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

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Teens are Salty: Jennifer's Body (2009)

Jennifer's Body (2009)
rating:***1/2
starring: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried and Adam Brody

In the small sleepy town of Devil's Kettle, lived two girls who are the best of friends; the shy, conserved bookworm Needy Lesnicki and her posh, cheerleader friend Jennifer Check. The two girls have almost nothing in common with Jennifer having the body that had the boys drooling up to her, while Needy only has (other than her books, her glasses and her other bestfriend, Chip) the sheer will and friendship with Jennifer to live on her near non-existent life.

However, one fateful night made them both more different from one another when a mysterious band called Low Shoulder came up and a freak fire accident a bar full of townsfolk and teens meeting their untimely demise. Needy and Jennifer was at the scene, and no soon after the fire, the band took Jennifer "home" and, somehow, turned her into something worse: a flesh eating demon thirsty for the blood of young teen boys.

As Jennifer began her orgy of flesh eating, blood draining, mayhem, Needy struggles to fix everything back to the way it is before her friend kills every fresh boy she gets. And risk everything trying.

What I saw in Jennifer's Body was the very same teen-oriented horror flick that nearly flooded the late 90s, though with the restraints on realism bent and more humor was added in vein of morbid and cheeky tones, all the while still retaining that cynical teenage garbles.

First of, the film stood ground on two of its main casts: as Jennifer, Megan Fox have the looks and created a gal that is the ultimate queen bee with some personal issues. Not much is said, but regularly hinted that she's not all right with her life as a cheerleading "it-gal", allowing Fox to try and be "flexible" enough to be hot, funny or miserable when called for.

Second in line is Amanda Seyfried as Needy, Jennifer's bestbud since kiddie days and probably the only thing keeping Jennifer going even before she got possessed by a demon. What I like about her is that, in a context, she's much like Jennifer; despite being awkward and nerdy (check out those horror posters in her room! Evil Dead FTW!), she's actually just as complex and pretty as her admired buddy, even as far as being comparable. Seyfried made her funny all the while natural, even as she began to deal with the changes going on with her life and of Jennifer's.

Now, setting aside the strong performances of it's two female leads, Jennifer's Body is often compared as the Juno of horror flicks, not very surprising since the film's writer just so happen to be the same gal who penned the aforementioned teen flick. The result is a quirky, pop culture oriented teen flick done in an angle of bloody mayhem and gutsy slasher flick narrative, giving out some sincere moments between casts while impressively dishing out some gory kills. The only problem was that the film also has it's moments where the humor didn't quite caught on and the main focus on the two leads left many of it's cast either thin or annoying. (Like that dorky girl who claims everything in Wikipedia is true. Lies. Bitch, not everything in Wiki is true! Heck, it once called The Innkeepers a slasher flick. Slasher my ass...)

The male casts had their moments of recognition; Adam Brody as the lead in the band Low Shoulder created a character that's quite a charmer despite his little hidden agenda. Johnny Simmons played Needy's love struck buddy Chip, who despite his minimal screen time, is all the nerdy rooting one can ask in a teen flick. (Although he has a long way to go on being as respectable as Derek from My Super Psycho Sweet 16 or even Randy from Scream.)

Now concerning it's grue, I have very little to complain about; it's CG viscera for some but it's not as obvious as some CG gore make it. The killings are either done off-camera or obscured and, strangely, the build-up and the impact had more on comedy in it than fear. Yes, there are moments of grief, especially that one funeral scene where a mum shows her bereavement over the realism of her son's death, but more or less, sometimes you may get a chuckle or two with some of the film's own comic mechanism, not that it tries to hide it or anything ("Lasagna with teeth"?), which may also reckons some to disagreement.

Jennifer's Body isn't exactly for everybody; the jokes may not appeal to everyone in the mind set this film was aiming at, especially since the film's mix bags genre of comedy, teen drama and horror was jumbled all over the plot. I'm not even sure myself what to make out of this film, other than the point that I did enjoyed it to some extent, but I can agree with many that the film lacked surprises with its all through out predictability and many slasher cliches.

There were also some unexplored themes that the film started out with, such as High School politics, feminism and even Jennifer's own social life outside her flesh-eating side-persona, left alone due to the narrative's main focus on the rampage through Needy's point of view. It would have made a more interesting watch if we actually found out what made Jennifer tick, as the whole thing was just hinted between scenes.

Still, anyone looking for easy entertainment that relies very little on the grey matter and more total teen drama, cheese and dabs of humor, Jennifer's Body might count as one. More of a teen comedy than horror, despite the gore, dread and supernatural subtones, there's no denying it's still aimed for horror audiences and it's still a passable one at that. Just look at it this way: it beats watching Twilight.

No offense, Twihards.

bodycount:
A number of victims got caught inside a burning bar
1 male disemboweled and eaten alive
1 male mauled and eaten
1 male killed offscreen (flashback)
1 male mauled, bled to death
1 female gets a boxcutter to the chest
1 male seen dead
1 male seen drowned in bathtub
1 male seen dead
1 male seen dead
1 male seen stabbed on the heart with a knife
total: 10+

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Short Shear Terror: It's just a Movie (2011)

It's Just a Movie (Canada, 2011)
rating: ***1/2
starring:  Paul Whittington and Jeff Carpenter

Does it really make us monsters for liking a monster? Can a single film really damage a child's mind that bad? And if it can, why the hell are you letting them watch it anyway?

An experimental art film about the perspective of horror media to the censors. Told in a gory manner, the stop-motion art-film had two key scenes that runs all through-out; a pro-censor man in his sermon about the evils of violent horror films, of how it can affect the little youngin's noggins with all that grue and gore. While the first half had this guy talk of censoring and stopping movies like Cannibal Man, The Driller Killer and Toolbox Murders, the next scene, however, goes into an artistic approach to this matter. It suddenly shows that the Pro-censor man, now holding an axe, laughing away as a VHS hopes inside a player, only to be "hacked to death" with an axe. Assuming it's ole Censorman's handiwork, the scene is just played-out bloody as sprays of bright red began to spill and splash out of the machine. The short ends with the VHS hopping out of the machine "wounded" but soon killed, and the TV smashed with a sledgehammer. A shard finally decided to talk back with a message that we all can agree with.

Simple yet stylishly bloody (or gory in a machine's point-of-view), It's Just a Movie is a horror film for horror fans; straight out of a real-life nightmare, it takes us back to the dark days of Moral Panic and the notorious Video Nasty bannings. Honestly, though, some of the movies in that list does kinda deserved to be banned for other reasons, but the short's message is clear to us. The censors had once threatened creativity, unfairly bashed these films due to their nature, single-outed as the main reason why kids went bad those times. Everybody from religious nutjobs to political pigs had easily pointed fingers to this misunderstood genre, threatening its existance, but in a way, also hyping it. Right now, we're kinda lucky that the censors had loosen up a bit today, and thanks to the help of video releases and the cult status built from all that censoring, we all can enjoy these films uncut and free from judging eyes. The film talks about this in a way we all can understand as a horror fanatic, and in a twisted sense, it terrifies us cuz we know what the images meant.

Bodycount:
1 Betamax Tape hacked in half with cleaver
1 VHS player hacked to death with axe
1 Betamax Tape smashed with sledgehammer
1 Television smashed with sledgehammer
total: 4

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Golden Title: Jaws (1975)

Jaws (1975)
rating:*****
starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss

Typical sex=death formula
Daybreak, a young woman had left a party on the beach in favor of skinny dipping into the open waters of New England's Amity Island. Her boyfriend playfully, yet in drunkenness, follows her until he passes out, leaving his gal to go into the waters alone. But a simple tug, and a sharp pain, had her viciously thrashed back and forth into her death.

Amity's police chief, Martin Brody and Deputy Hendricks later finds her remains on the beach, easily regarded as a shark attack. In hopes of preventing any further attacks, Brody asks Mayor Larry Vaughan to close the beaches until they got the waters cleared, a suggestion overruled in favor of tourist income from the upcoming Fourth of July and dismissed the death as a boating accident. But it wasn't for a moment when another shark attack occurs, this time taking the life of a young boy, the film's most gutsy scene, which enraged the mother into staking a bounty for the animal.

The bounty attracted hunters, including one professional shark hunter Quint, and forced marine biologist Matt Hooper to re-examines the early victim's remains and unarguably concludes that it was a shark attack, not a boat accident, that killed her. When a shark was caught by the hunters, the town felt relief believing this was the shark that killed the young boy, though Hooper begged to differ. After being refused to do an open autopsy of the shark, Hooper asked for the aid of Brody to take the shark's remains and found out that the shark hadn't eaten any human remains. A spotted shipwreck with a larger bite mark was found later, indicating an altogether different animal from what was caught earlier.

As the Fourth of July came, another shark attack estuaries, killing a man and left Brody's son, a witness, in shock. Seeing that the shark problem had gone too far out of hand, Vaughan was persuaded to agree in hiring Quint to catch the shark, who in turn reluctantly had Hooper and Brody tagged along to help him in his vessel, the Orca, with the chum line and hooks.

After repeated brief attacks from the shark in early encounters, it all leads to the very day the shark decided to rear its raw nature at them. After a long chase, Quint harpoons a barrel to the shark and had it tied to the stern, but the shark drags the boat backward, breaking water unto the deck and flooding the engine. But in an attempt to suffocate the shark in shallow waters, Quint overstalls the boat.

Now stuck in the middle of the ocean with a shark waiting to eat them, the group attempted to spear the shark with a hypothermic spear filled with strychnine, inside a shark-proof cage but failed when the animal unexpectedly attacked and forced Hooper, who volunteers, to drop the spear. Hooper managed to escape  to safety, leaving Quint and Brody to face the animal when it leaps to the boat's transom. The attack tipped the boat and slid Quint straight into the shark's maw, eating him. Now alone, Brody took one last shot to kill the savage; finding a pressurized scuba tank, he managed to shove it into the shark's mouth and aimed at it with Quint's rifle. Climbing to the sinking ship's mast, he took a clear shot to the tank, which explodes and blew the animal's head to pieces.

Bigger boat? How about Bigger GUNS?
Now with the shark dead, Brody, and a surviving Hooper emerges, to paddle back to Amity Island, both had faced their fears and shortcomings, as seagulls begin to flock on the shark's corpse, pecking at the once great beast.

Jaws is the movie that made Steven Spielberg's directorial career after his cult fave Duel, showing how much of a phenomenally skillful and artful director he is. The changes from the novel actually seems wise enough to entertain his audience; taking the novel's primary plot and did all the necessary tweaks and timing to make his movie all the enjoyable.

Based on Peter Benchley's bestselling novel, which arguably darker in comparison to the film, Jaws can be best described as a movie of two halves, which mainly be the reason, too, why Jaws happens to be a fitting review here; the first half is where the gruesome turns had its fill. One at a time, innocent people are munched alive by a preying shark, dubbed "Bruce" in production, in a manner not to different from this blog's main entre', the slashers. The shark's repeated attacks added notoriety, as well as class, brought flair in the film's construction as it slowly evolves into an ocean adventure that is the second half, wherein the masculinity of the three men are put to the test. (Brody's fear of drowning, Hooper's inexperience with water)

As far as it is going for as a thriller, Jaws's build for suspense is a high note that had brought success to it; the film's famous score, for one, had acted as a suspenseful doomsayer on its own of sorts, warning the viewers of the approaching danger that is the animal. Attentive viewers would notice that, during the prank scene, the motif is absent, hinting that the danger is far from it, but devilishly turning as yet another man is killed no soon after the prank. The theme is widely recognized as a raw-natured, yet wildly provocative tune.  Other than that, due to some budget restrains, the shark had enough time to be openly present around the bridge to the second half, spending most of its time around the first half visually obscured through point-of-view shots underwater, as well as violent flails of the attacked, tapping sorts of primal fears of the unseen and the unstoppable. It is terrifying without the need of visceral effects and delightfully entertaining without the need of hammy one-liners. (though "We're gonna need a bigger boat" is catchy as it is) More to add the effectiveness of the climax where the trio had to face the shark.

Hooper and Quint
The three main men of the film are a likable bunch; Roy Scheider took the role of  Brody as a everday everyman, who finds himself in an extraordinary predicament, forced to fend off his fears to rises to the occasion. Dreyfuss as Hooper had his character as brash enough for a scientist to not come off as wimpy or as self-righteous as he was in the original novel, a change I'm more than happy to see on the big screen as he changed from antagonist to Brody's trusted friend, the very backbone of the movie. Lastly, we have Robert Shaw's Quint, one of the most memorable modern-day Ahab, whose background as a survivor from a sinking USS Indianapolis warship during the War in the Pacific in 1945, making him a foe most formidable against ole' "Bruce".

I like to see Jaws as a film best fitting my taste for high class movies meet my taste for bodycount horror, just as Psycho or Dressed To Kill did. Stephen Spielberg sure had a long way since his mega-success today; with a mega franchising, the film had stray much away from the modern day Moby Dick story in its sequels, theme park rides and yes, the merchandising; its legacy as a Summer blockbuster horror flick that warped a simple story to a cultural phenomenon is a tad too big to not be impressed about, bringing that much fear to the waters as Psycho did to warm showers.
Speaking of showers...cover up, man!
Bodycount:
1 female ravaged by shark
1 bot eaten by shark
1 shark speared to death
1 male found dead underwater
1 male ravaged by shark
1 male bitten in half by shark
1 shark had its head blown off by a shot air tank
total: 7

Friday, May 18, 2012

Slasher Masks of the Week Vol 17

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

here's this week's meat:

Hot Fuzz: The Neighbourhood Watch Alliance may be one of the silliest, yet grooviest band of killers I've ever seen, but in this action-slasher, I got to admit, they know how to dress up! Simple, yet intimidating, nice!

Purvos: Never heard of this film, but the mask...kinda sucks. I dunno, we got too many zombie masks out there...

Zibahkhana- The Pakistan slasher-zombie hybrid, perhaps the only Pakistan zombie-slasher hybrid in the world. I'm still trying to look this one up, but so far, I'm digging that mask! Kinda sacred looking...

The Wisher/Spliced- I recall seeing this number back when I was ten and now, I can see how...cheap it is. Mediocre, yes, but boring? A bit. Anywho, the killer dons a simple make-up and wig to cover his identity, and so far, it works. Just wished he'd been more smarter...

Severance- Death to Palisade says these locals; unrestrained animal urges to kill never looked so good in simple masks. A little satirical, but who's counting?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

TV Terror: Harper's Island (2009)

Harper's Island (2009 series)
rating:***1/2
starring: Elaine Cassidy, Christopher Gorham and Matt Barr

I'm not much to speak when it comes to TV series. Honestly, I prefer watching movies than television series for the same reason why I don't own a lot of comic books either; for me, I prefer seeing a whole event in one sitting, I don't want cliffhangers and i don't like the fact I have to see a previous episode just to understand what's going on. It's frustrating in my case,  hence why I stick to miniseries, both comic books and TV shows.

Now, Harper's Island was introduced to me as a commercial, but seeing it's a series, I ignored it for a while, until I saw an episode and liked what I see: a man drowning underneath a boat with his head near its propellers. The moment the boat starts its trip, shred goes the unfortunate fella.

Okay, you got my attention, TV show. Hit me with your best.

Seven years ago, a murderer named John Wakefield took the life of six locals in Harper's Island. One of them happens to be our protagonist's mother. Said protagonist is Abby Mills, who came back to the island to face her demons, and at the same time, to celebrate her bestfriend's wedding. But now, someone is killing the guests off, one by one; it was subtle at first, and the local police started investigating these murders but as one suspect to another gets killed off themselves, it began to lead to a conclusion that sent chills down to everyone: John Wakefield's back.

Harper's Island finds its strengths on the gimmicks of a slasher film meets teen drama meets reality TV show ala Survivor. It was marketed with a tag line promising 13 weeks, 25 suspects and only 1 killer; thus, supports an extremely large cast, made for the picking in a "Mystery Event". It doesn't really move much from its slasher roots, a reason why it got hold of me so easily wherein stereotyped casts with a not so stereotyped personalities get sliced up; it's nothing that suspenseful, or new, but the overall rompt had us watching and anticipating the deaths and the identity of the killer who just so happens to know everyone too good.

Promisingly, each episode had to show at least one death, with a minor character dying off in the early episodes before moving in to the main cast in the latter, much like how the good old days worked and to top it off, the kills are pretty good too! Gory at times, shocking in another, while it's no gore hound's feast (it's a TV series after all) the kills are fair on their own, and I really prefer my kills to be as old-schooled and as random as possible. Harper's Island answered that for me, so that's another point for this treat.

But just as any slashers made over the past fifty years, there's no denying that fact that Harper's Island is also guilty of two common crimes this sub-genre had to offer: cheese and cardboard red herrings. Since the cast waters down in each episode, more than one in some, the murder mystery angle of the series thins down altogether that it soon too obvious who's who doing the killings; John Wakefield did appear in the latter episodes but his initial appearance was too soon, and it made him too obvious that he ain't working alone. Other than that, we will also witness a lot of melodrama that may eat some time and build up some cheese as even the killer had to share his own thoughts in his slaughter. Kinda funny seeing a cool killer like Wakefield express his parental instincts later on, but until then,  there's enough kills to keep our minds jarred, enough trivial mystery to keep us glued to our screens and probably the anticipation of a good death somewhere in between.

TV horror is fun, in a mild and somewhat guilty way, and for a 13-episode slasher film serialization, Harper's Island, it's quite easy to accept, if not all the way, at least as a good time-passer. It knows it way around the sub-genre and I'm pretty thankful for that. It did the job of providing cheesy thrills, a good murder spree and a plot that is not so complicated; sure it's melodramatic, but horror fans can find a thing or two to enjoy from this television show that's smart enough to end it in one single season. 

Bodycount:
1 male dismembered by boat propeller ep1: Whap
1 male hacked in half with head spade ep1: Whap
1 male decapitated with axe ep2. Crackle
1 female seen hanged ep2. Crackle
1 female doused with lighter fluid, set abalze ep2. Crackle
1 male face shot off by a rigged shotgun ep3. Kablam
1 male shot his own leg by accident, bled to death ep4. Bang
1 male face split open by a falling head-spade ep5. Thwack
1 male impaled on a harpoon ep6. Sploosh
1 male head split open with head spade (flashback) ep7. Thwack, Splat, Sizzle
2 females and 1 male seen murdered (flashback) ep7. Thwack, Splat, Sizzle
2 other victims mentioned (implied in flashback) ep7. Thwack, Splat, Sizzle
1 male dismembered offscreen ep7. Thwack, Splat, Sizzle
1 male shot on the back ep8. Gurgle
1 male pinned to the wall by shot arrows ep8. Gurgle
1 male found bleeding to death from stab wounds ep8. Gurgle
1 female found dismembered in half ep9. Seep
1 female found with garden shears stabbed on her back ep9. Seep
1 male and 1 female shot down ep10. Snap
1 female killed, later found hanged ep10. Snap
1 male neck snapped with noose ep10. Snap
1 female boarding knife to the gut ep11. Splash
1 male boarding knife thrown to gut, slashed to death ep11. Splash
1 male found with throat cut ep11. Splash
1 male boarding knife to the chest ep11. Splash
1 female suicide, dropped herself off a bridge ep11. Splash
1 male head shoved to memo holder, impaled on the eye ep12. Gasp
1 female buck knife to the side ep12. Gasp
1 male buck knife to the back ep 13. Sigh
1 male buck knife to the chest ep 13. Sigh
1 male hacked to death with billhook (flashback) ep 13. Sigh
1 male boarding knife ran through his gut ep 13. Sigh
total: 36

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Swimming with the fishes: Humanoids from the Deep (1980)

Humanoids from the Deep (1980) (AKA Monster: Humanoids from the Deep, Beneath the Darkness)
rating:***
starring: Doug McClure, Ann Turkel and Vic Morrow

A species of humanoid amphibians began to surface in a small fishing town, looking for females to mate with, and a few others to kill and devour. Since this is the first time the town is seeing these freaks, some sort of explanation is needed, hence comes a trio of concerned citizens, including a fisherman, a bashed Native American, and a scientist who may know something about the mutations. But when the humanoids began to murder more innocent lives and violently molests buxom girls, could they make it in time to stop all these creatures from rampaging in an upcoming Salmon fest?

Thus sets us off to 80 minutes of pure B-flick wonderland full of boobs, blood and men in giant frog suits! Executive Produced by Roger Corman, who had handled a fair number of slasher titles before such as Chopping Mall, Stripped To Kill and my cult fave Slumber Party Massacre II,  Humanoids from the Deep actually felt more like a sleazier mish-mash of 50s sci-fi monster flick and a little known supernatural slasher flick I like to call The Incubus, hellbent on delighting fright fans with a plot so obscure it's bound to be crazy entertaining! In my eyes, the whole thing is just too thin to be anything but a movie, but who cares when you can poke an eye on the funny looking gill-men and their horny mission to bone every single female they can find, or the fact that there's a lot of weird looking editing done to process the entire film. To be honest, I'm having a hard time squeezing out some good things to say about this film that would appeal to the masses, but the only shit I can come up with are either tits or monsters. More leaning on the tits, and too some weird pre-sex scenes that includes ventriloquist dummies and a guy repeatedly surprising his gal underwater, but let's focus on the rest of the flick.

So far, the pros coming from this film would be it's quick pacing and some pretty cool scenes that goes with it; there's nothing much going on around this film save fish rape, fish kill and uh, fish monsters, so you can bet it's easy to follow but the overall silliness of the dialogue and a hefty number of slimy monster attacks made  the entire movie itself less jarring than one would expect, and would probably set off the idea that Humanoids was made entirely just to entertain horror fans with something so bizarre, cheesy and bloody. (Save those who're into deep stories, character development, emotional twists and whatnot. Seriously? I can understand that if yer looking in a general horror blog, but this is a slasher blog! We worship the cheese, simplistic plotting and bodycount!)

The monsters themselves kinda proves my point of this film's sole purpose to entertain through corniness; they're fish men with long arms, bulging brain and had seaweed draped on their backs. I'm pretty sure they only had three suits, cuz every shot of them whenever  in a rampage looked like as if it's shot from a different angle and made it look like as if there's many of them. That may be true, but the big bastards are unintentionally funny, so I'm looking pass their rubbery hide and accept them for who they are. Besides, any kind of monster man enough to rampage through an entire festival celebrating Salmon is bound to earn some respect! Especially if this scenes just so happens to be the very climax of the film.

In the end, we're left wide open to the possibility of a sequel. I mean, they said it themselves; fish men kills and rape, so what happens when a naked D-cup gal gets humped by a mutant frog? They bear baby Christopher Walkens! ...no wait...Sorry, my bad, mutant fishes. Other than that, has it occurred to anyone that the big fire they lit that night to burn the Humanoids may not really work? I mean, they lit it with gasoline. Gasoline's oil. Oil separates from water, so if I imagined this right, it'll only be the surface of the water that'll be on fire. So the Humanoids can just swim underneath it, right? Am I thinking too much? Bottom line is, open-ended conclusion, but seeing how incredibly stupid the film is, not hard to picture why there isn't any. Probably for the best!

So that's it; Humanoids from the Deep fails as a high class monster flick that ole Roger Corman was trying to disguise it as, in hopes of attracting big names (did he forgot some of these guys can read?), but as a B-flick with a bodycount (both dead and flashing alive), it definitely works in my book.

Bodycount:
1 boy dragged underwater, killed
3 males immolated in explosion
1 dog strangled, mauled to death
2 dogs found mauled and disemboweled
1 dog seen clawed on the side
1 male face mauled open
1 male back clawed open
1 female raped by a monster, presumably killed
1 monster brained by a thrown crowbar
1 monster shot with rifle
1 female and 1 monster immolated in car explosion
1 monster shot with rifle
1 monster shot with rifle
1 monster shot with rifle
1 monster shot with rifle
1 monster shot on the chest with harpoon
1 monster shot with rifle
1 monster shot on the head with rifle
1 male thrown to the water, killed
2 males mauled underwater
1 male mauled underwater
1 male neck clawed open
1 male neck broken
1 male bearhugged to death, gut clawed open
1 male head torn off
1 male mauled
1 male neck mauled open
1 male neck mauled open
1 male chest clawed open
1 monster brained with rock
1 monster shot with rifle
1 monster shot with rifle
1 monster shot with rifle
1 monster head bashed open with wooden plank
1 monster beaten to death
1 monster stabbed to death with kitchen knife
1 female baby monster bursts out of her womb
total: 42

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

It's the second Sunday of May, so bring out the mothers!


here's sum catalogs of some mother related monstrosities
Mother's Day (1980)
Mothers Day (2010)
Macabre
The Final Terror
Inside
Friday the 13th

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO YOU ALL!

Mum's Angry Bush: The Final Terror (1983)

The Final Terror (AKA Campsite Massacre, Carnivore) (1983)
rating:***
starring:  John Friedrich, Adrian Zmed and Ernest Harden Jr.

A good way to fully appreciate a backwoods slasher is to look for it's other strengths besides it's location. We all have been treated to summer camps being terrorized by a hunting knife wielding maniac, or campers falling prey to redneck monsters, all in the sense of a survivalist situation, most likely inspired by Deliverance. So what makes The Final Terror a little special? Hard to say, but probably the fact it tries to be Deliverance.

It opens with random shots of nature; trees of every angle, with birds chirping and wildlife doing their wildlifey things, and a couple in a motorbike who later gets killed off by an unseen loonie, one of them through a spring based trap I'm glad to call the rusty can lids of death!

Things continue after the credits with our assorted male victims, a boot camp trouble-makers of a sort, in for an adventure holiday in the woods along with some ladies. The only thing wrong with this picture, other than the fact I just watched grown men sing three blind mice on their way to the woods, is Eggar, who hates them and hated in return, tasked to go along with them since he's the only one authorized to drive their bus. After a prank gone wrong, the group later finds themselves stranded in the woods, with Eggar missing and someone in a camouflage hacking people with a billhook.

There's no denying the fact that it's a cheap slasher flick; there's some problem with the lighting, and the kill effects had their dodgy moments, with only one sex scene, which also doubles as the film's only bloody scene, yet with a good acting cast and set-pieces, Final Terror pulled off some rather distinguishing traits that may not be that much of an impact. Now before you could say this might be just another backwoods slasher, well, you maybe right, but likewise, I do appreciate Final Terror's focus on suspense and atmosphere above gore, spending most of the time in the latter half trying to survive and outsmart the killer, which lead to a rather low bodycount, but entertains nevertheless.You could say the rest of the movie is okay; it got a cool looking killer, even if it took them a while to be shown in action, and boasts some lush cinematography and backwoods settings.

May qualify for average, but if you just had to rent something for a while, this might be a good choice.

Bodycount:
1 male found with throat cut
1 female slashed by can lid trap
1 male hacked to death with billhook
1 female found with throat cut
1 male heel cut with billhook and falls to his death
1 female impaled on a spiked
total: 6

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Throw your Gramma!: Granny (1999)

Granny (1999)
rating:**
starring:  Sava Popovic, Katie Dugan and Tomi

Surely, we all have our curiosities when it comes to bizarre slasher entries that's rarely heard or talked about. Mine was this short running yet painfully testy teen slasher.

He's a suspect, a victim and a harbinger; three in one
role casting, perfect for low budgets! 
Granny is a simple tale of eight college students who just wanna hang out one night. Alone. With no care in the world. In a house in the middle of a secluded forest. (And as we all know, houses in a forest are definitely safe.)

But after a serious (boringtalk concerning phobias, they suddenly heard crying coming from the basement. One of them volunteers to check alone (cuz it's safer that way, right?), only to find a maniac in a hag's mask and biddy clothes, waiting for him with an axe to grind. Literally.

Granny got out and starts killing the teens who just happen to keep doing the dumbest shit anyone of this genre would do, thus starts a night of cliched slasher trappings, low-budget gore effects, and an uninspired ending to tie it all close. For a movie of measly 58 minutes, it sure felt longer!

I maybe saying this cuz I have my expectations so high but its definitely a feat to make something so short feel so tedious. In fact, for a post-Scream slasher, it practiced more of the cliches rather than knowing and avoiding them, something that I fail to see would improve the movie's already weak scripting and plot, more to point out was the film's painfully low logic from beginning to end.

Add Grandmother related wisecrack here
Now any slasher fans know that logic isn't this genre's strongest point but a little could had graced Granny. You just had to split up when everybody is dying, right? Or go and kiss your boyfriend for some minutes, knowing a killer is out there filleting your friends? WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?!

I can see only cheese lovers would get a fix out of this as no matter how bad Granny is, it does win at the factor of being a cheesy flick. The killer Granny also wins some points on how creepy she/he/ it looked, and then there's the nostalgic 80s vibe of the film, with a score that screams synthesizers to murder set-pieces that, like I said, defies reason but nevertheless entertaining.

I couldn't bring myself to say this film is a definite win; short running time and a cool killer should had gotten this film an easy cake walk but for some reason, it soiled itself of every possible opportunity of improvement. Or maybe it doesn't have to; cult followings sure proves this film's minimal worth but of those in search of anything better, don't bother. Cheesy slasher purists only.

Bodycount:
1 male hacked on the head with axe
1 female stabbed to death with carving knife
1 male clubbed to death
1 female had her neck broken
1 male knitting needle to the eyes
1 female asphyxiated in a plastic bag
1 male killed offscreen
1 female suffers a heart attack
total: 8

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Porkhead Mules: Madison County (2011)

Madison County (2011)
rating: *1/2
starring: Ace Marrero, Katie Stegeman and Joanna Sotomura

Sigh, well, there goes my hype.

Again.

ugh, again? when will these kids learn?
What can I say? It's technically the same backwoods slasher you'd seen over the past two decades; college kids going into the woods to do a project only to be hunted down by a masked loon.

Should have been easy enough on its own but somehow director and writer Eric England thought it would be a better idea to do a conspiracy tale based on the grisly murders that nearly ate the whole running time talking about it. In fact, it's not hard to imagine that everybody living in the nearby cornpolk town are hiding something grim if these folks are so weird as heck that only the dimmest group would not suspect them of trouble. Nobody from this sub-genre ever did though. So, I point my question: is it really a bad idea to rid the world one dumb person at a time?

Well, it depends on your democratic position but we might get off the topic here. Let's get back on the review.

As I said, there's nothing special about this flick. Nothing. It has blood. It has a decent bodycount. Some slow pacing in attempt to do good tension but all this lacked anything big to keep it worthwhile. There's a few scene that stood out for me, one was where our porkheaded killer toys with his catch by wailing along a victim, hacking them to death with an axe soon after. Other than that, it's a plotless generic horror flick that's criminally even full of plot holes and crappy editing.

The only saving factor about this film is its killer, Damien, a horribly scarred psychopath who's forced to wear a pig's head carcass to cover it up. I like his look. I like his build. He's something simple with a mask, But what "killed" him to be anything more terrifying was that the entire flick was shot in daylight and I really think he would had looked cooler in the dark. Still, that rating you see there was pulled off from the wailing killer alone so, yeah, this film owes that much to its freak.

At least the film's tag line totally understands its audience: "Pretend you're somewhere else" sounds like a pretty good idea! I'm gonna pretend I'm not watching this and I'm seeing Death Stop Holocaust instead!

Bodycount:
1 male stabbed on the gut with kitchen knife
1 male gets a broken baseball bat through the mouth
1 female hacked to death with axe
1 male stabbed to death with kitchen knife
1 female knifed to death
total: 5

Truth Kills: Truth or Dare (2011)

Truth or Dare (AKA "Truth or Die") (United Kingdom, 2011)
rating: **
starring: Liam Boyle, Jack Gordon and Florence Hall

Not to be confused with my fave bad-cheese, ultra-violent, Shot-on-Video classic Critical Madness, Truth or Dare is less of your typical slasher and more being a psycho-thriller with torture porn and revenge film elements.

The story tells an older brother's vengeful attempt to milk out the truth from five teenagers who happens to be with his younger brother one night he was humiliated in a party. Trapped in a cabin at gun point, the group is forced to reveal what they know in a vile version of "truth or dare", where you tell the truth or die lying.

Of course, it's not all that simple as becomes more complicated the further it reaches the climax, but before that, Truth or Dare does its best to be a sort of SAW clone where victims are forced to confront the past and even their own personal demons. Worked at some point, but overall, there's a pacing problem and a lot of scenes just doesn't spark quite right.

For one, Truth or Dare practices casting unlikable characters for the sake of being meat for a random and unpredictable kill, may it be from the captives or the captor(s) themselves, each with their own secrets kept which later fuels the story at the near end to a full drive. They're all guilty, and the film did some good scripting to keep us glued and guessing who's to blame and who're to live, but with a cast full of suspects, I was really hoping to see good torture or kills in this one. The kills were okay, but they're not as intense or special that it'll get me to rate this film any higher; ironic coming from a movie whose title's based on a game, I was expecting a lot of torture/killing methods for "dare" choices, but they kept it simple, hardly knocking.

It could be me, however, when I said that the biggest letdown was that this film's ending felt a bit anti-climatic and even gloomy for me. Not gonna spoil much, but it revolves around suicide and the most undeserving survivors I've seen. As if the overall simplistic murders isn't bad enough, they had to mess it around the damn plot with a twist that just doesn't work. At least for me.

Until then, the Truth or Dare was a good run. Doesn't show much, but it's easy to follow and the narrative will keep you anticipating for what will happen next. As a thriller, it does it job, and nothing else.

bodycount:
1 male ingests acid
1 male shot on the head
1 male head blown open with shotgun
1 female neck broken
1 male slips, head-first, to a rake
1 male and 1 paralyzed male decimated with grenade

My name is: Tony (2009)

Tony (United Kingdom, 2009)
rating:***1/2
starring: Peter Ferdinando, Frank Boyce and Lorenzo Camporese

I heard very little about Tony other than the fact it centers on the life of a loner who's obsessed with action flicks and has a nasty habit of murdering people. There was nothing else and the simplicity of the story got me intrigued but never enough to go looking for it until, as of writing this, I got my copy a few days ago at a bargain store and it certainly is just the life of a serial killer.

Tony Benson, who spends 20 years of his life unemployed, lives alone in an apartment, watches action flicks all day, hardly socializes, and occasionally lures people into his home, drugging them and then killing them.

It's nothing complex, nor extreme, but a look into a serial killer's life was never an easy experience. What makes Tony an interesting character was that there's very little hints to why he's doing it all; clearly he's a sociopath and a psycho, but why he became this way was hardly clear, making the whole movie in-media-res of his madness and simply places it that he's just crazy.

True enough, there are no clear pattern to not only his murders, but also to this life as he can be seen trying to mingle, get a job, go to gay bars and attempted to do drugs, but his belief that he's different from them all kept him from adjusting, even as far as talking to his reflection and calling himself a "soldier" and then a "pile of shit". At times, he tries to stop the murders but he just couldn't cut it that easily no matter how much he wanted to.

I'm seeing a lot of similarities in Tony with serial-slasher films such as William Lustig's splatter-slasher classic Maniac or the cult-fave Henry:Portrait of a Serial Killer, wherein the one of film's biggest strength came from the portrayal of the titular character. Playing Tony is Peter Ferdinando, who's looks and scrawny built made Tony a random psycho that can really appear everyday. He has this calm fatigue but the way he acts shows how confused and desperate his character was, a performance forced a lot of awkward scenarios that's both pathetic and disturbing. There's also some sort of social commentary concerning the underbellies of London, not entirely different from Maniac only Tony focuses more on the day time monstrosities from the homeless to drug pushers, portrayed with a slight sense of grim realism despite it's horror core.

However, in contrast to Maniac, the murders are nothing that extreme. Most of them occurs offscreen, while some are just too tame. Least the camera work was lavishing, and too the cinematography of the film which features some beautiful shots of London.

Another thing that I've felt anomalous about was the missing boy angle; it's there to build tension and forces viewers to guess whether our titular killer did went as far as child murder, but in the end it all lead to nothing, ending on a final shot that's too open for some people's taste.

Tony might be a film of easy pleasure but it's disturbing and perverse enough with some dabbled bits of morbid humor. It's also a film worthy of attention but I wouldn't say it is going to be for everybody.

Bodycount:
1 male asphyxiated in a plastic bag taped over his head
1 male seen dead
1 male seen dead
1 male brained to death with hammer
1 male strangled with cord
total: 5