Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Don't Wait To Buy Land. Kill For It: Dream Home (2010)

Dream Home (Hong Kong, 2010) (AKA "Victoria No. 1")
Rating: ****
Starring:  Josie Ho, Ching Wong, Helen To

In this dark mix of satirical drama and deliciously bloody bodycounting, we start things off with a security guard catching forty winks while someone armed with construction tools slowly slips a nylon tie around his neck. With one sharp tug, the guard finds himself awake, soon to be out of breath and desperately looking for something to cut off the tie while our perpetrator stands cautiously nearby, watching all of this unfold. The garroted guard eventually finds a box cutter and tries to slice the nylon off, only to end up digging deep into this neck and gouging himself to death.

After that attention-grabbing debacle, we flashback sometime earlier and follow one Chang-Lai Sheung, a twenty-something Hong Kong woman working two jobs in order to save enough to rent an apartment with a view of the Victoria Harbor. Her dedication to acquire such a specific settlement stems from both a childhood dream and the struggles she went through as a working adult, wherein she and her family suffers through the eighties and nineties Hong Kong property boom in which poorer families were forced away from their homes (often through criminal means) in order for their land to be used in constructing luxury flats. 

While we watch these little non-linear snippets of Sheung's past showcase her slow obsession to better her and her family's lives, we are also treated with present day interjections of a mad killer brutally murdering flat occupants in a manner so worthy of the slasher sub-genre. What's intriguing about this killing spree is that the film eventually identifies the killer as none other than Sheung herself in an early reveal that hits us no soon after the twenty minute mark. While this may have ruined any potential mystery between the connection of the building flat massacre to Sheung's plight for a flat with a sea side view, it does instead help cement the fact that Dream Home will be more of a character-heavy narration early on, with the only question in mind would be how far will our lead go to get what she wants?

To be fair, a lot of the drama thriller portion works; rather than bombarding us with an hour or so of straight life tragedies before serving us the gory helpings of sliced up teens and unexpected victims, Dream Home's time-jumping almost bite-sized approach to the events that lead to the massacre help even out the pacing as well as not overdo the sappy soul-sucking realism that is the economy and the things it brings out of people who cannot keep up with it. It also helps that Hong Kong singer and actress Josie Ho was pretty good as an inexperienced killer who gets beaten around nearly as much as her victims, though excelled far better in her role as a victim of society shouldering what can be looked at as a (twisted) Herculean task in today's market.

When it comes to the slasher bits, I can guarantee Dream Home will be a gore hound's wet dream; while some of the murders were obviously CGed (like a certain eye-popping scene that looked a tad too cartoonish to be anywhere realistic), a good deal of the gore and blood still used old fashioned corn syrup and really nasty practical and make-up works. These deaths range from simple knife killings to methodically torturous vacuum suffocation, some intentional while others are accidental, but they all have that mostly justified mean-spirited streak to them as most of the victims aren't so innocent to begin with. I guess it was a way for the film to ease us into rooting for the killer, but one or two kills may keep us from entirely forgetting Sheung isn't too well in the head at this point, particularly one murder involving a pregnant woman who miscarries during the attack. I also love the fact that this film found a way to enhance the intensity of these killings by confining them in small spaces which the further the plot goes, the tighter and more claustrophobic they become.

If we are going to look for any drawbacks, I could try squeezing out some issues I have with some of the flashbacks taking a bit while to get going, but I learned to understand and accept it as necessary for building up to the massacre and Sheung's character. I could also try pointing out the absurdity of the whole massacre as an over-the-top solution for such a contrasting realistic problem but Dream Home is half slasher flick and slashers, by most parts, are supposed to be exaggeratedly hardcore and bloody. (I mean, if slashers were to remain uber-realistic then Friday the 13th's Jason Voorhees isn't a walking meat-tank of a killer and everyone in John Carpenter's Halloween would have figured out that, after guns failing to work on him in 4 to 5 movies, they could at least try decapitating Michael Myers. (Coz, if done right, I'm really sure the big guy isn't gonna do his famous "robotic sit-up" with his noggin missing)) I guess what I'm getting at here is that Dream Home is a movie meant for genre fans and the only issue I can see here is whether it'll be for one's taste or not. If you're a horror fan who's open to something a bit dramatic once in a while then this Asian slasher has a lot to offer for your on-screen bloodlust. If you're not a horror fan, or at least is a horror fan who is not into over-the-top gore and upsetting deaths, then why on the green Earth are you doing reading this blog?

1 male garroted with a nylon tie, neck with a boxcutter
1 female gets a screwdriver ran through her head
1 pregnant female gets a vacuumed seal bag over her head, smothered
1 male had his neck broken against a night stand
1 female passed away, cause unknown (flashback)
1 male stabbed on the neck with a broken bong
1 female had her head slammed through a toilet
1 male suffers a mesothelioma attack, suffocates (flashback)
1 male repeatedly ran through with a knife, castrated
1 female shot, impaled through the head with a broken plank
1 male throat cut with a knife, bled to death
1 male shot through the temple
1 male shot in the mouth
Total: 13

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Damn, African Fertility Mask! You Deadly!: Nightmare Man (2006)

Nightmare Man (2006)
Rating: ***
Starring: Tiffany Shepis, Blythe Metz, Luciano Szafir

Desperate to bear a baby with her husband William, Ellen placed an order for an ancient African fertility mask in hopes that some divine intervention or good juju would help expand her family. When she gets it though, Ellen is quickly put off on how demonic-looking the mask turns out to be and William believes she may have just wasted a good thousands of bucks on what's basically a Halloween mask. This, as it horribly turns out, isn't the only problem the mask brought as Ellen suddenly gets attacked and assaulted by a demonic being later that night. Or did she?

Flash-forward to some time later, Ellen is now convinced that either something evil is growing inside of her or that the "Nightmare Man" is still out there to finish her off. Believing his wife may have gone off her rockers, William have no other choice but to heed their doctors' advice and have Ellen set up for psychiatric treatment, only for their car to break down one afternoon whilst driving to the psych ward, leaving them stranded in a quickly-darkening woods. In typical horror fashion, Ellen is advised to stay behind while William leaves to find help, but she is soon attacked by a familiar-looking horned figure who is now more than a little stabby and hellbent on killing her, as well as anybody else who got in the way. (i.e. two young couples at a cabin nearby who made a fatal mistake of meddling with the Nightmare Man's affairs!)

In all seriousness, Nightmare Man should have been a terrible movie; it has that obvious low-budget shot-on-video look to it and the acting varies from passable to wooden, with lead actress Blythe Metz as Ellen and scream queen Tiffany Shepis co-starring as Mia, a crossbow-totting lingerie-wearing secondary final girl, being two of the more tolerable casts despite some often laughable delivery and hammy lacklustre value of their script. From what I've read, said script was apparently just written in seven days and I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case as the characters are one to one-and-a-half dimensional at best, even if there were attempts to flesh them out.

And yet, here I am absolutely loving the heck out of this film for it's energetic execution of a campy supernatural slasher hybrid, somehow surpassing most of its budget restraints. In the majority of its run, Nightmare Man's a backwoods slasher and one that is done mostly right with it's simplistic yet cool premise, decent-looking masked psycho who may or may not be the same ghoulish figure haunting our paranoid lead, and a few fair looking stalk-and-stab set pieces. The slayings the killer commit, though, could have used a lot more variation, but that was easily remedied by the half-and-half expected/unexpected supernatural twists that involves possessions and, in turn, a much more delirious and gorier set of killings perpetrated by a demon.

This hodge-podging and curve-balling may leave Nightmare Man's tone (and sub-genre) all over the place, but I find it somewhat fitting to its low budget production quality, giving the movie a bit of a carefree throwback vibe to late 80s and early 90s mozzarella-scented do-it-yourself horror flicks. It's nothing groundbreaking for that matter, not with all of the wave of throwback horror films nowadays, but this doesn't make Nightmare Man any less of an incredibly enjoyable movie for fellow cheesy horror lovers and forgiving/adventurous slasher fanatics!

1 male pinned to a tree with a crossbow
1 female knifed through the jaw
1 male shot to death with a crossbow
1 male strangled, thrown mangled to a car
1 male clawed through the chest, heart crushed
1 female gets a horned mask stabbed unto her face, head pulped with a rock

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Return of 101 Maniacs: Admin's Other Top Slashers 90-81

Back at 2014, I was inspired by a series of posts from a fellow slasher completist and listed down my personal top 101 slasher flicks.

As of writing this, it's been three years since and I've discovered and seen many other awesome slasher titles, some liked by fellow horror fans, others not quite. In this "sequel list", I'll be listing down not only what I deem as the best titles I've seen since my last  top list, but also the movies that I left out from said last top list.

Without further delay, here be my other personal Top 101 Slasher movies that really stood out the most!

Note: These are in no particular order (save the last ten) and they're all personal picks, so, nope. Your faves or your orders does not matter here! Muahahaha!...ha!

90. Knucklebones (2016)
A group of teens with little better to do decided to haul up in an abandoned factory, get drunk and play an ancient game called Knucklebones which is supposed to summon a demon by reciting a chant while playing with a set of human knuckle bones. Long story short, they somehow acquired said knuckle bones, played the game and get to experience one long night of pain, torture and murder. Mostly murder.

Bloody Best Bits:the titular demon can murder teenagers with no problem, but has a hard time ending a preteen kid in a lengthy Home Alone-esque stalk-and-hurt climax.

89. All Through The House (2015)
A psycho in a Santa get-up is out murdering men and women this one Christmas Eve, with the men losing their members before biting the big one. Soon to be caught up in this macabre murder spree is a house sitter and her friends, who will soon discover a thing or two about family and all sorts of pain that goes along with it.

Bloody Best Bits: The opening murder is pretty good, but I gotta hand the best bit to the sorta mean-spirited kill wherein a wheelchair gramma gets rolled out of a hill.

88. Satanic Attraction (1989)
It appears that someone in a small town had taken a big liking to a local DJ's horror radio show of blood and guts, so much so that they begin to murder the town's populace down with motives and styles based on the stories. It's now up to the DJ, Fernanda, and the local police to track the killer down and stop them.

Bloody Best Bits: There's a scene wherein the killer attacks a dude sleeping in a hammock and kills him by evisceration. The best thing about this isn't the fact that it's ridiculously gory, but you can tell that's a cardboard weapon the killer was using.

Also, razor-in-soap scene. Yeesh.

87. Mirage (1990)
A random young killer in a black pick-up van starts to terrorize a gang of rowdy teenagers as he stalks and chase them through the dessert, methodically killing them one by one. Just to show you that horny teenagers are not safe anywhere in a slasher flick.

Bloody Best Bits: Either a slow but kinda effective dream sequence involving limb mutilation, or the subtle yet cool death-by-grenade.

86. Lesson of Evil (2010)
Kinda long for a slasher flick, but Japan's unsettling take on a school bodycounter have a trustworthy-faced English teacher moonlight as a sociopathic murderer who seems to have a way of making a lot of his killings look like accidents or disappearances. That is until his cover starts to get unraveled and desperation makes him commit the unthinkable.

Bloody Best Bits: A controversial school shooting. Poor kids didn't even get a chance to fight back a lot.

85. Wrestlemaniac (2006)
The hapless crew of a low-budget porn shoot makes the worst turn on the road when it leads them to a small Mexican town with an even smaller population of one: an insane and unstoppable wrestler with a nasty habit of ripping faces for trophies. 

Bloody Best Bits: A dorky butterball decided to stay behind to fight our wrestlemaniac, giving the remaining girl some time to escape. The fact that the odds are obviously against the other made this scene both sweet and workably tragic.

84. The Fan (1981)
Less of a slasher film and more of a stalker thriller with a decent amount of stalk-and-stab killings, come follow Douglas as he creeps and stalks the woman of his dreams, aging broadway actress Sally Ross. As he crawls deeper into his dangerous fantasies, the more Ross, her friends and her colleagues are in danger of the titular fan.

Bloody Best Bits: There's a slightly squeamish scene wherein one of Ross' friends gets slashed on the belly whilst swimming. The set-up for that scene is just pretty intense, even if I doubt the guy died from the attack.

83. Night Drive (2010)
A rarely discussed South African slasher that really needs to get more attention out there, as it follows a group of tourist and their ex-cop guide getting targeted by a cultish group of mercenaries who practices black magic and cannibalism. It may get a bit slow for the first fifteen minutes, but once the babies are in the bush, it's high hacking time!

Bloody Best Bits: Death by hyenas.

82. Kolobos (1999)
Slightly artsy and kinda slow, this late 90s DTV teen killer have a group of hopeful thespians huddled inside a house under the belief that they'll be reality TV stars. Unfortunately for them, a very scarred man have other plans for them as he lay traps and hunts them down.

Bloody Best Bits: Buzzsaw Surprise!!!

81. The Drownsman (2014)
Does the lack of cutting weapons makes a slasher less a slasher? This movie not only say nae to that, but also brought out something rather creative for a supernatural bodycount. After acquiring aquaphobia from a near-drowning incident, a woman is forced by her friends to under go a seance-like session to rid of the fear. Unknown to them, the very thing that caused the drowning many years ago didn't like this girls meddling with his business and the Drownsman will make sure they won't do it again. Permanently.

Bloody Best Bits: There's a pretty cool looking drowning scene where the Drownsman forces a victim to choke on some water, only for him to pull her into his realm through a small puddle.

80-71 Coming Up Soon!

Friday, July 7, 2017

So Many Dead Bodies, So Little Exploit: The Hike (2011)

The Hike (United Kingdom, 2011)
Rating: *1/2
Starring:  Jemma Bolt, Stephanie Siadatan, Lisa-Marie Long

Sometimes normality can be the perfect disguise for a killer. Though in a horror movie, it may take more than just a pretty face turned evil to be effective.

The Hike opens with something obscured chasing a girl through the woods while she runs to dead bodies and gets other people along the way killed. Eventually, whatever is chasing the girl catches up and she is murdered offcamera.

Shifting to some time later, we now follow a group of five women on a hiking weekend, obviously through the same backwoods as the ones in the opening judging from the dead bodies they fail to notice. Venturing through mountainous trails and thick trees, they talk about their lives, share a bonding moment or two, and encounter other hikers and campers, both suspicious and friendly, before finally setting up camp for the night.

Problem arises when one of the girls failed to return that evening from gathering fire wood, prompting the group to look for her and cross paths with a group of men who, after coaxing the girls to share a brief fun in the lake in the midst of their search, agreed to help find their missing friend. What they didn't know is that someone out the woods is on a murderous raping spree and that they're closer to these girls than they would have ever thought.

Calling The Hike a slasher film is a bit off on some points, most probably due to the fact that there's a stronger emphasis on survival and rape-and-revenge exploitation rather than the usual stalk-and-kill narrative backwood-types like Friday the 13th (1980), Madman (1982) or even The Burning (1981) established. The closest it ever did to something slasher-like would be the in media res opening kill and the climactic cat-and-mouse showdown between what remains of both the girls and villains, leaving the rest of the film with a grueling rape-and-murder plot more fitting to be categorized with exploitation films like I Spit on Your Grave (1978) and The Last House On The Left (1972). In a way, this kinda works in the sense that it gave a bit of realistic grit to the usual backwoods horror with a vile scenario that can be replicated in real life, but everything else leans much closer to terrible B-flick horror territory with scenes of necrophilia, outlandish murder sprees and a whole lot of dumb horror movie decisions forcing their way into the story, many of which failing to work in favor of the movie.

Normally, I wouldn't mind the B-flick treatment of grandeur exploitation and shloppy movie making, but The Hike tries too hard to be this edgy thriller while failing to utilize the grim situation it presents to us. A whole lot of the killings are simple knife stabbings so the bodycount department barely satifies no matter how much it is stylized with slow-editing and zoom-in shots. The supposedly shocking scenes of rape are pretty tame for most parts, many of which either look like dry humping or spooning, so the film even failed to upset lastingly and gets incredibly tiresome with its threats of rape. (Or, again, dry-humping since none of the girls got naked. Two of the men though...) It all kinda gets worse the further the movie nears the end as all of the characters seem to get dumber and dumber, leading to a horrible last minute shocker that's so very stupid, it hammered the final nail to just how this film wasted its potential to be a decent survivalist slasher flick and that it can be easily replaced by other better backwoods bodycount horror film.

The Hike certainly looks like there's a bit of money spent to make it look professional, but the shallow characterization and lacklustre acting of its casts say otherwise. The truth is I really wanted to enjoy this for its should-be intense plot and the unusual directions of its twists, but it's all handled so messingly that the end result is just a plainly unexciting film. The Hike started promisingly, only to stumble and fall over and over again so it's definitely not for me. For those who can try to like a bland and forgettable backwoods bodycounter, though, this Hike's for you.

1 female seen hanging dead
1 female dragged away, killed
1 male killed
1 female stabbed
1 female murdered, method unknown
1 body seen inside a cavern
1 body seen underwater
1 female stabbed on the chest with a hunting knife
1 male stabbed to death with a hunting knife
1 female stabbed with a knife
1 female seen murdered
1 male hacked to death with a hatchet
1 female brained to death with a rock
1 male stabbed with a knife
1 female hacked with a hatchet
1 male hacked with a hatchet
1 male drowned in a pool
1 female hit with a fire poker
Total: 18

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Little Pig, Little Pig: Wolves At The Door (2016)

Wolves at The Door (2016)
Rating: **
Starring: Katie Cassidy, Elizabeth Henstridge, Adam Campbell

The moment I saw the word "pig" written in blood during its trailer, I already knew how Wolves At The Door will end.

Being a horror fan normally meant grossing over spooky, creepy and morbid stuffs at a varying degree, this including a level of fascination to real life monsters and atrocities, such as deranged cult leaders forcing an entire community to commit suicide for the sole purpose of enlightenment, or serial killers who prey on women using their charm and wit. This said, one can imagine that a good bunch of us know a thing or two about Charles Manson and his so-called Manson Family, a cult of deranged and/or brainwashed individuals who were responsible of seven murders under the belief that it would incite an apocalyptic race war known as "Helter Skelter" back at the 1960s.

These killings gained notoriety due to the fact that one of their victims was the late actress Sharon Tate, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with her husband Roman Polanski's child. The crime would soon lead to the investigation and eventual arrest of the responsible members of Manson's so-called family, as well as Manson himself under the charges of conspiracy to commit the murders, among many other crimes.

As one can imagine, this is some heavy stuff and it have been covered multiple times through many mediums from books to documentaries and dramas. You could even say that the deranged character of the cult influenced a decent dose of horror movies back at the days until recently, from titles like I Drink Your Blood (1970) to Manson's Lost Girls (2016), so was it really a terrible idea to make a slasher film based on Manson and his cult?

Truthfully, it all falls to what the movie will make out of such a touchy subject. Wolves At The Door follows four friends- pregnant actress Sharon, her friends Jay and Abigail, and Abi's boyfriend Wojciech- hanging out in their rented Hollywood hills home to commemorate their last night with Abigail as she will be moving back with her parents at Boston. What they didn't count on happening, unfortunately, is the arrival of four murderous individuals who have no plan on leaving any of them alive.

If this sounds like your average slasher plot, that is because it is. Unfortunately, this itself is sure to leave a bad taste to most movie goers' mouths as Wolves' lack of depth to its carnage comes out rather uncomfortable and even upsetting due many of the film's details make it look and feel like a fictionalized and exploited re-enactment of the infamous "Tate murders", wherein the aforementioned Sharon Tate, three of her friends, and a visiting student were killed by members of the Manson cult, in and nearby a house at Los Angeles. Given that the movie did try to do little changes to keep itself from being too parallel to its real life inspiration (the couple in the opening was based on another Manson cult attack, though what happened in real life ended differently...), things like naming the characters based on the people who were either killed or were associated with the crime, as well as not-so subtle hints that this film is based on said crime (the characters were hanging out at the El Coyote restaurant during the beginning of the film, and too the fact that "Sharon" just also happens to be pregnant) do otherwise and just left everything about this slasher feel convoluted; it's too close to home for escapism, too relentlessly exploitative and cheap to be a re-enactment.

To be fair, Wolves does have its little pros like a few good suspenseful scenes and some worthwhile scares, many of which probably stem from the uncomfortable historical backdrops and a few effectively executed jump and false scares. I also like the fact that the villains here are depicted as your typical silent boogeyman and boogeywomen-type, which I will honestly say are too good for this movie. The murders they committed in this film strike me as odd, though, as they were mostly done in a way that they are as obscured as the faces of the maniacs committing them, but enough were showcased with a fair amount of brutality and helplessness, a middle line that reflects the is-it-a-slasher-or-is-it-a-dramatization? nature of the film.

In the end, I find Wolves At The Door, in a lack of a better term, pretty confusing. Not plot-wise, but as a production: was it made to commemorate the lives we lost from the doings of a deranged lunatic and his minions with its near-accuracy? If so, why do it in such an exploited manner by treating it like a generic slasher flick? If it was supposed to be a slasher flick/home invasion hybrid then, why feature so much details from the real world crime and used it as a plot point or element ? This kind of familiarity will spoil any supposed surprises this movie can come up, leading the final product either predictable and forgettable or just trying too hard to be shocking, which is exactly how I felt about this film. Don't waste your time with this film unless you are really really into Home Invasion/ slasher hybrids.

1 male bashed on the faced with a sledgehammer
1 male stabbed to death with a knife
1 female killed offcamera
1 male knifed to death
1 female stabbed with a knife, killed offcamera
Total: 5

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Dead Tweenager Flick: #Horror (2015)

#Horror (2015)
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Sadie Seelert, Haley Murphy, Bridget McGarry

A group of snobbish posh tween girls gather at a backwoods house that resembles something Andy Warhol vomited, designed and then rejected. These "friends" more or less hate each other at a cynical degree, but they seem to have no problem hanging out to play dress up, do some underage drinking, yak about boys, and mercilessly attack one another in social media. 

When one of them went a tad too far on her passive-aggressive bullying, she's forced out of the house and disappears into the snowy forest, prompting the appropriate (and less than appropriate) angry response of her father when he drops by after she called him about what happened. Albeit startled, the girls are quick to brush this incident off, save for the missing girl's friend, Sam, who decides to go look for her while the rest of the gang continues their pre-teen debauchery.  

Unknown to them all, however, a masked killer is out in the woods and have found their way into the house, knife at hand. All I can say is, with only twenty minutes left clocking in a hundred minute movie, what took this shmuck so long?!

Now, I want to like #Horror as I understand what it is trying to do; it's attempting to hammer down a message that social media may have gone too far in this day and age where everything is acceptable so long as it will garner the easy approval and attention of people, even if it costs real friendship and one's self acceptance. The preteen girls in this film shows the effect of this new age way of thinking, robbing them most of their youth and innocence, addicting them to a system of likes and dislikes under a shallow community made up of equally shallow people, so-called "friends" who are more than ready to stab anybody's backs just to be on the top without fully understanding the consequences of their actions.

Now, as a surreal art film of sorts, #Horror tried its hardest to incorporate this message with all the fancy-shmancy striking visuals and mumblecore-esque dialogue. In some scenes it kinda works, but to sit through an hour and nearly forty-minutes of tween girls acting like old rich biddies who have nothing better to do at a Sunday afternoon other than gossip and insult one another with verbal fangs, these little slices of philosophical hiccups are underwhelming compared to the annoying shit storm that are the characters.

Not a single one of these tweens are likable, this including our supposed goodie-good final girl Sam who is mostly boring in the run. The adults are just as terrible, with one of the girls' mothers being particularly annoying with her dry demeanor, making her one of the bigger contributions to why I couldn't enjoy #Horror any more than I could as she didn't even bite it. Brutally. If there is anybody I really wanted to root for in this flick, it is the killer, but even they were lacking in the intimidation and creative killing department. That being said, a good bunch of the murders were edited with this sugary loud flashy sparkles and social media site buttons that I guess were supposed to symbolize how desensitized our generation is with violence to the point that it is just a norm to modern day brats, but watching obnoxious diva-wannabes yakking their annoying social drama for messy chunks of time, said editing just comes out as equally annoying and atrocious, which doesn't help with the fact that the slayings are mostly not that intense even with the fact that these are preteen victims. (Baby Blues (2008) already beat this flick on the kids-as-slasher-victims card so, yeah, nothing new here.)

So as you all can tell, I'm struggling to like #Horror. There's a fine line between being subtly artsy about a message to shoving it down on our gullet and this film took the chances to do the former a tad too hard that it unknowingly does the latter. It wanted to be a high-art take on a slasher flick with a sensible meaning behind the madness, but it felt more like a test for one's patience. Maybe it is and perhaps I'm just not the right kind of audience this movie was reaching out to, which kinda made sense since I don't really do a lot of Social Media. (I think I'm one of the few remaining humans who doesn't own a Facebook page, a fact that often have people looking at me weirdly as if I have leprosy...) If you're down to throw yourself into a movie where a bunch of ungrateful girls are the scarier villains than the masked psycho out to kill them, then here it is. Indulge.

1 male had his throat cut with a knife
1 female murdered with a knife
1 girl found murdered, method unknown
1 girl gets her throat cut with a knife
1 girl repeatedly knifed, bled to death
1 male shot
1 girl shot through the mouth
Total: 7

Saturday, June 24, 2017

I Know What You Did In Korea Last Summer: The Record (2000)

The Record (Zzikhimyeon jukneunda) (South Korea, 2000) (AKA "You'll Die IF You Record", "Fear No Evil)
Rating: **
Starring: Seong-min Kang, Eun-hye Park, Jae-hwan Ahn

Tell me how often do you see this set-up? Some guy or gal gets tricked into going somewhere only to find out that it's a trap by a gang of haughty bullies and ends up maimed, deranged or, worst of it all, killed. And then, some time later, said bullies are getting their deadly desserts by someone who may or may not be directly connected to their little stunt. This is basically a classic set up for many slasher titles out there such as Terror Train (1980), Slaughter High (1986), I know What You Did Last Summer (1997) and Sorority Row (2009) and I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that at least one or two foreign slashers out there would try to take a stab at this, such as this fairly odd yet passable Korean shlockfest.

The Record follows a gang of students who, in an attempt to make a quick buck by filming and selling a fake snuff film, accidentally stabbing a nerdy classmate for real when their prop knife malfunctions. Not wanting to take responsibility for their crime, they decided to burn the body away to cover their tracks, only to get the shock of their life when the kid turns up still alive and was last seen falling off a cliff while ablaze.

Pledging never to tell another soul about what just happened, the group tries to live a normal life past the incident, dodging suspicions from concerned teachers and the boy's sister who starts to look for him. At the anniversary of the death, however, someone in an orange boiler suit and flu mask starts to stalk them, broadcast the accidental snuff they made, and eventually killing them one at a time. Could it be the gang's unintentional murder victim back from the dead to exact his vengeance? His suspicious sister, perhaps? Or one of the teachers? Whoever it is, it's only a matter of time and wit before a lot of these unpunished arses get their just desserts.

Now, I often mention cheese as one of the factors I often enjoy from the many movies I cover and the reason for that is sometimes a little neuron-dead stupidity can save an otherwise boring horror flick and turn it into an insanely hilarious campy entertainment. A few times it will work, a few times it'll make the movie worse, and The Record falls in between the two.

As seen from its opening sequence full of sexualized teenagers, unforgivable bullies and harsh teachers, Record has a vibe that's trying to be a school comedy full of bad decisions and unlikable bad characters which continues throughout the movie as our doomed thespians make one dumb choice to the next like, I dunno, roam around separately more than once without arming one's self first, or soak in a jacuzzi despite the knowledge that a hooded killer is hot on the trail? Despite this, the movie does try to be a serious slasher flick once in a while with a few workable grisly deaths among many and a some twists and turns that caught me off guard, which all could have worked better given that the characters weren't as dumb as a deer's rotting carcass. The tone shifts too unpredictably due to this and I guess for some, this can work for the movie as it is attempting to break the norms, but for others, this can come out as annoying and a little too "bad" even for a bad slasher flick.

As mentioned, I find myself in the middle ground of hating and living The Record; I love how easy going this movie is, delivering some okay pieces of trashy entertainment with an Asian flair and a decent looking production value for its time, but it may have done the simplistic plot and dumb-as-door nail characters a tad too much that I can't bring myself to think anymore of this movie other than a forgettably basic teen slasher cash-in. There's definitely more better titles from Korea to choose from, a lot of which actually having some sense of story and/or delivering more buckets worth of blood compared to this film, but if you want to keep it quick and easy then who are we to stop you from checking The Record?

1 male repeatedly stabbed with a botched fake knife, set ablaze and falls off a cliff (?)
1 male mutilated, arm seen
1 female falls to her death
1 female drowned in a sauna
1 female stabbed offscreen
1 male speared on the temple
1 female crushed underneath a dropped cabinet, gets a broken beaker to his side
1 male found with neck slit
1 male stabbed to death
1 male impaled on rods
1 male stabbed to death
1 female presumably killed
Total: 12

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Return of 101 Maniacs: Admin's Other Top Slashers 101-91

Back at 2014, I was inspired by a series of posts from a fellow slasher completist to listed down my personal top 101 slasher flicks.

As of writing this, it's been three years since the creation of that list and I've seen many other awesome slasher titles, some liked by fellow horror fans, others not quite. In this "sequel list", I'll be jotting down not only what I deem as the next best titles this sub-genre have to offer, but also the movies that I left out from the first list that honestly deserved a spot.

Without further delay, here be my other personal Top 101 Slasher movies that really stood out the most!

Note: These are in no particular order (save the last ten) and they're all personal picks, so, nope. Your faves or your orders does not matter here! Muahahaha!...ha!

101. Anthropophagus 2000 (1999)
A low-budget remake of the 1980 Italian cannibal-cum-slasher Anthropophagus, this Andreas Schnaas-directed entry may still lack the proper scares of the original, but it does make up for it with some cheese and a stupid load of gore, guts and blood, as a hapless group of vacationers gets hunted by a deranged cannibal.

Bloody Best Bits: An updated take on an impromptu abortion, doubling as a nasty piece of cannibalistic infanticide!

100. Switch Killer (2006)
A stripper is haunted and hunted by her past when an unhinged ex-lover comes back to kill her and all others that got in the way. An offensive piece of horror offering for some (possibly for the LGBT community), I somehow managed to find this film entertainingly bad and gruesome as it kinda gets better the further the story goes.

Bloody Best Bits: A New Year's party gets crashed. And slashed. And stabbed. And chainsawed.

99. Blood Junkie (2010)
A gang of four teens and a kid ventures into the woods, only to discover a strange murderer lurking around for victims they could drain for blood to survive. This is one of the many films released from Troma Entertainment that I deeply enjoyed, which is saying a lot since I normally cannot stand most of the movies they either make or release. (I say "most". "Most"...)

Bloody Best Bits: There's a jam-out scene that got me laughing, but the twist in the end caught me off-guard. 

98. Charlie's Farm (2014)
Somewhere at the Outbacks is Charlie's farm, a place where a deranged family met their demise at the hands of an vengeful crowd who had enough of their madness. That was many years ago and legend has it that not all of the members from the clan were snuffed out, something a small group of teenagers will find out painfully.

Bloody Best Bits: technically, whatever scene that has big Charlie in it is a treat, but a fight between Kane Hodder's character in this flick was the best treat of them all!

97. Hard Rock Nightmare (1989)
An ultra-cheesy creature feature with a strong slasher bone, featuring a rock band driving to a cabin in the woods in order to rehearse in peace. Well, that is until their lead singer's traumatic past with the cabin catches up with them and a savage werewolf starts slicing and dicing.

Bloody Best Bits: The best thing about this movie is the bad dialogue and one involving the nature of the killer lupine at the near end had me in stitches!

96. Grizzly (1976) 
Many would argue, but I will stand my ground: when a forest gets threatened by a more-than-normal hunger bear with and there's a strong stalk-and-kill action all throughout, it is safe to say that this Jaws rip-off is a decent example of a proto-backwoods slasher!

Bloody Best Bits: Bazooka vs Bear

95. Jackhammer Massacre (2004)
Jack Magnus is a businessman with a drug problem and, soon, a bit of an obsession with killing folks with a conveniently present jackhammer after losing his mind completely. Not precisely an effective horror flick, nor do I see it ever playing at some school's DARE program, but it is cheesily fun and gory!

Bloody Best Bits: A trippy nightmare involving evil SWAT teams, dead besties and a cool looking demon with needles for teeth.

94. The House By The Cemetery (1981)
Lucio Fulci's second most depressing work for me (the first being The New York Ripper), this gore-soaked melting pot mixes the zombie, haunted house and slasher genres into one twisted tale about a family moving in to an abandoned house formerly belonging to a scientist researching immortality. Let's just say said scientist sort of succeeded in their research, but with a cost...

Bloody Best Bits: The opening murders were cool, but I still can;t get that absurd "death by stairs" at the near end. Lady, use your elbows, dammit! Or use them legs to kick your way out since the friggin' thing holding you only has one hand now. Jeesh...

93. Eater Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2006)
An odd low-budget holiday slasher about a murderous lowlife conning his way into a family, only to torment their mentally handicapped son. When Easter approaches, however, a rabbit masked killer suddenly shows up and starts slaying the lowlife's accomplices (and then some) in many bloody manners.
Bloody Best Bits: The only good kind of pedophile is a dead one. Our rabbit couldn't agree more!

92. Slaughterhouse Rock (1988)
When a college student starts getting plagued by horrible nightmares about Alcatraz Island and apparent demonic possessions, he and his buddies head on to the island in hopes of finding some answers. They found two things: rock singer Toni Basil and a demon hellbent on murder!

Bloody Best Bits: The nightmares were a great bunch for how outlandish and random they sometimes get, but nothing beats Toni Basil doing a dance routine whenever she needs something.

91. Terror On Alcatraz (1987)
Featuring a fictionalized Frank Morris as a villain, this nearly forgotten late 80s hack n' slash have the former Alcatraz resident returning to the very same he escaped from decades later in order to retrieve a map to a vault he is planning to steal from. When a group of teenagers got in the way, however, it's nothing but hacking time for Morris!

Bloody Best Bits: There's this rather effective stalk and chase scene around the early parts of the film, with Morris chasing down and killing a former guard just to get even, but nothing beats the "crushing" surprise twist in the end!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Murderous Village Idiots: ClownTown (2016)

ClownTown (2016)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Brian Nagel, Lauren Compton, Andrew Staton, Katie Keene

So we have teens, an abandoned town and a group of killer clowns. Nothing else. Nothing much.

ClownTown is technically something I can enjoy in a braindead manner as its story is your basic slasher high jinx with people in their 20s teenagers driving to a concert only to end up going to a nearly abandoned town overrun by killer clowns instead. Kids run. Clowns give chase. Death happens to both sides and then some. It couldn't get any more standard than that.

While the lack of originality didn't bother me much (I snickered a bit at the obvious John Carpenter Halloween tribute of an opening act. Plus there is the obvious undeniable fact that there is already a lot of killer clown horror movies with varying effectiveness), the final product still has some noticeable issues, most distracting of them coming from a number of plot holes that led to some ideas that are a little too cheesed-up to the point that it left me chuckling at its sheer stupidity and/or inconceivability.

Would you really go all the way to an abandoned town and wait until nightfall just to get a phone back, for example? I know in today's day and age, a phone is pretty important, but all that patience and dedication to a small piece of machine is just barely believable even for a horror flick. Still, if it leads to killer clowns cornering these dumb butts and killing them, then I guess some positives can be considered.

And speaking of clowns, why exactly are the killers dressed up like that? We did get a bit of flashback/twist reveal combo some time later in the movie that sort of explains why, but it only covers two of the killers. What about the two to three other killer clowns prowling? Clown fetish? Clown cult? While one may argue this is a way to keep the killers mysterious and I could try looking at it in that mind set, the story was already willing to give us some backdrop on the killers, that they have been popping in and out bumping off people dead when the now abandoned town wasn't so, well, abandoned, so they might as well give us something about their costumes, right? But the movie didn't, leaving most of these bozos quite forgettable as villains (save for two: a pantomime-like gentleman who kills with a crowbar, and one that looks like what Three Finger from the Wrong Turn movies would look like as an evil clown) and yet it did little to affect the main point of the story (killers hunting down teens for the sake of hunting) so I guess we're supposed to leave it at that.

The murders are arguably basic for a slasher film. It could have been worse, yeah, but it could have been better as well should it have used its creepy and sullen tone a tad better, offering only a few jump scares with the killings to, I bet, have them do more than just blood spilling from gashes and knife cuts. Noble efforts, despite, much like the majority of the villains themselves, forgettable.

Again, I really have little else to say about ClownTown. It is what it is and it's not something I would really think anybody will lose sleep over now that I've seen it (and that is saying a lot seeing I am a huge fan of good killer clown slashers) but if you happen to be a slasher completist and/or a killer clown fanatic like me, I say give it a rent.

1 female missing, implied dead
1 female hacked to death with a meat cleaver
1 male hacked on the neck with a crowbar
1 male doused with gasoline and set ablaze
1 male smothered with a plastic bag (flashback)
1 female brained with a crowbar (flashback)
1 male killed with a bat (flashback)
1 male hacked on the gut with a crowbar
1 male bludgeoned to death with a crowbar
1 male found knifed on the gut
1 female brained with a bat
1 male knifed on the chest, brained with a bat
1 male had his neck punctured with nails
1 male dies from axe wounds
1 male crushed inside a trash compactor
Total: 15