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, but seeing the story was 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, 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 cane/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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Millennial Gut Munching Goodness: Anthropophagus 2000 (1999)

Anthropophagus 2000 (Germany, 1999)
Rating: ***
Starring: Achim Kohlhase, Andre Sobottka, Dirk Thies

Ah yes, Andreas Schnaas. The director behind the shlocky yet kinda popular underground German horror film series Violent Shit, as well as many others including one of my guilty pleasures, Nikos The Impaler (2003). Many of us remember him for two things and two things only: fake looking yet shocking gore and fake looking yet shocking gore! This being mentioned, was it a bad idea to have him remake the 1980 Italian cult fave cannibal/monster/slasher hybrid film Anthropophagus by one Joe D'Amato, director of many Italian soft core smut and/or horror exploitation such as Death Smiles on a Murderer (1973), Beyond the Darkness (1979) and Ghosthouse (1988)?

Personally, seeing how the original Anthropophagus bored half of my mind into sleeping, not only would I say not really, but also please please please!

Anthropophagus 2000 starts with a trio of Interpol agents finding a cave littered with murder victims in varying states of decay. While two of the agents leave to call for back-up, one of them stays behind and finds a journal belonging to one Nikos Karamanlis, a wealthy man who got lost and stranded in the middle of the sea with his family after surviving a storm.

The story then shifts to what we can assume as both some time after the Karamanlis family got lost and some time before our Interpol agents found the cave; a couple is seen walking at a beach being lovey-dovey and (at least in my opinion) do the unsexiest hanky-panky inside their tent. Once they're done, the girl leaves to get some firewood only to return and find her man missing half of his face and a pair of arms grabbing her and a hatchet, hacking her dead.

In the meantime, the now-dead couple's friends, our main selection of meaty victims-to-be, are driving to a vacation home in Borgo San Lorenzo where they expect to meet and pick-up their assumed-to-be-alive buddies. Their ride is unfortunately cut short when their RV breaks down and one of them twists an ankle, forcing most of them to walk to a nearby village while some stay behind. Misfortunes continue, however, then they discover the commune nearly devoid of living people and the deranged cannibal responsible has set his teeth and weapons to abduct and kill the new arrivals for food.

For most parts, Anthropophagus 2000 follows the plot of the Italian original with some level of accuracy, with only a few new twists and turns added in its attempts to update the story and make it fresh enough for modern audiences, though some of these changes may have made the movie's low budget a tad more obvious such as exchanging an entire Greek island setting for a smaller set of abandoned backwoods ruins. It is a "downgrade" that I personally found nothing much to quarrel about, but I will admit that it did cost the film some of its creep and dread factor as an empty backwoods village doesn't have the same impact as an island community being nearly completely ravaged.

Further issues I have with the movie would be fact that it still retains some of the problems I had with the original Anthropophagus: much like that movie, this remake has its slow moments, most of it somewhere around the middle of the run wherein character, atmosphere and plot developments were attempted and genuinely failed due to how cardboard thin the casts were, how bone-dry the story is, and how many of the scares failed to be all that effective. These trappings didn't work then and they are definitely not working in this movie either, though I will say that low-budget quality of Anthropophagus 2000 did made the lack of scares and story development kinda forgivable as it makes up for these loss with a little slice of cheese and a juicy rubbery splatter work that kinda made most of the trouble worth it.

The way I see it, Anthropophagus 2000's may fail as a serious horror flick, but it does succeed as a campy so-bad-it's-good gore film that only depraved gorehounds and open horror fans can enjoy. I love how the killcount is nearly doubled and how most of it guaranteed an outrageous death. Heck, a few of them even have a realistic flair to their execution despite the obvious latex prop use, one of which being an updated and slightly more upsetting take on the original Anthropophagus' most infamous cannibal scene, but a good chunk of the murders committed were so cartoonishly graphic that you just have to admire the lengths the movie went for just to reach that shock value. It's a shallow reason to enjoy a slasher flick, I know, but a little braindead fun will always have a time and place and I can see this film as an okay candidate whenever one is in the mood for a dumb horror film.

In the end, Anthropophagus 2000 didn't break any new grounds in terms of horror, not that it was really trying, but the underground filming quality somehow brought out the exploitation taste of the cannibal-cum-slasher plot quite well at a point, making this shlocky nightmare entertainingly bad and graphic that some of its many shortcomings can be forgiven. Watch on your own risk unless you have a taste for low-budget splatter flicks and German underground nastiness!

1 girl hit on the head by a broken mast
1 male found with half of his face missing
1 female repeatedly hacked with a hatchet
1 male speared through the neck
1 male had his face bashed with a rock, disemboweled
1 male had his larynx pulled out from his mouth
1 female jumps to her death
1 male impaled on a stake
1 pregnant female knifed and cannibalized (flashback)
1 male ran through the head with a machete
1 pregnant female had her womb cut open with a rock
1 newborn cannibalized
1 female had her throat bitten open, back broken against the killer's knee
1 female had her head ripped off
1 male decapitated with a shovel
1 male had his head blown off with a gun
Total: 16

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Random Posts: Upcoming Slashers and what I think about them. Part 2.

So far, the horror offerings from 2017 seems pretty alright if you know where to look; I found new cult favorites under a Lovecraftian nightmare called The Void, the sci-fright anthology Galaxy of Horrors and a satirical black comedy-slash-thriller called Get Out, but I also have to deal with half-and-half entries like The Evil Within and Don't Hang Up, as well as shitty dumps like The Bye Bye Man and Rings.

But when it comes to slashers, I have to admit we're lacking on that department, so I like to keep my eye out on potential bodycount titles and here are some likely candidates. So just to break out of the norm (kinda), here's be my thoughts on these upcoming attractions. Again.

Note: I'm sure there are a lot of other upcoming slashers and bodycount thrillers out there that I'm gonna miss for this list but I like to keep this post narrowed down to the titles that interest me the most. I might do another one of these if I ever gathered enough bodycount titles that catches my attention.

Jackals (2017)

Plot: Set in the 1980s, an estranged family hires a cult deprogrammer to take back their teenage son from a murderous cult, but find themselves under siege when the cultists surround their cabin, demanding the boy back.

My Thoughts: I love a good siege/home invasion hybrid and this sounds wonderfully promising. I'm also a sucker for animal-masked killers so that's always something to look forward to on my book!

Leatherface (2017)

Plot: Prequel about teenage Leatherface who escapes from a mental hospital with three other inmates, kidnaps a young nurse and takes her on a road trip from hell. Along the way, they are pursued by an equally deranged lawman out for revenge.

My Thoughts: Didn't we already have a film in the TCM franchise called "Leatherface"? I believe it was Part III. Eitherways, I'm not really that excited about this considering the last attempt made for a modern Texas Chainsaw Massacre film was a mixed bag for me and I really don't think exploring "Bubba's" past is all that necessary. Maybe I'll look into this one just for the kick of it and/or to see if it does hold up.
The House That Jack Built (2017)

Plot: The story follows Jack, a highly intelligent serial killer over the course of 12 years and depicts the murders that truly develop Jack as a serial killer.

My Thoughts: Much like Leatherface, I believe we already have a film called The House That Jack Built back at 2010 and my memory of it was more on the "Meh" line. Technically this is another movie going by that title and, for all truthfulness' sake, I'm not excited. I got a "The Boy" feeling out of this one and I'm not talking about the one with the creepy doll, but rather that painfully slow and lifeless burner that everybody else seem to like...

Clownface (2017)

Plot: A deranged serial killer known as “Clownface” terrorises the residents of a small town.

My Thoughts: As much as I love clowns, this one doesn't look all that interesting, either. The minimalist plot doesn't help it peak my interest as well and I have this uneasy feeling it's going to be somewhere around the line of "Pitchfork"-level of disappointment. Here's hoping I am wrong.

Garden Party Massacre (2017)

Plot: A gathering of friends goes awry when an uninvited guest appears. With a pickax. And an attitude.

My Thoughts: So far, the trailer shows a relatively cheap movie but with, as the plot have it, an attitude. Not gonna lie, I might look into this one and here's hoping it will be hilarious.

Cut Shoot Kill (2017)

Plot: Serena Brooks, an ambitious young actress, signs on as the star of a horror film with a crew of backwoods filmmakers that have worked together for years. When the cast starts disappearing, Serena has to become her character if she wants to survive.

My Thoughts: The trailer shows it is decently budgeted and it's going to be one of those Meta-horror flicks. Not gonna lie, I can see one or two ways this movie's plot will go, but I guess I'll be adding this one in my watch list just to see if this flick will surprise me.

Cult of Chcky (2017)

Plot: Chucky returns to terrorize his human victim, Nica. Meanwhile, the killer doll has some scores to settle with his old enemies, with the help of his former wife.

My Thoughts: A part of me wants to be excited about this, but another part of me felt a bit worn out. I cannot explain it, but the very fact that the Child's Play franchise is heading to DTV shenanigans kinda reminds me of the hit-and-miss qualities of the SAW sequels after Part III, or the Hellraiser movies after Bloodlines. Though, this entry seems to hint a showdown between Tiffany and Andy, two important characters in the Child's Play lore. Perhaps it can be good?

Nail Gun Massacre (2018)

Plot: No plot, but it is a remake of one of my 80s guilty pleasure slasher and it is to be directed Robert Green Hall of Laid to Rest (2009) and it's sequel.

My Thoughts: No trailers too but, cuss, it's cussing Nail Gun Massacre! To be done by the same guy who directed my fave bloody chase movie Laid To Rest! That's face-sliced, heads-blown off, gooey bloody Laid To Rest. Why the hell not?

Party Night (2017)

Plot: Six friends become prey for a sadistic psychopath when they decide to ditch their high school’s after prom party for their own celebration at a secluded house…

My Thoughts: the shaky handheld cam quality of the trailer more or less foretells yet another generic uninvited murderer in party scenario. Not really excited with this one.

The Tombs: Rise of The Damned (UK, 2017)

Plot: A group of celebrities attend a press gala at the world famous London Tombs tourist attraction. What starts as a night of fun and fright turns into a night of tension and terror when evil spirits of the Damned seize control of the animatronics to wreak havoc on their subjects. Celebrity status cannot rescue them from the unspeakable horror that lurks in the darkness…

My Thoughts: No trailers, but I am liking the plot of killer animatronics so long as it doesn't go into Five Nights At Freddy's territory. I understand the success of that game but I do not understand the fandom...

Gutterballs 2: Balls Deep (2015?)

Plot: No plot but IMDB claims this thing's been out since 2015...whaaaaat?

My Thoughts: Dude, is this, like, in distribution limbo? I love the first Gutterballs and I don't mind seeing this sequel! I've been living under a rock so somebody please tell me!


And there be my thoughts on these upcoming bodycounters. Is there a particular slasher you are excited about or that I missed? Feel free to let me know about it and I'll see what I think of it! until then, see you guys later! I need to hunt down a loon with a bowling ball bag over his head...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Be Healed and Slay Together: The Healing (2012)

The Healing (Philippines, 2012)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Vilma Santos, Kim Chiu, Janice de Belen

Before I start the review, let me indulge you all with a bit of Filipino culture crash: like some small countries, Philippines has a strong ongoing tradition following folk medicine including psychic or "faith" healing, despite the establishment of more modern and scientific practices. Faith healing thrives more commonly around less modernized communities and islands, with many people preferring this over practical treatment due to lack of access, money and/or understanding, as well as desperation should modern medicine fails to give the desired results.

Desperation appears to be the case for our heroine Seth (Vilma Santos) when she brought her father to a faith healer in hopes of curing his stroke. Miraculously, the patriarch regains his strength the following day, much to the delight (and the confusion) of Seth and her friends, family and neighbors. Amazed by the quick recovery, some of these neighbors and friends convince Seth to take them to the faith healer responsible and, much like her father, they were all healed of their respective illnesses a short matter of time after their visit.

All seems okay for a while until those who were healed start to snap one by one, resulting to them committing vile murders before ending themselves. Figuring out that something went wrong with the healing, it is now up to Seth to uncover what happened and put an end to the killings before it is too late.

As such the case of movies like Dead and Buried (1981) and Worry Dolls (2016), labeling The Healing as a slasher movie can be tricky as while it follows the classic set-up of killers methodically hunting down victims, it doesn't have a central villain until the very last act wherein most of the bodycounting were already committed and even by then, the main baddie was more of a schemer than an actual nutjob with a knife as most slasher films would. There's also the matter that some of the killings were leaning more on mass killing territory than the classic stalk-and-stab act we all know and love and there is a bit of a tone shift around the last act  as the film switches from a "death porn" slasher to something much befitting a supernatural thriller as our lead tries her best to prevent a certain evil from fulfilling its desire.

Still, The Healing has plenty to offer to slasher fans everywhere as, at least the way I see it, the film is interestingly structured to be a bodycount anthology of sorts with almost all of the healed characters getting the chance to be the villains and commit gruesomely bloody and gory massacres before they either end themselves or be ended. There's a Final Destination-esque order to those who will turn and their killings range from kinda laughable to practically decent, though what I find pretty impressive from these massacres is the fact that they can be bloody and gory, if not messy and upsetting, which is saying a lot as modern Filipino horror flicks are normally pretty lousy when it comes blood and gore. Granted some of these killings are still laughable with the dumb CG effects they decided to throw in for some reason (some of it for the more "extreme" killings, most for the supernatural elements of the story, but strongly doubt their effectiveness), I can still consider this murder-heavy plotting and the modest attempts for bloodletting as refreshing considering the small number of hack n' slash gore movies Philippines have.

The only true gripe I have with this movie is its uncertain tone; you can tell there is an air of seriousness to the plot since it deals with maniacal murders and traumatic deaths, but there's still a layer of cheese to most of the scares and dialogue and while you could argue this is to even out the serious scenes with some sort of relief, all the hammy lines and acting did for me was to look out of place and I honestly think this film could have done better without them, if not at least handle these elements a tad better.

Nevertheless, the acting is okay for most parts, though I can't help but think some of these guys aren't reacting as much as they should do with all of the slayings happening so close around them. There's definitely some budget thrown in for this film's production despite the crappy CG and some late 80s B-grade practical effects, which is pretty standard but not as distracting as most of other Filipino genre flicks. With this, I say The Healing is an okay foreign recommendation for slasher fans who aren't too strict with structure or too critical on production values, as well as those who could appreciate an odd and gory massacre movie.

1 female seen with throat cut
1 male seen murdered with a glass shard
1 male seen stabbed on the neck with a glass shard
2 males seen murdered
1 male slashed his throat with a glass shard
1 male stabbed on the neck with a glass shard
1 male ran through with a machete, decapitated
1 female hanged
2 males found shot
1 male shot
1 male shot
1 male shot
2 males shot
1 male shot on the head
8 males shot
1 male shot dead
A number of victims seen dead
1 female murdered, shot on the head
1 female thrown off a building
1 female thrown to her death
1 female thrown to her death
1 female thrown to her death
1 female set ablaze
1 male gutted with a spear
1 male slashed with a spear
1 male sliced open with a spear
1 male speared to the gut
1 male speared to the gut
1 girl jumped and impaled on a pole
1 male mentioned decimated with a bomb
1 male found with his head twisted
1 male shot dead
Total: 41 +

Friday, May 26, 2017

Random Posts: Upcoming Slashers and what I think about them...

So far, the horror offerings from 2017 seems pretty alright if you know where to look; I found new cult favorites under a Lovecraftian nightmare called The Void, the sci-fright anthology Galaxy of Horrors and a satirical black comedy-slash-thriller called Get Out, but we also have to deal with half-and-half entries like The Evil Within and Don't Hang Up, as well as shitty dumps like The Bye Bye Man and Rings.

But when it comes to slashers, I have to admit we're lacking on that department, so I like to keep my eye out on potential bodycount titles and here are some likely candidates. So just to break out of the norm (kinda), here's be my thoughts on these upcoming attractions.

Note: I'm sure there are a lot of other upcoming slashers and bodycount thrillers out there that I'm gonna miss for this list but I like to keep this post narrowed down to the titles that interest me the most. I might do another one of these if I ever gathered enough bodycount titles that catches my attention.

Fox Trap (UK, 2016)

Plot: After a terrible accident leaves a young girl disabled, five years later, the group responsible are invited to a remote manor house in the countryside for a class reunion. Little do they know, they are being targeted by a masked maniac hell bent on revenge.

My Thoughts: The trailer shows a basically standard slasher with an equally standard "I know what you did so now you die some years later" shindig of a plot. I might enjoy it in a simplistic manner, though I'm not quite sure what to feel about the killer's overly simplified mask...

Hallows Eve (UK, 2016)

Plot: The Hallows Estate is on alert as strange graffiti tags with messages declaring the streets will be taken over on Halloween night begin to appear on walls around the place, along with sightings of strange figures lurking in the shadows. One of the gangs responsible for the serious anti social behavior that give the estate a bad name, decide to take these threats head on and ignore the curfew on Halloween night. But who ever, or what ever, this new threat is, they seem to have the very night on their side as they make good on their promise of claiming the streets by frightening and violent means.

My Thoughts: No trailers, but the concept and the poster art looks kinda awesome! Here's hoping this is a decent slasher for my taste!

The Ice Cream Truck (2017)

Plot: Mary moves back to her suburban hometown, to find that the suburbs are scarier in more ways than she ever remembered.

My Thoughts: So...Ice Cream Man (1995) remake then? Welp, I do like that movie and this seems to be more of a straight-up slasher so I guess I'll try seeing it and hope for the best...if not for the "eehhhh" factor.
Inside (2016)

Plot: A woman in her third trimester of pregnancy is stalked by a stranger who is obsessed with her unborn child.

My Thoughts: The original Inside (2007) is among my top slashers. Nothing will beat the intense brutality that movie unleashed but I understand this version of Inside will focus less on the gore and more on the atmosphere so...nothing against that but here's hoping it will work out. After all, the guys behind Kidnapped (2010) will be doing this and we all know how fucked up that movie literally ended.
Better Watch Out (Australia, 2016)

Plot: On a quiet suburban street, a babysitter must defend a twelve-year-old boy from intruders, only to discover it's far from a normal home invasion.

My Thoughts: No trailers, but I do enjoy a good Home Invasion movie! There seem to be a little buzz going around about this movie and I guess it's for the best not knowing any explicit details about its story! What else can I say but "hurry the fuck up and release this movie already, dammit!"

Wtf! (2017)

Plot: Three years ago, twenty-two year old "girl-next door" Rachel barely survived a brutal massacre that left all of her friends murdered. Time has passed, and Rachel has moved on, but unfortunately her close friends are spending Spring Break in a secluded house in the woods, and they have cordially invited her to join. She would never have accepted the invitation if she realized that another bloodbath would be showing up as plus one. Once Rachel and her friends arrive at the cabin, the partying, sex, and...terror begins. From girls' only pillow fights to debauchery in a bedroom, it's going to be a blast...aside from the stabbing, flesh melting, and castration. Seven friends will go into a secluded house for the best Spring Break of their lives, but only one will be alive to post about it on Facebook the next week, as Rachel's biggest fears become a reality once again! Can Rachel survive another bloody massacre?

My Thoughts: Why does the entire plot reminds me of Ripper (2001) or even Last Girl Standing (2016)? And seeing the kind of promotional piece they have for this film, I have a sinking feeling that this is going to be a mess, both literally and figuratively. Still, we wouldn't know until we get to see it, right? Maybe the gore will be worth it, who knows...

The Ninth Passenger (2017)

Plot: A group of salacious students party aboard a luxury yacht only to turn on each other as a 9th PASSENGER picks them off one by one.

My Thoughts: I gotta admit, this doesn't look anything like a slasher movie and there's a good chance this film may end up a creature thriller based on its trailer alone, but the tease concerning what the "Ninth Passenger" is was enough to get my attention. Maybe I'll see it just to settle my curiosity.

The Sandman 

Plot: THE SANDMAN tells the story of Nathan, a young student in the city who struggles to forget his childhood trauma at the hands of the serial killer dubbed "The Sandman." Nathan killed The Sandman years ago, on Christmas Eve, after he witnessed the murder of his mother... until he sees the beautiful woman who lives in the apartment across the way dying at the hands of that same masked killer. This brutal murder plunges Nathan into an odyssey into the night country of his past, his dreams... and the buried secrets of The Sandman.

My Thoughts: Dario Argento. Doing a modern horror movie, (recalls my experience with Argento's Dracula and the number of hours I cried under a running shower for the time from my life that I wasted with that movie) ...oh, God.
Tonight She Comes (2016)

Plot: After a girl goes missing, two of her friends and a mysterious set of strangers find themselves drawn to the cabin in the woods where she disappeared. They will laugh, they will drink, they will kiss, they will make love, and THEY MUST ALL DIE.

My Thoughts: Huh. The last slasher movie I recall having a naked chick as the killer was that underrated cheese-tastic bodycounter Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet (2009). I simply adore that movie, so I guess I might see this one. The trailer sure made it look campy and stupid fun but, well, it's a trailer. It's supposed to make things look fun... right, The Beaver (2011)?

Tragedy Girls (2017)

Plot: Tragedy Girls, a twist on the slasher genre following two death-obsessed teenage girls who use their online show about real-life tragedies to send their small mid-western town into a frenzy and cement their legacy as modern horror legends.

My Thoughts: Hurm, I'm getting a vibe from this one. The "American Psycho 2: All American Girl" vibe. For those who doesn't know, I have a strong disdain against American Psycho 2 and Tragedy Girls has that tone of pompous self-aware from one trailer alone, but I am still gonna give it a swing. The idea is interesting enough and the two leads look pretty cute, so I'm hoping the kill count better be worth it.

Plot: A remake of the 1982 video nasty 'Unhinged'. Four American best friends decide to take the back roads travelling to a wedding in England, on their way a deadly secret forces the girls to be stranded in the woods, where they discover a house occupied by Miss Perkins, who promises to look after them until help comes. Little do the girls know, a dark evil lurks in the attic above them, waiting until they're alone and only when the girls come face to face with 'it' will they truly discover what real horror is.

My Thoughts: Though I'm not a fan of the original Unhinged (1982), I'm gonna be lying if I say I didn't have at least some bit of fun from that movie. Now, the trailer for this reboot looked promising enough despite the obvious mid-quality budget, so I guess I'll be checking this one out should I ever get a chance.

Plot: A maniacal clown named Art, terrorizes three young women on Halloween night and everyone else who stands in his way.

My Thoughts: It's friggin' Art, man. One of the creepiest clown I've ever laid eyes on! I'm a sucker for killer clown slashers. I adore the original Terrifier 2011 short. I find the 2013 All Hallows Eve anthology pretty passable. So why wouldn't I be excited for a movie focusing entirely on this freak? Bring in the clown, guys!

And there be my thoughts on these upcoming bodycounters. Is there a particular slasher you are excited about or that I missed? Feel free to let me know about it and I'll see what I think of it! until then, see you guys later! I have a meeting with a bloody naked chick and a demonic clown...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Video Tape Evidence Exhibit 1: Evil Things (2009)

Evil Things (2009)
rating: ***
starring: Laurel Casillo, Morgan Hooper, Torrey Weiss

What makes a good found footage film? A feel of authenticity, perhaps? The more it looks real, the better the chance it could cook up something creepy and, maybe, even something scary. And while many tries to pull off the creep factor with something unexplainable like ghosts, zombies and even unseen witches in the woods, sometimes a simple plot with a straight direction is all we need to make a Found Footage workable.

Evil Things took this approach as early as possible by opening the film with what appears to be a notation claiming that this is actually a smuggled evidence from an actual investigation involving some missing college students. The tape showcases five teenagers on their way to a friend's country house deep in the snowy woods, to relax and have fun. What they weren't expecting, however, is that they're going to be followed  by a shady looking van with occupants who seem to have taken a deadly interest on them.

First starting out as a creepy stalking, the group managed to scare the driver away during one encounter and continues to their destination thinking all is now fine. But after one day of nearly getting lost in the woods, they soon found out that whoever was in that van already trailed them, infiltrated their house and began a deadly game of cat and mouse...

The film's pretty short in terms of plotting; nearly everything about this film is something you've probably seen before, from the lengthy conversations to questionable acting. A lot of drawn out scenes are done to fill up the running time and the scares are pretty much basic, however what I do like about Evil Things is that, with its simplicity, it still managed to emphasize the dread and uneasiness of the characters.

The cast are pretty likable despite a few bad eggs. I somehow find them humanly relatable, something I believe helped the movie be a bit more tolerable for the most parts. Sure, they seem lacking on the thinking department once in a while, almost to the point that they are pretty much your usual horror-variety slasher victims, but a majority of their choices have a level of realism to it, albeit flawed.

The last few minutes of the movie is when the whole thing just goes for the chaotic as, one by one, the gang gets attacked by someone or a group of someones who finally got these kids right where they wanted them. The lack of explanation to why the villain/s are doing this kinda works for me, as it adds much to the dreadful atmosphere the finale is putting out for us without dropping a single blood on camera nor does it with overly dramatic set-pieces. Evil Things is simplicity in its finest and most solid, quite an impressive feat given the obvious limited budget these people had to work with!

On a nutshell, Evil Things isn't anything new as a found footage horror flick, but for when it tries to be creepily atmospheric and intense, the build-up to these scenes are quite worth it. A decent addition to fans of found footage, as well as something worth a look for the rest of us horror junkies.

1 male attacked, presumably murdered
1 male and 1 female presumably murdered
1 female presumably murdered
1 female attacked, presumably murdered
Total: 5

Friday, May 19, 2017

To Survive an Axe man: My Little Sister (2016)

My Little Sister (Italy, 2016)
Rating: *1/2
Starring:  Lucia Castellano, Alberto Corba, Astrid Di Bon

Oh look! A slasher in the woods! Quaint, is it?

Not much.

In this oddly titled offering from Italy, couple Sheila and Tom are venturing into the woods to meet and catch up with some friends for a fun camping weekend, only to find their friends missing and a random axeman showing up to give them the usual "stay-here-you'll-die" doomsayer spiel which, of course, the two did not heed. It wasn't too long before our maniac, also oddly named "Little Sister", shows his ugly masked face and starts hunting the couple, which soon leads to a formulaic and nearly repetitive stalk-escape-stalk-kill gig that gets really boring quick.

To be fair, My Little Sister did came up with one neat twist to a would-be familiar trapping; it was a neat take on a classic slasher scene in which a victim tries to impersonate "Little Sister's" dead family member ala Jason and Ginny Field in Friday the 13th Part 2, though instead of having it work in favor of the victim at some level, the whole shtick instead backfires and ends up with another victim dying at both "Sister's" and the impersonating character's hand. Apart from that though, I mostly remember being bored by the painfully dull execution of pretty much everything else about this film as it reeks low budget from every corner of the production such as lighting, audio and special effects. Obviously not a great sign this movie getting on my fair side.

The paper-thin story being a challenge already, I at least expected some good tension and plot development from My Little Sister, but the movie definitely overdid the intensity to the point that it all felt overly stretched into nothingness and whatever character our leads have felt more of the same throwaway slasher victims that barely made an impact for me once they bite the big one. There was a neat reveal at the end showcasing what lead into the creation of "Little Sister", but the tag-along twist it came it was hardly that surprising, certainly something we all could have seen an hour before the damn movie brings it up again.

At that, I will say My Little Sister may have sent Italian horror back a few years. It's boring, mostly predictable, and it's really nothing more than one big chase scene between a random horror victim and a random slasher with a stupid name and mask. For those who enjoyed it, I believe this Sister is yours, not mine.

1 male had his face flayed off
1 female eviscerated with a bushwhacker
1 male found rotting dead
1 male hacked with an axe
1 male bled to death from axe wounds
1 female stabbed with a pair of scissors
1 girl hacked with an axe
1 female ingests acid
Total: 8

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Pocketful of Rye: Formula For A Murder (1985)

Formula For A Murder (7, Hyden Park: la casa maledetta ) (AKA Formula Per Un Assassinio) (Italy/US, 1985)
Rating: ***
Starring: Christina Nagy, David Warbeck, Carroll Blumenberg

Our intro? A guy dressed as a priest handing a doll to a girl, only to give chase and implied to have broken the girl's back during this attack.

Twenty five years later, our opening victim, Joanna, is now a wealthy and wheelchair-bound heiress who plans on using a good chunk of her money opening sports centers for paraplegic people, as well as donate some to her local church. This benevolent goal, however, isn't sitting too well for some people, to the point that they are willing to start murdering in hopes of getting their hands on the moolah. But who could it be? Joanna's live-in caretaker with an obvious lesbian attraction? The motorbike-riding priest who is seemingly unaware that another priest was murdered earlier in the movie? Or perhaps it's Joanna's doctor who seems to know more about our lead girl's paraplegic conditions?

Well, if you stick around about 30 minutes into the film, not only will you find out who's behind the killings, but Formula's plot switches from a potential whodunit to a crime thriller with afternoon soap opera theatrics and a small dosage of bodycount horror.

As a giallo, Formula For A Murder isn't really a good one; while the early curveball definitely threw away any good opportunity of a decent mystery, there is still a good chance the movie could have been more interesting should it deepened its characters and took its plot a bit more seriously, but instead it decided to stick with a straightforward story that really isn't all that original (I believe the whole "scare the heiress dead to get their moolah" shtick was done before in Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971) and The Spiral Staircase (1946) kinda did the terrorized disabled lead a tad batter) and campy as heck.

Formula may as well shown some of the ongoing signs that pure breed Italian gialli were slowly losing their touch by the 80s, but it did make up for the lack of strong sleuthing and plot development with trashy exploitation craziness such as murder attempts involving bloodied dolls, TV soap heart conditions that are triggered by extreme fear but not when making love (?!), and unexpected betrayals which ultimately leads to a good old-fashioned 80s slasher stalk-and-stab with a killer that just keeps on going despite the fatal punishments unleashed against them.

Perhaps it is better that these trashier tropes have a significantly stronger presence in the overall final product seeing we pretty much knows who and why all of the gruesome stuff is happening, as at least Formula For A Murder tries to be entertainingly crazy and hammy. It does succeed at that quite fairly and I find myself satisfyingly enjoying the preposterous twists and turns on a what should have been a too conventional giallo. So long as blood works are flowing, the over-the-top villains are plotting, and the tone be cheesing from this film, I am glad to say that I am a part of an audience who are content to have seen this cheddary guilty pleasure and I will have no quarrels seeing again in the future.

1 male had his throat cut with a knife
1 male bludgeoned and hacked to death with a shovel
1 female slashed to death with a razor
1 male dies from his wounds
Total: 4