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

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Water Gardens of the Dead: Cabin By The Lake (2000) and Return to Cabin By The Lake (2001) Double Bill Review

Cabin By the Lake (2000)
Rating: ***
Starring: Judd Nelson, Hedy Burress, Michael Weatherly

Sort of low-key as a slasher flick, but otherwise a decently smooth ride for a made for TV flick, Cabin By The Lake puts the tameness into a more acceptable level with a rather simple story that draws us into the life of a serial killer with a work life.

Stanley Caldwell is our resident scriptwriter, working on a slasher flick alone in a cabin by the lake and taking his time to do proper research to make this movie as effectively grueling as possible, much to the annoyance of his agent. The truth, however, is that his so-called "research" is more of hands-on calculated murders wherein he enacts his story's killings on kidnapped girls and study their reactions, right before he tends their bodies underwater in his own personal "garden".

The disappearances goes unnoticed in a small nearby town, and soon another local girl named Mallory was captured and nearly weighed down into the waters to drown, but was rescued by a group of film aficionados testing a dive cam.

Seeing Mallory as the only survivor of the crime, the local cops concocted a plan with the group that saved her to create a life-sized replica of her with a spy-cam hidden in one of the eyes, hoping to capture who the killer is. This sadly fails, and Mallory was soon captured again while cops and friends alike try their best to put the pieces together and find out who's behind the drownings.

Not the most gruesome the sub-genre has to offer, the film still is an entertaining watch for a TV flick since it did provide a lot of interesting elements to keep the story far from being a dragging wreck.

The murders are visibly bloodless, but relatively inventive and distressing, committed by a bewildering and sophisticated villain portrayed by Judd Nelson (whom you some of you may remember as the phone book-jotting killer in Relentless (1989)), whose sole reason for his psychosis is written out along his own screenplay, a twisted take mixing confession and artistic smugness. He has a streak for women that apparently boils deeper inside of him if one would notice how calculated he is in his murders, ironically offing them for the reason that he finds them "more beautiful dead than alive"; one thing I find that makes Nelson's character, and the film entirely, workably creepy.

It has its slow parts, purposely to focus on Caldwell and those who he interacts with, along to those who survived their encounters with him; thankfully this is well-written despite suffering from cheap clichés on amateur snooping and the still-popular-then self-satire started by the outbreak of 90s teen slashers. A worthwhile watch if you're up to something different for your dead teenager films apart from a higher bodycount and more misogynic messes.

Bodycount:
1 female weighed down a lake, drowned
4 females found weighed in a lake and drowned
1 male found hacked on the chest with a cleaver
1 female weighed down a lake, drowned
Total: 7
Return to Cabin By The Lake (2001)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Judd Nelson, Brian Krause, Dahlia Salem

A surprising follow-up, Return to Cabin by The Lake continues the story of one Stanley Caldwell, a screenwriter-slash-serial killer who faked his own death the last time around he got too close on being captured.

Now learning to disguise himself with cheap wigs and glue-on facial hair, Caldwell had now set his eyes on directing his own films after a few "pep talk" with one of his agents. (and soon, victim) Invading the set of a movie based on his own story, he murders his way to a directorial debut, but also finds himself in a predicament where his true identity is in risk of being exposed by relatives of past victims and even some of his own casts. In typical Caldwell fashion, he nonchalantly fixes these problems one by one, may it be through simple manipulation, or simply murder.

If the first Cabin tamed itself down with bloodless kills, Return To set itself lower with three measly killings (though admittedly more varying compared to the first film's) and a more comic tone. This left the film in a sort of state wherein it cannot decide whether it wanted to be a horror film, or a TV thriller with a cheap production, more often at times showing us more of Nelson's character in an attempt to show his screenplay the way he wanted it to be without exposing his true identity to those he wanted alive.

The cast are relatively fun in a cheesy, semi-clichéd way, again taking stabs on cheap slasher film productions and to how our we often we want our villains to be vile. A bit of a running gag is that Caldwell kept restraining the original director's exploited version of his killings, turning down every known horror/slasher tropes such as abused childhoods and sex=death debauchery. Obviously he didn't like anybody butchering his story, so he butchers those responsible for the first act, but the last act definitely walks away from routine, instead strolling slowly through casts, crews and justice-seeking victims becoming suspicious of their new director's off-put behavior.

Almost a drag, but thankfully had Nelson showcase an interesting serial killer with a now more personal mission to keep it from sinking any lower. Not for everybody's taste, but I find it a worthwhile TV time-waster.

Bodycount:
1 female tied to a potted rose vine and weighed down into a lake, drowned
1 male shredded through boat propeller
1 male buried alive in a coffin
Total: 3

Friday, November 29, 2013

When Death Imitates Art: Art House Massacre (2012)

Art House Massacre (AKA "Art of Darkness") (United Kingdom, 2012)
Rating: ***
Starring: Emily Baxter, Martin Laurence, Ryan Elliott  

I didn't know what to expect from a film with a title like "Art House Massacre" but I had my guesses, one of which I fear that I might have grabbed something like that dreadfully mind-fucked German Chainsaw Massacre. (For the record, I was approaching it with a different mindset so I guess blames on me for that one) The good thing was, as it turns out upon seeing it, Art House Massacre was far from a psychedelic, splatter/art film hybrid that I was avoiding, but the drawback was it's seems to be quite tame for a massacre film.

Troubled over the loss of her unborn child a year ago, modeler Liz Richards returns for a shoot in hopes of moving pass the incident, under the support of her husband. Her new shoot just so happens to be located in the middle of nowhere in the country side, in a house preoccupied by a lonesome photographer (and self-proclaimed artist), which was all fine until she noticed the eyeless body in the bathroom. Panicked, Liz was soon captured and held captive, learning that the photographer is actually a deranged psychopath who runs an operation where he uses blood to paint his masterpieces.

Now, as far as I can tell at this point, it may sound like a standard slasher plot, and while it does have its moments, it's really anything but the old road.

Art House Massacre would eventually evolve into more of a low key police procedural thriller as Liz's husband receives her phone call for help and tries his best to locate his wife with the little clues she had left. I do praise this change of tone and style, but sadly, I didn't find it all that engaging thanks to some dodgy acting and lengthy interval. The low budget often a times shows its sad rear end in the film's editing and filming location, which mostly shifts in between Liz in a basement and her husband outside in either a field, or in their home city; we also never get to see any of the more gruesome stuff due to quick cut-aways that tamed down the film. I do believe the sole focus of the film was more on creating suspense over sticky, visceral eye-candy, but it has a tendency to get a bit lost within its own story telling and ends up a bit draggy.

However, it still has its passable pros; In terms of flow and direction, Art House Massacre kept a realistic tone and very few horror flicks actually makes it work that way, so that's a few pointers up. Horror elements are played straight despite the lack of strong bloody scenes, featuring a generally twisted plot point, hence not a total lost for massacre fans. Just a tad shame we never looked deeper into our killer's background, on how he began and pulled off his operations, but it did brought up some neat twists somewhere in the climax that uncovered another reason for his killings.


Likewise, it never felt like the most straight-forwarded of slasher films, nor do I even consider this as one due to its lack of anything that makes a stalk-and-kill flickie save the last ten minutes or so, but true horror fans could give this one a run. Not the best the sub-genre could offer, but for a quick overnight viewing, Art House Massacre is a passable effort.

Bodycount:
1 female stabbed on the eye with scalpel
1 male hacked on the head with axe
1 male bludgeoned with a torch
1 female had organs surgically removed, dismembered with chainsaw
1 male hacked with axe
1 male shot on the head with nailgun
1 male bludgeoned to death with sledgehammer
1 male had his head beaten with sledgehammer
Total: 8

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dwindling Glasses counts as a Kill: Axe 'Em (1992/2002)

Welcome, boys and girls, to another entry of
For this installment; I finally brought up the strength to watch a film so horrendously bad, that despising it seems to be a Galactic Law. So prepare the "Suicide Pistol" or simply to jump out your window, it's time to review:
Bad cheap title card. Yep, this is going to be a long night...
Axe 'Em (1992) (Released in video by 2002) (AKA "The Weekend It Lives")
Rating: -∞ (A Negative Infinity)
Starring: Michael Mfume, Sandra Pulley, Joe Clair

We open the film with a note telling the story of Mr. Mason and how he murdered his family.
...wait...did you they used the word "mean"?
Who uses the word "mean" in a horror movie?!
After this typo-filled opening text, next thing we'll see is a crowd of people talking in muffled audio for a lengthy while until we suddenly shift our attention to some dude in a bad checkered shirt, brandishing a hatchet. He enters a house and murders a old man living there, thus giving us our first kill.

So far, nothing makes sense and it gets worse when we finally get to see our title card, a cheap edit over a footage of African American teens dancing to hip-hop music and telling "Yo Mama" jokes, the latter being the only entertaining thing about this movie...

After what seems like an eternity of an opening sequences, we found out that two random folks from that crowd scene is actually one of our main casts (or something). They're planning to go to the woods for some R&R along with some buds (the usual gig in these films) and it is no surprise that the cabin they're renting happens to be the same one Mr. Mason murdered most of his family. Of course, like any other films in this fair subgenre, someone who we all could assume as Mr. Mason's demented son Harry returns to the very same house to avenge his family's deaths.

Now, this doesn't make any sense; why would Harry avenge his family's death if his father was the one who killed them? I mean, was he gonna dig up his pappy's grave and wrestle with a limp corpse while wailing around in anger? Or are we to expect two boogeymen to grapple with one another? No, not exactly. What we do have is a typical mute killer who does nothing but sneer angrily at the camera and look kinda handicapped. Up there. In the head.

What soon follows is the usual backwoods slasher shtick of a madman in the woods slaughtering teens for no God damn reason, except it's ten times worse than the worst slasher film imaginable (Mine was "Don't Go in to the Woods...Alone!" If there's gonna be a film worse than that, it's this); editing was done with cheap effects, the kills are atrociously silly (one guy's murder was implied with wiggling glasses. Next thing we see, he's dead. What the fuck?).

As far as the story goes, it is plain flat and nauseatingly horrid due to the production's very faulty audio, and the cast's badly acted and written script. (It's so bad that I can't tell if these guys are even trying to make a movie, or are they just playing around with a camera) One scene had a guy trip down on a twig whilst running for dear life and utter out "I've fallen, and I can't get up" (a fave line for those who are powerful enough to withstand the film's stupidity), and another had some group of scurrying teens, after finding a car, goes on for almost an entire minute or two wondering what to do with it (It's a fucking car! Get on it and drive your ass off to safety!)

 Now I don't know about you but if these scenes has to mean anything to me, it's probably gonna sound something like: "Okay, dude, you could either run through the whole shit like a loyal, slasher completist that you are, earning a reputation as the most obsessed Filipino horror fanatic, or just watch the review made by the so-called "Cinema Snob" and rip a few things there, just to save yourself from a nasty headache and purchasing an entire canister of Tylenol, and hope no one would notice the plagiarism."

I could had gotten with the latter, but meh, I just had to be the goody-two-shoes that I am today and see the entire film just for the experience. Hence my lost for words on describing how bad this movie is and a good reason to keep this as short and quick as possible.

I've seen a lot of shitty films, and some even lower than shit (I dunno what's lower than that, but I imagine it'll be very angry and has many tiny legs), but this just took the whole buffet! It fails not only as a slasher film, a horror movie, or even just a plain movie, but it fails as entertainment itself! If I want to see blaxploitation flick, I think I would rather see bad films like Black Devil Doll or even Holla over this cuz at least those titles knew how to make a story worthwhile. Here, there is no story, there is no scares, there is no laughs, just silly people pretending to be actors in a zero-budget movie that the only ones I could imagine enjoying the shit out of this crud are those who're smoking high on prescription drugs and Fanta. Why on Earth would anyone would even think of distributing this is beyond my understanding, but at least I lived through it and I'm ready to move on...

I hope.

Bodycount:
1 male hacked with hatchet
1 female shot with shotgun (flashback)
1 girl shot with shotgun (flashback)
1 boy shot with shotgun (flashback)
1 male shot himself through the mouth with shotgun (flashback)
1 male had his face smashed with a phone
1 male hacked on the back with a machete
1 male beaten to death with a baseball bat (implied through wiggling glasses)
1 male machete to the head
1 female had her face slashed with a machete
1 male shot to death
Total: 11

Sunday, November 17, 2013

More than Mischief: Richard Schenkman's Mischief Night (2013)

Mischief Night (2013)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Ian Bamberg, Noell Coet, Adam C. Edwards
Directed: Richard Schenkman

Ah yes, Mischief night. That one time of the year teens and kids alike use as an excuse to be assholes right before Halloween the next day. What appears to be another story of a girl terrorized by a loon in her own house, this simple home invasion slasher from a guy who used to direct Playboy videos and that atrocious Asylum film Abraham Lincoln vs Zombies is nothing but fair and decent.

Mischief Night follows one Emily, a girl whose guilt from a fatal car accident that took her mother's life had somehow took her will to see as well, rendering her "mentally blind". What seems to be another ordinary Mischief Night for her will soon turn for the worse when she's left alone in her own home after urging her own father to go on a date, unaware that someone in a yellow rain slicker and a ghoulish mask had set their eyes on her. Taunted and preyed upon, Emily has no choice but to try and use her remaining instincts to protect herself and those who try to come to her aid.

Now, I'm a man with a simple needs when it comes to slasher films; so long as it keeps me engaged and provide me some juicy stalker action and murders, I can ignore any minor flaws and just love the movie for plain entertainment.

Mischief Night lacks any new substance or twists for that matter, but I do love the flow of the story and all the glorious mayhem that is occurring right in front of me as it tries its best to focus more on Emily's fight and flight antics, taking its time to build some silent tension as a home invasion hybrid. In fact, after the oddly acted opening double murder, the film slows down from the attacks and trails us through some time alone with our lead and see how she functions in her situation, despite her condition.

I actually like that fact we got a strong and somewhat spunky teen lead here that we could feel good rooting for. She's a bit rude and haughty but she's determined to go through great lengths in the end to save what remains of her family from an intruder who is doing all this just because it's mischief night.

Unfortunately, the fact that it is trying to be more than a bodycount-riding slasher by building character and suspense might be the film's own downfall. With nothing new to the story save a crass but likable lead, the film could easily mislead all those who're expecting a low-brow, cheesy dead-teen film to something they're not completely prepared for, thus a conflict of taste and some slight betrayal for hardcore gore fans.

I personally have no problem with the film's well-intended attempt to do something different for the sub-genre since it does little to disappoint. It maybe a tad dry on the grue department (with one messy kill among many to boast), cheap on scares, paces like a snail, and features the most pointless twist reveal yet, Mischief Night is a welcomed viewing for those cold Autumn nights before Halloween. Worth a watch!

Bodycount:
1 male killed, method unknown
1 female killed offscreen
1 female knifed through the throat
1 male shot
1 male axed on the back
1 female killed in car crash (flashback)
1 male eviscerated with chainsaw
1 male shot on the chest
Total: 8

Psycho Ala 70s Muzak: Three on a Meathook (1973)

Three on a Meathook (1973)
Rating: **
Starring:  Charles Kissinger, James Carroll Pickett, Sherry Steiner

While not as bad I thought it would be, director William Girdler's proto-slasher Three on a Meathook certainly needs to be a lot more than be just another twisty story of exploitative murder, supposedly remaking Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho for the skidrow moviegoers. Not entirely the case, but otherwise hinted as the film's two halves definitely divides the film's focus.

The first part of the film had four girls out on the road for some R&R and the occasional skinny-dipping, but after their car broke down that night, they have no choice but to accept a generous offer held out to them by a seemingly good Samaritan living in a nearby farm with his father. Anyone who'd seen Psycho can easily tell these girls are doomed and true enough, someone goes knife crazy on one of them whilst soaking in a tub (a rather lame variation to our beloved shower scene), all before shooting and decapitating the rest of them.

As morning comes, Billy (this film's take on Norman's character and the one responsible for bringing the girls in for tonight) soon discovers (or rather told by his father) that he had murdered them, apparently an issue he is suffering from ever since his mum died. Dad promises he'll cover up the crime but asks Billy to leave for a while, fearing he might do more murder.

But is Billy really crazy? This little nick of originality places Three on a Meathook on a fair spot as a watchable yet ineptly early take on the backwoods and cannibal slasher sub-genre, beating both The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and United Kingdom's little gem Frightmare by at least a year. As far as the mystery goes, not only is the killer's conveniently obscured from our viewing, but hints are given that Pa might not be all up there as well, especially if his pride and joy happens to be the family's homemade sausages (Hmm, I wonder if the film's title is any indication for this...), giving us enough of a red herring to keep watching and guessing who's who is really crazy and chopping up women into smithereens.

Some fun stuff from the first half, but after the massacre, Girdler's direction had us slowly walking through cheap hammy montages of Billy walking down streets, trying to get drunk but ends up lucky instead when his non-sober arse was picked up (and cleaned. Yeah you heard me. Cleaned) by a willing waitress, who he later met in the morning in her bed. No grainy grit or bad acting could even elevate these moments from being mind-draining boring, and it really felt like forever before we discover the family's twisted secrets and some revelations that we never saw coming. Nevertheless, Three on a Meathook picked up some fascinating ends by then, so it's not a total lost after what appears to be an eternity of nothing.

I could consider this movie as the kind of rental you could pass through unless you had nothing better to do. It's not the best example of a well made pre-Texas Chainsaw Massacre slasher flick, but it's far from unwatchable on its own thanks to, at least, some interesting set-up.

Bodycount:
1 female knifed to death
1 female shot with shotgun
1 female shot on the gut with shotgun
1 female decapitated with hatchet
1 female seen dead (flashback)
1 female hacked on the gut with pickaxe
1 female hacked on the back with meat cleaver
Total: 7

After School Theatrics of Doom: The Clown At Midnight (1999)

The Clown At Midnight (Canada, 1999)
Rating: ***
Starring: Christopher Plummer, Margot Kidder, Sarah Lassez

My history with The Clown at Midnight didn't start out quite well; first seeing the film during my transition from high school to college, my need for gore and fast paced horror turned me off upon seeing it. I was young(er) and a tad picky, thus I left the film alone for almost 5 years. Now, just to see if my years of experience as a slasher fanatic may have improve my judgment, I decided to see it again and figure out why I disliked it before; the thing is, not only did I saw very little that is wrong from the film, I also came to enjoy it! (So I guess I was just a noob then?)

Troubled teenager Kate and six of her classmates and friends were assigned by their drama teacher to help out in renovating an old run-down and donated theatre which closed down years ago after some bad publicity involving a murdered opera star. Said victim just so happened to be Kate's mother so she's understandably uneasy.

Things turn stranger and deadlier however when, while doing some of the clean-up the next day, someone in a full clown's get-up is seen skulking around and began to murder the students one at a time. It soon becomes apparent that whoever snuffed Kate's mum back then is still around and he's up to his old murderous ways again.

Perhaps what makes The Clown at Midnight a slight drag is that it offers nothing new to the sub-genre; the plot is paper thin with the basics, from paint-by-number murders that are the least inventive to a cast of stereotyped single-dimensional teens who does the obliviously cliched. (Although one of them says he'll try not to. We could give that poor shmuck some credit) The only variation they put to this set-up was that our lead somehow acquired the gift of sight and began seeing visions of her mother's murder. This eventually leads to a sort-of mystery on who the killer might be but it's not that fleshed out, instead focusing on the killer clown's attack on her friends.

Still, on a right mind set, The Clown at Midnight isn't all that bad; While the cast are stereotyped, most of them are likable enough to at least feel bad for when they die. This is perhaps because, as mentioned in the above paragraph, some of them were trying to be different; we got a gay guy here that actually puts up a fight with the killer, a jock that is picked on this peer (including his own girlfriend!) and one bad-ass rebel who turns out to be a movie aficionado, who even goes as far as quoting Lon Chaney's infamous "clown at midnight" bit. While not being hunted down by a guy in face-paint, these kids even thrown in some quip moments and dialogues to give us a few chuckles. Its these little surprises that works a bit right and had at least made the film bearable in its moments and an effective feeling of catharsis when the killing starts.

The titular clown is a mixed egg for me; while he does try to be creepy by looming around in the shadows before murdering them, he doesn't have much of an impact in his presence. Perhaps this is because he acts more like a straight-forward slasher villain that lashes out at his victims the moment he sees them rather than the kind that teases and jerks around, build some good suspense and creep factor. Could be just me, though, but he also looked very plain.

The Clown at Midnight may not be the biggest when it comes to plotting and twisting its story for something entirely new and exciting, but its a fair effort and passable entertainment for all slasher fans. If you like your slasher simple and not too overly gory, and yet still delivers, let this be your opera.

Bodycount:
1 female knifed repeatedly in the chest
1 female had her head hacked with an axe
1 female strangled with a necklace
1 female stabbed through a wall in the back and out the chest with a spear
1 male electrocuted with severed live-wire through a metal chair
1 male falls off roof of the theater
1 female decapitated with axe
1 male pushed off catwalk, falls to his death
1 male dropped through trap door and impaled onto spearheads
Total: 9

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Schizos and Weeds: Mother's Day Massacre (2007)

Mother's Day Massacre (2007)
Rating: **1/2
Starring:  Adam Scarimbolo, Emily Grace, Heidi Kristoffer

Strange is definitely the word I'm looking for right now whenever I see this. May it be the good or the bad kind, however, is debatable.

Mother's Day Massacre opens with a woman confronting a white trash mother in her home, demanding to see a man who may be responsible for something horrendous done to her. In a fit of rage, she accidentally knocked a pan full of boiling bacon oil over one of the mum's babies and ends up bludgeoned to death with the same frying pan in manic motherly revenge.

Moving forward to the present, the story shifts to one awkward teenager named Jim being urged by his girlfriend (?) to take a road trip with their buds as they try to score some weed. By the time they get to their secret stash, however, they instead ran afoul with a pair of mentally challenged and completely homicidal brothers who waste no time slaughtering them. What soon follows is something rather different, but it will eventually lead up to a revelation that ties these horrific events and bloodshed together, and questions who will live and die.

In a nutshell, Mother's Day Massacre is an unusual and incoherent mayhem of a piece that mixes slashers with a bit of weird drama and teen angst. In fact, it never felt like a straight slasher in most of its running time, but rather more of a tragic teen story that's drenched in blood.

Sadly, I find it hard to fully enjoy the film since I can't root for anyone and some of these scenes just doesn't make any sense. We get plot points such as Jim's girlfriend considering taking an abortion and a hypnotherapists who uses his skill in ordering dazed women into giving him blowjobs, but none of these lead to anything but make these characters completely unlikable. So apart from being confused for a bit with the film's constant flash-forwarding, I can't connect with the film entirely.

The pros, however, are that it tries to break some of the norms of a slasher movie which makes it unpredictable and kinda original. Those you wanted to die or live may not live through your expectations (a questionable move depending on your taste), the direction shifting focus on one character to the next, making you wonder where all of this is going to lead to as a story. It's still far from tame, of course, with the murders fair in count and albeit not entirely gory, savage enough to please our crowd. Plus, the finale is a definite must see, as it is bound to leave mouths agape and questioning what the heck just happened, or if this is really all to it?

Acting is quite good and the production value looks surprisingly well despite the B-Movie quality budget. There's no denying it's still the same low-budget trash we often get in independently made horror flicks, but it has a bit of style in its grit and some diamonds in its roughs, so despite its shortcomings, I stand appreciating the lurid and strange work that is Mother's Day Massacre, a title that is a tad misleading, too weird on its own and exploitative all throughout.

Bodycount:
1 female bludgeoned to death with frying pan
1 dog found slaughtered
1 male axed on the back, groin cut with hunting knife
1 female killed off camera
1 male hacked to death with axe
1 male hacked to death with axe
1 female shot on the eye
1 female had her face shot off with rifle
1 female shot on the eye
Total: 9

When Mimes are Hellsent: All Hallow's Eve (2013)

All Hallow's Eve (2013)
Rating: ****
Staring:  Katie Maguire, Mike Giannelli, Catherine A. Callahan

My first encounter with Damien Leone was during my first year in college, when I came upon his creepy short about demons and witches befittingly titled The 9th Circle. The short was hellish and it freaked out the inner child within me. And then, just a year prior from writing this, I encountered another one of his shorts, a slasher-esque holiday horror known as The Terrifier (which I already made a review of here), which is impressive in a haunting sense.

For this review, I will be covering Leone's first "feature length" film, sold direct to video known as All Hallow's Eve, collecting two of his shorts and adding a new material with a workable wraparound.

The movie starts at the home of two young trick or treaters, who just came back from the streets with their babysitter. Upon checking their haul, one of them notices a VHS tape slipped in with the candies and, despite a bit of a hesitation from their understandably weirded-out sitter, decided to watch it out of curiosity.

As it turns out, the VHS is a collection of various short films linked by the presence of one demonic-looking mime. After watching the first film, the sitter sent the two children to their beds, more freaked out than ever, but curiosity soon sets in as she continues to watch the rest of the films on her own. The more she does, however, the more she began to notice weird things happening around the corner of her eyes. It soon becomes apparent that she may be living a nightmarish story of her own.
Seize the night, kid. It might be your last...
All Hallow's Eve is actually a great holiday movie, perhaps one of the better Halloween themed horror flicks in recent times. My only complain, however, was that I really wished the producers could at least done something more creative than to rehash and re-introduce the director's original short films that were already made available in Youtube. It was as if they believe that around this day and age, we can't grab hold of a copy of the shorts The 9th Circle and Terrifier in their original format online and the only way for us to see them again was through this movie. Sadly, this is not the point. It's lazy, but it's not entirely bad on its own.

The vibe of Halloween is ever present despite the film's overly cheap production, and the tone is heavy and creepy all through out, especially if the film's own mascot (and perhaps a candidate for the next new face of slasher horror) just happens to be an evil mime named Art the Clown, who does nothing but wreck havoc of all form and laugh silently at your misery.

The series of shorts starts with the director's first film, which is The 9th Circle, telling the tale of a girl waiting alone in a train station one Halloween night, only to be harassed, drugged and captured by Art, readying her for a bloody orgy involving demons, witches and even Satan himself. This segment was actually extended with shot of additional footages, mostly to heighten the bodycount and stretch the film's running time. The overall result was an atmospheric, gruesomely macabre nightmare with cool looking (and impressively detailed) demons and one fucked up story that's just too dreadful to believe.

The second, which was the only short made for the film, involved a newly moved wife who finds herself stuck inside a house, stalked by what appears to be an alien. This segment was more akin to slasher films with its stalk and hunt format, with the human killer replaced by a visitor from outer space. (who I admit looks a little funny than scary) It's the most simplistic in terms of plot and relatively bloodless as no onscreen kill was committed, but in place of these, the short effectively executed brooding tension and a nice variation to the sub-genre.

The last segment, also the strongest, was Terrifier, a simple story of a woman driving back to New York during the Witching Hour, only to find herself targeted by none other than Art the Clown himself (now in his full slasher glory) right after she witnessed a horrific murder. The short is tight, quick in pace, overly gory and exploitative. The segment definitely wins as a short horror with its nightmare logic sense of direction and one of the most shockingly disturbing ending done in horror short history.

The wraparound was also one of the film's little highlights; while it is a little slow and the ending took a few elements from the Japanese horror The Ring, I love the sense of intensity it had in its climax, all of which gone haywire with the reveal of yet another shocking end and its all throughout creepiness.

I like the fact on how each segment seems to be entirely different from one another in terms of theme, style and approach. (save two, which are both slashers in their core) The sheer randomness of each scenario plays certainly well to bring out some chills and bloody spills, and frankly, I'm just glad it was all handled well as one whole movie, even if the producers had to cheat with the segments. Production looks professional enough as moodily composed synthesizer scores brings out the film's potential eeriness, acting was by far passable with a bit of realism, and while the special effects does look a bit dodgy at times (seeing these segments are film in separate years), they are impressive despite the cheap latex.

Be sure to keep an eye out for this! If you can look pass the fact you'd already seen some of these films, and at least appreciate the creative means to bring them all together in one running piece, then All Hallows' Eve awaits for you. And so does Art. Especially if you leave the movie running...

Bodycount:
1 female dragged away in chains, killed
1 female hacked to death with meat cleaver
1 pregnant female had her fetus cut out with a dagger
1 female killed (method not seen)
1 male dismembered with hacksaw
1 female found with her hands cut off and her face bludgeoned flat against a car steering wheel
1 male shot on the head
1 boy and 1 girl dismembered
Total: 9
No Prayers can save you from this nightmare...