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 +