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

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Curse of the Evil Jet Pilot: Blood Relic(2005)

Blood Relic (2005)
Rating: **
Starring:  Billy Drago, Joshua Park, Jennifer Lauren Grant

At 1983, a fighter pilot named Hank Campbell goes crazy and murdered some of his colleagues, seemingly under the influence of a cursed talisman. (We know this cuz we saw him holding it, experience weird obscure flashbacks after doing so, and violently coughed blood at a mirror. Y'know, the usual supernatural possession gig)

He was caught no soon after, unknown to them that he had hidden the talisman in a hidden compartment and plans to get it back upon his release. Which will be 22 years later, in the present. By then, the hangar's transformed into an air & space museum, wherein a group of teenagers with sex and booze in mind worked at, and plans on hanging out at after their shifts are over. Of course, this calls for the arrival of a killer fighter pilot in full gear and helmet, but could this be Campbell underneath the helm? Or somebody else full of rage?

As cheap as disposable razor and it shows on more than one occasion, Blood Relic can be challenging to watch due to the fact that it is terrible cliched and underwhelmingly cheap. It was one of the few titles I was hoping to see solely because of what the killer was wearing and the plot-point that it all took place inside a museum, a location that already proved itself a wonderland of potential havoc with films like Wishmaster (1992) and The Lamp (1987, AKA The Outing). Sadly, due to the budget, the entire film instead took place in the old hangar inside of an air & space museum, which means not only are we left with boring long hallways and cheap-looking break rooms for the slaughter to take place on, but the killings are hardly memorable or unique as the props and displays were never that implemented into the story.

Instead, the get the basic slasher plot of dumb and sexed up teens drinking beer, being jerks, getting it on with rape fantasies (no, really), doing random seances, before meeting their demise at the hands of a killer fighter pilot with the ability to not only strip a victim naked, but noose her and rig said noose to a door as an elaborate trap in a matter of a single minute or two. (I'm more concerned at the fact he had to strip the victim naked. Was there really a need for that?)

To be frank, easy and logicless killings are a few things I can actually accept coming from a cheap slasher, but to make the last third so dull and slow with all the useless expositions that we pretty much figured out halfway into the film? That's bound to bore and/or upset some folks, more even when the film decided to throw off a rather ridiculous twist ending that has its smart moments, but overall a "meh"-worthy way to end a B-grade shlock. (And even at that, Blood Relic was dang slow. Jesus, just die already, killer! Stop talking!)

Not gonna lie, Blood Relic had the potential of being a good film if the producers have the budget to work with. It seems like they already pictured a unique slasher with the inclusion of a cursed talisman, an idea that I really like, but I guess the lack of funds had them doing things the "standard" way and gave us this insufferably bland bodycounter instead. I did also like some of the scenes in the middles, mostly the brutal snuffings that occurred there, but that's all there is that I find enjoyable from this title.

Shame, really; if you want to give it a shot, I won't stop you, but if you want a real museum carnage, I recommend The Lamp if you're into low-budget B-flicks, or Wishmaster if you like moderate-budget b-flicks!

Bodycount:
1 male stabbed on the head with a hunting knife
1 male shot
1 male shot
1 male shot
1 male had his neck slashed with a knife
1 male hacked with an axe
1 female hacked to death with an axe
1 female knifed to death
1 male killed, later found gutted
1 female hanged on a wire noose
1 female found decapitated
1 male found murdered
1 male bludgeoned to death with a board
1 female pushed back-first to a buzzsaw
Total: 14

Monday, January 25, 2016

Orchard House of Terror: Grandmother's House (1989)

Grandmother's House (1989) (AKA "Grandma's House")
Rating: ***
Starring: Eric Foster, Kim Valentine, Len Lesser 

With their mother gone years ago and recently losing their father, David and his older sister Lynn are now parentless; fortunately, they still have two loving grandparents who are more than happy to take them in and allow them to live a comfortable life next to a beautiful orange orchard.

But things aren't as sweet as it seems when, later that night, David caught a glimpse of his grandparents attacking and apparently killing a wandering woman near their new home. Unsure if what he saw was real or not, the boy decide to ignore this as much as he can, which is easier said than done when more bizarre things start happening at the orchard. As each day passes, David grows more uneasy with his grandparents and begins to question his own sanity, as well as survive a sudden deadly turn for his new life when a knife-wielding psychopath decided to show up.

Quality-wise, Grandmother's House is a neat thriller with a commendable atmosphere and visuals, many of which plays well in building up the intrigue concerning the character's situation as everything around the titular house isn't what they seem to be; the grandparents are obviously hiding something but when a certain character suddenly began to appear alive and (un)well over and over again, seemingly stalking our lead boy, the film toys around with expectations and delivers more than one twists to catch us off guard.

The problem, however, is that not all of these twists work; the first sets the movie shifting into a different tone as a rather workable slasher. In here, a maniac begins to work their way through a beautiful orchard and various bystanders with their trusted knife, intent on catching the children. The chase scenes here are among the bests I've seen in a bodycounter, enough to actually make me forgive the little killings occurring then when the stalk-and-slash set-pieces were viable enough to be intense, scary, and even a little adrenaline-fueled once the killer grabbed hold of a convenient truck. (Think the opening of Jeepers Creepers only in an orchard and two kids trying to outrun the vehicle on foot)

Sadly, once the chase is over and the film prepares to wrap things up for a finale, the story messily works its way to this; characters act weird (like dangerously weird) and we are suddenly slapped on the face with this last minute shocker that both confirmed and revoked our assumptions. I frankly don't know what to make of it (it just came out of nowhere), but seeing how weird some of the acting and scripting were prior to this, I guess it's in par with the movie and that makes it "okay" on a B-flick standard.

Grandmother's House is good when it wants to be and it shows on the majority of the play; I love the little mystery and little slasher scenes but I think they could have acted some of these scenes better and tie all the events up in a more impressive finale. Nothing that big to be considered a fan classic but a decently fair run as a rentable title. I say give this house a try!

Bodycount:
1 female body seen (dream)
1 boy knifed to death (dream)
1 male body found underwater
1 male knifed to death
1 elderly female found stabbed to death
1 female gutted with a knife (mostly offscreen)
1 elderly male hacked to death with an axe
Total: 7

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Yo-Ho-Horror: Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter's Cove (2005)

Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter's Cove (2005)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Rhett Giles, Tom Nagel, Kristina Korn

Homicidal clowns, maniacal robots, avenging wildmen, and even Bigfoot itself. What else can we throw in as a slasher villain?

How about a supernatural undead pirate?

Technically, if one would consider John Carpenter's 1981 horror flick The Fog as a slasher (or at least a slasher/ghost story hybrid), this isn't the first time we have an undead pirate causing havoc and bloody killings. But unlike the mushy foggy specters of Carpenter's semi-classic, the titular monster here was closer to your standard quip-talking B-grade horror villain, which is either cringe worthy or funny depending on your taste on slasher flicks.

At the seaside town of Cutter's Cove, six teenagers were having fun that night until two of them decided to up their game by, what else, having sex. Finding a good spot next to a conveniently (and I mean conveniently) unearthed treasure chest, the couple decided to open their find and see if there will be any loot inside; instead, they found a skull, which should send them gagging but, for some reason, these kids laughed at it instead and threw it into the water. (Its either these teens have strong stomachs or they're insensitive. Possibly both.)

However, by doing so, they awakened and revive the infamous Jolly Roger, an undead pirate hellbent on killing off the descendants of his traitorous crew back in the pirating days. Fortunately for him, all of the descendants of said crew reside in Cutter's Cove (how...favorable for him), so he wastes no time starting on his massacre, starting with the teens. (Of course) Two of these unlucky teeners survived, a dull troubled couple whose account of a rotting pirate dismembering their friends didn't sit too well with the local cops and are now on the run cuz the boyfriend has a police record for beating the tar out of someone many moons ago, thinking this might worse their situation. (Oh, and running away from the cops wouldn't?)

As the two lovebirds try to find out what or who killed their friends, Jolly Roger goes on with his business of decapitating doomed bloodlines, easily weeding them out by using his otherworldly powers while spatting out pirate-themed one liners and even getting frisky at a local strip club. (The latter, I kid you not) It soon becomes a race against time before more folks are slain, and it's up to the teen love dolts and a convinced detective to stop it

Coming from the indie film company The Asylum (which many of you would have known for their infamously cheap mockbuster titles), I guess I should have seen a lot of the terrible coming from this movie, but what surprised me is that this dreck actually had some fun moments in it.

Read, "some"; while the scenes involving our living characters were as dull as watching a tortoise outwalk an old guy with a walker, something that the atrocious acting and scripting didn't help elevate, when it comes to the supposed horror scenes, the titular villain somehow help lessen the low-quality blow with his cheesy personality, hilariously bad pirate one-liners and the decent gore effects used for the massacre itself. Whenever he is around to either terrorize or do his devil's deed of collecting heads, it's bound to be an odd scene as almost all of the characters that he interact with seems barely fazed at the fact they're looking at a decomposed corpse walking and talking to them. (Let alone said walking talking corpse is a pirate) It can be a little awkward but hey, so long as it ends with one headless idiot or two, I'm sold!

Personally, I believe the real blow-back this film suffers from is the budget itself; the idea is a fun one and judging from the Jolly Roger make-up, the producers really liked it as well, but if only they had the money to better the quality, the story, or even the talent, I bet my soul that this movie would have been cult-classic worthy for its silliness and demented shlock.

If the movie's lack of logic and credible backdrop hadn't given you a clue that Jolly Roger wasn't meant to be taken seriously as well, then I guess the real problem here is you. Massacre at Cutter's Cove is a film made for B (or even Z) grade film enthusiasts, people who can stomach the stupidity and weirdness that only these kind of films can offer. While it's no winner on my book as a "good" horror movie, I can look past the unimpressive audio and video, questionable talents, and ridiculous premise for an hour and 20 minutes of low budget Yo-ho-horror. Approach with caution but try not to let it get into you and remember to loosen up!

Bodycount:
1 female had her shoulder sliced with a sword
1 male hacked with a sword
1 female ran through the head with a stick
1 male decapitated with a sword
1 male decapitated with a sword
1 female scared to a heart attack, dies
1 male shot with a musket, neck sliced until head tore off
1 male had an arm torn off, bludgeoned to death
1 female decapitated with a sword
1 male had his throat cut until beheaded
1 male set ablaze, decapitated with a sword
3 male heads seen
1 female decapitated with a sword
1 male ran through with a sword
Total: 16

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Late Night 80s Munchies: Lost After Dark (2014)

Lost After Dark (2014)
Rating: ****
Starring: Sarah Fisher, Mark Wiebe, Jesse Camacho

Set in 1984, a group of eight teenagers decided to ditch prom night and steal their school bus to drive all the way to a friend’s lake view cabin for fun times’ sake. That was until they broke down in the middle of the backwoods road and the only house nearby was that once belonging the infamous Joads, a family of murderous cannibals who were killed for their crimes a long time ago. Hoping to find shelter and something they could use to get help, the group went on completely unaware that the remaining Joad son still lurks there, setting his teeth and an assortment of farming tools on hunting them down for food.

Among the many slasher films of late were throwback attempts to recapture the grit, simplicity, and entertainment from the bygone days of the 80s, the slasher film's golden age. While many of these throwback films were comical or cheesy in nature, Lost After Dark apparently tried and take the subgenre back to a serious route which was surprisingly enjoyable and effective as a straight run through the classic backwoods slasher with a surfeit of assortment victims and a bloodier set of killings to make any gorehound happy.

Taking cues from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Friday the 13th (1980) and Madman (1982), the movie is pretty much like any of these backwoods hack-a-thon, taking a much-needed direction of build around its casts and their situation first before letting the maniac have his way with them, much like how earlier entries like The Burning and Just Before Dawn went with their plotting and pacing. This normally calls for some cheesy moments and awkward character interactions but the movie kept this to a minimal and instead made an effort with its script and flow, thus winding up with supposedly clich├ęd characters with some level of depth varying per cast.

We get this for half the running time and once the killings start, Lost After Dark further surprises us by handling their blood and gore with a style reminiscent of both old school and modern horrors, something that most throwback slashers tried and succeed at a certain level. (Though I’m yet to see any of them use a “missing reel” gag as effective as this film did) This being said, you can expect a lot of practical effects being put into good splashy use as the Joad son do nasty disembowelments, a good dose of machete kills, and one fair tribute to Lucio Fulci’s obsession to eye mutilations to keep the blood and guts flowing.

With those expected to survive longer dispatched early and the lengths some took to stay alive, the film also made sure that we are treated to something different once in a while, leaving many of us guessing who will be left to fend for themselves, leading to a climax with an unexpected final girl going through enough of an ordeal to earn her worth. I guess if there will be any drawback, it's that the ending may feel one exposition too long, with a final shot that simply shouts “sequel-friendly”. It's a little tired as a cliche, but this hardly dents the overall final product.

Lost After Dark is all what it is; a fun bloody slasher that does a lot of the right and little of the wrong. The characters are likable if not interesting, the killer is pretty rad despite looking like your average hobo, and the murders are blood-red juicy, all done with a rather competent looking production that looks, sounds and feels like a lost 80s horror movie.  If you love slashers, particularly 80s slashers, then this is a treat you shouldn’t pass up.

Joads be damned and hunt you down if you ever pass this one up!

Bodycount:
1 female found hanged
1 female forced to a bear trap, crushed
1 male had his throat slashed with a hunting knife
1 female hacked on the gut with a hoe
1 male skewered with an antique barn beam drill
1 male pushed eye-first to a glass shard
1 male found wrapped in barbwire, bled to death
1 dog had its neck snapped
1 female ran through with a pitchfork
1 male crushed underneath a car
1 female repeatedly bashed against a tree
1 male decapitated
1 male implied shot (flashback)
A number of Joad clan members shot (implied in flashback)
1 male seen murdered
Total: 14+

Saturday, January 16, 2016

And just like that...

I turned 24 years old back at January 15.

And found out that Angus Scrimm, who played the infamous Tall Man in all Phantasm movies, died back at January 9th.

I guess that's one drawback of being a 90s baby-slash-horror fan: you get to see and experience all of these wonderful horror flicks back at the good old days, love them and, for some, admire their monsters, only to realize that the wonderful actors who played these monsters have aged significantly around these days. I guess this is why entertainers from actors to musicians put a lot of effort whenever they're on screen or air. So we can remember them for their talent and become immortal.

And with the kind of character Mr. Scrimm was known for, I guess he already had that made: I'll be frank, The Tall Man is one of the two movie monster that actually scares me, the other being The Devil's Rejects version of Otis B. Driftwood. The fact that this monster seemingly have full control over his life and the life of others, as well as being armed to the teeth with impossible weapons and an army of various lackeys, both living and undead, is enough of a reason why I am thankful that he is pure fiction.

Still, I have Mr. Scrimm to thank for the gloomiest horror franchise I've ever laid eyes on (Yeah, no. No matter how comical Phantasm III was, in the end you can't help but feel gloomy over that fact that there seems to be no end to The Tall Man's reign) and I do pray him a good afterlife and/or loving memories from his family, friends and fans.

So, I'm 24 years old. What does that mean?

Absolutely nothing. I will continue being a geek but perhaps learn to mature a bit. Rome wasn't build in a day, as they say, so here's to more birthdays to come and hopefully, some good slashers this year!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Phantom Limb: Body Parts (1991)

Body Parts (1991)
Rating: ***
Starring: Jeff Fahey, Lindsay Duncan, Kim Delaney

Medical mayhem steps up once again to thrive on our horror fondue.

In this mini-cult hit, criminal psychologist, college professor and family man Bill Chrushank (Jeff Fahey) questions the point of his job as he wonder "where evil resides". Things unfortunately took a turn for the worse and drastic when he goes through a vehicular accident that costs one of his arms.

At the hospital, Dr. Agatha Webb (Lindsay Duncan) convinced Bill’s wife Karen (Kim Delaney) to have her husband undergo an immediate arm transplant, with a limb already made ready from a disclosed donor. After the surgery, Bill tries his best to adjust with the new body part but it seems to come with a sinister secret; visions of murder plagues Bill's sleep and more often than not, the arm appears to act out on its own. It wasn't long before the maddening sights and the erratic tendencies of the arm strain Bill's relationship with not only his family, but also his job and himself, and he sought to find where the limb came from.

As a horror thriller, Body Parts is relatively bizarre in the plotting department, with a nearly predictable sub-plots and elements that had been done before from TV shows like 1971's Night Gallery (its episode "The Hand of Borgus Weems" shares a similar premise) to other movies like John Carpenter's TV film Body Bags. (more precisely its "Eye" segment which involved a man suffering from visions after an eye transplant) Despite this, I am glad that the movie works quite alright thanks to a solid direction, superb onscreen talents, and a good splash of the red stuff at the right moment.

In a way, the movie follows a pot boiler flow where we watch our lead go through something we might already know, rooting for him to pick up the pieces and figure out what is going on. What made this go well was that there's a big emphasis that something supernatural is afoot; visions of murder and murdered people haunts not only Bill but two other transplant patients who received limbs from the same donor. The other donors try to approach the events nonchalantly and are simply just satisfied that they are mobile again until, that is, something brutal happens.

This leads to a big twist that involves a medical experiment and a rampaging psycho tearing off body parts and collecting them. It was around this part where it got a bit slasher-esque with the arrival of a sudden maniac that no one saw coming, dashing out some decent looking attacks and gory murders that puts practical effects on a good splashy use.

With this sudden tone shift, it's nearly inevitable that there would be a lot of plot holes and outrageous set-pieces that makes little sense by the minute. It's a rather weird move but since we were already being treated with visions of people being strangled just because someone gave somebody a "bad arm", this kind of twist was quite fun in its silly B-flick way, and, seeing majority of the play was already leaning to an aged 90s midnight movie feel, it's very welcome and in tone with the plot.

The overall product is a decent enough timewaster that played its cards right, more as a horror flick than an actual thriller which, at first glance, it might be mistaken for. With a fair plot, decent actors and an explosive and high octane finale, Body Parts is one unsung cult clasic for the video rent money or for keeps!

Bodycount:
1 female seen getting her neck snapped (vision)
1 skull seen (vision)
1 body seen (vision)
1 male seen bloodied in a chokehold (vision)
1 male found with his legs torn off
1 male had an arm torn off, killed
1 male shot on the head with a shotgun
1 female shot
1 male had his head blown off with a shotgun
Bodycount: 9

Thursday, January 7, 2016

ACME Nightmare Repelant: Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Robert Englund, Lisa Zane, Shon Greenblatt

It seems New Lines Cinema has a thing for cartooning up their slasher franchise finale, may it be for a villain who they just recently acquired (As in Friday the 13th’s Jason Goes to Hell) or one who they have been raising since day one. (As in Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy’s Dead)

In Freddy’s Dead, it appears the bastard son of nightmares Freddy Krueger has the last laugh as he nearly slaughtered all children in Elm Street in their dreams. “Nearly” because he saved one nameless teenager and, for some reason, sends him over to the next city, apparently to retrieve somebody who might be of importance.

In there, the boy (nicknamed John Doe) lost his memories and wanders around in a daze with nothing but caffeine pills and a news article about an Elm street woman. He was quickly collected by the cops, thinking he is a junkie, and brought him to a local youth shelter that houses troubled teenagers, where one doctor Maggie decided to look into John’s case and help restore his memories by bringing him back to Elm Street, as a mean to also resolve her own dream-influenced issues. (AKA, "clues")

This turned out to be easier said than done as all of the adults in Elm Street completely lost their mind from losing their children and three teens from the clinic (hearing-impaired Carlos, rebel-stoner Spencer, and butt-kicking abuse-victim Tracy, also under Rebecca’s care) unknowingly tagged along, sparking Freddy’s bloodlust for teens once again the moment they stepped (or drove) into town.

As Krueger slaughters the new meat in a variety of bizarrely animated fashion (death by game sprite? Acme bed of nails? What the f**k…), it turns out he has another agenda in mind: greedy for more souls to exploit, Freddy plans to branch out his evil to the next town and start picking off the kids there one by one. How will he do it? Invade the mind of someone he could easily stowaway in. Someone New Lines added just to jump the shark: his own kid!

Now, it’s quite easy to say that this is the lowest the Nightmare franchise stepped down to, mixing Looney Toons slapstick and imagery to the cheesy charms that only the man of a horror fanatic’s dream, Freddy Krueger, can master. This in turn made Freddy’s Dead dangerously cheesy to the point it could choke Cheetos’ mascot, Chester The Cheetah, to death as the film's over-the-top execution from the lengthy dream scenes to the cartoon kills, from character clich├ęs to sheer randomness, just seems more fitting to a bad 70s drug trip than an actual horror flick.

While I do like some of the mythos they threw in here (such as a better glimpse of Freddy's past), most of the other lore were rehashed from older Nightmare movies like the notion that it is possible to pull Freddy into the real world and that Freddy needs to jump into other people's dreams as a mean of reaching out to other victims. (we've seen him do this in Freddy's Revenge, Dream Master and Dream Child)

We also have dire new facts like Freddy having a kid and that the lone surviving teen might be said offspring. Yeah, see, the problem with that is Freddy Krueger was born in 1942 and probably in his 30s when he had said kid. Looking into this, the child would be an adult by this film's timeline, which means said teen can't be Krueger Jr. and a certain someone who kept having "these dreams" might be the real kin. Sorry for the spoilers but only a squirrel wouldn't notice this.

And then there's the "dream demons"; ancient entities that allow themselves to possess the most evil man alive to give them dream slashing abilities. Yeah, where were they when Hitler was dying? What? Was he too evil? I personally prefer Freddy's reality-bending abilities to be of an enigma as it gave the burnt maniac a reason to be feared. The dream demons, much like a lot of other new ideas here, were just rushed and nonsensical, again pushing this film to the limit of endangering the franchise into silliness.

The only reason why I can't diss this movie further is that, in a way much like Jason Goes to Hell, the camp works at some point; I chuckled at the scene where two teens spy on Freddy just chilling with his killer video game, the scene where Freddy silently mocks a deaf victim from behind before killing him by scratching a "magic chalkboard", the deadpan 'He's stuck in a nightmare' line from John Doe as he watch one of his co-teeners being pulverized, just to name a few from a selected lot. These little tidbits of corniness and ham made Freddy's Dead less painful to watch and even worth seeing despite the shit story, rushed finale and terrible ending credits, a kind of bad camp quality that only the malign lament and overly ingenious will never understand.
My sentiments for myself, exactly.
Thankfully, this is the last time we will be seeing Funny Freddy; Wes Craven's New Nightmare re-introduced him as a haunting demon and Freddy vs Jason actually made him scarier; until then, it will all be up to you if you want to see the Bastard Son of a Hundred Maniacs stoop down to this level. Gone here was the fedora wearing slasher, and in comes a burnt clown with a literally wicked sense of humor, hence making Freddy's Dead the real test of time and consistency for the franchise and one that continues to divide fans til' this day.

Bodycount:
1 male had his hearing amplified, head explodes
1 male falls into a pit, killed
1 male lands on spikes
1 male killed with a razor (flashback)
1 female strangled and beaten to death (flashback)
1 male burnt alive (flashback)
Total:6

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Hammer of God: Cross Bearer (2012)

Cross Bearer (2012) (AKA "Strip Club Slaughter")
Rating: ***
Starring: Isaac Williams, Natalie Jean, J.D. Brown

70s style exploitation in a modern slasher? We've been there already but Cross Bearer tried.

A man who calls himself the Cross Bearer made it his life's mission to cleanse the world of sinners, one hammer blow at a time, prowling the underbellies of the city he dwells in.

About to get tangled in this erratic crusade is one Heather, a stripper hoping to find that one chance to get away from her hell-hole life, to leave behind her coked-up girlfriend, her soul-sucking job, and her abusive boss. She is currently tasked to make a drug-run with a local pimp who, unknown to him or her, just fell victim to the Cross Bearer; with her girlfriend, her secret lesbian lover, an additional stripper and her boyfriend tagging along, Heather and her unsuspecting entourage soon discovers the horror that awaits for them at the hands of the religious nut.

Originally a more comedic creation, writer, director and producer Adam Ahlbrandt captured so much of the raw grit of grindhouse films whilst production, showcasing the sleazy and dirty underworld in its pimp, druggie and hooker-infested glory, that Cross Bearer ended up feeling just as dirty as the world it exists within, which can be a good thing for some, but nauseating for rest.

While it does have a few chuckle-worthy scripting and acting, and for the most part, the slasher conventions delivered enough intense stalking action and uber-gory (and for a few, inventive) killings to cater to the bodycounting crowd, when it needs to be dark, Cross Bearer can be dark; a good example will be the first and last act of the film which focuses on the plight-for-flight struggle of our lead heroine, Heather. Interesting since, much like the rest of the cast, she has a dark side that's just waiting to get out, but unlike most of the characters portrayed here (who were mostly sleazy cutouts of urban garbage with one or no dimensions to speak of) we want her to escape her current life since the film's hodge-podge pacing and imagery gave her enough screen to flesh this woman out.

The killer himself can also be seen as an antithesis to Heather's existence, or at least after going through his kill spree wherein at the end, while our heroine faces a new world with a gloomy view, the Cross Bearer faces his with hope. This being said, the villain here is not in anyway new or inventive (the murder weapon reminds me of the one used by the titular killer in The Sleeper (2009) and his mask is a generic Friday the 13th Part II (1981) sack), but the way he fits into the movie's tone and message made him quite memorable in a unique way.

Production-wise, the editing on a few scenes (more particularly the first act) did made the continuity a little confusing. It wasn't until things were explained via exposition that it made a whole lot of sense, making the rest of the film quite easy to follow through. Apart from that, I came to like the colored-lighting, crisp camera quality and brooding retro-soundtrack that, much like the direction, fits the film's atmosphere perfectly. And then, of course, there are the splattery-good murders ala practical effects, impressive considering the movie's claimed low-budget.

It's movies like this that drove me into becoming a religious skeptic, meaning I believe in God (or gods) and I see religion as man-made; the creepiness that someone like the titular Cross Bearer can exist (or already is existing) gave this film that extra punch and I totally enjoy it. Cross Bearer is depressing, raw, overall bloody, all of these being its aim and hit right on the mark. Can I recommend it? Only if you have the stomach for it.

Bodycount:
1 male gets hammer-clawed at the back of the head
1 female hammer-clawed on the head
1 male had his head caved in with a hammer
1 female brained to death with a hammer
1 female smothered with a pile of cocaine, overdoses
1 female brained, tongue torn off with a hammer-claw
1 female repeatedly hammered on the face
1 male succumbs to gunshot and hammer beatings, dies
1 male shot
1 male shot
Total: 10