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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's the 31st Again...

Happy lazy Halloween Everybody!
Sorry, I'm living in a rock that doesn't celebrate Halloween so seriously. It's criminal...

Welcome to Trash City, Michael: Halloween (2007)

Halloween (2007 Remake)
Rating: ***1/2
starring: Scout Taylor-Compton, Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane

*Note: This review covers the Unrated Version of the movie

A comeback for Michael Myers in the new Millennium by Rob Zombie; obviously, I was excited being a fan of House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects, and Rob was in the height of his game when he made the latter. But remaking Halloween? A classic of the subgenre? Generally, skepticisms were met but being an open guy, I watched it any way and see if Rob's version of Halloween would meet my standards.

Opening in Haddonfield, Illinois fifteen years ago, a broken down mother of three, Deborah Myers, faces a heavy ordeal when her youngest, Michael Myers, was shown having psychopathic tendencies when the school principal found pictures of murdered animals in his locker. It soon shows that Michael is indeed not all up there when he heartlessly (but satisfyingly) murders a school bully, a death not noticed until after the fateful night he murders almost the entirety of his family that Halloween night.

Massacring his eldest sister, her boyfriend, and his mother's foul-mouthed boyfriend, young Myers is then sent to Smith's Grove Warren County Sanitarium and placed under the care and supervision of his psychiatrist, Dr. Samuel Loomis. For over the course of a single year, Michael claims no memory of the murders, barely interacting with anybody and focuses solely on his papermache masks. One day, however, Michael snaps into his homicidal nature again and kills a nurse, leading to Michael's mother losing hope and commiting suicide and Loomis ending his case fifteen years later.

Now in the present, a full grown Michael manages to escape and begins a trail of death as he makes his way back to Haddonfield, seemingly with a plan to murder what is left of his family: his baby sister, Laurie Strode, now adopted and seemingly unaware of her dark past and too what's coming in the night he comes home...

Mixed feelings were inevitable with this one but I have to say, Rob Zombie sure knows how to make a film "personal"; I'm not saying this is entirely a good thing, but must every one of Zombie's film has to have a taste of hicksploitation? This version of Halloween included? Almost every character in this movie were either rude or prude, drunken and dirty, and I find it hard to establish anything with these characters or care for them at all. This surprisingly includes our supposed final girl Laurie Strode, portrayed here by Scout Taylor-Compton as a typical teenager who's more likely to be in-between a conservative and a bit of a snooty mall rat. Yes, she is a girl with good intentions, but she seems to fit closer to the kind of slasher victims that gets killed half-way into the movie and I guess I'm just not used rooting for people like that.

So by the time Michael begins killing people, both as a kid and as a 7 foot tall juggernaut (yes, this is the biggest Michael Myers incarnation we'll ever have), I can't help but feel a strange mix of delight (since some victims really deserved it. Remember, this is the unrated cut; how Michael got out of his cell here had two victims deserving getting what's coming to them) and hollowness. (again, very little people to care about) Still, Rob was determined to create as many answers and twists as he can for his own take for the series' mythology, which is by far the most strenuous element for hardcore fans to accept: while Carpenter's original is a work of patience, slow-moving creepiness that befits the totality of the film's tone, Rob's version is a chaotic and very brutal mess that heightens the bodycount and gore. I'm a fan who appreciates blood so, personally, I think no ill will on this take on the story. The kills are torturous, overdone and very brutal, some giving a few nods to the original, while a few remains shocking and cringe-worthy.

As far as I can point out, the film still follows the same story and flow of the original when Michael finally gets back to his home town after his escape. The only real difference here was that the mystery as to why Michael snapped so suddenly was gone, as the entire first third of the movie revolves around lil Michael before his infamous Halloween night killing spree: with a strip dancer for a mother, an older sister who cares very little, and an alcoholic "father-figure" who throws homophobic insults at the boy, it's pretty obvious why the kid just decided to end it all. During the times he's being treated, it clearly shows how traumatizing this was all for him and how he is beyond saving. Still, the ambiguity to his actual goal once he returns is still present, questioning whether he there to murder his sister to finish the job he started years ago. or because he just love her that much that he wouldn't want her to go through the same shit he went through. This sort of just plainly labels his status as a maniac, albeit unnecessarily long and done multiple times before in so many other slasher titles, so I find it understandable why some would find this an unimaginative twist to The Shape's own persona.

Still, I find it unfair comparing both versions knowing how much effort was put into this; Rob Zombie's Halloween is a darker, grittier and messier take on a slasher classic and that's that. Michael is back, bigger and more menacing, he's realistically frightening, and out to thin down a town's population, one doomed teenager at a time. His get-up, especially his mask, looks interestingly workable with the chaotic tone of the film with all the cracks, grease and grime. (Although I personally prefer his pumpkin mask over his iconic Shatner mask. Not that the white, expressionless mask is outdated, but that the orange papermache pumpkin mask seems to be more in touch with the Holiday spirit. I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority here...) His childhood self though, ironically, was more memorable with all the shock-worthy scenes he had as a grown psycho, and I am aware that homicidal children isn't new to the slasher norm, but none of them were as violent as this kid. And with that said, expect blood gushing out like Niagara Falls, brutal beatings and a lot of stabbings, which happens awfully too often, meaning there's not much room for tension-builders. Just odd pacing problems, hence the near-two hour running time.

The count also depends on what version you'd seen; the theatrical one had a cop-out escape where Michael kills almost every guard that stood in his way. There's also some other versions out there where some of the cast dies very differently, along with multitudes of alternate endings, all of them giving no clear indication of ever opening a sequel. (Then again, Michael was burnt, beaten repeatedly on the head with a steel pipe, and even once decapitated, and yet here he is again...)

Characters apart from Michael himself could use a little work. Or to be more precise, the script itself. I know this is supposed to be a labor of personal love by the director, but must everyone in his imagination have to be so profane? How this will garnish a crowd is beyond me, but I guess he was doing this for people like us, slasher fans who are out for blood and to see our star killer one last time, doing whatever mayhem that made him so loved. (That, or we could try to have some fun spotting a few familiar faces popping around then and there all through the movie. Keep an eye on cameos like Udo Kier, Bill Moseley and even Clint Howard, again depending on which print you'll see)

Perhaps this was the biggest element that tests our patience and open-mindedness for this entry; Can we disregard everything we knew about Michael Myers, Laurie Strode and every mythology the franchise had made, for a fresh and thematically different start? I had my position, and I grew in fondness for this black sheep, gore and profanity in all, but it's nowhere as great as the original classic, no matter how long of a time it was since that Night He Came Home.

Bodycount:
1 male bludgeoned with tree branch
1 male duct taped to a chair and had his throat cut with knife
1 male brained to death with baseball bat
1 female knifed to death
1 female gets a fork to the throat
1 female shot herself to the mouth
1 male had his neck crushed against the wall
1 male had his head beaten against the wall
1 female found with throat cut
1 male found murdered
1 male found murdered
1 male had his head crushed with TV
1 male knifed on the gut
1 male pinned to the wall with a kitchen knife to the chest
1 female strangled
1 male had his eyes slashed with knife
1 female knifed, back broken
1 male knifed to the gut
1 male knifed on the back
1 male knifed to death
total: 20*

Monday, October 28, 2013

Just AMONG us FRIENDS: A Rant

Dear Three Little Birds Production;

Get your shit right and advertise this film properly.

For those who have heard of Danielle Harris' directorial debut "Among Friends", I just would like to tell you guys that it's a total lie: it's NOT a slasher film.

In this little number, it had six friends invited to a dinner party where they'll be playing one of those mystery games where they try to figure out which one of them is the killer by looking around in a house full of planted clues. Sounds like a slasher plot so far, yes? Especially if the game turns out to be for real? Well, it would have been that case if it did, but no.

Right after they found some gooey red clues (a finger, an ear with earrings, etc.), all six partygoers find themselves paralyzed from the neck down after their hosts drugged them, with plans of punishing and torturing them for a crime they did unknowingly on another friend of theirs.
Just because you're in 80s get-up
doesn't make your movie a slasher
If I'm going to compare this to anything, I would say it's just another version of that dull UK release Truth or Die, only this one seems to know its gore a bit better, yet still fails, at least for me, to entertain. Perhaps I expected too much, but the damn advertising of this film was really promising an "80s style slasher flick", but no, what we have here is torture porn in vein of SAW, and even though I'm a fan of the entire SAW and Hostel series, I don't dig torture porn. I was kinda expecting it to be something like the underrated Australian slasher/torture porn hybrid Redd Inc. where it feels like a torture show at the first half before finally going all stalky-and-killy at the second half, but here is no slasher feel to this, not one bit, so no, whoever keeps giving false advertising for this, cut it out. We slash fans knows what makes a real slasher, or at least one that's heavily influenced enough by it.
A real Torture Porn/Slasher knows how to handle
a situation in blood.
The film is interesting, I'll give you that, and I'm very sure this flick is going to have fans, but if these morons think they could trick us into buying this film by selling it out as a sub-genre that it isn't, well luck to you bastards, it worked on a sap like me. So for those who're loyal to your bodycount movies, or at least those who're soul-searching for a good slasher to rent, take heed of this before spending good money on buying this movie for your collection. I already wasted mine so I don't want you guys to be wasting yours. (There isn't much of a kill count either. One dead Kane Hodder and the rest was "implied" not in a good way...)

And yes, Ms. Harris. I love you, but this story has been done before. Are you sure you hadn't seen Truth or Die? Well, if you hadn't, I have to admit this is an odd coincidence and kudos to you for not seeing that trash, but yeah. Better luck next time.
I see a lot of similarities with this situation...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cheapo Primo Demon Night: Soul of the Demon (1991)

 Soul of the Demon (1991)
rating: ***1/2
starring: Sky Daniel, Garry Godfrey, Harold Allen

I'm not gonna lie, it looks like another awfully cheap and unoriginal home-made horror movie, a probable reason why no one talks about this, but comparing it with most of the cheap shot-on-video releases, Soul of the Demon has a lot more entertaining effort for our viewing pleasure.

Soul of the Demon starts off with a young boy and his friend uncovering a mysterious box they found near a stream, containing a strange looking gargoryle-like totem. An old preacher suddenly approaches them and warns that a powerful demon is actually trapped inside the statue, demanding the two to put it back. But seeing these kids knew better, and that the old man disappears no sooner than he appeared to them, one of the boys took the totem home and decided research it with a book he found in his local library. (Actually just an hand-made Evil Dead prop with leather covers)

Being Halloween that night, the boy's older brother decided to hang out with his friends at a supposed haunted house after one of them mistakenly announced a party, improvising with babes, beer and a fake seance inspired by his little brother's find. They unknowingly invoked the demon as they did, however, and it managed to possess the kid. Not too long now, the possessed middle-schooler is out to get them one by one, in one gory fashion to the next.

Although constantly described as a clone for the late 80s cult classic Night of the Demons, Soul of the Demon is best described as a 90s time-capsule where everyone had big hair, dresses up in brightly colored get-up and talks in stoner lingo. It's no different from those late 80s and early 90s do-it-yourself horror flicks circulating in those years' rentals, showing all the guilty nicks such as some hammy acting made funny by a cheesy script, semi-cheap make-up and all the simplistic plotting you can find in a B-grade flick, with added tributes to gore classics such as Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2 and Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead. ut still, I'm not passing this film without a good reason, and there's plenty to go around.

As low as its budget looked, Soul of the Demon makes a fun rental with its impressive looking gore and special effects, and an acceptable so-bad-its-good production. The kill count isn't entirely monstrous, but it's modest enough to give us good and gory eye-candies like a gratuitous panty shot before she gets eviscerated with a levitating wood-saw, plus a couple of nice body splittings and an exploding head. It also has some playful looking cinematography and candy-colored lighting to give much more retro-feel to it, plus some really old-fashioned yet well-animated cartoon ghosts that really puts this title a bit higher in the effort scale than its home-made kins. Strangely enough, there's no nudity here, but I guess you can't win it all.

A bit of a rare gem that really deserves a look if you can snag a copy, Soul of The Demon is a good addition to any Holiday rentals, and a keeper if you like your horror/slasher flicks cheap, fun and explicitly gory. If Night of the Demons could get any gorier, this is probably the closest you can get. That, or you could rent the underrated 2009 remake of that film. Whichever want you choose!

Bodycount:
1 male had his head blown apart
1 female torn in half
1 male head twisted to his back
1 female impaled through the eye by a levitating sharpened plank
1 female sawed on the groin by a levitating saw
1 female head split in half with a meat cleaver
1 male torn in half
1 male had his spine ripped out
total: 8

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Hessian Rises: Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Sleepy Hollow (USA/Germany, 1999)
rating: ****
starring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson

Johnny Depp and Tim Burton in a slasher film?

If you know your history on 80s dead teenager flicks, Mr. Depp already had his share of slashering with that one famous nightmare man from A Nightmare on Elm Street, but it's nice to see a big shot like him take a stab at this fair sub-genre every little while. And same can be said for Tim Burton on this subject; I'm a fair fan of Burton but even I can't deny that some of his works lately have been, well, "commercialized". Despite enjoying movies like "Alice in Wonderland" (a guilty pleasure)and his latest release "Frankenweenie", that little magic he had on films like Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice is missing lately so I'm just glad to see something as mystifying as this applied in the least expected sub-genre.

Mixing a bit of neo-classical steampunk and Burton-esque brand of Victorian Gothic, Sleepy Hollow tells a version of the infamous Headless Horseman legend wherein Ichabod Crane is a police constable in 1799 with a penchant for the scientific whenever he is doing his law abiding. He is sent to a small town of Sleepy Hollow after a series of unexplained murders had certain members of the town's elites beheaded and the locals believing it's none other than the fabled headless Hessian, a risen undead haunting the woods on a horseback, searching for his lost head.

As Crane is determined to prove a human suspect, he will unfortunately discover soon enough that the legends are true and he has no choice but to apply what he knows to something he hardly believed in since, hoping to find a way to stop the Horseman before it's too late.

Sleepy Hollow is a title with no specific genre, with elements of a period film done away with slasher film-style murders and stalking, conspiracies concerning socialites, and a bit of the supernatural. It was made to cater a wider range of audiences, lured in with some recognizable casts; aside from Depp taking in the role of Crane, the movie also features Christina Ricci as Katrina Van Tassel, a damsel with a liking for mysticism and, possibly, for Crane, and Christopher Walken as the Horseman when he was still alive, giving much intimidating presence in such very little screen time and barely any speech. The rest includes Miranda Richardson, Jeffrey Jones, Michael Gambon, and Christopher Lee, all of which had done a mighty fine job in each of their roles and gave a straight performance to keep the film's tone in place.

The movie is ever polished, with the set-pieces nearly accurate to the period they are supposed to be taking place, even if they are styled a bit accordingly to Burton's macabre sense of artistry. Tim's longtime musical collaborator and friend Danny Elfman even provided a haunting score to go along the town's ghostly image. Everything else from lighting to props, camera works and even its cinematography seems to fit quite well without being overly playful. In fact, the film's quite mature with its story and direction despite having fantastic elements along the plot, and with Crane being the unlikeliest of all heroes to come along and save this town, it did gave the character some depth and development as everything of said fantastic elements seem to clash against his rational understanding.

The pitch originally had Sleepy Hollow as a slasher film in its full exploitation (with a kill in every five minutes) and while it may not look much like it, the movie definitely shows. Though tackling more mature matters such as the ever-going battle against science vs supernatural, and too a romanticism angle commonly found in nearly every period piece, Sleepy Hollow still serves as a homage to classical horror without being overly cliched, with a bit of something from modern horror flicks. Aside from beheadings, the film features some creative murders as well to keep true slasher/horror fanatics satisfied, plus a classic monster brought to life with most onscreen savagery, menace and one of the finest special effects of that decade. Whenever the Horseman arrives, there's bound to be a head rolling off its own neck, may it be man, woman, or even a mere child, hailing to a classic climax wherein the hero battles out a seemingly indestructible monster, with its own twists and takes.

It's not a perfect movie in a sense that it's historically accurate in the strictest, nor will it be all believable, but it's a perfect watch for the Autumnal seasons and Holidays, or whenever you feel classical with a need to see something more than a bunch of dumb, sex-hungry virgins being hacked to bits by a maniac in an animal mask. If you're also a bit dodgy with Burton's directorial efforts lately, or not a fan of him at all, let that not be a reason to skip this. Among all I've seen from his work, this is a keeper and a high class-acted, big-budget gem for all your slasher/horror goodness.

Bodycount:
1 male decapitated with sword (mostly offscreen)
1 male decapitated with sword
1 male decapitated with sword (flashback)
1 male decapitated with sword (flashback)
1 horse shot (flashback)
1 male had a sword ran through his gut (flashback)
1 male decapitated with sword (flashback)
1 male had an arm lopped off with sword, killed (flashback)
1 male decapitated with sword (flashback)
1 male decapitated with sword (flashback)
1 male decapitated with sword (flashback)
1 female decapitated with sword (mentioned)
1 male decapitated with sword
1 male decapitated with sword
1 male decapitated with axe
1 female decapitated with axe
1 boy decapitated (offscreen)
1 male sliced in half with a sword and axe
1 female found killed inside an iron maiden (flashback)
1 elderly male mentioned hanged
1 male bludgeoned with crucifix
1 male shot
1 male gets a thrown wooden fence post through his chest, decapitated with sword
1 female decapitated with axe (flashback)
1 female decapitated with axe (flashback)
1 female killed
total: 26

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Short Shear terror: Terrifier (2011)

Terrifier (2011)
rating: ****
starring:  Marie Maser, Mike Giannelli, Jennifer Castellano

Director and Special effects wiz Damien Leone whips up this demented slasher/horror movie about a lone woman witnessing a brutal murder during one Halloween night, and finds herself being hunted down by demonic looking clown responsible for it.

The story never strays anything more than that, but the execution of the film is anything but bland.

While the premises is a basic set-up for a slasher movie, the story progresses with much twist and turns that slowly degrade into something rather off-putting, and this isn't just because it's very brutal and gory, but direction of the film taps into nightmare logic, wherein anything terrifying can happen and all for little or no reason at all, and it's effectively gripping. Clearly, there's no indication to what's after our lead, but who or whatever the clown is, he's not gonna stay down and let this girl live. This nihilistic and hopeless tone definitely helps bring the terror in Terrifier.

With well-acted roles and realistic gore added along the lines, this twenty minute short becomes a must-watch that I'm proud to have seen and recommend. Especially when Halloween's around the corner...

Bodycount:
1 male dismembered with hacksaw
1 female found with missing hands and her face beaten flat against steering wheel
1 male shot on the head
total: 3

Night of the killer naked mannequin: The Fear: Halloween Night (1999)

The Fear: Halloween Night (1999) (AKA "The Fear: Resurrection")
rating:*1/2
starring: Gordon Currie, Stacy Grant, Phillip Rhys
        
Just when you thought you films like Tourist Trap and Maniac made mannequins quite the most unnerving object in a horror flick, you'll be in a big surprise...

A follow-up to the rarely discussed 1995 horror flick where a small group of friends in a cabin gets killed off by their own fears, Halloween Night brought us yet another group of teenager who are planning to celebrate Halloween in a friend's countryside farm, as well as join him in a ceremony to help them harness their fears. My memory of how exactly this ceremony goes is a complete haze (or whether there is one to begin with) but all I can tell is that it includes dressing up as whatever scares these teens the most in Halloween, which is quite unfortunate for this film's costume department as these kids dress in the lamest costumes ever. (one guy's afraid of taking risky decisions. You know what he dresses up as? A lame sheet with sharpie drawings of question marks all over it. charming...)

Anyway, our hero's biggest fear is his dad, who happens to be a serial killer who murders his victims in theme to their fears. Suggestions say that he's dead now, but our lead is so disturbed about this, he himself is in risk of snapping out of sanity and may be the killer who began murdering his friends after an hour mark. But then again, we also have a disturbingly (and suspiciously) life-sized wooden mannequin named Morty, who looks close enough to being alive. If you know your clichés, or love spoiling yourself with spoilers, then you wouldn't be surprised that it is...

Being made under the success of post-Scream teen slashers, Halloween Night is closer to a dead teenager bodycount flick than its predecessor and yet it fails to be anymore exciting. Even if we do treat this film on its own footing, it's not very much exciting to watch as a lot of mumbo-jumbo about phobias and Native American rituals were tossed around, but it never led to anything but lame teen talk. It strolls along like this in a lovely sluggish pace until Halloween night finally came and the cast starts to drop dead. Unfortunately, even at that the film hardly broke it's blandness streak; kills were tame and occurs mostly off-camera, and a lot of uninteresting survivors popped up in the end, with all the good ones dead.

The biggest complain I have with this movie, however, is that it never utilizes its villain's full potential. Halloween Night tries to play around suggesting our troubled lead is the killer; sadly, this mystery isn't done well, so the revelation of a talking wooden totem isn't much of a shock. (or maybe it is depending on how much of a newbie you are when it comes to these kind of flicks. If you are, then you got a long way to go, buddy...) When Morty begins his killings, he stays with his MO of using fears to do murder, something that has its moments despite its cheesiness, but it's overall underused with so little victims and overly simplistic fears to exploit.

There's nothing to recommend about this movie save Friday the 13th's Betsy Palmer appearing as a kind ole' granny (the one you could hug and feel warm about without the risk of getting a knife on your back), so if you're browsing the stalls of your favorite video shop and/or rentals and see this title, please take notice on the amount of dust and cobwebs hanging all over it. It's there for a good reason...

Bodycount:
1 female hacked with axe
1 female hacked to death with axe
1 male bucked on the head by a horse
1 snake decapitated with switchblade
1 female found slaughered inside a box
1 male thrown through window, falls to his death
1 female had her head smashed against and drowned in toilet
1 male attacked by rats
1 female immolated in car explosion
total: 9

Seriously, what the heck is this guy wearing?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Today, the Garden! Tomorrow, The World!: Slugs(1988)

Slugs: The Movie (Spain/US, 1988) (AKA "Slugs, muerte viscosa")
rating: ***
starring: Michael Garfield, Kim Terry, Philip MacHale

From the brain that brought you the cheddariest slasher to come out from Spain, Juan Piquer Simon, comes a motion picture so grueling, so disgusting, so insane, it's perfect for Halloween Night!...since it's also taking place in Halloween...I think...

Slugs the Movie tells the story of a small town's sudden problem with a horde of slugs invading their gardens. (and their toilets. and their lake) But these are not just any ordinary slugs; they're as big as bananas, have rows of sharp, pointy teeth, and they're hungry for flesh. Ever since they arrived, several people are either attacked and munched on by these tiny terrors, or had succumbed to a strange infection which involve flukes bursting out of their heads.

In a race against time, a healthy department worker, Mike Brady, tries to uncover the origins of these mutant slugs with the help of his biologist buddy (who claims to be an expert on these things and believes slugs naturally have teeth. Yeah, which university did you graduated from again?) and some guy who tends the town's sewers wearing a jersey. They soon discovers that the slugs have been breeding under a toxic dump and are to outnumber the town, leading to certain doom unless they find a way to destroy them.

Oh and Halloween night's coming, so teens are bound to be killed as well. Not that it adds up to anything but let's just humor the fact.
Made to gross out with slime, grime and gore, Slugs: The Movie is a late 80s creature feature with a lot of cheesy moments, implausible biology lessons and a lot of slug attacks. While the plot itself is stretched beyond belief and is understandably laughable, the movie's serious attempt to be, well, "serious" puts it high on the cheese-o-meter that it actually becomes a pretty darn decent ride. High on the bodycount and horrifyingly gory, Slugs showcased the slimiest and skin-crawling kills there is in a semi-slasher-cum-creature film featuring killer invertebrates; we got some dumb teens thrown into the feeding frenzy as one scene actually features a fully nude couple's sexual encounter being interrupted by a floor full of these bastards. Real gross stuff, and sleazily gratuitous as both gal and guy gets covered by giant slugs and pools in their own blood. Other highlights include one business meeting-turned-nightmare as a yuppie who previously ate a soup, unknowingly swimming with slug remains, gets a nasty case of the nose bleed as he ends up infected with parasites that can induce face bursting. 

Interestingly, the cast of older generation characters are quite multi-dimensional and stands above the unlucky teens (and a few other "present-as-victim" casts); they're fairly acted albeit the hammy script and direction, which adds another factor why its Slugs is so fun. Add along a random holiday placement that doesn't do much to elevate the story, and countless explosions that seems to be quite unnecessary for a movie whose greatest foe is a swarm of killer slugs multiplying in the sewage system, and you'll have yourself a B-movie best remembered for its high-stake campiness. (I mean seriously? Why not just salt the whole drainage system? I mean sure you could blow them all up in a fiery blaze of glory, but why damage property if you could just fizz these babies up with salt water?)

The only fault I see here is that there are moments where it drags around with a few people just discussing about the danger. Whether it's believable or not, they're mostly jabbering about things that are either painfully obvious or is plain ludicrous that it's kinda boring. Thankfully, the slug scenes are really worth it, especially since there's so darn plenty of them. (both the number of scenes in the movie and the number of slug props itself)

The late Juan Piquer Simon has definitely made another cult classic here; I could dare say that it's in the same level of recognition of his chainsaw-themed slasher Pieces among horror fans, but whatever you make out of it, Slugs: The Movie is a fun watch for those looking for finer gross-out moments, and more obscure critters as a villain stand-in!

Bodycount:
1 male devoured by mutant slugs (mostly offscreen)
1 male found devoured by mutant slugs
1 male and 1 female immolated in chemical explosion
1 hamster attacked and devoured by mutant slug
1 female devoured by mutant slugs
1 male devoured by mutant slugs
1 male succumbs to parasitic infection, flukes broke out of his face
1 male devoured by mutant slugs
1 male found devoured by mutant slugs
1 female devoured by mutant slugs (mostly offscreen)
1 male devoured by mutant slugs, head seen torn open
total: 12

Friday, October 11, 2013

Trash from Hell: Trailer Park of Terror (2008)

Trailer Park of Terror (2008)
rating: ***1/2
starring: Nichole Hiltz, Lew Temple, Jeanette Brox

Mindless and gory fun galore this way come in this low-profile, zombie-slasher-splatter mash-up!

Opening up in 1981, in a desperate attempt to run away from her trailer trash life, Norma was on her way to meet up with a young preppy guy who promised to whisk her away from drunken nights, drugged-up meat vendors and prostitutes being filmed for amateur pornos. Unfortunately, a trio of disagreeing rednecks got in the way and accidentally killed her lover, forcing Norma to make a deal with the devil to exact vengeance on them all with a mean rifle before taking her own life.

In exchange, she's there to serve him for eternity, massacring anyone who ventures into her domain, the now abandoned trailer park dubbed The Trucker's Triangle. (Roadies get in. No one gets out!)

Twenty seven years had passed, and countless drive-byers disappearing, a group of six hooligans and their young pastor chaperon were returning from a retreat when their bus crashes and left them stranded in the middle of a raging storm. But spotting the seemingly abandoned Trucker's Triangle not far from them, the hapless group had no choice but to take shelter in it, wherein they were warmly welcomed by a still beautiful Norma. Ghost stories and dinners were passed, all seems fine until evening draws nearer to midnight.

What looked like a night of messy yet comfortable stay, the youngsters will soon find out that Norma isn't what she seems; a revenant with an unholy mission, she and a renegade group of undead rednecks are out to kill off these kids for fun, and they're gonna do it while the night is still young, with deep-fried meat and rock-and-roll!

Trailer Park of Terror is what Two Thousand Maniacs! would have been given that all the folks in that town where more zombified, outrageous, a little fewer, and was directed by a more loosened-up Rob Zombie. The film is nothing new when it comes to the gore and kills, but the beauty of it is that, it never was trying to be anything else. It's straight-up redneck horror with victims being tortured and killed systematically in one various manner to the next, which is very impressive given the film's low-budget and tight schedule.

The film is steadily paced around the first act, but it soon picked up by the time the zombies started to show up. Beforehand, the opening scene where Norma's being picked on by neighboring trailer trash was actually pretty strong, emotional and raw, making her character root-worthy with her massacre, though her motives as a zombie temptress threw this off as they were more notorious albeit sickeningly enjoyable as she levels down with her zombified version of her redneck victims. It's almost a curveball throw at us with all that serious tone of the opening gone and steadily became a nearly-comical splatter film with a lot of outrageous scenes, over-the-top gore and undead hicks.

Speaking of which, the zombies themselves were the real star of this film; their designs were well made and the make-up done for it is really impressive. They have more spunk than the victims (which were more stereotyped victims that only had a few lines or moments on screen); we got one who has a huge crush on Norma and acts as her right hand thug, another who has a habit of filming murder-porn, and even one who rocks a mean guitar solo. (and goes knife happy when you touch his trippy "shit") They're mean, sometimes hilarious and they take a lot of attention whenever they're on screen with their whacky interactions. (so much bonding whenever you're putting your bud together with a staple gun!)

Soundtrack is cool, befitting the Southern fried tone of the film with a bit of death metal and the visuals for this film is overall amazing. The only thing I find missing here is that it could had gone away with a more solid story than just zombified killers out for a night of devil's play, but as far as gruesome kills and cool zombies are concerned, I can bypass any flaws we have in tone and direction and just mindlessly switch off to savor it.

Trailer Park of Terror is everything its own title is promising; a perfect party film viewing for all lovers of cheese, viscera and zombie-redneck-torture-families. Very low profile, but overall satisfying!

 Bodycount:
1 male pushed and impaled to a fence post
1 male gets a rifle shot to the head
1 female gets a rifle shot to the eye
1 male gets a rifle shot to the chest
1 male gets a rifle shot to the neck
1 male gets a rifle shot to the head
1 female gets a rifle shot to the chest
9 victims shot with rifle
1 female immolated herself with enflamed gas leak
1 male had his neck broken (flashback)
1 female shot from the back of the head (flashback)
1 male had his head torn off
1 male had his back stomped and crushed
1 female had an arm cut off with electric knife, eaten alive
1 female gets an aspirator shoved down her throat
1 male skinned and dunked in oiling oil
1 male ran over by car
total: 25
The People You'll meet in the Highway to Hell

Monday, October 7, 2013

Them Evol Satanists: Hack-O-Lantern (1988)

Hack-O-Lantern (AKA "The Damning", "Death Mask", "Halloween Night") (1988)
rating: **1/2
starring: Hy Pyke, Gregory Scott Cummins, Katina Garner

Tis' the Dark Holidays once again and it's a usual tradition for us to celebrate it with skulls, candies and... Satanists who does the international love sign? Oooh, boy, this is gonna be a long night...

Tommy Drindel is a shut-in outcast with a love for Rock-and-roll. He lost his dad in an fiery car explosion when he was a wee lad, apparently the doing of his Satanist-warlock grandfather who once raped his own daughter (AKA Tommy's mum, making him the kid's dad AND grampa) one Halloween night years ago.

Now as a grown teenager, Tommy is visited once again by Grampa with promises of great power this Halloween night through a ritual welcoming him to the great bosoms of Satan himself. However, mum (and Tommy's cop brother) is doing her best to change her rockster son's lifestyle and choice, but some sinister force is out there in a cloak and mask, hacking down friends, family and other random people Tommy encounters. Could it be Tommy himself embracing his destiny? Or is it Grampa? Or could it be even Satan himself?!

Hack-O-Lantern is that one kind of slasher film I usually try to avoid; the ones that does nothing to improve the sub-genre and is tacky all over the place, may it be acting, production value or direction. But it does have a level of charm that got me watching it through and through, probably because it's so darn bad, it's laughable.

Mixing Rock-and-roll, Satanism and slasher tropes, Hack-o-Lantern stands out among other horror films that does this approach with its high level of cheddar-rich corniness and obscurely random scenes. One example would be a random music video that appears as Tommy's ominous "nightmare", with three minutes of head-banging heavy metal, demonic babes in thorny bikinis that shoots lasers out of their eyes, and one impossible beheading involving a trident. Then there's also that one scene in the middle of the film that involves one guy doing the lamest stand-up jokes I've seen, that does absolutely nothing for the plot other than to fill up some running time.

For real, if you're brave or curious, watch this film and fast forward to the part where the town hold its Costumed Halloween party. This guy just walked out of nowhere and starts telling jokes for no God-forsaken reason!

The outrageousness doesn't even stop there; littered with casts that overacts their roles, one Hy Pyke (of Bladerunner, albeit a small role) took the biggest slice of this pie as the evil Grampa who lives a rather obvious life as a Satanic leader of a cult who doesn't know the difference between hand sign Devil Horns from that of "Love". (This has to be the most inept evil cult for that matter) Pyke's character talks in this "evil" tone, looks at everyone with constipated eyes and cackles at every end of his sentence; clearly, this guy's so proud of his evil religion he's making no effort to hide it at all!

Tommy, on the other hand is supposed to be a troubled "youth" but the guy playing him, TV's Gregory Scott Cummins, looks too old to be playing a dude who's supposed to be in his 20s. At least he tries to act young, I mean who else would mistake his sister's love-making as a cry of pain and help? Clearly someone as dumb or naïve as this guy!

Everything else is routine as a slasher; T&A is high as almost every lady that showed up in this pic either bared a bosom, or an arse, or both. We got one soapy bubble bath, one going full frontal as "Lady Godiva", and another for a branding scene which I believe served no other purpose but for sleaze. Gore didn't do much here; so far I only counted two or three brightly red kills but the rest were pretty dry or obscured, with a killer that's hardly convincing at all. Heck, I don't even understand what this guy's get-up is supposed to be! So far, I believe it's a demon but it's too darn elaborate (as in averagely plain) to figure out. The party scenes had their silly moments, but it all trails to a rather predictable end that's entirely open for a sequel which will not come to a reality.

It's a rather low entry for a holiday slasher but it ain't all that bad. It's unintentionally funny, silly beyond believable, and overall hammier than pineapple holiday ham! If you're up for some really cheesy horror flick that you could mock up, then get out there and get hacking with Hack-O-Lantern. Hack-O-Lantern. Even the title alone reeks strong dairy...

Bodycount:
1 male brained with hammer, set ablaze
3 males and 1 female disintegrated with laser (dream)
1 male decapitated with pitchfork (dream)
1 female gets a pitchfork to the head
1 male had his head split open with shovel
1 female knifed on the back
1 female garroted with rope
1 male axed on the gut, falls to his death
1 female shot
total: 12

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Chucky's House of Horror: Curse of Chucky (2013)

Curse of Chucky (2013)
rating: ***
starring: Chantal Quesnelle, Fiona Dourif, Danielle Bisutti

After almost a decade since the last entry, Universal Studios finally gave us a follow-up to their Child's Play franchise, albeit toying with us whether this is a reboot or a sequel. While possibility of a reboot is currently (or was?) on talk, Curse of Chucky comes in to satisfy fans, promising that it will return to the serious tone of the first three films.

In this entry, Chucky is back in one piece and mysteriously delivered to the house of one Sarah and her paraplegic daughter named Nica. Believing to be either a prank or a mess-up in the delivery, the two didn't think much about the doll until that night, where Sarah appears to have committed suicide by "stabbing herself".

Flying all the way to comfort Nica in this time of loss is her sister Barb, who tagged along her yuppie husband Ian, their daughter Alice, their live-in nanny Jill and their pastor friend Father Frank. However, it seems that Barb has a secondary intention for the visit when she attempts to make a settlement with Nica to sell the house. Of course, Nica isn't happy with this suggestion, much to the tension coming in between them, but agreed to let her sister's family stay for the night to keep her company and settle this issue in her own terms.

Meanwhile, Alice found Chucky and instantly loves the doll, spending every minute with him much of Nica's approval. This inevitably lead to a bizarre series of deaths and accidents, including electrocution, rat poison and a mean hatchet, all until Nica is left for the picking and a revelation shows what ties lie between her and the killer doll.

Curse of Chucky is honestly good, but not a enough to be a grand onscreen return for our little killer. It tries to build up the same kind of tension that the first three have (and was missing from Bride and Seed), but with so little happening around the first half, the movie practically drags itself around on a scene or two. (Not a bad angle, however, if you would consider how well this worked with the looming gothic feel that provides as much atmosphere as Chucky's creepy stalking.) Due to this, gore was toned down, albeit one or two of them were bloody enough to satisfy a fan.

There's also a matter of the budget being minuscule for this productions, evident on the animatronics used for the doll; though it is quite fine, you can clearly tell how much of the film's money were used on these effects as multiple dolls used looked nothing alike and one kill mostly involves Chucky just staring at his victim as she electrocuted to death. (a really lame one, if you ask me) This also hurts the mythology concerning Chucky being near human underneath his plastic casing, as while it was fun to see Chucky re-attach his own head and survive a knife stab on the back since he's a doll and all, but the earlier films already established that if he was to be stuck inside that plastic body for a long time, he would become more human. Curse made it clear that Chucky was in this doll body for more than a few days now, so why isn't he still all fleshy in the inside? Mancini has a lot to explain...

Not much can be said for the other characters as they're either unlikable or uninteresting, being no more than numbered victims. (Save for Nica, played by Brad Dourif's own daughter, Fiona Dourif) I was expecting Alice, little girl that kept Chucky, to do much more for the sake of pushing the story further into something interesting, but we got none of that and she ends up just being "there". Fiona's Nica character did stand up (ironic word-play. haha) among them due to her disability, but if that's all that makes her noticeable, then the film could have tried harder to make us root for her. (Perhaps put Alice in real danger so she can save her despite her useless legs? That would have been worthy.)

It kinda sounds like I'm complaining much here, but truth be told, Curse is still a hoot as it still delivers some good scares and straight killer doll moments. Chucky's back into being menacing, the second half was fun with twists that are acceptable, and it even gave us a few surprises at the end.

Directly released to video, Curse of Chucky is a slasher struggling to get back into its prime, and perhaps one of the few to try this without undergoing a remake treatment. Perhaps a remake will come as Mancini and Dourif does show some interest in doing it, but for now, if you can overcome Chucky's ever-changing plastic face and cheaper bloodshed, then get ready to be Cursed.

Bodycount:
1 female found stabbed on the gut with scissors
1 male seen killed in car crash
1 male decapitated through car hood from a car crash
1 female electrocuted on a soaked live outlet
1 female knifed on the eye, gouged
1 male had his jaw hacked off with a hatchet
1 male killed, method unknown (flashback)
1 male had his throat cut with kitchen knife
1 elderly female seen with a plastic wrap over her head, killed (?)
total: 9

"I'm gonna keel yew~"