothic build and a maze at the back, no sooner at the moment they arrived, the siblings starts to record their investigation. By next days, weird things began to come around; family dog goes missing, strange figures glimpsed at the maze, as night falls, they all fell prey to something atrocious.

Honestly speaking, the film's realistically scary. The way it presents itself really felt like someone who's holding a camera for the first time, and it did had its decent scares and even some gory moments. At first, you may got yourself believing this is going to be something supernatural, but I am glad they made a twist that fits my taste. Thanks to this plot shift, we suddenly had a burnt body of a child, stalk and chase with an unseen assailant, and one of the nastiest villains that suddenly pop up in a surprise ending.

The only flaw here, and the most complained, is that, for a film of minimal run, it got lost in itself with all that POV walk-throughs and spents half an hour with the POV shot of a guy swearing below a whisper, while walking around in that damn maze. As distressing and tension building as it is, it's frankly boring and a bit repetitive; hardly anything came up from it, as the real thrills and scares happened at the farm house, meaning the we'd just wasted some decent running time for nothing. (well, almost nothing, we did find his sister chained to a gazebo, if that means anything for you...) Normally in parts like these, this would have been where most of the scares or action come up, but in attempt to break this build, Atrocious risked giving up predictability over originality, but failed to came up with anything better.
To save you from your trouble, this is what he saw at the
end of the maze. Happy? Good. Now press that
fast forward button!
Not really saying this is a bad movie, just lacks any proper ideas that would had lifted this film even higher than what it did already. The shakiness the films of this kind are known for maybe overdone, but it did had its shining glories later on. It's a test of patience, or at least wit; you could always fast-forward it. Take my word for it, there's nothing in that maze! Nothing. I'm still glad I gave this one a chance, but I can tell this one's going to the half-right matters that makes up the mediocre and the plain.

Bodycount:
1 dog found gutted and thrown down a well
1 boy found butchered and burnt
1 female head split open with axe
1 male hacked with axe
total: 4

slasher masks of the week vol 15

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

here's this week's meat:

Final Remains (Mortuary) (2005)- Not entirely sure what he wanted to be, but he looks like a mad chef with that hat. Is the hat really neccesary? No. BEAT IT NERD!

Dark Woods- Well, he's wearing a camouflage with a face mask. Not sure what he's trying to do. Scary? Dude, a gramma with beaver teeth is scary, you, not so much. NEXT!

Adam and Evil- Well, it's a Halloween mask, pretty cheap and all. Least the killer's working it with that suit, even if the mask does look bigger than his body...

Death by Engagement- ...what...the...fuck...is...that? are you trying to obscure yer face with that?! NEXT!

When Heaven Comes Down- Now this look awesome! Creepy looking, yet cool at the same time! Good job, mate! best for this week's picks!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Murder Manor: Last Caress (2011)

Last Caress (France, 2011)
rating:***
starring: Julie Baron, Guillaume Beylard and Elina Calmels

An artist woke up in her manor with the help of a stranger. She escorts this girl out with gratitude for helping her out, but moments after, she spots a doll with its neck hanging on a pole, and no sooner, a killer in a stocking mask (and fendora) hacks her chest open with a cleaver until her heart exposes and got hacked as well. Seconds after the attack, the killer reveals herself as the Artist's stepsister, and murdering her is just the tip of the ice berg. She just so happens to be jealous of her step-sister's riches, that which includes a painting worth millions hidden away somewhere in the manor. Now that no one was there to stop her from searching, she spend the last hours before dawn procrastinating with the corpse, asking it and verbally abusing it. But when daylight finally came, she decided to step outside to have some "fresh air".
Familiar face (disguise) anyone?
In a stroke of bad luck, as she opened the door, the once murdering step-sister was now reduced to a victim of yet another assassination; at the very front door was a man in sunglasses, hired to murder anyone that might be a potential witness or threat. After bashing the step-sister's face to a pulp with a spiked glove, he began to proceed to search for the painting until he finds out that he won't be alone for long.
Familiar weapon anyone?
Five of the Artist's friends, including her cousin, pulls up to the manor to had some peace, relaxation, and sex. Also included to their listings of "fun" things to do was to do a seance that calls forth a suspected witch that is also their long lost ancestor. This led to one of them passing out for half a day, and her friends alone to spend their time doing whatever they want, unaware of the lurking murderer who's out to finish the job.
Ah, at least they're not horny teens...or are they?
How old do you have to be as an adult? 25? 30...40?

The very flaw of Last Caress is an obvious one, and that is it guilty of plagiarism. The opening sequence is a direct attempt to redo the same style from Bava's Blood and Black Lace's own opening, with the entire cast posed while the credits introduced them. Next to justify my note was the first murder, yet again sporting the same disguise as the killer from Bava's film, only placed in a scene that appears to be a hybrid of Deep Red's "hanged doll" calling card and Suspiria's first murder (chest mutilated until heart exposed and hacked) Other gialli scenes and elements "borrowed" also include the spiked glove weapon from Death Walks at Midnight and even the "body-through-glass" shot from Tenebre, as well as scenes from slasher films like My Bloody Valentine (1981)'s shower head impaling (mixed here with Intruder's hook-jaw kill) and the obvious Friday the 13th Part 4's "corkscrew" scene. (even finishing it with a similar facial split!)

 And yet, I can't stop watching it. I can't stop re-watching it. With all the sleaze and kills, I find it hard not to find a reason or two for me to like this film. For one, I do enjoy the quality of the film. Despite shot in a minimal budget, shining crystal clear in it's daylight burning witch scene, and being  shot-on-video, the film looked polish, with awesomely made gore effects and even sporting a giallo inspired soundtrack. It took a lot of tribute to Argento's and Bava's candy-lens lighting and even the obscure camera angling and cinematography. With a running time of 70 plus minutes, it all happened in such a quick pace, and it bears no to little boring moments (that witch torture scene's a bit of a filler for me. I'm not a big fan of torture-erotic imagery. I prefer both to be separate) It has it's silly bits (girl hides under a tall table from her killer. Didn't end well obviously), some good tension and fair grit, it definitely had the art film feel to it, cartoonish in a devilish way. It also had a revelation of sorts in the near end that tackled the supernatural sensibilities from before. Random, but digestible.

Yeah, not into that all S&M crap. But y'all have fun, though!
If you don't mind the copy-cat issues, it may easily fit to call this film a slasher-giallo hybrid with the best kills in horror cinema re-enacted. If you can easily overlook the matter that it cheated on us in originality, then join the crew, Last Caress sports easy story, over-the-top gore and craziness that's wanting some love.

Bodycount:
1 female chest hacked open with cleaver, heart hacked
1 female pounded to death by the face with spiked glove
1 female burned alive (flashback)
1 male face split with machete
1 female back impaled unto glass shards
1 male garroted with thin wire and nearly decapitated
1 female hook to the jaw
1 female shotgunned on the eye
1 male repeatedly clawed, throat cut
total: 9

(Or, if you like, pop this disk and play "name that scene"! Winner would be the guy/gal who could name all the movies one scene was based on! Least now we have a new game to enjoy!)

The Tale of the Seven rats: Black Rat (2010)

Black Rat (Kuronezumi) (Japan, 2010)
rating:***
starring:Misaki Yonemura, Hiroya Matsumoto and Rina Saito

Asuka was a cheerful girl who didn't let anything get her down and tried to lift up the spirits of everybody she's befriends, even if they don't return her kindness. However she committed suicide one day, jumping off a building while practicing a dance for a festival.

Yes...it's a good smile...
Months passed and the six teens who "befriended" Asuka receives a text message from her, asking them to go to their classroom at midnight. There, they met up with a girl in a grotesque rat mask who made it clear she's going to murder them in revenge. Has Asuka returned from the grave? Or is it someone with a bloody grudge?

In a nutshell, Black Rat is as easy as any slasher film would get;.if you are familiar with the sub-genre, you can tell most of the cliches before they appear on the screen from masked killers to some fairly intense stalk-and-kill scenes though kills are tame as they are barely bloody and cuts away before we could even see it happen.

To elevate the plot and its lack of bloodletting however, the film featured a rather cool and cute looking masked slasher that tried to do some SAW-style trappings on her victims where they have to win a game to be set free. Thing was, these are nothing torturous. Just silly challenges such as blocking a soccer ball or getting 100 points in karaoke. I find this workable as it did well around the considerably low-budget but it did made some of the tone rather rocky since the direction appears to be aiming for a serious approach.

Imagine if Jigsaw wanted to be "fun"...

Thankfully, the entire film played out as straight as possible; in typical J-Horror element, the reason why these teens are in this kaput is told via flashbacks which reveal to us bits and pieces of what had happened months ago and who was to blame. This also worked well, although it's nothing shocking as it is; we can tell it is for revenge, so the only mystery left for us to ponder about was whether it is Asuka killing them or somebody else, and Black Rat did attempt its own set of twists to sway us off but they're nothing too outlandish.


I can easily say this won't be anything big but if you managed to grab hold of a copy, it's a fair viewing from time to time. Not gonna win any big fans but at least worth a look.

bodycount:
1 female jumps to her death
1 male beaten to death with baseball bat
1 female electrocuted
1 female tripped down the stairs and gets a machete stabbed to her gut,
1 male beaten to death with lead pipe, pounded
1 female hacked to death with axe
1 male immolated in explosion
total: 7
...I only knew about you 24 hours ago...